The next NBA superstar to win a title on their own will be the first.
Stars need help. They need good coaches, smart front offices and reliable role players.
More than anything, though, they need co-stars. Big Threes aren't necessarily championship requirements, but it takes at least a super-talented twosome to capture the crown.
With free agency unlikely to deliver top-tier running mates this summer, superstars will need their clubs to go sidekick shopping on the trade market. The following four deals could come together as a result.
Mavs Add Shot-Creator, Celtics Upgrade Interior
Dallas Mavericks receive: Kemba Walker
Boston Celtics receive: Kristaps Porzingis
With Jaylen Brown knocked out by left wrist surgery, Jayson Tatum and the Celtics needed Kemba Walker to star this postseason. Walker instead averaged 12.7 points in 30.3 minutes per game while shooting 31.7 percent from the field and 17.6 percent from deep before missing the final two contests with his latest round of left knee trouble.
Luka Doncic and the Mavs didn't ask much of Kristaps Porzingis, as an average allotment of secondary shooting, scoring and defending would've been enough to nudge Dallas past the Los Angeles Clippers. Porzingis couldn't even provide that. He put up just 13.1 points in 33.3 minutes, shot 29.6 percent from range and, despite standing 7'3", somehow averaged only 5.4 rebounds and 0.7 blocks.
Walker is owed $36.0 million next season and holds a $37.7 million player option for 2022-23. Porzingis will collect a combined $65.5 million over the next two campaigns before deciding on a $36.0 million player option for 2023-24.
It isn't hard to imagine that Boston and Dallas will be ready to split from their overpriced and underperforming stars. Maybe swapping them for each other would amount to lawn-furniture reshuffling, but it's possible each squad would view the other's fallen star as a better fit.
The Mavericks need another shot-creator to lighten the load on Doncic and make their attack less predictable. The Celtics need size and stretch shooting at the center spot. If this trade would make life easier on Doncic and Tatum, then it's worth an exploration by the front offices.
Grizzlies Get a Running Mate for Morant, Thunder Keep Playing the Long Game
Memphis Grizzlies receive: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Al Horford
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas, Justise Winslow, 2021 No. 17 pick and 2022 first-round pick (top-six protected, via Utah Jazz)
For now, the future looks blindingly bright for the Grizzlies, who have ranked among basketball's biggest surprises in each of Ja Morant's first two seasons. But as the grit-and-grinders project forward and think of ways to elevate around their floor general, clouds of uncertainty obscure the outlook.
Memphis doesn't have a second star. And it's too good to bottom out and find blue-chip talent at the top of the draft. The Grizzlies have collected some good prospects in recent years, but Jaren Jackson Jr. is the only other player with star-level upside. He is also coming off an injury-wasted season, has pretty serious durability concerns and has struggled with consistency in just about everything that isn't shooting.