The NBA trade deadline is less than a month away. The official deadline date is February 8, 2018, so with it fast approaching, the league is abuzz with trade rumors. Some rumors are nothing more than that: rumors. While others carry enough weight that they might just push through. And then there are those that we think should happen. Here we’ve compiled a list of plausible trades that could end up on our Twitter feeds in the coming weeks.
Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers
The Trade: Kenneth Faried for Amir Johnson, Furkan Korkmaz, and a future second round pick
Why it makes sense for both teams: Kenneth Faried is languishing in Denver and doesn’t appear to be a part of the Nuggets’ future plans. A fresh start in Philadelphia should help reinvigorate his career. Most people probably don’t remember, but Faried is only a few years removed from being the starting power forward of Team USA in the World Cup of Basketball. He can slot in nicely as the starting four with the Sixers, and move Dario Saric to a sixth man role that best suits him. A Covington, Farid, Embiid, Saric, and Holmes front court is a solid five-man rotation.
The trade is more housecleaning on Denver’s part. Amir Johnson is serviceable, but his appeal revolves entirely around that expiring contract. Korkmaz is a 20-year-old wing the Nuggets can take a flyer on, and the second round pick is there simply as extra incentive for the Nuggets to make this deal.
Chicago Bulls and Portland Trailblazers
The Trade: Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh, and Zach Collins for Nikola Mirotic, Quincy Pondexter, and a trade exception
Portland gets a much-needed big in Mirotic that can help stretch the floor for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Mirotic’s versatility allows him to switch between being a three or a four. It just so happens that these two positions are Portland’s biggest weaknesses. Pondexter joins him in Portland as salary cap filler.
For the Bulls, this trade clears Mirotic’s contract off its books. Vonleh and Davis are both expiring deals so that frees up even more money for Chicago if they decide to give Zach Lavine and/or Bobby Portis big contracts. Zach Collins gets thrown into the deal as a young player in lieu of a future draft pick.
Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers
The Trade: Nerlens Noel for Julius Randle
This trade actually makes sense for the Mavs and Lakers. Neither team is going to the playoffs so they can spend the rest of the season evaluating the player they received out of this trade and see if he can be a good building block moving forward.
In Dallas’ case, it’s all about finding a suitable replacement for Dirk Nowitzki once he retires. Randle doesn’t exactly fit that mold, but he’s proven to be a versatile big that can do it on all from the floor when he’s engaged. He’s going to find plenty of playing time in Dallas next to Nowitzki and Dennis Smith Jr. In addition to seeing if Randle can succeed Dirk as the team’s next power forward, the Mavs can also spend the rest of the season studying Randle’s compatibility with Smith Jr.
The rationale for the Lakers acquiring Noel is exactly the same, except that you replace Dennis Smith Jr for Lonzo Ball. Brook Lopez has a one-year contract with the team. He’s not coming back. Noel could be the Lakers’ starting center if he thrives playing alongside Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. That Ball-Noel pick-and-roll could groove to be especially deadly if both guys sync to the level we expect them to.
Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks
The Trade: Kyle O’Quinn for Alex Abrines
This is a “need” trade for both teams more than anything else. Oklahoma City needs big man depth in the worst way. The only bigs it has on the team are Steven Adams, Patrick Patterson, Nick Collison, and nobody else. That’s about the thinnest big man lineup in the league. Acquiring O’Quinn not only adds another big body into the mix, but one that has proved himself to be a capable big man rotation player on a good team.
The New York Knicks have no shortage of bigs. It’s not trading Kristaps Porzingis to OKC. It can’t trade Enes Kanter back to OKC. Willie Hernangomez is still a young prospect with potential. And Joakim Noah? Forget about it. O’Quinn is the only expendable big they have, and if they can get Alex Abrines from that deal, it’s going to be a good deal for the Knicks. The Spaniard isn’t going to jolt some excitement into Madison Square Garden, but what he can do is shoot. That’s more than what the entire roster of the Knicks can say these days. A big for a shooter. This is a good trade for both sides.
Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies
The Trade: Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Cedi Osman, and Brooklyn’s 2018 1st round pick for Marc Gasol
We’re saving the blockbuster trade for last because this trade has the biggest ramifications in the league if it happens. It’s also the unlikeliest trade to happen so we’re stretching our imaginations a little bit here.
For the record, the likelihood of this trade happenings sits at around three to five percent. Unless LeBron James commits to the Cleveland Cavaliers long-term, the Cavs aren’t dealing that Brooklyn pick for anything other than a young stud. But suppose James does commit, it opens the door for Cleveland to get creative in dealing that pick. We’ve heard guys like Boogie Cousins and DeAndre Jordan mentioned in potential deals with Cleveland. But trading for Gasol is the perfect swing for the Cavs.
Gasol is one of the rare players who can match intellectual wits with somebody like James. He’s not a good defender; he’s a great one. On offense, he unlocks a lot of plays for Cleveland that involve him taking the ball in the high post and acting as a point center as everybody else, including LeBron, screens and cuts opponents to death. If there’s anything Gasol has shown us in his time with the Grizzlies, it’s that he can be the best guy on a team that can give the Golden State Warriors serious fits. Now imagine him and LeBron on the same team.
For Memphis, trading the heart-and-soul of your team means one thing: you’re resetting the franchise. If Gasol gets traded, expect Mike Conley to follow suit. Either way, the Grizz set themselves up nicely for the future with two potential high lottery picks in a draft that’s about as top-heavy as any draft we’ve seen in a while.