Should the Celtics risk it all for a superstar? Will Phil Jackson be able to move Melo as easily as he believes? These questions will be answered this offseason. I have outlined some possible trades that could shake up the makeup of the NBA.
1. Melo Heads South
Knicks receive: Wilson Chandler, Wayne Ellington, Nuggets 2017 second round pick (from Memphis)
Heat receive: Carmelo Anthony
Nuggets receive: Tyler Johnson
The precursor to this deal is the anticipated release of Chris Bosh. Once that occurs, his $23 million will be off the Heat’s books. Phil Jackson has all but guaranteed that Melo will be dealt this offseason since the Knicks won’t be competitive for a while. The Heat could form a legitimate big 3 to move into the upper part of the East. Tyler Johnson is a valuable trade piece, but he may not fit in New York since his contract is so back heavy when the Knicks naively think they will attract big free agents. Denver could use an athletic combo guard like Johnson to grow with their young core. Wilson Chandler only has one year left on his contract so they would run the risk of losing him for nothing. Ellington is a salary throw-in and the second rounder would give the Knicks another chance to find a young contributor.
2. Boston and Bulls Come To Terms
Celtics receive: Jimmy Butler
Bulls receive: Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown, Ante Zizic, Celtics 2017 first round pick (1) from Nets, Celtics 2018 first round pick from Nets
Celtics fans have probably come to terms with the fact that they can’t get by the Cavs with their current roster. Snagging Gordon Hayward in free agency would be the best case scenario, allowing them to keep their current pieces and add a star. But if Hayward stays in Utah, the Celtics won’t have enough firepower. This trade would give Boston a superstar in Butler that will take loads of offensive pressure off of Isaiah Thomas. He’s also one of the best defenders of LeBron. Sacrificing the #1 pick and a likely top 3 pick next year is the toughest decision. Bradley would have a reduced role in Boston next year and Brown is promising but may never reach Butler’s level. Zizic is a talented big that could become a solid center once he comes over. I’m not saying Butler takes the Celtics above the Cavs, but they would still have enough money to go for another max guy this offseason. The Bulls are stuck in no man’s land between a rebuild and contending. This move would give more clarity to a fan base that has no idea what the front office plans to do in the future. The Bulls could snag Markelle Fultz, have a rebuilding season, and go into the 2018 draft with two top 10 picks.
3. D’Angelo goes from LA to Brooklyn
Nets receive: D’Angelo Russell, Tarik Black, Corey Brewer
Lakers receive: Brook Lopez
If the Lakers bring in Lonzo Ball, D’Angelo Russell will have to accept playing primarily off the ball. He is best with the ball in his hands so it may make sense to part ways with the former #2 pick to improve another area. Lopez would strengthen LA’s weakest position and provide a proven go-to low post scorer. His improved range would also work well in pick-and-pops with Ball. Russell could excel as the primary playmaker in Brooklyn after two years adjusting to the NBA.
4. Detroit Reloads
Suns receive: Andre Drummond
Pistons receive: Ricky Rubio, Nikola Vucevic, TJ Warren
Timberwolves receive: Brandon Knight, Tyson Chandler, 2018 first round pick from Phoenix (from Miami)
Magic receive: Reggie Jackson
Detroit regressed immensely this year and this trade would give them a new look. Drummond’s value as a rebounder is often overshadowed by rudimentary post game and abysmal free throw shooting (39%). They tried to move Reggie Jackson at the deadline but were unsuccessful. The swap of Jackson for Vucevic gives Orlando a scoring point guard while allowing Detroit to have a replacement for Drummond. For Minnesota, Tom Thibodeau has been searching for veterans to lead his young group. Tyson Chandler is a great locker room voice with a championship pedigree. Even at 34, he is a defensive anchor that could improve an underwhelming Minnesota defense. Brandon Knight could provide an offensive boost to a team that made the lowest amount of threes a game last year. Personally, I think Ricky Rubio is a lot more valuable than people give him credit for. But he’s a steals guy that doesn’t stay engaged on defense, something Thibodeau is a stickler about. Trading him would give the T-Wolves more flexibility to pursue a point guard like De’Aaron Fox in the draft. They would also receive the Heat’s first rounder for next year, which could be a lottery pick. Phoenix could be the biggest winner of this draft, picking up a top 10 center while not giving up too much. Losing TJ Warren would open up more playing time for whichever forward (Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson), that the Suns will likely select.