The NBA offseason has become as interesting as the regular season and postseason each year. Following the end of another great season featuring two seven-game conference finals this past year, the NBA wasted no time getting into a red-hot offseason. The draft featured a couple of trades and major names getting selected. However, things really took off when free agency started leading to huge changes in the league. LeBron James shook things up once again when leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers. The face of the NBA joining the most popular franchise in the league could have been enough for a great offseason. However, other major names switched teams as everyone tried to either improve now to contend with the Golden State Warriors or make moves to set themselves up for a bright future.
Trades also became a big part of the offseason. The biggest deal featured Kawhi Leonard being traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan. Two superstars being dealt for each other is quite rare, but it showed the culture in the league. Many players decided to stay put and turn down change. Paul George staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder was a huge surprise. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant sticking around with the Golden State Warriors was quite predictable. The players that did change teams ranged from obvious to surprising. We will look at which scenarios have a chance to lead to great success or great failure. These are ten players that will succeed with their new team along with ten that will flop.
20 Succeed: DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins picked an easy situation when it comes to finding success this past offseason. No one wanted to offer Cousins a max contract coming off a major injury. Cousins decided to go for an easy ring if he was going to take a cheap one-year deal.
The Warriors already looked unbeatable with the four All-Stars on the roster. Cousins is now the fifth top tier superstar that should help them win a third consecutive title. Golden State will be able to ease Cousins into the lineup when he returns from injury mid-season. He found a way to play with no pressure and likely win an easy title.
19 Won’t: Dwight Howard
The Washington Wizards made a bold move when signing Dwight Howard on the free agent market. Howard has seen the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets each trade him after one season due to reportedly being a locker room cancer hated by his teammates.
The Brooklyn Nets acquired him when getting rid of Timofey Mozgov in the trade, and they wanted him to buy him out right away. Washington being the only team to show interest in Howard is a bad sign. It looks even worse when remembering the Wizards had locker room issues last season. Dwight joining the team would be the last piece for them to implode and blow up the roster if it fails.
18 Succeed: Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker is a forgotten player when it comes to rising young talents. Injury issues hurt his run with the Milwaukee Bucks leading to them letting him leave in free agency. The Chicago Bulls took the risk of hoping Parker can blossom into a star with their young roster of the future.
Parker has produced whenever given the chance to play with his stats always looking impressive. The 23-year-old has an upside if the injury concerns don’t return to limit him. Chicago will give Parker a huge opportunity to be one of their building blocks. There’s a great chance to form a future big three of Parker, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.
17 Won’t: Trevor Ariza
Many fans and pundits are down on the Houston Rockets repeating their success from last season. The biggest reason for the pessimism is that Houston lost Trevor Ariza in free agency to the Phoenix Suns. Ariza received a $15 million offer for one season to help Phoenix’s young team attempt to make a run towards a playoff spot.
The Suns have quite a few impressive young players but wanted a veteran that can still contribute. Ariza looked great last season, but it’s hard to imagine him making a major difference on a bad team like Phoenix. The most likely result will see the Suns play young talents over Ariza and waive him to a contender mid-season.
16 Succeed: Julius Randle
The New Orleans Pelicans had a great run in the postseason despite losing DeMarcus Cousins earlier in the year. It was enough of a sample size to see that New Orleans was a better team without Cousins as Anthony Davis is more effective as the center.
Julius Randle essentially replacing Cousins to take the spot of staring power forward could add more chemistry there. Randle was the most impressive of the young Lakers prospects last season, but they didn’t want to pay him his worth. The Pelicans should see Randle and Davis form a great backcourt for the next few seasons.
15 Won’t: Jeremy Lin
The career of Jeremy Lin has seen him unable to reach his full potential in the league. Lin did have good runs with the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets following the exile from the New York Knicks during his peak run. However, the hope of Lin was to become a difference maker for the rebuilding Brooklyn Nets when signing there.
Lin saw both seasons in Brooklyn end early due to injuries. The Nets decided to trade him to the Atlanta Hawks in the offseason. Atlanta is one of the teams likely looking to tank given their recent moves. Lin is most likely going to get limited minutes and be on one of the worst teams in the league. It could take his career in a depressing turn.
14 Succeed: Ed Davis
There were quite a few underrated moves this past offseason when it came to role players making smart decisions. Ed Davis had a great under the radar season for the Portland Trail Blazers entering free agency. Damian Lillard was upset when it became clear Portland wasn’t going to re-sign Davis.
The Brooklyn Nets swooped in to add Davis as one of their frontcourt pieces. Davis will get plenty of playing time to improve his stats and truly show the league how well he can play. Brooklyn also has a slight chance to make a late playoff seed in the weak East. Davis joining the Nets could be a brilliant move.
13 Won’t: Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans had a great comeback season last year with the Memphis Grizzlies following many years of obscurity in the league. The first few seasons of Evans made him look like a future superstar, but injuries and regression forced him to fall in the pecking order.
Evans put up great numbers on the terrible Grizzlies roster. The Indiana Pacers signed him this past offseason. Unless an injury occurs, Evans will come off the bench as a sixth man behind Victor Oladipo and Darren Collison in the backcourt. This could easily go wrong given the fact that Evans’ only recent good work came on a team with nothing to play for.
12 Succeed: Brook Lopez
The Milwaukee Bucks made a sneaky genius move this offseason when adding Brook Lopez to their roster. Lopez had a disappointing season last year with the Los Angeles Lakers due to not getting much playing time with the franchise looking to invest in young talent.
The prior two seasons for Lopez with the Brooklyn Nets saw him average 20+ points each year while developing a three-point shoot. Milwaukee signed him to a cheap deal and found a great addition for their biggest weakness. Lopez will just have to hit open shots and play good defense to help Milwaukee improve in the Eastern Conference.
11 Won’t: Tony Parker
NBA fans were shocked when Tony Parker made the decision to leave the San Antonio Spurs for the Charlotte Hornets. Parker has played every game of the NBA for the Spurs and is a San Antonio legend at this point. Unfortunately, the team didn’t want to pay Parker his requested figure due to his diminishing skills.
Charlotte offered a two-year deal worth $12 million hoping Parker can return to form this season. It seems unlikely given he was one of the worst players in the league last season. Parker should have taken the veteran’s minimum and retired with the fan base that loved him. Instead, he will likely be a forgotten player that ends his career in obscurity.
10 Succeed: Isaiah Thomas
It's rather unfortunate how quickly Isaiah Thomas fell from an MVP candidate to a free agent no one wanted. The Boston Celtics trading Thomas coming off an injury to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving was a genius move. Thomas’ injury issues led to him having a disaster run with the Cavaliers.
Cleveland traded Thomas to the Los Angeles Lakers, but they didn’t want to sign him. The Denver Nuggets scored Thomas on a cheap contract. Thomas had surgery in the offseason to correct his hip issues and will be motivated to prove his talent. Denver has a great frontcourt but lacks a star in the backcourt. Thomas may be the one to take them to the next level as a top West team.
9 Won’t: DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan wanted to sign with the Dallas Mavericks a couple of years ago. The move of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick going to his home convinced him to break his verbal agreement and return to the Los Angeles Clippers. All those guys ended up leaving him on his own as the Clippers fell apart.
Jordan decided to use his free agency this offseason to correct a regret by signing with the Mavericks. The problem is that the league has changed dramatically over the past few years. Jordan can’t do anything on the offensive end outside of the paint. A player like this on a bad team has the potential to become a huge bust.
8 Succeed: Wilson Chandler
The Philadelphia 76ers have a great chance to do something special this season. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons made them a factor in the Eastern Conference, and things should only get better with LeBron James now in the West.
One potential negative for Philadelphia is the loss of both Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli. The 76ers did sign Wilson Chandler on an affordable contract. Chandler has been a forgotten man on the Denver Nuggets, but he is a proven offensive asset. There is a great chance for Chandler to have a big season and contend for the Sixth Man of the Year Award in Philly.
7 Won’t: Elfrid Payton
The New Orleans Pelicans saw a huge change in the offseason when Rajon Rondo wanted to leave them for the Los Angeles Lakers. Between a lack of options out there and limited cap space, the Pelicans decided to sign Elfrid Payton as the new guard alongside Jrue Holiday.
Payton has looked like bust since coming into the league as a lottery pick for the Orlando Magic. Despite being rebuilding teams, both Orlando and the Phoenix Suns each decided to quit on him. New Orleans is hoping better talent surrounding him will lead to improvements. Sadly, the likely option is that Payton will cause them to regress without a second capable starting guard.
6 Succeed: Dennis Schroder
The Oklahoma City Thunder deserve all the credit for their incredible offseason. Paul George re-signing on a max contract was a huge success that not many expected to come. However, the biggest shock was getting rid of Carmelo Anthony’s contract in a trade for Dennis Schroder.
The rebuilding/tanking Atlanta Hawks were fine taking Anthony’s full salary and negotiating a buyout. Not only did the Thunder get rid of the worst contract on their roster, but they received a very good guard in Dennis Schroder. The talented young Schroder will likely be the best backup point guard in the league. There’s a good chance he plays alongside Russell Westbrook in the finishing minutes of games.
5 Won’t: Carmelo Anthony
The flip side of the Oklahoma City Thunder trade saw Carmelo Anthony get thrown out of town. Anthony had a horrible season with the Thunder. Many pundits have already written him off for being past his prime and unable to catch up to the current climate of the league.
Anthony has received one more chance to play for a contender when the Houston Rockets signed him. The problem is Anthony needs the ball for long stretches to make an impact. Houston runs a fast-paced offense with two superior play makers in Chris Paul and James Harden leading the way. Unless Anthony magically becomes a great spot-up shooter, his Rockets run will fail horrendously.
4 Succeed: DeMar DeRozan
NBA fans were stunned when the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs made a huge move. DeMar DeRozan was heartbroken to find out Toronto traded him without warning to land Kawhi Leonard. Following a great run with the Raptors, DeRozan found his way to a new team.
San Antonio has a great track record for making the best of their talent and finding ways to contend. DeRozan is one of the most talented players to ever play for Gregg Popovich. The best bet is that DeRozan will continue to improve and become the new face of the franchise. DeRozan is motivated and has the best franchise to show it.
3 Won’t: Rajon Rondo
The Los Angeles Lakers made quite a few surprising moves to put a unique core around LeBron James. One of the shockers was Rajon Rondo joining the Lakers on a one-year contract. Rondo had a superb postseason for the New Orleans Pelicans to find great relevance after many lackluster years.
The move to Los Angeles is to hopefully contend, but it may very well see him lose his momentum once again. Rondo is a terrible shooter and doesn’t do much on the offensive side aside from passing. LeBron and Lonzo Ball will get more time running the offense which leads to Rondo having little to contribute.
2 Succeed: LeBron James
The biggest move of the offseason featured LeBron James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Los Angeles Lakers. James has been a sports icon for the past decade and can lead a team to contention on his own. It’s impossible to envision any scenario where things don’t work out for him.
The Lakers have a roster with young assets and expiring veteran contracts. This gives them the chance to make huge trades during the season. James will have a great chance to make noise with the Lakers and add to his legacy. The worst case is LeBron leading the top NBA franchise to a mid-level playoff seed, and the best case is the roster adding pieces for him to contend for a title.
1 Won’t: Kawhi Leonard
The Toronto Raptors made a huge a gamble when trading away DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard. This move basically saw them give up an All-Star that wanted to spend his entire career in Toronto for an All-Star that has no interest in playing for them.
Leonard reportedly only wants to sign a long-term contract with the Los Angeles Lakers at this point. There is also the factor of Kawhi coming off an injury and missing most of the past season. Concerns of injury limitations and a lack of a desire to play for the Raptors can see Leonard become the worst move of the offseason for Toronto.