The NBA trade deadline is approaching around the corner, and with it comes plenty of potential trades. Some teams may look to add a veteran to bolster their title chances, while others may look to build for the future. Either way, trades will go down as teams pursue championship contention or enter rebuild mode. There are four trades that NBA teams should pursue at the trade deadline.
These four hypothetical trades are more than possible and beneficial for all teams involved.
Ricky Rubio to the Clippers
The Clippers had a brutal end to their 2020 season following a disappointing loss to the underdog Denver Nuggets. There were many factors to blame, but one was the lack of a true floor general. With Patrick Beverly, Reggie Jackson, and Lou Williams as lead guards, the Clippers’ offense looked lost in late-game situations.
While star wing Paul George has improved tremendously this season as a playmaker, it’s tough to ask him and Kawhi Leonard to take on primary playmaking duties on top of their responsibilities as scorers and wing defenders. The Clippers added no point guard in the offseason and have a similarly underwhelming cast of guards like last year.
Luckily, a pass-first guard like Ricky Rubio can change that. Ricky Rubio should be one of the four trades that NBA teams should pursue at the trade deadline.
Rubio won’t score as many points as Lou Williams, but he offers the Clippers something they need far more of: playmaking. In just 26.2 minutes per game, Rubio averages 6.8 assists. He also commits just 2 turnovers per game, giving him one of the best assist to turnover ratios in the entire NBA.
Unfortunately, the Clippers don’t have many assets to offer a T-Wolves team that should look to get younger. Nonetheless, a player like Patrick Beverley serves as a veteran mentor for Minnesota’s young core and adds much-needed defense. The Clippers will miss his defensive intensity, but it’s a price worth paying for Rubio’s upgraded playmaking.
Clippers receive: Ricky Rubio
Timberwolves receive: Patrick Beverley, Patrick Patterson, Daniel Oturu
Evan Fournier to the Philadelphia 76ers
There are four trades that NBA teams should pursue at the trade deadline. Evan Fournier’s Orlando Magic are in an odd position right now. They’ve hovered around the .500 mark over the last few seasons, sneaking into the playoffs but never reaching contending status.
But after a slew of injuries, they’re the 14th seed in the east and have no incentive to try and win now. There’s no chance that the Magic make headway in the playoffs against the eastern conference powerhouses.
Thus, holding onto a player like Fournier wouldn’t make much sense for them, given his solid value on the trade market. They should look to flip him for future assets to pair alongside their young building blocks. Orlando’s young duo of Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac offer potential for the future.
Averaging 19.6 points on 60.2% true shooting (both career-highs), Evan Fournier offers instant-impact to most win-now teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers. Arguably the 76ers’ biggest flaw is their perimeter creation, something that Fournier brings to the table. While point guards Ben Simmons has his strengths, his inability to shoot or consistently create in the halfcourt is an exploitable flaw come playoff time. Others like Shake Milton and Seth Curry are serviceable but shouldn’t have roles as primary or even secondary shot creators.
Admittedly, Fournier doesn’t have the best track record in the playoffs either. However, his shot creation and floor spacing are instrumental for Philadelphia, the former of which is an upgrade over Milton and Curry. Fournier will provide center Joel Embiid with more space to operate down low and alleviate defensive pressure away from the big man.
In return, Philadelphia could send Orlando a package featuring pick(s) alongside rookie prospect Tyrese Maxey and veteran wing Danny Green to balance salaries.
76ers receive: Evan Fournier
Magic receive: Tyrese Maxey, Danny Green, draft capital
Kyle Lowry to the Miami Heat
Longtime Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is one of the more prominent names on the trade market, with teams like the 76ers and Heat rumored to make a move for him. While Lowry’s been the Raptors leader and a fan-favorite, he doesn’t bring much to a team that should look to the future.
The Raptors are just 18-26, so it’s unlikely they’ll contend for a title anytime soon. Given the youth of other core pieces like Siakam, VanVleet, Anunoby, and Powell, a 36-year old Lowry on an expiring deal seems out of place.
Luckily, there are plenty of other suitors that could use Lowry’s services as a veteran guard. A team like the Miami Heat would benefit tremendously from him. Following their impressive run to the 2020 Finals, the Heat have fallen into mediocrity this season at just 22-22. They appear to be a piece away from contending with the east’s juggernauts and have the assets to make a move for one.
That last puzzle piece could very easily be Kyle Lowry. Lowry can shoot, score, playmake, and defend at a solid level on top of his experience and leadership. He shores up Miami’s defensive flaws in the backcourt and adds shooting to a team that ranks 28th in 3-point percentage.
In return, the Heat boast a quality group of assets to offer Toronto. It’s unlikely they give up Tyler Herro for just one-year of Kyle Lowry, but Miami still has other solid pieces to interest Toronto. For salary reasons, Miami would also have to offer a veteran such as Goran Dragic and/or Kelly Olynyk. Dragic’s departure would make sense since he and Lowry play the same position.
Heat receive: Kyle Lowry, Deandre’ Bembry
Raptors receive: Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn
Aaron Gordon to the Boston Celtics
Despite their star-studded roster, the Celtics have been somewhat disappointing this season, ranking 8th in the east. It’s easy to see why. The Celtics lack plenty of depth.
Aaron Gordon solves that problem to an extent. On offense, he’s a huge upgrade over current forwards Tristan Thompson and Semi Ojeleye. Gordon’s shooting a career-high 39.3% from 3 this season, which is very encouraging despite the small sample size. He’s also a solid passer for his position.
Defensively, Gordon provides the Celtics with much-needed competency in the frontcourt. The Celtics will likely face off against the Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers in the eastern conference playoffs. Since each team features a dominant interior scoring force, the Celtics need to plan accordingly and add bodies to throw on them. Gordon satisfies that need.
Gordon’s one of the more versatile defensive forwards in the league. His combination of strength and agility makes him a good matchup for Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. An extra defender like Gordon also boosts Boston’s ability to wall off the paint from Antetokounmpo. The Raptors and Heat used that tactic to perfection in 2019 and 2020, and the Celtics should look to do the same. Even if the Celtics don’t play Milwaukee in the playoffs, Gordon’s overall switchability will become increasingly important in the postseason.
On the other hand, the Magic might not let Gordon go too easily. Although they’re best suited to rebuild, Gordon’s young age (26) makes him an enticing piece for the future. However, Gordon has requested a trade recently, so it would be in the best interest of all parties to move him.
In exchange, the Celtics should look to offer prospects to the Magic alongside salary filler(s).
Celtics receive: Aaron Gordon
Magic receive: Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, Tristan Thompson
The clock is ticking until tomorrow’s trade deadline at 3 PM EST. Fans and players alike will find out many things over the next several hours. Many trades could end up impacting the outcome of the season entirely.