While the NBA season is in full swing right now, it's never too early to begin taking a look at which players stand a chance for a change of scenery come the offseason. The concept of an NBA "super team" has turned everything about the offseason 0n its head recently, and the emergence of these elite-level accumulations of players have altered the landscape of the league considerably. Now, changing teams or retiring has far more implications than it did before, because we already know that only certain rosters stand a chance to seriously compete in the playoffs before the regular season even starts.
Nevertheless, there is going to remain a lot of players on the move in some fashion during the upcoming offseason. Certainly, there are a lot of intriguing players slated to be free agents, as well as plenty of marquee talents who will be considering retirement. Whatever the case may be, there's no doubt that we'll be seeing a ton of shakeup in the NBA after the playoffs, so let's take a look at some of the biggest names that could be on the move.
Ranked below are 8 NBA players who will change teams in the offseason, and 7 who will retire.
15 Zach LaVine (Change Team)
It's clear that the Bulls were high on LaVine when they acquired him by the Timberwolves. He was part of the beginning of an effort to rebuild the roster, and Chicago definitely hoped that he would work out for the long-term, and give them a piece to build around for the future. Unfortunately, LaVine has been injured for the bulk of this season, and there should be questions as to whether he's going to return to the Bulls at all next year.
The former Slam Dunk Contest-winner is only 22-years-old, so certainly there is time for him to prove himself in Chicago if he so wants to. But set to be a free agent this upcoming season, it remains to be seen if the team even wants to keep him at this point, on top of his own possible reservations. LaVine may want to go to a team who doesn't have a long rebuild ahead of them.
14 Devin Harris (Retire)
Harris is far past his prime now, and is currently stuck on a Mavericks' roster that isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Actually, the fact that Dallas is about to undergo a massive rebuild in the near future (coinciding with Dirk Nowitzki's retirement) makes Harris' future even more in question. He's been with the team for the last five years (eight years total), and how much interest there would be in acquiring him remains a question.
He'll be 35 next season, and has suffered a multitude of injuries over the past few seasons that could also play a role in calling it quits. All in all, it's probably best for Harris to walk away while he hasn't regressed to a sub-optimal level. Not every veteran wants to play until the age of 40, and he's getting to the point where he doesn't have much more to offer.
13 Brook Lopez (Change Team)
Considered to be one of the marquee acquisitions of last offseason, Lopez's presence was supposed to give the young Lakers a veteran presence who is also one of the best bigs in the league. That hasn't really turned out to be the case this season, as Lopez is having one of his worst seasons in years in Los Angeles at the moment. His scoring and rebounding have both taken a nosedive, and it's clear that this young nucleus isn't bringing the best out of his game.
The Lakers probably see this as well, and even though head coach Luke Walton may not want to part with such a veteran player, functionally it does make sense. Whether Lopez is actually suffering a career downturn, or whether he just doesn't jive with the Lakers' roster at the moment, he isn't getting it done in the current situation. There's a decent chance he makes a move to leave L.A. this offseason.
12 Richard Jefferson (Retire)
Jefferson's time in the league is quite clearly coming to an end. As one last grasp at a title, he was a role player on the Cavaliers for the last two seasons, before making the move to the Nuggets this offseason. Needless to say, they won't be contending for a championship anytime soon, so there's really no reason for Jefferson to stick around for an extended amount of time at his age.
It's been a very good career for Jefferson, who's been a recognizable face all over the league for the last 18 years. Once one of the better overall players in the league, with the numbers to boot, he's now nothing more than a bench player used to eat time for a mediocre team. At this point, it's time to call it quits, as there's not much hope of winning a championship.
11 Chris Paul (Change Team)
It may seem like a forgone conclusion that Paul stays on the Rockets, but that may not end up being the case. In the event that Houston suffers a relatively early playoff exit, there's nothing keeping him from sticking around any longer. Paul wants to win a title at this point in his career, and the Rockets are an oddly constructed team that may not offer the best possibility of doing so.
Sure, they have a bonafide star in James Harden, and are a winning team on the surface, but what is the ceiling for this unit? It's been tough to tell in recent years, but they haven't come anywhere close to dismantling the Warriors, and may not once again this season. Paul is a free agent in the offseason, and will have the pick of the litter for teams that want the services of one of the best point guards in the league. He isn't as married to Houston as some would make him out to be.
10 Tony Parker (Retire)
Parker's injuries have really begun to mount this season, and unless he wants to battle through them to get to the end of his career, you would have to assume that retirement is on the horizon for him. It's been a great career for Parker that has seen him stand as a pillar on the Gregg Popovich dynasty with the Spurs, but that time is obviously coming to an end in the near future.
The Spurs have their next generation of starters already on the team for the most part, and they've been making due without Parker for long stretches already. It's hard to imagine him playing for another team, so in all likelihood Parker will quit while he's ahead, and retire in the offseason, and do so while he was still a productive player.
9 J.J. Redick (Change Team)
Signing with the Sixers during last offseason for over $20 million on a one-year contract, it's clear that Redick is just taking the money at this point in his career. In all likelihood, he'll do the same thing this offseason when he hits the free agent market again, instead of staying on as the predominant veteran on a talented young Philadelphia team. While he could do so just as easily, most players in this situation want to take maximum earnings.
Redick can still serve as a three-point threat on most teams in the league, but he's going to want to go to a team that is in some kind of contention, but can still afford to pay out for a big contract. Maybe the Sixers make a move to offer him top-dollar, but otherwise, expect to see Redick outside of Philly for the next season and beyond.
8 Jason Terry (Retire)
One of the best backcourt players in the league for well over a decade, Terry is almost-miraculously still in the league. It hasn't been an easy last several years for him, however, as injuries have accumulated and he's only been able to play portions of the season. It's not going to get any better now that he at the age of 40, and it would almost be a guarantee at this point that Terry hangs it up after the regular season.
However, his legacy has been cemented, and for most of his career, few players were more consistent at running an offense than Terry was. He won a title with the Mavericks in 2011, so all bases have pretty much been covered for him. He's one of the best players of his generation, and he can walk out with his head held high.
7 Derrick Favors (Change Team)
He's never going to be a superstar, but Favors is actually one of the more underrated big men in the league, and he's probably played himself into the chance to receive a good-sized contract in the offseason. He'll probably want it. There's not much reason he should have a desire to stay with the Jazz, as it's clearly a team with little sense of direction. Favors can walk away from the situation guilt-free, and look to earn the greatest amount of money he possibly can.
While this won't be the most high-profile signing of the offseason, Favors is bound to go to a contending team, and have a significant role on it. It's the best possible situation for him at this point in his career, and he'll be able to re-establish himself in a more stable circumstance than Utah can provide.
6 Udonis Haslem (Retire)
After going undrafted, Haslem has defied the odds to become one of the most reliable bigs in the sport, and play his entire career for the Heat over the past 14 seasons. He's had a better career than anyone could have expected, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him finally walk away at the age of 37, after seeing his minutes decrease heavily over the past few seasons.
There's no question that Haslem has put in the work. He's been a steady presence in the paint for Miami when they've needed him the most, and was able to participate in the best series of postseason runs in the franchise's history, led by LeBron. He's had a very good career, and can retire knowing that he's been an overall success.
5 Lou Williams (Change Team)
Seemingly always on the move, after his initial stint in Philadelphia, Williams will almost certainly want out of a bad situation with the Clippers this season. He'll take the maximum amount of money, and get himself out of L.A. as soon as possible. Sure, he's been getting an increased amount of playing time on a bad team, but Williams would probably prefer to come off the bench and make comparable money.
He's been one of the best sixth men in the league for a long time now, and there will be a market for him. Williams has already established himself as an NBA nomad, so he'll likely be changing scenery again for next season.
4 Jameer Nelson (Retire)
Usually playing on sub-par teams hasn't helped Nelson's legacy, which should be one of the best point guards of his generation. Unfortunately, he isn't always recognized as such, and that isn't likely to change coming off the bench for the Pelicans as a 35-year-old. Without a doubt, Nelson is at least a candidate for retirement, after his playing time has decreased significantly in recent years.
His Finals appearance with the Magic seems to be the only shot at a title he'll ever see at this point. Nelson is certainly one of the most underrated players of his era, and should be considered up there with the premier point guards of the time. He could stick around in a depth role for another year or so, but retirement seems to be the best option.
3 Aaron Gordon (Change Team)
This is Gordon's time to shine outside of Orlando, and he'd be foolish to take another contract with a team that's going nowhere fast. The Magic have squandered every opportunity to build a winning roster, and Gordon is one of the lone bright spots on the entire team. This is his breakout season, and the last couple of years he's finally been living up to his 4th-overall draft pick billing.
Gordon will likely receive a big contract, and be one of the foremost young stars in the league for years to come. If he goes to a stable situation with some real talent around him, he could be a legitimate front-line star, and the league is never going to complain about that. Just about everyone except the Magic want Gordon to finally leave Orlando.
2 Vince Carter (Retire)
Carter has defied the odds and been able to play at a high level for so many year. Going from one of the best dunk artists in the league from his time with the Raptors, to elite scorer, to veteran role player, he's been one of the NBA's biggest stars for over 20 years now, and he's deserved all of the praise he's gotten along the way.
But it's clear that he's winding down on his career at this point. At 41-years-old, he's made it further than most every other player in the history of the league, and he's hanging on to a severely limited amount of playing time with the Kings. While Carter could conceivably play another season, his best bet is to probably just hang it up after this season, and get ready for a well-deserved Hall Of Fame induction in a few years.
1 LeBron James (Change Team)
Whether or not LeBron actually ends up leaving Cleveland yet again, you have to consider it as a real possibility. The team hasn't lived up to expectations this year, despite the fact that they'll be in the playoffs yet again, and he knows that his personal window for winning another Championship beginning to close. LeBron knows that he has time for one more new team and roster configuration before he begins to regress.
There shouldn't be a guarantee that the Cavaliers provide him the best chance at success. Clearly, frustrations are beginning to build, and acquisitions like the aging Dwayne Wade and the injury-prone Derrick Rose haven't paid dividends. This doesn't appear to be a team that can beat the Warriors in the Finals, and if they indeed can't, expect LeBron to start wanting to make a move.
The contract is almost a non-actor with a player like this. If LeBron wants out of Cleveland, he will be gone. This postseason will provide a good indication of what he's thinking, and how much incentive he has to leave and try to pad his Championship count elsewhere, before he retires.
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