NBA AM: 6 Trades That Should Happen

We independently review everything we recommend based on our strict editorial guidelines. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn More

The trade deadline is just days away, which means fans get to spend the next 75 hours or so wondering whether their favorite team will make a move serious enough to legitimately upgrade their roster. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like many marquee names are on the market this year and even those being discussed are anything but a sure thing to be moved.

Still, that doesn’t mean some of the rumored deals won’t happen, and in fact it’s a reality that at least some of those deals really should happen. The following six trades, for example, would make a lot of sense should one or more of them actually occur over the course of the next few days:

New York Knicks trade Carmelo Anthony to Cleveland Cavaliers, who trade Kevin Love to Boston Celtics.

We’ve already been told by just about everybody involved in this rumor that it isn’t going down, but this is exactly the sort of major trade that would shake things up for everybody involved in really interesting ways. While it’s unclear exactly how the salaries would all line up, Cleveland would get Anthony, Boston would get Love and New York would get Timofey Mozgov, some other players to make salaries match and a number of draft picks to help them rebuild for the future.

It’s most contentious for the Knicks because that doesn’t seem like anywhere near enough of a haul for a player of Anthony’s caliber (even though Mozgov was part of the deal with Denver that brought Anthony to New York in the first place), but with the Knicks now looking more toward the future than the present, a complete rebuild wouldn’t be the worst option for them. It seems like just as many Knicks fans love the idea as hate it, but no one could say it wasn’t a bold move for the future.

Cleveland, meanwhile, would get to try something else with their offense and Boston would get the upgrade at the four spot that they’ve wanted for quite a while. Love has been in their crosshairs for a few years now, so to get a hold of him in exchange for assets would do a lot for them. In fact, it might even put them on par with the Cavs and Raptors in that top tier of Eastern Conference teams.

Atlanta Hawks trade Al Horford to the Boston Celtics for draft assets and filler.

Assuming the Kevin Love thing doesn’t happen for Boston (and it really doesn’t sound like it will), their next most obvious All-Star target would be Al Horford. According to reports, the big man could be dealt this year as the middling Hawks look for something more sustainable long-term.

In a lot of ways, Horford would be an even better fit for Boston than Love, not only because he’s more of a defensive presence in the post but also because he’s a consummate team guy both on the floor and in the locker room. It’s hard to see him shaking things up negatively for a team that’s seen so much success this year playing team basketball. Danny Ainge really couldn’t do much better with all those 2016 draft picks than acquiring Horford, even if his contract does expire at the end of the year. Boston has enough cap space and enough potential for winning to keep him beyond that, so it’s a deal that makes a ton of sense for the Celtics.

As for the Hawks, if it’s the future they’re looking toward, then this is the kind of deal they have to make. That Brooklyn pick is going to be very good, so it’s possible that Atlanta could even walk away from this with Ben Simmons at best or someone like Brandon Ingram or Kris Dunn at worst. The team’s not getting better this year in a trade like this, but that’s not the point. The point is long-term, and this deal would help the Hawks’ future immensely.

Atlanta Hawks trade Jeff Teague to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo.

The salaries don’t match exactly, so there would have to be some other small pieces involved to make this one happen, but Orlando is reportedly interested in adding an established veteran and Teague absolutely would be that just a year removed from an All-Star appearance. While there are some that believe he and Elfrid Payton would be a bit redundant, Teague has the experience to transform the way the rest of the league sees the Orlando Magic and, if they were to make a deal like this, that would be the reason they did it.

Atlanta’s interest comes from the fact that Dennis Schroder has come into his own while Teague has regressed, and a future frontcourt featuring the German and Oladipo offers plenty of promise. Teague may be the veteran, but Oladipo still has the higher ceiling. It’s just a matter of what each team needs right now.

Phoenix Suns trade Markieff Morris and/or P.J. Tucker to the Toronto Raptors for a first-round pick and some combination of role players.

The Suns have been showcasing Morris for weeks now in an attempt to prove that he’s a valuable trade asset and to a certain extent it’s worked, with two or three teams reportedly showing interest in the disgruntled power forward ahead of the deadline. Toronto, an elite Eastern Conference team looking to advance past the first round for the first time in years, desperately needs an upgrade at the four and Morris would fill that role.

Tucker also has been a target for Toronto for some time now, as they did draft him once upon a time and have shown interest in bringing him back more than once since he ended up in Phoenix. He’s not a big filler of the stat sheet, but he plays good defense and is an ideal bench piece for a long playoff run. He or Morris would add a lot to the team and probably wouldn’t cost all that much to bring in outside of the pick.

Toronto does have two picks in this upcoming draft and could offer up their own, likely to be in the mid-to-late 20s, since they’ll get New York’s anyway, which will be considerably higher. Phoenix probably isn’t going to do much better than a first-rounder of any type for Morris or Tucker, but if they’re building for the future, that’s not all that bad of a haul. Getting the salaries to match would be the toughest part of making this one happen, as Toronto has only inexpensive assets they’re willing to move for the pricier Tucker and/or Morris.

Houston Rockets trade Dwight Howard to the Miami HEAT for Hassan Whiteside and filler.

The issue with trading Howard right now is that teams see him only as a rental for the remainder of the season, so they’re not willing to give up much for him. Miami sending out Whiteside as the centerpiece of a Howard makes deal makes about as much sense as any Dwight deal because he, too, may only be with his current team for the rest of this season. Whiteside only makes about $1 million this season and is due for a huge raise, but Houston could live with letting him go if they had to, just the same as they could live with Howard bolting. The big difference for Houston would be viewing Whiteside as a more valuable long-term asset perhaps more worthy of re-signing in the offseason.

Howard, meanwhile, would give the HEAT a more viable, experienced center this season whose defensive capabilities are more substantial than Whiteside’s, despite his inflated stats. Obviously a lot would have to happen for this to work in terms of money, but it’s time for a Howard trade and a Whiteside trade. With so few suitors for either, this one kills two birds with the same stone.

Milwaukee Bucks trade Greg Monroe to the New Orleans Pelicans for Ryan Anderson.

While the most recent rumblings out of Milwaukee suggest that the team probably won’t be trading Greg Monroe, it certainly has looked like an odd match with his new team just seven or eight months into his tenure with the Bucks. He’s been a big part of the team’s defensive regression this season and just hasn’t been the offensive force they hoped he would be. That doesn’t mean he’s been bad, because he really hasn’t. The fit just hasn’t been quite as seamless as the front office would had hoped, and if they’re interested in giving themselves a redo, Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson wouldn’t be the worst gamble.

Anderson is a free agent after the season, so more than anything else the Bucks would get the opportunity to see if he fits any better than Monroe before deciding whether to pay out “Monroe money” again this offseason. If he’s not, they get their cap space back. If he is, then one would assume the team’s offensive chemistry would improve. Either way, it’s a rosier roster in Milwaukee.

As for New Orleans, they’d happily take the more talented player in Monroe and fit him in comfortably alongside Anthony Davis for the next two-and-a-half seasons. He may ultimately be even less expensive than retaining Anderson this summer considering the rising salary cap.


Any of these trades could conceivably happen before the deadline, but we’ll have to wait to see what actually transpires. Here at Basketball Insiders we’ll have all the latest news and rumors along these lines, so you’ll be given plenty of updates about how much of this, if anything, actually will happen.