close
close

New NBA blockbuster trade ideas after free agency in early 2024

Free agency has already reshaped the NBA landscape.

The same applies to the trading market.

The 2024 offseason has been pretty entertaining, hasn't it? The Philadelphia 76ers have the league's newest Big Three, the New York Knicks have completed their Villanova collection, the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to make it, and Klay Thompson is suddenly playing alongside Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić in Dallas.

So why are we considering further steps that will impact the association? Because transfer ideas are always exciting and this is the time of year when the biggest dreams in the basketball world can become reality.

So let's dream big and put together four hypothetical blockbusters that could actually happen.

Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors receive: Zach LaVine, Jevon Carter and 2026 first-round pick (top-three spot protected)

Chicago Bulls receive: Andrew Wiggins, Moses Moody, Gary Payton II and Kevon Looney

With Paul George out, the Warriors are running out of options to find a capable co-star in Stephen Curry. Some may scoff at the idea of ​​LaVine serving in such a role, but he is a two-time All-Star who connected several times to Golden State.

LaVine is objectively overpaid, suffers from injuries, and has little team success on his resume. He is also by far the most productive player the Warriors could acquire without giving up draft picks or a top-tier talent. In fact, in this hypothetical case, they would get back a first-round pick and a new backup point guard (Carter) just by taking LaVine from Chicago.

Future finances are definitely a concern, but if the focus is on Curry's final chapter, those dollars are a topic for another day. With a Curry-LaVine backcourt, there would be obvious concerns on defense, but the offensive force could be overwhelming. A healthy LaVine is one of the most powerful perimeter players, and it's possible that a co-star like Curry and a system like Steve Kerr's Motion Offense would help him reach new levels of efficiency.

LaVine did not have a standout performance in the 2023-24 season, but still finished with averages of 19.5 points, 3.9 assists and 2.4 three-pointers. In the previous four seasons, he had averaged at least 24 points, four assists and 2.5 three-pointers. The only players to achieve similar performance during that time period were Luka Dončić, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell and Damian Lillard.

The Bulls would essentially part ways with LaVine and give their young core a fresh start with this package. They would have to see decent guard potential in Moody to sign this trade, but if they believe in his and Wiggins' chances to turn things around for the better, it could happen. Payton and Looney would make the money in the first place, but ideally one or both could be traded for additional draft assets later.

Mark Brown/Getty Images

Miami Heat receives: Brandon Ingram

New Orleans Pelicans receive: Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin (sign-and-trade) and a first-round pick in 2029

The Heat have issues on offense that they need to address. The Pelicans have a player who scores over 20 points every year that they may not want to pay long-term. It seems like there could be a fit here, especially if New Orleans could garner interest in trading CJ McCollum.

Ingram doesn't have the three-point line the Heat would ideally like, but he checks many other boxes. He's a scoring threat from anywhere on the court and can create something out of nothing for himself or his teammates. In all three of the past seasons, he's averaged 20 points, five assists and five rebounds per game. Only nine other players in the entire Association can say the same.

If Miami could maintain decent spacing — coach Erik Spoelstra has maneuvered this team through some pretty tight quarters — this offense would have plenty of creativity and attacking power from Ingram, Jimmy Butler, Terry Rozier and Bam Adebayo. The Heat would also have more time on the wing and could potentially be more disruptive with their zone defense.

If the Pelicans don't want to pay the amount Ingram demands next summer, now is the time to trade him. While they could seek a high return, their recent signing of Dejounte Murray clearly shows that they want to maximize the competitiveness for Zion Williamson.

This deal would include some elements of a challenge trade, as New Orleans would essentially be betting that it could get more out of Herro than Miami has managed to do so far. He would be a fun partner for Williamson and a gravitational off-ball shooter to draw attention away from Murray. Add another three-and-D wing in Martin, as well as a future first baseman to help facilitate a big deal at a later date, perhaps one with an impact center, and the Pelicans should be happy with this return.

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Orlando Magic receives: Trae Young

Atlanta Hawks receive: Markelle Fultz (sign-and-trade), Wendell Carter Jr., Jett Howard, 2025 first-round pick and 2026 first-round pick swap

Although the Hawks have already traded Dejounte Murray, they could still consider moving Young. Trading him would relieve pressure on No. 1 pick Zaccharie Risacher, and it would also give management the opportunity to use their remaining assets for rebuilding efforts. Granted, a complete reboot wouldn't be as beneficial as it otherwise would be, with San Antonio controlling Atlanta's next three drafts, but the Hawks could still see the value in amassing assets sooner or later.

The Magic would love to help. Their 22nd-ranked offense was the least efficient of any postseason contender this season, including play-in teams. New additions Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tristan da Silva contribute a lot to Orlando's winning record, but high scoring is not a strength for either of them.

Young, on the other hand, has never averaged less than 25 points since his rookie season. He's also never averaged less than double-digit assists in two seasons. And he's made more than three threes per game in three of the last five seasons. He's been a walking top-10 offense basically his entire career, and if he could have that kind of impact on a team with a defense as dominant as the Magic's, this could be the league's next stealth contender.

The Hawks aren't going to get a fortune for Young. His offensive prowess is incredible, but his defense is abysmal and his contract is huge, so getting away with Fultz and Carter, two rotation players, Howard, a recent lottery pick, an unprotected first-round pick and an unprotected first-round pick swap would be a decent haul.

Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs receive: Lauri Markkanen

Utah Jazz receive: Keldon Johnson, Malakhi Branham, 2025 first-round pick (top-three pick protected), 2025 first-round pick (via ATL), 2029 first-round pick, 2030 first-round pick (via DAL), and 2026 first-round pick swap (via ATL)

The Jazz did not sound Utah is very eager to trade Markkanen this offseason, but if Mikal Bridges can pull five first-round picks in this transfer market, Utah will have to keep its ears open. And that's exactly what's happening in Salt Lake City, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Jazz are “listening” to trade offers for Markkanen (via RealGM).

The Spurs are among those interested in the 7-foot-4 player, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, and they definitely have the tools to make a difference if they want to move up-and-coming superstar Victor Wembanyama forward. Markkanen, who turned 27 in May, could be an ideal co-star as he could help elevate the franchise's level but isn't so old that he would put pressure on the young star to win right away.

A frontcourt featuring Wembanyama and Markkanen would be a bastion of size, length and two-way ability. Each of them is a zone scorer, very versatile both on and off the ball, and offers enough defensive versatility to threaten players of almost any size and style.

If Chris Paul spends a year properly preparing this pair for greatness, something special could be brewing in San Antonio sooner or later.

The Jazz could certainly try to bargain for additional picks, but there's a lot of quality here. The Hawks could self-destruct at any time, so having control over their next two drafts would be hugely important. The Mavericks are fully invested in the present and could pay for it in the future. The Spurs may not get it right immediately (after all, they just lost 60 games) and who knows what their roster will look like in five years.

Utah could initially request Devin Vassell, but negotiations down to Johnson and Branham could satisfy both sides. The Spurs would retain their current best lineup in Wembanyama, while the Jazz would maximize their draft pick return by accepting two different talents, both under 25 and both creative and capable on offense.