The NBA trade deadline is coming up quick, and buyers and sellers alike will be scrambling up until Thursday to move their guys around. We saw the Knicks shock the NBA world by dealing their beloved star forward Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks last week. With that first domino fallen into place, more are bound to fall as Thursday approaches. Here are three dominoes that I can see falling into place in the next few days:
Anthony Davis for Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and two first-round picks.
That’s what it’s going to have to take to get Anthony Davis from New Orleans. An entire starting lineup of good players and two first-round picks. KCP is only involved to make the money work, but the other four Lakers are young, talented and full of potential. Ingram is averaging over 20 points per 36 minutes when he isn’t playing next to Lebron. Kuzma has proven he can shoulder the scoring load for long stretches. Ball is an elite defender and is dangerous in transition. Zubac has shown flashes of post-scoring prowess. It would be a great haul for the Pelicans to start their rebuild with.
It was originally thought that New Orleans would wait until the summer to trade Davis because that’s when Boston would be allowed to trade for him. Boston has Jayson Tatum and a stockpile of draft picks they could bundle with other good young players in an offer for Davis that perhaps surpasses LA’s package. There have been murmurs from Davis’ camp, including from his father, that say Davis wouldn’t be interesting in signing with Boston long-term. Boston wouldn’t dream of parting with their most valuable assets to get AD as a rental, so the likelihood they get AD has plummeted. So now, the Pelicans have no reason to wait for the summer to move AD. They’d rather do it now so Davis can’t do anything (e.g. get injured) to hurt his trade value.
With the Celtics’ status in the air, the trade deadline is just the time for the Lakers to come in with this haymaker of an offer. The Pelicans might want to toss Solomon Hill in the offer, because he is owed $13 million next season. In that case, I think the Lakers throw in Rajon Rondo to make the money work and still reluctantly accept. Davis is too impactful of a player to let the Lakers slip away. After watching Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and Kawhi Leonard all say they want to go to LA and then end up somewhere else, I’m sure Magic Johnson will do everything within his power not to let Davis join that list.
Jimmy Butler and Markelle Fultz for Mike Conley.
The Memphis Grizzlies are 21-33 as I write this and find themselves sitting at second-to-last in the Western Conference. They have no shot at a playoff bid and are in the perfect position to be sellers. The good news is, their product is a point guard that plays elite defense and is currently averaging 20.3 points, 6.3 assists and only 1.9 turnovers per game while shooting 36 percent from the arc. The bad news is a lot longer. Conley is on the wrong side of 30 and is owed between $30-$35 million through 2021, and the buyer’s market for point guards just isn’t that large. The team trading for Conley would have to be in a win-now situation. Enter the 76ers.
Philadelphia is 34-19, which is fourth in the surprisingly-competitive Eastern Conference. The 76ers tried adding the firepower to compete by trading for Jimmy Butler, but that hasn’t quite worked out. Butler has already complained about his role within the offense, and Brett Brown hasn’t figured out how to utilize Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons’ talent all on the floor together. Butler can (and most certainly will) opt out of his contract at the end of the season, so the Sixers should look to get some sort of return on their investment. If they can flip him for Conley, he’d be a great fit in Philly.
I know what you’re probably thinking: “Sean, don’t the 76ers already have an all-star point guard in Simmons?” Yes, they do, but he’s no ordinary point guard. Simmons is 6-foot-10 and can guard multiple positions, so starting two points guards won’t create a size problem. It also won’t cramp Simmons’ style as primary playmaker. Conley doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective. Over the course of his 12 NBA seasons, Conley has learned ways to get open without the ball and is an efficient 3-point shooter. Plus, his great defense will right the defensive wrongs that JJ Redick brings onto the court. Philly will be able to trade Butler for a useful contributor to the team, and Memphis will get rid of Conley’s staggering contract for Butler’s expiring and have a shot at fixing Markelle Fultz. That’s a win-win.
Aaron Gordon for C.J. McCollum swap.
Here we have two teams that have been stuck in the same positions for too long. The Magic haven’t quite been able to get their rebuild off of the ground, and the pairing of Damian Lillard and McCollum seems to be milked for all it’s worth. McCollum is averaging his lowest points, assists, shot attempt and 3-point percentage in the last three years. Gordon is averaging almost two less points than he did last year. McCollum is the type of player that would thrive as a primary ball handler but has to give way to Dame, while Gordon needs someone to take the ball out of his hands so he can thrive as a complementary player. Swapping the two makes perfect sense.
McCollum would get to handle the ball more and showcase his playmaking on a rebuilding team, while Gordon will get to work with Dame in the pick-and-roll, opening up Portland’s offense. Portland’s biggest problem in the playoffs last year when they got upset by six-seeded New Orleans was that their two 6-foot-3 guards got bullied by the much bigger Rondo and Jrue Holiday. By losing McCollum and adding Gordon, they’ll have a chance to slide someone bigger in at shooting guard and fix that size issue. For the Magic, they’ll get rid of Gordon, who has been taking minutes away from the developing youngsters Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba. They’ll also finally have a decent playmaking guard to run the floor instead of having the likes of D.J. Augustin do it. Seems like another win-win to me. I’m excited to see just which dominoes fall within the next few days. The league could look a whole lot different come Friday morning.
Sean Janos is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.