Hope is fading for many NBA teams, as losses pile up and dreams of even making the play-in tournament start to feel far-fetched.
Hope springs eternal each offseason, of course, with franchises already dreaming up deals that can improve their outlooks.
For the six teams with the worst records in the NBA (excluding the Oklahoma City Thunder since those 34 draft picks in the next seven drafts carry a LOT of hope), the following moves can get them a little closer to playoff contention or at least lay a better foundation for a rebuild.
Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: G/F Jarrett Culver, PG Ricky Rubio
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: PF Taurean Prince, SF Cedi Osman, 2022 second-round pick (via Houston Rockets)
Can two of the NBA's worst teams actually help each other?
For the guard-heavy Wolves and the talent-needy Cavs, yes they can.
The Cavs were "doing due diligence" on Culver before the March 25 trade deadline, per The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski, and Cleveland previously brought him in for a private workout and dinner before the 2019 NBA draft.
The 22-year-old guard/forward's playing time has been slashed to just 15 minutes per game in his sophomore season because of the Wolves' newfound depth on the wing, headlined by star rookie Anthony Edwards. In Cleveland, Culver would have a bigger role backing up both Collin Sexton and Isaac Okoro, especially with Osman and Prince now gone.
Rubio would fill the veteran backup point guard role for the Cavs behind Darius Garland, running the second unit offense. As beloved as Matthew Dellavedova is in Cleveland, Rubio would be a huge upgrade.
For the Wolves, Prince is good enough to win the starting power forward job. The 27-year-old is averaging 10.3 points on 42.5 percent shooting from three in 26 games with Cleveland and can defend multiple positions.
Osman is a versatile backup who can play anything from shooting guard to power forward. His upside isn't as high as Culver's, but he can play a big role off the bench from Day 1 for a Minnesota team that needs to start winning.
The Cavs own three second-round picks in the 2022 NBA draft, so sending one to the Wolves to help facilitate the trade isn't a big deal.
Detroit Pistons Receive: C Jaxson Hayes, G Eric Bledsoe
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: G/F Josh Jackson, C Mason Plumlee, PG Cory Joseph
Jerami Grant would bring the most return in a trade, but Detroit shouldn't be in any hurry to part with its leading scorer and 2020 free-agent prize.
Building up the young talent base is priority No. 1. The Pistons need players who can complement point guard Killian Hayes and small forward Saddiq Bey.
Hayes is a raw, high-upside center who's destined for a backup role with the New Orleans Pelicans as long as Steven Adams is around. With Plumlee moved, Hayes could compete for the starting center job in Detroit. Still just 20, Hayes was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2019 draft and has averaged 15.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes for his career while shooting 66.7 percent from the field.
Bledsoe can play a mentor role for Hayes and is only under contract for one more season ($18.1 million in 2021-22), as his $19.4 million salary in 2022-23 is only has $3.9 million guaranteed.
For New Orleans, Bledsoe has become an unnecessary part of a backcourt that's trying to get younger. Moving him saves some money and opens up more playing time for guys like Kira Lewis Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Plumlee is enjoying the best season of his career (10.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 60.5 percent shooting overall) and would help New Orleans win immediately as the backup center.
Jackson is averaging 13.0 points per game for Detroit this season and can guard multiple positions, while Joseph is on an expiring deal (only $2.4 million out of $12.6 million is guaranteed if he's waived before June 30).
The Pistons will get a high-upside prospect, while New Orleans will add some win-now pieces.