The 2020 NBA free-agent class doesn’t have the star power of recent years, and the financial impact of COVID-19 on the player contracts remains to be seen, but that doesn’t mean teams around the league won’t pursue players to bolster this roster for another championship run before a new season eventually resumes.
While some players teams will try to sign are more realistic than others, let’s breakdown the potential acquisitions for each team heading into the 2020-2021 season.
Atlanta Hawks - DeMar DeRozan (Trade or FA)
DeRozan has a $27.8 million player option next year, according to hispanosnba.com, but whether he accepts it or not, the Hawks should look to acquire him. Atlanta is a young and talented team that lacks the consistency and professionalism needed to win right now.
The 30-year-old Spurs guard would not only provide needed stability in the backcourt, but could also be a great example to Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish of how to conduct oneself at the highest level and be an effective scorer for a long time.
Atlanta also has plenty of money to spend next season and are losing many of their current veterans, so DeRozan could be the asset it needs to take its young core to the next level.
Boston Celtics - Joel Embiid (Trade)
This trade would be a nightmare for 76ers fans but a blessing for Boston. The Celtics have almost their entire current roster still on the books for next season so they would need to trade away expensive assets like Marcus Smart and Goran Hayward to make this deal happen, but it’s feasible.
Boston’s only playable centers now are Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis who, although solid offensive players, aren’t major impacts on defense. Embiid would give them a force inside that Celtics fans haven’t seen since Kevin Garnett and would pair nicely with Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. Boston might have to give up Jaylen Brown to get him too, but it might just be worth the price.
Brooklyn Nets - Bradley Beal (Trade)
The Nets have a lot of money committed to their roster next season, but a package deal for Bradley Beal could work. Beal seems content on the Wizards, but combining him with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant would be an offensive powerhouse. All three can with or without the ball and shoot from deep.
Opposing teams would struggle mightily to keep up with this big three’s scoring pace, and Jarrett Allen is still cap-friendly enough to keep on the roster as well. The supporting cast of DeAndre Jordan, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Taurean Prince would mostly have to go, making this team top-heavy, but this trade would likely make Brooklyn the top team in the Eastern Conference if executed.
Charlotte Hornets - Montrezl Harrell (FA)
Harrell is an unrestricted free agent after this season and exploded off the bench for the Clippers this season with 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in just 27.8 minutes per game, according to basketball-reference. Charlotte has a decent amount of cap space in 2020-2021 and could use an inside presence with a high motor to help lessen the attention opposing teams put on its backcourt.
The Hornets don’t have the trade assets to get a superstar-caliber player and aren’t a popular free agent destination, but if they put the right number in front of Harrell, he could blossom into an All-Star player come next season.
Chicago Bulls - Derrick Rose (Trade)
The Bulls haven’t had a reliable point guard since their former MVP point guard tore his ACL, but since Rose is looking rejuvenated these days to the tune of 18 points per game off the bench over the last two seasons, bringing him back to his hometown would be a true feel-good story.
He’s owed nearly $7.7 million next season, but Chicago would have enough cap space and assets to bring him in. Rose could not only give them stability as the primary ball-handler but also mentor young stars like Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen. The rest of the roster still needs work, but that core four would give Bulls fans something to cheer about at least.
Cleveland Cavaliers - Gordon Hayward / DeMar DeRozan (Trade)
Cleveland’s roster is a mess and trading away Kevin Love’s massive contract would probably do more good than any single player it could reasonably obtain. Still, like the Hornets, the Cavaliers could use some productive veterans to help mentor their young backcourt.
Hayward and DeRozan both have player options next season but don’t seem to be a great fit for their current situations, so Cleveland could bring one of them in if the roster was reshaped a bit. Either player would bring another mature voice into the locker room and inject the team with scoring, both of which are desperately needed on the Cavaliers.
Dallas Mavericks - Rudy Gobert (Trade)
Dallas has been looking for a true center since Deandre Jordan almost signed with them a few years ago, and given Gobert’s current issues with some Jazz players, he might be on the trading block this offseason.
Pairing Gobert with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingus would give the Mavericks a much needed defensive anchor and rebounder, and Doncic’s superb passing could also often set Gobert up for easy lobs and dunks.
Dallas has most of the pieces to make a future championship run beside a true center, and Gobert could potentially take the franchise over the hump.
Denver Nuggets - Donovan Mitchell (Trade)
With Paul Millsap’s $30.5 million contract off the books next season, Denver could potentially bring in another upper-tier player to pair with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Similar to Gobert, Mitchell’s situation with the Jazz may be damaged from the COVID-19 situation. So if he wants out, the Nuggets could be a good landing spot.
Denver could use another true scorer alongside Murray to help make use of Jokic’s passing abilities. Mitchell can not only create for himself but is also a great cutter, so he would thrive with the Nuggets’ talented roster. His presence would likely thrust them into championship contention.
Detroit Pistons - Devin Booker (Trade)
Detroit has plenty of cap space next season and lacks a true identity as a team, so they need a star to build around since it’s unclear if Blake Griffin will ever be healthy for a full season again. Because there’s no truly great obtainable free agents coming up, the Pistons would have to trade picks and young assets to get someone who could change the course of the franchise.
Booker hasn’t played a significant minute of basketball in Phoenix and a change of scenery could alter his career trajectory. He’s a prolific scorer and playmaker who could carry the load of a team filled with role players, and if Griffen is healthy, the two would fit nicely together. If the Pistons could build around those two, who knows what’s possible.
Golden State Warriors - Giannis Antetokounmpo (Trade)
After trading for Andrew Wiggins earlier this season, it appeared like the Warriors were preparing to make another run next season once their stars were healthy.
If they were to make another major move, however, they’re one of the few teams in the NBA with the assets to acquire Antetokounmpo if he made it clear he wouldn’t sign an extension with Milwaukee after 2021. They’d likely have to give up Klay Thompson or Draymond Green and Wiggins, but it’d be worth it to see how much damage a Stephen Curry and Antetokounmpo duo could do.
Houston Rockets - Danilo Gallinari (FA)
Houston doesn’t have much cap space next season, but if it could trade Eric Gordon’s contract and make some other moves, they could potentially bring on a free agent like Gallinari. The sharp-shooting power forward would fit perfectly with the Rockets’ pace and space style.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook would easily set him up for triples, which he’s making at a 42.1% clip over the last two seasons while drawing defenders’ attention enough to open up driving lanes for Houston’s star guards. Gallinari may be a bit too expensive for Houston to get him, but if Daryl Morey can make it happen, it’s a match made in heaven.
Indiana Pacers - Devin Booker / Bradley Beal (Trade)
The Pacers have most of their roster signed through next season, but that means they have the trade assets to trade for a true star if they choose to. Letting go of the injury-prone Victor Oladipo might have to happen if Indiana is going to become a true contender, and a scoring-machine like Booker or Beal would give them a true No. 1 option.
Booker and Beal would be surrounded with complimentary players for the first time in their careers, so who knows how good they could really be with a deep and selfless team like Indiana.
Los Angeles Clippers - Andre Drummond (Trade or FA)
The Clippers already have two stars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and most of their money committed to their core for next season. With Harrell being a free agent next season, however, they could use another formidable big man. Andre Drummond has a $25.4 million player option for next season, and whether he accepts it or not, the Clippers could move some pieces around and bring him in.
He would compliment Leonard and George with his tenacious rebounding and rim-running abilities, as well as help counter Anthony Davis and the size of the Lakers. Drummond, Leonard and George might just be the best big-three in the NBA if it happened.
Los Angeles Lakers - Damian Lillard (Trade)
The Lakers would probably have to strip their entire supporting cast to make this trade feasible, as well as convince Lillard that winning a title in Portland is a lost cause, all of which isn’t easy. If it were to happen, they’d be the best team in the league for years to come.
Lillard’s superb 3-point shooting and shot-creating skills would fit nicely alongside the unselfish LeBron James and versatile Anthony Davis, making almost every opponent weary of how to matchup. Lillard’s defense is suspect, but seeing how James and Irving once succeeded together, it’s hard to argue that they’d at least make it to multiple Finals.
Memphis Grizzlies - Goran Dragic (FA)
Memphis has a surprising amount of money on the books for next season and are solid in the frontcourt. They could use a veteran wing and mentor to Ja Morant, and Dragic would fit that role nicely.
At age 34, Dragic’s best basketball is behind him, but he can still give a young team 25 productive minutes as a sixth-man. His shooting ability and basketball I.Q. would greatly help take Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. to the next level while also leading the bench unit when they’re off the floor. It might not be a flashy signing, but it’d be effective for what the Grizzlies seem to be trying to build for the future.
Miami Heat - Bradley Beal (Trade)
The Heat have cap space to play with heading into next season, but because they have so many young players on team-friendly contracts, they could offer a team like the Wizards a huge package for another star like Beal to pair with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Beal would become the No.1 scoring option on an unselfish and gritty Miami team that could make a deep run in the East with this new big-three.
Milwaukee Bucks - Zach LaVine / Devin Booker (Trade)
The Bucks don’t have salary room to sign a free agent and already seem to have a team capable of winning a championship. Another playoff loss might make their front office reconsider, and if they did, Milwaukee could use some help at shooting guard.
Perimeter scorers like LaVine and Booker could help not only space the floor for Antetokounmpo but also provide a counter to teams that try to pack the paint against the Bucks as Toronto did in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Either guard can score in isolation and within an offensive system, as well as be a more reliable second option than Khris Middleton. The Bucks might have to sacrifice their depth, though.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Devin Booker (Trade)
Minnesota has some cap space next year and could make a move to acquire a third star to put with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. Although they don’t have a ton of good players to trade besides rookie Jarrett Culver, they’ll likely have a high lottery pick that could be desirable to a team like the Suns.
Booker hasn’t had any team success in Phoenix and could want a new opportunity elsewhere come next season, and his skills fit nicely with Minnesota’s perimeter-oriented frontmen. It’d likely take a number of picks and perhaps a third team to make the deal work, but it’d finally give Timberwolves fans a team worth watching.
New Orleans Pelicans - Marc Gasol (FA)
The Pelicans have a great young core and some space to sign a free agent. They could use a center with some shooting and playmaking ability to help bring along Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes, and Gasol would fit that role perfectly and at a reasonable price.
At age 35, he probably doesn’t have many productive seasons left, but his leadership and winning pedigree combined with J.J. Reddick’s would pay dividends on youngsters like Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. He’s the perfect asset to keep the Pelicans competitive while developing their young core.
New York Knicks - Chris Paul (Trade)
The Knicks have one the strangest rosters and cap situations in the league, but they do have a decent amount of assets to trade. The franchise has been in desperate need of a point guard for some time, and Paul would give the team the kick in the butt it needs to get back to winning.
Paul is an outspoken and respected player in league circles and would push younger players like R.J. Barrett Kevin Knox to be better versions of themselves. He’s the leader New York needs to not be a laughing stock, but it’s doubtful this trade could be executed.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Bojan Bogdanovic / Kelly Oubre Jr. (Trade)
Although Chris Paul has been fantastic for the Thunder this season, his massive contract would be best to trade away if possible after this season. Unfortunately, they’ll probably have to take a worse player to do so, but a forward like Bogdanovic or Oubre Jr. would be a good fit in return.
Both players can shoot, score in bunches and can play alongside a guard-heavy roster. Oklahoma City doesn’t have many good forwards signed for next year, so trading Paul for a good scoring forward to pair with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be best for the future of the franchise.
Orlando Magic - Andrew Wiggins (Trade)
The Magic have a lot of money committed to their players for next season, but most of their players are on relatively decent deals and could be dealt. If Wiggins doesn’t work out with the Warriors like they’d like next season, he could be a good fit in Orlando.
Not only would he not have to deal with the pressure of a winning organization like Golden State, but he’d be surrounded by enough talent on the Magic that he hopefully wouldn’t just coast on a bad team as he did in Minnesota.
If engaged, Wiggins could help Orlando make the playoffs in the weaker East and perhaps reforge the poor perception he’s garnered around the league. He can score and is as athletic as they come. Why not give him a shot?
Philadelphia 76ers - CJ McCollum (Trade)
The 76ers have made several interesting trades in recent years to try and build a championship team around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, but it hasn’t always resulted in teams that fit on the court. The team can’t find a perimeter shot creator, and trading for McCollum would immediately provide that skillset.
He signed an extension in the summer of 2019 and is a piece Portland might be interested in moving if the team continues to tread water in the competitive Western Conference, so the 76ers might not have to give up too much in return to get him. The more challenging feat would be creating the cap space, particularly since Al Horford’s deal severely lowers his trade value, but they have some valuable assets to move around.
Phoenix Suns - Danillo Gallinari / Davis Bertans (FA)
The Suns have some cap room for next season and they have a number of avenues they could go down to help improve the team. A smart move would be to bolster the power forward spot with either Gallinari or Bertans.
Both are elite shooters who would help space the floor to let Deandre Ayton work in the paint and Booker to drive to the hoop. Phoenix is a young bunch that needs to find a winning formula, and getting a quality stretch-four would be a good start.
Portland Trail Blazers - Kevin Love (Trade)
Portland would probably have to trade C.J. McCollum to get it done, but adding Love with Jusuf Nurkic and Damian Lillard would form an intriguing big-three. Love still has productive basketball left in him when healthy and being the third option for the Blazers would be a good spot to finish his career.
He and Nurkic are both skilled bigs who could play off of each other, and pick-and-pops with Lillard would come naturally. Love is owed a lot of money over the next few years, but if Portland is willing to take the risk, he could be a surprisingly great addition.
Sacramento Kings - Hassan Whiteside (FA)
The Kings are an up-and-coming team in the West but haven’t had a true paint presence since DeMarcus Cousins. Signing the man they drafted 33rd overall in 2010, Whiteside, could be the answer.
The 7-foot center had a remarkable resurgence this season for Portland and would greatly help Sacramento’s rebounding and interior defense issues. The team could also likely get him at a reasonable price. Marvin Bagley, though, has to improve his outside jumper if they were to play productive minutes together.
San Antonio Spurs - C.J. McCollum / Julius Randle (Trade)
The Spurs have most of their cap space locked-up next season and they’re in NBA limbo these days being a decent team with no chance at a title. They’ll need to get creative if the organization hopes to return to the days of Tim Duncan, and two reasonably achievable moves they could make would be to trade for McCollum and/or Randle.
Both players can score and play positions that San Antonio is currently weak in, while also injecting some youthful energy into one of the older and slower teams in the league. The defense won’t improve with these two, but they’ll at least make the offense more dynamic.
Toronto Raptors - Bogdan Bogdanovic / Andre Drummond (FA)
A number of players from the Raptors' 2019 championship team will be free agents after this season, so in an effort to retool the team with their cap space, Bogdanovic and Drummond would help fill out the starting five. Bogdanovic would give them a needed perimeter threat and Drummond would do the dirty work in the paint that Pascal Siakam can’t with his slim frame.
It’s unlikely they’d get both since Drummond has a player-option and Bogdanovic is a restricted free agent, so a trade may be more realistic.
Utah Jazz - Nikola Vucevic (Trade)
The Jazz might have some chemistry issues to address before next season from the COVID-19 debacle, and that might open the door to some creative trades. If moving Gobert were to happen, acquiring Nikola Vucevic might be a better fit.
His offensive prowess and ability to space the floor would compliment shooters like Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles while allowing Mitchell to settle for fewer jumpers and attack the rim. Utah has prided itself on its defense in the past, but taking a more offensively-focused approach could take them over the hump eventually.
Washington Wizards - Montrezl Harrell / Serge Ibaka (FA)
The Wizards are in a tough spot having signed John Wall to a max contract before he tore his Achilles tendon, but he and Beal still make one of the best backcourts in the NBA when healthy.
What Washington needs is a reliable big man who can keep up with the team’s high-tempo offense, and Harrell and Ibaka both provide that to varying degrees. Both can play off Wall and score in double figures while remaining a defensive force in the paint, something the Wizards desperately need.