It takes two (or more) dance partners to get the NBA trade market grooving.
Sellers can't sell without interested buyers. Shoppers can't fill their carts without something on the shelves.
It's simple supply and demand and yet another reminder that professional basketball is, above all else, a business.
With a few months left to wear out the trade machine ahead of the March 25 cutoff, we're here to play NBA matchmaker by aligning the likeliest buyers and sellers with possible trade partners.
Buyer: Boston Celtics
The Eastern Conference has become a splash factory. The Brooklyn Nets nabbed James Harden. The Milwaukee Bucks snagged Jrue Holiday. The Philadelphia 76ers changed coaches and decision-makers before loading up with snipers around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
The Boston Celtics have seemingly been standing atop the diving board for years now, never cannonballing into a blockbuster but always "coming close" (whatever that means) to getting one done. Armed with an enormous $28.5 million trade exception—the richest in league history—it's time for the Shamrocks to take the plunge.
They need more certainty around rising stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Whether it's a frontcourt facelift, a jolt of second-team scoring or a malleable piece for skipper Brad Stevens to fit into the puzzle, the Celtics could get a ton of mileage out of an impact move. The trade flier from the Orlando Magic could have several points of interest.
Trade Partner: Orlando Magic
Want a pie-in-the-sky target for Boston? How about former All-Star center Nikola Vucevic? The Celtics are struggling to tread water at the center spot—roasted to the tune of a minus-17.3 net rating when Tristan Thompson and Daniel Theis share the floor—but a splash move for Vooch could move them into the position's top tier.
If that sounds at all hyperbolic, you can blame Orlando's supporting cast for failing to do more with his absurd production. He's clearing 22 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two triples per night. The list of other players hitting those marks is...nonexistent. Oh, and he could still be available, since the Magic are overdue for a reset and have spent a pair of top-10 picks on his potential replacements in Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba.
Should Vucevic prove too rich for Boston's blood, the Celtics could grab Aaron Gordon and trust their coaching staff to squeeze more out of the explosive athlete. Or they could simultaneously scratch itches for bench production and perimeter shooting with Terrence Ross or Evan Fournier.
Seller: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder's roster looks a little like a retail sales floor near the end of Black Friday. The door-busters are gone, and there are zero discounts on the biggest-ticketed items (good luck trying to shake Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley or Hamidou Diallo loose), but there are still some sales worth checking out.
Topping the list is George Hill, a proven point guard with more than 100 playoff contests under his belt. He'd be an effortless addition to any team, since he can operate on or off the ball and offers some switchability on defense. Before his first season with the Thunder even started, there was "interest in Hill's services around the league," per The Athletic's Shams Charania.
Hill is the obvious focal point for shoppers perusing through the Sooner State, but he's not the only trade candidate. Darius Miller and Mike Muscala offer floor-spacing for cheap. If anyone can stomach Al Horford's salary, he still provides an interesting blend of defense, ball-moving and complementary scoring.