With the NBA trade deadline fast approaching, and with perhaps the hottest free agency class in recent memory set for this coming July, there are probably some big changes coming around the league in the near future.
There are a ton of impact players who will be available at the trade deadline, and there will be a few guys who will be hitting the free agency market a bit early, as teams will look to buy out some of their more disappointing players, such as Carmelo Anthony, who might end up out of the league after the end of this season if he's not released beforehand.
Also, the second half of the season will probably feature guys like Kristaps Porzingis returning from injury, and as we already know, DeMarcus Cousins is set to make his debut for the Golden State Warriors a lot sooner than expected, so both the defending NBA champions and the New York Knicks might have some big changes coming to their respective starting lineups.
For this list, we're going to look at all the possible NBA player changes coming soon, including players leaving via free agency, trades, becoming a starter, getting benched, or getting released by their current team.
So, with all that in mind, let's take a look at all of the NBA player changes that are coming soon!
20 Hassan Whiteside - Traded
Hassan Whiteside probably won't be in Miami for much longer, as his current contract is set to expire after next season if he accepts his player option, which he probably will due. Unfortunately for the Heat, though, he's not really a fit for what they need to accomplish, which is to start rebuilding. I wouldn't be surprised to see them look to move the big man around the trade deadline in an attempt to get back a young player or two. If not, they could risk losing him for nothing via free agency.
19 Zach Randolph - Traded Or Released
Recently, reports surfaced that the New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings discussed a potential trade where the Knicks would send Enes Kanter to the Kings in exchange for Zach Randolph's expiring contract. As of this writing, the deal hasn't been done, but that doesn't mean that it won't get done at some point before the traded deadline. The Kings have fully committed to the idea of going young, as Randolph hasn't played a single game for them this season, so it's probably pretty safe to assume that he's going to be moved soon.
18 Nikola Vucevic - Signs With Los Angeles Clippers
Current Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic is having the best season of his NBA career, and luckily for him, it's a contract year, so he's going to hit the free agent market coming off of a fantastic season. The Los Angeles Clippers are going to be big players in the upcoming free agency period, and I wouldn't at all be surprised to see them go after Vucevic after they have already signed one or two big name free agents. He played his college basketball at USC, so it's very possible that he'd like to go back to the state of California as the Clippers' new starting center.
17 Dirk Nowitzki - Retires
While Dirk Nowitzki, at times, can still be a pretty effective player, it's quite clear that he's well past his prime, and that unless he's willing to leave Dallas, which he clearly isn't, he's not going to win another NBA championship. So, there's really only one thing he can do, now that the team seems to be in good hands. Thanks to an incredible rookie season so far from Luka Doncic, it's very possible that we're seeing the final stretch of Nowitzki's career, as I fully expect the former league MVP to officially retire after this season.
16 Eric Bledsoe - Signs With Los Angeles Lakers
Prior to Cleveland trading Kyrie Irving to Boston, their original idea was to trade him to Phoenix in a three-team deal which would have the Cavs getting Eric Bledsoe. However, the trade obviously never happened, and Bledsoe ended up in Milwaukee alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo. This coming July, the Bucks' current starting point guard will be a free agent, and we already know that LeBron James wanted him before, so he'll probably recruit him to come to play in Los Angeles.
15 Terry Rozier - Moved To Starting Lineup
In my opinion, sooner or later, Kyrie Irving will no longer be a Boston Celtic, as it's very possible that he's going to be leaving for the Knicks after this season, which would force Boston to give current backup point guard Terry Rozier a decent contract extension along with a spot in the starting lineup. As for whether or not it'll be a good decision to go all in on Rozier remains to be seen, but it'll be hard for him to match what Kyrie is able to do as one of the best offensive players in the entire league.
14 Marc Gasol - Leaves Memphis Via Free Agency
After a pretty good start to the year, Marc Gasol and the rest of the Memphis Grizzlies have completely fallen off, and it's starting to look like the team needs to completely blow it up. Don't be surprised if the Grizzlies end up moving point guard Mike Conley prior to the trade deadline, however, they might have a hard time finding a trade partner for Gasol, as he's clearly on the decline. So, with that in mind, the former Defensive Player of the Year will probably ride out his contract with the team, which expires after this season, and then end up somewhere else this summer.
13 Mike Conley - Traded
Speaking of the Memphis Grizzlies, Mike Conley is probably their most tradeable asset. In fact, you could make the argument that the Washington Wizards would be an excellent trade partner for Memphis, as they could acquire Conley's big contract, which expires after this season if they're willing to send John Wall's even bigger, more long term deal over to Memphis. It's a deal that could work out well for both teams, at least in the short term. Even if it's not to Washington, I expect that Conley will get moved prior to the trade deadline.
12 Kristaps Porzingis - Returns To The Lineup
Current New York Knicks forward/center Kristaps Porzingis is still recovering from a pretty significant knee injury that he sustained during last season, and some believe that he might not play a single game this season. However, I disagree, as it would be beneficial for New York to get him out on the floor prior to next season, where they might actually be a contender in the Eastern Conference if all goes well in free agency. He doesn't need to play big minutes, but when he's ready, he could use the last 20 games or so of the year to knock the rust off before next season.
11 Tim Hardaway Jr - Traded
As everyone knows, the New York Knicks are going to be players in the upcoming free agency period, as they will look to sign both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But in order to do so, they need to free up as much cap space as possible, and one way to do that is by trading shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr, who has a player option for next season. One trade that's been talked about is a trade with Dallas, where Hardaway would join the Mavs, and in exchange, the Knicks would get back Wesley Matthews' expiring contract. Seems like a win for both teams if you ask me.
10 Markelle Fultz - Out Of The NBA
At some point in the near future, former number one overall pick Markelle Fultz will probably be completely out of the NBA. It's odd to think that a player who was taken with the first overall pick might be out of the league just two or three years after being drafted, but that might end up being the case. But who knows, maybe Fultz will show up out of nowhere in the playoffs and be a force to be reckoned with for the 76ers going forward. However, I just don't think that's likely.
9 Kent Bazemore - Traded
The Atlanta Hawks have made it clear all season that guard/forward Kent Bazemore is on the trade block, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a contending team in need of a good role player looking to make a deal for him. The Hawks are a young team that's arguably on tank mode, so they don't really need a veteran player like Bazemore on the roster. On top of that, they could get a few young players back in exchange for him. So, I'd say it's almost a guarantee that he'll be traded before the deadline comes next month.
8 Kevin Love - Traded
It's really a shame that Cleveland Cavaliers' forward Kevin Love has been injured for the majority of this season because he's someone who could be a coveted piece on the trade block right now. But, that doesn't mean that he won't be traded before next season. At this point, Love isn't the top-tier power forward that he once was, but he can help a contending team as their third or fourth option on offense. I'd like to see a team like Portland make a run at him prior to next season because he could probably help them out quite a bit if he'd be able to stay healthy.
7 Carmelo Anthony - Waived
Things just haven't worked out between Carmelo Anthony and the Houston Rockets, but for whatever reason, the former multiple-time All-Star is still on their roster despite the fact that he hasn't played at all in what seems like forever. While his current deal isn't expensive, I still expect the Rockets to waive Anthony at some point before this season is over, and who knows, maybe he'll end up rejuvenating his career alongside LeBron James in Los Angeles.
6 DeMarcus Cousins - Getting Good Minutes With Warriors
Former All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins has just made his debut for the Golden State Warriors soon after missing more than a year due to a torn Achilles tendon. Some questioned whether or not Cousins would actually suit up this season, but now it's clear that he's adjusting well so far. At first, I could definitely see the Warriors limiting his minutes, but I don't think that'll last forever. By the playoffs, I expect him to get around 25 to 30 minutes per game. Whether or not he's still an effective starter remains to be seen.
5 Jimmy Butler - Signs With Los Angeles Clippers
Things don't seem to be going well for Jimmy Butler in Philadephia, as he's yet again struggling to fit in with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and the test of the Sixers' roster in the locker room. When this trade happened, many believed that the team had found their long term fit at shooting guard, and the final piece to their championship puzzle. But now it looks like he's not going to stick around, and if I had to pick the team he's going to sign with this off-season, it's the Los Angeles Clippers.
4 Ben Simmons - Traded
This might seem like a pretty crazy idea for the Philadelphia 76ers, especially when you consider the fact that Jimmy Butler could very well leave via free agency. However, one thing that might make him stick around is if the team decides to trade Ben Simmons to a team like the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for All-Star forward/center Anthony Davis. It's a trade that works out well for both teams, and it gives the Pelicans another chance to make it work in New Orleans.
3 Kyrie Irving - Signs With New York Knicks
At times, it does seem like Kyrie Irving is unhappy in Boston, and that he's planning on leaving the team via free agency this coming summer. If he does leave, which I expect him to do, he'll probably end up in New York alongside another All-Star player, that is if the Knicks are able to land someone like Kevin Durant. But even if they're not and Kristaps Porzingis returns to form, New York will still be in pretty good shape with the Kyrie and Porzingis combination. So, you probably shouldn't expect to see Kyrie wearing green and white beyond this season.
2 Anthony Davis - Traded
It's hard to fathom the idea of Anthony Davis staying in New Orleans for his entire career, but if he does leave, there's a chance that could kill basketball in the city, thus forcing the NBA to move the team to a place like Seattle. The only thing that could possibly keep the league in that market is if New Orleans trades Davis for someone like Ben Simmons, who played his college basketball at Louisiana State University (LSU). The move could turn the team into a fun, run and gun team with Simmons as the face of it, which isn't the worst idea in the world.
1 Kevin Durant - Signs With New York Knicks
There's a part of me that thinks that if Kevin Durant leaves, he'll end up going to Los Angeles to join the Clippers and battle LeBron James to see who's the "King" of the LA market. But I do think that a championship in New York will do more for Durant's legacy than a title for the Clippers would do, simply because the Knicks' franchise hasn't been relevant in two decades. Sure, the Clips have never won an NBA title, but it would still be a bigger deal if the Knicks, being led by Durant, were the ones holding up the Larry O'Brien Trophy at the conclusion of next season.