Wob’s NBA Trade Season Manifesto: What the Contenders Need, What the Sellers Want

Wob’s NBA Trade Season Manifesto: What the Contenders Need, What the Sellers Want article feature image
Credit:

Isaiah J. Downing, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Elfrid Payton

We have reached the point in the season where we know who is a legit title contender and who’s not. Some of these teams are so bad that even acquiring LeBron James wouldn’t help their playoff chances.

This isn’t NCAA March Madness, where on any given day ending in ‘Y’ a 16-seed can upset the best team in the country. In the NBA, parity is drowned out by high-volume, fast-paced possessions and in the playoffs, series are decided by a best-of-seven, making it nearly impossible for ‘upsets’ to occur.

As a result of knowing the probable outcomes: we can identify what teams are going to be ‘buyers’ and ‘sellers’ headed into this season’s trade deadline.
This year’s ‘buyers’ have been separated into two categories:

  • Current NBA Finals contenders
  • Finals contenders if they make a move

In bucket one are the following teams:

  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Philadelphia 76ers

Bucket two consists of:

  • Boston Celtics
  • Houston Rockets
  • Utah Jazz
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Miami Heat
  • Dallas Mavericks

Not every team excluded from this list is automatically considered a ‘seller’. Take the Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings, and Detroit Pistons for example. Those three franchises appear to find tantric pleasure from drowning in mediocrity by overpaying fringe all-star free agents instead of focusing on a full-scale rebuild.

For the sake of this exercise, only teams who are committed to liquidating veteran ‘win now’ +EV players on the roster with the intention of accumulating future assets will be considered (and any outliers).


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OPTIONS (Contract Status):

  • Marcus Morris, F, New York Knicks (1 year/$15M)
  • Andre Iguodala, F, Memphis Grizzlies (1 year/$17.185M)
  • Jrue Holiday, PG, New Orleans Pelicans (3 years/$79.282M, 3rd year player option)
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Sacramento Kings (1 year/$8.529 + QO + RFA)
  • Julius Randle, F, New York Knicks (3 years/$63M)
  • Bobby Portis, F, New York Knicks (2 years/$30.75M, 2nd year non-guaranteed)
  • Taj Gibson, F, New York Knicks (2 years/$18.45M, 2nd year non-guaranteed)
  • Elfrid Payton, G, New York Knicks (2 years/$16M, 2nd year non-guaranteed)
  • Wayne Ellington, G, New York Knicks (2 years/$16M, 2nd year non-guaranteed)
  • Derrick Favors, PF, New Orleans Pelicans (1 year/$16.9M)
  • JJ Redick, SG, New Orleans Pelicans (2 years/$26.5M)
  • D’Angelo Russell, G, Golden State Warriors (4 years/$117M)
  • Evan Turner, F, Atlanta Hawks (1 year/$18.6M)
  • Allen Crabbe, F, Atlanta Hawks (1 year/$18.5M)
  • DeMar DeRozan, SG, San Antonio Spurs (2 years/$55.5M, 2nd year player option)
  • Rudy Gay, F, San Antonio Spurs (2 years, $29M)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge, C, San Antonio Spurs (2 years, $50M)
  • Kevin Love, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers (4 years, $120.4M)
  • Tristan Thompson, C, Cleveland Cavaliers (1 years, $18.5M)
  • Jae Crowder, F, Memphis Grizzlies. (1 year/$7.815M)
  • Davis Bertans, F, Washington Wizards (1 year/$7M)
  • CJ Miles, G, Washington Wizards (1 year/$8.7M)
  • Isaiah Thomas, PG, Washington Wizards (1 year/$1.6M)

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

STRENGTHS: Star power
NEEDS: 3 & D Wing

DRAFT PICK STATUS:
2020 second round draft pick to Orlando
2021 first round draft pick to New Orleans
2021 second round draft pick to Detroit
2022 second round draft pick to Washington or Chicago
2023 first round draft pick to New Orleans
2024 first round draft pick to New Orleans

PROPOSAL

  • LAKERS RECEIVE: Marcus Morris
  • KNICKS RECEIVE: Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

EXPLANATION: Someone needs to tell Kyle Kuzma he is the ‘third scoring option’ on this team. The Lakers desperately need him not only for depth/load management, but if/when LeBron have to sit for injury or foul trouble reasons — someone else is going to have to be able to create their own shot and get a bucket. Who exactly is that on this roster if Kuzma isn’t healthy enough to carry the burden? Exactly. Morris is as tough as nails, and has already proved several times this season closing out games that he can be just what they need — a scoring security blanket who primarily serves as the perfect 3 & D veteran needed for playoff intensity.

As for the Knicks, Kuz can hop right into the youth movement and be a part of the team’s long term plans as he’s still under rookie contract team control. This makes too much sense.


LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

STRENGTHS: Star power
NEEDS: True center depth

DRAFT PICK STATUS:
2021 second round draft pick to Charlotte
2022 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City
2023 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City (swap, Oklahoma City incoming)
2024 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City
2025 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City (swap, Oklahoma City incoming)
2026 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City

PROPOSAL

  • CLIPPERS RECEIVE: Tristan Thompson
  • CAVALIERS RECEIVE: Ivica Zubac, Moe Harkless

EXPLANATION: The Clippers cannot go to war with Ivica Zubac as their starting center. Zubac is a fine talent and will be a formidable role player in this league for a long time, but if we’re fixing bayonets and preparing for trench warfare against the Lakers — I cannot have him being the one responsible for protecting home base.

The rebuttal to this is: “Montrezl Harrell is the true center of this team, he just comes off the bench!” That is correct, but despite Harrell’s grit and perfect fit into the team’s style, he’s still only 6’8” and doesn’t stand a chance in hell at defending the basketball Godzillas he’s going to be matched up against during the playoffs: Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, etc… The Clippers need a body they can put in there who has been in the trenches before and can provide rebounding, six fouls, and rim protection in addition to what Harrell already provides.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

STRENGTHS: Giannis
NEEDS: Veteran Point Guard Depth

DRAFT PICK STATUS:
2020 first round draft pick from Indiana
2021 second round draft pick from Indiana
2025 second round draft pick from Indiana
2020 first round draft pick to Boston
2020 second round draft pick to New Orleans
2021 second round draft pick to Indiana
2022 first round draft pick to Cleveland

PROPOSAL

  • BUCKS RECEIVE: Isaiah Thomas
  • WIZARDS RECEIVE: Dragan Bender

EXPLANATION: The Bucks don’t need to fix something that’s not broken. Malcolm Brogdon may be gone and Eric Bledsoe’s Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde performances in the playoffs scare the living hell out of every Milwaukee citizen, but they’re doing just fine without him while he recovers from injury.

A veteran point guard who’s done it before and can be there in case of emergency is exactly what the Bucks should be in the market for, especially if it costs them nothing.


PHILADELPHIA 76ers

STRENGTHS: Size
NEEDS: 3PT Shooting

DRAFT PICK STATUS:
2020 first round draft pick from Oklahoma City
2020 second round draft pick from Atlanta
2020 second round draft pick from Brooklyn or New York (more favorable)
2020 second round draft pick from Dallas
2021 second round draft pick from Denver
2021 second round draft pick from New York
2022 second round draft pick from Toronto
2023 second round draft pick from Atlanta, Charlotte or Brooklyn (most favorable)
2024 second round draft pick from Miami
2020 first round draft pick to Brooklyn
2021 second round draft pick to Houston (swap, Houston incoming)
2022 second round draft pick to Minnesota or Miami

PROPOSAL:

  • 76ers RECEIVE: Davis Bertans
  • WIZARDS RECEIVE: Zhaire Smith, Kyle O’Quinn, 2020 Second Round Pick (ATL)

EXPLANATION: Zhaire Smith deserves better. Davis Bertans deserves better. The 76ers desperately need jump-shooting. The Wizards desperately need add young prospects with John Wall and Bradley Beal eating up most of the team’s salary cap for the next half decade.

Zhaire Smith can flat out ball and he’s on a rookie deal. Wizards fans, you probably feel like you wouldn’t trade Bertans for LeBron James at this point. I understand what it’s like to desperately want to hold on to your cult hero out of principle alone, but you don’t have the money to pay him this offseason. Please, as an unbiased observer, do this trade and cash in on him while you still can.

Could a return to Boston be in the cards for Isaiah Thomas? Credit: Brad Mills, USA Today Sports.

BOSTON CELTICS

STRENGTHS: Scoring
NEEDS: Bench depth, front court scoring, backup point guard who can score

DRAFT PICK STATUS:
2020 first round draft pick from Memphis
2020 first round draft pick from Milwaukee
2020 second round draft pick from Atlanta
2020 second round draft pick from Brooklyn or New York (less favorable)
2020 second round draft pick to Charlotte

PROPOSAL:

  • CELTICS RECEIVE: Isaiah Thomas, 2020 Second Round Pick via either Chicago or Memphis
  • WIZARDS RECEIVE: Carsen Edwards

EXPLANATION: I don’t need to explain myself.


HOUSTON ROCKETS

STRENGTHS: Backcourt
NEEDS: Everything

DRAFT PICK STATUS:
2020 second round draft pick to Dallas or Sacramento
2021 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City (swap, Oklahoma City or Miami incoming)
2022 second round draft pick to Cleveland
2024 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City
2025 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City (swap, Oklahoma City incoming)
2026 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City
2020 second round draft pick from Memphis
2021 second round draft pick from Philadelphia (swap, Houston outgoing)

PROPOSAL:

  • ROCKETS RECEIVE: Damian Jones (ATL), Jordan McRae (WAS)
  • WIZARDS RECEIVE: Danuel House Jr. (HOU), Brandon Goodwin (ATL)
  • HAWKS RECEIVE: Isaiah Thomas (WAS), Admiral Schofield (WAS)

EXPLANATION: Get PJ Tucker some damn help before he collapses from having to do everything except scoring himself.**

**(An earlier proposal of Eric Gordon to the Knicks in exchange for Marcus Morris was published, deleted, and replaced. Any trade involving Gordon is not permissible until February 29th, 2020 per the NBA’s extension signing clause in the collective bargaining agreement.)

DeMar Derozan could be a good fit for a few contenders. Credit: Orlando Ramirez, USA Today Sports.

UTAH JAZZ

STRENGTHS: Defense
NEEDS: Scoring, Creator

DRAFT PICK STATUS:
2021 second round draft pick from Golden State
2022 second round draft pick from San Antonio
2023 second round draft pick from Golden State
2024 second round draft pick from Cleveland (swap, Utah outgoing)
2020 first round draft pick to Memphis
2020 second round draft pick to Dallas
2021 second round draft pick to Indiana

PROPOSAL:

  • JAZZ RECEIVE: DeMar DeRozan
  • SPURS RECEIVE: Mike Conley Jr., Utah’s 2022 First Round Pick Protected 1-20, rights to swap, converts to two future second round picks if protected.

EXPLANATION: Now that the Jazz are legitimate title contenders: 1) You have to fix this offense immediately. Mike Conley Jr. was not the answer, Jeff Green clearly wasn’t either, and Jordan Clarkson won’t be either. But Jordan Clarkson does help, and to bring in a name with the caliber of DeMar DeRozan — one which Utah doesn’t stand a chance of ever signing in free agency — to pair with him on a the second unit could do wonders for an offense which is in desperate need of a bench-scoring leader.

Somebody who can take the ball and go get you a damn bucket when Donovan Mitchell back stars hurting him from carrying the team. 2) You’re going to have to cash in the one trade chip you have now that Exum is gone: the 2022 First Round Pick. The Clippers did it, the Lakers did it, the Heat did it, and now it’s your turn. At this stage in his career, DeRozan doesn’t do anything to make his teammates better … but the man can still get an open look whenever he damn well pleases.

Again, I can’t say the same for anyone on this Jazz roster that isn’t named Donovan Mitchell. Get him a wingman for the love of god.


TORONTO RAPTORS

STRENGTHS: Length, size of cojones.
NEEDS: Buckets

DRAFT PICK STATUS:
2021 second round draft pick to Brooklyn
2022 second round draft pick to Philadelphia
2024 second round draft pick to Memphis

PROPOSAL:

  • RAPTORS RECEIVE: DeMar DeRozan
  • SPURS RECEIVE: Marc Gasol

EXPLANATION: I know Raptors fans have mixed feelings about bringing DeRozan back, but if Marc Gasol is going to choose the 2019-2020 campaign to be the worst season of his career and is crippled by injury indefinitely … he cannot complete his one purpose for being on the team: effectively defending Joel Embiid in a seven-game playoff series.

With Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell on the mend indefinitely with Gasol, the Raptors desperately need somebody to be a wingman Lowry until reinforcements arrive. Chris Boucher, Terrence Davis, and OG Anunoby are all great stories and have done an exceptional job filling in while the starters recover.

The Raptors continuing to find these guys out of nowhere is one of the best stories in the league — but relying on them to repeat as champions???
DeRozan would come off the bench when Siakam and Powell return, so “his style of play” plaguing a championship system won’t be a worry once the playoffs arrive.

Boucher, Davis, OG are all great unselfish players, but you desperately need somebody who can create their own shot if you want to be taken seriously as reigning champs — otherwise the role players’ roles become extremely limited. If you’re the Spurs: you’re doing this in a heartbeat because it frees the team from DeRozan exercising his player option and the franchise being on the hook for $27.7 million in salary hold.


DENVER NUGGETS

STRENGTHS: Depth
NEEDS: Another player who can create their own shot

DRAFT PICK STATUS
2020 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City
2020 second round draft pick to Brooklyn
2021 second round draft pick to Philadelphia
2022 second round draft pick to Minnesota or Miami

PROPOSAL:

  • NUGGETS RECEIVE: Julius Randle
  • KNICKS RECEIVE: Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr.

EXPLANATION: Paul Millsap cannot be trusted anymore if you’re trying to win a damn championship. Similar to the Lakers, the Nuggets have been looking for that ‘third scoring option’ since even before they blew it against the Trail Blazers last year. You’d hope your highest paid player would be, at the very least, the third wheel — but no. Millsap is a fine defender and occasionally shows flashes cutting to the rim, but between he, Gary Harris, and Will Barton, nobody has proved to be a trustable wingman to the Jamal Murray/Nikola Jokic attack.

The Nuggets desperately need someone who can take the ball and say “I got this shit” once every other time down the floor. A Randle/Jokic front court would be a PROBLEM from the outside-in, and all it costs you is a role player who can be seamlessly replaced by Monte Morris/Will Barton/Torey Craig and a high-risk, high-reward prospect who runs like Bambi on ice and is never going to crack your rotation anyway.


MIAMI HEAT

STRENGTHS: Wings
NEEDS: Point Guard

DRAFT PICK STATUS:
2020 second round draft pick to Sacramento
2021 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City or Houston
2021 second round draft pick to Sacramento
2022 second round draft pick to Indiana
2023 first round draft pick to Oklahoma City
2023 second round draft pick to Dallas or Memphis
2024 second round draft pick to Atlanta or Philadelphia
2025 second round draft pick to Indiana
2026 second round draft pick to Indiana
2022 second round draft pick from Philadelphia or Denver (less favorable)

PROPOSAL:
HEAT RECEIVE: Jrue Holiday, Jahlil Okafor, Kendrich Williams
PELICANS RECEIVE: Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Tyler Herro OR Kendrick Nunn

EXPLANATION: Do you want to win the title or just continue going on Twitter and typing HERRO GOAT NUNN GOAT to anyone who doubts the Heat? You choose.


DALLAS MAVERICKS

STRENGTHS: Front Court
NEEDS: Point Guard

DRAFT PICK STATUS:
2020 second round draft pick from Golden State or Houston
2020 second round draft pick from Utah
2023 second round draft pick from Miami (Dallas outgoing to Memphis)
2020 second round draft pick to Philadelphia
2021 first round draft pick to New York
2023 first round draft pick to New York

PROPOSAL:

  • MAVERICKS RECEIVE: Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock
  • KNICKS RECEIVE: Justin Jackson, Courtney Lee

EXPLANATION: If I’m the Mavericks, I’m asking myself this question: are we ascending to elite status with Jalen Brunson as our starting point guard? Elfrid Payton isn’t necessarily the answer either, but he would be a perfect compliment running 25 minutes a game, he wouldn’t affect Luka’s usage and he can flex between point/shooting guard at a moment’s notice.

Courtney Lee will be bought out by his old team + Justin Jackson is a small price to pay to add depth to a position currently occupied by Brunson and JJ Barea: a combined 12 feet of human. That’s like half a Giannis.