Every sports fan loves speculation. Whether in the offseason or the height of the playoffs, we glue our eyes and perk our ears to any news outlet we can find, all in hope of catching wind of the latest and juiciest rumor to hit the grapevine. In my opinion, there is no better form of speculation than to create hypothetical trade scenarios, oftentimes based off of rumblings throughout the league. I have crafted a list of potential trades — based off rumors and league-wide consensus — that could possibly, albeit improbably, come to fruition in the 2016 NBA offseason.
Trade #1: The Aftermath of Durantics
Los Angeles Lakers get: guard Russell Westbrook
Oklahoma City Thunder get: guard D’Angelo Russell, forward Julius Randle, guard Nick Young, Lakers’ 2017 unprotected second round pick, Lakers’ unprotected 2018 first round pick, Denver’s 2018 unprotected second round pick
Here’s the thing: Russell Westbrook will be a free agent next summer, and with forward Kevin Durant leaving for Golden State, the jury is still out on whether Westbrook will stay in OKC. If he intends to resign with OKC, then forget this trade. Seriously, wipe it from your memory. OKC has the talent to rebuild around Westbrook. However, if there is a strong indication he will leave, it is in OKC’s best interest to trade Westbrook for a sizable return while his market value is astronomically high. Adding Russell and Randle to pair with guard Victor Oladipo and center Steven Adams would create a formidable young core, with an unprotected first-round pick from LA to boot. The Lakers should only do this trade if they are confident Westbrook will resign with them — he certainly is not silent about his hometown affinity for LA — otherwise they would be mortgaging their future for a one-year rental.
Trade #2: Boogie to Beantown
Boston Celtics get: center DeMarcus Cousins, guard Ben McLemore
Sacramento Kings get: guard James Young, forward Jae Crowder, forward Amir Johnson, right to swap first round picks with Brooklyn in 2017, Brooklyn’s 2018 unprotected first round pick, Clippers 2019 first round pick protected 1-14
Stop me if you have heard this before: DeMarcus Cousins to Boston. The Celtics’ pipe dream has been supposedly in the works for quite some time now, but the harsh reality of stagnation might push Sacramento’s front office into action. Cousins is supposedly unhappy in California’s capital, and with forward Rudy Gay and center Kosta Koufos on the market, the future currently looks bleak in Sacramento. As a fringe playoff team in a dominant conference – one with the super-team Golden State Warriors, a championship will not be hoisted in Sleep Train Arena any time soon. However, the Kings have a top-ten talent in Cousins and would be a viable trade partner for a team with a boatload of assets like Boston. With this trade, the Celtics would add a desperately needed star to pair with guard Isaiah Thomas and forward Al Horford, and add a serviceable shooter (36 percent from beyond the arc last season) in McLemore. The Kings would get the future they need to pair with draft picks center Georgios Papagiannis and forward Skal Labissiere, while likely vying for the top pick from Brooklyn in 2017. They would also be adding role players like Crowder and Johnson who are on team-friendly contracts. Seems like a win-win to me.
Trade #3: The Bruin-Husky Swap
Sacramento Kings get: guard Jrue Holiday
New Orleans Pelicans get: Rudy Gay, Detroit’s 2020 second round pick
Admittedly, I pulled this trade from nowhere. Gay is on the market as he is reportedly unhappy in Sacramento, but hypothetically I think this trade would favor both teams. If the Kings plan on keeping Cousins and attempting to tackle the Western Conference, they are going to need all the help they can get. The departure of guard Rajon Rondo, while probably reliving for some Kings fans, opens a void in their point guard position. Guard Darren Collison is a serviceable backup, but Holiday would stand to be a major improvement. Moreover, the two played together on the 2008-09 UCLA men’s basketball team. Recent signees guard Arron Afflalo and forward Matt Barnes (both coincidentally UCLA products), along with forward Omri Casspi’s long-ball threat (41 percent from three last season), would help mitigate the loss of Gay’s offensive prowess, all while adding a floor general to pair with Cousins. On the other hand, New Orleans would be adding a much-needed wing scorer in Gay (18.4 points per game for his career), which would rightfully relegate recent-addition forward Solomon Hill to the backup position. The newfound source of scoring would alleviate some pressure for star forward Anthony Davis, and the ball-handling ability of former rookie-of-the-year guard Tyreke Evans would allow New Orleans to execute this trade without worrying about guard duties. Not to mention it would create more minutes for recent draftee, guard Buddy Hield.
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