Trade no. 2: Milwaukee Bucks & Cleveland Cavaliers:
The Bucks need to convince Giannis Antetokounmpo to stay in Milwaukee and there is no better way to do that than to have an offseason where you bring in both Jrue Holiday and James Harden. That trio would instantly vault the Bucks ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for title favorite and it’d give Harden a chance at a championship.
For this trade to work the Rockets and Bucks would need to get the Cleveland Cavaliers on the line. The deal would see the Bucks get Harden from the Rockets and Larry Nance Jr from the Cavaliers, the Rockets would get Khris Middleton from the Bucks and Kevin Love from the Cavs, and finally, the Cavaliers would receive Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker from the Rockets and Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, and Donte DiVincenzo from the Bucks.
This deal works for the Cavaliers because they get Love and Nance’s deals off the books and get in return one young interesting player in Divincenzo, three veterans who can be flipped for future assets in Lopez, Tucker, and Connaughton, and one bad contract in Eric Gordon.
The Bucks’ return of Harden and Nance makes them the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Middleton is a good player but Harden is at a completely different level. A Giannis and Harden pick and roll was thought to only be possible in NBA2K.
Nance isn’t a household name but he is a solid frontcourt option that can do some of the things that the Bucks asked of Brook Lopez. Besides, Lopez’s rim protection is not nearly as valuable to the Bucks who have Antetokounmpo to defend the paint.
The Rockets’ return of Middleton and Love keeps them in the playoff conversation and should give the franchise time to determine where it’s headed. If the Rockets are good then they could play out Middleton, Love, and Wall’s contracts and see where they are in a few seasons.
If they’re bad? Middleton will be atop a whole host of teams’ wishlists and Love’s contract in a season or two won’t be the unmovable mess that it’s viewed as now. This deal isn’t the type of return the Rockets likely want but it keeps them in the playoff picture and gives them two movable contracts to help speed up a rebuild if they wish to go that route.
Next: Trade no. 1