1 Dream, 1 Nightmare, 1 Realistic Deandre Ayton trade after Donovan Clingan pick

It may be in Portland's best interest to move on from Ayton following the Clingan selection.
Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Hornets
Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Hornets / David Jensen/GettyImages
1 of 3

The Portland Trail Blazers landed UConn center and back-to-back NCAA champion Donovan Clingan with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. While there's never a guarantee that a prospect will pan out, it seems like tremendous value for Clingan, who the Hawks were even considering with their No. 1 overall selection. However, the Clingan pick could potentially lead to a fallout in Portland of another player - their current starting center, Deandre Ayton.

Heading into the offseason, Portland had a backcourt logjam. Now, they have the opposite problem with four centers on their roster: Ayton, Clingan, Robert Williams III, and Duop Reath. The Blazers could keep Ayton, even experimenting with a twin-towers lineup to play him alongside Clingan. However, this certainly makes Ayton's situation in Portland much more interesting.

Dream Deandre Ayton trade for Trail Blazers

Ayton to Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are clearly in win-now mode due to 39-year-old LeBron James' short window. They did a great job snagging an immediate impact prospect in the draft, selecting Tennessee's Dalton Knecht, No. 17 overall, who was projected to be a top-ten pick. However, they still need more on their roster to put them over the top, especially in the loaded Western Conference.

Because of their situation, Los Angeles could be open to moving future assets (draft capital) to acquire more talent to improve their short-term outlook. Deandre Ayton would immediately slide in as the Lakers' starting center, allowing Anthony Davis to spend most of his minutes at power forward, which he seems more comfortable playing.

Meanwhile, the Blazers acquire a coveted 2029-first round pick from the Lakers, previously named a top ten trade asset this offseason by Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley. Los Angeles is one of the league's most attractive free-agent destinations, and it runs the risk of still being a late first-round pick because of that. However, LeBron will (should?) be out of the league by then, and the Lakers could also be in a challenging position transitioning from their post-LeBron era, potentially resulting in a top draft pick.

Regarding the other trade assets involved, Ben Simmons is on an expiring contract and is more of a salary filler. In this scenario, the Nets take on the Lakers' players' contracts, practically getting them for free in exchange for Simmons.

It's a dream scenario because it ultimately seems unlikely that Ayton is worth this Lakers' pick, which is viewed so highly around the league. Plenty of other players who are more impactful than Ayton that Los Angeles should be interested in could be made available for trade this offseason.