The 2022 NBA offseason delivered a few internet-breaking blockbusters and a few near-swaps that could have reshaped the hoops landscape.
Guess what, though? The oncoming arrival of the 2022-23 campaign doesn't have to signal an end to all of the roster-reshuffling fun.
Before teams go back on the hunt for upgrades, they must first select their expendables. Or, they can simply use this list as a guide, since we've already taken the liberty of choosing the one player they should consider moving over the course of this season.
Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Johnson
After adding All-Star guard Dejounte Murray at the expense of three first-round picks this summer, the Hawks entered win-now territory—or win-very-soon land, at least.
That means developmental minutes could be even harder to find, which is bad news for Jalen Johnson after he rarely ventured off of the bench as a rookie. Buried on a frontcourt that includes John Collins, Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu, Johnson scattered all of 120 minutes across 22 contests.
Those roadblocks haven't budged, meaning Johnson, the No. 20 pick in 2021, could have just as hard of a time finding the floor as he did as a freshman. He might be more valuable to the Hawks as a trade chip that brings back a more established player at a greater position of need.
Boston Celtics: Derrick White
Back at the trade deadline, the Boston Celtics parted with 2019 lottery pick Romeo Langford, three-and-D veteran Josh Richardson, a first-round pick and a future first-round pick swap to get Derrick White. At the time, the combo guard seemed like the ideal addition for the Celtics, since he scratched itches for additional shot creation and playmaking and could hold his own defensively.
Unfortunately, his offensive limitations surfaced at the worst possible time. In the Finals, his jumper abandoned him and effectively rendered him useless.
Through the final five games of that series, he shot just 27.3 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from three. He wound up being a series-worst minus-62 across his 159 minutes.
The Celtics have since added Malcom Brogdon—essentially a souped-up version of White—to their backcourt. With Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Payton Pritchard all capable of handling guard minutes as well, Boston could move White (and his cumbersome $16.9 million cap hit) without missing a beat.
Brooklyn Nets: Patty Mills
The Brooklyn Nets re-signed Patty Mills this summer, so he can't be traded before Dec. 15. That's probably just as well, since enough time will have passed by then to know whether this team—which is seemingly held together by crossed fingers after a turbulent offseason—should consider doing something bigger at the expense of a promising up-and-comer like Cam Thomas or Day'Ron Sharpe.
But if talent trumps all, as it so often does in the Association, then the Nets could find themselves gearing up for a run at the crown. While Mills' experience and sharpshooting can theoretically help with that pursuit, the Nets may learn they have too many undersized, offense-focused guards on the roster.
Moving one to help fortify the wings could make a ton of sense.
You could perhaps argue for one of the other guards here, but the Nets already tried shopping Kyrie Irving to no avail. They should want to see where Thomas' career is headed, and they have a similar but superior talent in Seth Curry.
Charlotte Hornets: Mason Plumlee
Finding the correct answer for the Charlotte Hornets is impossible, because honestly, there are multiple arguments to make.
Gordon Hayward's name bounced around the rumor mill this summer, and shedding his contract could boost the team's financial flexibility going forward. Terry Rozier occupies a strange place on the roster by taking touches away from LaMelo Ball and putting a barrier in front of 2021 lottery pick James Bouknight. Kelly Oubre Jr. and P.J. Washington are both ticketed for 2023 free agency, so if Charlotte doesn't plan on paying them, this is the time to make a deal.
Still, it's easier to picture all of those players having a future with the Hornets than it is with Mason Plumlee. He's simply keeping the seat warm at center until Mark Williams, this summer's No. 15 pick, is ready to take over.
Plumlee isn't the short- or long-term answer for Charlotte at center, and he's a free agent next summer. The Hornets can do better up front.
Chicago Bulls: Coby White
The Chicago Bulls are probably in a holding pattern until they more clarity on Lonzo Ball's health. If they ever get a good word about their lead guard, though, then it'll be time to start shopping Coby White around—or restart that process, actually.
"He has been on the trade block for the last year, but [Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas] Karnisovas & Co. did not like the offers and weren't just looking to give him away," Joe Cowley reported for the Chicago Sun-Times. "But they also have no intention of extending him this fall when White's rookie deal starts winding down."
A healthy Bulls backcourt doesn't need White. Between Ball, Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Goran Dragic and Dalen Terry, the Bulls can get whatever they want out of their guards.
White, who's more of a scorer than a table-setter, would hold more appeal to a club in dire need of perimeter points.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Caris LeVert
The Cleveland Cavaliers just acquired Caris LeVert at last season's trade deadline (in exchange for a first-round pick), so this would be a pretty quick change of direction. However, plenty has changed in Cleveland since then, and the front office always had a ticking clock with the scoring swingman since he's slated to reach unrestricted free agency next summer.
When the Cavs first landed LeVert, they were desperate to find another shot-creator to take the heat off of Darius Garland. That need was fully erased this summer when they brokered a blockbuster trade for three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell.
While playing all three might work for stretches, LeVert's shaky outside shot (career 33.3 percent) and defensive indifference makes him less than ideal in a support role.
Cleveland could task LeVert with steering the second unit, but Kevin Love just proved how effective he can be as the featured spark plug. And once Ricky Rubio returns from his ACL tear, the Cavs will have more than enough playmakers off the pine.
They don't have a huge need for LeVert anymore, and they definitely don't need to be on the other end of his next contract.
Dallas Mavericks: Dwight Powell
Last season, Dwight Powell saw his playing time drop from 21.9 minutes per game in the regular season to only 13.8 in the playoffs. Then he watched the Dallas Mavericks add not one but two impact players to their frontcourt this summer in Christian Wood and JaVale McGee.
If there's a theme here, it's that the Mavs' need for Powell is decreasing. This could be the perfect time for them to cut ties, too, as he's now entering the final season of his contract.
Powell is a hard worker and reliable close-range finisher, so frontcourt-needy clubs could take an interest. However, he isn't a floor-spacer nor a rim-protector, and the Mavericks no longer have to live with his limitations.
Denver Nuggets: Peyton Watson
The Denver Nuggets seem highly unlikely to trade Watson this season. They knew the deal when they took him 30th overall in June despite his near-silent one-and-done season at UCLA (3.3 points on 32.2/22.6/68.8 shooting). They clearly think the former prized recruit can still do something interesting with his physical tools and towering defensive potential.
With the right amount of patience and developmental floor time, perhaps Watson could turn into an interesting player. However, the Nuggets are in the middle of a championship chase that was already delayed by injuries to Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Their window is right now, which leaves zero room for patience and growing pains.
Unless Watson is way ahead of what he showed with the Bruins, he can't help Denver in its championship quest. Given his mystery-box appeal, though, it's possible he could be shipped out for someone who can.
Detroit Pistons: Bojan Bogdanović
Yes, the Detroit Pistons just recently acquired Bojan Bogdanović, but that doesn't mean they have to keep him all season.
"It remains to be seen whether the Pistons intend to keep Bogdanović for the entire season—or perhaps move him before the trade deadline in February in the belief that a contender will feel more urgency to make a stronger offer than those Utah received in recent weeks," Marc Stein wrote on Substack.
Detroit paid next to nothing to pry Bogdanović away from the Utah Jazz, acquiring the veteran forward for only Kelly Olynyk and Saben Lee. In the short term, Bogdanović can make life easier for Cade Cunningham as a support scorer and spot-up sniper.
Once Detroit realizes it can't compete in a deep Eastern Conference, it should take Bogdanović back to the trade market in hopes of squeezing draft assets out of an offense-focused shopper.
Golden State Warriors: Patrick Baldwin Jr.
It's tempting to spare the Golden State Warriors from this exercise since they're the defending champs and they don't have to make a deal. That feels like a cop-out, though.
Why not go with a player in Patrick Baldwin Jr. whom Golden State isn't expecting much of anything from this season?
"We are not looking at him like he's going to help us [this season], but we are looking at him like he could help us in the future," Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said, per Dieter Kurtenbach of the Bay Area News Group. "I think he starts [in the G-League]."
The rough outline of Baldwin is fascinating: He's a 6'9" forward who can create shots and splash from three. But rough might be the key word there, as he doesn't look rotation-ready.
Maybe the Warriors think enough of his future that they're willing to wait. But if they wind up needing more present assistance than anticipated, he might be the first trade chip to dangle.
Houston Rockets: Eric Gordon
There is nothing at all surprising about this selection, other than the fact that Eric Gordon still resides in Space City.
Maybe the Houston Rockets really appreciate his veteran voice, but January will mark two years since they traded James Harden. How many more lessons can Gordon teach the youngsters at this point?
He'll turn 34 on Christmas, and his 2023-24 salary is non-guaranteed. He makes no sense for a rebuilding team, but a contender could utilize everything from his experience and shot-making to his table-setting and defense.
Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner
Myles Turner has spent much of his Indiana Pacers tenure in close proximity to the rumor mill. This should be the season when he finally splits from the Circle City.
The Pacers are rebuilding, and he's a 26-year-old on the cusp of a potentially lucrative trip to free agency. There is no need to keep this relationship going any longer.
"He needs/wants out, and Indiana is moving in a new direction. Everybody's on the same page," The Athletic's Bob Kravitz wrote. "He will be a free agent at season's end, and he's not staying in Indiana. ... A failure to deal him before the trade deadline would be management malpractice."
The Pacers tried replacing Turner with Deandre Ayton this offseason, but the Phoenix Suns swiftly matched after signed him to an offer sheet. The Pacers also have some in-house frontcourt options to explore like Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith.
They don't need Turner, whose combination of shooting and shot-blocking should command the attention of all win-now clubs that have question marks at center.
Los Angeles Clippers: Marcus Morris Sr.
The correct answer for the Los Angeles Clippers is probably either no trades or whatever can net them an elixir granting 100 percent health for their deep, loaded roster. For the purposes of completing the exercise, though, a Marcus Morris Sr. trade doesn't feel impossible.
If L.A. needs more help than expected—for all of its depth, you can second-guess the options at point guard and center—then it will likely require Morris' contract to grease the gears of a significant swap.
Morris is a rock-solid option in the frontcourt, but the Clippers have more than enough options to cover his absence if needed. A team that doesn't have, say, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Nic Batum and Robert Covington all filling minutes at the forward spots could get more use out of Morris.
Los Angeles Lakers: Russell Westbrook
Seriously, how have the Los Angeles Lakers not traded Russell Westbrook yet?
Westbrook is a poor fit for this roster and as a LeBron James sidekick in particular. The ideal co-star for James has a reliable three-point shot, doesn't need many touches to be effective and relentlessly attacks the defensive end.
What boggles the mind is not only how far Westbrook is from that description, but how well it applies to Patrick Beverley. The Lakers have an easy, obvious solution at point guard once Westbrook gets the boot, and they even have a Beverley backup after adding Dennis Schröder in free agency.
Any Westbrook deal holds major addition-by-subtraction potential, but the oft-discussed swap with the Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield—which reportedly reached the "one-yard internally" for L.A., per The Athletic's Jovan Buha (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll)—looks particularly enticing given how much L.A. could use Turner's rim protection and Hield's perimeter shot.
Get. It. Done.
Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke
The Memphis Grizzlies shouldn't feel forced to do anything. Their rebuild is so far ahead of schedule that standing pat is very much a viable option.
Still, it's hard not to wonder how Brandon Clarke's future with the franchise will look—or if he'll even be on Beale Street much longer. Restricted free agency awaits him next summer, and the front office might decide there are better ways to spend money than on a pricey pact with a non-starting big man.
The Grizzlies are overloaded in the frontcourt, and they've already shelled out huge amounts of cash to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Steven Adams. Clarke's bounce and versatility allows him to fill a role in this rotation, but his offensive shortcomings (no outside touch, no shot creation) will always keep the size of his role in check.
Miami Heat: Duncan Robinson (and Sweeteners)
From the very second Duncan Robinson put pen to paper on the five-year, $90 million deal with the Miami Heat last August, it reeked of a potential overpay. He was an elite outside shooter, sure, but he was ultimately a one-dimensional player.
The Heat have since found much more cost-effective ways to cover that dimension—see: Strus, Max—leaving Robinson in the strange spot of holding both a colossal contract and an uncertain role. He was often passed over in the playoff rotation last season, and he could face the same fate this year without making drastic strides as a defender.
If Miami can move on, it should, but clubs won't trip over themselves to take Robinson alone at his current price. If the right trade target becomes available—a high-level, two-way 4 would be perfect—the Heat should package Robinson with their best sweeteners to make the kind of substantial addition that many of their Eastern Conference competitors did this offseason.
Milwaukee Bucks: George Hill
Despite being knocked out of last season's conference semifinals, the Milwaukee Bucks arguably still deserve juggernaut status. They won the title two years ago, and they may have been well on their way to a successful repeat had they not lost All-Star wing Khris Middleton to an MCL injury in the opening round.
That's a long-winded way of saying few, if any, changes are needed in Milwaukee.
Still, the Bucks could ship out George Hill without missing a stride. Jevon Carter should have shown enough to lock down the backup point guard gig, which would make Hill a third-stringer who makes more than minimum money.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Naz Reid
There's a real temptation to argue for the Minnesota Timberwolves to make a major D'Angelo Russell deal. His playmaking might not be up to par to make sense of this unique, jumbo-sized roster. Plus, he'll be a free agent next summer, and Minnesota should already be worried about a potential overpay.
Still, the Wolves made a major move for Rudy Gobert this offseason. They probably aren't rocking the boat to that degree again any time soon.
What they might do is use Gobert's arrival and Karl-Anthony Towns' presence as reasons to shop around Naz Reid. He's had some interesting per-36-minutes numbers as a reserve (19.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.8 threes), so some suitor might want to see if he could spread his wings with an expanded role.
New Orleans Pelicans: Devonte' Graham
If Zion Williamson finally stays healthy, the New Orleans Pelicans could be a nightmare. They have their star quotient filled by Williamson, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, and their depth ranks favorably among the best in the business.
There isn't much in terms of spare parts, in other words, but New Orleans could certainly conclude Devonte' Graham is a non-essential.
The Pelicans took a shrink ray to his playing time in the postseason (from 28.4 minutes per game in the regular season to an even 10 in the playoffs), and that process won't necessarily reverse. McCollum can run the first-team offense (as can Ingram or Williamson), and the energizing Jose Alvarado can handle the second unit. Maybe Kira Lewis Jr. stays healthy enough to factor into the mix, too.
Either way, it's hard to picture Graham giving New Orleans enough to justify his contract cost.
New York Knicks: Cam Reddish
Cam Reddish's trade to the New York Knicks was supposed to provide him with a fresh start, but it's been much of the same frustration that he encountered in Atlanta.
He has yet to conquer the keys to consistency, perhaps because he has struggled to find a consistent stretch of good health. His 2021-22 campaign ended early due a shoulder injury, and his 2022 preseason debut was cut short by an ankle injury.
Maybe the Knicks remain intrigued by his three-and-D potential, but it seems like another scenery change could be needed. With RJ Barrett and Quentin Grimes in the wing rotation and the power forward position already overstuffed, Reddish's opportunities are limited in the Empire State.
Oklahoma City Thunder: David Nwaba
David Nwaba might be the leading member of this season's "Who He Play For?" segment, as the defensive specialist moved from the Houston Rockets to the Oklahoma City Thunder in one of the Association's biggest head-scratchers of an eight-player swap.
His stopping skills and high motor could potentially attract a defensively deficient trade-deadline shopper, provided they're willing to overlook his many offensive limitations.
Nwaba can finish at (and above) the rim, but asking him for anything more on offense requires a healthy dose of optimism. Still, defense matters—it decides championship races, if you buy into the old adage—and teams that don't have enough of it could consider a cheap flier on him.
Orlando Magic: Terrence Ross
One of the only holdovers left from the Orlando Magic's pre-rebuilding era, Terrence Ross has loomed as a logical trade candidate ever since they hit the self-destruct button during the 2020-21 campaign.
The fact he still resides in Disney's backyard suggests his trade value isn't great, and last season's shooting funk (39.7/29.2/86.2 slash) surely didn't help. In the not-so-distant past, though, he was a relatively reliable source of ignitable outside shooting and highlight hammers.
Teams who are strapped for scoring could give him a look, especially if he starts out this season on a hot streak.
Philadelphia 76ers: Jaden Springer
The Philadelphia 76ers have a surprisingly long list of candidates near the back end of their rotation, and you could argue Jaden Springer has the highest ceiling among a group that also includes Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, Isaiah Joe and Georges Niang.
So, why go with Springer? Because his appeal is fully tied to potential, and the championship-chasing club is far more focused on production.
"He's not there yet," Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I can tell you that now. He's not there yet, but he's going to get there."
Unfortunately for Springer, Philadelphia doesn't have time to wait. The Sixers are fully focused on the title race, and it's borderline impossible to picture the sophomore guard contributing to that trek.
If the Sixers see a soft spot in their rotation, a deal including Springer could be their best option to cover it.
Phoenix Suns: Jae Crowder
If you suddenly heard a loud crack!, don't be alarmed. It's just the sound of me sending this softball into orbit.
Jae Crowder and the Phoenix Suns mutually agreed to keep him away from training camp as they work on finding a trade, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst. Crowder is entering the final year of his contract and was at risk of losing significant floor time to rising forward Cam Johnson.
Finding a new home for Crowder shouldn't be too difficult. He is the big-wing defender seemingly every contender needs, and he's super helpful when his on-again (38.9 percent in 2020-21) and off-again (34.8 last season) three-ball is finding the mark.
Portland Trail Blazers: Keon Johnson
There might be a few clamoring for Damian Lillard here, but resist that temptation—for now, at least. As admittedly difficult as it is to picture the Portland Trail Blazers contending for the crown during the remainder of Lillard's peak, they still have to give things the old college try with this reworked group.
They want to win. That's why they acquired Jerami Grant and signed Gary Payton II. It's also why they granted Lillard an extension. They won't pull the plug until they have to.
With that competitive desire in mind, dangling Keon Johnson makes sense. He's only a year removed from being the 21st pick, and while he didn't show much as a rookie, he also didn't get many chances to make a big impression (697 minutes).
Portland's perimeter rotation could be too crowded for Johnson to crack, so it could be best to ship him to a future-focused team who can give him the developmental minutes he needs.
Sacramento Kings: Richaun Holmes
The Sacramento Kings should explore deals for Harrison Barnes, but they shouldn't feel a ton of urgency right now to move the veteran swingman. Not until they see how this new core performs, at least.
Richaun Holmes is a different story, though. It wasn't long ago that he seemed like the Kings' center of the present and future, but that all went out the window with the trade-deadline deal for Domantas Sabonis.
Holmes was a reasonably paid (if not discount-priced) starter, but now he makes too much for his reserve role. The Kings should shop him around to find the best source of wing depth they can get.
San Antonio Spurs: Anyone Born Before 1997
The San Antonio Spurs have gone head-first into a potentially perfect timed rebuild. Nearly every recognizable player has been plucked from this roster, and the subtractions should continue to maximize lottery odds ahead of the summer of Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson.
The 24-year-old Zach Collins has missed enough time for San Antonio to hold out hope that he can still become a fruitful, multi-faceted player. Everyone older than him, though, should be aggressively shopped around.
Jakob Poeltl can plug someone's interior. Josh Richardson holds three-and-D appeal. Doug McDermott should attract all buyers in the market for spacers.
The returns almost don't matter—though you'd hope to squeeze at least one first-rounder out of a Poeltl deal—as the real objective is piling up losses for a chance to win big next summer.
Toronto Raptors: Malachi Flynn
Know what you and I have in common with Malachi Flynn? We all contributed exactly zero field goals and zero points during Toronto's first-round loss to Philadelphia.
Whatever light bulb was supposed to click by this point for Flynn, the 29th pick in 2020, hasn't even flickered.
For his career, he's shooting worse than 40 percent from the field and 33 percent from three. Beyond ball-control (207 career assists against 56 turnovers), it's hard to tell what he brings to the NBA hardwood.
The Toronto Raptors don't need to make major changes. They won 48 games last season and have myriad avenues to internal improvement. However, solidifying the reserve lead guard spot could help smooth out some of the depth issues this club has encountered as of late.
Utah Jazz: Jordan Clarkson
The fire sale in Salt Lake City should be far from finished. The Utah Jazz should aggressively shop all of their remaining veterans, as virtually any kind of asset would help the rebuild more than 30-somethings like Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Kelly Olynyk can.
Still, the front office should be focused on finding more first-round picks, and Jordan Clarkson offers the best chance of bringing one back.
He isn't guaranteed to fetch a first-rounder, as he only contributes on offense and isn't the most efficient shooter around. But his ability to manufacture points—mostly his own, but occasionally his teammates'—out of nothing could appeal to the right win-now buyer lacking a scoring punch off the bench.
Washington Wizards: Will Barton
The Washington Wizards somehow have both few obvious trade candidates and loads of them.
You could argue for a Bradley Beal blockbuster, but his supermax extension erased that possibility (for now). You could call for a Kristaps Porzingis trade, but the Wizards surely want to give him more time to see if he can stay healthy and coexist with Beal. You could name any of the Wizards' prospects, but Washington wouldn't be selling high of any of them.
As for Will Barton, he's fine (14.1 career player efficiency rating), but the Wizards could survive without him. Between Beal, Deni Avdija, Delon Wright, Corey Kispert and Kyle Kuzma, they aren't exactly hurting for perimeter players.
Given that roster redundancy, it could make sense to flip Barton for a higher-end point guard, an impact power forward or draft assets.
Statistics used courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.
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