The 2021 NBA Trade Deadline is set for March 25, so there is plenty of time for teams to swing a blockbuster deal. During the offseason, we saw John Wall and Russell Westbrook switch teams with the Wizards and Rockets. James Harden forced his way out of Houston to join the Nets as of recent, which sent Victor Oladipo to the Rockets. The gap between contending teams and qualifying teams is slim, so teams are going to have to start developing ways to separate themselves from the pack.
Last season, we saw the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, and Miami Heat have the core but was missing one piece to get over the top. Will one of these teams, or others, make one more blockbuster this season? If so, these are the best destinations for a few of the stars on the market.
10. Lonzo Ball - Los Angeles Clippers
Clippers Receive: Lonzo Ball
Pelicans Receive: Patrick Beverley
At 32 years old, Beverley is not the player that he was when he played in his late 20s. Beverley, a three-time selection to the All-Defensive Team, appears to be past his prime. The Clippers need a starting-caliber point guard that can run the offense but also take the place of the tenacious defense Beverley once played. Luckily, there is a 23-year old, 6-foot-6 point guard in the last year of his rookie contract. The ball is the former No. 2 overall pick from the 2017 NBA Draft.
His offense has slowly developed and he is having a career season (12.6) in terms of points. His rebounds and assists are down 3.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, compared to last year's 6.1 rebounds and 7.0 assists. The ball needs a chance of scenery. If the Pelicans were smart, they will trade Ball for the compensation that he is worth and at least not lose him for absolutely nothing. The ball would give the Clippers an upgrade defensively over Beverley and Reggie Jackson.
9. JJ Redick - Philadelphia 76ers
76ers Receive: JJ Redick
Pelicans Receive: Michael Scott, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz
Seth Curry has turned out to be a great addition to the 76ers as he ranks top-3 in three-point field goal percentage. However, Danny Green's outside shooting is near a career-low. Redick's stock is at a low right now. He is having one of the worst seasons in his career, averaging 7.9 points on 29.8% shooting from three-point range. With that said, it was just two seasons ago that Redick averaged 18.1 points and shot 39.7% from outside. Redick is clearly not a fit in Stan Van Gundy's offense. He is on an expiring contract and the 76ers need shooting, so this is a perfect match in heaven.
The Pelicans could get three role players in return. Thybulle could provide stellar defense off the bench. He has been compared to Taj Gibson in terms of being able to guard the post. Korkmaz is having a nice season and it's possible that Philly would try to keep him. Korkmaz is averaging 7.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per game. Scott has played in only eight games this season and would be moved for salary cap reasons.
8. Andre Drummond - Charlotte Hornets
Hornets Receive: Andre Drummond
Cavaliers Receive: Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, Malik Monk, 2022 first-round pick (1-15 protected), 2021 second-round pick via Brooklyn Nets
When the Hornets drafted Zeller in 2013, they hoped he would be a formidable center in the league. Zeller owns a career average of 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds. Those are the kind of stats you want to see from somebody coming off the bench. The Hornets made the playoffs once last decade and it's because of moves like keeping Zeller around. It's time to move on and try and compete.
The Hornets are in a position to make the playoffs. With a healthy Gordon Hayward, the Hornets are playing well as a team. Drummond is in the final year of his contract and is averaging 18.5 points and 15.1 rebounds, leading the league in rebounding. Imagine if the Hornets could expand their outside game with Drummond inside. Teams would have to zero in compared to Zeller, who is not considered a true inside force. It will cost the Hornets mightily since he is playing All-Star caliber basketball. Then again, a movie like this could bolster the team's confidence with contending. When's the last time anybody has been excited about a Charlotte basketball team? This is the move that would rejuvenate the city.
7. DeMar DeRozan - Denver Nuggets
Nuggets Receive: DeMar DeRozan
Spurs Receive: Gary Harris, Will Barton, a future first-round pick
The Spurs would ask for Michael Porter Jr. but the Nuggets need to hold strong and not give him up for a rental. Porter could be a star in this league and DeRozan is just a rental. Given that the Spurs are in playoff contention, the team might not give him up. In the end, the Nuggets are the best spot for DeRozan. A "Big 3" of DeRozan, Jamal Murray, and Nikola Jokic might be enough to beat the Lakers.
To entice the Spurs, the Nuggets can offer Gary Harris, a shooting guard that has Patty Mills-like talent. Will Barton gives the team an option off the bench and a first-round pick ices the deal. The Nuggets could run Porter Jr. at power forward, giving this Nuggets team an outstanding offense. The Nuggets lost to the Lakers in five games last season. This could make the series go longer, or potentially get Denver to the NBA Finals.
6. Kyle Lowry - New York Knicks
Knicks Receive: Kyle Lowry
Raptors Receive: Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox, Alec Burks
Ntilikina is the only prospect on this list that is not intriguing but would need to be apart of the deal for salary cap reasons. Smith Jr. has fallen out of sorts with New York after being one of the main core pieces of the Kristaps Porzingis trade. Smith averaged 15.2 points and 5.2 assists in his rookie season but has seen his production dwindle these last two years in New York. The Raptors need a point guard after Lowry, who could leave after this season. Knox gives the Raptors a scoring option off the bench, who has a ceiling in comparison to Fred VanVleet.
Lowry fits the mold of a Tom Thibodeau player. Somebody that leads a defense and can handle the ball. The Knicks lead the league in points allowed per game. The Raptors won their NBA Championship with defense as the identity. While Lowry doesn't give the Knicks that much more of a chance to win a title, the Knicks could grow to at least a No. 5 seed in the East. By dealing with these four players, the Knicks don't lose much of their core. The team is surprisingly contending for a playoff spot, so why not try and see how far you can go without mortgaging the future?
5. Blake Griffin - Sacramento Kings
Kings Receive: Blake Griffin
Pistons Receive: Buddy Hield, Nemanja Bjelica
Detroit needs to move on from Blake Griffin and Buddy Hield needs to move on from the Sacramento Kings. Ever since Luke Walton took over in Sacramento, Hield has fallen out of favor. His shooting is not the same and his minutes get reduced. Hield could be the crown piece for Detroit and the player that the franchise builds around. He posses talent similar to Zach LaVine but he needs a franchise to let him be "the man."
Griffin could be the first superstar player since DeMarcus Cousins was traded to New Orleans. With a tandem of De'Aaron Fox and Griffin, "lob city" could come back to California. Griffin's 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds are near his career-lows but look at the roster in Detroit. Even the Kings have more to offer.
4. Kevin Love - Dallas Mavericks
Mavericks Receive: Kevin Love
Cavaliers Receive: Josh Richardson, James Johnson
You might look at this deal and think that this is not enough to get love but let's pump the brakes. For starters, Love is set to make $31 million next season and then $28 million during the 2022-2023 season. That's quite a chunk of change for somebody on the wrong side of 30. The Mavericks would be doing the Cavaliers a favor by taking on this contract. Love would give Dallas a "Big 3" with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. This trade keeps Tim Hardaway's offense with the team for at least another season, while Love can work make a powerful 1-2 punch with Porzingies inside and out, given that Love can also pull up from three-point land.
The Cavaliers would get a true defender in Richardson who possesses the potential to score 15 points a night for a cheap cost at $11 million next season. James Johnson is in the final year of his contract and his $15 million would come off the books. The Cavaliers could use that money to bring in a better piece during free agency. Either way, the Cavaliers have two great trade chips but are contending for a spot in the postseason. Will they make a move now or go all in?
3. Zach LaVine - Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers Receive: Zach LaVine
Bulls Receive: Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, 2027 first-round pick
When LeBron James made the NBA Finals four years in a row with the Cavaliers, he had a talented cast around him. The "Big 3" featured LeBron, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving. LeBron essentially has an upgrade compared to Love with Anthony Davis. He's missing a player like Irving and that's where LaVine comes to play. LaVine is in the top-5 in scoring (26.6), while his 5.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists are a career-high. At 25 years old and one more year of control, James could potentially win those last two championships to tie Michael Jordan for six with this trio.
As for the Bulls, LaVine is essentially their offense. Kuzma is the best player in all of this and has the potential to eventually be a 20-point scorer in the league. The jury is out on Horton-Tucker based on his limited minutes but when he plays he does score. Caldwell-Pope could be a replacement for Otto Porter Jr, who is scheduled to be a free agent after this season. Caruso could be the backup point guard to Coby White, while the first-round pick might be high by 2027 when LeBron is out of the league at the Lakers aren't contending.
2. Aaron Gordon - Golden State Warriors
Warriors Receive: Aaron Gordon
Magic Receive: Kelly Oubre Jr., Jordan Poole, Allen Smailagic, a future first-round pick, a future second-round pick
This move would be for next season given that Klay Thompson will return from his injury. Stephen Curry, Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Aaron Gordon, and Draymond Green would be a great starting lineup. The Warriors could start James Wiseman and have Gordon come off the bench. Needless to say, Gordon needs a chance of scenery. His time in Orlando hasn't seen the franchise make it out of the first round. Gordon has the potential to play like Blake Griffin, so pairing him with real All-Star talent could be great for both parties.
The Magic haven't been able to make it work with Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. It's time to stretch the floor out and leave their All-Star center in the post. Evan Fournier starts the outside shooting. Adding Oubre Jr. and Jordan Poole stretch the floor even more. With Markelle Fultz returning next year, he can find his shooters all over the floor. The first-round pick is a cherry on top. The Magic know they aren't going to resign Gordon, so they need to get value back while his stock is high.
1. Bradley Beal - Miami Heat
Heat Receive: Bradley Beal
Wizards Receive: Andre Iguodala, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Kelly Olynyk
The Heat does not have any first-round picks to offer based on previous deals. Both Iguodala and Olynyk would need to be moved for salary reasons because Beal is scheduled to make over $30 million the next couple of seasons. Both Robinson and Herro are the centerpieces of the trade. Robinson ranks in the top-5 in three-point field goal percentage and gives the Wizards a spot-up shooter. As for Herro, he showed glimpses of becoming a player like Steph Curry. The Wizards don't have a future right now. Ranking near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with Beal and Russell Westbrook means that the Wizards need to rebuild. Starting with Herro and Robinson is a great start.
The Heat would gain the leading scorer in the league (34.9) and somebody that could take over offensively. Jimmy Butler was that guy last season but he is a team player and would have no problem deferring to Beal in crunch time as long as it meant a win. Bam Adebayo gives the Heat a true "Big 3" offensively and defensively. Losing both Herro and Robinson on offense would be tough, including Iguodala's defense, but gaining a true superstar scorer in return is worth the risk. This Heat squad would potentially have enough to make a run back to the NBA Finals.