NBA Trade Ideas That Could Reshape the League in 2022

The divide between the NBA’s haves and have-nots crystallized over the course of the 2021-22 campaign.

That doesn’t mean it’s built to last, though.

Franchise fortunes can change in a hurry during the offseason, and for teams angling for that type of turnaround, they’ll likely look to the trade market to spark those transformations. Few clubs are projected to have significant cap space this summer, and there aren’t many high-level hoopers slated for free agency, so that option is off the table for a big chunk of the league—in terms of adding a difference-maker, at least.

If that happens to spark a flurry of trade activity, here’s an early look at the landscape-shifting deals that could go down. Since there are plenty of unknowns on the financial front, these are framework ideas for trades, not necessarily ones that can meet the money-matching criteria.

Hornets Find Their 5, Pacers Gain Assets

Charlotte Hornets receive: Myles Turner and T.J. McConnell

Indiana Pacers receive: Gordon Hayward, James Bouknight and 2022 first-round pick (lottery protected, via NOP)

The Hornets had a longstanding need to upgrade the center spot, so in the past 12 months they traded for both Mason Plumlee and Montrezl Harrell.

Neither addition scratched that itch. What Charlotte really needs—and what Plumlee and Harrell can’t provide—is an interior anchor capable of fixing the club’s 22nd-ranked defense.

Turner, who has twice led the league in blocks (and would have again this season if he played enough games to qualify), could be up to the task. He has the length and timing to erase shots at the rim, the intimidation needed to alter countless others and enough mobility to survive most switches onto the perimeter.

As an added bonus, his career 34.9 three-point percentage should be threatening enough to pull opposing defenders away from the basket and keep the attack lanes open for LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges and Terry Rozier. If the Hornets see Turner as a two-way talent and think the plucky McConnell would further improve the defense, they could be incentivized to pounce.

As for the Pacers, it’s unclear whether the deadline subtraction of Domantas Sabonis removed Turner from his long-held perch on the trade block. But before Turner injured his foot in January, the Pacers were “asking for two first-round picks, or one first-rounder and a promising rookie-scale contract player” in exchange for Turner, per B/R’s Jake Fischer.

If the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, then the first-round pick would convey. (If it doesn’t, it becomes 2022 and 2024 second-round picks, so maybe that’s a deal-breaker for Indy.) If the Pacers view Bouknight, last year’s No. 11 pick, as that “promising rookie-scale contract player,” then they would check both items off of their wish list.

But this deal would also deliver Hayward, a potential gate draw as an Indianapolis native and, more importantly, someone who could make Tyrese Haliburton’s life easier as a support scorer, table-setter and sharpshooter. Hayward is 32, owed $61.6 million over the next two seasons and on a three-year run of playing fewer than 55 games, so there’s some risk, but maybe Indy sees enough long-term reward to do the deal anyway.

Author: Lucy Green