The NBA regular season is upon us. What this means is that we’re done trying to stomach watching practice-squad quality players litter the floor during preseason games. We’re also about to see the best of the best duke it out for NBA supremacy.
But let’s not forget that the intrigue isn’t solely on the basketball court, as NBA front offices will still continue concocting shocking trades. We’ve done our part by guessing which crazy trades will push through this season.
Read up on them…
1. Jonas Valanciunas to the Phoenix Suns
The Toronto Raptors are set to pay Valanciunas $15.4 million this season and $16.5 million next year, which are big cap hits for the team even though they’ve already unloaded DeMarre Carroll and Terrence Ross. Toronto is attempting to plan for the future while trying to remain a top contender in the Eastern Conference, and they could hit two birds with one stone if they manage to do away with Valanciunas and his contract in exchange for another big man with either an expiring contract or one that comes with cheaper price tag. If that’s the case, a Valanciunas for Derrick Favors or Tyson Chandler deal could be a viable option for Toronto’s front office.
2. DeAndre Jordan to the Houston Rockets
For most of his professional career, Jordan’s offensive production is largely dependent on the playmaking of Chris Paul. Not anymore. Paul is now in Houston, leaving Jordan with Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic as his prime sources of lob passes. Jordan is far more than a soaring beast with a penchant for destroying the rim, however. He’s also an elite rim protector and a terrific rebounder, qualities that some other title contenders would want to have on their team even if it comes at a cost. Jordan is entering a contract year (player option), and regardless how committed he and the Clippers are in prolonging their partnership, there are front offices out there willing to float picks and/or multiple players for the big man. If the Clippers are game for something crazy, they could entertain the idea of sending Jordan and his $22.64 million contract this season to the…. Houston Rockets. In return, the Clippers could get Ryan Anderson and Chinanu Onuaku as a throw-in to balance the salaries.
3. Eric Bledsoe to the Denver Nuggets
Have you taken a glimpse at the point guard situation in Denver? Nuggets head coach Mike Malone is having trouble defining his backcourt’s identity mainly because no one among Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Jameer Nelson (recently waived) has clearly separated himself from the rest this preseason. This could be something that continues in the regular season. An unstable point guard rotation is the last thing a team looking to compete for a playoff spot in the dog-eat-dog Western Conference would want. Bledsoe would solve all of Malone’s quandaries about that, and the Nuggets have a glut of non-guard assets to dangle in front of Phoenix. A configuration around Wilson Chandler, Will Barton, Kenneth Faried, and Mudiay could satisfy Phoenix into giving up the 27-year-old guard.
4. Dwight Howard to the Cleveland Cavaliers
Don’t look at me like that. Hear me first. Howard’s past his prime. His main motivation is to earn as much money as he can before his back completely breaks down. But if you dig, dig, dig deep enough inside him, you’ll realize he wants to win a championship. The problem is that he’s not going to get it while playing for the Charlotte Hornets. Worse, he might even lose some of his minutes to Cody Zeller, inflicting damage to his ego, which could then result to a trade demand. The Cavaliers could be a sanctuary for Howard. The Cavs hold the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 pick, which they could package along with Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert to pry Howard away from Charlotte.
5. Jahlil Okafor to the Boston Celtics
There was a time when Okafor was viewed as a future cornerstone for the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers. That’s no longer the case today, however. Okafor has seen his minutes and value decline over the last season, when he averaged just 22.7 minutes in 50 games. In his rookie year, he played for 30.0 minutes per contest. Okafor appeared even more dispensable after the Sixers signed Joel Embiid recently to an extension deal. The Sixers should just trade Okafor then. The Boston Celtics have long been rumored to be a top suitor of Okafor, and could try to entice the Sixers with a future draft pick and Marcus Smart. The Celtics and Smart failed to agree on an extension deal on Monday, which could be a sign that the Celtics aren’t interested in keeping the scrappy guard beyond this season. Smart would give the Sixers’ backcourt some needed spunk, while Boston will get frontline depth with Okafor.
6. Derrick Favors to the Washington Wizards
Favors has been a favorite subject by Jazz fans of late because all of them have varying opinions on what Utah should do about the forward. Favors is entering a contract year and is one of the players Utah is expecting to lead the team along with frontcourt partner Rudy Gobert in the post-Gordon Hayward era. Favors, however, has struggled to remain healthy, unable to play in more than 62 games in each of the last two seasons. Do the Jazz really want him on their books for the long haul by resigning him next summer knowing that anytime his body could break down? One team who could take a gamble at Favors if it’s just for a year is the Washington Wizards. The Wizards have a glaring lack of offense from their frontcourt, which was only 22nd in the NBA last season in points per game. Finding a trade match from the Wizards could be a bit tricky, though, as it’s unlikely the Wizards will be willing to give up Markieff Morris ($8 million, 2 years). Otherwise, the Jazz could eye Jason Smith, Ian Mahinmi, and a pick in return.
7. DeMarcus Cousins to the Cleveland Cavaliers
Another big man to Cavaliers trade chicanery. Cousins has one more year left on his current contract and if the New Orleans Pelicans can’t prove to Boogie that they’re going somewhere by making a significant leap forward from the 34-win campaign last season, then Cousins may not want to consider staying in New Orleans. It’s hard to top the way the Sacramento Kings fumbled the Cousins situation last season, but if the Pelicans failed to make the playoffs with Cousins and Anthony Davis for a full season and lost Boogie next summer to free agency, then we could say that New Orleans managed to out-Sacramento Sacramento. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, are above the luxury cap threshold by over $14 million, and for them to accommodate Cousins’ $18.063M salary and convince the Pellies to push the button, they may have to surrender the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick and Tristan Thompson. Whether that would be enough for LeBron James to stay in The Land is for another topic to discuss.