NBA Finals contenders make trades for key players. A little bit of greed might be beneficial for NBA teams who find themselves in a title battle. At the very top of the Association, room for mistake is either little or nonexistent.
Teams need to be well-prepared in case something unexpected happens, such as an injury, a tough opponent, or a sudden outbreak of the chills.
Simply said, the goal is to enhance even the most well-constructed lineups. We’re using the six teams recently declared serious contenders by B/Greg R’s Swartz to determine the best possible trade additions for each club.
Boston Celtics: Bojan Bogdanovic
After losing Danilo Gallinari to an ACL injury, Boston may go to Bojan Bogdanovic, a more elite version of Gallinari’s previous template. Gallinari, who is 34 years old, may have just begun to show signs of age, while Bogdan Bogdanovic, who is only three years younger, does not seem to be slowing down at all.
He appears to be following the fine-wine-aging strategy, if anything. Both his points-per-game average (18.1) and win-shares-per-48-minutes number were career-bests for him last year (0.118).
Bogdanovic is just as good of a shooter from deep as Gallinari, but he also provides more in terms of scoring on his own. To counter larger defenses, he may just slither around the lesser ones.
Even if Boston is mainly interested in his catch-and-shoot sniping, he may still grab enough touches to give this assault a little additional zip.
Per ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Utah Jazz, currently managed by former Celtics GM Danny Ainge, are demanding a first-round selection in exchange for Bogdanovic. If the Celtics are serious about making a title run, they shouldn’t have any trouble paying that price.
Denver Nuggets: Jonathan Isaac
Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.’s comeback raise Denver’s expectations. With them and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets may make a deep postseason run. Denver’s defense may struggle since all three play best on offense.
The Nuggets have added Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Bruce Brown, but they may need more. Especially Jonathan Isaac, who had Defensive Player of the Year potential before knee and hamstring injuries.
Denver may have an all-purpose, five-position defensive powerhouse if he stays healthy. The Magic have a crowded frontcourt without Isaac, so they may be inclined to deal him. The Nuggets should spend if they can.
Isaac may help Denver’s 15th-ranked defense and stabilize their backup bigs, DeAndre Jordan, Jeff Green, and Zeke Nnaji. All of Isaac’s future seasons are either partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed.
Orlando may wait to see what Isaac has left in the tank, but with Paolo Banchero, Wendell Carter Jr., Mo Bamba, and Mo Wagner in the frontcourt, they have enough depth to move him now.
Golden State Warriors: Jakob Poeltl
If the Warriors aren’t ready to defend their title, they’ll likely improve at center. Kevon Looney is competent but not extraordinary. James Wiseman, the No. 2 selection in 2020, has drool-worthy talent, but he may lack polish to contribute now.
Golden State should target San Antonio if it wants a center. San Antonio Spurs are knee-deep in a rebuilding process that may make it hard to keep Jakob Poeltl, who turns 27 in October and needs a new deal before next summer.
San Antonio doesn’t want to give Poeltl away. SpursTalk’s LJ Ellis says the team wants two first-round choices for Poeltl. If the Warriors believe a Poeltl trade will get them closer to another title, they may disagree.
Poeltl has a plethora of two-way skill, and he spent four seasons under Gregg Popovich, a student of Kerr’s. Poeltl thrives as an inside anchor, but he’s mobile enough to handle perimeter switches, a solid finisher near the basket, and a good passer off of the short roll.
Los Angeles Clippers: Myles Turner
In a word, it’s unsettling to think that Myles Turner may soon be playing for the Los Angeles Clippers. Already, this team has perhaps the finest wing defensive duo in the NBA in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
The two of them have been named to 11 All-Defensive Teams and have won two Defensive Player of the Year honors between them. Turner, a two-time leader in blocks per game, joining the interior of this defense has the potential to turn it into a fortress.
According to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star, the Clippers were interested in Turner back in 2021, and maybe that is still the case. Turner, who will be 27 in March, may be too old and pricey for the rebuilding Pacers, but he would be a perfect match for a win-now Los Angeles squad with title potential.
Turner’s abilities are limited to floor space and paint protection, but he would play OK for the Clippers in this role. Los Angeles would have one of the best center rotations in the league if they added him and kept Ivica Zubac.
Milwaukee Bucks: Kelly Oubre Jr.
The Milwaukee Bucks may have just needed a completely recovered Khris Middleton to successfully defend their title in the playoffs this year. His knee injury still left Milwaukee with a weak wing rotation, putting undue on on Wesley Matthews and Grayson Allen.
At this point in his career, Matthews has become a shooting specialist, and Allen is always being singled out on defense. The addition of Kelly Oubre Jr. to the Bucks’ roster might improve their wing play in a few of ways.
He has a tendency to go through dry spells, but his inconsistent play is less noticeable on a team with stars like Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jrue Holiday. Oubre’s finishing ability, quickness, and spot-up shooting would all benefit from a supporting role.
Although he is not the most apparent trade target, the Charlotte Hornets may not want to keep paying him as a free agency and might consider trading him. Charlotte might be taking a step back without Miles Bridges.
It hadn’t risen very far to begin with, so it could be willing to trade a win-now star like Oubre for a long-term asset that could assist out 21-year-old franchise face LaMelo Ball in the future.
Philadelphia 76ers: Alec Burks
After acquiring De’Anthony Melton on draft night, signing P.J. Tucker, Danuel House Jr., and Montrezl Harrell in free agency, and yet finding enough spare change to re-sign James Harden, Philadelphia may have done all the hard lifting it could this summer.
A push at Alec Burks may be warranted, though, if 76ers president of college basketball Daryl Morey has not depleted the team’s asset pool. Burks, a career wing, recently held his own for the New York Knicks as an emergency point guard, and Philadelphia’s second unit could use another playmaker (3.0 assists against 1.1 turnovers).
As a perimeter player, he can handle himself against most defenses, and over the last three years, he has made over 38% of his 3-point attempts from the free throw line.
The Detroit Pistons, who are currently in the midst of a rebuild, are not expected to keep him around for long, especially considering that there is only a club option left on his deal after this season and his skill set is one that most contenders might benefit from adding.