Every NBA team will take a shopping list into the upcoming offseason.
Each of those lists is headlined by something—an established star, a potential-rich prospect or maybe just a role-playing puzzle piece.
We're here to highlight those somethings. By weighing team needs against potential trade budgets, we're spotlighting the dream trade target for every organization.
A few quick notes before getting started, though. To avoid any overlap, we won't use the same player more than once. And, yes, we are limiting this discussion to players only, again to avoid repetition, as several rebuilders might want more draft picks than anything.
Finally, we'll try to keep this within the realm of reality, though, since these are dreams, we'll use a generous application of that rule. In other words, players who are obviously off-limits—think Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry and Joel Embiid types—will be excluded. However, some franchise talents will pop up, presuming a (relatively) reasonable case could be made for their teams to shop them, by choice or by force.
Atlanta Hawks: Jaylen Brown
The Atlanta Hawks' summer dreams start and stop with Jaylen Brown feeling homesick. The odds of the Peach State native seeking a split from the Boston Celtics admittedly can't be great, but when he had a chance to publicly commit to the Shamrocks, he declined.
If he doesn't sign an extension this summer—he needs an All-NBA selection to be supermax-eligible—he could hit free agency in 2024. Maybe that would spur the Celtics into action, and if it does, the Hawks will be ready to pounce.
"It is not easy to get free agents to Atlanta but Jaylen Brown would be different," an Eastern Conference executive told Heavy.com's Sean Deveney. "… I think there is not question they are watching the situation with him. Closely."
Atlanta has an All-Star backcourt with Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, plus one of the Association's better center combinations in Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu. What they don't have, though, is a difference-making two-way wing. Landing Brown, a versatile defender and 23-plus-point scorer each of the past three seasons, could be the move that lets the Hawks soar into title contention.
Boston Celtics: Dorian Finney-Smith
The Boston Celtics might have the league's deepest roster, which frees coach Joe Mazzulla to call upon all kinds of small-ball and jumbo-sized lineups. They might quietly need more mid-sized options, though.
Move past Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and the Shamrocks have next-to-nothing at the wing spots. Dealing for Dorian Finney-Smith would change that.
The three-and-D swingman, who could be available given the Brooklyn Nets' wing depth and need for assets, can shift about anywhere defensively while typically providing a reliable three-ball at the other end. His outside shot went cold this season (33.7 percent), but considering that hadn't been an issue the previous three campaigns (38.9 percent), Boston might be smart to buy his bounce-back potential.
Brooklyn Nets: Damian Lillard
While the Brooklyn Nets dealt both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline, this summer still looms as a crossroads for the franchise. They could continue shipping out players for long-term assets, or they could flip some of the assets they have for an instant-impact star.
If they opt for the latter, Damian Lillard would be an incredible get. He is the offensive force they desperately need—Mikal Bridges looked a bit over his skis as a primary option in the playoffs—and they have the two-way wings Lillard has too often been without on the Portland Trail Blazers.
With Lillard sounding less than certain about his future in the Pacific Northwest, every squad in need of a star will surely give Portland a call. Brooklyn might still have enough trade chips to win the bidding war for the fire-balling floor general.