The NBA landscape makes it easier for superstar players to move to a different team at any point. We already see the free agent signings and trade demands to take place in the offseason. Names like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and others making huge moves in recent years shows that anyone is on the table if the right timing and scenario presents itself. Every team is trying to improve right now during the season as we inch towards another playoff run that will see the Golden State Warriors as the heavy favorites. Early indications show that the Warriors are still significantly above the rest of the league.
Other contending teams are hoping to add major talent to have a real shot versus Golden State. Teams like the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, and a few others believe they are one addition away from being a credible threat to the Warriors. There are also quite a few superstars with the potential to be moved. Many teams are regressing and that will lead to them entertaining offers for their star players. Some situations have top talents specifically wanting a change for their careers. All these variables will lead to situations where blockbuster trades can take place during the regular season. We will attempt to forecast the future with ten NBA stars that may be traded by the deadline along with their potential teams.
20 Traded: Jimmy Butler
The Minnesota Timberwolves were informed by Jimmy Butler that he wanted to be traded to a new team during the season. Butler has one year left on his contract and intends to leave Minnesota either way due to not liking teaming with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
The Timberwolves have yet to trade Butler due to wanting to receive a fair value in return for him. Butler continues to play for Minnesota while the team breaks down potential trades for his services. Both parties realize a trade must come, but the incredible work of Butler is bringing his value back to a high level before a move goes down.
19 New Team: Houston Rockets
No team is as desperate for Jimmy Butler as the Houston Rockets are right now. Houston was the best regular season team last year, winning 65 games and came just one game short of dethroning the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
A slow start for the Rockets is making it even more important to add another superstar to the roster. Houston reportedly offered four first-round draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Butler, but the deal was turned down. Expect the Rockets to cave on Minnesota’s demands and add Eric Gordon if need be. Butler joining James Harden and Chris Paul will give Houston a chance against Golden State.
18 Traded: Bradley Beal
The Washington Wizards are off to the worst start in the Eastern Conference. John Wall claimed the team had hopes of contending to make the NBA Finals before the season started. Washington, however, looks like they may not even be good enough to make the playoffs at all.
Dwight Howard joining the team likely won’t be the answer to turn things around. If the Wizards don’t have a strong hot streak that trends them towards the top half of the Eastern Conference by the trade deadline, someone is likely getting traded. Bradley Beal has a better chance at being moved due to his youth and All-Star status.
17 New Team: Sacramento Kings
One of the surprising teams to rack up a few early wins in the season is the Sacramento Kings. Most pundits predicted the Kings to finish last in the Western Conference. While it is still likely Sacramento will finish with a horrible record, they have some interesting young pieces to build around.
The Kings will likely look to add another credible star that is still quite young. Bradley Beal stands out as an ideal player for the scenario. Beal can become the face of the Kings franchise and put up huge numbers right away. The young age also means he can still be in his prime when Sacramento is finally ready to make noise again.
16 Traded: Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin has become a forgotten player in the NBA today. The days of Linsanity are long over, but Lin is still good enough to contribute to a team. Lin was a huge reason for the Charlotte Hornets making the playoffs as recently as three seasons ago.
The Brooklyn Nets barely saw Lin on the floor due to injuries ending his two seasons there. Lin did look good in the limited time on the court in that time frame. The Atlanta Hawks currently have Lin on their roster, but it is obvious the team is tanking. Lin will likely be moved by the trade deadline to a contender looking for a point guard.
15 New Team: Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the best teams with a confusing point guard situation. 76ers management is hoping second-year player Markelle Fultz will rise to the occasion and show why he was taken selected as the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
It would be a smart move to get some insurance in case Fultz is struggling come playoff time. Lin stands out as the perfect player to acquire for such a role. Fultz would still get more of an opportunity to break out, but Lin provides a capable option if a change is needed for the playoffs.
14 Traded: Trevor Ariza
Trevor Ariza leaving the Houston Rockets to join the Phoenix Suns was one of the more surprising moves to go down in the offseason. Houston didn’t believe Ariza was worth a $15 million contract, but the Suns offered that amount of money to sign the aging defensive stopper for one year.
The hope is that the veteran leadership of Ariza will help teach the young players how to make winning plays. Unfortunately, Phoenix has almost no chance of making the playoffs and Ariza will likely be sweet trade bait as an expiring contract. The Suns could get a draft pick or a future asset in exchange for half of a season of a player who's not part of their future.
13 New Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder are struggling to start the season and it’s easy to see why. Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams are an impressive big three, but there are so few options behind them in the depth chart.
The starting lineup could use an upgrade at either the power forward or shooting guard position. Trevor Ariza makes perfect sense for the Thunder. Ariza can hit the open shots created by Westbrook and George on offense. His defense would give them someone to combat top wing players. Ariza heading to Oklahoma City would make sense for all parties involved.
12 Traded: Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony joining the Houston Rockets already looks like a bad move. Melo isn't playing as bad as many expected, but his role on the team is not leading to wins. Houston is off to a disappointing start and Anthony just doesn’t seem to fit into the structure of this roster.
Anthony playing on such a cheap contract means he would be easily traded if he and the team want it. The Rockets will likely want to make any changes possible to improve their chances against the Golden State Warriors in the offseason. Don’t be surprised if Anthony is dealt for almost nothing in return for an addition-by-subtraction move.
11 New Team: Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets have a great chance to make some noise in the Western Conference playoff race. Their roster is now loaded with talented guards and a couple of impressive big men. Denver is lacking in one area, as they're missing a capable wing player.
Carmelo Anthony returning to the team that drafted him would both give him a great story and a great role on a team. Anthony would not have to contribute too much, but he would still get a lot of playing time and open shots on a winning team. The potential of Anthony ending his career in Denver and fitting in well could open a trade up.
10 Traded: Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol is one of the few established star players currently playing on a bad team. The Memphis Grizzlies still play hard, but it’s nearly impossible to find any realistic scenario for them to make the postseason. Gasol already started to express frustration in the recent offseason about the team looking to rebuild more than contend.
Memphis will have to consider trading Gasol at the deadline once they fall out of playoff contention. Both parties want something completely different. Gasol wants to play for a contender during the final few years of his prime. The Grizzlies want to rebuild with the potential of drafting new superstars. Gasol getting traded makes too much sense not to happen this time around.
9 New Team: Miami Heat
The Miami Heat are trying to add Jimmy Butler to the roster as their next superstar. Miami is not willing to offer as much as Minnesota wants which may make it tough. Marc Gasol is another superstar that they could make a move towards as Memphis would be looking for a smaller deal.
The Heat also want to move on from Hassan Whiteside and this could present an opportunity. A straight-up trade with the Grizzlies eating Whiteside’s contract during the rebuilding process could make sense. There’s also the chance of a buyout of Whiteside's contract after trading for Gasol to become their next center.
8 Traded: Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic is among the most talented NBA players that has yet to play for a successful team. The Orlando Magic have seen Vucevic on their team for many years now. Despite his stellar play, Orlando never is a factor in the playoff race and still needs to find the right rebuilding formula.
We are reaching the point where Vucevic will become trade bait for another team looking to add a potential superstar. The Magic are wasting his best years and need to move on if he can’t help them make the playoffs. A move seems likely to come in a situation like this.
7 New Team: Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are in the market for a big man given the losses of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in recent years. Despite the controversial few years of changes for the franchise, the Clippers have a great shot to sign a superstar free agent next summer.
Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard are two names that reportedly have some interest in the Clippers situation next summer. The addition of Nikola Vucevic and a few other moves could set them up perfectly. The prospect of Leonard or Butler having a second star like Vucevic along with a great supporting cast may be enough to get them signed.
6 Traded: Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker never gets the respect he deserves for his production due to the surroundings of his team. The Charlotte Hornets are a disappointing franchise with a ceiling of a late playoff seed as the best-case scenario. Most fans rank Walker below Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, and other comparable guards that play for winning teams.
Walker only has one year left on his contract and his future will be up in the air come next summer. Charlotte may look to move on before he potentially says goodbye to them. Walker has a lot of value to get a prospect and a draft pick back for him.
5 New Team: San Antonio Spurs
One great NBA franchise currently lacking a point guard is the San Antonio Spurs. The presence of superstars DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge gives them a good chance of making the playoffs. Kemba Walker joining the team at the deadline could make them an outside contender in the West.
San Antonio has enough interesting young players and a few veteran contracts that can be used to make the trade even. Walker would find a new home on a winning franchise that could finally be able to use him to full potential. It also would set up a new big three and potential favorite to win future titles if Kevin Durant leaves Golden State to make the West wide open again.
4 Traded: Kevin Love
The Cleveland Cavaliers are off to the worst start in the NBA as the last team to get a win. It has become evident Cleveland will be awful once again without LeBron James. The franchise has already fired Ty Lue and is telling veteran players they will be phased out of the lineup to give younger players a chance.
Kevin Love is the one superstar on the Cavaliers with trade value. The Cavaliers started the season believing they could be a playoff team, but that thought has already faded away. Love will find his name on the trade market come the winter.
3 New Team: Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns are one franchise that has been long rumored to have interest in Kevin Love. Phoenix tried to pull off a trade last season that would have sent Eric Bledsoe to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Love in a huge deal that was turned down.
Cleveland has zero incentive to keep Love this time around given their lack of success. Phoenix has enough assets to offer a draft pick and/or a relevant prospect to add Love. The hope would be to have a superstar trio of Love, Devin Booker, and promising rookie Deandre Ayton. Phoenix would have a real shot at the playoffs as soon as next season.
2 Traded: Damian Lillard
The Portland Trail Blazers situation is very difficult this season. It is obvious they have zero chance to get past the Golden State Warriors. However, the season would be a success if they compete for a high playoff seed or look like a potential Western Conference Final contender.
Portland, sadly, does lack the depth of most other top West teams. The expectations that the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets will rise could see the Trail Blazers fall lower in the rankings. Damian Lillard has already shown frustration in the offseason about the franchise and they could pull the trigger on moving him for the right pieces.
1 New Team: Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are one team that will likely be aggressive as the trade deadline. The Lakers have most of their veterans on one-year deals, along with a plethora of young assets to entice opposing teams. Either Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram as the top trade asset could make it worthwhile for a franchise like Portland.
LeBron James has started giving subtle little messages about his teammates needing to step up. Lillard could be the player he desires to play with, as a stellar point guard known for stepping up in big moments. The Lakers could have James, Lillard and the cap space to add another superstar next season if they pull off the right trade this season.