The NBA can finally move forward.
Kevin Durant has withdrawn his trade request and is staying with Brooklyn for the upcoming season. Now that teams aren’t waiting on KD, they can return to business as usual. Remaining free agents will be picked up and other trades will be made.
Today, I’ve pieced together five deals that could be made before training camp. I’ll be breaking down why each team would pull the trigger and how it would benefit them. Let’s get started!
Trade #1: Raptors find a starting center, Hawks open up room for theirs
Toronto gets: Clint Capela, first-round pick
Atlanta gets: OG Anunoby
Since trading away Jonas Valanciunas in 2019, Toronto has lacked a full-time starter at center. All-Star Pascal Siakam filled that slot during the 2021-22 regular season, but he is a four naturally. Acquiring Capela would fix that issue. He is known for being a very good rim protector and with him anchoring a talented defensive roster the Raptors would be one of the best defenses in the league. OG Anunoby is their best on-ball defender, but Scottie Barnes projects to fill that role with his length and versatility so the blow of losing Anunoby would be softened.
Not only would Atlanta be adding a fantastic young two-way forward in Anunoby, but trading Capela would also open a starting spot for 2020 lottery pick Onyeka Okongwu. As I talked about here, Okongwu is the long-term five for the Hawks. He does every Capela does and more and just needs the opportunity to spread his wings and take off. A lineup of Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, OG Anunoby, John Collins, and Onyeka Okongwu would put Atlanta in a position to return to the Conference Finals and potentially go further.
Trade #2: Knicks embrace the youth movement, Mavericks replace Jalen Brunson
New York gets: Davis Bertans, Josh Green, lottery-protected first-round pick
Dallas gets: Derrick Rose, Cam Reddish
Losing 2022 breakout guard Jalen Brunson hurts for a Dallas team coming off a Conference Finals run where he starred. While Derrick Rose is much older than Brunson, he would help patch the wound. The former MVP was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in 2020-21 (and in 2021-22 before he got hurt), offering reliable play on both ends. Cam Reddish was a top-ten pick in 2019 and still has a lot of untapped potential. In the best-case scenario, he could be a starter next to Luka for the future.
By doing this deal, the Knicks would be able to give a bigger role to Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, and Miles McBride in the backcourt. The organization wants to compete, but I think they should do so while developing their young core. It was reported that Coach Thibodeau didn’t want Reddish on the roster, so while trading him isn’t ideal, it’s clear he wouldn’t have a big role on the team anyways. This is an addition by subtraction situation for New York.
Trade #3: Lakers end the Westbrook experiment, round out supporting cast
Los Angeles gets: Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, T.J. McConnell
Indiana gets: Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves, first-round pick
While I am not in the “Westbrook is washed” camp, it seems like he doesn’t have much to offer on the Lakers. Russ is most effective with the ball running the offense, and since LeBron is the top dog in L.A. it makes the two an awkward pairing. By sacrificing a pick they can get some high-quality role players that will help put the team in a better position to win before *gulp* LeBron retires.
Renting Westbrook means the Pacers would have $47+ million coming off the books at the end of the 2022-23 season. They are also getting a solid young role player and a first-rounder in exchange for three guys who aren’t part of their long-term core.
Trade #4: Heat fill their hole at power forward
Miami gets: John Collins, Mo Harkless
Atlanta gets: Victor Oladipo, Duncan Robinson, Omer Yurtseven, first-round pick
Rumors surrounding a John Collins trade have been floating around for a while now, and even though I don’t see why the Hawks would trade him it’s bound to happen at some point. Getting a former All-Star, two rotational players, and a pick is a solid return for the star power forward.
After P.J. Tucker left for Philadelphia, Miami was left with no true four-man outside of Udonis Haslem. Getting Collins would solve that. The Heat have fallen short two seasons in a row after their Finals run in the bubble and a borderline top-sixty player would help them return to the promised land.
Trade #5: Pelicans go all in
New Orleans gets: Mike Conley
Utah gets: Devonte’ Graham, Jaxson Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr.
After the Pelicans made it out of the play-in and pushed the first-seeded Suns to a competitive six games, many fans are excited about what they can do in 2022-23 (myself included). With Zion healthy, C.J. McCollum on the squad for a full season, and the young talent continuing to grow, they’re looking very scary. Adding a consistent veteran point guard who shoots and defends would help solidify their chances of making noise in a crowded Western Conference.
Trading Rudy Gobert kicked off a retooling of sorts for the Jazz (whether they fully commit and trade Donovan Mitchell remains to be seen). Jaxon Hayes and Kira Lewis are both former lottery picks who could blossom with new opportunities on a rebuilding Utah team.