0 of 5
Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Rumors continue to blanket the NBA discourse like a thick smog in advance of the draft, free agency and the general frenzy that is the offseason. Let’s not fight the urge to join the fray.
Let’s indulge it.
Coming up with fresh packages for the biggest and most discussed trade targets is incredibly thorny these days. Believe it or not, though, we have a few novel proposals left in us. Even if you’ve seen certain players (hypothetically) sent to one of these teams before, we’re varying up the framework and context.
One housekeeping note before we’re off: Not every player on this list is considered readily available. Their name has merely ambled onto the rumor mill more than once, giving us the impetus to discuss what it might take to pry them out of their incumbent digs.
1 of 5
Nick Wass/Associated Press
Golden State Warriors Receive: Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards Receive: No. 7, No. 14, Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, 2022 first-round pick (unprotected), 2023 first-round swap rights
Bradley Beal’s situation with the Wizards is getting impossible to discern. First, he was “mulling” his future in Washington, according The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Now, he’s apparently re-warming up to the idea of sticking around but also still weighing his options, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.
Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard told reporters Wednesday that Beal has yet to request a trade. So, there’s that. But the Warriors want him, and stars entering the final year of their deals—Beal has a 2022-23 player option—are always subject to “pre-agency” sweepstakes. There’s that, too.
Unless Washington has airtight confirmation that Beal’s loyalty knows no bounds or win total, it should at least sniff around the market. And Golden State has the assets—along with the glaring need for another shot-creator and scalable offensive star—to get the conversation started.
The Wizards will undoubtedly want more. They aren’t getting any megadistant firsts. But they lost some leverage now that Beal has contemplated leaving, and this offer will be tough to beat as currently constructed. The Warriors should start here and task Washington with finding more value before upping their ante, or they can yank Wiseman or No. 14 in exchange for more distant first-round obligations.
Golden State shouldn’t flinch at this framework or something similar to it. Beal isn’t exactly a bridge to the next era at 28, but he reopens the title window now. Additionally, the Warriors would preserve a huge chunk of their future by maintaining control of all their own firsts beyond 2024, when they owe a top-four selection to Memphis.
2 of 5
Mark Black/Associated Press
Golden State Warriors Receive: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: No. 6, No. 14, L.A. Clippers’ 2022 first-round pick (top-eight protection, via Oklahoma City)
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: James Wiseman, No. 3, No. 7, Golden State’s 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round swap (Golden State)
Let’s mash some rumors together, shall we?
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is reportedly no longer untouchable. As one team executive told Fischer: “It’s going to take a f–king lot to get him, but he’s no longer impossible to get.” The Thunder are also among the teams chasing the Cavs’ No. 3 pick in hopes of landing Evan Mobley, but Cleveland is apparently so high on him it wouldn’t even accept No. 6 and SGA to move out of that spot, according to Fischer.
It isn’t too hard to see the Cavs’ hesitation. Gilgeous-Alexander would instantly become the best player on their team, but he’s extension-eligible and they already have Darius Garland and Collin Sexton (also extension-eligible) populating the backcourt. That is part of the calculus of their moving down. Drafting for fit is overrated when they still want for a megastar prospect, but Mobley, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs heavily overlap with some of their most important players.
Bagging another lottery pick and an additional first-rounder feels like fair value to dip three spots. That Clippers’ selection, remember, is no longer an afterthought asset following Kawhi Leonard’s partially torn right ACL. Oklahoma City could place extra protections on it, but betting against Los Angeles’ success in 2022 is a quality flier for Cleveland.
The Thunder, meanwhile, successfully delays its timeline, which is the only half-rational reason to jettison SGA. They no longer have to worry about his max extension, James Wiseman is under team and cost control for another three seasons, and most importantly, they’re jumping into the top three while retaining another top-seven selection.
Acquiring Wiseman is somewhat redundant if the target is Mobley. The Thunder aren’t deep enough in their rebuild to care. They could ask the Warriors for a 2025 swap and 2026 first-rounder instead of Wiseman, but that buries them in future draft picks even more. Having Wiseman also gives them the flexibility to take Suggs or Green, both of whom are more tantalizing fits in SGA’s absence.
To anyone wondering why Golden State is surrendering equal value for SGA or Beal when the latter remains the superior player: Age matters. Gilgeous-Alexander is 23. His max extension will run cheaper than Beal’s next deal, his positional malleability jibes with how the Warriors defend, and he can carry the offensive creation duties independent of Stephen Curry.
More than anything, SGA wedges back open Golden State’s title window while preserving its bridge into the future. It can justify forking over as much for him as Beal—if not more.
3 of 5
Chris O’Meara/Associated Press
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Desmond Bane, Kyle Lowry (sign-and-trade), De’Anthony Melton, No. 10 (via Memphis), Toronto’s 2025 first-round pick (unprotected)
Toronto Raptors Receive: Ben Simmons
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: No. 4 (via Toronto)
Though the Sixers requested far more than Kyle Lowry, No. 4 and a future pick from the Raptors in initial negotiations, per Action Network’s Matt Moore, this structure feels more realistic. Simmons’ value is at is nadir following an offensive vanishing act in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Philly should count itself fortunate, at this moment, to get a top-four pick, a distant first-rounder and an All-Star-caliber player.
The Sixers, of course, aren’t actually getting the fourth-overall selection. They’re exchanging it for a young floor-spacer on the wings (Desmond Bane), a feisty point-of-attack defender who just knocked down 41.2 percent of his threes (De’Anthony Melton) and a later lottery pick. Scooping up the 2025 first from the Raptors also frees them up to make additional trades without regard for the Stepien Rule after sending a protected 2025 selection to Oklahoma City.
Toronto can meet this price tag without much issue when viewing it through the lens of Lowry’s future. Most expect him to leave anyway. The Raptors can treat this as No. 4 and a 2025 first for a 25-year-old Defensive Player of the Year contender with the playmaking vision of sorcerer. His offensive fit next to Pascal Siakam is questionable, but Fred VanVleet profiles as the ideal type of guard to place beside him. Opponents will also have a hellish time trying to score on lineups that include Simmons, Siakam, FVV and OG Anunoby.
Memphis already moved up the draft board once and reportedly wants to do it again, per The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor. Leaping into the top four would be huge, giving them a chance to nab Jalen Green, Evan Mobley or Jalen Suggs—all of whom may be more likely co-stars for Ja Morant than anyone else on the roster, including Jaren Jackson Jr.
4 of 5
Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Kyle Lowry (sign-and-trade), Devin Vassell, Derrick White, No. 12, Toronto’s 2025 first-round pick (unprotected)
Toronto Raptors Receive: Ben Simmons
San Antonio Spurs Receive: George Hill, No. 4, No. 46
The Spurs already rejected an offer from the Sixers that would have net them Ben Simmons, according to O’Connor (h/t Spurs Zone’s Jeff Garcia). Perhaps they’ll be more enticed by the opportunity to net the No. 4 pick.
Shipping out Derrick White, Devin Vassell and No. 12 amounts to a stark opportunity cost. It’s not unreasonable. San Antonio continues to be stocked with a bunch of good to really good players and prospects but don’t have anyone who projects as its tent-pole star.
Any one of Jalen Green, Evan Mobley or Jalen Suggs could be that guy. All of them arguably give the Spurs a more viable shot at a directional star than anyone on their payroll. It’s an uncharacteristic swing for team allergic to trades of all genres, but San Antonio has staved off a full-tilt reset long enough. This deals nudges the Spurs toward an overdue rebuild or merely gives them a future lifeline to develop in tandem with their win-while-Gregg-Popovich-is-still-here ambitions.
Philly is once again bringing back Lowry and pairing him with a secondary creator and scorer who defends his butt off in White. Its overall offense instantly becomes more balanced while opening a clearer path to winning the minutes Joel Embiid is off the floor.
Devin Vassell and No. 12 don’t fit the Sixers’ championship-contender motif. But Vassell is a defensive workaholic, and they can try snagging a game-ready wing with No. 10. They can also use both to facilitate another higher-profile trade—which would again be aided by the inclusion of Toronto’s 2025 pick.
Of note: If for some reason Philly is more intrigued by a Lowry-Dejounte Murray pairing, San Antonio shouldn’t flinch. The latter can be subbed in for White without issue. Nothing changes for Toronto here.
5 of 5
Chris O’Meara/Associated Press
Toronto Raptors Receive: Damian Lillard
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Chris Boucher, Fred VanVleet, No. 4, 2022 first-round swap, 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round swap, 2025 first-round pick (top-eight protection)
TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott recently reiterated his previous report that Damian Lillard will consider requesting a trade from the Blazers. Like he did last time, Lillard pushed back against the findings, implicitly suggesting he has no plans to orchestrate his exit from Portland.
Whether he demands a trade or lets his future ride is partially irrelevant. Lillard has four years left on his deal (2024-25 player option). The Blazers aren’t under any obligation to placate a potential request. Even if they’re worrying about sending the wrong message to players around the league, they have the runway to try amplifying their spot in the Western Conference next season before reconciling Lillard’s future.
That’s not our concern. Lillard’s name continues to float around the rumor mill, so he’s fair game for our imaginary scenarios. And while most tend to focus on the Sixers, Warriors, New York Knicks or even New Orleans Pelicans when cobbling together packages, the Raptors have the asset ammo to make one of the most attractive offers.
Portland can technically choose between Fred VanVleet or Pascal Siakam as the tangible centerpiece for a deal. FVV makes more sense when losing Lillard—especially if the team is still hoping to not suck. This year’s No. 4 pick is a guaranteed inclusion. It is a registered shot at finding the next franchise cornerstone.
Fleshing out the offer gets tricky. The Blazers could insist on OG Anunoby. The Raptors should push for future picks galore. They need all the win-now players on their roster they can get when dealing for a 31-year-old Lillard, and while they can and should re-sign Lowry as part of this trade, his return isn’t assured.
Netting an additional two first-rounders and swaps should help grease the wheels. The Blazers are not going to be that good after trading one of the NBA’s 10 best players. Stockpiling bites at the draft apple should take priority even if they’re getting this year’s No. 4.