The NBA trade deadline clock is ticking away and we have already seen our first blockbuster deal happen in what has been a quiet trade market. So what other deals should happen? The Crossover staff takes a look around the league.
Magic trade: Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier
Sixers trade: Tobias Harris, unprotected 2021 first-round pick, Zhaire Smith, 2021 Knicks second-round pick
While there is zero evidence that this trade exists in the realm of possibility, it’s really not that bad an idea. Orlando and Philly have an established history of doing deals. The Sixers are sorely in need of a wing shooter, and are facing a potentially bigger retooling if they don’t get results. Orlando is still very much in the middle of the pack, and should be looking toward next season, when Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac can hopefully string some games together at the same time and provide a better vision of what the organization’s future might look like. Ironically, the Magic effectively chose Gordon over Harris in 2016, when they dealt the latter to Detroit. Here, we flip-flop that concept. Harris is a proven scorer and so-so defender on a bloated contract that would basically be prohibitive were he not somehow still only 27 years old. The Magic aren’t luring big free agents, and a chance to pull in some type of real asset value in a deal that also nets a legitimate starter is worth considering, particularly when it feels like Gordon has plateaued and with Fournier holding a player option for this summer. There are still some fit issues with Harris in the place of Gordon, but they can also get ahead of Gordon’s 2021 free agency here. Taking a chance on Smith in a change of scenery, plus landing that unprotected pick—even in a mediocre draft—would be something to think about. I added in the 2021 Knicks’ second, which should be relatively valuable in the 30s, to sweeten the offer.
For the Sixers, this is a soft reset that gives them two playoff-capable rotation bodies instead of one, and at relatively minimal cost—particularly by absolving themselves of the long-term commitment and financial risk tied to Harris. It enables them to theoretically re-sign Fournier, who is also somehow only 27 and would provide an essential floor-spacing component they currently lack, using bird rights this summer. They’d get some time to look at Gordon, who could conceivably be dealt again, and much more easily than Harris. Gordon’s passing and athletic ability should make him a better fit next to Al Horford, and would shore up Philly’s lineups when Joel Embiid sits. If anything, Orlando balks at Harris’s contract here. But it’s kind of fun.
Sixers trade Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid
I mostly want this to happen just for the chaos. The Simmons-Embiid fit has been written about ad nauseam from every nook and cranny of the basketball internet. It simply doesn’t really work, and both would probably be better running their own shows. So let’s see that happen starting next week! Pulling off a trade of that magnitude during the season would be comical and probably bad for all teams involved, which is exactly why I want to see it.
There are so many reasons for Philly to wait until the offseason to even consider breaking up Simmons and Embiid that the trade happening at the deadline instead would be incredibly short-sighted and almost certainly lead to league-wide unintended consequences. Those are the best trades. Not the ones that make sense for both teams, but the trades that leave you scratching your head and unable to chart the path forward for the organizations involved. Some of you get out of bed to see a title contender improve on the margins by acquiring a veteran guard or three-and-D guy. I wake up hoping for the NBA to implode because of a hasty general manager.
Tristan Thompson lands on the Mavericks or Rockets
It may not be the splashiest trade deadline move, but I'd like to see Tristan Thompson shipped to a contender. The 2016 champion's time in Cleveland should come to an end rather than continue into the 2020s, and Thompson would be a quality fit on a slate of Western Conference teams. Thompson would thrive as a Dwight Powell replacement in Dallas (Willie Cauley-Stein is by no means irreplaceable) and the Clippers could certainly use depth at the five next to Ivica Zubac. The Rockets would love to plug in Thompson after dealing Clint Capela, though that would likely be a conversation for the buyout market. Thompson was a critical member of the Cavaliers' championship team. He remains a quality rim deterrent and quite the efficient roll man, and he's an expiring deal for cap-conscious teams. Let's hope a contender coughs up a pick for Thompson.
Knicks trade Marcus Morris to a contender
This is likely a move far too logical for a team that just over 48 hours from the trade deadline fired its team president, but there is no reason that Morris should remain with New York throughout the remainder of the season. Morris is averaging nearly 20 points a game and shooting better from three than he has his entire career, plus his one-year, $15 million contract allows teams not to worry about his longterm future. And, if that wasn’t enough incentive, dealing Morris would allow Kevin Knox to get more shine. The Knicks have a number of other moves they could make as well as their recent affinity for two year deals did provide them with some flexible. New York should start preparing for the 2020 NBA draft and another offseason in which major hope is promised. A Morris trade would be a step in the right direction, though a simple wing trade surely won’t trade the organization’s culture.