For fans of certain NBA teams, is it too early to panic? A one or two-game sample size certainly isn't much to go off of, but it can reaffirm fears that fans may have already had involving players or weaknesses that the team did not address in the offseason.
The war between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers has gone nuclear. Marvin Bagley III's agent isn't happy he's out of the rotation in Sacramento. Kristaps Porzingis (11 points on 4-of-13 shooting in a 26-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks) still doesn't look the part of the No. 2 option next to Luka Doncic.
There's also the Kyrie Irving saga in Brooklyn, with the 1-1 Nets looking like they very much need the All-Star point guard or, at least, move him for some full-time help.
Although just a few days into the 2021-2022 regular season, it's OK to start thinking about some potential trades before situations become even more desperate.
Kings Trade Bagley to Thunder...
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: PF Marvin Bagley III
Sacramento Kings Receive: 2023 second-round pick (via Washington Wizards), $11.3 million trade exception
After starting 42 of his 43 games for the Kings last season, Bagley is out of the rotation entirely for a Sacramento team that seems ready to move on.
Bagley's agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management, called the situation a "case study in mismanagement by the Kings organization," mentioning that Sacramento passed on deals at the 2021 deadline and this offseason.
Kings fans should be willing to see Bagley traded before he potentially leaves in free agency next summer, although the return isn't going to be great at this point.
The Thunder are rebuilding and should be interested in Bagley, 22, based on his remaining potential alone. They also possess a $12.8 million trade exception, one that's large enough to absorb Bagley's $11.3 million salary.
OKC has more picks to part with than any other franchise, so dealing a future second is well worth the risk.
For Sacramento, moving Bagley into an exception creates a new one for them to use at his salary amount of $11.3 million, which would be good for one calendar year. Getting any draft compensation back is a bonus.
...or Move Him to Orlando for Wing Help
Orlando Magic Receive: PF Marvin Bagley III, 2023 second-round pick (via Atlanta Hawks)
Sacramento Kings Receive: SF Terrence Ross
If the Kings prefer some immediate help before they inevitably fall out of the playoff picture, moving Bagley to Orlando in a deal for Ross would be a good solution.
Ross, 30, likely isn't going to survive the Magic rebuild, and it's somewhat surprising Orlando didn't move him this offseason after parting with so many veterans at the deadline. He's become one of the best bench scorers in the league and could compete for the starting small forward job in Sacramento.
Orlando already possesses two of the top seven draft picks of the 2018 NBA draft and could add another infinity stone to the collection with Bagley (selected second overall). With projected starting power forward Jonathan Isaac still out, recovering from a torn ACL, and his durability a major concern (he's topped 34 games in a season just once), Bagley would give the young Magic some depth in the frontcourt.
While Sacramento would be receiving draft compensation and a trade exception from OKC, they'd likely have to include a pick or player in addition to Bagley in order to land Ross.
Tacking in a future second-round pick should be enough, and the Magic get a year to evaluate Bagley before he becomes a restricted free agent.
Dallas Gives Up on Porzingis
Dallas Mavericks Receive: F/C Christian Wood, G/F Eric Gordon
Houston Rockets Receive: PF Kristaps Porzingis, C Moses Brown, 2025 first-round pick (top-10 protected), 2022 second-round pick
Does one bad game make it too early to panic on the Porzingis-Luka Doncic pairing? Not if we've already collected two years of prior evidence that says this isn't working.
While the Mavericks chose to keep Porzingis this summer and hope that new head coach Jason Kidd can help unlock his play as a No. 2 option on a championship-caliber team, Porzingis had a stinker of a season debut with just 11 points, five rebounds and zero assists on 30.8 percent shooting (4-of-13).
If the Mavs can move Porzingis and other assets for a better second option next to Doncic, they need to as soon as possible.
Wood could play both power forward and center for Dallas and is a better overall scorer with far fewer injury concerns. While the Rockets should be happy to get rid of Gordon's contract, the veteran wing would be a useful rotation player for the win-now Mavs.
Porzingis, 26, is still young enough to fit in a rebuild in Houston, and he's a good floor-spacer to fit next to Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. as the third option on offense.
Houston also picks up a talented young center in Brown, 22, and gets a future first from Dallas and a second-rounder in the upcoming draft.
The Mavs can keep trying to make Porzingis fit, but it's becoming more and more clear he's not the answer alongside Doncic.
Nets Move Kyrie for Win-Now Help, Future Trade Assets
Brooklyn Nets Receive: G Eric Bledsoe, G/F Luke Kennard, SG Keon Johnson, 2028 first-round pick, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 second-round picks
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: PG Kyrie Irving, PG Jevon Carter
An opening night loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Nets' biggest threat in the Eastern Conference, should at least cause a little concern for Brooklyn fans who still don't know when or if Kyrie Irving will suit up for the team this season.
Any trade involving Irving will be extremely tricky as well, as the partnering team will need confirmation that he'll actually show up and agree to play.
One possible destination? The Clippers, a franchise that would reunite Irving with the head coach (Tyronn Lue) he won a championship with.
While Los Angeles joined New York and San Francisco as cities with strict vaccine mandates, the new rule does not affect Staples Center, meaning Irving could participate in all home and away games whether he chooses to get vaccinated or not.
Getting Bledsoe gives the Nets a starting-caliber point guard to plug in for Irving, and Kennard is the perfect sniper to spell starter Joe Harris in the second unit. Picking up five draft picks in the process sets Brooklyn up to make future upgrades to the roster, and the Nets suddenly have a nice collection of young talent by adding Johnson to fellow rookies Cam Thomas and Day'Ron Sharpe.
It's going to be nearly impossible to get equal value for a superstar like Irving, but Bledsoe, Kennard, Johnson and picks make the Nets significantly better and more flexible moving forward than the current Irving-less version we saw on opening night.
Sixers End Ben Simmons Drama, Get Their Difference-Maker in Sexton
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: G Collin Sexton, PF Kevin Love, 2022 first-round pick (top-3 protected), 2024 first-round pick (top-3 protected)
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: G/F Ben Simmons
It's no secret that Philly fans would like to see Simmons traded literally anywhere, as the relationship between the city and the All-Star guard is unrepairable at this point.
Still, there has to be some value back in return, even if it's not on the Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal level like team president Daryl Morey would likely prefer.
Getting Sexton as the centerpiece (24.3 points, 4.4 assists last season) gives Philadelphia a talented second scorer next to Joel Embiid. Sexton has improved as a passer in his four years and isn't afraid to take big shots at the end of games. His 42 points carried the Cavaliers over the Brooklyn Nets' Big Three last season in a double-overtime thriller.
Love is included for salary-matching purposes here, but he'd actually be a good rotation piece who would spread the floor next to Joel Embiid. The Sixers also get two lightly protected first-round picks from Cleveland, which would be quite useful in any future trades.
The Cavs were unable to find common ground on an extension for Sexton, and moving Love is something the team has tried to do unsuccessfully for years. Losing a pair of firsts hurt, but this is already a team that's built up good young talent at every position.
Simmons could be the piece that ties everything together with his playmaking and defense, allowing Darius Garland and Evan Mobley to become the primary scorers in Cleveland.