The good news is, it’ll be over sooner.
The NBA moved the trade deadline up this year, feeling it kind of cramped the style of its All-Stars by constantly being asked about potential deals involving either themselves, teammates or other players coming to join their respective teams. And the league surely wasn’t thrilled by the sight of DeMarcus Cousins being bombarded in New Orleans last year as he learned in the Western Conference’s locker room that he had just been traded — ironically, to the New Orleans Pelicans.
So, at the least, we can all enjoy Los Angeles in relative peace, the deadline coming this year on Feb. 8, 10 days before the All-Star Game. But that won’t stop the rumor mill from going into overdrive, as it does every year as the deadline approaches. No matter how many times you point out that even though every team, at one time or another, has at least theoretical discussions about every one of its players, that doesn’t mean they’re “shopping” them, or “in advanced discussions” about them, with other teams. (I’m sure Turner’s had “conversations” about trading me for Doris Burke. She’s way better than me, for the record.)
I can’t do anything about other people’s rumors. So … why not start a few myself!
No, that’s the intention.
What follows are 10 theoretical trades — trades involving teams that need to make moves, whether contending or rebuilding, players that need a change of address, whether wasting their skills with losing teams or needing more playing time with a contender.
These are not “rumors.” These deals have all been cooked up in my little old head. But they’re not entirely loony, if you get my meaning. They’re based in reason, not fantasy leagues. And they’re designed to be fair to both teams. No one who consistently tries to rip off another team in a deal lasts very long in this league. Doesn’t mean that any of them will happen. But here’s why they should happen.
And if any of them do happen, well, I feel sorry for you, ‘cause you’ll never hear the end of it from me.
1. Utah Jazz trade F/C Derrick Favors to Cleveland Cavaliers for F Channing Frye, F Jae Crowder
Favors has been a good soldier in Utah since 2011, when he was part of the Deron Williams trade with the Nets, but it’s time to move on. The Jazz can’t re-sign him for what he’ll likely be seeking next summer, and the Cavs are, as we can all see, in some need of new blood, especially off the bench. That’s where Favors could provide some low-post pop to compliment Kyle Korver and Jeff Green. Favors could well be a rental for Cleveland, but the Cavs can’t be picky with their season slipping away.
Crowder’s simply better than he’s shown in Cleveland; whether he’s still understandably grieving the loss of his mother just before the start of the season, or just is struggling finding a niche playing off of LeBron (it’s been known to happen), this isn’t who he is as a player. He’s always thrived playing with uber-tinkerer coaches like Rick Carlisle and Brad Stevens who max his skills moving without the ball. Jazz coach Quin Snyder is in that mold, Utah is egalitarian on offense and the Jazz would certainly rather cover Crowder’s $15.1 million due through 2020 than go deeper into its pockets to keep Favors.
2. LA Clippers trade G Lou Williams to Boston Celtics for 2019 first-round pick
Williams has been outstanding this season (and, all due respect to Paul George, but I’m on Team Lou to replace Cousins on the Western Conference All-Star team), showing efficiency and passing skills that have not been a regular part of his go get buckets repertoire in the past. The Clippers have given some real thought to an extension for the 31-year-old. But missing one or two playoff gates would not impact Steve Ballmer’s bottom line, one figures.
The Celtics’ $8.4 million Disabled Player Exception for Gordon Hayward would be the receptacle for Williams’s $7 million salary this season. Boston already has the Clippers’ 2019 first-round pick (protected through the Lottery that year), so it could be as simple a transaction as giving that pick back to L.A. Or, the Celtics could hold out and offer their own 2019 first to the Clippers instead. Either way, this makes too much sense not to do for a team all-in on a championship this season and that could use some legit scoring punch off its bench.
3. Chicago Bulls trade F Nikola Mirotic, F Paul Zipser to Detroit Pistons for F Stanley Johnson, C Boban Marjanovic, F Reggie Bullock and a 2019 first-round pick (protected 1-10 in 2019 Lottery)
Utah has been sniffing around Mirotic for weeks, but the Pistons are, if not legally required to do so, very much in need of making the postseason. “Detroit is desperate; they get my vote,” one league exec said. So the Pistons could easily part with the as-yet unarrived Johnson, their 2015 first-rounder, along with Big Boban and Bullock (sounds like a ‘70s hour-long show on NBC), for the offensively gifted Mirotic. Of course, Chicago has to get rid of Mirotic after his fight with teammate Bobby Portis, and the Bulls have been asking for a first-round pick. They’ll have to settle for half a loaf there in order to move on, while getting a year to see if Johnson can ever develop his offensive chops.
4. Memphis Grizzlies trade G Tyreke Evans to Miami Heat for a 2019 second-round pick
The outstanding Grizzlies’ beat writer, Ron Tillery of The Commercial Appeal, tweeted Sunday night that the Grizzlies may move Evans to Boston, and that certainly would make sense, too.
Not confirmed. But don't be surprised if Tyreke Evans is moved to Boston
— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) January 28, 2018
But Miami has that $5.5 million Disabled Player Exception from Dion Waiters’ season-ending injury in its back pocket, more than enough to absorb Evans’s $3.2 million this season. Ideally, the Heat would attach one of their bigger 2018-19 salaries to this package to get some room/relief for next season, but hard to see the Grizzlies being interested in helping Miami get out of Tyler Johnson jail. So the Heat will have to settle for an Evans rental, which would help Miami’s troubled offense (28th in points; 25th in offensive rating) immensely. Evans has enjoyed a renaissance in the Bluff City — 19.4 points per game on 45 percent shooting, his best percentage in five seasons — and would be able to help Goran Dragic with playmaking duties as well in a pinch.
5. Los Angeles Lakers trade F Julius Randle, C Ivica Zubac to Atlanta Hawks for F Ersan Ilyasova
Straight Cash (Dump), Homie, as L.A. has to get Randle off the 2018-19 books to pursue its two max free-agent dreams next summer, and will trade young for old and potential for an expiring contract like Ilyasova’s. (Also, Ilyasova hasn’t played bad at all as a starter in Atlanta.)
Meanwhile, the Hawks are in talent-acquisition mode, and thus would have no issue either taking on the final year of Randle’s rookie deal or re-signing the restricted free agent to be this summer if they choose.
6. Milwaukee Bucks trade F/C John Henson, G Matthew Dellavedova to Orlando Magic for G Evan Fournier, F/C Marreese Speights
What do you give a team that’s 23rd in 3-point percentage? A career 38 percent gunner (who’s shooting close to 40 percent this season) averaging 18.2 points per game on an Orlando team going nowhere. That’s Fournier, who could provide interim Bucks coach Joe Prunty with some delicious high-octane combos (Fournier, Khris Middleton and Tony Snell together, maybe?). The trade could also surround Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker — who’s almost ready to return and who would be a logical small-ball center — with another launcher in the veteran Speights off the bench.
Orlando would get the long-limbed Henson, who the Magic’s new GM, John Hammond, drafted in the first round in Milwaukee in 2012 — and whose arrival would allow Orlando to move Nikola Vucevic this summer — along with the ever-pesky Dellavedova, with whom Magic coach Frank Vogel would fall in love immediately.
7. Brooklyn Nets trade F DeMarre Carroll to Denver Nuggets for F Kenneth Faried, F Tyler Lydon
Carroll has bounced back well enough for the Nets this year (13 ppg, 6.7 rpg) to get repurposed for the playoff-teetering Nuggets, who could use his attention to defensive detail on the wings. And Brooklyn was trying to work out a deal for Faried this summer. His rebounding numbers are down in Denver this season, but it’s been clear for a while that Faried is not in the rotation or the team’s plans, so a change of venue is needed. Lydon also doesn’t figure to be a long-term Nugget, and is worth a rookie-contract look by the Nets for a couple of years.
8. Atlanta Hawks trade G Marco Belinelli to New Orleans Pelicans for G/F Darius Miller, G Jameer Nelson, F Cheick Diallo and a 2020 second-round pick
The Hawks move another solid vet, this time to a Pelicans team that was already looking to add to the roster before DeMarcus Cousins’s devastating, season-ending Achilles’ injury Friday. Without Boogie, though, New Orleans has to add more shooting and offense to surround Anthony Davis. Enter Belinelli, a gun for hire who can still make more than enough 3-pointers (36.4 percent this season) to make defenses play him honest and give AD more room down low. And he’s on an expiring $6.6 million deal that won’t imperil the hard-capped Pelicans this year.
None of the players going to Atlanta would likely be in the Hawks’ plans going forward (Miller’s only guaranteed $300,000 of his $2.2 million salary for 2018-19), but getting another future second-round pick in the hopper would be just fine.
9. New York Knicks trade F/C Willy Hernangomez to Washington Wizards for F Chris McCullough and a 2018 second-round pick
The Knicks are a player heavy, so it’s likely they’ll move either Hernangomez or Kyle O’Quinn by the deadline. As O’Quinn is making $4 million this year with a $4.2 million player option for 2018-19, he wouldn’t fit for Washington, which is right up against the hard cap. Hernangomez and McCullough, though, make almost the exact same amount. In this scenario, the Knicks would actually be taking on a little bit more money … but they have the $2.8 million Carmelo Anthony trade exception in which to slide the rest of McCullough’s salary for this season.
The Wizards would essentially be sending the Knicks a second-rounder to replace Hernangomez, himself a second-rounder, who signed for next year with a 2019-20 team option. The 23-year-old Hernangomez has fallen out of favor in New York, but would give the Wizards more energy off the bench to pair with Kelly Oubre. He’s also another big man option for coach Scott Brooks in playoffs if he doesn’t like either Ian Mahinmi or Jason Smith in a given matchup.
10. Sacramento Kings trade C Georgios Papagiannis, F Jack Cooley to Oklahoma City Thunder for F Kyle Singler and draft rights to F Képzeletbeli Kosárlabda Játékos.
No, this trade does nothing for OKC, or for Sacramento. (And, yes, Képzeletbeli Kosárlabda Játékos is a totally made up name that translates, roughly, into “Imaginary Basketball Player” in Hungarian. I was watching “The Usual Suspects” again the other night.) But Sam Presti always makes a trade at the deadline. And I’m a firm believer in tradition.
* * *
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.