With the NBA offseason just a few weeks away, speculation has already begun surrounding moves each team will make this Winter. Given the newfound parity around the league, there are likely to be many noteworthy transactions among the teams trying to push themselves over the hump. These are three trades that certain contenders may make this year.
Orlando trades: Nikola Vucevic, Jonathan Issac
Golden State trades: Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, No. 2 pick
Orlando needs to hit the refresh. They are the definition of average and will continue to be as long as Vucevic is their star. Wiggins is younger and makes for a more reliable first option than the Montenegrin big man. They would also obtain the second overall pick, a selection that will likely become either LaMelo Ball or James Wiseman. Either would pair nicely with Wiggins, giving the Magic a strong, youthful core to build around.
The Warriors, however, will be contenders next season. After an injury-plagued off-year, they are ready to regain the title of NBA superpower. However, they’re missing one piece; a big man. This season we saw the crumble of the small ball Rockets, proving the notion that an NBA contender needs a true center if they want to compete. While the rest of the team has traditionally been a group of agile shooters, Golden State has always had a lunky big manning the middle. On their title teams that was either Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, or Anderson Varejao. Vucevic would be that Pachulia-type piece while being much better at it than the original. This is a blockbuster trade for both teams.
Cleveland trades: Andre Drummond
Boston trades: Gordon Hayward, Romeo Langford, No. 14 pick
Cleveland is in the midst of a massive rebuild. Drummond means almost nothing to them with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson on the roster and will take any youth they can get. Langford was a reliable option off of Boston’s bench last season and would instantly compete for minutes in Cleveland. In this blockbuster trade, Hayward would instantly return to his Utah form as the top-option and would be a useful mentor for Kevin Porter, Jr. That 14th pick could be either used or traded, whichever GM Koby Altman deems more useful.
Boston needs a real big man. Not even for rebounding reasons (they finished 10th in RPG this season), but rather from a general defensive standpoint. Daniel Theis suffices on the defensive end but Enes Kanter is just poor. Celtic’s opponents shot .399 on attempts between 3-10 feet of the basket, twelfth best in the league. Drummond has been one of the best defensive big men for years, even getting a DPOY vote this season. He would singlehandedly plug the leak in the middle of the floor for Boston.
Milwaukee trades: Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez, Donte DiVincenzo, No. 24 pick (via IND)
Oklahoma City trades: Chris Paul
Milwaukee needs one more piece before they can confidently roll through the playoffs. Even at 35, Paul is an elite playmaker. His age and wisdom would prove necessary in the playoffs, and having him on the floor alleviated pressure off of Giannis Antetokounmpo. This is a blockbuster trade that is much need. Paul would take over primary ball-handling duties, thereby reducing Antetokounmpo’s 3.7 turnovers per game. While the addition would be a short-term solution to the Bucks’ point guard needs, it gives them at least two years to find a more permanent solution.
The future of the Thunder is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and keeping Paul around only takes minutes away from their star. This deal has OKC targeting DiVincenzo and the pick, with Bledsoe and Lopez being used to balance the salary hit. DiVincenzo has already proved to be an efficient scorer in just two years in the league and would help fill the 30+ minutes left behind by Paul. The pick doesn’t hold much value on its own but combined with the eighteen other first-round selections OKC has through 2026, it provides a valuable trade asset.