Five NBA Draft day trades that need to happen

The Knicks and Phil Jackson will trade Carmelo Anthony, but will it come during the draft?
Vincent Frank
Written by Vincent Frank

With the NBA Playoffs set to wrap up here in the coming weeks, the focus will soon turn to the offseason. In fact, 27 of the Association’s 30 teams are already looking forward to a summer that could change the fortunes of those not currently competing for a title.

That starts with the 2017 NBA Draft in June. Sure most of the focus will be on who goes No. 1 overall to the Boston Celtics. Out west, fans in Southern California are wondering whether their Los Angeles Lakers will land former UCLA standout Lonzo Ball.

But there’s surely more to look at when it comes to the draft. Which veterans will be moved on draft day? Will we see the blockbuster deals that the past couple draft have been missing? Here’s a look at five NBA Draft day trades that need to happen, including a certain future Hall of Famer moving on from New York to join a contender in the Pacific Northwest.

1. Nuggets trade Danilo Gallinari to the Thunder for Enes Kanter and first-round pick

This is a move that would make sense for both teams. There’s been a ton of rumors suggesting that Denver might be looking to move Gallinari. In fact, the team seems to be at the point where it might transition to a young core led by Jusuf Nurkic and Jamal Murray. This could place Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler all on the block during the draft.

Interestingly, Denver will almost certainly look to recoup the first-round pick it lost in the deal that brought Mason Plumlee in from Portland during February’s trade deadline. Adding that pick and another big in Kanter would be huge for a Nuggets team that’s on the brink of the playoffs out west.

A three-headed monster in the front line of Kanter, Plumlee and Nurkic would create major mismatches for opposing Western Conference teams. Add in the presence of Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton out on the perimeter, and that looks like a playoff team.

From Oklahoma City’s perspective, it’s rather simple here. Russell Westbrook simply needs more help out on the perimeter. With Steven Adams holding down the fort at center, Kanter becomes expendable. Adding Gallinari and his 18.2 points per game from last season to go with Victor Oladipo would create a much better supporting cast for the MVP finalist.

2. Kings trade Arron Afflalo and 10th pick to the Suns for Brandon Knight

Could the Phoenix Suns be looking to move Brandon Knight in a trade during the NBA Draft?

Rudy Gay would have been traded from Sacramento if he had not torn his Achilles prior to February’s deadline. The writing was on the wall in California’s capital city for some time. Gay did average nearly 19 points per game prior to the injury, but it was readily apparent that he was not a part of the Kings’ future.

Now that Sacramento has blown it up by trading DeMarcus Cousins, Gay decided to opt out of his contract. That pretty much leaves veteran Arron Afflalo as the only asset Sacramento can move to make a deal for another proven player. He would be nothing more than fodder to make the salaries work here.

The Kings have one young star in the backcourt with Buddy Hield, who averaged over 15 points per game after being acquired in the Cousins trade. Why not go out there and get a partner for him? Under this scenario, it comes in the form of a player in Knight who was actually shut down for the final 23 games of the season by Phoenix.

Knight wasn’t injured. Rather, it was all about Phoenix maintaining his trade value while going all in with a tanking model to close out the regular season. Knight surely will be moved here, especially with youngsters Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis taking on larger roles in the Suns’ backcourt.

This trade makes sense for Phoenix in that it gives the team the fourth and 10th picks in June’s draft. Add that to a pretty talented young core, and there would be a lot to look forward to here. And for the Kings, they get a player in Knight with 20-plus point potential to team up with Hield while still boasting the fifth pick in the draft.

3. Nets trade Brook Lopez to the Mavericks for Wesley Matthews and first-round pick

Brooklyn needs to do something to add young talent to its roster. That possibility was stripped from the team when it dealt multiple first-round picks to Boston in the now infamous Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade.

The only real player of value this squad has on its roster is Lopez, who still performs at a high level while playing a premium position. This past regular season saw Lopez average 20.5 points while shooting at a 47 percent clip from the field. He remains a dynamic offensive threat.

If the Nets were to place Lopez on the block, Dallas would be the first team to come calling. We all know the Mavs and owner Mark Cuban love bigs. Prior to a disastrous 33-49 mark this past season, that had been one of the primary philosophies of the Mavericks.

With Dirk Nowitzki failing to act as anything more than a role player at this late stage in his career, Dallas needs to add a second option behind Harrison Barnes. Lopez would definitely bring that to the table, creating a solid frontcourt trio with both Barnes and the recently acquired Nerlens Noel.

The ninth pick might be a high price for Dallas to pay for a 29-year-old center. We get that. But Lopez brings value in that he’s able to add a scoring dimension at a position that lacks that around the NBA. Unloading $36-plus million of Matthews’ contract over the next two seasons doesn’t hurt at all. That has to be taken into account when examining this hypothetical trade.

4. Bulls trade Jimmy Butler and Jerian Grant to the Timberwolves for Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and a first-round pick

There's every reason to believe the Bulls will trade Jimmy Butler.

We heard rumors back in February that Timberwolves head coach and chief decision maker Tom Thibodeau was attempting to acquire his former Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose in a trade with the New York Knicks. While that never panned out, these rumors did include Minnesota sending Rubio packing to New York.

If that’s the case, why wouldn’t Thibs now look to swap Rubio and a couple valuable assets for yet another former player of his? It simply makes too much sense from Minnesota’s standpoint.

Butler would slide in at the two and team up with promising young point guard Kris Dunn in Minnesota’s backcourt. That would be a mighty nice tandem right there. Add in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns in the froncourt, and the playoffs wouldn’t seem as a pipe dream.

And considering three of the four players we mentioned above are 23 or younger, Butler’s veteran presence could make for immediate contention out west.

From a Bulls perspective, it’s rather clear that they are looking to potentially make dramatic changes this offseason. That could very well come in the form of trading a player in Butler, who might want out of town. Butler had previously set up an off-season meeting with Chicago’s brass to figure out the direction of the team. He was also linked to potential trades during February’s deadline.

There doesn’t seem to be a better time to trade Butler than right now. Coming off yet another sensational season that saw him average a career-best 23.9 points per game, Butler’s trade value is at an all-time high.

Under this scenario, Chicago gets a point guard and a shooting guard of the future. Rubio improved leaps and bounds this past regular season, averaging career bests in points per game (11.1) and assists per game (9.1). He also shot a personal best 40 percent from the field.

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old LaVine had taken his game to an entirely new level prior to suffering a torn ACL back in early February. Here’s a guy that was averaging 18.9 points while shooting at a 39 percent mark from distance. Add in what he can do to go with the seventh overall pick from Minnesota, and the Bulls’ rebuilding plan would be off to a tremendous start.

5. Knicks trade Carmelo Anthony to the Blazers for Allen Crabbe, Maurice Harkless and two first-round picks

Let’s be clear here. Phil Jackson’s public comments about wanting to trade Anthony has not done his Knicks any favors. In reality, Anthony’s value on the trade block has to be at an all-time low. In no way does this mean New York will avoid trading the future Hall of Famer. Instead, unwarranted expectations of a major haul should be thrown out the window.

That’s where Portland comes into play. After a first-round playoff exit against the now three-time defending Western Conference champion Warriors, it’s become readily apparent that the Blazers’ supporting cast just isn’t up to snuff.

Both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have done their jobs. The recently acquired Nikola Jokic seems to be an All-Star in the making. Outside of that, there’s not a whole heck of a lot to like here. Simply put, Portland’s high-priced secondary players have failed to get the job done.

This has put the Blazers in an unenvious position. They can’t hit the free-agent market for a max player. And they know adding more top-end talent is a necessity to competing out west.

In Anthony, the Blazers would be getting a legitimate No. 1 scoring option to go with the Lillard and McCollum, making them extremely hard to handle from out on the perimeter.

Sure moving two solid youngsters in Crabbe and Harkless might hurt here. Trading two first-round picks in what appears to be a stacked draft could also be a hard pill to swallow. But it’s a move the Blazers have to make, one that the Knicks would also jump all over if presented to them.

About the author

Vincent Frank

Vincent Frank

Editor-at-large, Sportsnaut.

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” Rumi