As the NBA trade deadline approaches, some teams find themselves in unfamiliar spots, and each team has its own unique problems that it faces on the way to making the playoffs, vying for a title or racing to the bottom for the No. 1 overall pick. Here are the top 15 trades (in alphabetical order) for teams to pursue going into this year’s trade deadline.
76ers — Markelle Fultz and Amir Johnson for Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis
The rumors of a Fultz trade have been going around for almost the entire season, and it’s looking like it’s finally time for the Sixers to let go of the No. 1 pick from just a season ago. In this trade, they give the Bulls a high-value prospect in Fultz along with Johnson’s small contract and, in return, land two young players who can make an immediate impact in Philadelphia’s push for the finals this season.
Bucks — Tony Snell and a future second-round pick for Boban Marjanovic
The Bucks, in this scenario, get to clear up some money for free agency with Khris Middleton potentially opting out of his player option to become a free agent. They lose a solid backup wing player in Snell and a second-round pick, but clearing Snell’s contract for an expiring contract in Boban is the best option for this Milwaukee team.
Celtics — Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward for Bradley Beal and Ian Mahinmi
Although it’s sad to say, Hayward just hasn’t been the same ever since his injury and is holding on to a max contract. Getting rid of Hayward and Brown in exchange for Beal and Mahinmi would allow Boston to roll out a deadly starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Beal, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris and Al Horford, making the Celtics immediate contenders for the finals this season.
Kings — Zach Randolph and a future second-round pick for DeMarre Carroll
Although Carroll isn’t the perfect solution for the Kings’ problem at small forward, he’s an upgrade from Iman Shumpert on a team trying to grasp the eighth seed in the Western Conference, and his contract expires after this season. It will be tough for the Kings to trade for a valuable wing without giving up needed young assets to keep this team together, and their best bet in a long-term solution is the upcoming free agency, where they will have more financial freedom than most other teams in the NBA.
Knicks — Tim Hardaway Jr. and Lance Thomas for Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos
The Knicks should be looking to dump Hardaway’s terrible contract, and the Kings might be just desperate enough for a wing player to take it on. The team also gains valuable big men in Z-Bo and Koufos, who both have expiring contracts, clearing up plenty of room for free agency.
Lakers — Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram for Devin Booker and the Suns’ 2019 top-three protected first-round pick
The Lakers get a young superstar in Booker and a lottery pick from a poor team in exchange for two young stars who play the same position as LeBron James. Although Booker signed a massive contract extension, the Lakers may not want to gamble in free agency to try to get Anthony Davis and should rather secure a star to accompany LeBron with Booker.
Magic — Jonathan Isaac and Evan Fournier for Dennis Smith Jr. and Wes Matthews
The Magic should be interested in Smith, as there have been plenty of trade rumors surrounding his name, and the team could desperately use a young point guard. The Mavericks can use Fournier as a perimeter shooter to help Luka Doncic, especially because the young Magic player may want to shed his contract.
Pacers — Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young for Mike Conley
It’s hard to imagine the Pacers making any noise in the playoffs this year after Victor Oladipo was just shut down for the season with a ruptured quad. This means they may want to take advantage of expiring contracts in Bogdanovic and Young to trade for an elite point guard in Conley, who still has three years left on contract. Conley, Oladipo, Arvydas Sabonis and Myles Turner can make a great 2019-20 run together.
Pelicans — Anthony Davis and E’Twaun Moore for Jonas Valanciunas, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and a 2021 first-round pick
As reported by just about every sports outlet at this point, Davis is ready to move on from the Pelicans, and contenders will be in hot pursuit of the NBA superstar. According to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers will have to include Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac and a first-round pick to get Davis. This may be too steep of a price for the Lakers, who can attract the likes of Kawhi Leonard or other stars in free agency. Instead, the Pelicans may find a better offer from Toronto, which can supply the Pelicans with proven young players in Anunoby and Siakam as well as established veterans Valanciunas and Powell. In addition, the Raptors throw in a future first-round pick, and the Pelicans add in Moore to balance things even further for both sides.
Raptors — Serge Ibaka, Delon Wright, Toronto’s 2019 second-round pick and a 2021 first-round pick for Bradley Beal
Toronto should be interested in adding an elite shooting guard to their roster to make a serious run in the playoffs this year. If they can trade Ibaka and some picks for Beal, they would enter the playoff with a starting five of Kyle Lowry, Beal, Leonard, Siakam and Valanciunas. This team could make a serious run at the title and, even more importantly, attract Kawhi to return next year.
Rockets — Brandon Knight and Houston’s 2019 first-round pick for Bojan Bogdanovic. The Rockets would gain a solid starting small forward in Bogdanovic, who’s averaging 16 PPG as well as 4.1 RPG this season. The team could use his one-year rental contract to help find a way past Golden State to the NBA finals.
Spurs — Rudy Gay and a future first-round pick for Khris Middleton
The Spurs would surely love to be able to upgrade their wing position going into the playoffs this year and potentially have Middleton opt in to his contract to stay with San Antonio for the 2020 season as well. With coach Gregg Popovich and a core of DeMar DeRozan, Middleton and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs could surely make a run again.
Thunder — Andre Roberson for E’Twaun Moore and the Pelicans’ 2020 second-round pick
Moore could be a much-needed perimeter shooter for the Thunder, and although they may have to give up lockdown defender Roberson to get him, Moore fits Russell Westbrook’s drive-and-dish style of play much better.
Timberwolves — Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague for Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon
Sure, Derrick Rose will never be the same as during his MVP season in 2011, but his strong year indicates his ability to return to a starting role in Minnesota. Wiggins is shooting a career low from the field this year, and Robert Covington may be the Timberwolves’ guy when he returns. The starting five of Rose, Fournier, Covington, Gordon and Karl-Anthony Towns could cause problems in the West.
Trailblazers — Zach Collins and Wade Baldwin for Derrick Rose and Luol Deng
It’s hard to imagine the Blazers trading away Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum or Jusuf Nurkic, as they currently sit at fourth in the West, but an upgrade to their bench may help them in the playoffs. Rose can prove to be a solid backup for Lillard or McCollum in exchange for young prospects in Collins and Baldwin.