NBA Trades to Improve Play-In Teams

NBA trades are always an effective way to quickly improve teams. Recent examples include Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns, Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks, Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, and more. These are major examples, but there are always smaller deals that can be made as well.

Teams that made the play-in tournament are showing an upward trajectory, although four were eliminated this year. This list includes the Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Hornets, LA Clippers, and San Antonio Spurs. Here are trades they can look into to help their playoff push next season.

NBA Trades to Improve Play-In Teams

Cleveland Upgrades the Bench

Cleveland Cavaliers receive Kemba Walker.

New York Knicks receive Dean Wade and a second-round pick.

Cleveland showed plenty of promise this season and has a phenomenal young core to build around. What they really need in order to make the playoffs, however, is a backup point guard to play when Darius Garland is sitting. This is even more important with Collin Sexton set to hit free agency.

The Walker experiment did not work in New York, but he remains a savvy veteran who can contribute. Kevin Love played this role perfectly for the Cavaliers, and Walker can do the same. More than this, Walker will serve as a great mentor for Garland as he reaches stardom.

New York is ready to trade Walker after sparingly using him this past season. In this trade, they receive frontcourt depth in Wade. He’s a solid depth option and could fill a void should New York lose a big man this summer. In addition, they receive a second-round pick from the Cavaliers, as well as cap space that opens up with Walker’s contract traded.

Charlotte Uses NBA Trades to Finally Acquire Their Big Man

Charlotte Hornets receive Myles Turner and a second-round pick.

Indiana Pacers receive PJ Washington, James Bouknight, and Mason Plumlee.

Charlotte holds a fiery offense as well as a rising star in LaMelo Ball. They will have to re-sign Miles Bridges this offseason, but they know that and will likely emphasize that move. What they’re missing, however, is a legitimate center.

Turner fixes this issue. Although he’s not an All-Star, at least yet, he’s a stellar shot-blocker and rim protector with a polished offensive game. There’s no doubt that he can thrive in Charlotte. A starting five of Ball, Terry RozierGordon Hayward, Bridges, and Turner is solid enough to make the playoffs.

Indiana is inching toward a full rebuild and already has its future building block in Tyrese Haliburton.

Plumlee enters to make the salaries work. He can start at center or be flipped afterward to a contender for more assets. Washington is a strong two-way player with plenty of untapped potential, and the Pacers will give him plenty of playing time. Bouknight was a lottery pick just last season but struggled for time on the court with the Hornets.

LA Goes All In

LA Clippers receive Kemba Walker and Nerlens Noel.

New York Knicks receive Luke Kennard and Jason Preston

In a normal NBA season, the Clippers would be discussed as one of the league’s championship contenders. Injuries essentially forced them out of that conversation this season. Next season they’ll be at full strength and should expect healthy years from Kawhi LeonardPaul George, and Norman Powell. For this reason, it’s time to go all-in.

Walker is a veteran, so he’ll add to the cause on this team. He’s also looking for his own ring. He looks to be an ideal backup for Reggie Jackson. The team can also use a backup center for Ivica Zubac. Enter Noel. Noel will bring in solid rebounding and inside defense, making the Clippers even more of a nightmare on that end of the court.

Walker was phased out of New York’s lineup, while Mitchell Robinson replaced Noel as the team’s starting center. This makes them expendable. In this trade, the Knicks add Kennard, one of the top shooters in the entire league. Their offense needs help, and he’ll bring this. New York also needs improved point guard play, and Preston was an early second-round pick last draft.

San Antonio Aims High with NBA Trades

San Antonio Spurs receive Christian Wood from the Houston Rockets and Jerami Grant from the Detroit Pistons.

Houston Rockets receive Doug McDermott from the San Antonio Spurs as well as the Spurs’ 2023 first-round pick and Detroit Pistons’ 2022 second-round pick.

Detroit Pistons receive Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson from San Antonio Spurs and Usman Garuba from the Houston Rockets.

San Antonio is aiming for the playoffs and higher with this trade. They already have an All-Star in Dejounte Murray as well as several other young and improving players.

Wood is a terrific offensive big man who can play down low and stretch the floor. His defense needs work, but the Spurs can address this. Wood can bring in nightly double-doubles. Grant is another fantastic weapon. With Murray and others around, Grant will have plenty of opportunities to rack up points.

Houston gets a veteran scorer in McDermott who can be useful or eventually traded. The real get here is the two draft picks.

Detroit, on the other hand, trades away a player who wants to leave for a legitimate starting center, an experienced guard to play alongside Cade Cunningham, and a young forward with tons of potential.


Main Image: Embed from Getty Images