As we get into the meat of the NBA season, starting with an epic Christmas Day slate of games, it's time for one of the very best parts of being a basketball fan: trade rumors.
You can hardly go a day without hearing how DeMarcus Cousins, Nerlens Noel or any of a handful of other players is on the trade market. Smart teams will do their due diligence and negotiate right up until the deadline to make the best deal possible.
Not every franchise has that kind of discipline, however. Here's one blockbuster "panic trade" idea for every team, starting with the very worst squads in the NBA and rolling all the way through to those darn Golden State Warriors. (Thanks, as always, to ESPN's trade machine for making this all possible.)
Philadelphia 76ers trade Okafor, not Noel
Sixers send Jahlil Okafor to the Portland Trail Blazers for Evan Turner, Noah Vonleh
Philadelphia is going to move Nerlens Noel, of course. If we're being honest, though, Noel is a better fit alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons than Okafor is. The Blazers would look to sweeten the pot here with Cleveland's 2018 first-round pick, which Portland owns, but this trade is really predicated on Bryan Colangelo panicking and deciding he needs a scoring punch at shooting guard.
Brooklyn Nets turn Brook Lopez into a first-round pick
Nets send Brook Lopez to the New Orleans Pelicans for Solomon Hill, E'Twaun Moore, Terrence Jones and a top-10-protected first-round pick in 2018
The Pelicans are desperate for any warm body who can play basketball next to Anthony Davis, and Lopez could be a nice fit in New Orleans on both ends of the court.
The Nets, meanwhile, aren't going anywhere any time soon. They might as well free Brook if they can get a first-rounder in return.
Dallas Mavericks embrace full-on tanking
Mavericks send Wesley Matthews to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kris Dunn, Shabazz Muhammad and Minnesota's 2017 first-round pick
Because the Wolves currently owe a conditional 2018 first-rounder to the Hawks, this trade couldn't happen until draft day, when Minnesota would make the selection for Dallas then officially complete the trade. Matthews is a great player who might work well with Harrison Barnes, but it's time for Dallas to bottom out and embrace the lottery.
Phoenix Suns decide they need even more young big men
Suns send Brandon Knight to the Philadelphia 76ers for Nerlens Noel
It's no secret that Phoenix is shopping Knight to teams in need of a point guard, and the Sixers are openly looking for players at that position. The Suns have no real need for Noel, of course; on the other hand, given Phoenix's love for stockpiling redundant assets at multiple positions, adding Noel just because he's available seems right up the Suns' alley.
Miami Heat trade Dragic for a point guard and a first-rounder
Heat send Goran Dragic to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ricky Rubio and a 2021 first-round pick
Dragic has been vocal about his desire to get out of Miami and to a winning situation, and he'd be a fantastic under Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau. If the Heat can't find a better deal, a panic trade of Dragic to Minnesota could net Miami a replacement pick for the selection it sent to Phoenix to nab Dragic in the first place — plus a pass-first point guard who will look to set up Hassan Whiteside on every play.
Minnesota Timberwolves trade Rubio for a KAT complement
Timberwolves send Ricky Rubio to the Philadelphia 76ers for Nerlens Noel
Both teams are looking to make a move, and I'm already drooling thinking about Karl-Anthony Towns and Noel forming an unstoppable defensive duo coached by Thibs in Minnesota.
The Wolves are probably looking to move Rubio for a veteran rather than a young big man with off-court questions, but don't forget that Thibodeau is both coach and de facto GM. If he panics, who knows what could happen.
New Orleans Pelicans trade The Brow for an actual roster
Pelicans send Anthony Davis, Omer Asik, and E'Twaun Moore to the Atlanta Hawks for Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore, Kyle Korver and Atlanta's 2017 first-round pick
And if that's not enough of a haul for New Orleans to press reset, turning Anthony Davis into a whole new team, the Hawks could offer Minnesota's 2018 top-14-protected first-rounder, as well.
Los Angeles Lakers get out from under the Deng deal
Los Angeles Lakers send Luol Deng to the Brooklyn Nets for a 2021 unprotected first-round pick
Yes, the Lakers can move on from Deng and his awful contract — but it will come at a price. The real impetus here, though, is the recent news that with Deng and Mozgov on the books, Los Angeles won't have enough cap space to add a maximum-contract superstar to the roster in the foreseeable future. Lakers ownership could panic at that prospect and mortgage the future to create as much space as possible.
Denver Nuggets make a big move for Boogie
Nuggets send Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic, an unprotected 2017 first-round pick and a lottery-protected 2019 first-round pick to the Sacramento Kings for DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay
Why would Denver replace its current big man logjam with a superstar center who needs to be treated with complete and utter kindness? For one, the Nuggets employ Mike Malone, one of the few coaches Cousins has connected with. Second, Boogie could easily play power forward alongside Nikola Jokic, turning the NBA's "small-ball" trend upside-down.
Sacramento Kings say goodbye to Cousins
Kings send DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Anthony Tolliver to the Washington Wizards for Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat, Otto Porter Jr. and a lottery-protected 2017 first-round pick
This trade can't be made until after the new year because of some of the contract extensions involved, but the money works out — and more than anything, I just want to see Boogie and John Wall playing with each other in our nation's capital.
Orlando Magic trade youth for wins
Magic send Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja and Jodie Meeks to the Miami Heat for Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters
At some point, Orlando either needs to develop a true superstar or start trading assets for over-the-hill veterans. This perpetual rebuild can't go on forever, guys.
Washington Wizards pick Bradley Beal over John Wall
Wizards send John Wall, Andrew Nicholson to the Chicago Bulls for Rajon Rondo, Taj Gibson, Sacramento's 2017 top-10-protected first-round pick and Chicago's 2019 unprotected first-round pick
If the Wizards make the wrong choice and pick Beal over Wall, they could do worse than acquiring a point guard and multiple first-round picks in return.
Portland Trail Blazers take a swing for Boogie
Blazers send C.J. McCollum, Noah Vonleh, Mason Plumlee and Cleveland's 2018 first-round pick to the Sacramento Kings for DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay; Blazers send Evan Turner to the Philadelphia 76ers for a lottery-protected 2019 first-round pick; 76ers send Nerlens Noel to the Kings
LET'S GET WEIRD.
Milwaukee Bucks look to add even more length
Bucks send Greg Monroe and a lottery-protected 2019 first-round pick to the Dallas Mavericks for Andrew Bogut; Bucks send 2017 lottery-protected first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Nerlens Noel; Mavericks send Devin Harris to the 76ers
This would absolutely be an overpay for Noel by Milwaukee, but we're not talking about rational, emotion-free trades. If the Bucks want Noel to pair with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, they can go out and get him.
Detroit Pistons aim for a Dwight Howard reunion
Pistons send Andre Drummond to the Atlanta Hawks for Dwight Howard
Straight up (although this trade can't be consummated until Jan. 14).
Atlanta Hawks move Millsap for an All-Star big
Hawks send Paul Millsap and Thabo Sefolosha to the San Antonio Spurs for LaMarcus Aldridge
The Hawks are deathly afraid of paying Millsap big money for his next contract. Aldridge would be a solid replacement, and he's the same age.
Chicago Bulls pay the price for the Rondo deal
Bulls send Rajon Rondo and the better of their own 2017 first-round pick and Sacramento's top-10-protected 2017 first-rounder to the Philadelphia 76ers for Nerlens Noel
With Michael Carter-Williams nearing his return to the court for Chicago, the Bulls might decide to pull the trigger on a Rondo deal. Getting Noel back wouldn't be a bad return, but moving Rondo almost certainly means sacrificing a first-round pick — if not two.
Indiana Pacers absolutely panic and lose their minds
Pacers send Paul George to the Boston Celtics for Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, the right to swap 2017 first-round picks with the Brooklyn Nets, Brooklyn's 2018 first-round pick and a lottery-protected 2021 first-round pick.
The funny thing? Boston fans will probably say this is giving up too much to get PG-13.
New York Knicks trade Melo for Love to placate LeBron
Knicks send Carmelo Anthony to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kevin Love
If the Cavs called up Phil Jackson and said that LeBron really wants to play with Melo to challenge the Warriors, New York would be crazy to say no to this swap.
Charlotte Hornets try to get anyone to pay attention to them
Hornets trade Nicolas Batum, Cody Zeller and a 2017 lottery-protected first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green
"Now will you people please watch us play basketball?!" — the surprisingly entertaining Charlotte Hornets, probably.
Boston Celtics offer the pu-pu platter for Boogie
Celtics trade Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk, the right to swap 2017 first-round picks with the Brooklyn Nets, Brooklyn's 2018 first-round pick and a lottery-protected 2021 first-round pick to the Sacramento Kings for DeMarcus Cousins
The Celtics get Boogie (who could play next to Al Horford without any problems) and don't have to give up Jaylen Brown for their efforts. To be honest, I'm not sure this is a "panic" trade at all.
Oklahoma City Thunder move Oladipo for some swag
Thunder send Victor Oladipo to the Los Angeles Lakers for Nick Young; Lakers send Jordan Clarkson to the Philadelphia 76ers to extend the protection on their 2017 first-round pick from top-three to top-10; 76ers send Nik Stauskas to the Thunder
I like Oladipo. I think he can still grow into a fine basketball player. But the contract the Thunder gave him is going to look rather cumbersome in a few years. And when you come to that panicked realization, Swaggy P starts to look like a fine solution in the short-term.
Utah Jazz trade two stars for a superstar
Jazz send Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Golden State's 2017 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for Blake Griffin and Wes Johnson
The Jazz have one of the brightest futures in the NBA, yet it's hard to see them competing for a title with their current roster. Losing Hayward and Favors is probably too much even when you might get Blake Griffin back, but Utah would have to think long and hard about this one.
Memphis Grizzlies wave farewell to Parsons
Grizzlies send Chandler Parsons to the Los Angeles Lakers for Luol Deng and Nick Young
Both teams swap they're overpaid, injured wings, with the Grizzlies getting a little bit of scoring punch for their troubles.
More than anything, I just want to see how Parsons would survive in Los Angeles. He might disappear into a club and never be seen again.
Toronto Raptors send the Junkyard Dog back home
Raptors send DeMarre Carroll to the Atlanta Hawks for Kyle Korver and Tiago Splitter
Carroll hasn't lived up to expectations, as he's battled injuries in Toronto. Trading him for Korver could give the Raptors a much-needed dose of 3-point shooting.
Los Angeles Clippers leverage Griffin into depth
Clippers send Blake Griffin and Wes Johnson to the Atlanta Hawks for Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and the right to swap 2017 first-round picks
I'm just saying, L.A. fans.
Cleveland Cavaliers reunite LeBron with his best friend
Cavaliers trade Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson to the Chicago Bulls for Dwyane Wade and Robin Lopez
Many people have wondered what kind of panic moves the Cavs might consider with J.R. Smith's thumb injury.
None of those options could top the absolutely bonkers conclusion that LeBron needs to team up with Dwyane Wade to challenge the Warriors. It'd never happen, but I won't stop dreaming.
Houston Rockets get the second superstar they've always wanted
Rockets send Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Patrick Beverley, their 2017 first-round pick and a lottery-protected first-round pick in 2021 to the New York Knicks for Carmelo Anthony; 76ers send Nerlens Noel to the New York Knicks and Ersan Ilyasova to the Houston Rockets for a 2019 lottery-protected first-round pick from the Rockets; Knicks send Derrick Rose to the Philadelphia 76ers
In his darkest moments, Daryl Morey stares at Carmelo Anthony and considers risking it all for the second superstar he's never been able to put alongside James Harden. (No, Dwight Howard doesn't qualify.)
Do it, Morey. Unleash chaos.
San Antonio Spurs turn Aldridge into Tony Parker's replacement
Spurs spend LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green to the Phoenix Suns for Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker and Dragan Bender
Would you rather have an explosive point guard who admittedly has some injury issues yet would be playing for the best team in the NBA when it comes to resting players, or a scoring big man who whines at times and is an up-and-down defender?
Personally, I'm taking Bledsoe and Bender's potential — if I'm the Spurs, that is, and I don't think I can beat the Warriors this year or next.
Golden State Warriors break up their Big Four with an eye on the future
Warriors send Klay Thompson to the Phoenix Suns for Devin Booker, Dragan Bender, Jared Dudley, the right to swap 2017 first-round picks, Miami's 2018 top-seven-protected first-round pick and Phoenix's lottery-protected 2019 first-round pick
First things first: Golden State wouldn't even consider a move of this magnitude until after the season. The Warriors are not risking their chances at a title this year to remain a title contender for the next decade.
Yet with how much money the Warriors will have to pay Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant under the new CBA, and with Draymond Green already on a long-term deal, Golden State's braintrust could very well consider a "panic" move that sends Thompson elsewhere for a trove of assets and draft picks. This is the same franchise, mind you, that had the foresight to make room for KD in the first place; as the Warriors are so fond of reminding us, they're often light-years ahead of everyone else.
You can't replace what Curry, Durant or Green bring to the team. You can, however, try to emulate Thompson's 3-point shooting and defense with young players on less-than-max deals.
I'm not saying the Warriors will deal Thompson. In fact, they almost certainly won't. But if a team offers the Godfather deal, Golden State will have to mull its options.