For several clubs, the 2022–23 NBA season gets off to an unexpected start.
The Los Angeles Lakers, who are hoping to make the playoffs, have a 2-10 record while the Utah Jazz, who traded their three greatest players in the offseason, are 10-4 and in first place in the West.
Early trade activity may also result from sluggish starts by groups like the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, and Brooklyn Nets, and the franchise may change course due to the continuous circus in New York’s second-largest borough.
The NBA would have been stunned by the moves in the list below, but as the season goes on, they all seem more realistic.
Myles Turner is Added by Jazz for Surprising Playoff Run
Received by Utah Jazz: Myles Turner
Utah appeared to be a firesale waiting to happen after moving Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Patrick Beverley this offseason.
Instead, through the first three weeks, the Jazz had the third-best record in the NBA and the fifth-highest net rating (plus-5.3), placing the team in an unusual situation.
Although the intention was to tank the season in order to get a top draft pick, should Utah continue to ride this wave instead of attempting to strengthen their young squad of quality and depth?
If so, Turner might find a surprise new home here.
The 26-year-old would help lead a defense that has remained fairly similar to last year’s version with Gobert, averaging 17.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks in his 28.3 minutes. It’s huge and brings a good balance of scoring, playmaking, outside shooting, and now shot-blocking to have Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynyk, and Turner in the starting lineup.
By adding a lottery protection to their own first-round pick, the Jazz may keep their pick even if they sustain injuries or revert to their old tanking tactics.
For the Pacers, this is an opportunity to potentially acquire a fourth first-round pick in 2023 to help with their reconstruction and, if feasible, keep Utah out of the lottery.
With Turner gone, Indiana gains a young, defensive-minded center in Kessler, the 22nd overall choice in the 2022 draft, replacing Horton-Tucker, who is still only 21 and can serve as a foundation moving forward.
Kyle Lowry has left the Heat
Received by Miami Heat: PF PG Kyle Kuzma Will Barton, G/F Monte Morris
The decreasing play of Lowry is a major factor in the Heat’s poor 6-7 season start.
Miami loses by 13.7 points per 100 possessions with Lowry on the court, the 36-year-old having the worst swing rating of his career (14th percentile overall, per Cleaning the Glass).
With Lowry running the point, the Heat’s offense, which only ranks 17th overall, might be ready to move on.
The 27-year-old Kuzma has been a productive scorer for Washington in an expanded position, so getting him fixes the starting power forward dilemma. Lowry may be replaced as Miami’s starting point guard by Morris, and Erik Spoelstra can add Barton, a versatile wing, to the rotation.
Moving veterans like Kuzma and Barton frees up more playing time for Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, and Corey Kispert to shine, and Washington could use Lowry as a temporary point guard in the backcourt next to Bradley Beal. If the Heat make the playoffs, the Wizards will also receive Miami’s first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
Mavericks take a chance with Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is received by the Dallas Mavericks
Since the day he arrived in Dallas, Luka Doncic has been the focal point of the Mavs’ attack, but his workload has never been as heavy as it is right now. When Doncic is not playing, the Mavericks offense ranks in the 10th percentile (104.8 rating), which is the highest usage rate in the NBA.
When Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie need a break or inevitability miss a game, Dallas needs another ball handler and scorer to rely on. Irving is the most gifted player who might be made available.
The Mavs would have the most potent scoring backcourt in the NBA and Dinwiddie could go back to playing the sixth man position if they acquired the seven-time All-Star from Brooklyn. Defenses are unable to double-team them now that Irving and Doncic are on the court because both players can function with or without the ball in their hands.
Dallas doesn’t need to commit long-term because Irving’s contract is about to expire. Even if things don’t work out, the Mavs will save $17.9 million in cap space by terminating Hardaway’s deal this summer.
Brooklyn should be eager to obtain whatever it can from Irving and put a stop to the past three and a half years of failure. Zach Lowe of ESPN referred to Irving as “radioactive,” suggesting that any reward is almost surely not going to equal his skill and amount of output. If there are any trade proposals for Irving, they will probably all come across as lackluster.
This Dallas-based team may be the strongest one there.
Despite becoming only 30 years old, Hardaway is a seasoned wing scorer, and Powell gives the Nets some much-needed size and defense up front. Before he leaves for nothing, getting two reliable starters/rotation players for Irving, a player Brooklyn won’t re-sign next summer, is a nice deal.
Lakers prepare to trade for Bradley Beal as the Hawks go all-in for Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is acquired by the Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are the second-best team in the East after an 8-5 start to the season, only behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. Atlanta would permanently take the top spot in the conference if they added a top-tier two-way player like Davis.
Teams should keep an eye on the availability of Davis, who is averaging 23.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.0 blocks per game this season, if the Lakers continue their downward slide. Atlanta would be a perfect fit because of its ongoing efforts to bolster defense around Trae Young and the relationship that Davis, Young, and Dejounte Murray share with Klutch.
Young, Murray, De’Andre Hunter, Davis, and Clint Capela make up what might be the strongest starting five in the East.
Of course, the Lakers will require some win-now talent in exchange if they are to deal Davis for more than simply prospects and draft picks.
Collins, 25, could flourish in a larger role in Los Angeles as a lob threat and floor-spacer. He has a 37.2 percent career three-point shooting percentage but has improved as a defender in year six. Playing with LeBron James, the former 21.6 point per game scorer may once more put up 20 and 10 a night.
Okongwu, a native of Los Angeles and a graduate of USC, would start at center for the Lakers and has exceptional defensive potential. The 21-year-old is averaging 15.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 67.2 percent of his shots made per 36 minutes of action this season. Holiday is a reliable experienced three-and-D player that Los Angeles could use as well. Okongwu has the potential to breakout with a starting role with the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers now have four first-round picks they can offer the Washington Wizards in exchange for the All-Star shooting guard, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.
Despite how good Davis is, the Lakers cannot win without him. With the addition of more youth, shooters, and trade assets overall, it is possible to rebuild the roster around James at this time.
Finally, Kevin Durant and the Knicks work together
Received by New York Knicks: F K. D. Durant
Despite the fact that Durant previously turned down a free-agent offer from the Knicks, New York offers him a better opportunity to pursue titles than his current Nets do.
A legitimate title contender emerges for the Knicks after trading their draft picks for Durant and exiting the Eastern Conference’s limbo.
There is plenty of scoring potential with the starting lineup of Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Durant, Obi Toppin, and Mitchell Robinson, and there is potential for growth on the bench with Quentin Grimes, Cam Reddish, Evan Fournier, and Isaiah Hartenstein. Being transferred to a much more stable atmosphere, especially with Brunson now serving as the team’s point guard, Durant should be delighted to leave behind Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, and the unpredictability of the Nets’ core.
With Kyrie Irving’s time in Brooklyn likely coming to an end soon, the addition of veterans like Randle (20.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 45.6 percent shooting), Rose, and Quickley provides the Nets a young guard with potential in the backcourt.
Brooklyn benefits from the 34-year-old Durant’s excellent start by obtaining four first-round picks, three of which come from the Knicks fully unprotected.
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