For an overview of this project, check out the introduction here.
The matchup between seeds 2 and 15 in our bracket was fraught with controversy, as the original trade proposal that netted Chris Paul for the Milwaukee Bucks was, apparently, not in accordance with NBA rules. The proposal was updated (the $5.0M salary of Robin Lopez was all that needed to be added) to be viable going forward, as it was the clear winner over the Toronto Raptors package centering on Kyle Lowry.
Today, we go all the way on the train to CrazyTown. One trade deals with a longtime rival, while the other is another three-teamer involving Chris Paul...but not for the Bucks! Let’s get to it!
4) Oklahoma City Thunder & New York Knicks: Dennis Schroder, Reggie Bullock
Why the Bucks do it:
Milwaukee needs new blood at the point guard position, but Chris Paul might be too old and expensive to be worth adding to the roster. The Thunder are in a position where they almost need to move Paul, though, so the Bucks could benefit by helping to make that happen. In terms of cost, this trade is incredibly cheap, as Bledsoe and a future Pacers second rounder are the only part of the package Milwaukee is contributing. For their trouble, they net Dennis Schroder, coming off a banner year with the Thunder and garnering significant 6MOY attention. The 27 year old German scored nearly 19 points per game and notched a three-point percentage of 38.5%, a career high, and would be a superior offensive guard than the Bucks currently have. Further bolstering the wing would be Reggie Bullock, a journeyman shooter with a quick trigger and decent size for a shooting guard. Both players are in the final year of their contract, giving the Bucks slightly more flexibility next offseason than they may have expected.
Why the Thunder do it:
Chris Paul has one foot out the door, and the Oklahoma City franchise would do well to use the trade to get a chance to evaluate and develop talent they couldn’t get otherwise. Eric Bledsoe would be able to fill in for the loss of Paul and Schroder, and is on a movable contract in another deal if the Thunder don’t like his fit alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. But the real prize is Julius Randle, the bullying big man who just didn’t fit in the situations he found himself in as a Laker, or a Pelican, or a Knick. The Clippers’ first is also a nice asset to have, considering the Thunder have sometimes been figured to need to add a pick of their own to offload the Paul contract.
Why the Knicks do it:
Come on, Knickerbockers. Come on, James Dolan. This is your moment. This is your opportunity to show the die-hard Knicks fans that you’re willing to shake things up, to get into the mix and bring a Hall of Fame level talent to Madison Square Garden. Not only would Chris Paul, the Point God, be beloved across New York City, but the price to acquire him is a downright bargain, and he’s proven to be uniquely able to lead an otherwise aimless team into a hunt for a playoff team.
Milwaukee receives: Dennis Schroder, Reggie Bullock
Oklahoma City receives: Eric Bledsoe, Julius Randle, 2020 LAC 1st (via NYK)
New York receives: Chris Paul, 2022 IND 2nd (via MIL)
The Paul contract and the New York market are a match made in heaven, and the Knicks are the type of team to take such a financial risk for the sake of a shot at the seventh seed. Still, considering the Knicks are under new(ish) management, it’s tough to predict whether they’ll lie low or be quick to strike on a deal like this. The Bucks also come away from the deal having traded one player for two, both of whom are decent fits with their system (you already know that Mike Budenholzer and Schroder go back to their Atlanta days), but they also get to hang onto the Indiana pick in this draft. This wouldn’t be a groundbreaking move, but it would be one that gives the Bucks a bit more fuel for the upcoming season, as well as the financial breathing room that always comes in handy next offseason.
13) Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine, 2020 MEM 2nd
Why the Bucks do it:
The Milwaukee backcourt lacks scoring punch, and LaVine is a solid offensive player. On a relatively dismal Bulls team, LaVine put up 25.5 points per game on 0.450/0.380/0.802 shooting splits on high volume and usage. He’s also improved his shot chart to focus more on attempts at the rim (37.4% of his total field goals) and behind the arc (40.4% of his total field goals), and has been a passable playmaker in Chicago. The price is relatively high, giving up two backcourt players, but the Grizzlies’ second rounder helps by giving the Bucks an avenue to add a low-cost prospect. LaVine hasn’t become the star that he believes he is, but has also played in tough environments like Minnesota under Tom Thibodeau and Chicago under Jim Boylen (among other coaches who have come and gone). He wasn’t initially thrilled about Billy Donovan, so perhaps he’ll find a groove for himself under Mike Budenholzer?
Why the Bulls do it:
The Bulls are in rebuilding mode, and nabbing a young impact player like the Big Ragu would go a long way towards rediscovering their path to legitimacy. After all, what good is a draft pick if the player doesn’t turn out well? For his part, Bledsoe doesn’t have a clear place on this roster, especially since Kris Dunn is an equally disruptive defender at the point guard position, but he’d become the most accomplished member of the Chicago backcourt and give the Bulls’ front office room to work out trades to support the rest of the roster.
Milwaukee receives: Zach LaVine, 2020 MEM 2nd (via CHI)
Chicago receives: Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo
The theoretical viability of this trade is entirely determined by what Chicago’s leadership, especially the new head coach Donovan, think of LaVine. He might be the 20+ point scoring mainstay, but the rest of the team doesn’t fit together and the young pieces need plenty of time to develop, and LaVine’s value isn’t likely to get any higher. Bledsoe and DiVincenzo aren’t a flashy addition, but both are fundamentally sound players who can help put teammates in positions to be successful, on both sides of the ball. That would go a long way to improving the environment that players like Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. might need to develop their own skills and becoming the type of players Chicago needs them to be.
Vote for your preferred trade package!
4-13 Trade Matchup
This poll is closed
Thunder/Knicks: Dennis Schroder, Reggie Bullock / Eric Bledsoe, future 2nd
Bulls: Zach LaVine, 2020 2nd / Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo