My favorite thing about the internet in 2016 is the NBA Trade Machine, or as I like to call it, hoops porn.
Over the past few months, I’ve traded Hassan Whiteside back to Sacramento (Boogie Cousins, welcome to South Beach!), Dwyane Wade to the Clippers, and Gerald Green to China. Anything can happen in this fantasy realm so as long it fits within the financial constraints of the very complex CBA, which ESPN finely built into the fabric of the trade machine.
On Sunday, we analyzed six potential trades floated by various insiders at ESPN, the better ones netting Miami Ryan Anderson and Pau Gasol. Today, I might’ve stumbled upon a feasible three-team blockbuster:
The deal: the Boston Celtics get Hassan Whiteside and Luol Deng; the New Orleans Pelicans get one of Boston’s late 2016 first-round picks; and the Miami Heat get Ryan Anderson and Avery Bradley.
This trade appears feasible on the cusp — to me at least — but it becomes dubious when all the assumptions become layered on top of one another.
Why New Orleans says yes
Landing a first-rounder for a player they otherwise will likely lose for nothing this summer is a no-brainer.
Why Boston says yes
Danny Ainge is thirsting for a franchise big and has approximately 50 draft picks at his disposal over the next few years.
He has to be willing to roll the dice on Whiteside re-signing at the cost of of Bradley and one of the team’s likely eight 2016 draft picks (potentially three picks in the first round and FIVE in the second). He also wants to stick it to Pat Riley whenever possible and the thought of Whiteside blossoming into a superstar in Celtics green could accomplish that as well.
It’s not all about the future with this deal either. Boston’s roster isn’t capable of competing for a conference title right now but the addition of Deng and Whiteside just might boost them into the conversation.
Why Miami says yes
Their 3-point shooting is appalling and their best triggerman (Tyler Johnson) might be done for the year while Heat brass comes to the realization Whiteside is not worth over $20 million a year to them within the framework of the current roster and the philosophy of their head coach.
That’s not to say he’s not an immensely talented player with a towering ceiling, but let’s face it — Hassan is not a seamless fit, both from a personality and basketball standpoint. If he’s going bye-bye this summer, salvage value before it’s too late.
ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh said it best: “Having Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade on the same team without a fleet of floor-spacers is like buying a Porsche and filling the gas tank with mud.”
Swapping in a premium stretch-four like Anderson (39% 3FG) gives them immediate spacing and Bradley, who is under contract for an addition two years and $17 million after this season, can not only hit the three but is a defensive hound on the perimeter. The question is how much Boston values him.
There’s an alternative to this deal if Boston balks at giving up Bradley. Simply remove Bradley and Deng and then send Birdman and Jarnell Stokes to the Pelicans.
With the initial proposal, Miami’s offense would improve dramatically while their defense would remain solid. A Bosh-Anderson tandem would pulverize opposing front courts and the Heat would inject their offense with serious spacing overnight. It would allow the Heat to contend in the present and future while maintaining cap flexibility to pursue big fish in free agency like Kevin Durant or Al Horford.
Who says no?
Follow/scold Josh on Twitter @JoshBaumgard