With the All-Star game in LA quickly approaching, NBA teams are looking to make the next big move that could catapult them from pretender to contender or make them go from wannabe to look-at-me. Last year, right after hosting the All-Star game, the Pelicans traded for Boogie Cousins and while it didn’t pay off last year, this year, they are currently sitting in the 6th spot in the Western Conference with Cousins being a huge part of that.
This year, it’s a bit different. Two of the teams who are in prime ‘tanking’ position, don’t have their pick and so it wouldn’t make as much sense to finish low in the standings as it normally would. There are still some great trades that are just sitting there, waiting for teams to pick up the phone and agree to them, but alas, these trades, probably won’t end up happening.
Jordan Clarkson from LAL
Lou Williams from LAC
Future 2nd round pick from LAL
Why they should do it: The Cavs get two big-time bench pieces to add scoring for Lebron. In Clarkson, they get a guy who is under control for 2 more years after this at a reasonable salary for a bench scorer who can get his own shot, as well as move the ball a little bit as well. In Williams, the Cavs get the player that might end up being the 6th man of the year. He also has a skillset that meshes well with Lebron as he can spot up and hit the open shot, as well as carry the offense at times to give Lebron a breather. They also don’t have to give up the Brooklyn pick that they acquired in the Kyrie trade.
Why they won’t do it: Speaking of the Kyrie trade, after trading Kyrie Irving for the Brooklyn pick and Isaiah Thomas, Thomas has been recovering from his hip injury and is still rusty. One of the ways to get him out of that, is to give him the ball and let him go to work. While that doesn’t really fit what the Cavs do on offense, it does give the Cavs another go-to scorer. Most importantly, the Cavs won’t do this trade because they don’t want to look like they lost the Kyrie trade by dumping Thomas already. It’s really just ego at work here.
Channing Frye from Cle
Why they should do it: This move clears Clarkson’s salary off the books for the next few seasons, freeing up some money for the Lakers to sign a couple of big-time free agents next season. It also gives them a spot-up shooter that the Lakers sorely lack. It will be a nice little test run to see how Ingram and Lonzo can play with someone who can hit open 3s with regularity.
Why they won’t do it: This move might hurt the Lakers in the short term. Clarkson is a valuable piece and if the Lakers had their pick this year, they’d likely make this type of move. Without their pick, there’s no reason to risk possibly losing more games than they need to.
Isaiah Thomas from Cle
Jose Calderon from Cle
Why they should do it: The Clippers probably aren’t going anywhere this season. They’re likely going to push to get into that last playoff spot and while Lou Williams has been great for them, the potential of Isaiah Thomas could be huge for them. Thomas is also a west coast guy who might be a great candidate to re-sign with the Clippers and be a piece to build around, which Williams probably isn’t.
Why they won’t do it: The Clippers might think that the playoffs are the only thing that matter this year and Lou Williams might be their ticket there. He’s been phenomenal this year.
Larry Nance Jr
Why they should do it: The Bulls would be getting a couple of young, very cheap assets in this deal, with Kuzma being the prize. He’s shown early in his career that he was a steal at the 27th pick and while the Lakers may not put him on the table for any trades, if he becomes available, he becomes quite the prize, especially for the cheap Bulls. This deal also allows the bulls to reunite with Luol Deng. The former Bull had his best seasons as a pro with Chicago before being overused and basically a very expensive afterthought at this point.
Why they won’t do it: As previously mentioned, the Bulls are a very cheap franchise. Adding Kuzma and high flyer Larry Nance would send the Bulls over the moon because they combine to make less than $3 million, but taking back Deng and his heavy contract would for Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf to open his wallet and even though they’d be getting back two very nice young pieces, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Why they should do it: The Lakers would be shedding Luol Deng’s contract without taking on any substantial contract in return. They’d have Payne for one more year and if they give him a shot to play, he could show some of the potential that he flashed for the Thunder as Westbrooks backup. Of course, again, the biggest thing is shedding Deng’s contract.
Why they won’t do it: As mentioned, the Lakers don’t have their draft pick. This trade makes them worse this year. Trading away Kuzma and Nance will make the Lakers worse and will not benefit them. If they find a trade partner for Deng, it’ll likely be during the offseason and not during the season.
Future 1st Round pick (lottery protected)
Why they should do it: Let’s be real, the Suns aren’t going anywhere. Not this season and probably not next. They have a couple of pieces, but players just aren’t doing all they can to get to Phoenix. This trade for the Suns is all about that 1st round pick. They’re not going anywhere with Chandler, so he becomes expendable. If the Sixers just squeak into the playoffs, that pick could come as early as this year and it should be a mid-round pick, and not a late pick, giving it a bit more value.
Why they won’t do it: The only reason the Suns wouldn’t make this trade is if they have something better lined up for Chandler. They have no other good reason to not make this trade.
Why they should do it: The Sixers have been about the process but in recent years, they’re taking steps to make that final push and get back into the playoffs. Acquiring Chandler gives the Sixers a quality big man to put next to Embiid at times, and maybe more importantly, gives them someone they can play when Embiid needs to sit, who can still protect the rim. Chandler is definitely getting up there in age, but he can still rebound, set screens, and protect the rim and with Embiid doing a lot of the heavy lifting, he might be the perfect piece to just slide in next to him and push the Sixers comfortably into the playoffs.
Why they won’t do it: The Sixers are still holding out hope that LeBron James will sign with them. To do so, they’ll need maximum cap room, and while there’s only a $2 million difference in salary between Johnson and Chandler, Chandler also is on the books for next season for a bit over $13.5 million which may limit their flexibility.