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  • Let's face it, Super Bowl LIII was a snoozefest. With the NBA trade deadline approaching, the rumor mill has been chaotic since Anthony Davis requested a trade from the Pelicans. Here are five trades that will wake you up.
By Rohan Nadkarni
February 04, 2019

Last week was a big one for NBA writers who insist their sport is better than the NFL, which is perhaps the last vestige of the American monoculture, despite being run and dominated by people who are often cartoonishly evil. (Hmm, never mind.) Well, basketball made more headlines than football during Super Bowl week (according to literally no data whatsoever), and after an absolute snoozer of an NFL championship game, only the NBA can save us from February’s brutally cold touch with what hopes to be a bonkers trade deadline. With that in mind—and all the chaos swirling around the Association—here are five trades that would be infinitely more interesting than the Super Bowl. (Or how we’re attempting to capitalize on football’s popularity in conjunction with your bloodlust for trades.)

WOO: Pelicans Can Afford to Wait for Best Anthony Davis Trade

Nets Get: Anthony Davis
Pelicans Get: D’Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, DeMarre Carroll, 2019 First-Round Pick, 2021 First-Round Pick

Let’s not waste any more time and get right into an Anthony Davis scenario. The Nets have been carefully restocking their cupboard to be in striking position for a star, and Sean Marks should absolutely be working the phones when it comes to Davis. Brooklyn has valued cap space and flexibility under Marks, but that game can get incredibly dangerous when stars finally do become free agents. Acquiring them via trade is always safer, and Davis is under contract through next season. If Brooklyn makes this deal, it can still have room for one more max player this summer. If Kyrie wants to leave Boston, wouldn’t heading to a team with AD already in tow be more appealing than rolling the dice with the Knicks? With this trade, the Nets could nab a superstar and have a leg up on other teams when trying to create a super squad come July.

Why would New Orleans say yes? Well, Russell is an All-Star now, and he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer, which means the Pelicans would have some measure of control over his future. LeVert was ascending before his leg injury in November. Allen is a legitimate building block at center, and Carroll is an expiring deal. By moving Davis solo, this trade also allows the Pelicans to shop their other assets (Jrue Holiday, Julius Randle, Nikola Mirotic) to other contenders to aid their rebuilding efforts. I’m not saying this is the best possible package for New Orleans, but with complications in Los Angeles and Boston, it could somehow end up being the safest. (The spiciest part of this trade would be the Lakers having to watch Russell being used to acquire Davis. That would be hilarious.)

Lakers Get: Bradley Beal
Wizards Get: Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac, Michael Beasley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

If L.A. knows it can’t acquire Davis before the trade deadline, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka should take a hard look at Brad Beal. He seems like an ideal guard to slot alongside LeBron, and he shouldn’t need as many assets to acquire as some other stars mentioned in trade rumors. Washington has long needed to be a seller, and Ingram may be the best they can do in terms of prospects as everyone hoards their chips for other big names. The Lakers would still have some cap space to play with this summer if they made this move, and potentially more if they can eventually find the right deal for Lonzo Ball. This trade obviously isn’t Los Angeles’s grand plan, but the longer the Lakers go without Davis, the more realistic they’ll need to be about capitalizing on James’s talents.

Jazz Get: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple
Grizzlies Get: Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors, Dante Exum, 2019 First-Round Pick

The Conley-for-Rubio-and-Favors swap has already appeared in the trade ethers, but it may not be enough for Utah to get a deal done. Throwing in Exum should be enough to grease the wheels, and this deal would help both teams. Memphis would erase a huge chunk of future salary while picking up a prospect and a pick. Exum may never be a star, but he can be useful in a rebuild around Jaren Jackson. For the Jazz, signing free agents is always going to be an uphill climb no matter how much cap space they can amass. Utah needs to put players around Donovan Mitchell while he’s on his rookie deal. Conley would be a welcome jolt for the Jazz’s offense, someone who can space the floor and also alleviate some of the burden on Mitchell as a ball-handler in pick-and-rolls. It’s a steep price for Utah, but the Jazz don’t have a plethora of options when it comes to adding stars around Mitchell.

WOO: Should the Knicks Try to Trade for Kyrie Irving Now?

Thunder Get: Trevor Ariza
Kings Get: Andre Roberson, Alex Abrines
Wizards Get: 2020 Thunder Second-Round Pick, 2020 Chicago Second-Round Pick (Via OKC), Ben McLemore

The Thunder always seem to be one shooter short, and this trade gives them Terrance Ferguson insurance come playoff time, and a little more lineup flexibility. The Wizards pick up a couple draft picks for their efforts, while McLemore is an expiring deal. Meanwhile, the Kings pick up a couple solid vets, with Roberson on a modest contract through next season. Would OKC really cut bait on Roberson while he’s injured? It’s tricky, but the Thunder’s escalating payroll could make moving him appealing. Sacramento taking on some future salary is the only potential roadblock I see here, but their cap sheet is clean enough that it shouldn’t be an issue, and Roberson could be an asset in the future. OKC is only making this trade if it believes it can compete for a title this year—I would hope the Thunder haven’t conceded to the Warriors.

Timberwolves Get: Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson
Pistons Get: Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, Jerryd Bayless, Isaiah Canaan

This one is just pure chaos in case there is even a whiff of truth to Griffin’s trade request. Basically, this is two small-market teams swapping less-than-ideal contracts. The Pistons probably have no desire to dump Griffin, but finally moving on from Reggie Jackson is maybe slightly enticing? Detroit is still on the outside of the playoff picture, and the new front office may want something of a soft reset. Wiggins gives them something resembling long-term hope, while all the other contracts are expirings. The Wolves can put together an intriguing frontcourt with this move, and Griffin’s shooting would help open up the floor for everyone else. There is a 0% chance this happens, but you can’t tell me it wouldn’t be more interesting than the longest punt in Super Bowl history.

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