Well here we go again guys.
Another season in the books.
Despite a global pandemic, Social Justice movements, and a unique bubble system the NBA was able to successfully complete the 2019-2020 season; with the Los Angeles Lakers as champions.
Now that LeBron James has added a 4th ring to his legacy, the bubble is evacuated, and Bronny no doubt got his butt whooped we can finally put a pin in the season and rest until draft time.
Yeah, that’s where you’re wrong.
With an unknown future for the NBA’s cap situation and a lackluster free agency class, the primary way for a team to improve is through a trade of some sort. So, there will be trades aplenty pouring out over the internet the next few weeks as we inch towards the NBA Draft.
Today we look at a trade that unites three young players and can be facilitated by the Thunder. They came up together through the AAU circuit and have long since hoped for the opportunity to play together in the NBA.
Those three players being D’Angelo Russell, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Devin Booker.
How the trade could be made
In an interview with Slam Magazine, DLo talks about his desire to play alongside Book and KAT. During the time of this interview, he had just accepted a sign and trade with the Golden State Warriors, while KAT was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Later in the season, the Warriors sent Russell to Minnesota in a trade that brought them Andrew Wiggins and 2 future 1st round picks.
Fast forward to the draft lottery, and the Wolves get the #1 pick. But with such uncertainty in this draft, the Wolves feel like they should move the pick rather than take a player at 1. According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Conner the Wolves are interested in moving the 1st pick for a “Win now player”. While that kind of player could literally almost anyone in the league, one name stands out.
An All-Star, scoring extraordinaire, the only person to score 70 points in a game since Kobe Bryant (rest in the most peace) did it against Toronto, and budding bubble superstar; Devin Booker. Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson tweeted about this very possibility back in September, so now the question is. How in the world do the Wolves do that?
Sure, they have a couple of young players that are interesting at least. Sure, they have most of their future picks still. But they can’t produce an offer that would bring the Suns to pull the trigger on sending their bonafide baby face assassin out of town….. at least not by themselves.
(Also OKC gets a 2025 pick swap with MIN, but trade NBA wasn’t letting me do a swap for some reason)
I know I know, this one is a bit of a doozy. But when you are dealing with a player the caliber of Devin Booker, guess what, it ain’t gonna be easy. So let’s dive into this thing team by the team here.
For the Timberwolves: It’s pretty obvious, you’re getting Devin Booker back. You complete the trio, and you help them achieve their hopes and dreams together. The only problem is as good as they are offensive, they couldn’t guard a plastic bag defensively.
This is why you see Steven Adams’s name there. Say what you want about Steven Adams, the man is a BRUTE. He is a terrific rebounder and a highly intelligent defender. He is great around the rim on offense and even has flashed some playmaking chops out of the high post and on the elbow. He is someone you can play alongside KAT in the frontcourt to anchor your defense and clean up the glass.
Also, Josh Okogie is still there (even though he may have to move for this type of deal, and if he does he does) so he gives you a hard-nosed defender on the perimeter. You sign Malik Beasley, and Juancho Hernangomez to their qualifying offers and you have a strong seven guys to try to compete in the West.
For the Suns: When you give up a guy like Book, you will get A LOT back. You get Dennis Schröder to help you stay competitive and gives you a 20 and 8 guy who can pick up the full court (and you can even flip for more assets). A former lottery picks in Jarrett Culver to try to grow and develop. Projects in Jacob Evans, Omari Spellman, and Naz Reid. A guy who could use a fresh start in Terrance Ferguson. And all top of all that, you get an absolute mountain of future firsts, not to mention the #1 overall pick, which can help you bring in a guy to kickstart the rebuild.
For the Thunder: You get an expiring contract and a veteran presence in James Johnson. A project in Jarred Vanderbilt, who was college teammates with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo. You move up 15 spots in the draft. And you get the 2025 pick swap the year after KAT and Book’s contracts are up. And almost more importantly, you rid yourself of another ball-handler and open yourself up to letting SGA grow into his own as a playmaker.
You shake it up a bit here. In this trade, Phoenix elects for a veteran leader as opposed to yet another young player/project. OKC sends another pick in the deal, a 2021 1st rounder (albeit lottery protected) that conveys to 2 2nds. In exchange, OKC gets to try their hand at Jarrett Culver, while the Suns acquire an All-NBA, NBA All-Star in Chris Paul.
Without even acknowledging his impact on the court, what he can do to help develop their young guys (mainly DeAndre Ayton), we saw this past season in OKC what a guy like CP3 means to a young team. His leadership, basketball IQ, and “I just wanna hoop” attitude is the exact thing a team needs in rebuilding not just a roster but a locker room culture (Not to mention he will probably garner the attention of other teams around the trade deadline, in which you can flip him for more if it’s not working out).
Lastly, in this said trade, the Suns acquire the #1 pick. That would likely mean they would take LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards. Two highly touted players with an enormous amount of talent but motor and maturity issues. With Chris Paul leading, guiding, and mentoring whichever it is they pick at number one, they are more likely to shake off their youth’s tendencies and step into their full potential.
Obviously, Devin Booker would have to request a trade before the Suns give him up for something like this to happen. But as we saw in the DLo quote earlier, they want this to happen. It’s 2/3rd’s of the way there.
And with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s timely assistance, they could potentially make it happen.
But again this is all hypothetical, and all for fun.
So what do you think? Does Booker request a trade? Do the Suns need more? Does this move dramatically alter the Wolves ceiling? Do the Thunder have enough incentive to bring these guys together?
Let me know in the comments or hit me up on my Twitter @ ThunderChats!