After the announcement of Damian Lillard’s intentions of asking for a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, it has set up a wild, wild offseason in the making. We have to get through the NBA Finals first, but once August 1st rolls around, we should expect some star power on the move.
Where will that star power come from? What the NBA has taught us is that we should expect the unexpected. We don’t know what pull the players have in the decision to move them. With that said, these are five crazy blockbuster trades that we could see this summer.
Ben Simmons - Oklahoma City Thunder
Trade Package: Kemba Walker, 2021 No. 16 Overall Pick, 2021 No. 18 Overall Pick, 2021 No. 34 Overall Pick
The Thunder acquired Kemba Walker in a trade with the Celtics earlier this offseason. What their long-term plans are with Walker remain to be seen. The Thunder does own three first-round picks in this year’s draft. Pooled with Walker’s big salary, could this be enough to land Ben Simmons?
Simmons has fallen out of favor in Philadelphia. Head coach Doc Rivers couldn’t even confirm that the team could build around him after the 76ers were bounced from the playoffs. If Simmons is not seen as a cornerstone player, then the 76ers need to acquire a player that will help them make the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, Simmons can rewrite his career with a blank slate in OKC.
Simmons would give the Thunder their first foundational superstar. Paired with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder would have two big-time players in OKC. The 76ers would get a true point guard that could facilitate their offense with Joel Embiid leading the way. In this scenario, everyone wins.
Russell Westbrook - Los Angeles Lakers
Trade Package: Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Montrezl Harrell
It would take the entire roster to pull off this trade and make it financially possible, but if the Lakers want a point guard, they might as well go out and get the best. Westbrook is coming off his fourth overall triple-double season. At 32 years old, he would fit perfectly into the championship window that the Lakers have.
Westbrook is turning into the next Chris Paul, a Hall of Fame-worthy player that hasn’t won a championship ring. If Westbrook doesn’t win a ring soon, he could be the modern-day Charles Barkley. If Westbrook wants the best chance possible, then joining a superteam and becoming the third-best offensive threat on the team is the way to go.
It would be difficult to fit a combined $120 million into three players and diversify the rest of their team salary into the remaining roster. However, with a big three of Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis, how many losses would this team realistically have with whoever fills out the roster anyway?
Donovan Mitchell - Boston Celtics
Trade Package: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, 2022 First Round Pick
Even though the Jazz was the best team in the league, the relationship between Mitchell and Rudy Gobert remains unknown. Gobert is coming off a season where he was the lone All-NBA selection last year on the Jazz. The Jazz is built around their ability to play defense, so acquiring two calibers All-Defensive players would be a huge gain.
If the Jazz wanted to roll with Gobert, they could get a starting-caliber guard in Smart who would make their defense even better. Brown would be the key piece in this. The All-Star is coming off a career season offensively. Brown may not be as skilled offensively as Mitchell, but he is so well-rounded that he can rebound, pass, and steal too.
In Boston, Mitchell and Tatum would be a young version of Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant. If these two players ever played together, do you think they would have won an NBA championship? The two met in the NBA Finals, so the answer would have to be yes if they played side by side.
Kawhi Leonard - Golden State Warriors
Trade Package: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, Jordan Poole, 2021 No. 7 Overall Pick, 2021 No. 14 Overall Pick
It seems like there is more to the story when it comes to the relationship between Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers. Leonard didn’t play in the Western Conference Finals due to a partially torn ACL. We have seen Leonard leave franchises before due to bad rapport with medical staff. Could this be the case again?
If that is so, there were already rumblings that Leonard had an interest in joining the Warriors if he decided to decline his player’s option. If so, the Clippers could get some value in return. While Wiggins is a borderline swing player, both Wiseman and Poole are young building blocks, while this year’s first-round picks would sweeten the deal.
Realistically, the Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green windows have to only be two to three years. Even if Leonard played one season, the Warriors would be back in the title hunt. Offensively, this would have a lot of weapons, but the starting rotation would have two former Defensive Players of the Year. That’s hard to beat in the long run.
Damian Lillard - Brooklyn Nets
Trade Package: Kyrie Irving, Landry Shamet
Lillard said that the reports about him asking for trade were not true. Until Lillard suits up for Portland’s first game, he will be seen as a trade target by all teams in the league. One team that could vault to the top of the trade market is the Brooklyn Nets.
For starters, the Nets can offer a superstar in return. Irving is one of the best point guards in the league, so the Trail Blazers would get value in return. It would also end the drama that the Nets have to deal with and it would give Irving a fresh start. As for the Nets, a big three of Lillard, James Harden, and Kevin Durant would be an easy title contender.
Lillard’s chances of winning a title in Portland are slim. Even though Lillard has never chosen the path of joining a superteam, it might be the time to do it after turning 31 years old. Lillard has given the city of Portland everything. If this trade did go through, the Nets could potentially win 74 games next season.