As Thursday's NBA Draft approaches, there have been rumors of teams interested in trading up or down but thus far nothing has materialized that would change the order of how teams will select for the 2021 draft.
At least not yet.
That could change by Thursday, though, and with so many moving pieces still floating out there -- the Warriors' reported interest in adding a win-now piece, Damian Lillard and Ben Simmons' potential availability on the trade market, and OKC's treasure trove of (approximately) 300 draft picks over the next five years -- there remain enough liquid assets on the market that could cause it to rain cold-hard chaos on the draft as we know it.
So let's get a little imaginative, shall we? I'll acknowledge upfront here that chaos is no guarantee. Draft night could come and go without drama. But in the event we do get disorder, these five fake trades could be why.
Proposed trade No. 1: Warriors cash in for Beal
- Warriors would get: Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans
- Wizards would get: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, 2021 No. 7 overall pick, 2021 No. 14 overall pick, 2022 second-round pick
Wizards star Bradley Beal is reportedly at the top of the Warriors' offseason wish list, according to The Athletic's Marcus Thompson. And it seems to be more than just a general wish, as Thompson adds that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have made it clear to management that "they want the franchise to focus on the pursuit of a championship, even to consider using their two lottery picks to get someone who can help immediately." Beal is precisely that.
The Warriors have two lottery picks in this year's draft as well as last year's No. 2 overall pick, James Wiseman, as intriguing trade bait to sweeten a package to get it done. They'd likely need to take a player back to make the money work -- in this instance I used Davis Bertans and sent out Andrew Wiggins -- but there are several trade structures that could make both parties satisfied for their respective hauls around this framework.
Proposed trade No. 2: Knicks go get Lillard
- Knicks would get: Damian Lillard
- Trail Blazers would get: RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, No. 19 and 21 overall picks in 2021, 2023 first-round pick, 2025 first-round pick
It hasn't gone as far as a full trade demand for Damian Lillard in Portland but it could easily get there if he decides he is unhappy with how the front office is surrounding him with talent. That'd leave the star-hungry Knicks, strapped with young and fun assets, in a position to make their move. It'd take a lot because Lillard still has years on his deal -- a combination of picks and players perhaps like no other trade we've seen -- but to land a star of Lillard's caliber it might be worth the price of admission.
Proposed trade No. 3: Portland deals for Simmons
- Trail Blazers would get: Ben Simmons
- 76ers would get: CJ McCollum, Nassir Little, 2023 first-round pick
While Lillard uses his leverage to flirt with maybe, possibly sitting on the fence of a trade demand -- possibly in part to get Portland to surround him with better talent -- Portland in this scenario decides to make a move for a distressed asset. In Ben Simmons, they land a top-10 defender and All-Star who can help Lillard as a playmaker and erase mistakes on the defensive end of the floor to boot. Portland pays up -- Simmons' postseason struggles aside, he is a star -- costing them a former first-rounder in Nassir Little, a future first-rounder in 2023 and the long-time Robin to Lillard's Batman in CJ McCollum. The haul lands Philly a needed, reliable scorer at the guard spot and a promising young talent in Little.
Proposed trade No. 4: OKC uses its assets to move up
- Thunder would get: No. 3 pick in 2021, Kevin Love
- Cavaliers would get: No. 6 and No. 16 picks in 2021, Heat's 2023 pick
The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers, picking No. 3 in this draft, have received "significant trade interest" from teams trying to move into their draft slot. And while No. 3 in this draft might simply be too valuable to move out of, Oklahoma City could offer the perfect 1-2 combo to get this done: cap relief and a load of picks. In taking Kevin Love's deal off their books it'd give Cleveland the chance to move on from a bad contract while parting with the third pick in return for three valuable firsts -- two in this draft (No. 6 and No. 16) as well as OKC's 2023 first-rounder from the Heat.
This has been similar to OKC's calling card of late to acquire assets, as it has taken on Kemba Walker, Chris Paul and Al Horford in recent years -- considered bad contracts -- to acquire picks in return. Now it'd be a similar structure while paying a premium to move into the top three of a loaded draft, ensuring you get a star to pair next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Proposed trade No. 5: Suns get backup help for Ayton
Swap and sweetener deal: the Suns ship Jae Crowder to Orlando to give the Magic a starter on the wing, and in return, Phoenix gets a backup center in Mo Bamba and the No. 33 overall pick in this year's draft. A trade on the margins that could help both teams. It's unclear if Bamba is long for Orlando anyway and Phoenix desperately needs to find an answer at center behind Deandre Ayton. No doubt that Crowder was a key cog in the team's run to the Finals, and on its face this trade is lopsided, but the Suns have accumulated ample wing depth to recover. Plus, the ability to add an Ayton backup while also adding a pick would help even this out.