Only a few days remain before the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 7. Not to mention, the NBA All-Star Draft occurs on the same day.
The trade deadline buzzer is at 3 p.m. ET, while the All-Star Draft occurs only a few hours later at 7 p.m. That means the draft could get awkward if there are any big names moved a few hours earlier at the deadline.
This year, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the All-Star captains who will draft their teams for the ultimate pickup game. Imagine if the Bucks or Lakers make a blockbuster trade and add another superstar. Would James or Antetokounmpo select their new teammate? What would it say if they passed on their teams’ new addition?
Or better yet, what if the Lakers miss out on an All-Star like Anthony Davis? Would LeBron pick AD even if he got traded to a team that wasn’t the Lakers? Would Giannis still pick teammate Khris Middleton if Milwaukee cashed him in by trading for a bigger star?
Talk about drama inside the game. Here are a few deadline trades that could make the All-Star Draft, and the game itself, weird.
1. Anthony Davis traded to the Warriors
Listen, it’s no secret Anthony Davis wants out of New Orleans. It isn’t a secret that LeBron James wants him in L.A., either.
However, what if LeBron’s hopes of teaming up with AD to beat the Warriors is stopped by no one else but the Warriors?
Thus far, L.A.’s best deal for Davis includes two of their young players with a draft pick and salary cap filler. That hasn’t been enough to even warrant a response from the Pelicans.
That leaves the perfect opening for the Warriors to again shock the NBA by acquiring a star. It wouldn’t get much weirder for the All-Star Game, either.
Golden State could make one of the most compelling packages for Anthony Davis if it offered something around Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Thompson is a free agent this year and could have a wandering eye if the Warriors don’t want to give him a full max deal. Green can also get free next year, too. Instead of dealing with new deals for them, they could concentrate on getting Davis on the books for the long haul.
Why would Golden State trade for AD? Davis has already shown he can play with Warriors center DeMarcus C0usins. A Cousins, Davis and Durant frontcourt would be an unstoppable combination of size, skill and athleticism. Plus, ending LeBron’s hopes to play with AD would make this that much more fun for Golden State.
As for the All-Star Game, things could get weird after this trade at the draft. Would James still pick AD if he knew he only had a tiny chance of playing with him after next year’s free agency? Would he pick Klay, who is still a free agent after this year and not pair him with former All-Star teammates Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry? How would Thompson react to being on a team with Warriors players after the franchise just traded him?
2. Kyrie traded for AD
It doesn’t get much more dramatic than the Warriors dealing two All-Stars for one of the best players in the league. Or does it?
What if the Boston Celtics made a run at AD by trading Kyrie Irving? Sure, there’s talks that Davis wouldn’t prefer Boston. However, Irving can test his own free agency after this year. Davis still has another year before he can opt into the open market. That plus Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart on the roster might make the Celtics willing to roll the dice on Davis.
The Pelicans might take Kyrie on as an expiring contract, or they could flip him to a third team. Either way, New Orleans would consider a package around a young player like Jaylen Brown if it included some of the four picks Boston could have in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Not to mention, Kyrie has expressed gratitude to LeBron James since they split up from Cleveland a few years ago. There are even talks that the two could reunite in L.A. That would make LBJ really salty if both Kyrie and AD were traded to teams other than the Lakers.
In terms of the All-Star Draft, who would LeBron pick after this trade? Start this year’s recruiting by getting Kyrie or next year’s recruiting by getting Davis? Get them both?
How would Giannis react to his biggest competition in the East getting Davis? Would he pick him for his All-Star team?
3. The Bucks make a splash with Kawhi
Speaking of Giannis, how about if the Bucks made a deal to cement themselves as the team to beat in the East?
What if they put together a deal for one of the East’s other elite players in Kawhi Leonard? Sure, the Raptors seem poised to let the situation play out in hopes of keeping Leonard. Perhaps that could change with the right deal.
Khris Middleton is an All-Star averaging 17.4 points, 5.8 points and 4.2 assists. That versatility combined with 2017 Rookie of the Year Malcom Brogdon and 2018 first-round pick Donte DiVincenzo might be enough to make Toronto consider it. The Raptors could even demand a 2019 draft pick or add a swap of Kyle Lowry for Eric Bledsoe’s expiring deal if they really want assets and cap space next year.
Either way, this type of trade could put Giannis in a dramatic situation. Do you select Middleton for your team since you’ve spent the last few years playing with him? Or do you go with Kawhi to show the world you two can dominate?
4. Bradley Beal and Kemba Walker traded
Next, we move to two of the more frequent names on the NBA trade block. Kemba Walker and Bradley Beal have both had their names on the block multiple times over the past few years. There are a bunch of ways either of these guys make the trade deadline and ensuing All-Star Draft awkward.
Beal is a terrific shooting guard who has shown some playmaking for the East’s 10th-seeded Wizards, which makes him valuable around the league. He could be packaged with somebody like Otto Porter Jr. to give Washington some cap flexibility. Otherwise, his personality match alongside John Wall has been questioned.
Walker, on the other hand, is the main reason the seventh-seeded Hornets are in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. He’s an explosive playmaker playing for a $12 million salary this year. He’s a free agent after this year and could be valuable to any number of teams needing a point guard. All-Star players like LeBron, Blake Griffin, and more might be campaigning for Walker to join them at the All-Star Game.
It would be pretty dramatic if Beal and Walker were traded for each other at the deadline. Imagine if they get swapped at the deadline and play together on the same team a few days later in the All-Star Game? At every practice, the two would surely duke it out in order to make a statement.
Either way, the deal makes sense. Charlotte needs an All-Star to stay relevant, so Beal’s contract is manageable for them as Walker might not stay after this year. Washington needs point guard help in the short term with John Wall hurt, and you could even make the argument that Wall might not be the guy for the long term. That makes Walker’s one-year rental worth it for the Wizards. Not to mention, they might be desperate to move Porter’s big contract to create some cap space.
Plus, Charlotte is the host town. They’d be staring at their old All-Star, Kemba, and their new All-Star, Beal, playing on the same team, which is all types of dramatic.
5. D-Wade traded
Again, we started with the most dramatic and crazy and move to something a little less out of the galaxy. Dwyane Wade got his All-Star bid partly because it will be his last. Wade is on a farewell tour and adds his 14th All-Star Game as part of that.
Wade already said longtime buddy LeBron James should pick him in the draft. What if James goes a step further by having his team acquire Wade? L.A. could use an extra playmaker, so Wade could make sense.
A Wade trade would make the draft awkward since everyone thought he would play his final season in Miami. It also gets awkward because the West would have two token old-guy representatives since they also added Dirk Nowitzki to the player pool.
Well, Miami probably doesn’t want anything the Lakers have on a minimum salary, so why wouldn’t they honor Wade by trading him to a contender in his last year.
Plus, the All-Star Game would get even more awkward if Giannis took Wade knowing he wants to play with James.
Ultimately, most of these trades are way too dramatic to happen, but they’re still fun to think about. They’re even more fun to think about when you consider how weird, awkward and uncomfortable they could make the All-Star festivities.