BY: EVAN WATKINS
Greetings, heroes! Another month of basketball concludes, and we get to my favorite time of the year: TRADE DEADLINE SEASON!! Every year some sort of bizarre tomfoolery happens on the day of the trade deadline. Now, we get to endlessly speculate between now and February 6 on what players and what draft picks are going to get swapped in the ensuing week. In this column of seven of my monthly basketball shower thoughts, I’ll regale you with seven deadline deals that could - or more specifically, ones that I would like to see - go down. An obvious disclaimer is that some of my shower thoughts are obviously better than others. For some of you, dear readers, may not like the ideas I postulate before you. They may make no sense to you. To me, they’re a result of having way too much fun with the trade machine and tracking down draft pick ownership (the latter of which you can find here: https://basketball.realgm.com/nba/draft/future_drafts/detailed). As always, proceed at your own risk.
Anthony Davis to the Thunder
Pelicans receive: Steven Adams, Terrance Ferguson, 2020 2nd-round pick, 2024, 2026 first-round pick
Thunder receive: Anthony Davis
OKC already took a risk on a disgruntled superstar when they traded Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Pacers for Paul George with just a year left on his contract. It worked out, and George signed a new 4-year deal in July. Could this motivate Sam Presti to try again? Davis is a generational talent and is only 25. Perhaps pairing The Brow with Russell Westbrook and Paul George is enough firepower for the Thunder to try and chase a title in a loaded Western Conference?
In return, the Pelicans get Steven Adams, who is under contract for another 2 years after this one, and could be a half-decent return on his own, though not nearly the package that the Lakers or Celtics could offer. That’s where the Thunder throw in a young prospect like Terrance Ferguson, who has started to come on of late, plus a couple of draft picks. Unfortunately, OKC already has their 2020 and 2022 first-round picks outgoing from previous trades with Orlando and Atlanta, so to spice up the deal they likely have to throw in their 2024 first with minimal protection, plus their 2020 second-rounder to get New Orleans to bite. And even then, that might not be enough, so I figure that OKC will have to send away their 2026 draft pick, too.
East and West contenders make a friendly trade
Toronto Raptors receive: Will Barton
Denver Nuggets receive: CJ Miles, Malachi Richardson
With two of the top seeds in each conference looking to bolster their rotations before the playoffs, plus with some minor sort of deal like this taking place each year at the deadline, I propose a swap of rotation wing players. CJ Miles hasn’t been great this year with Toronto, though he is a pretty solid rotation wing who can get hot from 3 and guard 3 positions. Could he find a resurgence in Denver? Maybe. I myself would like to think so. But in return as an extra enticement, Toronto sends a project in Malachi Richardson. Will Barton goes to Toronto to bolster their wings in the rotation and add a little “Thrill” playmaking for the East’s top seed.
Houston adds more spacing
Rockets receive: Channing Frye
Cavaliers receive: James Ennis III, 2020 second-round pick (from Memphis)
Houston makes a move to get a big man on an expiring deal who can space the floor. Even though Clint Capela should be back soon enough, adding some spacing to the floor for an already-three-pointer-obsessed Rockets team might be their contending move. Meanwhile, Cleveland gets a young player and a draft pick.
Mike and Thad go home
Pacers receive: Mike Conley
Grizzlies receive: Thaddeus Young, Corey Joseph, Kyle O’Quinn, Ike Anigbogu
Indiana moves some of their expiring contracts to get a point guard to contend as soon as next year if Victor Oladipo is healthy, and without moving Domantas Sabonis to do it (perhaps vital for Indy’s hopes). Memphis gets a hometown guy like Thad, which might convince him to stay through a retooling of their roster around Jaren Jackson, Jr. Plus they get a young prospect (I picked Anigbogu but Memphis could ask for TJ Leaf here), and if Indy needs to, they could throw in a first round pick to sweeten the pot. Either way, Indy gets another playmaker to pursue a shot at a title once Oladipo returns, while the Grizzlies clear their books for a rebuild.
Execute Order 66
Warriors receive: Anthony Davis
Pelicans receive: Andre Iguodala, DeMarcus Cousins, 2019 first round pick
If you thought that the Warriors were going to be scary with Demarcus Cousins, imagine if they flipped Boogie back to New Orleans for AD. Golden State would leave no life behind on a 16-0 march to their 4th title in 5 years and annihilate the league for good this time. Enjoy Arby’s.
(Aside: I would have no idea why the Pelicans would agree to this, only to hope that they would be able to sweet-talk Boogie into a max deal this summer, or something. But this was originally “Seven trade destinations for AD you weren’t thinking about,” and somebody had to say it).
Sixers get a backup PG
Sixers receive: DJ Augustin, Jonathan Simmons
Magic receive: Markelle Fultz, Justin Patton
I couldn’t fathom this being a super likely outcome, but if Philly wants to bolster their ball-handling on the bench for the playoffs, plus a capable wing in Jonathan Simmons, this is a trade to pursue. All the while, Orlando is a place for Markelle Fultz to try and carve out a new path away from “The Process” and Justin Patton gets offloaded in the process for Philly. Would I expect this to happen? Probably not, but Orlando pulling the trigger on something odd at the deadline would not be the strangest thing I’ve seen happen.
Pop reloads for one last run
Spurs get: Anthony Davis
Pelicans get: LaMarcus Aldridge, Bryn Forbes, 2019, 2021 1st-round picks
Perhaps this is a sizable obstacle to the Warriors in the West. Likely not. But would it not be interesting to see AD in Pop’s system? While the Spurs likely have to give up Bryn Forbes plus some first round picks to get him, it would be worth it, in my opinion, to get Anthony Davis. Meanwhile, the Pelicans get two guys they can control for another few years and they get some draft picks out of the deal. Without Duncan and Kawhi, most notably, the Spurs have kind of fallen off. Taking a chance on The Brow might be how they get themselves back to contention in the West and get Popovich one more shot at a title.