Could we see Deandre Ayton and Nikola Vucevic in new uniforms this season? (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Blockbuster Trade Ideas for 2022-23 NBA Season

Greg Swartz

While the summer trade period has died down as we approach training camp, it's never too early to explore what deals may take place during the 2022-23 regular season.

After we watched All-Stars such as Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Dejounte Murray switch teams this offseason, which big names could be on the move before the February deadline?

With the Brooklyn Nets looking unstable, the Los Angeles Lakers seeking a point guard upgrade and the Chicago Bulls in danger of being left behind in a loaded Eastern Conference, these blockbuster trades should all satisfy the following teams.

OG Anunoby to Hawks, Clint Capela and De'Andre Hunter to Raptors

OG Anunoby and Trae Young (Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images)

Atlanta Hawks Receive: F OG Anunoby, C Khem Birch, 2023 first-round pick (lottery-protected)

Toronto Raptors Receive: C Clint Capela, F De'Andre Hunter

After ranking 26th in total defense last season with a 113.7 rating, the Hawks knew they needed to upgrade on that side of the ball. The trade for Dejounte Murray was a good start, but why stop there?

Anunoby is one of the NBA's better wing defenders, ranking in the 88th and 71st percentiles the past two years, per Cleaning the Glass. Moving Capela also opens the starting center job for Onyeka Okongwu, a 21-year-old with elite defensive potential.

Surrounding Trae Young with Murray, Anunoby, John Collins and Okongwu shoots this Hawks team up the defensive rankings.

The move also brings in a first-rounder after Atlanta traded three to acquire Murray and prevents the Hawks from having to work out a long-term deal with Hunter, who will be a restricted free agent next summer.

For the Raptors, this move makes the team bigger, longer and adds a true center next to Pascal Siakam. Hunter has battled injuries throughout his career but can still be a valuable two-way wing, and Toronto can match any offer he receives next summer.

Capela, 28, double-doubled for the Hawks last season with 11.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game while making 61.3 percent of shots. Toronto can go huge with the 6'1" Fred VanVleet, 6'7" Scottie Barnes, 6'8" Hunter, 6'8" Siakam and 6'10" Capela and are getting two starters for one with this deal.

Kyrie Irving Gives Wizards a Point Guard Upgrade

Kyrie Irving (G Fiume/Getty Images)

Washington Wizards Receive: PG Kyrie Irving

Brooklyn Nets Receive: SG Will Barton, F Kyle Kuzma, PG Monte Morris

If the Nets are hesitant to give Irving a new contract next summer but also don't want to lose him for nothing, finding a trade partner may be best for all involved.

The Wizards desperately need a point guard upgrade next to Bradley Beal, as Morris and Delon Wright are best suited as quality reserves. Even after re-signing Beal, Washington doesn't project to be more than just a play-in team and can afford to gamble on Irving's talent for a playoff push..

A backcourt of Irving and Beal would be a nightmare for opponents to try to contain, as both could average 25-plus points per game next season. Washington has a good amount of depth on the wing and at the forward positions, so even losing Barton, Kuzma and Morris gives the team a core of Beal, Irving, Kristaps Porzingis, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert, Daniel Gafford, Johnny Davis and Wright.

Brooklyn salvages an Irving experiment that's been a disaster, as both Barton and Kuzma are solid starters and Morris can become Ben Simmons' backup at point guard.

This trade gives the Nets a deeper team and takes the guesswork out of when Irving will be available and whether he'll re-sign next summer.

D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson Return to Lakers

D'Angelo Russell and LeBron James (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: PG D'Angelo Russell, SG Jordan Clarkson, PF Rudy Gay

Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: PG Mike Conley, G Kendrick Nunn, 2023 second-round pick (via Los Angeles Lakers)

Utah Jazz Receive: PG Russell Westbrook (to be bought out), 2027 first-round pick (unprotected, via Los Angeles Lakers)

Who says you can't go home again?

After the Lakers selected him No. 2 overall out of Ohio State in 2015, Russell returns to give Los Angeles a dynamic upgrade at point guard. The 26-year-old averaged 18.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.0 steals for Minnesota last year and can serve as a primary scorer and facilitator on nights when LeBron James and Anthony Davis need a rest.

Russell has also connected on 39.1 percent or better of his catch-and-shoot threes in three of the past four seasons, proving he can be a capable off-ball threat as well.

Clarkson, another former Laker and someone who has experience playing next to James, joins this team as a high-octane sixth man, while Gay provides some veteran forward help off the bench.

The Wolves might be afraid of what Russell will cost to re-sign next summer with Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns already on max extensions and another max coming for Anthony Edwards.

Swapping out Russell for Conley, Nunn and a pick gives Minnesota a starting point guard with experience playing next to Gobert, a sixth man who can play either guard position and some needed draft ammo after the team gave up four first-round picks for this All-Star center this summer.

The Jazz do this deal to save some significant money next year, as moving Conley, Clarkson and Gay opens up $35 million to $45 million in cap space (depending on if Conley were to be waived) in 2023. Utah also gets the Lakers' unprotected first-rounder in 2027, a time when James could be retired and Davis' contract will have long run out.

Suns, Bulls Swap Star Centers...

Nikola Vucevic and Deandre Ayton (Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

Chicago Bulls Receive: C Deandre Ayton

Phoenix Suns Receive: C Nikola Vucevic, G Coby White, 2023 first-round pick (lottery-protected via Portland Trail Blazers)

Both Ayton and Vucevic seem far from settled with their teams.

Ayton had to sign an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers to get a max deal from Phoenix, something the Suns refused to give him before last season. Vucevic is entering the final year of his contract, and with Chicago ranking just 23rd in defense in 2021-22, the Bulls may be looking for better rim-protecting options in the middle.

Ayton held opponents to 55.5 percent shooting at the rim compared to Vucevic's 63.8 percent rate, a noticeable difference, especially over the course of a season. He's also the younger of the two at 24 and is under contract for the next four seasons.

With so many talented ball-handlers in Chicago, Ayton should thrive as a pick-and-roll partner next to DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and others.

For Phoenix, getting a two-time All-Star back at center is a nice replacement for Ayton. Vucevic, 31, isn't as good defensively, but he's the superior passer and three-point shooter who provides better overall floor spacing for Chris Paul and Devin Booker.

White, 22, is an upgrade over Cameron Payne as Paul's backup and will be a restricted free agent in 2023, so Phoenix can match any deal he receives. Getting an extra first-round selection gives the Suns lots of trade flexibility, as Phoenix is one of only four NBA teams to not have any future picks owed to them from a previous deal.

A core of Booker, Paul, Vucevic, Mikal Bridges and White is still capable of winning a title and would have an extra first-rounder to use in a future trade.

*Pick is lottery-protected in 2023 through 2028 and turns into 2028 second-round pick if not conveyed.

...Or Chicago Goes All-In for Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant and Zach LaVine (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Chicago Bulls Receive: F Kevin Durant, F Kessler Edwards

Brooklyn Nets Receive: F DeMar DeRozan, F Patrick Williams, G Coby White, 2023 first-round pick (lottery-protected, via Portland Trail Blazers*), 2027 and 2029 unprotected first-round picks

On paper, eight East teams could be better than the Bulls, especially with Donovan Mitchell joining the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dejounte Murray moving to the Atlanta Hawks.

Durant in Chicago would certainly change that.

If the 12-time All-Star decides he wants out of Brooklyn again, the Bulls can offer the Nets a collection of win-now talent and future draft picks.

Putting Durant around a core that still features Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu and Dalen Terry puts Chicago back into title-contention mode with plenty of room to grow.

Brooklyn should have no interest in tanking thanks to so many future picks still owed to the Houston Rockets because of the James Harden trade, and DeRozan (27.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, 50.4 percent shooting overall last season) proved he's still capable of leading an offense.

Williams, 21, has elite defensive upside and has made 41.3 percent of his career three-pointers. White gives Brooklyn some point guard insurance if the team looks to move on from Kyrie Irving as well. The Nets also get three first-round picks, helping make up for all the ones they owe.

*Pick is lottery-protected in 2023 through 2028 and turns into 2028 second-round pick if not conveyed.

Advanced statistics via unless otherwise noted.


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