Where oh where will the NBA's top offseason trade targets land? Er, well, we have no idea. It could be nowhere. It could be anywhere. It could be with your team.
Where should the most sought-after trade candidates go if they do in fact go anywhere at all? Now that's an entirely different question—and one I'm fully prepared to answer.
Determining which players qualify for this exercise is a dance between ambition and availability. Household names are the focus, but only if they'll have an ultra-deep market in the event they hit the chopping block. This rules out Blake Griffin, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Kevin Love—heavyweight difference-makers on less-than-desirable contracts.
At the same time, throwing out any ol' star won't fly. They need to be plausibly gettable. It doesn't matter if they're popular relocation candidates in the "Their team needs to blow it up!" discussion. We need more than that to go on, particularly if their incumbent squads have steadfastly refuted their availability. This nixes the likes of Bradley Beal, Joel Embiid, Kyle Lowry and Ben Simmons.
That leaves us with...a whole bunch of intriguing names. Hooray for us.
As ever, suggested destinations are neither formal predictions nor, in every case, officially rumored landing spots. They are merely new digs that I, and I alone, believe are great and realistic fits for players who may meander onto the trade block before next season.
Aaron Gordon: Minnesota Timberwolves
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Aaron Gordon's name is on the trade block in perpetuity. That does not appear on the verge of changing.
"They were really trying to deal him before the deadline, but they weren't getting the assets back they wanted," one Eastern Conference executive told Forbes' Sean Deveney. "It will be easier to move that contract when it's only got two years left. He's probably the most likely big name to be traded. He's a good gamble—he is only 24."
Jonathan Isaac's torn left ACL could leave the Orlando Magic inclined to keep Gordon. They have already ruled out the former through next season, and busting up the wonky Gordon-Isaac partnership on offense is part of any trade appeal. That won't be an issue for at least another year, and hanging on to Gordon would allow Orlando to hedge against a potential defensive drop-off from Isaac upon return.
Still, the Magic are in a position to think bigger picture. Isaac's absence through next year makes it difficult to envision the team significantly climbing up the Eastern Conference ladder. He was the swing piece. Without him, the Magic don't have that perspective cornerstone ready to pop. The Markelle Fultz resurrection is nice, and real, but not to that degree.
Orlando's enduring interest in scrapping for a middle-rung playoff berth could make for tough negotiations. The club might not be tempted by packages built almost squarely around win-later assets. Does that stance survive a return that includes the No. 1 pick?
This assumes the Minnesota Timberwolves would offer it for Gordon. They should. They need to figure out how to construct a league-average-ish defense around D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. Gordon is a good start.
His range basically runs the positional gamut; he can take spot possessions on a Russell Westbrook and rumble with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Pascal Siakam. Minnesota could get away with handing him backup 5 minutes when Towns is off the floor.
Giving up the No. 1 pick would be a lot, even by this draft's standards. Pairing that selection with James Johnson makes for a clean transaction, but the Timberwolves can try to expand the deal and work in Terrence Ross or, perhaps, the No. 15 pick.
It shouldn't be a total deal-breaker if the Magic won't sweeten the pot. Gordon drilled 36.1 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes after Jan. 1 and has improved his passing in the half court. If his long ball keeps falling at a reasonable clip, he'll be the quintessential fit at both ends for the Russell-Towns partnership.
Alternatively Intriguing Destination: Golden State Warriors
Jrue Holiday: Atlanta Hawks
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Jrue Holiday's future with the New Orleans Pelicans is difficult to read.
During an appearance on Complex's Load Management podcast (h/t Lonzo Wire's Jacob Rude), The Athletic's Shams Charania said the 30-year-old asked the team not to move him at February's trade deadline. He has yet to express any public sentiments to the contrary, and New Orleans, despite its inexperience at the top of the roster, remains well positioned to make immediate noise in the Western Conference.
Then again, the Pelicans' stint in the Disney World bubble could be interpreted as a cry for tempered expectations. They so clearly didn't have the defensive consistency or offensive firepower to navigate bogged-down stretches. It makes sense to shop an over-30 star at the peak of his powers who is one year out from free agency (player option) if they're not hellbent on chasing a postseason bid next season.