- Kawhi Leonard to the Celtics? Kyle Lowry to the Jazz? The Crossover breaks down four trades that should happen on NBA draft day.
The NBA draft is rapidly approaching, and with it comes not only SI.com’s NBA Draft Live Show (7:00 p.m. Thursday night!) or prospects achieving their lifelong dreams, but also some sweet, sweet trades. That’s right, draft night is the apertif to free agency. Before a full-on Woj aerial attack, a few landmines are always crossed during the draft. Last year, Jimmy Butler was sent to the Wolves in a trade the Bulls were widely derided for at the time. Who will be the victim of knee-jerk reactions this year? I have no idea, but here are some trades I would like to see come Thursday.
Spurs receive: Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, 2019 First Round Pick
Celtics receive: Kawhi Leonard, Derrick White, Pau Gasol
We have to have a Kawhi option on here, right? Here’s why I like this move for the Spurs. They get Sacramento’s pick next season, which should be a pretty good selection. San Antonio was one of Kyrie’s leaked destinations when he made his trade request last season, and the Spurs can offer him more money than any other team when he becomes a free agent, so he’s not a complete flight risk. Oh, and Baynes and Morris are decent rotation pieces on expiring contracts. The move allows San Antonio to rebuild on the fly while also keeping an eye on the future. We can’t have Gregg Popovich coaching a lousy team. This move keeps him competitive. (As an added bonus the Spurs can also dump the Pau contract.)
For Boston, would you rather pay Kawhi or Kyrie moving forward? You can try to re-sign either Terry Rozier or Marcus Smart to run the point, or find a veteran on the cheap. Whatever the case, a foursome of Leonard, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford would become the closest thing to Warriors kryptonite. The risk is Leonard leaving after one season. It could still be worth the gamble for a Finals run, and maybe Leonard will find what he’s looking for under the mysterious powers of the Bhagwan Brad Stevens.
Raptors receive: Ricky Rubio, Alec Burks
Jazz receive: Kyle Lowry
So the Raptors clearly need a shakeup after last season. I don’t think firing Dwane Casey and hiring one of his assistants is enough. Enter the “Trade Lowry” option. Lowry is on the books for two more years for big money. What this trade does for the Raptors is it saves them a little money next season, makes it a little easier to re-sign Fred VanVleet, saves them a little money beyond next season, allows VanVleet and Delon Wright to play more, and gives them two useful rotation pieces who can still complement a veteran roster. It’s a dicey move for the Jazz, yet Lowry is still a very good player, and he was one of the few players in Toronto who acquitted themselves well during the most recent playoff run.
A Lowry-Donovan Mitchell backcourt could have some serious firepower, and it would help relieve some of the offensive burden on a young Mitchell. This trade would be the Jazz pushing their chips into the middle of the table a little bit. It gives Utah a better of a chance to compete while Mitchell is still on his rookie contract, and by the time he is due for a massive extension, Lowry will be coming off the books.
Heat receive: Wes Matthews, 2021 Lottery-Protected First-Round Pick
Mavericks receive: Hassan Whiteside
The Mavericks tried to sign Whiteside when he was a free agent in 2016, and perhaps a change of scenery will do the big man good. Dallas does not really have a need for Matthews, a veteran who never fully returned to form after an Achilles injury. And the Mavs have a glaring hole at center, especially when Nerlens Noel likely walks in the summer. Rick Carlisle doesn’t love headcases, but perhaps his offensive wizardry could finally put Whiteside in a position to succeed.
Miami has a logjam in the backcourt, but Matthews could potentially provide some spot minutes as a 3-and-D guy at small forward and therefore bring some balance to the Heat’s rotation. The Heat should desperately try to ask for that pick from Dallas. Miami doesn’t have a 2021 first, and that year is expected to be something of a double draft class if the NBA gets rid of the one-and-done rule. Dallas probably won’t want to part ways with the pick—maybe Miami can entice the Mavs by putting a hefty protection on it. Otherwise, this trade still works for both teams straight up.
Wizards receive: Eric Bledsoe, Tony Snell, Maybe a First-Round Pick
Bucks receive: Otto Porter
Bledsoe flamed out for the Bucks in the playoffs, and I don’t know if the team needs him as they have Malcolm Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova. I like this trade for Milwaukee because it makes their defense absolutely insane, and Porter can space the floor on offense too. The Bucks can let Jabari Parker walk and sell Giannis on Porter as a sidekick with playoff experience, and Milwaukee will still have a little flexibility to eventually chase a third star, though a healthy year from Khris Middleton will also go a long way.
For the Wizards, Bledsoe becomes an expiring deal, and maybe he rediscovers his mojo alongside fellow Kentucky Wildcat John Wall. Bledsoe, Wall and Beal probably wouldn’t play together a ton. The sell for Bledsoe is turning him into a super sixth man, someone who will get to own the bench unit, which has long been a problem for the Zards. Also, with Wall’s injury history, Bledsoe could very well find himself starting at some point. Snell is signed for three more years, but he gives you enough 3-and-D while he’s on the court, and he costs a fraction of the price as Porter. Washington needs to start clearing its books a bit as the Wall extension kicks in, and Porter doesn’t seem like the right third banana here.
Moving his contract for Bledsoe and Snell keeps the team competitive in the short-term, and creates more flexibility to bring in talent around Wall and Beal in the future. Washington is definitely losing the best player in this deal, but you can argue the Wizards have reached their ceiling with the current group. This deal allows them to still contend for a playoff spot next season, and re-tool around their stars more easily.
I truly have no idea how fair this trade really is, so I’m floating out the idea of the Bucks throwing in a first-round pick in case people yell at me. I ran the trade by resident Wizards fan Andrew Sharp, and he described it as “gross.”