We are currently in the midst of yet another NBA season, and with that comes valuable insight into which rosters are working, and which ones need to be revamped. It is easily observed that certain teams are having problems with personnel, and as a result, we can start to evaluate which players may be looking at a change of scenery next season. Certainly, there were many moves made during the last offseason, and there promises to be an entire host of transactions that will be on their way for 2017. The question is, who will end up getting the boot?
Some players are obviously stuck in bad situations, but for some others, their struggles with a certain team are not so clear. In many cases, talented players are held back by a rebuilding or inept franchise, and they can get overlooked when talking about the best players in the league. It's that time of the NBA season where we start to examine which players will be better served with a new team for the next campaign. For some players, it could be the catalyst that ends up saving their career.
Ranked below are 15 NBA players who NEED to change teams next season.
15 Kyle Lowry
Lowry is now a league-veteran, and it's fair to wonder how long he'll want to stick around in Toronto. He's still a very productive player, and plays a premium position in the back-court. It's just a matter of whether the Raptors decide to move on from him or DeMar DeRozan, but the latter is younger, and could stand to stay a few more years in the same system. Lowry is nearing the age where he is in "win now" mode, and will want to to go to a real competitor. The Raptors are bound to come up short in the playoffs for the foreseeable future, and could still get a solid return for Lowry if they were able to trade him. The move would benefit both parties, and give Lowry a better shot at a winner.
14 Andre Drummond
As the center position becomes an increasing rarity in the NBA, Drummond proves that the position can still have worth in this days and age. The problem is, he's surrounded by a lack of talent in Detroit, with not much support from the front office. Truthfully, the Pistons aren't going anywhere, anytime soon, and Drummond is the kind of player that could turn a borderline team into a real contender. He's put in his time in Detroit, currently in his fifth season with the team, and at a very young 23 years of age, he's not even in the prime of his career yet. This will make his value extremely high, which should be enough incentive for the Pistons to make the move. In return, Drummond will actually get to play on a quality roster, and really begin to establish himself.
13 Jabari Parker
Parker struggles from being on an anonymous roster, on a team stuck in no-man's land. The Bucks are not going to be playoff threats anytime soon, and Parker has to be getting restless for a real shot at a winner. He was a highly coveted draft pick out of Duke, and since he's been in the league, he hasn't really had the opportunity to showcase his skills as a part of a legitimate roster. He's very young at age 21, and this season has seen him average more points per game than any other season he's been in the league. This will give him leverage to request a trade, and he's likely to have many potential suitors in the offseason. A team like the Raptors or Grizzlies could potentially be looking for a young, upcoming star scorer, and Parker would fit the bill.
12 Brook Lopez
As the one bright spot on an otherwise horrible Nets roster, Lopez deserves to see a new space next season. Brooklyn is arguably the worst team in the Eastern Conference, and Lopez should be a household name in the league, as one of the best big-men in the game. Currently in the prime of his career, Lopez could be an asset to a team in search of a championship, and shouldn't be wasting away on a team that is clearly in need of a total rebuild. He still has several years of peak productivity left, and the Nets would be wise to move him soon. On a team this bad, Lopez isn't gunning to stay though, and he'll probably request a move before it's even brought up inside the front office. Without a doubt, the Nets are horrible, and Lopez is still a very good player, and should be on a roster than can demonstrate that.
11 Zach LaVine
While the Timberwolves definitely have a bright future, it remains to be seen if there's enough room for Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, and LaVine all on the same roster. All three have demonstrated their talents, and are all rising stars in the league, but selling off LaVine just before the prime of his career, could bring in a veteran that could bring Minnesota into the realm of playoff contender. Additionally, LaVine would have a bigger role on a new team, and his scoring prowess would be on full display. It doesn't hurt that he's having a breakout season this year, and there will definitely be a team that takes the bait in the offseason if the front office wants to make the move. This one benefits both parties just about equally.
10 Jimmy Butler
It may have taken a few years for everybody to fully take notice, but Butler is one of the most talented players in the league. On a Bulls roster that seems to be in a bit of a crisis, signing questionable veterans like Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo last offseason, Butler should be growing weary of being on a team that isn't committed to building a winner from the ground up. Of course, if he was put on the trade block, it would be a pandemonium-riddled bidding war, to determine which team would get him. For Butler though, it would probably be worth it, as Chicago is appearing less and less likely to truly turn into the contender that some thought they would be a few years ago. Butler has only gotten better while the team has gotten worse, and he may be looking for a way out.
9 Damian Lillard
Lillard's stock has risen considerably over the past several seasons, as he's now been recognized as the truly great scorer that he is. Unfortunately for him, the Trail Blazers have faltered, once considered decent playoff contenders, they now struggle to maintain a record above the .500 mark. It's time for a change of scenery for Lillard, and he'll be one of the most highly coveted names in the offseason, for a boatload of teams. The scary part is, he's just hitting his prime right now, and could turn into a perennial 30 points-per-game scorer next season, so whichever team lands him is getting a truly elite player. Portland on the other hand will look to rebuild, as they've hit some pretty low depths recently, with Lillard as the one bright spot on the team.
8 John Wall
From a pure talent perspective, there are few point guards in the league that can boast the skills that Wall possesses. He's gotten ridiculed as a selfish player in years past, but that's mostly because the Wizards have had minimal talent surrounding him. He deserves a shot on a contender, and there would be plenty of teams willing to pick up his price tag. Wall is still young, and has improved his passing to make him a truly all-around great player. He'll command a high price, but if he seeks another team in the offseason, there will be plenty of bidders willing to pay it. And it would get him out of D.C., where the Wizards look to be in no-man's-land, with little in the way of hope for the future. All things considered, Wall should be one of the most targeted players in the offseason acquisition period.
7 Dante Exum
Having just turned 21 years-old, Exum is still extremely young, and hasn't really hit his stride in most areas of his game, but that doesn't change the fact that he has a ton talent, that will start to materialize soon. Despite performing better than expected, it doesn't seem that the Jazz are the team where that could best happen, and Exum's fortunes could be better elsewhere. He's a versatile player, and any team that is a burgeoning contender (Timberwolves, Sixers, etc.) could use his services, which are heavy on passing and court-awareness. It remains to be seen if this will actually happen, but there's certainly a market for a player like Exum, and it will likely involve a team with better long-term prospects than the Jazz currently have. Not a given, but definitely a situation to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
6 Kristaps Porzingis
The Knicks may have struck gold when they took Porzingis as their first-round pick in the 2015 draft, but the rest of the team hasn't followed suit. Truth be told, New York will be in no-man's land as long as Carmelo Anthony is the main focus of the team. The Derek Rose signing in the offseason will also turn out to be a disaster, and they're very much a team without a discernible direction; something that can't be sitting well with Porzingis, as he showcases himself as the lone young quality player on the team. There will be potential suitors for a player with his skill, and if the chaos in the Knicks' organization continues, it wouldn't be surprising to see him looking for a way out, even though he's so young in his career at this point.
5 Paul George
The Pacers are another strong candidate for a franchise that will clean house in the offseason, and that will work to the benefit of George's career. The 26-year-old scorer will find plenty of potential new places to play, and everyone will be chomping at the bit to land such a quality young talent. He's still young enough that he could go to a team that's on the cusp of being really good, see through the end of a rebuilding process, and still be around for when the team is in contention. This gives George plenty of options, and there's little question that he'll eventually want out of Indiana, a team that hasn't been able to put it all together for the seven years of service that he's been there. Another player that's sure to make headlines in the offseason, giving his new team a star player.
4 Mike Conley
One of the most underrated players in the league, Conley has put in plenty of time on the Grizzlies roster, only to come up short time and time again. They have a penchant for playing tough against elite teams, but that doesn't change the fact that they've always come up short, and at age 29, he's definitely going to be looking for a way out of town soon. Lucky for him, point guard is always a position in demand, and Conley is one of the best in the league, even though he doesn't always get the credit he deserves. General managers around the league have no doubt taken note of that though, and it's likely that Conley could find himself on a quality roster, that would give him a real chance of success in the playoffs.
3 DeMarcus Cousins
In the past few years, Cousins has proven himself to be one of the top stars in the league, but he's on a franchise that's proven themselves to be one of the most dysfunctional. The Kings have been involved in a bevy of poor decisions, involving coaching and personnel, and this hasn't been lost on Cousins, who no doubt realizes that his time in Sacramento should be coming to an end soon. Good news for him is that he can afford to demand top-dollar, and he'll be one of the most popular acquisitions in the offseason this year. Where he ends up is anyone's guess, but it'll be the team willing to shell out the most money, and they'll be getting one of the best young players in the league, who figures to stay productive for another ten years or so.
2 Jahlil Okafor
While his defense may questionable, Okafor will end up being a prolific scorer over his NBA career. The issue for him currently is that he doesn't really fit in the Sixers' system, with the team being built around fellow big-man Joel Embiid, and first overall pick Ben Simmons. As a result, Okafor should be looking for new ground. Plenty of teams will give him a chance, but the question is whether the Philadelphia front office will want to move him so early in his career. They'd be able to get a good return, but may want to wait until he's closer to his max production. On the other hand, with a crowded front-court, and the presence of Simmons on the way, now may be the best time to get rid of him, so there isn't an over-saturation of personnel.
1 Anthony Davis
So far in his NBA career, Davis has unquestionably lived up to the hype, and is probably the best big-man in the game today. He can do it all on the court, but the Pelicans have done little to match his success, and Davis' frustration level has increased as such. In the midst of yet another underwhelming season, Davis is going to want to get out of dodge, and there will be plenty of opportunity for him to do so. It goes without saying that the team that ends up getting him, provided they have a somewhat-OK roster already, is a frontrunner for a deep playoff run. As Davis enters the prime of his career, he has a chance to etch himself in as one of the best players of his generation, and chances are that he won't be doing it in New Orleans, on a mediocre roster.