Updated: Jun 9
Here are moves that three NBA teams should make this offseason. All of these are already playoff teams, but they just need that one extra push to really be championship contenders.
Note: all of these proposed trades have approximately matching salaries and so they should work under the NBA salary cap rules according to ESPN Trade Machine.
1. Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers have been a very solid team for the past couple of years. They are normally the 5 or 6 seed in the East and then make an early exit in the playoffs. This team has a very good core led by Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. They also acquired former rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon this past year. They have a very good defensive center in Miles Turner, and they have a pretty deep bench. The Pacers just lack one thing: a superstar. Even if they add some more solid players, I just do not see this team being contenders. I don't think Oladipo is a good enough player to lead this team to a championship. The superstar that I would target is Damian Lillard. I know what you are thinking, but just hear me out. Lillard is as loyal to Portland as anyone could be, but the Blazers just haven't ever been contenders. Much of Dame's career has been spent earning a mid-level playoff seed in the West and then making a first or second round exit. I think with enough negotiating, the Pacers could get Dame out of Portland. However, he will come at a heavy price. The Pacers would likely need to trade away their first rounders for many years in the future, and I think they would also need to give up Malcolm Brogdon and T.J Warren. They are both 27 years old and entering the primes of their career. Assuming Portland would enter a rebuilding phase after giving up Dame, they would want young assets. I think if they Pacers manage to pull off this blockbuster deal, they would 100% be title contenders.
2. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs have a very good team. They have Luka Doncic, who in his second year in the league is already a superstar. They have Kristaps Porzingis, who is a 7'3 shooting big man at 24 years old, who they acquired from the Knicks this past off-season. They also have 7'4 Boban Marjanovic, who has proven that he can perform quite well when given minutes (plus he fights John Wick in his spare time!). They also have Seth Curry, a very good 6th man who can shoot very well, and Tim Hardaway Jr. who has put up 16 points a night this season. Overall this is a very good looking team that has a phenomenal young core, but they are just missing one small piece. Even with Luka getting better every year, this exact team will not ever be able to make a championship push. The player they need to acquire is Bradley Beal. Why would Washington do this deal? Well, the Wizards are terrible. Their superstar, John Wall, has been out for the much of the last 2 years and it's anyone's guess if he will return as the same player he was at his peak. Bradley Beal has had great years these past 2 seasons, but they've been wasted on a team this terrible. Beal would fit perfectly into the Mavs offence. To acquire him, the Mavs would need to trade a pile of first round picks and Dwight Powell, Delon Wright and, to make the cap math work, Seth Curry. Acquiring Beal would make the Mavs amazing Luka-led offense so much more potent that they would be tough to stop. Dallas would immediately become a title contender.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are in a very weird spot: on paper they look like a very good team, but they just have not performed to the expectations of most NBA analysts. The major problem for this team is shooting. Their starting point guard, Ben Simmons, cannot shoot a jump shot to save his life, and their starting shooting guard, Josh Richardson, cannot shoot well enough either (32.7% from 3pt this season). This past offseason, they lost J.J Reddick and Jimmy Butler, who were easily their two best shooters. There are many routes the front office can take to get to contention, but here is one that would make a championship a straight line ahead for this team: trade for C.J. Mccollum. C.J. is an extremely good shooter, and a great all around player. He shot 38% from 3pt this year and has put up 22.5 points per game. Unlike Jimmy Butler, he can play as a second option without sulking. If the Blazers decide not to trade away Dame and start a rebuild, then it is unlikely they would trade away C.J. But if they do decide to rebuild and Dame is no longer there, C.J. will be available too. He would be a great addition to the 76ers because he is a perimeter threat, which they just don't have. The 76ers would need to give up a lot to get a star like C.J. So goodbye to some first round picks, along with Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, and Matisse Thybulle. The Blazers would also need to give up Trevor Ariza to make the salaries match. To get C.J., the 76ers would have to give up many picks, a star in Harris, and two of their best young players. But making this trade puts Philly firmly in the title race.
I plan to make this a series and eventually go over the things that every team in the league must do this offseason.
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