Top 10 Possible Blockbuster Trades Prior To 2018 NBA Draft

The NBA feels like a 12-month season these days due to how much intrigue and interest goes into the offseason, with stars being moved to new teams on a fairly regular basis due to free agency and blockbuster trades. Now that the NBA Finals are over, trade rumors have been swirling around some of the biggest stars in the league. With the NBA Draft scheduled for June 21st, now is the perfect time to look at potential trades that could change the very identity of some NBA teams ahead of the 2018 draft.

Spurs / Lakers

Spurs Receive: Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Luol Deng, the 25th Pick and a 2019 Second Round Pick
Lakers Receive: Kawhi Leonard

With reports that Kawhi Leonard has asked to be traded from the San Antonio Spurs, NBA circles are buzzing over the possible trades that could surface for the 26-year old star. Leonard is a top-five NBA player when healthy, though he only played nine games last season due to an injured quadricep. According to sources, Leonard’s top trade destination would be to the Los Angeles Lakers and this trade would be one of the best packages the Lakers could put together for him.
With this move, the Lakers are basically throwing their rebuilding plans in the garbage in preference of buying a playoff team through cap room and assets. Both Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are young players who could thrive in San Antonio under the coaching of Greg Popovich, with Luol Deng’s contract thrown in just to match salary. The Spurs would also be adding a second first-round pick for the upcoming draft, setting the Spurs up for the future with an influx of young players.
For the Lakers, this move signifies an end to the rebuilding era for the team. Leonard is a star in this league and can be used as selling point to attract big name free agents, such as LeBron James and Paul George. While this may not be the best move for the future Lakers, it is certainly the best way to enter win-now mode if they can sign an additional star in free-agency.

Spurs / Clippers

Spurs Receive: Tobias Harris, the 12th Pick, the 13th Pick and a future unprotected First-Round Pick
Clippers Receive: Kawhi Leonard

If a deal with the Lakers cannot be reached, perhaps LA’s other team would be an equally suitable destination for Leonard. This deal doesn’t give the Spurs the young assets like the Lakers trade would, but it certainly gives them a lot of draft picks and a player in Tobias Harris that could enter as an immediate starter for the team. This could be the best of both worlds for the Spurs organization; Popovich avoids a full rebuild in his final years coaching (the Spurs were the eight-seed last year with LaMarcus Aldridge as the only star player, adding Harris would only make the team better) while also setting the team up for the future with three first-round picks.
The Clippers have publically said they are not looking to rebuild after trading both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul but, given the talent on their roster, they may not have too much of a choice unless they can leverage some of their assets for a star player. Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t make this team a contender but he could perhaps be used to lure free agents. The Clippers may be wise to trade their assets for a star now, as rumors around the Lakers potential league-shaking moves this offseason threaten to steal the attention in LA.


Spurs / Sixers

Spurs Receive: Robert Covington, Markelle Fultz, the 10th Pick, the 39th Pick and the 50th Pick
Sixers Receive: Kawhi Leonard

There is a good chance the Spurs will not be willing to trade Kawhi within their own conference, which severely limits their options. One match that seems perfect, though, is the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia has a ton of assets and is looking for another star player to add this offseason, already being connected to LeBron James and Paul George. With this trade, the Sixers get their third-star player and fix their asset overload, as they simply do not have room to sign their six potential draft picks and free agents.
The Spurs would receive a ton of picks which they can either keep or flip into an even higher pick perhaps, as well as a potential starter in Robert Coving and Markelle Fultz who is just one year removed of being the top pick in the draft. Fultz is one of the weirdest stories of the NBA this season, as the number one pick seemingly forgot how to shoot between the draft and the start of the season. However, the Spurs have the best shooting coach in the league in┬áChip Engelland. If anyone can fix Fultz’s shot, it is him.

Spurs / Celtics

Spurs Receive: Kyrie Irving and a 2019 First-Round Pick
Celtics Receive: Kawhi Leonard

This trade might seem crazy, as the Celtics just traded for Kyrie Irving last year and were one of the best team’s in the league and just one game away from making the finals with Irving on the roster (although out with injury for the playoffs). However, it has been reported that the Celtics are actively interested in trading for Kawhi if the Spurs begin shopping him and this trade might make the most sense. The Spurs add an elite NBA player to play along LaMarcus Aldridge in order to keep contending now, as well as adding one of the many first-round picks Boston has next year.
Meanwhile, Boston adds yet another versatile forward that can play defense against many different positions. Boston was already the best defensive team in the league during the 2017-2018 season. The lineup would have some questions, with Hayward possibly at the shooting guard spot and Kawhi at power forward, but you can’t pass up on a player of Leonard’s caliber. Adding Kawhi, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year winner would just be insanity. Still, when a team is building to beat the Warriors that may just be what is required to even stand a chance.


Trail Blazers/ Cavaliers

Trail Blazers Receive: Kevin Love and the 8th Pick
Cavaliers Receive: CJ McCollum

Kawhi Leonard isn’t the only star that could possibly be traded ahead of the draft. The Cavaliers are coming off of a season in which they struggled on both sides of the ball all season and yet were still somehow able to make the NBA Finals before getting swept by the Golden State Warriors. The common belief is that LeBron James is already out of Cleveland but perhaps this move can change that. Flipping Kevin Love and the Brooklyn pick they received from the Celtics could provide an incentive for LeBron to resign there, or at least opt-in for one more season to see what they can do. If you’re Cleveland, isn’t keeping LeBron all that matters?
The Portland Trail Blazers just need to do something different, on the other hand. The backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum has been effective in the regular season, leading them to the three-seed in the Western Conference last year. However, after getting swept in the first-round by the sixth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans a change is needed. Flipping McCollum allows Portland to keep their star (Lillard) while adding the immediate starter Love and a potential future star at the 8th pick.

Wizards / Pelicans

Wizards Receive: DeMarcus Cousins (sign-and-trade)
Pelicans Receive: Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat and the 15th Pick

Sign-and-trade deals are never easy, especially when the player being traded is coming off of a serious injury. Still, this trade makes a lot of sense for both teams. The Wizards have been proven unable to win in the playoffs with their current roster and have absolutely no cap room to make a push for a big-named free agent. Cousins also has a strong connection with John Wall, who both played at the University of Kentucky. Wall has also been loud and clear on his stance that the team needs to add another star, preferably a center.
The Pelicans have an elite talent in Anthony Davis but desperately need to put more talent around him. Additionally, New Orleans’ offense seems to flow better without the two bigs in Davis and Cousins on the floor at the same time. The one hangup for the Pelicans in this deal could be that they aren’t getting the full value for Cousins, who is one of the best centers in the league when fully healthy. However, with the uncertainty of the injury that currently surrounds Cousins, this is the best deal they can realistically do.

Memphis / Clippers

Memphis Receives: Tobias Harris, Patrick Beverly, the 12th Pick and the 13th Pick
Clippers Receive: Chandler Parsons and the 4th Pick

There are rumors that Memphis might be looking to trade down from the fourth spot in the draft and, if that is true, this could be one of the best offers they receive. The Grizzlies are not looking to rebuild with veterans Mike Conley and Marc Gasol already signed on for next year. Their problem is a lack of talent around their main guys rather than the lack of a franchise player. This trade allows Memphis to grab two players that can make an immediate impact in Tobias Harris and Patrick Beverly without leveraging their future as they dump Chandler Parson’s terrible contract and turn the fourth pick into the 12th and the 13th to add some youth to a veteran roster.
This trade also gives the Clippers a chance at a player that could become the new face of the franchise, something they desperately lack currently. The Clippers might not want to do this if both DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic are off the board by the fourth pick, as they are projected to be the best players in this draft by a wide margin. Still, if Doncic drops on draft night, as some believe he could, the Clippers shouldn’t even hesitate to make this trade despite such a large cost.

Sixers / Kings

Sixers Receive: The 2nd Pick
Kings Receive: The 10th Pick, the 26th Pick, the 38th Pick, the 56th Pick, 2019 First-Round Pick

According to David Griffin, one of the front-runners for Philadelphia’s open GM position, them 76ers desperately want to trade into the top five. Considering that there are rumors the Sacramento Kings are considering trading down, it could be a match made in heaven. Sacramento is reportedly not too high on the players projected to go high in the lottery and would reportedly be more comfortable picking in the seven to nine range, where players such as Michael Porter Jr could still be available. Well, by giving up the second pick in the draft they would be able to still have a chance at a player they like at the 10th spot, as well as four other chances to find a draft gem this year alone. Plus throw in a future first-round pick just for good measure. This trade could bolster the Kings roster for years to come with an ample addition of young talent.
Philadelphia fans might have major reservations against trading up in the draft, a year removed from a trade made to get the top pick in the draft to select Markelle Fultz. Still, if they think Luka Doncic can be a transcendent player in this league this move should be a no-brainer.

Cavaliers / Clippers

Cavaliers Receive: DeAndre Jordan
Clippers Receive: JR Smith, Jordan Clarkson, Cedi Osman and a 2019 Second-Round Pick

The Clippers may not want to enter a full rebuild but that doesn’t mean they should keep putting the same team on the court. DeAndre Jordan’s trade value may never be any higher than it currently is so if they are going to sell they might as well sell high. This trade requires that Jordan opts into his player option, which should be no problem as he is guaranteed over $24 million if opting in. This move gives the Clippers some cap space to use in the upcoming free agency as well as young players in Jordan Clarkson and Cedi Osman that can be contributors.
This trade also gives the Cavs another big name to lure LeBron back home without sacrificing really anything that matters in regards to their immediate contention. Cleveland is clearly not afraid to make trades, as they showed on the trade deadline last season making three large trades on the same day. If the Cavaliers could trade for Jordan and CJ McCollum on the same night they would certainly stand to make a better push on keeping LeBron then they currently have.


Pacers / Hornets

Pacers Receive: Kemba Walker and Cody Zeller
Hornets Receive: Darren Collison, Al Jefferson, Cory Joseph and the 23rd Pick

Kemba Walker has been in trade rumors all year but failed to be dealt prior to the NBA trade deadline. Still, it is hard to not feel like Walker’s time in Charlotte is over. This move makes a ton of sense for both teams. First, the Hornets are able to get enough decent players that they can still be semi-competitive without having to pay Kemba a max deal and while dumping Cody Zeller’s terrible contract and getting an additional first-round pick.
The Pacers are able to add another dynamic scorer alongside Victor Oladipo without sacrificing any of their key players. Indiana surprised even themselves when they were able to secure the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference last season, changing their plans from a rebuilding era to contending immediately on the back of Oldadipo’s incredible season. A backcourt of Walker and Oladipo would be one of the most dynamic in the league and could be a great chemistry match due to how vocal both players have been about wanting to play for a winning organization.

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