January 23, 2023, 1:08 pm
Below, you’ll find the trades that have already been executed in SportsEthos’ first annual mock trade deadline. Feel free to join the conversation and let us know you think won and lost each trade, and let us know what you do differently. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
The final trades were added as of 2/2/23
The Clippers shock the world!
The Clippers receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., Davis Bertans, TyTy Washington, JaVale McGee, Jae’Sean Tate, Alperen Sengun, 2023 MIA 1st, 2024 BKN 1st, 2026 BKN 1st, 2028 HOU 1st (top-10 protected), 2024 BKN 2nd round pick, 2024 GSW 2nd round pick, 2023 first round pick swap with Milwaukee’s first round pick
The Rockets receive: Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston, Udonis Haslem, BJ Boston, and cash considerations
The Heat receive: Eric Gordon and Boban Marjanovic
The Mavericks receive: Norman Powell, Reggie Jackson, Duncan Robinson, and Dewayne Dedmon
We have a winner for the “which trade we’ve completed that’s least likely to happen in real life” award! I don’t believe either the Rockets or Clippers would do this deal in real life, but this is still an intriguing one. Kawhi Leonard is a tough evaluation for a trade candidate because he’s starting to play like his old self the last couple of weeks after looking like a shell of it earlier in the season. But despite their .500 record, the Clippers still have their eyes set on a championship. I had both the Clippers GM, Yossi Gozlan, as well as the Rockets GM, Cooper Klein on the Bird Rights Podcast to justify their sides of it. For the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard’s knee issues are concerning, and they were able to get a ransom of a package back for him. Additionally, the Clippers saved around $50 million on their luxury tax bill by completing this trade. Steve Ballmer is the richest owner in the sport and I’ve been on record saying going deep into the luxury tax is the biggest competitive advantage in sports, but the Clippers were still mindful of their tax bill. Before it’s all said and done, it’s possible the Clippers trade Paul George too. However, in reality, the Clippers do not control their own draft pick until 2027, so blowing it to that extent is seen as extremely unlikely.
For the Rockets, their goal is simple: lure James Harden back to Houston. With Kawhi Leonard in town, a reunion with Houston would seem a lot more appealing to The Beard and if healthy, the Rockets could become immediate contenders. The Rockets would have ample cap space to bring Harden in, and suddenly a core of Kawhi-Harden-Jalen Green-Jabari Smith-Kevin Porter Jr., in addition to this year’s lottery pick, becomes one of the more intriguing cores in the league.
For the Heat, they basically turn Duncan Robinson and their 2023 first into Eric Gordon and Boban. Gordon is on an expiring deal essentially (non guaranteed deal in 2023-24), and with Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler’s extensions kicking in, the Heat will be in cap hell going forward after this year. Getting rid of Robinson’s contract would’ve taken a first round pick on its own, so the fact that Miami was able to get a high-level rotation player and get off Robinson’s deal all with one first is great management.
For Dallas, they took on Robinson’s money but got off the remaining years for Bertans, Tim Hardaway Jr., and McGee. They also finally acquired the third ball-handler their system needs since losing Jalen Brunson with Reggie Jackson, and Norman Powell would be a far superior sixth-man than Hardaway was. The Mavericks got significantly better in this deal, and all they gave up was Hardaway, Bertans, and McGee. Excellent business by Miami and Dallas to jump in on a very large deal and both accomplish things they wanted to accomplish with minimal assets.
Rockets acquire more assets
Rockets trade: Josh Christopher
Trail Blazers trade: Jabari Walker, Trendon Watford, POR 2027 2nd, POR 2028 2nd, and CLE 2025 2nd
Once they acquired Kawhi, the Rockets priority was to get off of Josh Christopher. Here, Portland was within a couple hundred thousand of the luxury tax, and this was a way to get guard depth. Houston was initially talking to Brooklyn about a Christopher trade, but the three second-round picks that Portland offered got this trade over the finish line.
Rockets take on former first-round pick
TRADE: The Utah Jazz trade Leandro Bolmaro to the Houston Rockets for cash considerations
The Jazz had to clear a roster spot so Bolmaro was on the chopping block. Instead of eating his salary and cutting him, they were able to trade him for some cash. For Houston, they had multiple roster spots open as a result of the Kawhi trade, so they were willing to take a flier on a former first-round pick.
Lakers move off Nunn (again)
Lakers trade: Kendrick Nunn and the more favorable of their 2023 2nd and Chicago’s 2023 2nd
Thunder trade: Darius Bazley
This move is eerily similar to the deal the Lakers got done for Rui Hachimura in real life. Instead of the Lakers giving up three second-round picks in a deal for Hachimura, here it took one pretty good second-rounder and Kendrick Nunn’s matching salary for Darius Bazley. Also similar to Hachimura, Bazley is a restricted free agent this summer who the Lakers would have to re-sign this summer. While Hachimura is strictly more of a power forward, the Lakers desperately need wings, and Bazley can do just that. He isn’t a perfect fit, but he has theoretical upside and is just 22 years old. Since they gave up so little, this is a very low-risk, high-reward deal for the Lakers.
For the Thunder, roster spots are being scarce quickly and it is unlikely they will re-sign Bazley this summer, so unless they felt as though he could fetch more in a sign-and-trade for them this summer, this was a move that made sense.
Crowder finally on the move
Nets receive: Boban Marjanovic, 2026 2nd (least favorable of DAL, OKC, and PHI) via Miami, and cash considerations from Phoenix
Heat receive: Kessler Edwards and Jae Crowder
Suns receive: Bojan Bogdanovic, Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith, Detroit 2023 2nd, Miami 2029 2nd, and Day’Ron Sharpe
Pistons receive: Landry Shamet, Dario Saric, Josh Okogie, Suns 2023 1st (top-4 protected each year through 2028, then becomes PHX 28 and 29 2nds), Phoenix 2023 2nd, and MIA 2028 2nd
This is a big one to process. After the Heat had already got off Duncan Robinson’s contract by giving up a 2023 first and acquiring Eric Gordon in the process, the Heat further solidified a position of need by adding Jae Crowder to the fold. Crowder is also on an expiring contract but given his previous ties to Miami, there’s a strong likelihood that he would re-sign for around mid-level exception money this summer. Miami essentially flipped Caleb Martin, Dedmon, Highsmith, three seconds, and their 2023 1st-round pick in order to acquire Gordon, Crowder, and get off Duncan Robinson’s money. All of this occurred while they were just $150,000 under the tax and found a way to remain under the tax. Impressive cap gymnastics by the Heat.
For the Nets, Boban is a veteran presence and a great culture guy that’ll add leadership to a locker room who needs it. Brooklyn took on a second-round pick for losing Sharpe and Kessler Edwards but on this veteran-laden team, neither guy was going to provide much. For the Suns, they finally got off Crowder for a contributor but it came at the expense of their 2023 1st. But with Devin Booker expected back this week, Phoenix adds Bojan Bogdanovic to the mix and can bring Cam Johnson off the bench again. Caleb Martin also provides the Suns with some wing depth and Day’Ron Sharpe may automatically be the best backup big man behind Deandre Ayton on this team.
For Detroit, they were hesitant to move Bogdanovic. With him signing an extension earlier in the season, they weren’t in a rush to move him as they viewed him as a real member of their core. But Phoenix has struggled this year, and quite frankly can fall out of the playoff picture if they don’t right the ship soon, so that first-round pick along with a couple seconds was valuable to them. It was reported Bogdanovic won’t be moved unless an unprotected pick was involved but here, a top-four protected Phoenix first is what got it done. Also, with Dario Saric’s contract expiring, Detroit opens up additional cap space this summer.
Knicks clear money
Knicks trade Derrick Rose to the Spurs for Khem Birch
For the Spurs, they’re going to have an ample amount of cap space this summer, and opened up even more when they traded Doug McDermott. However, Khem Birch was on the books for next year. By flipping Birch’s guaranteed 2023-24 salary to the Knicks for Derrick Rose’s non guarantee, it opens up close to an additional $7 million in cap space. For the Knicks, they had already traded Isaiah Hartenstein away, so Birch would compete with newly acquired Xavier Tillman and Jericho Sims as the backup to Mitch Robinson. Birch’s contract is also relatively easy to move so if the Knicks need the cap flexibility this summer (they aren’t projected to be a cap space team), then he can easily be moved again.
Heat dodge the luxury tax
Heat trade Gabe Vincent and cash considerations to the Utah Jazz for 2026 UTA 2nd and 2029 UTA 2nd
After I praised Miami for the job they did in this exercise, they weren’t quite savvy enough. They were roughly $440,000 under the luxury tax with 12 guys on the roster. If they converted two-way player Orlando Robinson to a standard minimum rookie contract and prorated it from March 1st, he would cost roughly $233,000 plus his tax variance. As a result, the Heat would not be able to get to the NBA’s mandated 14-man minimum roster spots without going into the tax. For this reason, Vincent had to become expendable. Vincent has been a very reliable backup point guard for the shaky Kyle Lowry this past season, but he isn’t worth going into the tax, and eventually the repeater tax for. Additionally, Miami gave up a first and three second-round picks in the deals to acquire Eric Gordon and Jae Crowder, so by recouping two seconds in this deal, they stash assets back in the cupboard. Now, they can sign three guys to minimums whether it be G League guys or a player from the buyout market, but Miami can depend on a committee of Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and even Victor Oladipo to handle their ball-handling duties.
For Utah, they desperately were searching for the market for a backup point guard to Mike Conley. Jordan Clarkson isn’t a true playmaker, and Utah wanted a legitimate point guard to come off the bench. Utah struck out in negotiations for guys like Payton Pritchard and Andrew Nembhard, so they settled for Vincent.
Jazz clear money and a roster spot
Jazz trade Nickeil Alexander-Walker and the Knicks 2023 2nd to the Spurs for cash considerations; Spurs waive Stanley Johnson
This is a subsequent move to Utah acquiring Gabe Vincent, as they were already at 15 roster spots. Here, they give the Spurs a second-round pick in order to take on Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s contract. San Antonio does a great job acquiring an asset by utilizing their cap space, and Utah gets off his money. Easy business.
Bulls blow it up
Bulls receive: Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Nick Richards, MarJon Beauchamp, 2027 Lakers 1st, 2029 Lakers 1st, 2029 Bucks 1st, 2028 Bucks 1st-round swap, and Trailblazers 2024 2nd
Bucks receive: DeMar DeRozan, Cody Martin, Damian Jones, Goran Dragic, Javonte Green
Hornets receive: George Hill and Jordan Nwora
Lakers receive: Zach LaVine, Joe Ingles, Grayson Allen, Wesley Matthews
SportsEthos has already posted a trade involving the Hornets and Bucks where the Bucks received Cody Martin and Nick Richards for George Hill and Jordan Nwora. For financial reasons, this trade had to be expanded to a four team deal to make it work.
The last day of our mock trade deadline and the Bulls decided to blow it up. They traded LaVine and DeRozan for major cap flexibility, a former first-round pick, three unprotected firsts and a swap. However, the firsts are in 2027, 2028, and 2029, so this could potentially be a long rebuild for Chicago. Unfortunately, Chicago will likely lose their 2023 first round pick, as Orlando owns it top-four protected so the Bulls don’t exactly have incentive to lose this year. However, with DeRozan aging and LaVine’s knees not getting younger, they executed on a deal that helps their future, financial flexibility and they got decent value. Russell Westbrook’s $47 million deal is expiring after this season, so the Bulls could theoretically become a cap space team this summer and add pieces around guys like Ayo Dosunmu, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, and the newly acquired Obi Toppin. Additionally, they still have Nikola Vucevic and his expiring deal on the books and can let him walk or sign-and-trade him this summer to a contender. Either way, the Bulls have major financial flexibility now with newly found draft compensation.
For the Bucks, they saw they struck out on finding a third team in their pursuit for Jae Crowder, and they were dangling Grayson Allen to everybody. When Chicago said they were willing to move both DeRozan and LaVine in one fell swoop, Milwaukee pounced. Their 2029 first is their only first they were able to trade, and of course they added the swap in 2028. They acquired DeRozan to pair with Giannis, Middleton, and Holiday and in addition to Brook Lopez, that’s a very formidable starting lineup. However, Milwaukee does not have much wing or guard depth outside of Cody Martin and Connaughton. Bobby Portis will be the first big off the bench to spell either Lopez or Giannis, and Dragic will be the backup ball-handler. However, Milwaukee has two open roster spots after this move, so they can always acquire a buyout guy before March 1st.
For the Lakers, first of all, Zach LaVine is a Klutch client. Secondly, he played his college ball at UCLA. Third of all, when LaVine was first a restricted free agent after he was traded to Chicago, he signed an offer sheet with Sacramento that was subsequently matched. This summer, the Bulls were the only team that were really able to pay LaVine. I mention this because things may not be as peaches and cream in Chicago for LaVine as they appear, and LA is a place he can call home between his connections to Klutch and his previous experience playing college ball in LA. The Lakers also did not want to give up those highly coveted 2027 and 2029 unprotected firsts for just LaVine, so they demanded role players back as well. In total, they netted LaVine, Grayson Allen, Joe Ingles, and Wesley Matthews. The Lakers suddenly are a force to be reckoned with.
Suns add a ball-handler
Cavaliers trade Raul Neto to the Suns for cash considerations
The Suns needed a backup point guard, and Cleveland was going to outright waive Neto with Ricky Rubio back. As a result, he heads to a destination that can utilize his playmaking ability and give insurance to Phoenix in their backcourt.
Kings trade star rookie for an upgrade in a 3-team deal
TRADE: Kings acquire Kyle Kuzma, Cory Joseph, and Hamidou Diallo
Wizards receive: Keegan Murray, Davion Mitchell, Matthew Dellavedova, and Alec Burks
Pistons receive: Will Barton, Alex Len, 2025 WSH 2nd, SAC 2028 2nd, 2025 SAC 2nd
This is one that won’t happen in real life, but Sacramento was insistent on it. For the Kings, they are currently the 3 seed in the west and clearly like their chances of making a deep playoff run. As a result, they traded Keegan Murray and Davion Mitchell in a deal for Kuzma. The Kings have had interest in Kuzma since they agreed to terms on a trade for him for Buddy Hield with the Lakers. The Kings also felt confident that Kuzma would re-sign, given they provide him with a certain lifestyle that he desires. While Keegan realistically won’t be moved and this was a steep price to pay for an expiring deal, a package like this may be what it takes to pry Kuzma away from the Wizards.
For the Wizards, in real life they’ve basically deemed Kuzma untouchable for reasons beyond me. I personally don’t think he’ll re-sign, but maybe Washington knows something that the general public doesn’t. But Washington has needed to rebuild for quite some time, so getting a guy like Keegan Murray in town is the start of that possibility. Sacramento has had a 15-year playoff drought, and this is just further pushing in their chips to fortify themselves as a contender. Last year we had Sacramento trading Tyrese Haliburton in a Ben Simmons deal when we did this exercise, and it seemed far-fetched that they’d trade Haliburton at this point last year too. Again, Murray won’t be moved, but crazier things have happened. Sacramento also acquired a backup point guard in Joseph and an athletic freak in Diallo. The Wizards were further able to flip Will Barton, who has quickly fallen out of favor in Washington, for a perceived upgrade in Alec Burks for just the price of a 2025 2nd-round pick.
For Detroit, they get three second-round picks for Burks, Diallo, and Joseph. While Detroit’s goal was to acquire more picks and Joseph and Diallo for a second round pick each is fine, they should’ve been able to get more for Alec Burks. However, Detroit acquired Burks this past offseason along with Nerlens Noel in addition to a first-round pick for a salary dump, so adding to that first isn’t bad business by Detroit either.
The following five trades were added as of 2/1/23
Knicks, Cavs, and Spurs exchange wings
Knicks receive Caris LeVert
Cavaliers receive Josh Richardson
Spurs receive Evan Fournier, Dallas’ 2023 1st (top-10 protected), Golden State’s 2024 2nd (via Cleveland; top-55 protected) and the rights to Luke Travers
This trade makes sense for all three teams in a sense. While Caris LeVert is the superior player between himself and Josh Richardson nowadays, Cleveland made subsequent moves that made this trade make a lot more sense. Cleveland is desperate for consistent wings who can defend and shoot. The issue with LeVert is that he’s a wing who’s best with the ball in his hands, and between Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, LeVert has become an afterthought in the offense. While Richardson plays a much more complementary role for the Cavaliers than LeVert does, he reminds me a bit of Isaac Okoro in the aspect of he’s able to defend, but can’t really shoot. Again, Cleveland adds multiple other wings in subsequent trades to their roster, so please hold judgment for now.
For the Knicks, they appear to be getting the best player in the deal with Caris LeVert. He slots in nicely as a sixth man behind RJ Barrett, and he’s a guy who Tom Thibodeau can rely on to play heavy minutes in case of injury. Additionally, the Knicks traded the Mavs’ 2023 first to the Spurs to take on the remaining $18.5 million in Evan Fournier’s money next year. LeVert is a free agent after this summer, so acquiring his Bird Rights will give the Knicks the ability to re-sign him if they so choose. But because the Knicks also got off of Hartenstein and Toppin’s money as well as Fournier, they could theoretically get to over $30 million in cap space if they renounce Caris LeVert, Coby White, and all their team options and non-guaranteed deals.
For the Spurs, they’re doing what a tanking team should be doing. They have ample cap space to acquire bad salary in order to accumulate assets. Here, they take on Fournier’s deal next year and acquire another first for their services, as well as acquiring another potential second round pick and the rights to an international draft and stash. While Fournier’s money is seen as a net negative, he has a team option in 2024-25 that the team can decline and open up ample cap space next summer. Given they’ve already gotten off Doug McDermott’s $13,750,000 guaranteed deal next year, they can still have up to $45-$50 million in cap space depending on how they handle Jakob Poeltl’s contract this summer.
Jazz add shooting
TRADE: Utah Jazz trade Rudy Gay, Talen Horton-Tucker, Collin Sexton, and a 2025 second round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Patty Mills, Seth Curry, Joe Harris, and a 2027 1st (via Sixers top 8 protected)
In my mock trade deadline primer, I told the Nets GM to try to trade some of their shooting for athleticism and defense. When I said to trade some of their shooting, I didn’t mean trade all three shooting specialists on the roster together. But that’s the route the Nets went. The Nets viewed Collin Sexton as an elite sixth-man coming off the bench behind Kyrie Irving and D’Angelo Russell (see next trade) and as an insurance because both of those two are about to hit unrestricted free agency. I don’t personally believe that the Nets should’ve given up a 2027 1st-round pick that’s only top-eight protected for a package around Sexton, but clearly Corban, the Nets GM, did. Corban was also high on Talen Horton-Tucker in this deal, but I think THT is most effective with the ball in his hands, which he won’t have between Kyrie, KD, Sexton, and Russell. Rudy Gay is in the deal to make the salaries work and as a veteran presence for the Nets.
For the Jazz, they acquired plenty of shooting with this deal. Sexton has seemed to be very repetitive with what the Jazz have in Jordan Clarkson, Rudy Gay is on a negative contract, and Talen Horton-Tucker has shown little flashes since being traded from the Lakers. Excellent job by Utah to acquire a potentially pretty good first-round pick for very little while adding a premiere skill in shooting to their roster.
Timberwolves and Nets swap former All-Stars
TRADE: Brooklyn Nets send Ben Simmons, Cam Thomas, 2028 top-four protected Nets 1st, and a 2026 2nd to the Minnesota Timberwolves for D’Angelo Russell, Bryn Forbes, and Wendell Moore
The Nets made this trade with the desire to get off of Ben Simmons’ contract. As noted earlier, D’Angelo Russell is on an expiring deal, as is Kyrie Irving. As a result, if the Nets decided to not retain either, they could be a player with cap space in free agency this summer. However, at this point, letting Kyrie walk seems highly unlikely. The Nets gave up another first, a top-four protected first in 2028 as well as Cam Thomas, just to get off the Simmons contract. My biggest qualm with the Nets moves, as I noted on the Bird Rights podcast recently, is that the Nets no longer have any premiere defenders on their roster. Nic Claxton has done an excellent job protecting the rim this season, and Kevin Durant has more than held his own on that end of the floor, but with three small guards in the backcourt that’ll demand major moves, and they don’t have much else. Corban justified these moves by saying the Nets will have such an elite offense, the defensive side of the ball won’t matter.
For the Timberwolves, they desired to get off D’Angelo Russell, but couldn’t get any takers. Minnesota now has Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Ben Simmons all on the roster, which seems like a roster that doesn’t make much sense. However, they acquired that 2028 top-four protected Nets pick to add a pick to the cupboard because they can’t trade any first-round pick until next year’s 2030 selection. This was a way to acquire a lightly protected first and hopefully further solidify the defense alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. At their best, the Wolves can sell themselves on having the two best defenders in the NBA. It seems like that time has passed, though.
Hawks acquire shooting
TRADE: The Atlanta Hawks acquire Seth Curry (Utah acquired him from BKN) and CLE 2029 1st (via UTA), Justin Holiday goes to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Vit Krejci, the Kings 2024 1st (lotto protected) and cash considerations go to Utah
The issue with Atlanta acquiring Seth Curry is that he’s too small to play alongside Trae Young. However, Atlanta does a pretty good job at staggering Young’s and Dejounte Murray’s minutes, so they would have to play Murray and Curry exclusively together when Young is on the bench. This will also likely allow the Hawks to stagger AJ Griffin when Curry and Murray are on the bench. However, I don’t love this deal for Atlanta. Atlanta gave up a Sacramento 2024 first (lottery protected) which they probably don’t think will be too high, but they swapped it for a 2029 Cleveland unprotected first. Atlanta figured Seth Curry is an upgrade to Justin Holiday, but it will be very hard for him to see consistent minutes as long as Young is healthy.
For Cleveland, they opened up a traded player exception that was large enough to take on Holiday after they traded Caris LeVert for Josh Richardson, so Holiday gives them an extra wing. Utah, meanwhile, acquires a more immediate pick for a pick that’s out in 2029. While that 2029 Cleveland first is unprotected, the Jazz GM did not worry about trading a pick for a draft class of kids that are currently in middle school.
Cavaliers and Blazers swap wings
TRADE: The Portland Trailblazers trade Josh Hart and Greg Brown to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Cedi Osman, Isaac Okoro, and CLE 2025 2nd round pick
For Cleveland, the goal was simple: acquire wings. And that’s exactly what they did. Cleveland sent out Cedi Osman, Isaac Okoro, and Caris LeVert and turned those three guys into Josh Richardson, Josh Hart, Davon Reed, and Justin Holiday. The biggest issue with LeVert is that he thrives best with the ball in his hands, and with one of Donovan Mitchell or Darius Garland on the court at all times, LeVert has been relegated to a sixth-man role as a result. However, Hart is an absolutely perfect fit. He can slide into this starting five, defend the opposing team’s best wing player, rebound well, and do the dirty work. While Cleveland was mindful to stay out of the luxury tax and accomplished that, they said they likely won’t be contenders this year. However, acquiring Hart with Richardson and Holiday off the bench vastly raises the Cavs ceiling. This offseason would be intriguing for Cleveland, as Hart, Richardson, and Holiday would all hit free agency this summer, as opposed to Cedi Osman or Isaac Okoro, who are both under contract next season.
For Portland, Hart is going to opt out of his de facto mutual option and test the free agency waters. Portland has a Jerami Grant free agency issue to worry about, and it’s unlikely they’d be able to lock up both while still avoiding the luxury tax. Here, Portland flipped Hart, picked up a second round pick, and added two wings that are under contract next year. Even so, Portland must be high enough on Okoro’s potential to take a swing like this.
Let me take a minute to note that both of these teams were within $2 million of the luxury tax before this trade was completed and both GMs, Evan Dammarrell and Mat Issa, did an excellent job of dodging the tax while still improving their rosters. While it’s easy as a fan to say “it’s not my money, go into the tax”, this is the largest luxury tax distribution ever, and it’s unlikely that a team that is able to avoid the tax is going to go into it under any scenario, especially if they have repeater tax issues later down the line. Excellent job.
The following three trades were added as of 1/30/23
Pacers finally get their power forward
TRADE: Pacers trade Jalen Smith, Cavs 2023 1st round pick (lottery protected) to the Charlotte Hornets for PJ Washington and two 2023 2nds (least favorable of OKC and WAS and more favorable of DAL and MIA)
It’s one of the worst kept secrets in the NBA this season that the Pacers are in pursuit of a legitimate starting power forward. While guys like John Collins are available on the trade market, the Pacers opted for PJ Washington. Washington is going to be a restricted free agent this summer, so Indiana may need to pay him in the $17 million per year range to keep him, but he fits their roster well. The Pacers also have three first-round picks in 2023, so giving up Cleveland’s 2023 1st is not a big deal, as that’s a pick in the 20s somewhere. PJ Washington can stretch the floor alongside, as can Myles Turner, which will allow Indiana to play a five-out system and space the floor well. He can also play the small-ball five in spurts as well, demonstrated from his time in Charlotte.
For Charlotte, they realistically will have a tough time paying PJ Washington what he expects to be paid this summer, as they’re approaching LaMelo Ball’s rookie extension and may need to pay Miles Bridges at some point. Here, they got not only the first round pick they coveted for Washington, but a cost-controlled stretch four that does a lot of things similar to PJ Washington with Jalen Smith. Smith is on the books for just over $5 million next year and then has a player option of $5.8 million in 2024-25, which is a lot more palpable for the Hornets to stomach rather than paying PJ Washington this summer.
Bucks add depth
Please note that this trade was expanded to a four-team deal: The Milwaukee Bucks trade Jordan Nwora and George Hill to the Charlotte Hornets for Cody Martin and Nick Richards
This was a cheap way for the Bucks to add wing depth. As I’ve reiterated countless times on the Bird Rights Podcast, there is no such thing as too much wing depth in today’s NBA. Here, the Bucks gave up Nwora and George Hill for Cody Martin and took on Nick Richards. They were able to retain all of their draft capital and are trying to make a subsequent move involving Grayson Allen and some of those picks. Hill is not a rotation player for Milwaukee at this point, and Nwora always felt like he was bound to be traded once he signed that contract this summer. Cody Martin, meanwhile, has two more years on his deal after this year with a non-guaranteed season in 2025-26 at a very manageable $7-$8.6 million per year. As long as the Bucks are competitors, they seem willing to pay the tax, and if things change, Martin has a very tradeable contract.
For Charlotte, they get Cody Martin off their books. They also get a 1.5 year flier on Jordan Nwora, who fits in well with their core. This deal saved the Hornets at least over $16 million in long-term committed money. While Charlotte could’ve pushed for some sort of draft capital, they’ve already added multiple picks through other trades and were content getting off the money.
Knicks and Bulls exchange former lottery picks
TRADE: The New York Knicks trade Obi Toppin to the Chicago Bulls for Coby White
For lack of a better term, this is one of those “my trash for your trash” trades. However, both of these players are far from “trash.” For Toppin, he’s stuck behind Julius Randle on a team with a coach who plays his starters significantly more minutes than he should, while White has fallen out of favor for the most part in Chicago. For the Knicks, they get a microwave scorer who’s best suited in a sixth-man role. However, unless the Knicks move Immanuel Quickley before this exercise is over, their skill-sets are pretty repetitive. Not to mention that White is hitting restricted free agency this summer and likely expects to be paid more than what the Knicks would be willing to pay.
For the Bulls, they get a flier on an athletic 3-and-D stretch four who can potentially be their power forward of the future if Patrick Williams is unable to put his tools together. There was plenty of trade interest for Toppin on the market, Miami being one of them. And with another year left on his rookie deal, Toppin is cheap labor and a great flier for the Bulls. Even if the Bulls decide to “blow it up” and trade some of their high caliber players, Toppin can fit that rebuild. If the Bulls decide to keep the core together, then Toppin fits a role on the current team as well.
The following three trades were added as of 1/28/23
Kings and Hornets swap backup big men
TRADE: Kings trade Richaun Holmes, Neemias Queta, and their 2024 second-round pick to the Hornets for Mason Plumlee
When Domantas Sabonis is healthy, Richaun Holmes has been an afterthought in the Kings rotation. Here, they flip him with a second round pick for Plumlee. Holmes has a guaranteed season under contract next year as well as a player option in 2024-25, and at over $12 million per year, that’s an overpay for your backup center. Here, Sacramento gets off his money and gets what they perceive to be an upgrade with Plumlee. Additionally, Plumlee thrived when he was Nikola Jokic’s backup in Denver because the Nuggets were able to play a similar offense with either on the court because they had a passing big man on the court at all times. The Kings can do something similar with Sabonis and Plumlee.
For the Hornets, Holmes can be a part of their center rotation along with breakout rookie, Mark Williams. Our Hornets GM, William Harris, also highly valued Neemias Queta as a flier. However, with Holmes’ money on the books now, I anticipate the Hornets making a subsequent move or two to shed future money, as they are about to get expensive once LaMelo Ball’s rookie extension is signed and in effect.
Cavs add a wing
TRADE: Cavaliers trade 2023 GSW 2nd to the Denver Nuggets for Davon Reed
For the Cavaliers, they desperately need consistent wings on their roster that can shoot and defend. Davon Reed showed flashes for Denver last year and parlayed that into a multi-year deal. Reed’s money is also non-guaranteed next year so if he underwhelms in his time in Cleveland for the remainder of the season and the playoffs, then they can cut him loose with no financial repercussions. For the Nuggets, they had to clear a roster spot for Willy Hernangomez, and they essentially flipped Reed for Hernangomez and two seconds. Excellent work by Denver.
Raptors get their big men
Magic receive: Gary Trent Jr., Juancho Hernangomez, Devonte’ Graham, and 2026 top-25 protected first (conveys to two seconds if it doesn’t convey)
Raptors receive: Bol Bol, Mo Bamba, 2023 ORL 2nd, Terrence Ross, and Doug McDermott
Spurs receive: Khem Birch, RJ Hampton, 2026 and 2028 TOR 2nd round picks
The Raptors were shopping Gary Trent Jr. heavily, and a team finally bit. Toronto finally gets a big man that they covet in Mo Bamba, as well as taking a flier on a much-improved Bol Bol. Toronto also receives Orlando’s 2023 2nd, which should fall around the pick 35-36 range. While Toronto took on Doug McDermott’s money for next year, they got off Khem Birch, and Mo Bamba has a non-guaranteed year next year, which I’d imagine the Raptors planned on utilizing when executing this trade. Bamba instantly becomes the best center on this roster and stops the bleeding from the Chris Boucher trade. Toronto did an excellent job doing their best Masai Ujuri impression and adding a bunch of long, rangy 6’9”-plus guys to their roster, while getting off Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr., two guys that don’t exactly fit that project. I imagine Toronto flipping Terrence Ross somewhere else for another asset.
For Orlando, they get a legit shooter that they desperately need. Mo Bamba is not currently in the rotation and they re-signed him likely with the intention of flipping him for a first-round pick. While the first they got is highly protected and is likely to convey into two seconds, they get Trent with the expectation of being willing to pay him. I don’t love the fact that they took back Devonte’ Graham’s money, but his contract isn’t an albatross either so I think they could move him at some point before that contract is over. Orlando came into this exercise with potential to have up to $32.8 million in cap space (per Spotrac) and Graham cuts into that, as does Trent if they plan on re-signing him.
For the Spurs, they got two second-round picks and a flier on RJ Hampton for Doug McDermott. Meanwhile, San Antonio came into this exercise with a projected $47 million in cap space this summer, and while Birch eats into some of that, McDermott’s deal goes off their books and they further increase that cap space.
The following three trades were added as of 1/26/23
Jazz add stretch big
TRADE: Raptors trade Chris Boucher and Otto Porter Jr. to the Jazz for Jaxson Hayes and Malik Beasley
Toronto traded for Malik Beasley with the intention of trading Gary Trent Jr., as Beasley is a seamless replacement for Trent. Additionally, with Otto Porter Jr. out for the season, it’s a strong possibility that he would opt into next year’s player option. Toronto also wasn’t thrilled with having two more years of Chris Boucher on the books after this season. Collectively, Toronto opened up a ton of flexibility with their trades, and this was an extension of that.
For Utah, Boucher is a seamless Kelly Olynyk replacement and fits in well with the big man rotation of Naz Reid, Walker Kessler, and Jarred Vanderbilt. Similarly to the acquisition of Garrett Temple in the Olynyk deal, they valued Otto Porter’s veteran leadership and championship pedigree. While Temple is on an expiring deal, Porter can potentially be on next year’s Jazz roster and continue to provide that mentorship while also being a contributor when healthy.
Grizzlies add depth
TRADE: Grizzlies trade Danny Green, Xavier Tillman, 2024 TOR 2nd, and 2025 NOP 2nd to the Knicks for Isaiah Hartenstein and Cam Reddish
On the Bird Rights Podcast, I told the Grizzlies GM, David Williams, that I was underwhelmed with this deal, but I think that’s because we value Cam Reddish differently. The Grizzlies are one of the more intriguing teams on the trade market because they are a legitimate contender and have plenty of assets to move in order to improve. However, David felt that Reddish was a great flier because the Grizzlies’ player development program is elite and he felt they could get the most out of the former lottery pick. In addition, with Steven Adams getting played off the court in last year’s playoffs, Isaiah Hartenstein gives the Grizzlies extra insurance as a big man who won’t get eaten alive in pick-and-rolls like Adams or Brandon Clarke. While I felt the Grizzlies could’ve made a splashier move, they are adding even more depth to a very deep team.
For the Knicks, it’s been reported they want two second round picks for Reddish, and they got that with this deal. However, it came at the expense of flipping Hartenstein for Xavier Tillman and Danny Green’s expiring deal. While the Knicks just signed Hartenstein this offseason, they get Tillman on a very team-friendly deal this year and next, as he makes just $1.9 million next year. Keep in mind that this trade was completed pre-Mitch Robinson injury, so i’m not sure if Hartenstein would’ve been moved if they knew Robinson would be missing at least the next three weeks.
Rockets and Knicks swap role players
TRADE: Rockets trade Garrison Mathews and their 2024 2nd round pick to the Knicks for Miles McBride
Our Rockets GM, Cooper Klein, is not a Garrison Mathews fan and for that reason, he was ecstatic to get value for him. While McBride is not playing much for the Knicks, he can provide valuable guard depth to the Rockets. The Knicks get a player who’s perceived as a good shooter with gravity, plus an expectation that the Rockets second-round pick will be in the 30s or low 40s in 2024 in exchange for McBride.
The following three trades were added as of 1/25/23
Jazz and Pacers swap former lottery picks
TRADE: Pacers trade Chris Duarte to the Jazz for Ochai Agbaji
For Utah, this trade was all about being competitive sooner rather than later. Despite being in just his second NBA season, Duarte is already turning 26 years old, and Utah felt his age fit the timeline of their roster well. Utah also felt that Duarte can contribute more than Agbaji can this season and next. Keep in mind, while Agbaji was included in the Donovan Mitchell trade post-NBA draft, Utah did not draft Agbaji. As a result, they flip him for a guy they think can contribute more in the short-term.
Similar to Utah’s rationale, Indiana’s reasoning is the preference of fit on the roster. Indiana’s GM, Mark Schindler, was looking for a more stout point of attack defender who can hit shots off movement and continue plays without needing to create. Furthermore, Duarte has struggled to fit into the Pacers’ high-paced movement offense this year. For these reasons, Agbaji fits the bill for what Indiana was looking for.
Pelicans get a stretch big
TRADE: Pelicans trade Garrett Temple, Jaxson Hayes, and a 2024 1st round pick (most favorable between MIL and NOP) to the Jazz for Kelly Olynyk
For the Pelicans, the Olynyk trade was a no-brainer. Barring something catastrophic, the Pelicans or Bucks 2024 first-rounder won’t be a high pick, and Temple and Hayes were salary fillers that the Pelicans didn’t value very highly. Olynyk also provides the Pelicans with a stretch big to play alongside Zion for stints. Olynyk can be a legitimate contributor for the Pelicans and is under contract beyond this year, so the price of a late 2024 first was an easy choice. The Pelicans have an ample amount of draft capital after the Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday trades, so they were willing to move a pick to push their chips in to try to make a run at a championship, and Olynyk is a piece of that puzzle.
For the Jazz, they wanted to clear playing time for newly-acquired Naz Reid and rookie Walker Kessler. In reality, Olynyk’s value will be in the late-first round pick range, and the Jazz recouped just that after they traded one away to Minnesota for Naz Reid. The Jazz also valued Garrett Temple as a veteran presence in their locker room for the rest of the season and for a potential playoff run.
Pelicans trade for All-Star point guard
Pelicans receive: Fred VanVleet, Dalano Banton, Toronto 2029 2nd
Raptors receive: Devonte’ Graham, Dyson Daniels, Naji Marshall, 2024 LAL 1st round pick (top-3 protected) and Pelicans 2026 1st (most favorable of MIL and NOP), Bulls 2024 2nd
Nuggets receive: Willy Hernangómez and Raptors 2027 2nd
This trade has been the most controversial among those that were announced on Twitter or on Bird Rights Podcast and has definitely received the most pushback. However, Pelicans GM, Anil Gogna’s rationale was sound. This trade was very reminiscent of the Jrue Holiday to the Bucks trade. At the time, it seemed like there was a massive overpay from Milwaukee and a desperate ploy to keep Giannis with the Bucks. But then they ultimately re-signed Giannis to a long-term deal and won the championship with the help of Holiday, so nobody will remember that trade as an overpay. Anil felt that in order to get off Devonte’ Graham’s guaranteed money beyond this year, it would take a first-round pick. Keep in mind, the Pelicans have never paid the luxury tax in franchise history. As a result, he felt that this deal was essentially Daniels, Marshall, and one first-round pick for VanVleet. Daniels has the potential to be great, but according to Anil, it’s unpredictable to know whether that potential comes to fruition.
For the Raptors, their asking price was high for VanVleet. After turning down a $112 million extension, the Raptors were almost required to hear offers on VanVleet. Getting two first-round picks, Dyson Daniels, and Naji Marshall was a massive haul for a re-tooling team. In reality, it is unlikely that the Pelicans will be willing to part ways with Daniels, but it isn’t the craziest thing to think it’s time to push in some of their assets to try to make a run at an NBA finals appearance with how wide open the Western Conference is this year.
For the Nuggets, they got a second-round pick to take on Hernangómez, who instantly becomes the best backup center option behind Nikola Jokić on this roster.
The following three trades were added as of 1/23/23
Timberwolves-Raptors swap guards
TRADE: Raptors trade Malachi Flynn to the Timberwolves for Jaylen Nowell
Our Raptors GM, Es Baraheni, did not find Malachi Flynn as a valuable part of how the Raptors roster is constructed. When he came on the Bird Rights Podcast, he discussed that he was always planning to move Gary Trent Jr. and Fred VanVleet because he did not feel comfortable paying each of them the amount of money they expected to receive in free agency. While Nowell will likely be paid in the $7-$9 million range annually this summer in unrestricted free agency, Toronto figured they’d have plenty of flexibility to re-sign Nowell.
For Minnesota, they do not have a consistent reliable playmaker on the roster beyond this year. Malachi Flynn gave them a point guard that is still under contract on a rookie deal next year and the hope is that he can be a reliable contributor next year. Minnesota also didn’t feel comfortable paying Nowell in free agency this summer. While Toronto feels that they got the superior player in this deal, Minnesota valued these players equally and took the one that is more cost-controlled for an extra year.
TRADE: Timberwolves trade Naz Reid and the 2023 NYK 2nd to the Utah Jazz for Utah’s 2023 1st (least favorable of HOU/BKN/PHI)
With Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns as two of the franchise cornerstones, our Minnesota GM, Logan Alten, felt that it was best to move Reid, who is about to hit unrestricted free agency. He traded Reid with a mid-second round pick for a first round pick, which is very reminiscent of what the San Antonio Spurs did with the Toronto Raptors last year when they traded Thaddeus Young with similar pick compensation for Toronto’s first-round pick last year. Minnesota basically moves up roughly 20 spots in the draft to move off a guy they likely were not going to retain beyond this year.
For the Jazz, GM Josh Url felt that Reid’s ability to rebound, shoot threes, block shots, and pass will complement their roster well. Reid is also 23 years old and fits the timeline of the rest of the Jazz’s young core. As he explained on the Bird Rights Podcast, it was a “bird in the hand” situation where he preferred the player who can thrive in their system over the unknown of a late first-round pick.
Jazz clear roster spots
TRADE: Jazz trade Udoka Azubuike to the Rockets, Rockets trade Bruno Fernando to the Bulls, and Tony Bradley is traded to the Rockets and subsequently cut to make room for Azubuike
This was a very minor move for all three teams, but Utah was required to clear a roster spot for Naz Reid. Procedurally, Houston essentially swaps Fernando for Tony Bradley and then subsequently cuts Bradley. Chicago felt Fernando is an upgrade to Bradley as a third center and he’s a bit cheaper. Houston takes the flier on a former first-round pick in Azubuike in their traded player exception created from the Christian Wood to Dallas trade.