The NBA offseason still feels unsettled with Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell and other superstars still potentially on the move.
While star duos were becoming all the rage, the Golden State Warriors won the 2022 title on the back of their Big Three (or Big Four if you count Andrew Wiggins, or Big Five if you count Jordan Poole, etc.), which means more star power may be needed to compete for a title in 2023.
Using All-Stars who have already popped up in trade rumors, the following deals would create the newest Big Threes.
Washington Wizards Receive: G Donovan Mitchell
Utah Jazz Receive:
While The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Tony Jones reported that the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks have reengaged in trade talks surrounding Mitchell, they also mentioned the Washington Wizards as one of the teams pursuing the three-time All-Star.
This makes a lot of sense for a Washington team that still looks like a play-in squad even after it re-signed Bradley Beal. There’s a lot of youth on the roster, although probably not enough minutes to go around for everyone to properly develop.
Consolidating these top-10 picks and draft capital in exchange for Mitchell would give the Wizards one of the NBA’s most lethal offensive backcourts and push them back into the East playoffs.
A Mitchell-Beal guard tandem would feature plenty of scoring and playmaking, even if neither is a true point guard. The two would easily combine for 50-plus points and 10-plus assists per night, taking turns terrorizing defenses while getting more one-on-one opportunities, as teams wouldn’t be able to double them.
While neither is a great defender, Kristaps Porzingis has become one of the best rim protectors in the league (opponents shot just 53.4 percent against him
For Utah, getting three unprotected first-round picks is a great start, but there’s a lot of young talent to utilize as well. Davis was the No. 10 pick out of Wisconsin this summer, Avdija and Hachimura were the No. 9 picks in 2020 and 2019, respectively, and Barton is on an expiring $14.4 million deal, so there’s no long-term money attached.
The Wizards would have to make their 2023 first-round pick, which is owed to the Knicks, unprotected for the trade to go through.
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: PG Ben Simmons, G/F Doug McDermott
Brooklyn Nets Receive: C Jakob Poeltl, G/F Josh Richardson, G Kendrick Nunn
San Antonio Spurs Receive: 2027 and 2029 unprotected first-round picks (via Los Angeles Lakers), 2023 and 2025 second-round picks (via Los Angeles Lakers), SG Max Christie, PG Russell Westbrook (to be bought out)
Klutch All-Stars assemble!
If there was ever a time to buy stock in Simmons, one of the NBA’s best, most versatile defenders and playmakers, this is it. Pairing him with a mentor of his in LeBron James, someone who will forever get the majority of the praise and criticism and help get the attention off Simmons, is an ideal situation for the 26-year-old as he makes his return to the court.
Simmons can handle the ball and run the offense while reducing the workload for James, and he should also be fine with Anthony Davis and the four-time MVP taking the majority of the shots. For a Lakers team that slipped to 21st in defense last season, swapping out Westbrook for Simmons is a massive upgrade that allows Los Angeles to use all sorts of lineups.
Shooting is an issue with Simmons, so the Lakers also pick up McDermott, one of the best floor-spacers in the NBA (42.2 percent from three last season).
If Brooklyn plans to keep Kyrie Irving, it doesn’t need another point guard like Simmons, especially with Patty Mills re-signing this offseason. Getting three starting-caliber pieces would help fill out the roster around Irving and Kevin Durant, which would possibly convince KD to drop his trade request.
Poeltl is a terrific defensive center, Richardson is a proven two-way wing and Nunn averaged 15.0 points per game and shot 39.2 percent from three as a starter in 2020-21.
For the Spurs to agree to take on Westbrook’s $47.1 million expiring deal and give up some good veterans, there has to be a fair amount of draft capital and young talent coming back.
San Antonio collects four picks (including two unprotected firsts from L.A.) as well as Christie, the No. 35 pick in the 2022 draft. The move also clears $13.8 million in cap space off the 2023 books and increases the chance of landing Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick.
New Big 3: LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Ben Simmons (with a supporting cast of Doug McDermott, Lonnie Walker IV, Talen Horton-Tucker, Thomas Bryant, Austin Reaves and Damian Jones)
Miami Heat Receive: PG Kyrie Irving
Dallas Mavericks Receive: PG Kyle Lowry, SF Max Strus
Brooklyn Nets Receive: G/F Tim Hardaway Jr., SF Reggie Bullock, 2023 first-round pick (top-10 protected via Miami Heat)
Few teams should be willing to take a chance on Irving. The Miami Heat, with their championship aspirations, strong veteran locker room and need for half-court offensive creation, are one of them.
Irving alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would form an extremely intriguing Big Three, featuring plenty of scoring, defense and playmaking. Irving should also be totally committed this season since he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next summer, as his skill set is well worth another max contract if he stays on the court.
Swapping Irving in for Lowry is a huge upgrade and worth giving up assets for, even if his availability is continually in question.
Dallas should be interested in acquiring Lowry after it lost Jalen Brunson this offseason, giving the roster a needed third playmaker next to Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Strus, 26, is a perfect fit as a shot-making wing, nailing 41.0 percent of his threes last season. A Doncic, Lowry and Christian Wood trio may not quite qualify as a Big Three but could end up producing two All-Stars.
If Brooklyn plans to keep Simmons as the team’s starting point guard, the Nets can use Irving as bait to add reliable wings and draft assets. Both Hardaway and Bullock are starting-caliber 2s/3s who would help this team stay competitive no matter what happens with Durant, and getting Miami’s first-round pick next summer gives Brooklyn more trade assets.
New Big 3: Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving and Bam Adebayo (with a supporting cast of Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo, Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent, Nikola Jovic and Dewayne Dedmon)
Sacramento Kings Receive: F Kevin Durant
Brooklyn Nets Receive: F Keegan Murray, F Harrison Barnes, G Davion Mitchell, C Richaun Holmes, 2026 and 2028 unprotected first-round picks
Let’s start by clarifying that Durant does not have trade veto power, and that team governor Joe Tsai dropped a “we will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets” line in a recent tweet, meaning he doesn’t seem particularly interested in working with Durant to find a new home for the superstar.
So, what about Sacramento?
A Big Two of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis is nice, but in the Western Conference, nice doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot. Adding Durant between the two suddenly makes the Kings a real force.
Both Fox and Sabonis are terrific scorers and playmakers, able to take over games at times or defer to Durant and help get the 33-year-old easy looks. Durant may not be thrilled with a trade to the Kings at first, but what better way to add to his legacy than ending the longest playoff drought in the NBA and turning a long-suffering Sacramento franchise into a contender?
For Brooklyn, veterans such as Barnes and Holmes help the Nets stay competitive now, while Murray and Mitchell give the team a lot of upside. Murray has All-Star potential, while Mitchell should be on plenty of All-Defensive teams in his career. Collecting a pair of unprotected first-round picks from the Kings seems like a good investment as well.
For this trade to go through, Sacramento would need to make its 2024 pick, owed to the Atlanta Hawks, unprotected.
New Big 3: Kevin Durant, De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis (with a supporting cast of Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, Terence Davis, Alex Len and Trey Lyles)
Statistics via NBA.com unless otherwise noted.
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