The NBA, much like all the major leagues in America, does not only focus on the actual sport itself. The business side of the league has reared its head multiple times in the past and it is more apparent during the offseason where the majority of the contracts are handled. As entertaining as it is to watch these larger than life heroes battle it out on the court, it might be equally entertaining to watch teams and players maneuver their way around contracts and loopholes on the existing rules. Teams have had success be built during the offseason; one key signing or one key trade can turn a bottom feeding team into the next dynasty and a place in NBA history.
Of course, it’s not always the teams itself that handle the contract negotiations as the players are equally, if not more, important. Players have more freedom and leeway today compared to the heroes of the past. Player options, poison pill contracts, and quite frankly more money helps these players secure a better future for themselves.
But, we have seen players focus on the team and not the money. For example, DeMarcus Cousins joined the Golden State Warriors this past offseason for less than what he could have made just to get a taste of winning. Players today care more about the game than their wallets; it might not be healthy for the league but as a basketball fan you have to appreciate guys that want to win.
Here are 10 NBA players who may leave their teams when their contracts expire, and their likely destinations.
20 J.J. Redick
J.J. Redick has made a respectable career for himself. The former Duke Blue Devil was off to a disappointing start to his career; Redick seemed too small and unathletic to play in the NBA, but the college legend quickly turned it around and is now considered one of the best shooters in recent history. Redick is currently enjoying a good year with the Philadelphia 76ers but he is now 34-years-old and sooner or later, he will have to think of making as much money as he can while playing for a contending team.
19 Where He Will Go Next: Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves have a good chunk of money on their books this offseason. Taj Gibson’s contract is up and if they decide to go a different route, they can throw $15 million towards Redick. Redick can provide a much-needed shooting boost off the bench for the Wolves and a good defensive presence on the other side of the court. The Wolves have always been desperate for wing shooting and now that they have Robert Covington, it won’t hurt to add another good shooter in Redick.
18 Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio is a far cry from the 14-year-old Spanish sensation we saw during the 2005 season of the ACB league. Currently, Rubio is the same astounding passer he once was, but all the other parts of his game have improved mightily. Rubio is playing for the Utah Jazz where he has found new life, shooting three-pointers at a good clip while improving his already remarkable defense. The Spaniard might not be part of the Jazz’s future, meaning he will have to find a new home elsewhere.
17 Where He Might Go Next: Phoenix Suns
The search for a true point guard continues for the Phoenix Suns. This year. they have been juggling players like Isaiah Canaan, De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo, and Jawun Evans with little to no success. The Suns have enough cap space to sign someone that can make an impact. Rubio and the Suns might be a match made in heaven, considering the system head coach Igor Kokoskov runs; an offense that focuses on ball movement and player movement, something Rubio learned at a very young age. The current Jazz point guard might not be the long-term answer for the Suns, but he makes a pretty darn good short term solution.
16 Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler has surrounded himself with controversy this season. First was the Timberwolves saga that started during the offseason until the first couple of weeks in the regular season, then we get a recent report that claimed Butler was challenging Philadelphia 76ers Head Coach Brett Brown about their offense. Needless to say, Butler is unhappy about this season and how it played out for him. With an option to opt out of his contract, Butler might take looks elsewhere to play next season.
15 Where He Might Go Next: Los Angeles Clippers
We only have a handful of teams that can offer two max contracts this coming offseason and the Los Angeles Clippers are one of them. The Clippers have than a tremendous job of building a competitive but cheap roster in this brutal Western Conference. Led by forwards Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris, the Clippers need are in dire need of a shooting guard to replace Avery Bradley. Butler could provide another dimension in their offense, as he is still one of the best the league has to offer from the once stacked shooting guard position.
14 Klay Thompson
The Golden State Warriors are one of the most divisive teams in recent history, but one player that is beloved among NBA circles and fans is Klay Thompson. Thompson is a wacky character off the court often providing fun, candid moments, and on the court, he is considered the second-best shooter of all-time, only behind his teammate Steph Curry. Thompson is an unpredictable person and player, meaning if he chooses not to re-sign with the Warriors, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to some.
13 Where He Might Go Next: Indiana Pacers
Indiana as a city has enjoyed a good sports year. The Indianapolis Colts made an improbable comeback to clinch a playoff spot and the Pacers are well on their way to a top seed in the Eastern Conference. While most analysts are a little hesitant to call this Pacers team a championship contender, adding Klay Thompson might change that. Thompson takes pressure off of Victor Oladipo, giving him space to operate inside, the area he excels the most. And as we have seen with him, Klay is more than capable of being the secondary on-ball defender for a contending team.
12 DeMarcus Cousins
A move that sent shockwaves all throughout the NBA circles was DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Golden State Warriors this past offseason. It was surreal that fans were straight up saying that the season is pointless to even continue. Cousins, of course, has been considered the best center in the NBA for years in his time with Sacramento. The All-Star center has always been the focal point of any offense he has been part of and that will not be the issue with the Warriors, something he will think about hard this coming offseason.
11 Where He Might Go Next: New York Knicks
New York has always been dubbed “The Mecca of basketball.” Fans of the game are all too familiar with The Rucker Park and the type of players it has produced all throughout the years. The media coverage when playing for the Knicks is immense due to the expectations of fans all throughout the city. If Cousins wants to be the man once again, then New York is the perfect destination this summer.
10 Kemba Walker
For years now, Kemba Walker’s name has been on the rumor mill. Reports of Kemba being dealt mid-season or in the offseason has circulated the internet for years and rightfully so. Walker is, pound-for-pound, the best point guard in the NBA; even though he is limited physically, Walker has led the Charlotte Hornets to the playoffs single-handedly. Kemba has given his all to the city of Charlotte and it might be time for a change of scenery.
9 Where He Might Go Next: Philadelphia 76ers
In terms of fit, there might not be a better team than the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers are relying on Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid for the majority of their offense yet it still feels as though something is missing. As we mentioned earlier, Butler has been unhappy with the 76ers’ offense and if he does leave Philly, it means the team will miss out on at least 20 points a night. Of course, we all know what Kemba is capable of as a player; he does not necessarily need the ball in his hands at all times, giving Ben Simmons some creative freedom to run the show.
8 Kyrie Irving
Earlier this season, Kyrie Irving re-assured the Boston Celtics that he would re-sign, but we’re dealing with Kyrie here. Irving has been one of the more unpredictable players in the NBA; after winning a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, there were reports that he was not happy with playing second fiddle next to LeBron James, meaning Irving can quickly change his mind over something trivial. If Irving does opt out of his contract, it will be a very open field in terms of where he might end up.
7 Where He Might Go Next: Los Angeles Clippers
The aforementioned Los Angeles Clippers can potentially sign two max guys in their roster, and if they lock up Jimmy Butler, they have a chance to pair him with Kyrie Irving. Irving and Butler alone form one of the best backcourts in the NBA and if you add in Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris, then it just makes things unfair for the opposing team’s defense. After all these years, it still feels as though Kyrie is looking for something intangible to be satisfied as a basketball player, and who knows, maybe playing under the bright lights of Los Angeles can finally scratch that itch he’s been dealing with since Duke.
6 Kevin Durant
It has been almost three years since Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder to play for the Golden State Warriors, yet most fans still feel betrayed. Durant leaving signified a huge flaw in the CBA and quite frankly, a cowardly move from a player that was once well respected. Much like everyone predicted, the Warriors and Durant made a deadly dynamic, winning back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018. While Durant has added two Finals MVP to his accolades, fans still believe there are two asterisks next to his championship rings due to his “taking the easy way out.” If KD wants to prove he can lead a team, he will opt out and accept the challenge laid down by both the fans and the media.
5 Where He Might Go Next: Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets have been screwed of a bright future ever since they sold their first-round picks for a chance at immediate success. Needless to say, there are not many teams that deserve a shot at a superstar like Durant than the Nets. Like the Clippers, the Nets can sign two max players due to their flexible cap situation. If KD wants to lead a team back to relevance, what other city is more fitting than New York and Brooklyn? If he does lead them to the promised land, maybe the fans can accept him again as one of the most talented players of his generation.
4 Kawhi Leonard
Another situation that the media and fans kept a close eye on this offseason and last season was Kawhi Leonard and his sudden fallout with the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard won a Finals MVP back in 2014 with the franchise and there were no signs of their relationship deteriorating, and suddenly, it all collapsed. It started with a weird injury situation that kept Leonard out for most of the season and it ended with him going to the Toronto Raptors, even though his camp kept saying he wanted to play in Los Angeles. If he still fancies playing for the city of angels then he might leave Toronto as soon as possible.
3 Where He Might Go Next: Los Angeles Lakers
The only logical conclusion to this weird saga is Kawhi ending up in Los Angeles with the Lakers. While there is no concrete evidence that it was Kawhi that said he wanted to play in L.A., he never denied the claim made by his camp, meaning there might be some truth being told. As far as on-court dynamics go, Kawhi and LeBron James might be a better pairing than people think. LeBron is one of the most unselfish superstars we have seen in any sport, so taking a little backseat in order for Leonard’s talent to shine is not out of the equation. Defensively, they might be the best perimeter defenders we have seen together since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
2 Anthony Davis
There is a good chance that Anthony Davis is dealt in a trade by next season, but we say that year-in and year-out. If Davis is somehow still a Pelican by the time his deal expires, then there is no doubt he will test the free agency waters. A player as talented as Davis cannot afford dealing with first-round exits. It speaks volumes to how poor a job the Pelicans has done surrounding him with talent necessary to advance further in the playoffs.
1 Where He Might Go Next: Brooklyn Nets
If the Nets can secure KD by 2019, then it will be a whole lot easier to convince AD to come on board. Putting the two on a team alone is enough to make them the team to beat in their respective conference but if you factor in guys like Jarrett Allen, D’Angelo Russell, and Caris LeVert, then they automatically become favorites to win the whole thing. In Brooklyn, AD has a chance to prove he can play in the biggest stage of basketball and if he does help them form a championship contender, then it only solidifies his place in history as one of the best power forwards/centers to play the game.