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1 Trade Every NBA In-Season Tourney Quarterfinalist Wishes It Could Make Right Now

Greg Swartz

We've officially entered the knockout round of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, with just eight teams remaining.

We're also on the cusp of trade season, as the majority of players who signed contracts with new teams will be eligible to be dealt on Dec. 15.

With so many key matchups about to play out this week, we're going to get our best look yet at every team's strengths and weaknesses and how they'll attack the trade deadline.

Here are the deals every remaining team wishes they could make, with some even eligible to be completed immediately.

Lakers Bring Back Alex Caruso

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Los Angeles Lakers Receive: G Alex Caruso, F Torrey Craig

Chicago Bulls Receive: PG Gabe Vincent, SG Jalen Hood-Schifino, 2024 second-round pick

The Lakers should indeed be making a phone call to Chicago, just not for Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan.

Caruso would be a perfect fit with this current group in L.A., one that ranks near the bottom of the NBA in nearly every three-point shooting category.

The 29-year-old Caruso is connecting on 47.7 percent of his threes this season, good for fourth-highest in the NBA. The Lakers, on the other hand, rank dead last in made threes per game (9.9) and 29th overall in efficiency (33.7 percent).

Backup point guard Gabe Vincent has been limited to just four games this season with left knee effusion, making the addition of Caruso even more important as an additional ball-handler alongside LeBron James, D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves. Craig would be another three-and-D wing that could be plugged into the Lakers rotation.

For Chicago, a healthy Vincent could be the answer at point guard until Lonzo Ball can make a recovery from multiple knee surgeries. Hood-Schifino, 20, was the 17th overall pick in the 2023 draft, and the Bulls pick up L.A.'s second-round selection in 2024.

Note: Trade could not be completed until Dec. 15.

Tyus Jones Gives the Suns Point Guard Stability

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Phoenix Suns Receive: PG Tyus Jones, C Mike Muscala

Washington Wizards Receive: F Nassir Little, SG Grayson Allen, F/C Bol Bol, 2028 and 2029 second-round picks (via Memphis Grizzlies)

The Suns' point-guard-by-committee approach can work given the amount of offensive talent this team possesses, although this plan hasn't always been pretty.

The trio of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal (albeit in three games) is averaging a combined 9.5 turnovers per game while Phoenix ranks 24th overall with a 15.1 percent turnover rate.

Who better to help fix this problem than the most mistake-free point guard in the NBA?

Jones' turnover rate of just 6.1 percent is the lowest of any point guard in the league, as the 27-year-old floor general has just 12 total miscues in his 19 games. He'd be a tremendous table-setter for Phoenix, especially as Beal continues to miss time with injury.

The rebuilding Wizards get a couple of fun prospects with Bol and Little and can flip Allen to a contender before the deadline. They also add a pair of future second-round picks.

Note: Trade could not be completed until Dec. 15.

OG Anunoby Helps Kings Get Defensive vs. Pelicans Forwards

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Sacramento Kings Receive: F OG Anunoby

Toronto Raptors Receive: F Keegan Murray, G Davion Mitchell, 2024 and 2025 second-round picks

Anunoby and the Kings remain one of the best hypothetical pairings, as the veteran forward brings his elite defense to one of the best offensive systems in the NBA.

When facing the Pelicans, having a big, defensive-minded forward to match up with Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Trey Murphy III is key. Anunoby is as good an option as any in the league, while also bringing 14.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 40.0 percent shooting from three to the table.

If the 9-11 Raptors begin to fall further out of contention, or if Toronto is worried about Anuoby leaving in free agency, this is a really nice return.

Murray was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2022 draft, while Mitchell was the No. 9 selection the year before. Both could be part of a rebuild in Toronto and are old enough (23 and 25) to contribute immediately as well.

Pelicans Bring in Mo Bamba for Frontcourt Insurance

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New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Mo Bamba

Philadelphia 76ers Receive: PG Kira Lewis Jr.

With the news that backup power forward/center Larry Nance Jr. will miss the next 4-6 weeks after reaggravating a right rib fracture, the Pelicans could be looking for more size off the bench.

Bamba could be an available option, as he's played just 6.3 minutes per game since signing with the Sixers this offseason.

The 25-year-old is a career 35.9 percent shooter from three who could play next to Zion Williamson or Jonas Valančiūnas and has averaged 22.1 points, 13.3 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per 36 minutes of play this season.

The 76ers pick up another ball-handler after trading away James Harden and could use Lewis' expiring $5.7 million to help facilitate future trades.

Note: Trade could not be completed until Dec. 15.

DeMar DeRozan Gives Knicks More Firepower

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New York Knicks Receive: F DeMar DeRozan

Chicago Bulls Receive: SG Quentin Grimes, F Evan Fournier, C Jericho Sims, 2024 first-round pick (top-10 protected via Dallas Mavericks)

The Knicks have a difficult matchup against Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and the Bucks in the first round of the knockout tournament and could face similar starpower issues when the postseason begins in April.

DeRozan could be one of the cheapest All-Star talents available given his age (34) and expiring contract, making him a low-cost option to help New York chase a title this spring.

Adding him to a core with Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett would help elevate what's become an average offense (12th overall, 114.8 rating), as DeRozan can play anywhere from point guard to power forward depending on the situation.

The Bulls kick off their rebuild with a pair of prospects (Grimes and Sims), an expiring contract (Fournier) and a first-round pick that's nearly guaranteed to fall out of its protection range in 2024.

Indiana Pacers Make Playoff Push With Jerami Grant

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Indiana Pacers Receive: F Jerami Grant

Portland Trail Blazers Receive: F Obi Toppin, G/F Buddy Hield

Owners of the No. 1 overall offense in the NBA (123.8), the Pacers could use some defensive help in their game against the Boston Celtics and beyond.

Grant is the perfect two-way, veteran force this team needs, adding him to a core of Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner, Bruce Brown and Ben Mathurin.

The 29-year-old is averaging 22.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shooting 41.9 percent from three. Grant also carries 35 games of playoff experience from his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets.

Portland gets some massive salary savings here by removing Grant's five-year, $160 million contract from its books and can plug Toppin into his old role as the team's starting power forward. Like when the Blazers originally traded for Jrue Holiday in the Damian Lillard deal, Hield can be flipped to a contender later for a good return.

Note: Trade could not be completed until Jan. 15.

Andre Drummond Fixes Celtics' Offensive Rebounding Woes

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Boston Celtics Receive: C Andre Drummond

Chicago Bulls Receive: 2024 second-round pick (via Dallas Mavericks)

The Celtics don't have many weaknesses at 15-4 overall and won't want to part with any of their core members in a trade. This likely means a small addition or two at the deadline, if anything gets done at all.

Boston only ranks 17th overall in offensively rebounding (28.5 percent), however, and will have to keep on eye on the usage of Kristaps Porziņģis (durability) and Al Horford (37 years old) all season long.

Drummond could be a buy-low option, as his $3.3 million salary fits into a $6.2 million trade exception created by the Grant Williams sign-and-trade. Drummond's 20.7 offensive rebound percentage would rank No. 1 in the NBA if he had enough minutes to qualify.

With the Bulls eventually entering into a rebuild, getting a second-round pick in 2024 is better than letting Drummond walk for nothing in free agency next summer.

Marcus Smart to Milwaukee Bucks Breaks the NBA

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Milwaukee Bucks Receive: G Marcus Smart

Memphis Grizzlies Receive: F/C Bobby Portis, G/F Pat Connaughton, MarJon Beauchamp, 2024 second-round pick (via Portland Trail Blazers)

After the Boston Celtics were able to eventually land Jrue Holiday, the Bucks counter here with Marcus Smart, creating absolute chaos at the top of the Eastern Conference.

The only complaint from the Damian Lillard trade was the overall drop in defense Milwaukee made (21st overall this season, down from 4th in 2022-23). Adding a proven point-of-attack defender like Smart—who can switch onto bigger forwards as well—would help bring the Bucks back toward the top of the standings.

A starting five of Lillard, Smart, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez would be extremely potent on both ends and still have a bench featuring Jae Crowder, Malik Beasley, Cameron Payne and Andre Jackson Jr.

For a Grizzlies team getting ready for the return of Ja Morant but without Steven Adams for the entire season, the frontcourt now becomes the priority. Portis grew up just two hours outside of Memphis in Little Rock, Arkansas, and should quickly become a fan favorite with his intensity, scoring and rebounding prowess.

Connaughton and Beauchamp can be rotation plug-ins as well, helping to save what's quickly becoming a lost season in Memphis.


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