The legacy of an NBA star follows them throughout their career and following retirement. Fans still debate the accomplishments of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant when LeBron James finds more success. Every legendary player has his own legacy when it comes to how the fan base and media perceives them. One thing that is often a major aspect of a basketball star’s career is the team he left an impact with. Players like John Stockton, Tim Duncan and Kobe get extra love for spending their entire careers with one franchise. Certain basketball talents like Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing have been penalized for going to other teams later in their careers rather than respectively retiring with the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks.
We will look at the current list of NBA superstars and attempt to predict how things will shake out for them. Each player today is trying to create their own legacy with a team they are now a part of. Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, LeBron and many others changing teams in recent years shows just how much different the landscape of the league is today. Many players feel more comfortable leaving in free agency or demanding a trade.
Each fan base hopes to see their current superstars spend the rest of their careers for these teams, but it won’t happen for everyone. Both sides will be examined here with players potentially retiring with their current team and players that will ditch them. Find out the future of your favorite superstars. These are fifteen NBA players that will change teams very soon along with fifteen that are going to retire in their current jersey.
30 Will stay: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Milwaukee Bucks scored the steal of a lifetime in the NBA Draft when they landed Giannis Antetokounmpo. Most fans originally took note of him for his extremely long name, but his ridiculous athleticism would win them over in the long haul.
Antetokounmpo is already talking about the desire to spend his entire career with one franchise.
The throwback mentality of the Greek Freak could help the Bucks find a way to keep him for the rest of his career. It is scary that Antetokounmpo is not even in his prime yet and such a force.
29 Will leave: Kyrie Irving
The Boston Celtics just acquired Kyrie Irving one season ago in a blockbuster trade. Irving fit in perfectly leading the Celtics offense to a tremendous regular season. However, there are already rumors of him wanting out in free agency next summer.
Irving clearly beats to his own drum and will do whatever he wants to.
The rumor mill suggests he will want to join the New York Knicks as their franchise savior. There’s also the factor of Boston being a ruthless organization. The Celtics may trade him, or he may leave due to the franchise being shady.
28 Will leave: Karl-Anthony Towns
One bad sign for the Minnesota Timberwolves is the fact that stories are already breaking about Karl-Anthony Towns being unhappy with the team. Minnesota returned to the playoffs this past season with an early first round exit to top seed Houston Rockets.
Towns was barely part of the Timberwolves offense in these postseason games despite being the team’s best all-around player.
Rumors already have started circulating that Towns is unhappy with the franchise.
Minnesota isn’t the hottest market and Towns will look to leave if things don’t change soon.
27 Will stay: Klay Thompson
The first major struggle for the Golden State Warriors to keep their super team will come in the offseason of 2019. Warriors management hopes Klay Thompson will take a pay cut, and it seems very possible he will agree to it.
Thompson has already discussed his desire to keep the team together and spend the rest of his career in Golden State.
Many fans want to see Thompson on a new team as the top superstar, but the desire of Klay is to stick with the Warriors as long as they continue to treat him with respect.
26 Will leave: Marc Gasol
The Memphis Grizzlies are currently in a terrible position despite having two superstars. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are two great assets for the roster, but the rest of the team is unimpressive. Memphis wants to rebuild with young talent which is frustrating Gasol.
The superstar center showed frustration with the Grizzlies essentially tanking this past season. Gasol is in his prime and wants to contend for an NBA Championship before it is too late. Don’t be surprised if Gasol demands a trade to a credible playoff team this coming season.
25 Will stay: Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade leaving the Miami Heat as a free agent a few years ago turned out to be a regretful decision. Pat Riley did not want to pay Wade top dollar leading to him feeling disrespected after all he contributed to the franchise.
Wade however found out that life would be more difficult in other franchises.
One terrible season with the Chicago Bulls and a disappointing half-season with the Cleveland Cavaliers saw him get traded back to the Heat. Wade still enough left to contribute and wants to have his final run in Miami.
24 Will leave: Devin Booker
The desire to win for NBA stars is stronger than ever. Superstars badly want to have playoff experience as soon as they enter the league. Devin Booker is still only a few years into his career, but he has expressed anger in the Phoenix Suns failing to contend for a playoff spot.
Every NBA team would love a star like Booker on his team. The youngster already has a career-high of 70 points in a game to show his potential. Booker is going to ditch the Suns as soon as he is a free agent if they don’t become a playoff team.
23 Will stay: Carmelo Anthony
One rare negative story for a fan base about a star player ending his career with them is Carmelo Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The fit of Anthony in OKC has been a huge disappointment as he failed to live up to expectations.
It appears Anthony has lost the great skills that once made him a consistent All-Star. Anthony is expected to exercise his player option and continue playing for the Thunder due to the massive contract he has. Many pundits expect him to retire when this contract expires.
22 Will leave: DeAndre Jordan
It feels like an eternity ago that DeAndre Jordan went back on his word to ditch a verbal agreement with the Dallas Mavericks to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and JJ Redick went to his home to talk him into staying. None of those players are on the roster today aside from Jordan.
This past season featured rumors of Jordan being unhappy with the mediocre state of the Clippers. Jordan wants to play for a team on the rise rather than one in decline.
21 Will stay: Joel Embiid
The timing may seem early to declare the future of Joel Embiid, but he truly loves the city of Philadelphia. Embiid is the most beloved member of the 76ers franchise since the days of Allen Iverson in the early 2000s.
Any NBA fan can clearly see that Philadelphia is set up for a dominant run for the next decade if the star players stay healthy. Embiid has stated he hopes to lead the 76ers to NBA Championships and would like to spend his entire career there.
20 Will leave: DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most unpredictable superstars in the NBA today. The talent of Cousins is among the best in the world, but his attitude issues have seen him run into problems during his career.
Cousins suffered a season-ending injury for the New Orleans Pelicans. A shocking turn of events would see the Pelicans play much better without him. Cousins and New Orleans seems to be a poor fit and both parties will want to end their relationship soon.
19 Will stay: Draymond Green
Draymond Green is another Golden State Warriors superstar that has no desire to leave. In fact, the work of Green behind the scenes saw him doing most of the recruiting that convinced Kevin Durant to sign with the Warriors.
Green does not want to take a pay cut, but Golden State would be willing to go over the luxury tax to reward the loyalty of a superstar.
An argument can be made that Draymond is the heart and soul of the Warriors that will keep him around for good.
18 Will leave: Kemba Walker
The Charlotte Hornets are a hot mess of a franchise right now. Kemba Walker is the only special talent on the roster right now. Point guards are more valuable than ever before, and Walker is among the best players at the position.
There have already been frustrating quotes shared by Walker when discussing the Hornets continuing to underwhelm.
Charlotte appears to be entering a rebuilding process, but Walker won’t want to remain on a losing team. Expect a trade to be demanded by Kemba by next season’s deadline.
17 Will stay: Kyle Lowry
The Toronto Raptors franchise is in a unique situation after getting swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers again following an all-time great regular season.
It seems that Toronto is committed to sticking with this roster.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are the two superstars on the roster. Lowry showed loyalty to Toronto by choosing to re-sign with them over the likes of the San Antonio Spurs. Both parties love the other and will likely stick together in the long run. The younger DeRozan is more of a mystery going forward.
16 Will leave: Kevin Love
Kevin Love has been the most underappreciated All-Star in the NBA over the past few seasons. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been involved in controversy for every season of the four outstanding trips to the NBA Finals.
Love has been the scapegoat whenever there were issues arising for the Cavaliers. If LeBron James leaves Cleveland, Love will be traded away. If LeBron stays, Love will be the biggest trade asset to change the roster. Don’t expect Love to last much longer with the Cavaliers either way.
15 Will stay: Tony Parker
Tony Parker is no longer a superstar, but he has the credibility of one. The San Antonio Spurs saw Parker become an All-Star and one of the reasons for their consistent dominance over the past fifteen years.
Parker has lost most of his skills with the aging process and injuries taking place in recent years. Despite no longer being a difference maker, Parker is considered a locker room leader. It is unknown how much longer he will play, but Parker is going to be a Spur for life.
14 Will leave: John Wall
A constant in the story of the superstars likely to leave is the frustration of franchises failing to move forward. John Wall led the Washington Wizards from a lottery team into a consistent playoff fixture in the Eastern Conference.
The problem is Washington has been regressing as they’ve yet to reach the Conference Finals. Wall implied the franchise needs change after their first-round elimination this past postseason. If the Wizards can’t become a contender, Wall will want out when he hits free agency while still in his prime.
13 Will stay: Al Horford
The Boston Celtics are a ruthless franchise that will trade anyone for the right loot. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Isaiah Thomas all were proof of this when looking at the shocking deals involving them. However, there are certain players that the Celtics franchise will always try to keep.
Al Horford is one of them as the anchor for this rebuilding process.
The role of Horford is invaluable to the current core, and Horford loves Boston. Expect him to retire in the green and white.
12 Will leave: Paul George
Paul George’s free agency is one of the biggest stories of the NBA offseason. Many fans expect George to bolt for the Los Angeles Lakers, but some insiders have reported the Oklahoma City Thunder has a great chance to re-sign him.
George is still more likely to leave when looking at the Thunder roster.
Oklahoma City was eliminated in the first round despite George and Russell Westbrook having All-Star seasons. George will have a better chance to win and be happier in Los Angeles.
11 Will stay: Dirk Nowitzki
The Dallas Mavericks have been lucky enough to host the entire NBA career of Dirk Nowitzki over the past two decades. Nowitzki is planning to return for at least one more season despite his body starting to show the wear and tear of his longevity.
History has shown that Dirk is the most loyal player in the NBA when it comes to a single franchise. Nowitzki always signs contracts at cheaper than market value. Dirk will never even entertain playing for another team.
10 Will leave: LeBron James
The biggest story in the NBA right now is the future of LeBron James. Following an NBA Finals sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, everyone wants to know if LeBron will ditch the Cleveland Cavaliers for a better contender.
James once implied he would spend the rest of his career in Cleveland. However, he already gave them an NBA Championship and wants to contend for more titles. LeBron is most likely to leave the Cavaliers for a new team prepared to challenge Golden State.
9 Will stay: James Harden
The Houston Rockets scored the deal of the era when they acquired James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder for forgettable pieces in a one-sided trade. Harden emerged as a superstar and perennial MVP candidate.
Houston is now a contender and the only legitimate threat to the Golden State Warriors thanks to Harden leading the way. The love is reciprocated as Harden has stated he wants to spend his career with the Rockets. It would take a massive shift for Harden or Houston to decide to end their relationship.
8 Will leave: Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard is one of the most competitive players in the NBA today. Past quotes have seen Lillard discuss wanting to spend his entire career with the Portland Trail Blazers. However, recent months have shown reasons to be worried for Portland fans.
The Trail Blazers had a great regular season as the third seed in the West, but they were swept in the first round. Lillard showed frustration at management and the fans when warning to “be careful what you wish for” when the idea of trading him was thrown out there.
7 Will stay: Kristaps Porzingis
The New York Knicks drafting Kristaps Porzingis turned out to be the best thing for both sides. Porzingis has the star quality and the athletic ability to be the apple of the eye of New York fans. Knicks fans were livid when Phil Jackson even implied Porzingis would be on the trade block.
Jackson was fired for thinking about trading Porzingis.
The love of New York by Porzingis has him already declaring he never wants to play for another team. A franchise like the Knicks will want to keep Porzingis as long as he wants to be there.
6 Will leave: Anthony Davis
New Orleans Pelicans fans hold their breath any time Anthony Davis is involved in any trade rumors. Davis is a top five player and is now entering his prime. It is highly likely that Davis will be the best player in the world whenever LeBron James regresses.
Most pundits believe Davis will want out of New Orleans if they don’t truly become a contender in the next few years.
The sad thing is it is impossible to figure out a way for the Pelicans to contend with Golden State any time soon which could cause Davis to bolt.
5 Will stay: Chris Paul
The free agency of Chris Paul is already losing excitement as the superstar point guard wants to re-sign with the Houston Rockets. Paul and James Harden worked perfectly together in their first season together despite the questions about two similar superstars sharing the ball.
Many pundits believe Houston would have dethroned the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals if Paul did not suffer a hamstring injury in Game 5.
Paul is hoping to sign a long-term contract with the Rockets and recruit new stars to join the team.
4 Will leave: Kawhi Leonard
The San Antonio Spurs received horrible news when Kawhi Leonard informed them recently that he wanted to be traded. Leonard spent the recent regular season on the bench. Spurs doctors cleared him to play, but Leonard’s doctors said he was not good to go.
Tony Parker and other teammates called out Leonard for not suiting up to help them contend for a title.
It has led to Leonard wanting out. San Antonio management is trying to convince him to stay long term, but Kawhi appears to be adamant about wanting a new team soon.
3 Will stay: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook won the hearts of Oklahoma City Thunder fans forever when he re-signed with the team right after Kevin Durant left them high and dry. The superstar point guard has stated he wants to stay in Oklahoma City and build a contender there.
Westbrook even went as far as to say the Thunder fan base is the best in all of sports. The love affair between Oklahoma City and Westbrook will keep them together in the long haul unless something shocking causes a rift.
2 Will leave: Kevin Durant
Every NBA fan outside of the Bay Area wants Kevin Durant to leave the Golden State Warriors as soon as possible. Golden State seems to easily win the title without much of a challenge due to an MVP joining a 73-win roster.
Durant has expressed that winning the title didn’t feel as fulfilling as he expected. The chances are that Durant will grow tired after winning a few rings with Golden State. A redemption story of joining another team will be needed to end his prime on the right note.
1 Will stay: Stephen Curry
The Golden State Warriors will eventually have to choose between Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant one day. Curry is the one that the Warriors organization and fan base will always be loyal to. Many Golden State fans online have expressed anger at Durant winning the Finals MVP over Curry.
It is basically a given at this point that the Warriors will do anything to keep Curry for the rest of his career. Curry is the one that resurrected the Golden State franchise, and he will always be a part of it.
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