The NBA’s Orlando bubble is both the safest way to finish the 2019-2020 season and a hub for players around the league to plan their next career moves. Whether that’s stars plotting which player to join forces with or teams recruiting free agents for next season, there will surely be some roster reconstruction after these playoffs.
The upcoming free-agent class isn’t loaded, but teams in recent years haven’t shied away from making bold trades to bolster their rosters. Here are the top-10 ideal trade acquisitions for next season that’d these teams’ fans want to see happen.
10. Dallas Mavericks - Rudy Gobert
Dallas holds the league’s top offensive rating this season (116.7) but only the 17th-best defensive rating (110.9), according to basketball-reference. If these playoffs expose the Mavericks’ defense and dampen the team’s future title hopes, trading for a defensive star might be the best move this offseason.
Gobert, the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year, could be the piece Dallas needs to ascend to a championship level. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, for as talented of offensive players as they are, aren’t adept defenders. Gobert would mask a lot of their defensive deficiencies while also improving the team’s rebounding. He wouldn’t be a flashy acquisition and could hurt the team’s prolific offense some, but his defensive contributions would be worth it. Teams would struggle mightily to finish at the basket with Gobert and Porzingis defending the rim.
Dallas could offer Utah a first-round pick, but it also has many valuable players to trade like Seth Curry, Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Delon Wright, Justin Jackson, Willie Cauley-Stein and Jalen Brunson. Especially if the Jazz decide they want to move in a more offensively-focused direction, this trade is very realistic.
9. Portland Trail Blazers - Kevin Love
Love has one of the least team-friendly contracts in the NBA. He’s owed around $30 million per year until 2023 and hasn’t played more than 60 games in any of the last four seasons. Love is just collecting a check on a horrible Cavaliers team with an unclear future.
Portland is a team with a superstar in Damian Lillard that hasn’t surrounded its premiere player with a supporting cast capable of winning late in the playoffs. Acquiring Love — along with re-signing Carmelo Anthony — would round-out the team’s starting-five for arguably the first time in Lillard’s tenure in Portland. Love’s proficient shooting and strong rebounding from the power forward position compliments both Lillard and center Jusuf Nurkic, but the only issue would be cap space.
Because Love is so expensive, his trade value is low and Portland can give up little to get him. The Trail Blazers could offer Cleveland a second-round pick (or two) and Trevor Ariza for the 31-year-old former champion, a package the Cavaliers could desperately use since they need all the help they can get. Love’s championship experience and ability to fit a role alongside other stars could take Portland to the next level.
8. Chicago Bulls - Derrick Rose
Since their split in 2016, both Rose and the Bulls haven’t found stability. Rose nearly retired after his unsuccessful stint in Cleveland before reclaiming his proficient scoring ability in the last two seasons on sub-par teams. Chicago has compiled some intriguing young players but hasn’t seen its win totals increase.
Both parties need each other and there isn’t much standing in the way of Rose returning to Chicago. His trade value isn’t high and the Bulls have several second-round picks and inexpensive players to trade. The Bulls need a capable veteran point guard to lead their young roster, so Rose’s return to the organization would be both a touching story and valuable addition.
The Bulls could offer Detroit a second-round pick, Kris Dunn and Thaddeus Young for the 31-year-old former MVP. Another trade of similar value should be easy to construct if the Pistons want more, but because Detroit doesn’t appear to have a plan for the future, the Bulls should buy low and reap the benefits.
7. Philadelphia 76ers - Devin Booker
Philadelphia has four first-round and 11 second-round picks in the next two drafts. Having prospects is always nice, but the 76ers are looking to win now, so they should try to trade that lot of picks and some of their current players for the dynamic perimeter scorer they’ve desperately needed for years.
Booker is rotting in Phoenix and could want out soon if the franchise’s outlook doesn’t improve soon, so Philadelphia should make a push for him with a huge trade offer. 76ers general manager Elton Brand proved he’ll pull the trigger on big trades before like he did with Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler last year. Booker could be the team’s most challenging and valuable acquisition yet if Brand could complete another deal.
The 76ers likely have to convince the Suns to take Al Horford’s terrible contract to make the money work, which would require including more picks and other valuable players like Josh Richardson, Matisse Thybulle or Zhaire Smith in the deal. Harris may even need to be added. Still, Philadelphia should accept almost any asking price for Booker.
Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Booker are a trio capable of winning a title. Embiid’s interior domination, Booker’s versatile perimeter scoring skills and Simmons’ passing and athleticism would overwhelm all other NBA teams. The 76ers would become the title favorites and have better chemistry than the city’s teams of the past. It may be a far-fetched trade, but Booker would solve a lot of the team’s current issues.
6. Miami Heat - Donovan Mitchell
The Jazz are built around a young star in Mitchell yet don’t appear poised for a title-run any time soon. If the organization simply can’t compete with its loaded Western Conference foes this postseason, it might look to reshape its future without Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
Miami has the assets and cap space to trade for Mitchell and surround him, Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler with a strong supporting cast to win a championship. In addition to a first-round pick or two, the Heat can trade a combination of Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk (player-option) for Mitchell. This would both set Utah up for the future while making the Heat ready to win right away.
Mitchell, Butler and Adebayo are all versatile and athletic playmakers who’d give almost any roster trouble. The team’s defense would be rangy and the offense dynamic, although plenty of shooters should fill-out the supporting cast. The Eastern Conference especially couldn’t match this Big Three's skill set outside of maybe Boston, so the Heat should be the conference’s title favorites if this trade went through.
5. New York Knicks - Chris Paul
Paul has been nothing short of a revelation in Oklahoma City this season, turning a team that was an afterthought before the season into a playoff team in the West. For as great as he’s been, the 35-year-old point guard probably isn’t part of the Thunder’s future. He’s also owed about $85 million over the next two seasons, making him a difficult player to trade.
The Knicks are one of the only teams with the cap space to trade for Paul while also needing his services on and off the court. New York hasn’t had a stable point guard this millennium and could use a strong veteran leader to help develop young star R.J. Barrett. Paul is just the man for the job.
New York can offer one or more second-round picks, as well as any combination of Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Elfrid Payton and Bobby Portis (player-option) for Paul. The Thunder have so many draft picks already that they’re likely looking for more future depth and youth, so the Knicks should do everything in their power to accommodate Oklahoma City’s wishes.
With Paul, the Knicks could finally be on track to reshaping their image and defining a winning culture.
4. Boston Celtics - Joel Embiid
Embiid is beloved in Philadelphia because he embodies the team’s “process” of becoming a title-contending team. The team’s performances in the last couple of postseasons, though, have fans frustrated. The 76ers don’t look like a team whose pieces fit and Simmons’ shooting hesitancy makes it harder for Embiid to operate in the lane.
Should the 76ers lose in heartbreaking fashion yet again this postseason, Embiid’s love for the franchise could fade. If he wants to leave, the trade package needed to get him will need to be massive. Boston has the assets and needs a big man, so general manager Danny Ainge might pounce on the opportunity.
The Celtics could offer at least three first-round picks in addition to either Jaylen Brown or the combination of Hayward and Smart to get Embiid. Embiid with Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker would form a diverse big-three capable of beating any team, and if Boston could keep Brown as well, it’d likely be the title favorites in 2021. That foursome could tear through the league similarly to Golden State’s four All-Star lineups. 76ers would hate to see this happen, but Simmons might also blossom into a superstar with a team built solely around him.
3. Brooklyn Nets - Bradley Beal
Beal improved his scoring average to over 30 points per game this season on a pitiful Wizards team reeling from John Wall’s absence. Beal says he wants to remain in Washington for now, but Wall’s health and the team’s offseason moves could alter his view. If he decides he wants to play for a winner, Brooklyn is an intriguing destination.
The Nets have plenty of assets to trade for the 27-year-old guard. Brooklyn holds three 2020 first-round picks and a plethora of future second-round picks, as well as up-and-coming players in Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince who all have team-friendly contracts. The Wizards should accept a trade consisting of the right combination of these pieces. Both teams would be better as a result.
A big-three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Beal would arguably be the best offensive threesome ever in the league. All three can play with and without the ball, hit clutch shots and thrive next to other stars, so it’d be a great fit. The team’s supporting cast might be minimal due to a lack of cap room, but all this team’s role players would need to do is defend and rebound. These three stars would put up an absurd amount of points.
2. Los Angeles Lakers - Zach LaVine
LaVine’s recent comments about being tired of losing made it clear he wants out of Chicago. The team isn’t trending toward contention even as LaVine has shown immense improvement as a volume scorer, so he deserves to play for a team ready to utilize his talents in the postseason.
The Lakers are the perfect landing spot for LaVine. LeBron James and Anthony Davis, for as great as they are together, could use another perimeter threat alongside them to thwart deep teams like the Clippers, Nuggets and Bucks. LaVine’s combination of off-the-dribble scoring and shooting ability make him a fantastic compliment to the Davis and James combo and one that could create a new Lakers dynasty.
Los Angeles could give Chicago at least a first-round pick, Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green for LaVine. It could include any combination of Avery Bradley, Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook and even another pick if needed, and because LaVine only makes $19.5 million per year, the Lakers would still have cap room to spare.
LaVine is a relatively cheap and attainable option for the Lakers to pursue this offseason. The team needs to win now with James’ championship window closing, so general manager Rob Pelinka should be as aggressive as possible in trading for LaVine.
1. Golden State Warriors - Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Warriors are one of the only teams with the assets to realistically trade for Antetokounmpo. The Milwaukee superstar says he has no plans to leave the organization as of now, but another shortcoming in the playoffs could change his mind.
The Bucks are a well-built team but lack the star power of some of the league’s other championship hopefuls. Antetokounmpo may want to leave for a bigger market and a franchise capable of attracting future free agents, and there’s no better destination than Golden State. The Warriors have several players with solid trade-value and a likely top-3 pick in the 2020 draft, so they’d be the frontrunners to snag Antetokounmpo should he want to leave his current situation.
Milwaukee could get a trade package consisting of some combination of the Warriors’ 2020 first-round pick, future first and second-round picks, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, Marquese Chriss and Kevon Looney. The price for Antetokounmpo would be perhaps more than any other player in NBA history, but Golden State wouldn’t hesitate to trade all but Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to get him.
A big-three of Antetokounmpo, Curry and Thompson would usher in another dynasty in Golden State. This trio compliments one another perfectly and is a matchup nightmare for almost any opponent, regardless of whom the Warriors place around them. If this trade somehow happens, Antetokounmpo could not only win his first Finals but possibly sign a max-extension there as well.