The 2019 NBA Playoffs have been a roller coaster through the first rounds and game 1 of the Finals. It’s looking like there will little doubt that the upcoming NBA offseason will be a wild one, as well. A truckload of big-name free agents have the potential to change the landscape of the NBA. Some teams will enter the summer with the chance to land two top-tier players, while others may strike out and be forced to settle.
The current order of the NBA Draft, which is less than a month away, has set the stage for the hectic offseason ahead. With the New Orleans Pelicans winning the lottery and assumingly gearing up to take Zion Williamson first overall, the Pelicans have now begun to eye draft night as a deadline to sort out a trade for Anthony Davis. With the 2019 draft class being considered fairly top heavy, it wouldn’t be surprising to see many teams move position within the draft or ship out their picks this year to in favor of adding more veteran talent to their roster.
Any trade that happens between now and the end of the NBA Draft could have reverberating effect on free agency. As middling teams look to make moves that will get them over the hump and other franchises push their chips to the center of the table and hunt for a superstar name, here are five deals that could shake up the league.
A.D. to N.Y.C.
Since midway through last season, everyone has perched anxiously on the edge of their seat as they wait for the inevitable fulfillment of Anthony Davis’ trade request. It has felt like a three-team race most of the way through, with the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks competing against one another to land Davis.
The draft lottery gave the Knicks a little bit of an edge on the other two teams, however. With the third overall pick in draft that is expected to produce three elite players, there’s a strong chance that New York would be able to create the best package for the Pelicans. The no. 3 pick, young players like Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., and Mitchell Robinson, and future picks (which New York has plenty of thanks to the Kristaps Porzingis trade) may check all the boxes for David Griffin and New Orleans.
If Anthony Davis is traded to the Knicks, this would obviously have a residual impact on free agency. The New York Knicks organization doesn’t have a track record of being able to draw in top free agents, but with two max slots available, playing with Davis- and maybe even another star- could be quite the recruiting pitch. Locking in A.D. improves New York’s odds to bring aboard another big name like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving.
Motor City Mike
The Memphis Grizzlies took the first big step in committing to their rebuild earlier in the season by trading Marc Gasol to the Toronto Raptors. Their misfortunate 2018-19 season paid off, though, as they were awarded the second overall pick in the upcoming draft. With Jaren Jackson Jr.’s promising rookie campaign and their point guard of the future, Ja Morant, waiting for them at no. 2 on draft night, the Grizzlies moving the last piece from the “grit and grind” era could be right around the corner.
Dealing Mike Conley to the Detroit Pistons would be a win all around. Much like the Gasol trade, Memphis would likely need to bring back salary like Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer in addition to a valuable asset like Detroit’s no. 15 pick in the upcoming draft. This would allow the Grizzlies to not have to bottom out in order to obtain young pieces.
Meanwhile, Detroit would get the upgrade in the backcourt they have desperately needed. Conley would be a perfect fit alongside Blake Griffin, who has taken on some of the playmaking duties similar to Marc Gasol’s role during his time with Memphis. Conley is just as comfortable operating off the ball and knocking down 3-pointers as he his running the offense. He is still one of the better perimeter defending point guards in the league as well- something the Pistons have craved. He may be on the back end of his career but acquiring Mike Conley now would help Detroit make the most of the small window of opportunity they have with Griffin.
Beal to Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Lakers have as much riding on this offseason as anyone in the league could. After failing to sign a co-star for LeBron James in that last offseason, the pressure is on for this team to make a bold move to add another star. Singing a free agent like Kawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving would be an ideal move for the Lakers. Getting New Orleans to pull the trigger on a deal like they have tried to do earlier around the trade deadline would offer another means of bulking this team up.
However, if Los Angeles feels that there is a strong shot they will strike out on both scenarios and be forced to enter next season with the roster, they could be inclined to jump on a deal sooner rather than later. Be that the case, Bradley Beal would be a perfect target for the Lakers. The Wizards reportedly have interest in dealing Beal to the west coast team, but would look to get Lonzo Ball in return. Los Angeles could offer a package of the no.4 pick in the draft, Ball, and another young player like Josh Hart to trade for the 25-year-old All-Star.
Beal’s fit alongside LeBron is perfect. He would offer an effortless source of scoring and could even shoulder some of the playmaking load at times. This would also be a deal that wouldn’t require the Lakers to deplete their roster of all their young talent, allowing them to retain depth or make another move later on. If the Lakers trade for Bradley Beal, that would make other big free agent players, like the Knicks or Clippers, more likely to land big fish this summer. More importantly for the Lakers, though, it would help this team get a lot better very quickly.
Holiday in the Sun
Coming off of drafting big man DeAndre Ayton first overall in 2018 and Devin Booker taking another leap in his development, the Phoenix Suns headed into the 2018-19 season with expectations to take the next step as a young team. Sadly, that did not pan out quite as they had hoped. Their sour luck throughout the season continued into the draft lottery, resulting in the Suns acquiring the sixth overall pick in the upcoming draft.
With a top-heavy draft class and a team eager to win right away, swapping that pick to bring in a proven veteran could be a better plan for Phoenix rather than trotting out another rookie. The New Orleans Pelicans are on the verge of a rebuild and if everything fell in the right place, the Suns could be the perfect trade partner in a Jrue Holiday deal.
A package centered around the sixth overall pick would be a great return for the Pelicans, who will likely be setting up for the future pending an Anthony Davis deal. Josh Jackson could be used to help get the deal done, also. Dealing him would give the Pelicans another young player to take out a flyer on while creating little breathing room in the Suns wing rotation.
Holiday would be a great fit alongside Devin Booker in the backcourt. He would bring in plenty of much needed defense and could Booker improve his game on that side of the ball, too. Jrue will be 29 years old by the start of the 2019-20 season, which would bump up the team’s timeline a little, but could be the key to getting this young Phoenix squad to the next level.