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Blockbuster deals are common in the NBA, with big-name players moving clubs on a regular basis. In today’s basketball age, players have a lot more flexibility of movement, and it’s unusual to see a player spend their whole career with one club. In recent memory, there has also been a rise in the frequency of multi-team deals, with clubs often enlisting the help of other organizations to ensure that everyone gets what they want. As a result of these variables, we often see fans and experts propose bizarre trades that they think would benefit each club involved.
Many All-Stars, including Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, and Ben Simmons, are transferred to other teams in a bizarre 5-team blockbuster deal by Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report. To make it all work, there are obviously additional non-All-Star players and draft choices involved. The blockbuster transaction in question is as follows:
Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal have been acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers.
De’Aaron Fox, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and a 2023 second-round selection from Philadelphia go to the Brooklyn Nets.
Ben Simmons, Harrison Barnes, Seth Curry, a 2022 first-round selection from Philadelphia, and a 2023 first-round pick exchange from Philadelphia go to the Portland Trail Blazers.
CJ McCollum, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Maxey, a 2024 first-round selection from Philadelphia, and a 2024 first-round pick from Sacramento go to the Washington Wizards.
Kyrie Irving, Tobias Harris, Nassir Little, a 2026 first-round selection from Philadelphia, and a 2022 second-round pick from Brooklyn are among the players acquired by the Sacramento Kings.
During the summer, a significant number of these players were mentioned in trade rumors. The Ben Simmons story is well-known, as are the worries regarding Kyrie Irving’s availability. While this is an absurd transaction, there are methods for the teams involved to accomplish their larger objectives.
Bailey, for example, sent both Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard to the 76ers because they had a lot of potential assets in the deal and it would help them achieve their larger objective of building a contender around Joel Embiid. They’d also be allowed to transfer 3-time All-Star Ben Simmons, who has said that he would never play another game for the 76ers.
The Sixers, out of all the clubs interested, possessed the most trade ammunition for a superstar deal. Because of the large number of selections and youthful potential in Simmons and Maxey, Philadelphia was able to dominate the trade (though Kyrie may have something to say about that distinction).
Yes, this is a significant sacrifice, but the roster that results would be well worth it. Lillard, Beal, Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle (or Georges Niang) and Joel Embiid would most likely make up the starting five.
It would be worth it for Philadelphia to approve off on the trade even if one of the other teams in the mix insisted on Thybulle being included. In the regular season, depth wins, but this is the kind of great triumvirate that might dominate in the playoffs.
The rationale stated for the deal by the Brooklyn Nets is that Kyrie Irving may miss up to 41 home games because to his immunization status. De’Aaron Fox is a step back in terms of talent from Kyrie Irving, but Bailey believes he can still be effective with the Brooklyn Nets while still being able to play in home games.
The Nets are losing this trade in terms of sheer skill and production. However, local government requirements in New York drastically alter the equation.
Local regulations will prevent Irving from participating in home practices and games unless and until he chooses to take a COVID-19 vaccination. Even if he stays injury-free the whole season (which is never a guarantee with Kyrie), he’ll only play in 41 games.
Because his availability was always a question last season, Brooklyn could certainly rationalize retaining him, but losing a starting guard for half the season isn’t ideal.
Even if Fox’s potential isn’t as high as Irving’s, knowing you’ll have him for the most of the season and the playoffs (barring injury) may be better.
Fox isn’t as useful as Irving when it comes to spacing the floor, but his slicing skill would be deadly in a lineup with James Harden, Kevin Durant, Joe Harris, and Blake Griffin.
In this scenario, the Portland Trail Blazers would begin a rebuild focused on Ben Simmons. While the draft compensation seems to be modest, Bailey adds that they may possibly seek for additional draft choices, and categorizes his proposal as a deal that provides the Trail Blazers a “organizational reset.” They’d be parting ways with long-time guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum while handing the franchise over to Ben Simmons.
This is a complete organizational overhaul, and despite Simmons’ youth and long-term promise, Portland may want more draft compensation from the other clubs involved.
Finding a way to bring Thybulle to the Blazers may assist, but whomever gets Simmons should try to surround him with as much shooting as possible. Last season, Thybulle had a 30.1 percent three-point shooting percentage.
If Philly can persuade Portland to sign Simmons, this is precisely the kind of scenario his Klutch Sports firm is looking for. Simmons would be the clear focal point, and if the Blazers could find a stretch 5 (or even play Simmons as a playmaking 5), he’d be free to drive, draw, and kick his way to monster statistics.
In the near term, a trade like this almost definitely kills the team’s prospects of winning the championship, but those odds were probably low to begin with. One might argue that the Lillard-McCollum tandem has already reached its peak.
The Washington Wizards are another club that has seemed to stagnate in recent years, and Bailey says his rationale for their return was identical to that of the Trail Blazers. The Wizards would get a variety of assets as part of the trade, allowing them to remain a semi-competitive club while maintaining a strong youthful core. Bailey does say that if clubs offered larger deals for Lillard or Beal, the entire situation might be blown up, but he also says that the return for Washington isn’t “awful” when considered “in a vacuum.”
This is comparable to the Portland slide in terms of thinking. The Wizards have reason to be optimistic going into 2021-22, but if they want to reset, trading Beal would almost certainly be on the table.
Other clubs in the league would very certainly pay more for Beal in a straight-up trade (same with Lillard), thus ending this possibility. Two first-round choices, a young prospect like Maxey, and two vets who can help the club stay competitive in the near run isn’t a bad haul in and of itself.
Washington would be set up for one of the so-called two-track rebuilds as a result of this. Defenses would have a lot of trouble with lineups that included Spencer Dinwiddie, McCollum, Hield, Kyle Kuzma, Davis Bertans, and Montrezl Harrell. Harrell is one of the best rim runners in the game, and a powerful offense would have to be built around him.
Defense would be a problem, but that had always been the case. In this scenario, additional draft picks and the addition of Maxey to a youthful core that already includes Thomas Bryant, Daniel Gafford, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, and Corey Kispert should solve the problem.
The Sacramento Kings component of the trade, according to Andy Bailey, is the “toughest element of the transaction to explain,” and it’s simple to understand why. This move would be a huge risk for the Sacramento Kings, especially with rumors that Kyrie Irving may retire if he is sold. Nonetheless, according to Bailey, Kyrie Irving would be the team’s “first bona fide superstar” since DeMarcus Cousins, so it may be worth it.
This is, without a doubt, the most risky aspect of the whole process. If Irving’s retirement is really imminent, it’s difficult to see many clubs in the NBA calling Irving’s bluff. Sacramento, in particular, has a talented young point guard who signed a long-term contract less than a year ago.
Sacramento would be in a similar position to Brooklyn, which is now dealing with Irving. Kyrie may be kept out of home games because to municipal limitations in California. The timeframes of each brand may be the difference.
Going from the title-contending Nets, where he plays with KD and Harden, to a resurrected Sacramento team may prompt Irving to consider retirement, if he hasn’t already.
The Kings haven’t reached the playoffs since 2006, and the club that will be formed as a result of this trade may contend for a play-in berth.
Kyrie, on the other hand, would have lots of chances to prepare. Since DeMarcus Cousins, he’d be the team’s first true superstar. Peja Stojakovic, anyone?
In the end, this may be the most difficult aspect of the transaction to explain. Five-team deals are uncommon for a reason (even though the recent Westbrook trade was one). They’re a sham, particularly when several celebrities are involved. If one detail is incorrect, the whole structure may collapse.
There’s no denying that a five-team deal has a lot of moving pieces, particularly when so many great players are involved. Normally, we don’t see this many stars move at once, but this hypothetical deal clearly does not break the salary limit and therefore is a possibility.
While it’s extremely improbable that this or a similar transaction would take place, it’s a fascinating thinking experiment. Multiple teams were involved in the James Harden to Brooklyn and Russell Westbrook deals, but this scenario would take “multi-team blockbuster” trades to a new level. It would be insane to see anything like this happen, and there’s a reason why getting everyone on board takes so much effort. That so, it’s not completely impossible, and the league has already seen its share of bizarre events.
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