We finally have a timeline for the NBA offseason. After finishing its 2019-20 season in a bubble in Orlando, Florida, the world’s top basketball league is already beginning preparations for the new season. Free agency officially opens on Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. while training camps start on Dec. 1, and the first tip-off is set for Dec. 22.
However, rather than discuss free agents, today we’ll examine players who could change teams shortly. These players are either available because of injuries, expiring contracts, or teams opting to rebuild rather than continue a cycle of subpar play. Inevitably, most of these players won’t change teams in the coming weeks, but some will.
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
When it comes to altering shots at the rim, very few players are even near Gobert’s level. Statistically, the Stifle Tower is even recognizably better than Joel Embiid. However, the All-Star doesn’t offer much offensively. Feeding Gobert in the post slows the game down and can wreck Utah’s offense, which thrived when Donovan Mitchell took over in the NBA bubble.
Gobert is a free agent after the 2020 season, and he might request a deal worth at least $30 million per year. A one-dimensional rim protector doesn’t have that kind of value in the modern NBA.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
According to The Athletic, Gordon isn’t happy with the diminished role he’s playing in Houston. Gordon was the Sixth Man of the Year during the 2016-17 season, but he became less central to the offense in recent years, despite attempting a similar number of shots.
The Rockets are facing serious issues as they bring in a new general manager and head coach. Russell Westbrook wants significant changes or to be traded. Gordon and Danuel House aren’t happy with their roles, and P.J. Tucker is “irate” about his contract situation. Perhaps the Rockets will exchange some of their older pieces for younger role players.
Multiple Rockets have expressed frustrations:
◾️ Eric Gordon was unhappy with how his role diminished since 2016-17
◾️ Danuel House wasn’t pleased with his offensive usage and verbally challenged Harden and Westbrook
◾️ P.J. Tucker has been "irate" over his contract
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) November 12, 2020
Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
Griffin’s best years might be behind him, but the 31-year-old already proved he’s capable of returning from serious injuries. After watching his standing in the NBA diminish for several seasons, Griffin remodeled his game and earned an All-NBA 3rd Team selection in 2018. Griffin underwent knee surgery in January, but he should be available for the 2020 season.
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings
Three-point shooting is valued at an all-time high. Hield isn’t going to develop into an All-Star like some fans hoped, but he’s still one of the NBA’s best sharpshooters. Since entering the NBA four years ago, Hield has made 41.1% of his three-pointers. For reference, Stephen Curry made 42.0% of his threes over that time while Klay Thompson made 41.8% of his.
Hield became frustrated with the Kings last season when they moved him out of the starting lineup and failed to establish a winning culture. He reached a four-year, $94 million extension with Sacramento last year, which made the benching even more surprising. Hield could be the missing piece for a three-point needy team like the Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers.
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans
Holiday hasn’t earned an All-Star selection since the 2012-13 season, but he’s a perennial All-Star candidate. The 30-year-old is also a former All-Defensive player with his last selection coming during the 2018-19 season. He’s also a high-character leader and took home the Teammate of the Year award this past season.
A combo-guard capable of running offenses or working off the ball, Holiday could fit on almost any team. He’s easily worth 18 to 19 points, six to seven assists, and five rebounds per game. The Pelicans could use Holiday’s stability as their young players grow, but the team might also commit to giving more playing time and money to its young stars.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
This move has to happen eventually. Love can’t finish his career with the flailing Cavaliers. Cleveland doesn’t even have the foundation of a team ready to return to the playoffs. At 32 years old, Love’s value is decreasing by the year. His days of MVP-caliber and perennial All-Star play are behind him. A competitor might target Love as the final piece of a championship lineup as the Cavaliers look to acquire more assets for their never-ending rebuild.
There are rumors linking Love to the Golden State Warriors, which would vault Stephen Curry’s team back into title contention immediately.
Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers
After battling a slew of injuries over the past two seasons, it’s unclear what Oladipo’s trade value is. According to Bleacher Report and The Indianapolis Star’s J. Michael, the former star shooting guard asked multiple teams if he could play with them in front of his current teammates last year. Yikes, that’s not a good look for Oladipo.
Victor Oladipo reportedly asked other teams "Can I come play with y'all?" in front of his Pacers teammates
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 12, 2020
The former All-Star is entering the final season of his contract, where he’ll make $21 million. If Oladipo plays well, the shooting guard could request a significant raise. He’s only the 11th-highest-paid shooting guard in the NBA in terms of annual salary.
Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder might want to blow up their team this season for the sake of saving some cash. Paul has an expensive contract, but Oklahoma City’s front office wants to focus on being more economically conservative in the future. Despite performing at a high level last season, the Thunder could be losing their head coach and best player in the same year.
In 2019, Paul made the tenth All-Star game of his career and earned an All-NBA 2nd Team selection as the Thunder finished with the fifth-best record in the Western Conference (44-28). Before the season, analysts believed Oklahoma City wouldn’t even make the playoffs. At 35 years old, Paul can still play like a superstar.
As recently as Nov. 10, Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps wrote for ESPN about the Phoenix Suns discussing a trade for the future Hall of Fame point guard.
Josh Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers
Richardson has one of the only tradable contracts on the 76ers. The team doesn’t want to give up Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons, while Tobias Harris and Al Horford have unreasonable contracts. On the other hand, Richardson is only making roughly $10.8 million this coming season. He offers a solid defensive presence and some three-point shooting.
The 76ers should realize they need to make some moves to get over the playoff hump. Looking at the team’s payroll, Richardson stands out as a player who might have to be involved in any deal to get discussions going.
Dennis Schroder, Oklahoma City Thunder
Schroder was a candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award. The 27-year-old guard is entering the final season of his contract. While he’ll make $15.5 million this year, Schroder could raise his value by matching his 2019 performance. The Thunder seem destined to rebuild with a younger core led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, making Schroder a prime trade asset this season.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers are closing in on a deal for Schroder that would send Danny Green and the No. 28 overall pick to Oklahoma City. The trade could be done as early as Monday.
The Los Angeles Lakers are in advanced talks with Oklahoma City on a trade for guard Dennis Schroder, sources tell ESPN. Deal expected to include OKC acquiring LA’s pick at No. 28 in Wednesday’s draft. Deal can be completed at noon ET on Monday.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 15, 2020
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers
Per The Indianapolis Star’s J. Michael, the Pacers have discussed deals involving Turner and Oladipo. Indiana has already talked with the Boston Celtics about putting a deal together for the defensive specialist, and the Houston Rockets might want to throw their names in the mix as well. Turner never blossomed into the All-Star that some people believed he could become, but the 24-year-old still offers excellent rim protection.
The Pacers are several pieces away from competing for a championship, which means minor roster reconstruction is necessary. Turner is entering the second season of a four-year, $80 million deal that could impede Indiana’s chances of acquiring more star players. He might get traded before Oladipo because of the shooting guard’s injury history.
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
The Magic seem destined to make the playoffs each season as an eighth or seventh seed and get eliminated in the first-round. If Orlando is tired of that depressing cycle, the team might make some drastic moves. Vucevic is only one year removed from an All-Star season, and he dominated against the Milwaukee Bucks in the bubble. The 30-year-old’s value is at an all-time high.
Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors
Wiggins has three years remaining on his five-year, $147.7 million contract. He’ll make roughly $29.5 million this season, according to Spotrac. That’s a lot of money for an inconsistent 25-year-old with a below-average three-point shot and little defensive upside. Wiggins goes on streaks occasionally, and he’s scored 8,943 points in his first six seasons, but that hasn’t translated to winning.
The Warriors plan to return to contention this year and could even trade away their lottery pick to do so. However, Wiggins comprises a considerable portion of the team’s already large payroll. If Golden State could trade him for two or three role players, they should do it in an instant.
Unlikely Superstar Trades
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks won’t trade the back-to-back MVP. Antetokounmpo has accomplished more in the past two seasons than most Bucks have in the past 20 years. He seems committed to winning in Milwaukee, but recent rumors haven’t ruled out a trade to South Beach.
Per iHeart Radio personality Ashley Nicole, Antetokounmpo is open to signing a long-term deal with Miami after his contract ends following the upcoming season.
adding to this, Giannis splits his offseason between Greece and Miami. per sources, he’s prepared to sign a long-term deal in Miami.
— Ashley Nicole. (@AshNicoleMoss) November 3, 2020
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Beal didn’t make the All-Star game this past season, but he averaged over 30 points per game. He’s remained relatively healthy over the past four seasons and become one of the best scorers in the NBA. For reference, Beal scored 1,741 points in just 57 games this past season.
The Wizards want another look at Beal playing with John Wall. The injured point guard plans to make his return this coming season. However, Beal is in the final year of his current deal. If Washington doesn’t trade him now, they risk losing him for nothing.
James Harden, Houston Rockets
Harden is a generational talent and one of the five best offensive players in the league. Houston doesn’t want to move on from the former MVP, but a list of preferred trade destinations leaked on Nov. 11. It’s still unlikely that Harden leaves Houston, but the door has opened ever so slightly.
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 11, 2020
I was initially planning on including Russell Westbrook alongside his fellow superstar teammate, but news broke on Nov. 11 that the point guard requested a trade or significant changes within the organization. The Rockets already changed their head coach and general manager. There aren’t many more changes Houston can make to appease Westbrook.
BREAKING: Russell Westbrook requests a trade, per @ShamsCharania
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 12, 2020
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Embiid is 26 years old and a top-ten player in the NBA. Ben Simmons is 24 years old and a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. If these two stars stay healthy, the 76ers can at least make the second-round of the playoffs every year. It will take growth from Embiid as a three-point shooter and Simmons as a jump shooter to make a deeper run. Doc Rivers won’t blow this duo up before getting at least a year to coach them.