With the NBA talent pool so widely spread out, and a number of major stars finally set to return from extended injury-induced absences, the League is primed for some potentially massive power shifts between now and next season. Single or double-star led teams could be looking for some big moves to push them to a championship, and that means blockbuster trade deals. With so much head coaching change-up too, a number of organizations will be reevaluating strategies during the offseason, which could mean previously untouchable pieces being brought to the table.
Of course, there are some names that likely wouldn’t move for anything. It’s hard to imagine anything pulling LeBron James or Anthony Davis away from LA after the show they’ve put on all year, Kawhi should have at least one more shot to bring the Clippers a title, and the Durant/Irving Brooklyn duo hasn’t even had the chance to play together yet. But barring those, and Stephen Curry, a lot of big names might be moving cities in some absolutely crazy trades. Here are 10 that could happen this offseason.
10. John Wall – New Orleans Pelicans
It’s no secret that John Wall could be leaving Washington. If the Wizards want to keep building around Bradley Beal, the veteran guard’s contract may be more than the team is willing to shoulder. The Pelicans are a young team with a ton of developing talent that could use a veteran playmaker and post-up defender.
Unfortunately, they’d likely have to part with Jrue Holiday to seal the deal. Losing their current best defensive force would be tough for a team that has been lambasted for their poor defensive, but Wall isn’t such a bad substitute on that end of the floor, and the man can still score. Throw in Lonzo Ball (hoping that he pans out better in Washington than he did this year), and it could be possible.
Wizards receive: Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball
Pelicans receive: John Wall
9. Zach LaVine – Los Angeles Lakers
Zach LaVine popped off this year in Chicago, averaging nearly 26 points per game and 38% from deep. He’s just now beginning to enter his prime, and while a future Bulls rise built around LaVine could certainly be appealing to the Chicago front office, there’s also a chance that his phenomenal season could be leveraged for some other powerful pieces. And if LaVine is on the table, the Lakers might want to take notice.
While the unique chemistry LA has built this year may likely propel them to a championship later this month, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is safe. The league will be more competitive next season, especially in the West with return of the Warriors, and major rising stars in Memphis, and Dallas, Phoenix, and New Orleans. And while Kyle Kuzma has had highlight moments with the Lakers, his performance hasn’t consistently been the peak that many had hoped for.
A package that includes Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green and Alex Caruso could be appealing to the Bulls for some here-and-now improvements, with development potential on Kuzma and Caruso. And LA would have a potential third All-Star, and a bright future with LaVine and Anthony Davis when LeBron eventually steps away.
Bulls receive: Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and Alex Caruso
Lakers receive: Zach LaVine
8. Karl-Anthony Towns – Boston Celtics
Whatever Boston’s doing, it’s not quite working. A slew of young talent and repeated deep playoff runs have failed to bring Brad Stevens to the NBA Finals, and as much as it would hurt to see any of the Celtics’ promising pieces go, it might be necessary. If sufficient resources were on the line – including Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, and possibly the 14th first-round pick – Boston could bring in Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Celtics team led by Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Towns would be very different than the one they’ve been running for the past couple years, most notably because of the sacrificed perimeter shooting. But that might be just what the Celtics need after consistent disappointment. On the Minnesota side, Brown and Smart would be massive playing alongside D’Angelo Russell, and Daniel Theis is far from the worst substitute you could ask for at the 5.
Timberwolves receive: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, and the 2020 14th pick
Celtics receive: Karl-Anthony Towns
7. Devin Booker – Brooklyn Nets
Since Kevin Durant departed Golden State, the League has been absent a true Big Three. That could change this postseason with Durant’s new team if the Nets made a deal with the Suns for Devin Booker. While it seems unlikely that Phoenix would part which Booker after his superstar-level showing in Orlando, but the Nets have a lot to offer even without putting Durant or Kyrie Irving on the table.
Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie have both proven their salt and potential this year, and they’re both solidly in their prime. Through Jarrett Allen and this year’s 19th pick, and we could see Kyrie bringing the ball up for Kevin Durant and Booker on the wings. It’s a trip that could easily take Brooklyn to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Suns receive: Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarret Allen, and the 2020 19th pick
Nets receive: Devin Booker
6. Joel Embiid – Golden State Warriors
Will Joel Embiid stay in Philadelphia? That’s one of the biggest questions this offseason. Doc Rivers coming on as the new Sixers head coach could bode well for a continued tenure for the big man, but if a trade does happen, it’s hard to imagine to better teammates for Embiid than Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
With the Warriors, Embiid would get the perimeter shooting he needs to open up the floor, and Golden State would get one of the most dominant inside forces in the NBA. Philly would make out fine too, if the trade package included great talents like Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, as the Warriors number two draft pick.
Parting with Draymond would be bittersweet, but he and Wiggins could be a strong build around Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris if the Sixers deems a major shake-up necessary. And a Steph/Klay/Embiid Warriors team could even give the Laker s a run for their money.
Sixers receive: Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and the 2020 2nd pick
Warriors receive: Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson, and Zhaire Smith
5. Bradley Beal – Atlanta Hawks
If the Wizards decide to hold onto Wall and build up younger talent under him as he ages into his 30s, then Bradley Beal could also be up for grabs. A play for Beal from Atlanta could net some immediate improvements to the Hawks lackluster performance this year, and might help Trae Young develop other areas of his game with the scoring pressure being shared between the two.
It would have to be a compelling package from Atlanta to make the sell, but a combo of John Collins, Cam Reddish, this year’s 5th draft pick, and possibly another pick down the line could be enough to see Beal move south.
Wizards receive: John Collins, Cam Reddish, 2020 5th pick, and a future first-round pick
Hawks receive: Bradley Beal
4. Russell Westbrook – Indiana Pacers
Is Russ worth the money Houston’s set to pay him after what he showed in the playoffs? Not necessarily. Does that mean that he’s washed? Of course not. There are lots of teams besides the Rockets who could make great use of the former MVP, and Indiana could be near the top of that list.
Packaging Westbrook with PJ Tucker in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and TJ Warren could be possible. It would help the new Rockets head coach start fresh with some great pieces without losing Harden, and it would give the Pacers a guaranteed veteran star to lead their crew. All in all, not a bad deal either way.
Rockets receive: Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and TJ Warren
Pacers receive: Russell Westbrook and PJ Tucker
3. Damian Lillard – Los Angeles Clippers
He’s denied it many times. He’s assured us all he’d never leave Portland. And that’s probably true. But what would it take for the Trail Blazers to lose their Golden Boy? Maybe, just maybe, Paul George and Lou Williams.
It’s hard to imagine after all the beef this postseason between the Blazers and the Clippers. But imagine a scenario where Dame is setting up for Kawhi, and vice-versa. Imagine the next time the Clippers need a big shot to get back in the game, it’s not Paul George who has to take it, but Damian Lillard.
The offensive potential and clutchness (acknowledging of course Kawhi’s major lapse against the Nuggets) would be off the charts. And in exchange, Portland would get something they desperately need – defense. It’s a longshot for sure, but it would be a wild way to shake things up in the West.
Trail Blazers receive: Paul George and Lou Williams
Clippers receive: Damian Lillard
2. James Harden – Philadelphia 76ers
Admittedly, this trade seemed a bit more probable when Mike D’Antoni was the frontrunner for Philly’s head coaching spot. But even with Doc Rivers in the director’s chair, there’s still a chance we could see James Harden coming to the East. A lot of it depends on what the Rockets decide to do in a post-D’Antoni world.
If major reworking is in Houston’s future, and Harden is no longer a guarantee, a team that needs veteran presence and perimeter shooting more than anything would be foolish not to at least make a bid for the former MVP. The Rockets could take home Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris as young keys to a new direction, and Harden would form a true powerhouse duo by teaming up with Embiid. Only time will tell.
Rockets receive: Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and a future pick
Sixers receive: James Harden
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Miami Heat
After two years in a row as League MVP, and two years in a row without a Finals appearance, the future of Giannis in Milwaukee is in question. A popular theoretical destination for the Greek Freak is Miami, a great team whose absence of a superstar is being made very apparent in their current Finals showdown with the Lakers. Of course, the Heat could easily make a comeback against LeBron and Anthony Davis, but even if they do, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t still jump at the chance to add Giannis to the roster next season.
Here’s what it would take – a sweep of most of Miami’s young talent. Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and probably the remaining contract for Andre Iguodala. That’s a big ask, especially given how sensational those three up-and-comers have been all year. But the heat would still hold Kendrick Nunn, and Jimmy Butler would still be leading the way. Plus Giannis? It’s crazy but possible. The Bucks would be set for the future with a dominant crew that’s only going to get better, and the Heat would have their superstar.
Bucks receive: Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Andre Iguodala
Heat receive: Giannis Antetokounmpo