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The NBA Trades That Need to Happen

The Picasso of the Trade Machine has returned, and this season has presented a canvas for the ages. Plus: Week 14 NFL picks.

DeAndre Jordan, Steven Adams, and Markelle Fultz Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Good news: We’re one week away from Trade Machine Day, a.k.a. The Real NBA Christmas, a.k.a. “I Hope Amir Johnson Is Only Renting” Day!

On December 15, NBA teams can officially trade almost anyone signed from last summer. Any type of player ranging from Johnson (one year, $11 million) to Tim “I’m Overpaid but Fun to Have Around” Hardaway Jr. (four years, $71 million) to Nerlens “I’m Very, Very Available” Noel (one year, $4.2 million) to Old Man Vince Carter (one year, $8 million) to Token Handshake Specialist (one year, $1.4 million) can be crammed into any deal. And ESPN’s Trade Machine will finally allow us to swap anyone as long as the salaries match within 125 percent. Why not add a Trade Machine wrinkle that allows us to turn off every “recently signed” restriction and create fake trades for 365 days a year? Because ESPN hates us! I thought you knew!

Three wrinkles for FakeTradeapalooza. First, an alarming number of teams are happy with their roster (Boston, Houston, Golden State), annoyingly loyal to their roster (San Antonio, Toronto), paralyzed by their bizarre collection of players (Phoenix, New York), stuck with their core for better or worse (Detroit, Miami, OKC), or stuck in a coma (Chicago). For Trade Machine purposes = not fun.

Second, we’re still hampered by 2016’s Summer of WTF, when the league handled its newfound cap space boon like this.

It wasn’t just the top-six free agents all signing nine-figure deals. The following 15 players signed four-year deals for over ONE BILLION DOLLARS combined: Harrison Barnes, Chandler Parsons, Ryan Anderson, Allen Crabbe, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Bismack Biyombo, Kent Bazemore, Evan Turner, Timofey Mozgov, Ian Mahinmi, J.R. Smith, Marvin Williams, Miles Plumlee, and Tyler Johnson. Look out, it’s a billion-dollar lottery team! Should we hire Billy King or David Kahn to fake-run it?

Meanwhile, check out this screengrab from the same summer …

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! MY EYES!!!!!! I’M BLIND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eighteen months later, with an unusually high number of franchises hampered by untradable contracts and a lower-than-expected salary cap, another person suffered in silence: that’s right, me, the Picasso of the Trade Machine. The Summer of WTF definitely set me back some brushes and paint cans. I still made it work because that’s what artists do. Without further ado, a handful of NBA Trades That Need To Happen.

The Inevitable DeAndre Jordan Trade

In case you missed it, the Clippers need to trade DeAndre Jordan because (a) he’s opting out of his deal next summer, (b) the Clippers are the Clippers again, (c) Doc Rivers is like The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave …

… and (d) if you made a montage of bummed-out DeAndre dunks and alley-oops this season, you could use the same soundtrack that This Is Us uses for its end-of-the-show/“we’re gonna try to make you cry” montages. Who wants Sad DeAndre? Aren’t Clippers games already gloomy enough?

Quick tangent: I attended Wednesday’s Clips-Wolves game with The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor and quickly realized that the Clippers had reverted back to being the sad-sack/fucked-up/hopeless Clippers. We watched their best player applaud in street clothes (Blake Griffin); their overpriced free agent du jour bricking 3s (Danilo Gallinari); empty blue seats teeming with apathy (the Dumbleavy era is back!); annoyed fans randomly hurling insults at the embattled Clippers coach (I repeat: The Dumbleavy era is back!); multiple Wait, Who’s That Clipper? moments (I still don’t know who “Wilson” is); three drunk guys in our section laughing hysterically at the token Clipper who thinks he’s way better than he is (in this case, Austin Rivers); and, of course, the Token Obviously Unhappy Former All-Star Who’s Dying to Get Traded (DeAndre).

I repeat … THE CLIPPERS ARE BACK! We need to find DeAndre a different team. Unfortunately, it’s hard.

CLIPPERS GET: Marcin Gortat ($12.8m, exp. 2019), Kelly Oubre Jr. ($2.1m, RFA 2019), Jason Smith ($5.2m, exp. 2019)
WASHINGTON GETS: DeAndre Jordan ($22.6m)

VERDICT: Washington hangs up. And they’re pissed for like five minutes.

CLIPPERS GET: Ryan Anderson ($19.6m, exp. 2020), Tarik Black ($3.3m), Houston’s top-10-protected first-round picks in 2020 and 2022
ROCKETS GET: Jordan ($22.6m)

VERDICT: The Clippers hang up. And they’re pissed for like 25 minutes.

CLIPPERS GET: Tristan Thompson ($16.4m, exp. 2020), Iman Shumpert ($10.3m, exp. 2019), Derrick Rose ($2.1m, 12/15 trade-eligible), 2018 Brooklyn pick (top-three protected)
CLEVELAND GETS: Jordan ($22.6m), Wesley Johnson ($5.9m, exp. 2019)

VERDICT: “YES!” if I’m the Clippers, “No!” if I’m the Cavs. And there’s no middle ground. Thompson and the Brooklyn pick feels like too much; Shumpert, Channing Frye ($7.4m), Rose and the Brooklyn pick isn’t enough. It’s a shame because “Clippers guard Derrick Rose” needs to happen; not since Ricky Davis has anyone been more destined to become a Clipper. (Man, it’s great to have the old Clippers back. I missed them.)

CLIPPERS GET: Jabari Parker ($6.8m, RFA 2018), Malcolm Brogdon ($1.3m, 2019 RFA), John Henson ($10.4m, exp. 2020)
MILWAUKEE GETS: Jordan ($22.6m)

VERDICT: For years, there’s been a running joke in NBA circles that Excel agent Jeff Schwartz is the unofficial Bucks GM because he goes way, way, way, way back with Jason Kidd. Whenever things like “Let’s trade Brandon Knight for Phoenix’s juicy future Lakers pick, then flip that pick for Excel client Michael Carter-Williams instead of just keeping it” happens, everyone has a good inside-baseball chuckle. When DeAndre hired Schwartz as his new agent, I mean … even Mallory Edens would have been a less suspicious choice. I think D.J. is headed to Milwaukee.

The rumor du jour? DeAndre for Parker, Henson and Brogdon. Brogdon is a solid young player who, by no fault of his own, became overrated; he’s a third guard at best. Henson lingers somewhere between a homeless man’s DeAndre and a poor man’s DeAndre. And the Clips acquiring a talented forward coming off two ACL injuries sounds like the first Blumhouse Productions sports horror film. If I’m the Clippers, I want a cheap young player and cap space—that’s it. Time to get creative. Here’s the deal I like.

MILWAUKEE GETS: Jordan ($22.6m)
CHICAGO GETS: Parker ($6.8m, RFA 2018), Matthew Dellavedova ($9.6m, exp. 2020), $3 million from the Clippers, $3 million from Milwaukee
CLIPPERS GET: Thon Maker ($2.7m, RFA 2020), $22.6m trade exception

VERDICT: The Bulls play in America’s third-biggest TV market and yet they’re $15 million under the cap, not counting the $3.5 million they made for hawking Jordan Bell’s rights last summer. It’s like having the lady from Major League own an NBA team. They have exactly three decent players, their biggest star is coming off major ACL surgery and their most exciting moment of the season was when Bobby Portis broke Nikola Mirotic’s jaw. And their fans despise their front office. Other than that, everything’s great.

Well, what if the Bulls rebuilt around two talented injury guys (Parker and Zach LaVine), the Finnisher (Lauri Markkanen), 2018’s high lottery pick, and 6 million of GREEN CASH? Dellavedova’s deal becomes their Jabari Tax for the return of Chicago’s local high school hero. Milwaukee lands DeAndre without giving up Henson and Brogdon. And the Clippers clean their salary-cap decks, dip their toes in the Tanking Waters, push Doc closer to quitting for ESPN or TNT and leave their back door open on the slim chance that LeBron wants to join them. (Um, LeBron just bought a second $20 million–plus house in Brentwood and didn’t think we’d notice?) Everyone wins!

Only one problem: DeAndre clogging the lane for Giannis Christ Superstar on offense. You know what every NBA contender is praying the Bucks never realize? That they should be playing smallball with the Freak at center. Please God let them never realize this. (Don’t worry—their coach is Jason Kidd. They’re never realizing this.)

The Trade That Already Happened

Hey, Philly and Brooklyn? How dare you make a trade right as I’m about to hand in my fake trade column! YOU DON’T DO THAT TO PICASSO!!!

PHILLY GETS: Trevor Booker ($9.1m)
BROOKLYN GETS: Jahlil Okafor ($5m), Nik Stauskas ($3.8m), one of Philly’s 2019 second-rounders

VERDICT: Free Jahlil!!! I love Booker as an energy guy, I love Brooklyn rolling the dice with another former high lottery pick and I love the look on my face 30 months ago if I told myself that Philly would trade the third pick in the draft for Trevor Booker.

With that said … I’m an Okafor Truther. There’s still a place on the right team for unconventional low-post players (Okafor, Enes Kanter, Greg Monroe, etc.) with glaring weaknesses but at least one undeniable strength. When the Celtics handily beat longtime Stevens nemesis Milwaukee on Monday night, despite a 40-point performance from Giannis Christ Superstar Freak, you know what really jumped out? How much easier it is for Boston to play Milwaukee now that it doesn’t have Greg Monroe. He kills the Celtics. They can’t defend him one-on-one without help. Okafor can’t at least evolve into that? He’s turning only 22 next week! Ridiculous. Picasso enjoyed that trade.

The Trade That Would Make Rick Carlisle and Seattle Basketball Murderer Clay Bennett Happy

OKC GETS: Nerlens Noel ($4.1m), Seth Curry ($3.0m), Josh McRoberts ($6m)
DALLAS GETS: Steven Adams ($22m, exp. 2021), Josh Huestis ($1.47m), Dakari Johnson ($815k)

VERDICT: Once upon a time, OKC was my go-to joke for cheap NBA franchises. Remember when it refused to give Young James Harden a four-year, $60 million extension, then traded him away four months after making the 2012 Finals? (Not sure if you knew that.) The Thunder reversed course after Kevin Durant’s departure and belatedly splurged on Steven Adams (four years, $100 million) and Andre Roberson (three years, $30 million), then traded for two costly All-Star forwards (Paul George and Carmelo Anthony).

Why the change of heart? They couldn’t lose Russell Westbrook. After Durant dumped them, they encouraged Russ to chase triple-doubles, shatter usage rate records, and make a shameless MVP run even if he wasn’t making anyone else better. Guess what. It worked. They landed George and Anthony this summer and veered into tax territory; that worked, too. Westbrook signing a jaw-dropping $233 million extension became Oklahoma City’s victory lap. Mission accomplished.

Only one problem: They’re not making the Finals with this team. Not by playing three-on-five in crunch time, not with how much Anthony’s game has atrophied, and not with all the bad habits that Westbrook built up last season. Can a small-market team justify a $130.1 million payroll and an estimated $24.5 million luxury-tax bill to field a noncontender? My educated guess is … well … how should I put this? … NO FUCKING WAY. Nobody wants Carmelo or Roberson at their salaries. They can’t trade Westbrook or George. Who’s left? (Here’s a hint: He was born in New Zealand and looks a little like Bill the Butcher.)

Meanwhile, the Mavericks have $12.5 million in cap space, multiple expiring contracts, an anti-tanking coach, and a lovable history of grabbing pricey talent bargains whenever they can. Anyone would love Adams at $10-12 million a year; $15 million is reasonable; $22 million is crazy. OKC can’t afford him. Dallas can. And OKC cannot win a title with what it has. The business-over-basketball move? Flip Adams into Noel and expirings and avoid the luxury tax. The truth is, the Zombie Sonics already won the title—they convinced Russell Westbrook to stay.

Trades That Would Make Me Happy

DALLAS GETS: Tristan Thompson ($16.4m, exp. 2020)
CLEVELAND GETS: Devin Harris ($4.4m), $16.4m trade exception

VERDICT: My backup fake deal for Dallas if the fake Adams trade fake-falls through. What’s more exciting than when cap space gets swapped for FEMA-level amounts of luxury-tax relief? Anything?

DETROIT GETS: Joe Harris ($1.5m)
BROOKLYN GETS: Henry Ellenson ($1.8m, RFA 2020), 2018 second-round pick, $3 million

VERDICT: If you’ve watched the Pistons—a potential conference finalist—you know that Young Stanley Johnson has made big rebounding/defense strides this year, but he’s still getting Roberson-ed by opponents in crunch time. Poor Andre.

You can’t win playoff rounds when you’re getting Roberson-ed. The Pistons need a shooter. As for Harris, he’s replaced Kyle Korver as the league’s current go-to comparison for “If he’s open from 3 it’s going right the F up” guy in your pickup basketball life. I caught a Nets-Celts game recently and quickly texted my friend Connor that Harris had stolen his gunner-from-3 basketball identity; one month later, Connor texted me from a Nets game, “I don’t mind the Joe Harris comp.” Of course not! Get this dude to Detroit. We need him in a playoff series.

BOSTON GETS: Kyrie Irving ($18.8m, exp. 2020)
CLEVELAND GETS: Isaiah Thomas ($6.3m), Jae Crowder ($6.8m), Ante Zizic ($1.65m), Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick

VERDICT:

INDIANA GETS: Cody Zeller ($12.6m, exp. 2021), Yogi Ferrell ($1.3m).
DALLAS GETS: Indiana’s 2018 second-round pick
CHARLOTTE GETS: T.J. Leaf ($2.0m, RFA 2021), Al Jefferson’s two-year salary-cap hit ($9.8m, exp. 2019)

VERDICT: A three-year battle between Zeller and Frank Kaminsky ends abruptly with Charlotte choosing Frank as their last remaining Unconventional White Center We Drafted A Little Too High, as they dump Zeller’s deal and double down on the Dwightbola Virus. As for the Pacers, I defer to the judgment of The Ringer’s Mark Titus, an Indiana native who would rather be known as One Shining Podcast’s Mark Titus. He believes that Pacers fans don’t mind rooting for a noncontender as long as it has enough players with Indiana ties.

They didn’t love Paul George. Why? He didn’t love Indiana. They didn’t mind July’s seemingly one-sided George trade even before we learned that Victor Oladipo had gotten in awesome shape and was ready to blossom outside of Westbrook’s shadow/stranglehold. Why? Dipo went to Indiana! This season, nearly half of Indiana’s roster has Indiana ties; their best player went to IU; their GM was handpicked by Larry Bird; and their ancient owner is vowing that the next owner will be from Indiana. Pacers fans wouldn’t love two more IU dudes? If the Celtics offered Brad Stevens to Indiana for 10 first-round picks, Indiana’s response would be, “Done—which 10?”

NEW YORK GETS: Chandler Parsons ($23.1m, exp. 2020) and Andrew Harrison ($1.3m)
MEMPHIS GETS: Joakim Noah ($17.8m, exp. 2020), Lance Thomas ($6.7m), and $3 million cash from Page Six

VERDICT: Don’t you love when NBA teams trade salary-cap VD for salary cap anal warts? Bonus points because (a) the numbers add up to $24.4 million exactly, (b) Noah might actually retire over having to live in Memphis, and (c) I like the thought of Page Six chipping in knowing it would make the money back on Parsons gossip. Look out, he’s coming out of 1 Oak with Rihanna!

Memphis Blows It Up

My adopted son Kevin O’Connor loves to scream “BLOW IT UP!” every time a noncontender is limping along in that 38-to-44-win range without a long-term plan. But in this case? BLOWWWWWWWWWW ITTTTTTT UPPPPPPPPP! Grit ’N’ Grind died last summer. Now, it’s time for the Gasol-and-Conley high screen to ascend to High Screen Heaven. Let’s make this quick and painless.

DENVER GETS: Mike Conley ($28.5m, exp. 2021), Mario Chalmers ($2.1m, 12/15 trade-eligible)
MEMPHIS GETS: Jamal Murray ($3.4m, RFA 2020), Emmanuel Mudiay ($3.4m, RFA 2019), Kenneth Faried ($12.9m, exp. 2019), Darrell Arthur’s two-year hit ($7.4m, exp. 2019)

VERDICT: Memphis gets a brand-new backcourt and a potential blue-chipper in Murray. (Struggling right now, but still.) Denver gets a high-priced All-Star and a potent crunch-time five: Conley, Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, and The Wildly Underrated Will Barton during his last season before it becomes chic to talk about how wildly underrated Will Barton is and he suddenly becomes a wee bit overrated (a.k.a. David West syndrome).

More important, Conley’s arrival might stop Nuggets fans from grumbling about things like, “Did we really refuse to include Murray in a trade for Kyrie Freaking Irving?,” and, “Every time I watch Murray, I remember how we didn’t go for Kyrie Irving and start punching myself in the face.” I love this trade.

PORTLAND GETS: Marc Gasol ($22.6, exp. 2020/player option)
MEMPHIS GETS: Jusuf Nurkic ($2.9m), Zach Collins ($3.1m, 2021 RFA), Ed Davis ($6.3m), Mo Harkless ($10.2m, exp. 2020), Portland’s 2018 first-round pick

VERDICT: The Blazers are this year’s version of the famous Seinfeld episode when George’s erratic vision confuses the hell out of Jerry. I don’t know what to believe — you’re eating onions, you’re spotting dimes, I don’t know what the hell is going on!

They swindled Denver on the Nurkic trade (dimes!), then flipped no. 15 and no. 20 for no. 10 to take Zach Collins (onions!). They badly overpaid Evan Turner and Moe Harkless (onions!), but found savvy under-the-radar bargains like Shabazz Napier and Pat Connaughton (dimes!). They never should have overpaid Allen Crabbe (onions!), but they somehow dumped his contract on Brooklyn (dimes!).

Where would this Memphis trade rank? Teaming the great Gasol up with two All-Star guards? DIMES! Mortgaging the future for an expensive 33-year-old center with foot woes when you’re the same franchise that lived through Bowie, Sabonis, Oden, and Walton? ONIONS!!!!! What a perfect Blazers trade. It will probably be a beautiful disaster. I love it.

(And if Memphis can turn two of the NBA’s priciest veteran stars into Nurkic, Collins, Murray, Mudiay, a first-rounder, some bench dudes, one discouraging Harkless contract, and one full-fledged tanking season … but Chandler Parsons is still there and they’d be coached by the one-and-only J.B. Bickerstaff? DIMES AND ONIONS!!!!!)

The Trade That Would Allow the Lakers to Sign LeBron, Boogie, and Paul George (If This Was Ever in the Cards)

Desperate times for the We Thought We Were Getting LeBron Lakers. He’s really dumping Ohio for a second time and abandoning a decade of Finals runs to play with Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Jordan Clarkson, and Lonzo “My Shot Might Be Broken” Ball? Really? That’s happening?

(Hold on, lemme look at this second LeBron house again. Why would someone playing in Cleveland need to own $44 million of real estate in Brentwood? I feel like we’re the media in the mid-1960s pretending that JFK wasn’t killed by a second shooter. I mean, it’s totally conceivable that Oswald shot him from behind, but his head jerked back and to the left and his brains landed on the back trunk. And I’m sure LeBron just has a healthy infatuation with the Brentwood real estate scene. Nothing to see here!)

Let’s say LeBron is coming to the Lakers, if only because he feels weird about leaving two $20 million–plus Brentwood houses empty. The Lakers wouldn’t have the cap space to sign LeBron and two other All-Stars without dumping Deng’s contract ($54 million through 2020). Can that happen without throwing Ingram in the deal? He’s never becoming Durant 2.0, but what if he becomes Durant 0.75? I would consider moving him for only one guy.

LAKERS GET: Paul George ($19.5m, exp. 2019/player option), Josh Huestis ($1.5m)
OKC GETS: Brandon Ingram ($5.5m, RFA 2020), Luol Deng ($17.1m, exp. 2020)

VERDICT: OKC throws away its façade of a 2018 title run and swallows two extra Deng years just to land Ingram and help the Big Market Lakers? (Thinking.) No way. Never happening. We need to get a little more creative. This fake trade can’t happen until right before February’s deadline because Stauskas just got traded.

LAKERS GET: Nikola Mirotic ($12.5m), Tyler Zeller ($1.7m), Nik Stauskas ($3.8m)
BROOKLYN GETS: Luol Deng ($17.2m, exp. 2020), Julius Randle ($4.1m), 2020 first-round pick from Lakers (top-three protected)
CHICAGO GETS: Jeremy Lin ($12m, exp. 2019), Larry Nance Jr. ($1.5m, exp. 2019), their own 2019 second-round pick back from L.A., $3.5 million cash, and three Magic Johnson tweets about how great it was to make a deal with Jerry Reinsdorf

VERDICT: The Lakers keep their four best young players, LaVar Ball, and enough cap space for LeBron and two other All-Stars. Brooklyn turns a lousy two-year deal (Lin) into a horrific three-year deal (Deng), but gets rewarded with a sweet draft pick and a four-month taste of Randle. Like when you’re getting an ice cream from a good place and they let you try different flavors with the little spoons. Sure, I’d love to try the Julius Randle! And what about their potentially turning Four Straight Years Without A Lottery Pick into D’Angelo Russell (no. 2 overall, 2015), Okafor (no. 3 overall, 2015) and Randle (no. 7 overall, 2014)?

As for the Bulls, we helped them rebuild around the Finnisher, Jabari, Okafor, Nance, their next two lottery picks, the next Linsanity documentary; we lined that greedy miser Jerry Reinsdorf’s pockets with $9 million in COLD GREEN CASH; and we helped everyone in Chicago avoid Mirotic-Portis II: The Thrilla in Scrimmagilla. I think we have a second Picasso in Chicago.

The Kitchen Sink

Before you react to our final doozy of a trade, please remember six things.

1. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, right now, are two of the league’s best 20 players.

2. We learned from OKC in 2010 and 2011 that when you’re ready, you’re ready.

3. We learned from Chicago and OKC in 2012, Indiana in 2013 and the Clippers in 2014 that your NBA title window can end in one play, one trade, one strategy shift or one stupefying collapse that’s fueled by an insane barrage of Corey Brewer/Josh Smith 3s. YOU NEVER KNOW.

4. The East is so shaky that the Celtics lost their new $130 million forward five minutes into the season … and they’re still the no. 2 favorite to make the Finals.

5. This trade makes sense only if Portland never makes the aforementioned Gasol trade. It also requires Portland to take a deep breath and say, “We can’t contend for a title with what we have … so where are we going?”

6. Sixers fans lost their freaking minds about nine months ago. If they ever put their energies toward getting Trump out of the Oval Office, he’d be gone by now. Please, weirdo Sixers fans, don’t take any of what you’re about to read personally. It’s a sports column based on fake trades that will almost definitely never happen.

OK? OK. Here we go …

PHILLY GETS: C.J. McCollum ($23.9m, exp. 2021)
PORTLAND GETS: Markelle Fultz ($7.0m, RFA 2021), Amir Johnson ($11m), Philly’s 2018 first-round pick

VERDICT: If you’re Philly, throw all your baggage, biases and any other ego-related variables down the toilet. It doesn’t matter that you gave up Tatum and the Lakers pick for Fultz anymore. That happened already. Is the hope—repeat: HOPE—of the 19-year-old Fultz’s ceiling worth more than an established star like McCollum? There’s a unique window with Embiid and Simmons right now. Is hope the best you can do?

Embiid
Simmons
Covington
Redick
McCollum

Imagine going against those five dudes in a playoff series. How do you double Embiid in the half court? How do you handle Simmons on any fast break with elite shooters in three spots? How do you defend a McCollum-Embiid high screen? You’re looking at a defensive migraine from every angle. Redick (38.8 percent), Covington (41.6 percent) and McCollum (46 percent) average 18 3-pointers a game and make eight of them—they’re basically three of the 18 players averaging at least 2.5 made 3s per game. Only Golden State and Houston can throw out three shooters like that. If you can flip Fultz into McCollum, I would do it every day and twice on Sunday.

One problem: If I’m Portland, I want a little more. McCollum is one of the NBA’s 25 to 30 best players. Last season, he scored 23 a game and sniffed the 50-40-90 Club. Last June, maybe you’d flip him for Fultz at one-third the cost without blinking. What about now? Would they worry that Boston AND Philly gave up on Fultz for different reasons? Does he have the yips? Was he really hurt? Was this too big of a spotlight for him? Would a change of scenery help?

If I’m Portland, I counter with this idea …

PHILLY GETS: CJ McCollum ($23.9m, exp. 2021)
PORTLAND GETS: Markelle Fultz ($7.0m, RFA 2021), Amir Johnson ($11.0m), Dario Saric (2.4m, exp. 2020)

VERDICT: Gets the Blazers under the tax in 2018, chops $15 million off their 2018-19 payroll, lands them two young assets and creates enough cap room to re-sign Jusuf Nurkic next summer. I think they’d have to say yes.

But guess what. I think Philly says no. It’s too much. They talk themselves back into Fultz and go this way instead. (We’re wiping all previous fake trades away.)

CLIPPERS GET: Jerryd Bayless ($9m, exp. 2019), Philly’s 2018 first-round pick, Brooklyn’s 2018 second-round pick
PHILLY GETS: Lou Williams ($7m), Brice Johnson ($1.3m)

VERDICT: Keep Fultz and Saric, bring back Lou Williams for a one-year postseason run, get 50 percent of what you wanted out of that McCollum trade, anyway. Boring … but smart. Still, I’d think long and hard about flipping Fultz, Saric, and Johnson’s expiring for McCollum and a legitimate 2018 run. Come on, Philly—you trusted the Process and it worked. In the words of your old buddy Curt Schilling, “Why not us?”

That reminds me: One of my rules in life is, “Anytime you quote Curt Schilling, it’s time to end the column.” Let’s tackle my Week 14 NFL picks, which are based on four beliefs: I believe Denver is the second-worst team in football; I believe in Handsome Jimmy G.; I believe the Raiders secretly stink; and I refuse to believe Jay Cutler is beating Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Hence, we’re putting $770 to win $700 on …

Jets (-1.5) over BRONCOS
Niners (+2.5) over TEXANS

And we’re putting $960 to win $700 on a money-line parlay …

Patriots (-700 to beat MIAMI) and the CHIEFS (-195 to beat Oakland)

Last Week: 1-1
Season: 21-19, -675