One Trade Every Team Should Make Before the 2018-19 NBA Season Starts


The NBA Rosters are getting finalized in preparation for the 2018-19 NBA season, but many teams still have ways to improve their personnel going into next season. I’ve identified one trade each team can make in order to better position itself for its current and long-term goals. The deals range in size and magnitude, but would help each team involved. Here they are:

Atlanta Hawks Receive: Nicolas Batum

Charlotte Hornets Receive: Kent Bazemore, DeAndre Bembry

Why Atlanta Trades:

Atlanta is entering a full on rebuild after trading away Dennis Schroeder and waiving Carmelo Anthony. The keys to the offense have been given to a 19 year old Trae Young, who has already shown struggles in Summer League (38% FG). Adding a guy like Batum creates an opportunity for Young to develop playing off the ball with another playmaker, and adds a veteran to help the Hawks navigate the rebuild.

Why Charlotte Trades:

Charlotte gets out of a terrible contract into a less terrible contract in Kent Bazemore. Bazemore is a better off the ball player and defender at this point in his career, and would succeed more than Batum playing alongside a ball dominant back court of Kemba Walker and Malik Monk. The spacing (.394 from three last season) also works well for their big men inside like Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, and Willy Hernangomez. Bembry is a young prospect the team can take a mostly risk free chance on too.

Boston Celtics Receive: Patrick Beverley, 2020 2nd Round Pick, 2022 2nd Round Pick

Los Angeles Clippers Receive: Terry Rozier


Why Boston Trades:

Boston got great play out of Rozier in the 2018 NBA Playoffs. He put on a show as the Celtics beat two talented Bucks and 76ers teams before finally falling in seven games to Cleveland. That being said, he is not better than Kyrie Irving, and the Celtics should not be trying to adjust their roster so they can offer/match a large contract for Scary Terry. Netting Beverley is a great add with Beverley’s hawkish defense, three point accuracy (.400 pre-injury last season), and great contract (5 million per season). While I get that Beverley is on the wrong side of 30 years old, that will play into Boston’s favor when trying to negotiate a contract for Beverley to come back after next season. If he leaves Boston, which would be a real possibility, the team still has two 2nd round picks to show for it.

Why Los Angeles Trades:

As I said, Rozier showed a lot with his play during the last playoffs. He averaged 16.5 points, 5.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. Take out Rozier’s least efficient game from each series and he did that on relatively efficient 44% FG shooting. Those are starting point guard quality numbers, and who knows if he could improve on his play as he develops (Rozier is still relatively young at age 24). Getting Rozier for essentially a role player and two second rounders is a great value. Did the Clippers just draft Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson to be their future backcourt? Ideally, but the odds that both of those guys pan out into long-term above average starters isn’t too high. Rozier mitigates that risk.

Brooklyn Nets Receive: Tyler Johnson, Dion Waiters, 2019 1st Round Pick (Lottery Protected), 2022 2nd Round Pick

Miami Heat Receive: DeMarre Carroll, Allen Crabbe

New York Post / Getty Images

Why Brooklyn Trades:

This trade allows for Brooklyn to get additional value for the veterans whose salaries they took on back when they were bad contracts. Carroll re blossomed into the three and D stud he was on Atlanta (13.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, .371 from three last season), and Crabbe (13.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, .378 from three) was more relevant again too. Taking on other bad contracts, sending off Crabbe and Carroll before they potentially leave this summer, and getting another first round pick gives Brooklyn a brighter future by allowing the Nets to gain a higher chance of winning the lottery now that the team finally has its own picks again. Carroll and/or Crabbe are likely to leave anyways as Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Shabazz Napier, Dzanan Musa, and even Jared Dudley compete for perimeter minutes.

Why Miami Trades:

Miami gets not just two quality wings, but some length on the wing. The Heat have been rolling with Josh Richardson at the three. While he played decently, the 6’6″ Richardson is really more of a guard. Adding Carroll and Crabbe allows for Richardson to play a more natural position, and also gives Miami line-up flexibility in that they are less reliant to keep Wayne Ellington in for three point shooting. Their shooting would open up the paint for Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo, and Goran Dragic to operate. If it doesn’t pan out, Miami sheds the contracts after this season, and can be players in the 2019 Free Agent market, and has protections on its pick too.

Chicago Bulls Receive: Luol Deng, 2019 1st Round Pick (Top 20 Protected)

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Robin Lopez


Why Chicago trades:

Robin Lopez will likely get bought out anyways, might as well get a late pick for him while they can. Yes – Luol Deng is a bad contract, but there are only two years left on it, and the Bulls will likely not be competing in the playoffs during that time frame anyways. Adding Deng to help navigate the Bulls rebuild would be useful for the younger guys – as they’ve already proven to be, at the very least, controversial with the Chicago media. Shedding Lopez opens up the front court for their plethora of young bigs too like Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio, and Jabari Parker. If nothing else, getting back Deng would boost popularity and help sell tickets to fill a high capacity United Center with Bulls fans able to see their former glue guy through the Scott Skiles, Vinny Del Negro, and Tom Thibodeau days.

Why Los Angeles Trades:

If Los Angeles can get this trade, they better do it. Lopez is a clear upgrade at center over Javale McGee and Ivica Zubac, and costs the team next to nothing. Since 2012, Lopez has averaged 10.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.4  blocks on 53% shooting, and has started at center on playoff teams for Chicago, Portland, and Phoenix. Pairing an elite offensive rebounder and screener with LeBron has worked well historically as well (Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, etc.) If this doesn’t pan out, then Lopez is a free agent after this season anyways.

Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Timofey Mozgov, Nikola Vucevic, D.J. Augustin

Orlando Magic Receive: George Hill, Tristan Thompson

Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Why Cleveland Trades:

Cleveland is moving on to a new era of basketball. Gone are LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Here to stay are Collin Sexton and Kevin Love. Getting rid of hefty contracts for George Hill and Tristan Thompson is a good place to start in their rebuild, and they can get back a great player to back-up Sexton as he develops like D.J. Augustin, as well as nabbing Nikola Vucevic for the cheap. Vucevic averaged 16.2 points and 9.5 rebounds for Orlando last season, but appears to be on his way out of Orlando after they used their 6th overall pick to grab Mo Bamba. Cleveland also gets back Timofey Mozgov, who developed into a quality player in Cleveland.

Why Orlando Trades:

Orlando does this trade to get some winners on this team. Orlando has been one of the worst led teams since the team parted with Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy in 2012, and have not made many improvements since then. Getting a high level point guard from just two seasons ago could help spark some success by a Magic team that hasn’t had any. Getting Tristan Thompson is a great move to help Mo Bamba develop against bulkier big men who are going to muscle him every chance they get. Orlando also clears the rotation for Bamba to get more minutes and Aaron Gordon to get more touches. Shedding the salary of Mozgov is nice too.

Dallas Mavericks Receive: Jon Leuer, Langston Galloway, Stanley Johnson, Ish Smith, Glenn Robinson III, Jameer Nelson, Jose Calderon

Detroit Pistons Receive: Harrison Barnes, Wesley Matthews

Jerome Miron / USA TODAY Sports

Why Dallas Trades:

Dallas trades to clear its team of players that don’t fit its timeline. They get back some decent role players to pair with Dennis Smith and Luka Doncic, and shed two massive salaries. Calderon and Nelson have previously had success in Dallas, and who knows if Rick Carlisle can get anything out of Stanley Johnson and his potential that made him a lottery pick not too long ago. If Doncic and Smith are ready, they have the chance, time, and ball touches to lead the Mavericks to success, if not, they get a high draft pick without having a half-assed rebuild by letting the vets Barnes and Matthews lead this team to more wins.

Why Detroit Trades:

They get two guys who compliment their other starters. Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond are talented basketball players. They have not had help on the wings. Matthews and Barnes can both play off the ball, hit shots, and score buckets in bunches when it is needed of them. A Jackson, Matthews, Barnes, Griffin, Drummond starting five with Khyri Thomas, Luke Kennard, Reggie Bullock, Henry Ellenson, and Zaza Pachulia waiting behind them is capable of making noise in the East under Dwayne Casey. They should be comfortable sending off some bad contracts and role players.

Denver Nuggets Receive: Tony Snell, John Henson
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Mason Plumlee, Torrey Craig, Tyler Lydon, Malik Beasley

Ron Hoskins / NBAE via Getty Images

Why Denver Trades:

Denver needs to improve its defense. They were 25th in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions, which is unacceptable with their win now timeframe. Sending off Plumlee and the rarely used other reserves in exchange for two players who can be defensive contributors on the perimeter (Snell) and at the rim (Henson) is an opportunity Denver should capture while they can. Plumlee is also a free agent next season, and Denver really can’t afford to bring him back with their current roster, Snell and Henson are both signed to overpaid, but manageable contracts, and they become more valuable especially if Snell ends up starting at the three to help give the starters a potentially capable three and D wing.

Why Milwaukee Trades:

Milwaukee not only sheds salary by doing this deal, but they get three young prospects in Malik Beasley, Tyler Lydon, and Torrey Craig (Beasley and Lydon are former 1st round picks in 2016 and 2017). Plumlee has started before at center with successful Portland Trail Blazers and Brooklyn Nets teams. He brings good energy to the position, and is a capable passer. The Brook Lopez signing wasn’t risky in the sense that his contract is large, but relying on a slow lumbering center with a history of injury and inability to rebound is dangerous. Lopez should not playing more than half the game at this point in his career, and Plumlee is capable of playing legitimate minutes.

Golden State Warriors Receive: T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu

Indiana Pacers Receive: Damian Jones, Patrick McCaw

Sporting News

Why Golden State Trades:

To be honest, this trade is completely unnecessary. Golden State has all stars at every position in their starting line-up, and a solid bench mob of capable players at every position too. Getting Leaf and Anigbogu simply nets Golden State prospects at the four and five, positions in which, down the line, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins might decide to leave Golden State. Getting rid of Jones is not an issue. He’s been a non-factor in his career so far, and this is only likely to become more true as Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell develop. McCaw is unnecessary, and Golden State showed a preference to go with Quinn Cook last season as a backup guard.  This trade is a really light insurance policy all-in-all. Leaf and Anigbogu are also former UCLA guys that are recognizable in California.

Why Indiana Trades:

If Indiana can get Patrick McCaw, they should. The Pacers added depth at every position this offseason, but their two small forwards, Bojan Bogdanovic and Doug McDermott, are liabilities on the less glamorous end of the court. Getting McCaw for relatively cheap could be a valuable addition with his, and Jones’ championship experience too. Jones is a project, but the Pacers have time to develop him while Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner, Kyle O’Quinn, and Domantas Sabonis form a quality four-big rotation.

Houston Rockets Receive: Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu

Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Ryan Anderson, Chinanu Onaku, Zhou Qi, 2019 1st Round Pick

Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports

Why Houston Trades:

Houston has been trying to get Ryan Anderson’s contract off the books for some time now. Shipping him and some projects to Portland for three guys who fit the profile of successful Rockets is a great opportunity. Harkless and Aminu are two versatile guys who can defend either forward position, and hit threes (.415 and .369 last season, respectively). Leonard is a 7’1″ center who can also hit threes (.423). Harkless and Aminu profile to fill the gaps left by Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute on a team that was very successful last season.

Why Portland Trades:

Portland is having issues translating their regular season success into playoff victories. Harkless, Aminu, and Leonard are three guys who not only take a significant amount of cap room, but also fail to create offense in the postseason. Add a proven shooter like Anderson to help space the floor from the power forward spot alongside Jusuf Nurkic inside and their star backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum could spell trouble for other teams with a new balanced line-up. If it doesn’t pan out, Portland can look to buy out the last year of Anderson’s contract after this season, and they will have two first round picks going into next season.  If both Anderson and Evan Turner (who will be on the last season of his contract too) get bought out or shipped next offseason, Portland will have a fair amount of cap room to work with next offseason to get another contributor.

Memphis Grizzlies Receive: Brandon Knight, Tyson Chandler, T.J. Warren, Dragan Bender, 2019 2nd Round Pick

Phoenix Suns Receive: Mike Conley, Marc Gasol

Bleacher Report

Why Phoenix Trades:

If you have the opportunity to create a team with Mike Conley, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Trevor Ariza, DeAndre Ayton, Marc Gasol, Mikal Bridges, Marquese Chriss, Richaun Holmes, and Troy Daniels, they should absolutely take it. Conley and Gasol would take this young Suns team to the playoffs with the star power of Booker and Ayton. Adding Conley fills the hole at point guard and allows for Booker to play his natural shooting guard position. Adding Gasol gives a guy to let Ayton develop off of, and for them to split time as Ayton matures and Gasol fades off. The Suns have two first round picks to fill holes on this would-be team as well, that could very well win 50 games in its first season.

Why Memphis Trades:

This trade gives Memphis a clean slate to rebuild around. They get a rising star on the wings in T.J. Warren to pair with a promising big man in Jaren Jackson, a solid young guard in Dillan Brooks, and other good wings Chandler Parsons and Kyle Anderson. Doing this trade cements them as tankers, while allowing for Brandon Knight to showcase his abilities in a contract year after missing all of last season with an injury. This trade allows for the Grizzlies to get a great pick in next summer’s draft, and go full-in to a rebuild.  If Memphis can get Chandler, Parsons, and Brandon Knight’s contracts off the books, they’ll also have a ton of cap room going into next summer, to pair with their young guys as well as Dragan Bender, who is also still developing.

Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, Frank Ntilikina, 2021 1st Round Pick (Top Ten Protected)
New York Knicks Receive: Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng

Michael Perez / Associated Press

Why Minnesota Trades:

Minnesota is already having issues with its current blend of players. The team was only 27th of 30th in defensive rating last season despite having a rounded out starting five with athleticism at every position under a traditionally defensive stalwart of a coach like Tom Thibodeau. Getting some guys like Joakim Noah (2014 DPOY), Courtney Lee, and Frank Ntilikina to add some defensive energy to this team could be exactly what they need to stay. If Noah can become anything like his old self, then he would be a dangerous center to have off the bench for Minnesota. Lee would fit perfectly in the starting line-up next to Butler as a complimentary shooter and perimeter defender, and Ntilikina has a lot of potential as a 6’5″ point guard who was taken 8th overall in 2017.  A line-up with Jeff Teague, Courtney Lee, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Karl-Anthony Towns with Tyus Jones, Frank Ntilikina, Josh Okogie, Derrick Rose, Anthony Tolliver, Joakim Noah, and Keita Bates-Diop off the bench could be very successful based on the success of Teague, Butler, Gibson, and Towns together last year.

Why New York Trades:

New York gets a high level scorer in Andrew Wiggins, who if not the best player, is by far the most talented player. Wiggins is a career 19.7 points per game scorer, and he is still just 23 years old. The problem has been the ability for him to be more than just a scorer. A core of Wiggins, Kevin Knox, and Kristaps Porzingis would be very fun to watch, and if Mitchell Robinson develops into a quality two-way big man like he flashed in Summer League, then this team could get dangerous quickly. Getting rid of Noah’s contract is huge too. If they can get decent point guard play from Trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay, that Knicks team would be dangerous in the East.

New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Ian Mahinmi, Kelly Oubre
Washington Wizards Receive: Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca, Cheick Diallo, 2022 1st Round Pick (Top 20 Protected)

Bleacher Report

Why New Orleans Trades:

New Orleans gets a great young wing in Kelly Oubre, and a capable back-up center in Ian Mahinmi. Oubre is coming off a season in which he averaged 11.8 points and 4.5 rebounds off the bench for Washington. His versatility allowed the Wizards to play different line-ups with more wings last season, but going forward, his fit with the Wizards is questionable. New Orleans can seize this opportunity to add him while he can come cheap. The Pelicans were seriously lacking on the wing last season, as they were trying to throw players to guard Kevin Durant, they ended up going to Jrue Holiday – a small guard, as a 7’0″ small forward’s primary defender. Oubre provides some line-up stability, and can have an expanded offensive role with New Orleans. Mahinmi is a good insurance policy if Anthony Davis gets injured again. If Davis misses a few games, then the Pelicans still have Mahinmi, Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle, and Emeka Okafor in the front court. Mahimni’s contract comes off the books next summer too to give New Orleans some cap room.

Why Washington Trades:

Oubre is not good enough to start over Otto Porter or Bradley Beal, and the rotation of  Tomas Satoransky, Jodie Meeks, Jeff Green, and Troy Brown is shaping up to be capable of backing up the starters. Oubre’s contract expires next summer, and Washington is currently $33 million  over the cap ($11 million over the luxury tax too). This trade clears Mahinmi and Oubre’s salaries while taking a low risk flier on Solomon Hill, who at one point was a solid defensive role player now with an expiring deal. Diallo was an efficient back-up big last season with some limited upside left, and Alexis Ajinca is a 7’2″ center with some defensive capability. They also would get a potential future first rounder. 

Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos, Buddy Hield
Sacramento Kings Receive: Andre Roberson, Alex Abrines, Kyle Singler, 2019 1st Round Pick

Rocky Widner / NBAE via Getty Images

Why Oklahoma City Trades:

The Thunder do this teal to bolster their front court depth, and to get a capable offensive backcourt partner for Russell Westbrook. Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos are veterans who have no good reason to waste their time away on the irrelevant Sacramento Kings. Randolph was their leading scorer, with 14.5 points per game on 47.3% shooting , and Hield was their 2nd leading scorer with 13.5 points on 44.6% shooting.  Koufos was the Kings leader in win shares and win share rate (3.9 and .134). Adding Hield would create significantly more floor spacing for OKC, and adding Randolph and Koufos would give the Thunder much more reliable bench players than Patrick Patterson and Nerlens Noel in the big man rotation. Losing Roberson and the first isn’t a negligible loss, but it is worth it for the return.

Why Sacramento Trades:

As I mentioned, Hield, Randolph, and Koufos were significant parts of this team. Going forward, however, the Kings will need a greater defensive focus. Randolph is too slow at this point in his career to guard starting fours, and Hield isn’t the best defender either. With the offensive games of their younger guys like De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Bogdan Bogdanovic Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Marvin Bagley developing, their won’t be as much of a need for the offensive specialists. Getting back Andre Roberson and the 1st round pick is, however, more valuable. Roberson would add great height and defense on the wing, and while his shot is a work in progress, he is a surefire net positive on the court with his defense. Abrines and Singler further add wing depth.

Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Patty Mills

San Antonio Spurs Receive: Jerryd Bayless, Furkan Korkmaz

CBS Sports

Why Philadelphia Trades:

Philadelphia does this trade to get Patty Mills – a player with valuable championship experience, and a dangerous three point shot (.390 career). Philadelphia was exposed last postseason after Ben Simmons wasn’t able to score on Boston’s daring him to shoot defense. Mills gives the Sixers some flexibility, and a point guard that can shoot the basketball at an elite level. T.J. McConnell is arguably the better player with a similar play style at this point in their careers, but Mills still adds good depth at the position, and can play off the ball too. This move also opens up a roster spot if Philly wants to add anyone else like they did midway through last season with Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova.

Why San Antonio Trades:

San Antonio makes this trade to get a guy who can do a lot of what Patty Mills does and a second prospect in Korkmaz. The Spurs have a few options at point guard this year with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and now Jerryd Bayless. The team also added DeMar Derozan, and could use a shooter with length like Korkmaz to have a shooting line-up option. Mills is a free agent after this season, and is likely to leave San Antonio. This trade nets some value for him before he would leave.

Toronto Raptors Receive: Alec Burks
Utah Jazz Receive: Norman Powell, 2022 2nd Round Pick, Cash

Why Toronto Trades:

Toronto gets out of its bad contract with Norman Powell, and into an expiring contract with Alec Burks. Burks brings a scoring punch off the bench, and could act as insurance should one of Toronto’s wings or guards gets hurt or leave (Kawhi Leonard). Burks averaged 16.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, and has proven to be resilient despite a career plagued with injury problems. Adding the 2nd round pick is worth it to obtain the financial flexibility for next summer with Kawhi Leonard being up to re-sign, and other players being available the Raptors might consider.

Why Utah Trades:

They get Norman Powell, who had an off year last season, but is a good team oriented wing when healthy. If Powell is effective with Utah, then Jae Crowder can slide over to the small-ball four off the bench with Thabo Sefolosha at the other backup wing spot. At the very worst, Utah gets a 2nd round pick for taking on his contract, which isn’t too bad. Powell is 25, and on a better timeline than Sefolosha (34) and Grayson Allen (22) to compete for a championship right now.

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