Adam Pantuzzi/NBAE via Getty Images
With most restrictions on newly signed players lifted, the NBA has officially entered its annual trade season. As seems to be the case every year, this season kicked off with a flurry of trade rumours.
Russell Westbrook’s name has been circulating for months, and this is it remains In the rumor mill today. John Collins appears to have been on the trade block since before he signed an extension, and the Atlanta Hawks “only ask for a good player in return (not a first-round pick),” according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick.
Bojan Bogdanović is a name you’ll hear a lot between now and the deadline because it doesn’t fit into the Detroit Pistons’ rebuilding schedule. And despite the Indiana Pacers’ better-than-expected 2022-23 campaign, deals involving Miles Turner and Buddy Held likely won’t be ruled out either.
Instead of finding (or concocting) individual deals that incorporate all of the above, we’ve come up with a way to include them in one deal.
As with any fake trade, any bargaining is welcome. More shots or young players could be involved. You may want to forward a future prospect or asset in some way. This is the fun of the fake deal.
However, this general framework achieves something for every team involved.
A more comprehensive explanation of why each team said “yes” can be found at the bottom of the page, but it helps to be able to see everything at a single glance.
Los Angeles Lakers receive: Miles Turner and Bogdan Bogdanovic
Atlanta Hawks receive: Bojan Bogdanovic, Buddy Held and Alec Burks
Detroit Pistons receiving: John Collins, Galen Johnson, and Max Christie
Indiana Pacers receive: Russell Westbrook (likely purchased), Frank Kaminski, a 2027 first-round pick from Los Angeles and a 2029 first-round pick from Los Angeles
Los Angeles goes it all for LeBron
Lakers receive: Miles Turner and Bogdan Bogdanovic
Lakers lose: Russell Westbrook, Max Christie, a 2027 first-round pick and a 2029 first-round pick
With the Lakers still below . 500 and the Upper West seeming increasingly out of reach, it would make sense if the team’s front office stuck with the few assets it could trade.
But LeBron James Continue to express His desire to compete with this team, and his playing this season (especially recently) supports that.
LeBron since he turned 38:
Leading the league in PPG + RPG + APG in this stretch. pic.twitter.com/00NN584xHt
LeBron continues to dominate Father Time (even if Advertising campaign Sometimes this gives the opponent an advantage), but he and his career are not immortal. At some point, his window to contest the title will close. The Lakers need to do everything they can to delay that moment.
Russell Westbrook’s contract transfer, the much-discussed first-round pick of 2027 and 2029 and expectations in Max Christie could help them do that.
The deal would give Los Angeles one of the game’s best three and three centers in Myles Turner, who averages career highs of 17.4 points, 2.3 blocks and 1.5 triples per game while shooting 39.0 percent from depth. It’s a reliable anchor on the one hand, and won’t clog paint for LeBron engines or Anthony Davis touches on the other.
His presence will also allow AD to spend more time in his favorite location, 4, where he won’t have to dig into some of the bruising centers in the West. If this increases the likelihood that Davis will be healthy in the playoffs, all the better.
The inclusion of Bogdan Bogdanović is perhaps as interesting as the addition of Turner. He checks a few boxes, one unchecked by Buddy Hield, current Turner teammate and longtime rumored Laker target.
First, Bogdanovic adds some much needed shots (Lakers 25th and well below average in the team’s three-point percentage), but he can also create a bit of a dribbling touchdown. As we’ve seen with Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving, LeBron has a teammate who can sometimes give him a break as the primary starter helps him out.
Adding this variety to lineups that include Turner, AD, and James would give the Lakers a great starting five. With the bench remaining, there’s no guarantee the foursome will push for a title, but it would certainly bring Los Angeles closer to where it currently is.
Atlanta surrounds Trae Young shooting
Falcon receive: Bojan Bogdanovic, Buddy Held and Alec Burks
Hawks lose: John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Galen Johnson and Frank Kaminsky
The recent revelation that Atlanta wanted to transfer Collins with less than a first-round lead helps with this scenario. Perhaps all this is not surprising. After years in the rumor mill, Collins averaged 13.1 points (his lowest since his rookie season) and posted a career low. Effective field goal percentage.
Perhaps most concerning, his three-point game percentage has dropped from 37.6 percent over his first five seasons to 22.8 in 2022-23.
Replacing him with the volume and shooting that Bojan Bogdanović currently provides for the Pistons (21.2 points and 2.4 triples in 41.5 percent shooting from deep) is a bit of a no-brainer, but it doesn’t explain the inclusion of 21-year-old Jalen Johnson, veteran Frank Kaminski and Atlanta’s Bogdanovic. (Which, at 30, is older than people realize.)
The deal allows Atlanta to overhaul their rotation between highly-used guards (Trae Young and Dejounte Murray) and a pair of seniors who do most of their damage indoors (Clint Capela and Onika Okonwu).
Like Bojan, Buddy Hield and Alec Burks bring shooting with them to the Hawks, who currently own down 10 a crime. Infusing the rotation with three-point shooters over 40 percent and spreading the floor for Young- (or Murray-) driving pick-and-roll with Capela and Okongwu will make Atlanta’s offense more dynamic.
While there are some intrigues with Johnson, and Bogdan Bogdanovic had some moments with the Hawks, the move will raise the bar for Atlanta in the short term. Having now acquired Murray last season, this should be the main focus for the Hawks.
Detroit trades veterans for youth
receiving pistons: John Collins, Galen Johnson, and Max Christie
Check pistons: Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Borks
Bojan Bogdanović and Burks have both played well enough this season to bring some real value back to the Pistons, should they decide to move forward with rebuilding and seeking Victor Wimpanyama. (Side note: They should.) If Detroit is adamant about first-round picks for either or both Bogdanovic and Burks, this deal could be dead on arrival.
Having said that, a flurry of deals over the past several years has meant that a lot of first-round draft picks across the league are already talk about. This special trade package will still add a young talent (and maybe some ping pong balls for the lottery).
Collins has been in the league for a while, but he’s still only 25 years old. That’s just shy of his start and eight years younger than Bogdanovic. And playing with a ball-dominant player like Cady Cunningham (when he returns in 2023-24) can help Collins regain the 20-and-10 form he was in in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
For Johnson, his time at Duke and in the NBA has been frustrating, but he only has three years left of being one of Senior high school recruits in the country. He has a good size for a front combo (6’9″ with a 7’0″ wingspan) and showed flashes of playmaking potential. Detroit could be the perfect place for Johnson to explore his potential.
Finally, there is Max Christie. He was included because he did not feel the Pistons were getting enough veterans prior to his inclusion.
Christie, a second-round pick who failed to double digits in his only season in college, may not have an upward trend off the charts. But he does have a good size for a wing (6’6″ approx 6’9″ wingspan) and he is 19 of 45 (42.2 percent) of the three Lakers.
Indiana prepares for the future
Receiving Pacers: Russell Westbrook (likely purchased), Frank Kaminski, a 2027 first-round pick from Los Angeles and a 2029 first-round pick from Los Angeles
Pacers lose: Miles Turner and Buddy Held
The Pacers have been one of the best and funniest stories of the season. Third-year guard Terese Haliburton has the status to be an All-Star player, and Indiana does as well Plus 5.4 1 point for every 100 holdings when sharing the floor with Turner and Hield.
Removing two of the Pacers’ best veterans could send them down the standings, but let’s be honest, they probably won’t be competing for a title with these two.
There is a lot of value in being a good team and entertaining, especially in a smaller market. But sacrificing that for what could be two major picks — LeBron will be in his 40s by the time he serves the first one — would make sense for the Pacers.
Haliburton will be about to reach his prime in 2027. Indiana could use this draft to supplement its young core, or it could forward one or both Lakers picks to another team in the all-star trade.
This deal also adds some flexibility to Indiana’s cover sheet. It no longer hangs on Hield, who owed $19.3 million in 2023-24.
If he is not bought immediately after the deal, Westbrook’s contract will expire this summer. Ditto for Frank Kaminsky.
It’s sad to think of Westbrook’s career progressing this way, but we’ve been going in that direction for a while. The Pacers are the team that can justify getting us there.