The Whiteboard: 5-team trade to fix the 76ers, Pacers and Trail Blazers

Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, The Whiteboard

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Since the season began, any NBA trade rumors or fantasies have mostly been built around Ben Simmons and the ongoing fiasco in Philadelphia, or lingering pessimism about the Blazers’ ability to keep Damian Lillard happy. Yesterday, we finally got some actual fodder to wrap in with them, with the news that the Pacers were open to trade offers on Caris LeVert, Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis.

The idea of just throwing those three teams together in a single trade is fun but CJ McCollum going down with a collapsed lung likely complicates things, as does the 76ers’ continued insistence that they don’t consider him a fair return for Simmons. However, if we throw a couple of extra teams in my broken basketball brain thinks we can build something that works for everyone.

A 5-team trade that could satisfy the Pacers, Trail Blazers and 76ers:

Indiana Pacers

Sending out: Caris LeVert (PHI), Domantas Sabonis (POR), Justin Holiday (PHI)
Getting back: Ben Simmons (PHI), Nassir Little (POR), Anfernee Simons (POR)

The Pacers would probably like to get at least one future first-round pick when moving two of their biggest assets and could be legitimately leery of bringing back Simmons. But this deal returns them a considerable amount of talent. Moving Sabonis and LeVert would let the Pacers put the ball in Simmons’ hands and they’d still retain Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon for a devastating defensive core. When T.J. Warren is healthy they could be ready to pivot right back towards playoff contention and Little and Simons give them two talented young pieces who could continue to develop.

Philadelphia 76ers

Sending out: Ben Simmons (IND)
Getting back: Caris LeVert (IND), Justin Holiday (IND), Larry Nance Jr. (POR), 2023 first-round pick (POR)

There are not multiple first-round picks and no future stars in this return for the 76ers and it may look meager compared to the things they had been hoping for just a few months ago. But they’ve also lost almost all their leverage and the Simmons situation only seems to be getting messier. Here they remove the problem and get a good shooter and creator on the wing in LeVert who could help alleviate some of their offensive weaknesses. In addition, they get two high-quality, two-way role players to build out their depth, both with significant versatility. Finally, they get one first-round pick for 2023, gambling on things getting even worse in Portland over the next 18 months.

Portland Trail Blazers

Sending out: CJ McCollum (CLE), Nassir Little (IND), Anfernee Simons (IND), Larry Nance Jr. (PHI), 2023 first-round pick (PHI)
Getting back: Domantas Sabonis (IND), Collin Sexton (CLE), Isaac Okoro (CLE)

This is a huge gamble for the Trail Blazers in part because it’s basically tanking the rest of this season. Sexton is out for the year and sending out four major rotation players almost ensures that they’ll take a step back simply from losing continuity and familiarity. But they get an All-Star big man who can replace Jusuf Nurkic, a young guard who can replicate what they’re losing in McCollum and a high-level wing defender with plenty of room to grow. Wasting a year of Lillard’s prime is a risky proposition but if he’s in favor of the move, it could offer some reassurance that the team is still willing to take big swings on his behalf and there’s a chance they could be much, much better next season.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Sending out: Isaac Okoro (POR), Collin Sexton (POR), Kevin Love (OKC), 2022 first-round pick (OKC)
Getting back: CJ McCollum

Everything about this season feels a bit like found money for the Cavaliers but this deal could be taking that crumpled five dollars from the sidewalk and buying a Powerball ticket. Yes, the Cavs are giving up a first-round pick in this year’s draft and two of their three most recent lottery picks. But they also get off the last year of Kevin Love’s contract and add McCollum. The recovery time from his collapsed lung shouldn’t really be a problem since Sexton is out for the year anyway. They get a highly efficient scorer and creator who is comfortable playing off another lead guard which solidifies Darius Garland’s role. This could make the Cavaliers a playoff team this season and potentially push them in the direction of fringe contender over the next few years as Evan Mobley and Garland continue to develop.

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