Damian Lillard and James Harden AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Bold Offseason Trade Ideas for NBA Contenders

Andy Bailey

Most of the NBA's offseason mayhem is already over, but it feels relatively safe to assume that a few more trades are on the way before training camps open this fall.

The obvious candidates are Damian Lillard and James Harden, but those potential deals have been analyzed ad nauseam.

Instead of rehashing what the Miami Heat would have to give up for Lillard or what the Los Angeles Clippers would have to give up for Harden, let's explore some possibilities with other players and contenders (or fringe contenders).

Mavericks Land Clint Capela

Clint Capela and Luka Dončić Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Deal: Clint Capela and Garrison Mathews for Tim Hardaway Jr., Christian Wood (sign-and-trade) and a 2026 lottery-protected first-round pick

The Dallas Mavericks have already added Richaun Holmes, Seth Curry and Grant Williams this offseason. Those moves, in concert with a full season with Kyrie Irving, should make the Mavs an early favorite for "lottery team that will make the 2024 playoffs" honors.

But in mid-July—well after the Williams move—longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote that Dallas might be interested in helping the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors facilitate a Pascal Siakam trade by taking on Clint Capela.

The Mavericks might have an even simpler path to landing Capela. Stein also reported that "Dallas has not ruled out participating in a sign-and-trade deal that lands Christian Wood with a new team if it is presented with such a scenario."

If Wood signs a deal with a starting salary around $12 million—which is far better than the veteran-minimum contract he's likely looking at signing with another suitor as an unrestricted free agent—the above two-for-two swap works.

For the Hawks, this deal would open up a path to starting Onyeka Okongwu. It would also give them a floor-spacing backup 5 in Wood whose shooting could widen driving lanes for Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. Having another catch-and-shoot option to flank those drives in Tim Hardaway Jr. would be helpful, too.

Meanwhile, Capela would give the Mavericks the bona fide starting 5 and rim-runner whom they've been after. He has plenty of experience playing with a high-volume pick-and-roll creator like Luka Dončić and is a far more formidable defensive anchor than what they had last season.

Garrison Mathews doesn't offer the same shooting upside as Hardaway, but he's hit 36.7 percent of his triples in his career. Having a wing and big on both sides of this trade doesn't throw off the balance of either roster like a Capela-for-Hardaway swap might.

New York Unloads Evan Fournier to San Antonio

Evan Fournier Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

The Deal: Evan Fournier and a 2024 second-round pick (via Detroit) for Doug McDermott

The New York Knicks finished in fifth place in the Eastern Conference last season, but they won their first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers and are bringing back several young and potentially developing rotation players. There's a good chance they'll be better, but the tier above them is filled with contenders.

Veteran swingman Evan Fournier wasn't a major reason for the Knicks' success last year. He appeared in only 27 games during the regular season before completely falling out of head coach Tom Thibodeau's rotation.

In a recent interview with France's L'Équipe, Fournier said he'd be surprised to be back in New York in 2023-24. He also entertained the possibility of joining countryman Victor Wembanyama on the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs have another shooter who's more consistent than Fournier in Doug McDermott. He has hit 41.0 percent of his career three-point attempts and could give a boost to a Knicks team that finished 19th in three-point percentage last season.

For San Antonio, this deal would give Wembanyama a French teammate who can help him transition to life in the NBA and a second-round pick for taking on a salary bigger than McDermott's. Fournier should still be able to play, too. He's younger than McDermott and averaged 14.1 points per game while shooting 38.9 percent from three in 2021-22.

Hawks Go All-In for Pascal Siakam

Pascal Siakam Brian Fluharty/Getty Images

The Deal: Pascal Siakam for De'Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanović, a 2024 lottery-protected first-round pick (via Sacramento) and a 2029 top-five protected first-round pick

Even if the previously detailed Clint Capela trade went down, the Atlanta Hawks would still have enough to go after Pascal Siakam. They've been linked to him in rumors for the last several weeks, and the deal above would make sense for both sides.

The Raptors had been clinging to some shred of hope in the post-Kawhi Leonard era with Siakam, O.G. Anunoby and Fred VanVleet. That never led to real contention, and VanVleet signed with the Houston Rockets this offseason. It's time for the Raptors to move on from this era in general.

De'Andre Hunter is four years younger than Siakam and still has at least some upside. He could be an interesting component in a largely positionless lineup with Anunoby (who's still only 26) and Scottie Barnes.

Thirty-year-old Bogdan Bogdanović doesn't fit that timeline, and his contract runs through 2027 and can't be moved till mid-September. But he's potentially good enough to moved again for another asset down the line.

This trade is mostly about the picks for Toronto, though. Getting two first-rounders for Siakam's expiring contract is good value. He'll turn 30 this season and hasn't had an above-average true shooting percentage since 2018-19.

So, why would the Hawks give all this up for Siakam? He's an excellent playmaker for his position (he averaged 5.8 assists last season) and would be no higher than second in Atlanta's offensive pecking order. He might even be third behind both Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

Siakam struggled with his efficiency over the last few years because Toronto miscast him as a No. 1 scoring option. He's far better suited to play off a star, like he did with Kawhi Leonard in 2018-19. That's what he'd do in Atlanta.

76ers Add Zach LaVine (and Help Facilitate a Chicago Rebuild)

Coby White and Zach LaVine Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The Deal: Tobias Harris, a 2029 first-round pick swap and a 2030 first-round pick for Zach LaVine

James Harden wants to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, but it doesn't make much sense for them to trade Paul George or Kawhi Leonard. However, Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey recently said, "If we don't get either a very good player or something we can turn into a very good player, then we're just not going to [trade Harden]."

If the Sixers don't trade Harden, they might want to use one of the league's most interesting trade chips elsewhere.

Tobias Harris, who recently said "casual Sixers fans" want to trade him for a Crumbl cookie, is on a $39.3 million expiring contract that could be attractive for any team looking to get out of a long-term deal or kickstart a rebuild. The Chicago Bulls should be interested in doing exactly that.

Zach LaVine is a phenomenal offensive player who's averaged 25.4 points and 4.5 assists with a 56.8 effective field-goal percentage over the last three years, but Chicago has been thoroughly mediocre with a core of him, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vučević.

The Bulls can either keep plugging away without a discernible path to contention through the duration of LaVine's deal (which expires in 2027), or they can take some draft assets and a contract that comes off the books in less than 12 months.

This deal might lower the Sixers' ceiling a bit defensively, and an offense-boosting move may seem unnecessary for a team that was third in points per 100 possessions last season. However, the playoffs again proved that Joel Embiid and Harden's foul-baiting isn't quite as effective outside the regular season.

Having another option who can get buckets without being overly reliant on trips to the line would've helped the Sixers in the second round against the Boston Celtics.


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