Unless we do something drastic, friends, this NBA season will be extraordinarily boring. The only sources of drama are how quickly the Warriors will figure out how to play together — and whether the Cavs can somehow overcome the NBA's latest superteam in the Finals. But what if we made some outside-the-box trades to shake up the landscape? These moves wouldn't guarantee anything, of course. Some would be more effective than others in challenging Golden State. More than anything, however, making these trades would give us something to talk about as we walk the road to inevitability. (A tip of the hat to ESPN.com's invaluable trade machine, which has deprived us of countless hours we otherwise could have spent with friends or family.)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Cavaliers receive Carmelo Anthony; Knicks receive Kevin Love
Love probably is not going anywhere, we know. He ended up playing a big part in Cleveland's 2016 title win, shutting down Stephen Curry on one of the most important plays of the Finals. Things changed this offseason, however. With Kevin Durant in Golden State, the Cavs' current lineup probably won't cut it, so we'd love to see Melo join forces with LeBron and Kyrie Irving to take on the Warriors. The Knicks would acquire a younger power forward and move on from Melo's exorbitant contract. Although there might be some questions about how Love fits into New York's front line, Kristaps Porzingis' versatility would allow the Knicks to move Porzingis to center in the long-term or play Love/Porzingis/Joakim Noah together, with Porzingis using his quickness and length to bother opposing small forwards while Love sticks with the bigger man.
Hawks receive Blake Griffin and Brice Johnson; Clippers receive Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and Minnesota's 2018 first-round pick
The Clippers are one wing away from championship contention with their current lineup. Although moving Griffin is a tough pill to swallow, a trade with the Hawks would put Los Angeles in prime position to challenge the Warriors. Millsap is one of the most underrated players in the game, a big man who can do 90 percent of what Griffin brings to the table. Korver's on the downslope of his career, but he'd be a ridiculous upgrade on Wesley Johnson, Luc Mbah a Moute and Paul Pierce at small forward. L.A. gets better on both ends of the floor, and Atlanta gets a superstar. It's the rare win for both teams.
Jazz receive John Wall, Markieff Morris; Wizards receive Derrick Favors, George Hill and a 2018 first-round pick
If Wall and Bradley Beal truly are unhappy together in Washington, then we have the perfect landing spot for the All-Star point guard. The Jazz are going to surprise people as it is this season, and upgrading at point guard could help Utah put a scare into the Warriors in a potential second-round playoff matchup. Favors is an outstanding big man, but the emergence of Rudy Gobert has raised questions about Favors' long-term fit with the Jazz. Morris would give Utah a formidable scoring lineup of Wall, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, Markieff Morris and Gobert. And between Gobert's insane rim protection and coach Quin Snyder's schemes, the Jazz could make up for losing Favors' defensive tenacity.
This wouldn't make Houston a threat to the Warriors this season, admittedly, although Noel is a perfect fit in the Rockets' system. Instead, we're taking a long-term view of things with this trade and the next one. Houston's core of Patrick Beverley, James Harden and Noel would be a solid foundation; if the Rockets could add a scoring wing or two in free agency next offseason, they'd be ready to take on Golden State's dynasty. Meanwhile, the Suns get out from under Brandon Knight's contract while stockpiling talent and picks, and the Sixers acquire the "true" point guard Brett Brown wants along with Goodwin, a young player who has yet to reach his potential.
Bulls receive DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay; Kings receive Jimmy Butler, Robin Lopez, Doug McDermott
This is another trade that wouldn't concern the Warriors in 2016-17, to be sure. But the Bulls would be so much better if they could move one of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade or Butler — and Butler is the one who has the most value in a trade. With rumors constantly swirling around Cousins in Sacramento, one imagines the Kings would jump at the chance to swap Boogie for Butler and Robin Lopez, an underrated defensive big man in his own right. That would give the Bulls a true centerpiece around whom to rebuild while simultaneously improving their chances to make the playoffs this season, an achievement Chicago's front office is foolishly chasing. Oh, and just for good measure, the Kings would reduce the top-10 protection on the pick they already owe the Bulls with a top-five protection, because it's Sacramento we're talking about.