Talking Fake Trades Because Basketball Is Fun

By Matt Esposito

Sometimes for my own pleasure I type normalize into twitter to stay current with whatever folks are trying to de-stigmatize. My dream though, is to one day live in a world where smart, eyetestian basketball websites also remember that discussing fake trades is flat-out fun. Then it dawned on me: “My site can be that site…”

And here we stand, before you with a handful of fake trades shipping Victor Oladipo, Jrue Holiday and Myles Turner all over the place. Why is the focus on these three studs? Jared Weiss of The Athletic reported that both Pacers stars may want out of town. George Karl revealed that Holiday’s name is popping up in rumors as well.

That being said, feel free to hate my trade ideas. Or love them. Do what no fan has ever done and think to yourself, “Eh, that’s actually pretty fair for both teams.” I don’t care. Just read and enjoy.

Before You Read

Well, technically you are already reading. So, before you read further, get to know the basics about our main characters today. When healthy, Victor Oladipo has tier-2 star potential and should be mentioned in the same breath as Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray. Yet, injuries have plagued is career and therefore potential. He will be an unrestricted free agent after next season.

The Pacers other star, Myles Turners, is only 24-years-old and Indiana has him under contract for the next three years. Additionally, the former blocks leader is earning a reasonable $18 million a year. This brings us to Jrue Holiday, a defensive wizard and remarkably underrated scorer. Holiday has a player option that can make him a free agent after next year. He is still in his prime and earning a cool $25 million next year.

Trade #1 – Pacers Go All In
Shoutout to our podcast sponsor TradeNBA.com for the help here. Let’s explain.

Why Indiana Says Yes – If Oladipo is going to leave in free agency, going all-in to compete for the Finals makes sense. Indiana is a smaller market and will perpetually have trouble finding talent the likes of Holiday and Dipo. An Oladipo, Holiday, and Malcolm Brodgon backcourt would be nontraditional but could work. All three of those men can play either on or off ball and defensively they would be monstars.

Additionally, there is a slight chance Holiday can be convinced to re-sign. Currently, two of his brothers are on the team! This dice roll makes sense for Indiana. They can maximize their chances to make a Finals and also have a shot at signing a star player. Plus, there is a legitimate case to be made for moving on from Turner and playing Domantas Sabonis at the five. Losing Turner’s rim protection would hurt, but the Pacers would live with it.

Why New Orleans Says Yes A 3-point shooting paint protector such as Myles Turner is a dream fit next to Zion Williamson. They can play him 28 minutes per game and use the other 20 minutes to develop Jaxson Hayes. Although Hayes may need more on-court time to grow, pairing him next to Zion is not great for offensive spacing.

Turner also fits the Pels timeline but if they ever grow sour on him it will not be hard to move his contract. Jeremy Lamb is a solid vet who can provide scoring while helping the team make the playoffs; something they seem to want to do next season. It’s a good haul for someone who can walk in free agency,

Trade #2 – Denver Maximizes On Their Current Window

Why Denver Says Yes The Nuggets were this close to reaching the NBA Finals and possibly a title. Yet, they’re one piece away. Holiday can be that piece. He is a good fit next to Murray and would bring much needed defense to their backcourt. Championship windows disappear just as quickly as they arrive. Denver should to go all in now. If they swing and miss and Holiday leaves in free agency, they still have two burgeoning, young players to build around.

Why New Orleans Says Yes – Am I sold on Michael Porter Jr? No. Sure, he balled out this postseason but I tend to trust science. NBA owners pay world-class doctors to determine if they should invest millions into a player. Most doctors advised for teams to pass on MPJ. That, when paired with his public remarks about wanting to play like Kevin Durant, scare me away. Yet, New Orleans may see him as a great asset to have. His stock is incredibly high right now and he could feasibly pay off wild dividends if all pans out. Stomaching Gary Harris’ two year deal is not such a tough pill to swallow.

Trade #3 – Sacramento Remembers That Winning Is Cool

Why Sacramento Says Yes – Do you know the last time Sacramento acquired a big time name through free agency? Google it. I’ll wait. Actually, you can fill me in. I’m just assuming they haven’t done so since Reagan was in office. The Kings get to move on from Buddy Hield who currently isn’t talking to his coach. Oladipo would be their most talented player since DeMarcus Cousins and a potential one-year rental is worth the gamble. A quartet of De’Aaron Fox, Dipo, Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley could certainly sneak into an 8th seed.

Why Indiana Says Yes – Buddy Hield is on a long term deal and can slide alongside Malcolm Brogdon nicely. He is hitting north of 40 percent from three from his career and I am salivating over the open looks that Sabonis will dish his way. The Pacers should see the typical uptick in play brought on by a new head coaching hire as well. Adding Hield to Indiana’s young core (plus a first round pick) keeps them in playoff contention and an additional move away from being a possible contender.

Trade #4 – Phoenix Breaks Its Postseason Drought

Why Phoenix Says Yes – Well, for starters, they haven’t been to the playoffs in a decade. Yes, Jrue Holiday can potentially leave after just one season in Arizona. Yes, Phoenix’s bubble play is remarkably encouraging. No, they still don’t have enough to ensure a playoff spot next year. Marrying Holiday to Devin Booker would make for a lethal backcourt. A five man lineup of Deandre Ayton, Booker, Holiday, Mikal Bridges and Kelly Oubre has all the ingredients to make the postseason.

Why New Orleans Says Yes – Coming off what might have been the best year of his career, Ricky Rubio is aging like fine wine. He can help the Pels compete now and his contract is short enough to not clog up their long term plans. Cam Johnson is a legit sniper who the Suns will likely not want to part with. Although his age and skill set suggests Johnson may not have much room for growth, New Orleans gets an elite shooter on a rookie deal. Tossing in a first round pick to sweeten the trade is an option.

Trade #5 – Brooklyn Becomes The Favorites

Why Brooklyn Says Yes – The Nets are savvy enough to know that their title window has just begun. Jrue Holiday is not only a better player than any of the ones Brooklyn ships out in this trade, but he pushes them to become favorites in the East. Holiday will defend the opposing team’s best guard or wing and compliments Kyrie and KD nicely on offense. Losing draft-steal Nic Claxton hurts, but it is the price to pay to bring a title to New York.

Why New Orleans Says Yes – Spencer Dinwiddie will likely be a free agent after next season, but he is looking for a place where he can be a regular starter. His chances of re-signing would be high. Eating Taurean Prince’s contract isn’t fun, which is why Claxton and first round pick were tossed in there. The Pelicans avoid losing Holiday for nothing and bring in some assets that can help them win now and in the future.

BONUS! Subscribe to our podcast where Zach and I routinely have on journalists from NBA.com to The Athletic. This week we break down the Finals but will have free agency previews going forward!

Published by Matt Esposito

Founder/Writer for Theplaygrounder.com and contributor to Red’s Army Twitter: @Mattesposito_

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