Words By Skoob (@TheKidSkoob)
What a time! The 2015-16 NBA Season is finally upon us, which means all things in the world are slowly coming together. Naturally, we won’t know what to expect with this upcoming year, but one thing that is certain: everyone will be gunning for the reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. An offseason of controversial change in staff and player personnel saw a team go from a potential contender, to the NBA’s elite.
And like every NBA free agency summer, we saw plenty of change throughout the league. But which title contender could still shake up their roster and make a splash this year? Let’s take a look at five potential moves that could immediately pay dividends for a handful of ball clubs.
5. Al Jefferson (Hornets) for Nene (Wizards) + Future Draft Considerations
The Hornets are a team caught in between a full-blown youth movement, and a team fighting for playoff contention. A move like this would clear the way for young bigs Cody Zeller and Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky to take over the reins, while also preparing Charlotte for their future.
Meanwhile, the Wizards would finally gain consistent low-post scoring with the addition of double-double machine, Al Jefferson. The former all-star would finally find himself in a winning situation on a team that’s actually competing for the Eastern Conference crown. Big Al also has an expiring contract, which he would surely re-up with the Wiz if they’re able to bring hometown hero Kevin Durant to town in 2016’s free agency period.
4. Derrick Rose (Bulls) for Mike Conley & Jeff Green (Grizzlies) + Future Draft Considerations
This deal works perfectly for each side, as the Bulls not only get a pass-first point guard with the ability to shoot, but they also gain a shot of life into their small forward position. Ever since the departure of Luol Deng, the Bulls have been without much help on the wing. Not to mention, both Green and Conley will be operating on expiring deals. Conley is still young enough to re-sign, while Chicago can decide to either re-sign Jeff Green or look for other options via free agency.
For Memphis, they get a dose of athleticism in their slow-paced, grindhouse style of basketball. They also get at least one year to decide whether Rose will really be a long-term superstar they can pair with Marc Gasol, or if he’s likely to bolt in 2017 free agency. His $20+ million-dollar expiring contract will be an attractive trade piece, as Memphis will be looking towards their future, while also attempting to address their present.
3. Roy Hibbert & Nick Young (Lakers) + Future Draft Considerations for Joakim Noah & Taj Gibson (Bulls)
Here’s another deal that should satisfy all parties! Between Roy Hibbert having the confidence of a nerdy kid speaking to a girl for the first time, and Swaggy P possessing the arrogance of a young Marcus Graham, it’s almost certain that this combination will wear very thin on one Kobe Bean Bryant. Enter two defensive-minded, high energy guys, in Noah and Gibson. Not only are these two “Kobe kinda guys,” but they’d provide the necessary veteran leadership and skill that will actually allow the Lakers to contend in the very difficult Western Conference. And while this move may not be enough to bring home that elusive sixth ring for the Mamba, it will give the fans and team the confidence it needs on a nightly basis.
As for Chicago, Hibbert can slide into the now-vacated bench role that Noah begrudgingly manned, while Lord Swaggeth provides offensive punch at the small forward position. But possibly the most important aspect of this deal, is the fact that minutes will have opened up for the very promising rookie big man, Bobby Portis. This deal makes sense all-around for both sides, as Noah and Hibbert are playing on one-year pacts. Joakim has been at the forefront of the Bulls’ defensive identity for some time, but a bench role isn’t something he’s going to like after a while and will surely bolt in the offseason if it were to continue.
2. Carmelo Anthony & Jose Calderon (Knicks) for Derrick Rose & Taj Gibson (Bulls) + Future Draft Considerations
It’s rare that both teams walk away from a blockbuster trade and feel as though they’ve gotten market value for their departing superstar. In this particular deal, each organization’s fan base should walk away very satisfied. Let’s face it New York, contention isn’t something that’s in the immediate future for this ball club. The one thing this team needs is time, and that’s something that their superstar doesn’t have much of. Melo recently entered his early 30’s, but his body is beginning to breakdown like the vintage Chrysler that your grandfather insists on passing down as a family heirloom. Not only does this trade provide the Knicks with more time, it gives them a young – although equally fragile – former MVP at point guard that the team can possibly build around. And based on Rose’s fragility, New York could also squeeze a future draft pick out of Chicago after the Bulls’ run looks like it’s slowing down. This move also allows promising rookie Kristaps to move into a more natural small forward position, while Gibson can finally get his chance as a full-time starter at the four.
We probably should’ve just called this, “Five Move Chicago Could Make…” but what would be the fun in that?! And with this trade, you guessed it; the Bulls fill that gaping hole at small forward and get a pass-first point guard to run the show. A show that’s now operating under the watchful eye of “The Mayor” Fred Hoiberg, who has decided to abandon the defensive approach for a more offensive-minded unit. Yeah, at this point each and every alarm should be going off in your head. Sacrificing offense for defense is Carmelo Anthony’s middle name! This trade honestly couldn’t be more perfect.
1. DeMarcus Cousins (Kings) for Roy Hibbert & Julius Randle (Lakers) + Future Draft Considerations
In the trade that almost happened, but never did in real-life, Boogie is finally L.A. bound! Let’s face it; the pairing of George Karl, DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo wasn’t ever really going to work. And a deal like this will surely result in Rondo being dealt immediately afterwards, because…Rondo. But what this would mean for the Kings is that it will be ushering in the Julius Randle/Willy Cauley-Stein and Ben McLemore era. Rudy Gay will be the odd-man out, but lucky for him, he’s got himself an early termination option for next season that he’s absolutely going to exercise. And if for some reason the Rondo-Karl thing seems to work for a year, the floor general would have successfully rebuilt his reputation and value. The end result will be the former Celtic taking his talents elsewhere after his one year deal expires in 2016.
Showtime is back in La La Land! Well, showtime never really left, it’s just undergone an evolutionary period in the form of “Lob City.” But this move – although likely to involve additional components – immediately thrusts the Lake Show into the championship conversation. A core of D’Angelo Russell, Kobe Bryant and DeMarcus Cousins would be must-see TV! And if the Lakers are somehow able to keep Jordan Clarkson in this transaction, then we’ve got ourselves a very legit title contending team.
These are just a few moves that would heighten an already exciting NBA season. What do you think of these possibilities? But before you begin shooting out ideas or tearing these moves apart in the comments section, make sure your scenarios work contractually with ESPN’s Trade Machine.