NBA Trade Deadline 2021: Blockbuster Deals We’d Love To See Happen

Here are some suggestions for GMs across the NBA


Let’s be real: the 2021 NBA trade deadline might be a dud.

Thanks to the advent of the Play-In Tournament, more teams are positioned to contend for playoff spots, which could, in turn, water down the market and limit the number of noteworthy deals made before Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

This doesn’t mean general managers across the league are sitting on their hands. Phone calls will be made. Conversations will be had. And rumors will percolate. Just don’t be surprised if very few, if any, legitimate impact players change teams in the coming days.

That said, we have some ideas.

Coming up with hypothetical trades always is a fun exercise, so we asked several of our writers to suggest a blockbuster deal they’d like to see happen this week.

Note: We didn’t worry too much about specifics, because quite frankly, trying to match salaries and whatnot can take years off a prognosticator’s life. That’s for the actual teams to figure out. Instead, we asked each writer to mention the biggest name(s) involved and provide a quick tidbit on their thinking.

Here are the results.

MIKE COLE: Raptors trade Kyle Lowry to Heat for Goran Dragic, Avery Bradley and Duncan Robinson
A big three of Lowry, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo might not be the most talented in the NBA, but good luck finding a better group of competitors. Lowry, who was great in the 2019 NBA Finals, knows what it takes to win at the highest level, which Miami falls just short of — for now. Bringing in Lowry would complement the offense so much, too. If the Heat could find a way to get this deal done without giving up Tyler Herro, that would be preferrable. But given how wide-open the NBA title landscape currently looks — especially with the Lakers’ recent injury issues — Pat Riley should think long and hard about pushing in whatever chips needed to win yet another championship.

Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Avery Bradley, Duncan Robinson

RICKY DOYLE: Magic trade Nikola Vucevic to Hornets
LaMelo Ball’s fractured wrist, which is expected to sideline the 19-year-old for the remainder of his rookie season, could adversely affect Charlotte’s short-term standing in the Eastern Conference. Vucevic, one of the NBA’s most-skilled big men, has two years remaining on his contract beyond this season, though, and it’d be fascinating to see the Hornets eventually operate offensively with him working alongside a healthy Ball, Gordon Hayward and whoever else remains in place following such a trade.

Nikola Vucevic

ALEXANDRA FRANCISCO: Wizards trade Bradley Beal to Celtics for Jaylen Brown
Coming from Brown’s No. 1 fan, I personally wouldn’t even take a second to think about trading him to acquire Beal. And of course, whoever else it would take within reason (and with exception of Jayson Tatum, of course). After all, joining forces with the Celtics’ All-NBA wing is the reason you want Beal to come here in the first place. The two St. Louis natives had never played on the same team before prior to the All-Star Game, and that is a travesty. Wouldn’t it be fun to put these close friends on the same team and thus take Boston to another level?

Bradley Beal, Jaylen Brown

DAKOTA RANDALL: Timberwolves trade Karl-Anthony Towns to Celtics for Jaylen Brown
The Celtics need a player like Towns more than they need two young, All-Star wings. Perhaps the ascension of Anthony Edwards has convinced Towns of life in Minnesota, but it’s hard to ignore the years of speculation of his wanting to move on from the Wolves. We think this is a fair deal for both teams.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Jaylen Brown

SEAN MCGUIRE: Rockets trade Christian Wood to Celtics
We can dream, right? Wood is averaging career highs in almost every major category — 22.0 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 56 FG%, 40 3FG%, 31.0 MPG — and is just about to enter the prime of his career. The 6-foot-10, 214-pound big man would give Celtics the “shooting with size” that Danny Ainge is looking, and he’s under a very team-friendly contract (three years, $41 million) for two and a half more seasons. Ainge gets infinite bonus points if he can do so without including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart or Robert Williams, too.

Christian Wood

PATRICK MCAVOY: Bulls trade Zach LaVine to Suns
Don’t look now, but the Suns have a chance for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. After narrowly missing the postseason last year, despite an 8-0 record in the bubble, the Suns added Chris Paul to the fold and now Phoenix is starting to look like a real contender. With the Jazz’s struggles of late and key injuries to the Lakers, there might be no better time for the Suns to strike. And what better way to do so than adding LaVine and his whopping 28.3 points per game? To match salaries, Phoenix could offer a package including Dario Saric, Jalen Smith and Cam Johnson, along with every pick under the sun to make it work. A lineup consisting of Paul, LaVine, Devin Booker, Jae Crowder and DeAndre Ayton, with Mikal Bridges and Jevon Carter coming off the bench, sounds like a winner to me.

Zach LaVine

LOGAN MULLEN: Magic trade Aaron Gordon to Bulls
Right on the edge of the playoff picture, the Bulls are playing like a team that thinks it can get into the postseason. They have too many defensively deficient players, though, so adding a guy like Gordon, who can score but also is reliable in the defensive end, could give a young, up-and-coming Chicago squad the piece it needs to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

Aaron Gordon

ADAM LONDON: Spurs trade LaMarcus Aldridge to Trail Blazers
Portland is going to need some reinforcements if it’s going to make it through the loaded Western Conference. How about Aldridge, who played the first nine seasons of his NBA career with the Blazers? A reunion would make for a pretty cool story, and Aldridge, even at age 35, could take some pressure off Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

LaMarcus Aldridge

LAUREN CAMPBELL: Pelicans trade Lonzo Ball to Clippers for Patrick Beverley
An easy one-for-one swap that both the Clippers and Pelicans would benefit from. New Orleans could use a player like Beverley, who has playoff experience, while Ball could be a seamless fit with the Clippers.

Lonzo Ball, Patrick Beverley
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart
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