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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Two trade deadline hypotheticals that could alter the course of the NBA

With the 2018 NBA trade deadline coming today at 3 p.m., I’ve come up with a couple of trades I think could push potential title contenders over the edge.

I’ve touched on both of these teams before, but things have changed for the Cavaliers and the Thunder since then. Let’s start with Cleveland, which continues to struggle with dysfunctional team chemistry and a locker room full of disgruntled finger pointing.

As I mentioned then, DeAndre Jordan would certainly be a helpful addition, but at this point I believe Cleveland is in need of more seismic changes to stop the bleeding while there’s still a chance.

That is why the Cavs should trade for New Orleans power forward Anthony Davis. Center DeMarcus Cousins is out for the year with a ruptured Achilles tendon, but let’s be honest, the Pelicans weren’t going to compete for any championships even with Davis and Cousins healthy. The West is too competitive and it’s difficult to win in today’s NBA when your best players aren’t elite point guards/wing players. You can see it in the last two NBA champions: Steph Curry and Kevin Durant last season, or Kyrie Irving and LeBron James the year before that.

The answer is simple: Send Kevin Love to New Orleans for Davis. Shipping Love should help ease some of the Cavs’ locker-room tensions.

And with Davis in a Cavs uniform, LeBron James has the best running mate of his 15-year career, and one of the worst defenses in the NBA gains one of the league’s best defenders. A roster change of that magnitude might snap Cleveland out of its current rut.

The second trade I’m proposing could actually be the X-factor in deciding who represents the Western Conference in this year’s NBA Finals. The Thunder overwhelmed the defending champion Warriors on Tuesday night without forward Carmelo Anthony, who left with a sprained ankle after just six minutes on the floor, as well as shooting guard Andre Roberson, who had season-ending surgery after rupturing his patellar tendon against the Detroit Pistons on Jan. 27.

Roberson made his mark defensively, and there is no replacement on OKC’s roster for what he brought to the table. For that reason, the Thunder should target newly-acquired Clippers shooting guard Avery Bradley.

Bradley, a solid two-way player who was brought over to Los Angeles from Detroit as part of the Blake Griffin trade, is a better scorer than Roberson and could approximate his much-needed defensive presence.

Bradley is a two-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team and could take Patrick Patterson’s spot on the Thunder’s roster. Patterson was signed from Toronto during the offseason, and was projected to start at power forward before Oklahoma City jumped on the chance to acquire Anthony from the Knicks. Like Love, Patterson is not playing to his full potential and without Griffin, the Clippers are lacking in their front court presence.

The Thunder are a decidedly worse defensive team without Roberson, and managed to snap a four-game losing streak against the best team in the NBA without him. However, that formula won’t work in a seven-game series. With Bradley, it just might.

Andrew Huang is a sports writer. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJHuang and contact him at ahuang@alligator.org.

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Pelicans F/C Anthony Davis was nearly the only unanimous pick by the alligatorSports NBA Awards Selection Panel. He's predicted to be the NBA Defensive Player of the Year by three-fourths of the panel.

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