The NBA season is off to an exciting start. Every NBA team is looking to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the NBA Championship. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder all have fascinating rosters and have already shown flashes of brilliance. Young stars like Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns are taking the next steps in becoming legitimate Superstars. The league is wide open with great stories of fascinating stories and interesting matchups ahead of us. We'll take a look at some of the changes that may go down throughout the entire season.
This offseason showed that teams are more willing than ever to trade or release relevant names. There will be many trades to go down before the deadline in February. All of the contenders want to get the missing pieces needed to win a ring. Teams in the next tier want to make noise and need extra talent to do that. Other rebuilding organizations will look to acquire young assets. Veterans unhappy on bad teams often get bought out following the deadline as well adding more options. Let’s take a look at fifteen NBA stars that will be on the move as they play for a different team at some point this season.
15 Ryan Anderson
The Houston Rockets made a huge splash in the offseason committing to a sign and trade deal with legendary point guard Chris Paul. A combination of Paul and James Harden in the backcourt gives them an outside shot to challenge the Golden State Warriors for a title. However, Houston failed to acquire Carmelo Anthony like they wanted in the offseason.
Ryan Anderson is the one contract that needs to be traded if the Rockets want to add another top level name at the deadline. Houston couldn’t find a trade partner during the offseason but things change during the season. Someone will be willing to take Anderson’s contract if it benefits their team. The Rockets will be able to upgrade their roster by trading Anderson or even buying him out.
14 Eric Bledsoe
The recent news of Eric Bledsoe expressing his displeasure on the Phoenix Suns made him a hot story in the NBA world. Bledsoe posted a message on Twitter flat out saying he doesn’t want to be there. This is the modern day way to demand a trade publicly. Phoenix fired head coach Earl Watson shortly after the tweet and actually wanted to fine Bledsoe for this.
Regardless of what happened after, Bledsoe’s tweet is the main story here and he wants to be moved to a respectable team. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets are all rumored to be interested in acquiring him. Bledsoe’s very good defense and talent on offense would improve any of the three teams. This will likely be one of the trades to happen sooner than later.
13 Jahlil Okafor
It feels like Jahlil Okafor’s NBA career is on a downward spiral, but he is only 21 years old. Okafor was selected with the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. The Philadelphia 76ers seems to have given up on Okafor and he is clearly unhappy there. There is a good bet that Okafor will be traded before the deadline to any team looking for a center.
Young rebuilding franchises like the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns could be interesting trade partners. Philadelphia believes in Joel Embiid as their center of the future making Okafor meaningless in the grand scheme of things. The 76ers, another team and Okafor will all benefit from him being moved to a situation where he will actually have the chance to show his once promising talent.
12 Vince Carter
The Sacramento Kings signed Vince Carter in free agency as a move that surprised many NBA fans. Carter is clearly in the final year or two of his career as a rare 40 year old still playing. Sacramento signed Carter as a veteran presence to lead the locker room while still contributing on the floor. Carter played well for the Memphis Grizzlies as they made the playoffs last season.
Most people expected a contender to sign Carter and give him a chance to contend for an NBA Championship. We may see him get that opportunity as he is most likely going to be traded at some point this season. Sacramento has zero chance at making the playoffs and is barely giving him any playing time. Carter would be better served in a smaller rotation role if he was playing for a great team like Houston or Oklahoma City.
11 Joakim Noah
The status of Joakim Noah once saw him regarded as arguably the best center in the league. Noah finished fourth in the 2014 MVP voting. Three years later and he is barely remembered in the NBA. The New York Knicks added him last offseason following a poor final year with the Chicago Bulls. Whatever Noah used to have, he has now lost it.
A team like the Knicks rebuilding with young talent has no place for a washed veteran like Noah. New York will buy him out before the deadline and give him the chance to sign with another team. One of the playoff squads will likely want his experience and hope he can return to form. Knicks fans would be the biggest winner getting rid of a wasted roster spot.
10 Kent Bazemore
Kent Bazemore is one of the few relevant players on the Atlanta Hawks roster after they let most of their former stars go. The Hawks gave a pretty impressive contract to Bazemore last year but appear to be heading towards a tanking mindset. Bazemore has some value on the market as a good all-around player in his prime at 28 years old.
The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers each are looking to use their remaining cap space to add a young talent that other teams want to trade. Bazemore is the best of both worlds. You get a player still young enough to even get better in a bigger role while helping the team improve. Atlanta wants to get a top draft pick and trading Bazemore will only help their chances at having a better shot in the lottery.
9 Wesley Matthews
The Dallas Mavericks are not going anywhere of note this season. Their roster is full of mostly young assets with a few veterans. Wesley Matthews is a talented shooter still in his prime with the ability to contribute to a good team. Any of the contenders that are in need of adding another three-point shooter would be interested in adding the services of Matthews.
Dallas is closer to having a top draft pick than they are to making the playoffs. Matthews would likely be available for very little if the team is willing to absorb his contract. The Mavericks also have a plethora of backcourt players with great potential. Matthews being traded just helps their future in all regards. The overall play of Matthews has suffered. Having more capable teammates around him will only help.
8 Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez is off to a slow start with the Los Angeles Lakers. The all-time Brooklyn Nets leading scorer was traded to Los Angeles for D’Angelo Russell. This trade was mostly done for the Lakers to clear up cap space, but he also provided a great scorer. Lopez however doesn’t look like a good fit in this Lakers offense due to how they set up their spacing.
We can also safely assume the Lakers will be out of playoff contention by the All-Star break given how tough the Western Conference is. Lopez would be a great trade asset for them to add draft picks in exchange for a playoff team adding a credible big man scorer. The Lakers want to add LeBron James and Paul George next summer. Lopez doesn’t fit in long term and provides short term trade value.
7 Robin Lopez
The twin brother of Brook Lopez will also be on the trade market. Robin Lopez is one of the few credible names on the Chicago Bulls roster as they rebuild after trading away Jimmy Butler and buying out Dwyane Wade. The talent of Lopez is not as impressive as his brother but he adds a lot to a good team. Robin is the kind of player that will make the quiet plays that provide a huge difference at the end of the game.
Chicago is clearly in tank mode getting rid of just about every noteworthy player. Lopez should be next as someone they either trade or buy out. NBA teams should be worried about the potential of Robin becoming a free agent and signing with the Golden State Warriors to upgrade at center. Regardless of where he ends up, Lopez can make a big difference in playoff series.
6 Zach Randolph
As mentioned earlier, the Sacramento Kings added a few veteran names to try to change the atmosphere of the organization. Respected players joining the locker room should help the young talents. However, these moves will almost all end in trades sending these veterans to contenders. Zach Randolph is the most interesting of these situations.
Despite nearing the end of his career, Randolph is still able to help teams in the post. The days of him playing 35+ minutes are over, but he is a perfect bench player. Randolph can even start if a team is dealing with an injury at the center or power forward position. Don’t be surprised if Sacramento sends him to a contender willing to give up a draft pick in exchange for the veteran.
5 Jabari Parker
The Milwaukee Bucks are in a very interesting position right now. Giannis Antetokounmpo is stepping up into a Superstar role and is leading the Bucks into a spot towards the top of the Eastern Conference. Some pundits believe Milwaukee may actually prove to be the biggest threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East.
Jabari Parker is one of the most talented young assets they have on the roster but has continuously dealt with injury problems. The return of Parker is set to come mid-season and Milwaukee will likely already have their chemistry going in a major way. Parker could be a great trade asset that the Bucks use to improve with an established All-Star name on the marker. The young age and potential of Parker possesses value on the open market despite the health concern.
4 JJ Redick
JJ Redick signing with the Philadelphia 76ers was one of the best signings on the free agent market. The commitment only has Redick spending one season in Philadelphia. Neither party has to commit long term and gets to see where they stand in their time together. The 76ers still look to be on the lower end of the NBA landscape with their young talents needing more seasoning.
While Redick is a nice addition, he clearly isn’t a long term plan for the franchise and he will want to contend sooner than later. Philadelphia loves adding draft picks and young assets as part of “the process.” The three-point shot is more important than ever meaning Redick will be a huge rental for any contender looking to add him for the playoffs. It all adds up for him to be moved to a better team by the deadline.
3 LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs shocked the NBA world when they agreed to a three year contract extension. The offseason rumors saw Aldridge in trade rumors with the Spurs looking to take anything as low as a mid-level draft pick. San Antonio still believed in Aldridge enough to add three more seasons to his deal.
This could be all to set up a trade if things don’t pan out. Most teams won’t offer much for a credible star unless they have a contract locked up for a few more years. Aldridge being traded is more likely than you think. His value is rising back up and the Spurs are known to make savvy deals when you don’t expect them. San Antonio could move Rudy Gay to power forward and trade Aldridge for a guard to improve their playoff chances.
2 DeMarcus Cousins
One of the biggest names on the trade block this season will be DeMarcus Cousins. The New Orleans Pelicans acquired him last season in a trade getting him from the Sacramento Kings. New Orleans is hoping a combination of Anthony Davis and Cousins will lead them into playoff contention. However, two big men in the current NBA landscape is a tough sell with the way the league is moving.
New Orleans will likely realize they are not making the playoffs and look to trade Cousins for talent and prospects at other positions. Davis has the potential to be the best player in the NBA meaning the Pelicans won’t trade him to keep Cousins. The fact that DeMarcus is a free agent next summer also makes it easier to trade him. Houston, Cleveland and Milwaukee among others will look to acquire Cousins.
1 Marc Gasol
Another top tier center in the NBA that could be traded soon is Marc Gasol. The Memphis Grizzlies center plays superb defense in the paint which is needed badly come playoff time. Gasol expressed frustration in the offseason about the changes in Memphis losing Zach Randolph and Vince Carter. There’s no chance the Grizzlies will contend and they may actually miss the playoffs given the competition.
Gasol setting the tone already shows he has considered being moved to another team. There is a good chance one of the contenders in need of an upgrade at center will offer a sweet deal to Memphis. Gasol can score, shoot, pass and defend in a combination nearly impossible to find at center. A deal to acquire Gasol could give someone like the Cleveland Cavaliers or Houston Rockets another asset to dethrone the Golden State Warriors.