Ah, the trade deadline! That wonderful time of the year when most of us work ourselves into a tizzy about the prospects of new teams, player movement and transactions galore; a time when phrases like “serious discussions,” “engaged,” “sudden impasse” and my personal favorite of all, “mystery team” are thrown into the Twittersphere with haste and disorderly fearlessness; it’s when ESPN’s trade machine (or TradeNBA.com if you’re especially hip to the times) receives gobs and gobs of hits by users across the world.
For the most part, trade talks are just that: inconclusive back-and-forth chatter. And for the Brooklyn Nets, well, it’s more than likely that Sean Marks stands pat by the time Thursday’s 3PM deadline rolls around. Two of Brooklyn’s more “tradeable” mid-level salaried players – Tauraen Prince for $14.5 million per season and Caris LeVert for $17.5 million a year – are under what is called the “poison pill provision,” which greatly inhibits a team’s ability to deal recently extended players because of accounting issues once those extensions hit (you can read more about the PPP here). For both of Sean Marks’ 2019 summer splurges, it’s best to just wait until after the 2019-2020 season.
So, what does that leave us with?
Well, there’s backup point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, a popular target for other teams (always a good sign) who earns a bargain-bin salary of about $11.5 million per season, as well as upcoming free agent Joe Harris – in the midst of the final months of his two-year, $16 million deal.
I can already see some of you shielding your eyes, hurling insults at your computers/phones, perhaps even cursing my name to the depths of hell for daring to bring up two cornerstone Brooklynites as potential trade bait this February. To that, I say: Relax. These are just silly fake trades from a guy with a friggin’ underscore in his username!
Without further ado, let’s get into it: nine unrealistic trades that I’ll (still) probably get annihilated for in the comments.
1, Spencer Dinwiddie to the Philadelphia 76ers for Josh Richardson
Starting this off with a bang! Pairing two playoff rivals in a move that swaps two totally crucial pieces from title-contenders? Seems totally sensible!
But wait, there is a method to my madness. In the 19 games that Kyrie Irving has played, chemistry has appeared a tad… disjointed?... between Brooklyn’s three guards (Irving, Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert). By the start of next year, Brooklyn will have added Kevin Durant and his coinciding career 30.1 percent usage rate (which would rank second on the Nets behind Kyrie Irving ) to that grouping. Pardon me for saying this, but is it wrong to fear that the Nets possess one too many chefs in the kitchen?
What Brooklyn needs is some ancillary talent; someone who can account for defensive deficiencies in the backcourt, make a decent number of threes and manufacture individual offense when called upon. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Josh Richardson! A career 36 percent three-point shooter who confidently sunk 38.6 percent of his catch-and-shoot long-range looks a season ago, a contributor who can generate his own shots with shocking efficiency in emergency situations (83rd percentile isolation scorer on an admittedly teensy sample) and, most of all, a very solid on-ball defender who has reliably defended the pick-and-roll as a Sixer (59th percentile) and can toggle between shooting guard and small forward. He’s basically just a younger more evolved Garrett Temple.
As for Philadelphia, Elton Brand could FINALLY stumble his way into a reliable end-game scorer; Dinwiddie’s a total pest and could rescue Philadelphia’s offense in the midst of scoring drudges with his tremendous downhill game, relentless ability in drawing fouls (6.8 attempts per game) and crafty isolation scoring (62nd percentile). Essentially, he’d provide Philadelphia with almost everything they’ve missed since Jimmy Butler’s departure.
2. Spencer Dinwiddie and Garrett Temple to Orlando for Aaron Gordon
At this point, Aaron Gordon to Brooklyn has become more of a meme than a plausible February maneuver for Sean Marks and the gang. Here’s the thing: we can laugh at this hackneyed proposal all we want but the seeds of a sensible transaction are there.
Essentially, Brooklyn would improve through subtraction; removing another hungry mouth from the offense could alleviate the mounting pressure on Brooklyn’s stars in keeping their teammates happy.
Orlando would add a certifiably outstanding floor general to their subpar point guard platoon of Markelle Fultz (having a nice season, I know), the injured DJ Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams. The Magic rarely get to the line (23rd in free throws per game) and have a better chance of discovering time travel than actually scoring in the clutch (25th in crunch-time scoring, leading to a 9-14 record in close-game situations). Spencer Dinwiddie could be that mini-salivation for an Orlando team that is currently tripping on its shoelaces en route to an “are we sure this even counts?” 8-seed playoff finish.
Gordon, meanwhile, would give the Nets that savory multi-positional forward they’ve needed since the beginning of time. As someone who can defend both 3’s and 4’s (and maybe the 5 if Kenny Atkinson is feeling especially frisky), Gordon could remove the insurmountable load on poor Taurean Prince’s shoulders – who right now is tasked with the Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ben Simmons, Pascal Siakam and Domantas Sabonis assignments come playoff time. As an outstanding cutter (94th percentile!!!), an unheralded roll man (86th percentile) and a reliable source of transition scoring (1.15 points per possession), Gordon is the ideal supportive piece; he doesn’t require the ball in his hands to do damage on the court. Now if that three-point shot ever started falling…
3. Dzanan Musa and any one of the Nets three 2nd-rounders in 2021 to Detroit for Markieff Morris
Markieff Morris has responded brilliantly after an awful season in Oklahoma City. At this point, we’re all fairly aware of what to expect from either one of the Morris twins: solid spot-up shooting but more importantly, toughness. That “eff you” mentality that both Markieff and Marcus bring to the table is, in a lot of ways, the missing ingredient for the Nets.
From Detroit’s side of things, acting GM Ed Stefanski could pick and choose between Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs to make salaries match. Of either 2018 draftee, Kurucs has shown relatively more NBA success, so perhaps the Pistons would go that route. Either way, the real asset (from Detroit’s perspective) is probably that second-rounder.
4. Spencer Dinwiddie and Garrett Temple to Denver for Gary Harris and Monte Morris
…And here’s where this column ventures off into uncharted territory. Denver has been, to say the least, quite, quite active at the deadline thus far, shaving off half its roster into the great lakes of Minnesota during a seldom-seen four-team blockbuster with the Wolves, Rockets and Hawks.
Even while sitting comfortably at third in their respective conference, Denver has felt a guy short – an X-factor sparse – in headline matchups with other west-coast giants. Um, hello, does that not scream a need for Brooklyn’s current backup PG? Someone who can hold down the fort on those nights when 22-year-old starting point guard Jamal Murray just doesn’t have it?
Let’s pause for a second. Some of you may be wondering: does this a-hole have something against Spencer Dinwiddie?
No, I truly don’t. In fact, I think he’s paired quite nicely with Kyrie Irving in the short time they’ve played together. What I do recognize is that he’s a tasty asset in the eyes of other teams. And right now, more so than any other player on the roster, he’s the guy who slips Brooklyn’s foot in the door when hunting for scrumptious, heavily sought-after three-and-D talent.
Gary Harris has forever been a guy I’ve, personally, coveted in spite of his ever-plummeting three-point numbers. What he did against Damian Lillard in last season’s second-round series was downright cruel, locking the All-NBA second-teamer in a windowless jail before tossing the key into an abyss. He’s the type of guy who fits perfectly next to Kyrie Irving, guarding those opposing star guards that Irving, erm, can’t really defend on a night-to-night basis.
Again, his value on offense has never been lower (shooting 31 percent from deep), and that’s where Monte Morris comes into the picture. Given that Brooklyn would send their backup point guard packing to the Rocky Mountains, Morris is the perfect uber-efficient maestro to take his place. For the second-straight season, Morris has been somewhat of an assist-to-turnover darling, and his 5.5 ratio (183 total assists, just 33 total turnovers) leads all guards by a considerable margin. Last year’s three-point shooting proficiency appears to be real thing (39.4 percent in 2019-2020), making Morris an ideal fit in Kenny Atkinson’s spread pick-and-roll offense. Even at just 6’2,” he measures as a stout deterrent – an 80th percentile overall defender, per Synergy.
Denver and Brooklyn would exchange defensive stability for high voltage scoring – exactly what both teams could use going forward.
5. Joe Harris, Rodions Kurucs and a 2021 2nd-rounder to Dallas for Maxi Kleber and Ryan Broekhoff
Maxi Kleber is essentially the geeky NBA fan’s wet dream, which is why I felt almost obligated to include him in this column. Is he available? Well, no. But a man can dream, okay?!
As a 6’10” power forward, Kleber is shockingly light on his feet, making him a fairly versatile defender. Just go on YouTube and type in “Maxi Kleber defense.” He more than holds his own on switches with smaller players, yet he can block shots like a nominal rim protector (1.1 rejections per contest this season). Oh, did I mention that he’s knocking down 38.4 percent of his total threes? He’s basically #Goals for Nicolas Claxton’s growth.
Ryan Broekhoff is there to make salaries match. Still, he’s a heady 41.5 percent three-point shooter who barely plays in Dallas (just 10.5 minutes per game in only 14 total contests). Ideally, the 6’6” small forward’s fiery stroke props Brooklyn out of the league’s basement in cumulative three-point percentage. (The Nets are 26th as a team currently.)
At this point in time, the loss of Kleber would be felt in Dallas. But if Kristaps Porzingis continues his recent two-way ascension, the Mavericks may not necessarily need the backup 28-year-old German. A guy like Joe Harris might actually fit what Dallas is building just as well, benefiting handsomely off Luka Doncic’s MVP-caliber gravity. Even in a down season, Sir Joseph Buckets is leading the league in wide-open three-point percentage at an astounding 52.5 percent. On a team stuffed to the brim with shooters (Seth Curry, J.J. Barea, Dorian Finney-Smith, etc.), expect a whole lot of uncontested treys for Joe Harris.
6. Joe Harris and Rodions Kurucs to Phoenix for Aron Baynes and Mikal Bridges
The worst-kept secret in sports is Phoenix’s fascination with off-ball shooters. I mean, my goodness, the Suns almost went nuclear by nearly sending their own first-rounder to Detroit for Luke Kennard. Imagine how they’d feel about acquiring Joe Harris.
I’ll admit: recency bias is totally shrouding my judgement when analyzing Mikal Bridges (dude went off on Monday at the Barclays). Forget that he’s shooting 29.9 percent from deep this season. Forget that his shot mechanics tend to regress into Markelle Fultz/Michael Kidd-Gilchrist territory (at times). The dude is a frickin’ menace defensively, utilizing his 7’1” wingspan to swindle his way into 1.4 thieveries per game. Even with his deflating outside metrics, Bridges is still a remarkably efficient player with a nifty 59.3 true shooting percentage. (Shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 81 percent from the line will do that for yah.)
Aron Baynes is included mostly because I aspire to work alongside his illustrious Twitter fan page. His three-point shot comes and goes, but when it’s on, he’s a credible pick-and-pop threat. Even in spite of his growing injury list, he’s certainly better than any of Brooklyn’s current centers at defending out to the arc. I mean, c’mon, look at how the 33-year-old snuffs out Stephen Curry!
7. Joe Harris and Philadelphia’s 1st-rounder to Sacramento for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Harry Giles
This one’s an oddball. Thus far, there has been zero reported traction between the Nets and Sacramento for Bogdan Bogdanovic. The 27-year-old shooting guard doesn’t exactly fill any of Brooklyn’s needs and is yet another player who would require the ball in his hands to make an impact. Oh, and did I mention he’s an impending free agent who has already turned down a four-year, $51.4 million extension?
This is, however, a bona fide talent grab. As a 14.6-point per game scorer with still-tangible upside, Bogdan would be excellent injury insurance should one of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving miss some time. The Serbian shooting guard/small forward is leading his Kings in isolation efficiency with 1.03 points per possession. As somewhat of a midrange specialist who can space out to three with 37.8 percent accuracy, Bogdanovic’s 51.3 effective field goal marksmanship on pull-ups certainly suggests he’s more than happy to create on his own if called upon.
As for Harry Giles, similar to Gary Harris or Maxi Kleber, he’s long been a guy I’ve drooled over – though on an admittedly lower threshold; he’s an old-school, pinch post creator who would have thrived in the days of the triangle offense (I know, I know, I need to get with the times). Should the Nets covet someone like Yogi Ferrell as their third-string point guard (or backup, should Irving miss more time), I certainly wouldn’t be mad. He could fill an important role as a reunited Net.
As for Sacramento’s side of things, their tax bill projects to be pretty hefty with the Marvin Bagley III and De’Aaron Fox’s extensions on the not-so-distant horizon. Bringing back Bogdanovic only heightens their risk of falling deep into the luxury tax for an ill-fitting iffy team. Joe Harris (should be) a cheaper option at the three in comparison to Bogie, and he could space the floor prolifically next to Buddy Hield and the hyper-speed De’Aaron Fox.
8. Rodions Kurucs and Denver’s 2nd-rounder to Golden State for Alec Burks (or Glenn Robinson III)
The archetype for this trade is fairly similar no matter how you spin it: Brooklyn would send a promising young player who hasn’t cracked their rotation in Rodions Kurucs plus draft capital to Golden State for one the Warriors’ readily available three-and-D vets. Both of these 6’6” shooting guard/small forward tweeners are clipping threes at 37 percent or better (in Robinson’s case, 40 percent) and could provide Brooklyn with some needed defensive intensity since losing both Iman Shumpert and David Nwaba. Both Warrior swingmen are on minimum-level salaries through the end of the season and could fit snuggly next to Brooklyn’s cornerstone players. While GRIII is a bit more active on the defensive side of the ball, Burks is a much more capable distributor (3.1 dimes on average this season).
9. Joe Harris, Garrett Temple and Philadelphia’s 1st-rounder to Phoenix for Kelly Oubre
We’re in the bonus round. I’m in the midst of editing this behemoth and of course Marc Stein breaks the news that Phoenix is taking calls on Kelly Oubre – the Suns’ fearsome defender who is canning 34.6 percent of his total threes and is averaging a career-high 18.5 points per game. Why exactly is the Suns’ general manager James Jones making his 24-year-old complimentary stud available? I couldn’t tell you. Just Suns thangz, I guess.
As a legit 6’7,” 201 hyperathletic forward, Oubre is a “beast in his role” with X-factor potential. To make things happen, we’re taking the previously discussed Phoenix trade involving Joe Harris, adding Garrett Temple into the mix to make salaries match and throwing in the Philly first-rounder to sweeten the deal. Let’s get crazy, folks.
And there we have it! Nine made-up trades to hyper-analyze in abundance. Which deals do you like? Which deals do you hate? Leave your thoughts below in the comments.