As the trade deadline approaches, the NBA rumor mill turns yet again as speculation grows around which teams will make moves before February 8th. Whether it be a contender adding pieces to push them over the edge, or a re-builder freeing up cap space and acquiring draft picks, everyone has needs to be fulfilled. Below are trade possibilities, some realistic, some improbable, but all financially feasible according to ESPN’s trade machine. If there are any general managers reading this, pay attention; it could save your franchise.
New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Charlotte is willing to trade their franchise point guard if it means they can unload one of their expensive contracts as well. Owner Michael Jordan has pledged not to trade Kemba Walker for anything less than an all-star, but owners have broken promises before.
Statistics are not kind to rookie Frank Nitilka, aka the French Prince, aka the Frenchise. His effective field goal (EFG%) and player efficiency rating (PER) are 40.3% and 7.1 respectively, well below the league average. His range doesn’t exceed mid range jumpers, shooting 30.1% from three while averaging only 5.3 points per game. However, his rookie statistics undermine his promise as a player. Don’t forget he’s only 19 and the Knicks are bringing him along slowly, only giving him 20.1 minutes per game. He’s a 6-5 point guard with impossibly long arms; he could transform into a destructive defensive force and Charlotte’s new franchise point guard.
Kanter’s trade value has increased this year playing alongside Porzingis, averaging a 23.7 PER and a career high in EFG%, at 60.3%. Charlotte already has two big men in Dwight Howard and Cody Zeller, but Kanter is valuable asset that they could flip to another team. Courtney Lee will provide outside shooting to a team 21st in the league in 3 point percentage.
For the Knicks, this is a no-brainer. Getting another all-star to play alongside Porzingis is the next step in the Knicks rebuilding plan; the fact that Walker is a playmaking point guard who can run the pick and roll is the icing on the cake. The only reservation is taking on the unattractive Batum contract, which is owed 99 million over the next four years. His injury problems have hindered his production this season, but it’s a risk the Knicks will have to assume.
Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings
Cavaliers receive: PG George Hill
This trade won’t make the earth shake, but it’s a practical move for both teams. Isaiah Thomas makes a bad defensive team even worse, and his ball stopping tendencies aren’t a good fit for the offense. In the postseason, George Hill could be a valuable situational player when the Cavaliers need to get a stop on defense. He’s got playoff experience from his stint with the Pacers, and he doesn’t need the ball in his hand to be effective.
Frye and Shumpert’s contracts expire in one to two years respectively, freeing up cap space for the Kings. Having former champions in a locker room helps the development young players like De’Aaron Fox or Willie Cauley-Stein.
Boston Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans
Danny Ainge isn’t done yet, and this one’s a doozy.
The Anthony Davis Celtics rumors have been swirling around since the summer, and if the Pelicans sputter out of the postseason it may be time to hit the reset button. This trade would gut their roster, but it also meets all of their long-term needs. They get a young star is Jayson Tatum, a fringe all-star and locker room presence in Al Horford, and first round picks.
Losing DeMarcus Cousins for the season increases the likelihood of this trade. With two all-star big men, the Pelicans had a shot at a playoff run, but being reduced to just Davis won’t be enough to make it out of the first round, let alone hold their playoff position. The Pelicans should cut their losses, trade for assets and hope to re-sign Cousins in free agency.
The draft picks could be what make this a worthwhile move for the Pelicans. If the Lakers pick is 2-5 they would get it, otherwise it becomes the better of Sacramento’s or Philadelphia’s in 2019. As of January 28th the Lakers are predicted to pick 9th in the lottery, meaning the Pelicans would have to wait till 2019. The Clippers pick is 1-14 protected, so the Celtics might want to throw in the 2019 first round draft pick from Memphis to seal the deal. Losing Davis is tough, but three first round picks is a lofty proposal.
The chemistry the Celtics have developed over this season is a sensitive dynamic, but if you get a chance at Anthony Davis, you take it. There’s always some injury concerns with him, but he fits their defense first mentality; one can only imagine the field day he would have protecting the rim in their system. There’s no replacing Horford’s 44% from three, but the Irving-Davis pick and roll possibilities bring a whole new dimension of offense. Tatum will become a star, but the Celtics have enough talented wing players that they can fill the hole he left. Rajon Rondo is thrown in to ensure the money works, but his usual locker room problems could subside if he’s clad in his original Celtics green.
In the end, nothing may be enough to trade for Davis. Sometimes it’s best to hold on to what you know rather than trade a revolutionary talent. When asked about trade rumors, head coach Alvin Gentry was open to the idea, but only at a steep price.
“I know there’s been rumors about Boston trying to trade for him or whatever and my response to that is, yeah, we’ll trade him,” Gentry joked. “But they’re going to have to give us the New England Patriots and the two planes that they just bought…”
It appears that Danny Ainge will have to make him an offer he can’t refuse.
Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors
Warriors receive: SF LeBron James