The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 title in six games over the Miami Heat behind the brilliance of superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James made NBA history by becoming the first player to win three Finals MVP awards with three different teams, while Davis finally captured that elusive first title.
According to the oddsmakers in Las Vegas, the Lakers are the betting favorites to win the title again in 2020-21. However, it’s going to be a tougher road next season since the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets will enter the title picture.
The Nets will have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leading the way, while the Warriors will get Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back in the lineup next to Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins. The Dubs also have the second overall pick in the 2020 draft after finishing the 2019-20 season with the worst record in the NBA before games were suspended in March due to COVID-19.
With the 2020 transaction period slowly approaching, here are four trades that would completely change the NBA and make the Lakers’ quest for title No. 18 harder next season, with one trade added in to actually help Los Angeles.
1. Victor Oladipo to the Heat
This has been the biggest secret in the NBA that basically everyone knows about. After Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers didn’t agree to a contract extension, rumors began to swirl about the 2018 Most Improved Player of the Year being unhappy in Indiana.
Oladipo is supposedly looking for a max contract when he enters unrestricted free agency in 2021. The high-flyer also wants to play for a contender.
With that being said, look for the Heat to try and acquire Oladipo this offseason and pair him with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. A report has already surfaced claiming that the Pacers are expected to shop Oladipo this offseason out of fear of losing him in 2021 and not getting anything in return.
Heat president Pat Riley is one of the most aggressive execs we have in the game. Everyone knows the Godfather is pissed about losing to the Lakers in the NBA Finals since he and LeBron’s relationship didn’t end that well when The King left the Heat to go back to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014.
If Riley can get Oladipo next to Butler and Adebayo, the Heat may become the favorites to win the whole thing in 2021 since they took the Lakers to six games this season without him.
2. Pistons trade Derrick Rose to the Nets
The Detroit Pistons are in rebuild mode and Derrick Rose is at the tail end of his career. With that being said, the Nets should trade a first-round pick and a supporting player to the Pistons for Rose, who would be a great back up to Irving in Brooklyn.
The Nets are the betting favorites to win the East next season with Durant returning from his Achilles tear. Rose already has a close relationship with both Durant and Irving and he would be an elite microwave scorer for the Nets off the bench.
Rose has been linked to the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, so the Nets should try and keep him away from those two teams and add him to their already talented roster. The former NBA MVP averaged 18.1 points per game for the Pistons in 2019-20 in 50 games, with most of those outings coming in a reserve role.
That’s the type of production the Nets would love to have off their bench, especially in the playoffs when the game slows down and half-court scoring is at a premium.
3. Warriors acquire Kevin Love from the Cavs
The Warriors almost traded Klay Thompson to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2014 for Kevin Love, but smartly decided not to.
Love and Thompson, who are childhood friends, played in four NBA Finals, with the Warriors winning three and the Cavs getting one in 2016.
Since the Cavs are in rebuild mode in the second post-LeBron era and Love is getting older, it makes no sense for the All-Star power forward to stay in Cleveland. So, Golden State and Cleveland should work out a trade that gets Love on the Warriors next to Curry, Thompson and Green.
In 2019-20 with the lowly Cavs, Love averaged 17.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting 45.0 percent from the field, 37.4 percent from beyond the arc and 85.4 percent from the free-throw line. The five-time All-Star would likely feast in pick-and-pop actions with Curry since defenders would have to decide if they want to limit Steph’s drive to the basket or go out to the perimeter and contest Love’s shot from deep.
4. Clippers trade Paul George to the Sixers for Ben Simmons
The Clippers need a point guard for Kawhi Leonard and the Sixers need more shooting and scoring around Joel Embiid.
With that being said, a trade that sends Paul George to the Sixers and Ben Simmons to the Clippers could be beneficial for both teams. Simmons is an elite floor general and defender, while George is a talented scorer and perimeter shooter, something the Sixers desperately need next to Embiid since he gets double-teamed a lot in the post.
While the odds of Sixers coach Doc Rivers and the front office in Philly trading for George is really low since Rivers just coached PG on the Clippers, stranger things have happened in the NBA.
5. Chris Paul to the Lakers
Since the Oklahoma City Thunder could be headed for a rebuild after head coach Billy Donovan left the team, Chris Paul could possibly be traded to the Lakers since Los Angeles needs a starting point guard and James and CP3 are basically best friends.
Paul averaged 17.6 points and 6.7 assists per game for the Thunder in 2019-20. If Los Angeles acquired the Point God, they could throw out a starting lineup of Paul, Danny Green, LeBron, Davis and JaVale McGee in 2020-21.
Opposing teams would have nightmares trying to stop the Paul and Davis pick-and-roll game since Davis is a three-level scorer and Paul is arguably the best passer of his generation.
Paul was almost on the Lakers in 2011, but the late David Stern vetoed the trade. Could CP3 finally head to the Purple and Gold with LeBron and Davis in the fold? Only time will tell.
However, if the Lakers do acquire Paul, their odds to repeat as champions would soar through the roof.