Atlanta To Washington: One Player Every NBA Team Should Drop Before The Start Of Next Season

Over the past several weeks, we've seen many NBA teams retool their lineups with new acquisitions via the free agent market or via trade. Some of these tweaks have added up and become bona fide rebuilding efforts, while others are merely examples of teams reloading for the new season and making a few changes here and there that could lead to a better record in 2018-19. Those signings won't be the last – at the moment, there are still several free agents worth adding – and neither should that be the case for trades. But what about player releases? This isn't always the easiest or most affordable thing to do, but it does happen, and it happens more often than you would think.

If you take a look at the players we've included in this list, not all of them are bad players. Some of them may actually be quite competent and useful but might be better off playing for another team. But these players all share one thing in common – their teams would be better off without them and would be better off releasing them (or, in rare cases, trading them to another team) before the 2018-19 season kicks off.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

30 Atlanta Hawks: Miles Plumlee

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when Miles Plumlee looked like he could carve out a decent career in the pros? Well, those days are long and gone, as the oldest of the three Plumlee brothers who played for Duke and made it to the NBA is also arguably the most likely to find himself queued up in the unemployment line before the summer is over.

Though Plumlee did start 35 games for the Hawks in 2017-18, he didn't exactly set the world on fire as Dewayne Dedmon's top backup. Alex Len's arrival will likely bump Plumlee down to third string if he stays, but we're willing to bet he won't make it to the start of the 2018-19 season.

29 Boston Celtics: Marcus Morris

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Somehow, Gordon Hayward's injury proved to be a blessing in disguise for young Celtics like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who played key roles for a team that fell just one game short of the NBA Finals. It also allowed one veteran in particular, Marcus Morris, to have a better season than what many had expected, as he came off the bench to average 13.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in 2017-18.

Assuming Hayward is back to full health, Morris could easily find himself the odd man out and see about 20 minutes per game tops in 2018-19. The Celtics would be wise to trade him for a draft pick instead of letting him waste away on their bench.

28 Brooklyn Nets: Kenneth Faried

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that essentially amounted to a salary dump, Faried, Darrell Arthur, and a couple future draft picks were traded by the Nuggets to the Nets, who only had to give up backup guard Isaiah Whitehead. The player they often call "Manimal" says he wants to play for the Nets in 2018-19, but should he?

Unfortunately, we don't think he should. Due to injuries, he's a shadow of the double-double machine he used to be, and even when he was putting up big numbers in Denver, his defense left a lot to be desired. Unless he miraculously gets 100 percent healthy AND adds a few dimensions to his game, he probably won't be long for Brooklyn.

27 Charlotte Hornets: Willy Hernangomez

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Compared to many of the other young big men on the Hornets (and there are many), Hernangomez seems to have a bit more upside. He did, after all, break out late in his rookie year for the Knicks, but since then, he's been an afterthought on the bench, and his midseason trade to the Hornets failed to do him much good.

Frank Kaminsky, Cody Zeller, and Bismack Biyombo have been disappointing for longer, and the jury's out on Frank the Tank, with the other two too expensive to cut loose. That means the Hornets might have no choice but to free Willy...and hope he gets to live up to his potential on whoever will be his third NBA team.

26 Chicago Bulls: Omer Asik

Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Oftentimes, there are players who are too expensive to simply cut in the offseason, no matter how much they deserve to go. Then you've got players like Omer Asik, who are completely irrelevant and far removed from that one year or two where they somehow overachieved their way to a richer deal.

He barely scores, doesn't even rebound well anymore, and is outclassed by all of the Bulls' other bigs, may they be youngsters like Lauri Markkanen or veterans like Robin Lopez.  Yet there he is, making over $11 million a year for such paltry production. The Bulls need to find a way to let go of Asik, and fast.

25 Cleveland Cavaliers: Billy Preston

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, so this might seem like a bit of a cop-out. Preston is an incoming rookie and an undrafted one at that. So why him, and not J.R. Smith for his choke act in the 2018 Finals and attitude issues, or Kyle Korver due to his age? Both Smith and Korver, unfortunately, cost too much to release, and are both on the trading block anyway, according to reports.

Preston is a former McDonald's All-American and five-star recruit, but if the Cavs keep him until the season starts, they'll be getting a seriously unfinished product. They'll be better off releasing Preston and allowing him to further hone his craft overseas.

24 Dallas Mavericks: Devin Harris

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We get why the Mavericks signed Harris as a free agent as he boomeranged back to the same team that traded him to Denver just a few months prior, and the same team that drafted him in 2004 and keeps bringing him back. Dennis Smith Jr. needs a veteran mentor, and Harris will be entering his 15th season.

On the other hand, that's just it - Harris is long in the tooth and past his prime, and the Mavs already have a grizzled veteran in J.J. Barea, who's still putting up decent numbers and also plays the point guard position. This was an unnecessary signing, and one the Mavs should consider undoing before the new season kicks off.

23 Denver Nuggets: Tyler Lydon

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

No one really expects huge numbers for the 24th overall pick, but consider this for a moment - the Jazz could have had Kyle Kuzma at that position in the 2017 draft. Instead, they went with Lydon, then sent him and Trey Lyles to the Denver Nuggets in the trade that gave them Donovan Mitchell. Big win for the Jazz, but it could have been a win-win if the Jazz picked Kuzma and the Nuggets held on to Mitchell.

That said, Lydon played in just two minutes in one game, and even if he's on a two-year rookie contract, he's someone the Nuggets could easily let go of instead of letting him take up roster space.

22 Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Three years have passed since he was the 8th overall pick in the 2015 draft, and this Stan is still not the man. One would have thought Johnson would have stepped up after Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley were sent to the Clippers in the Blake Griffin trade, but he still provided the same middling, inconsistent play as Reggie Bullock instead benefited the most from the gap Harris left at the three.

How many more chances will Johnson get before the Pistons finally cut their losses and admit he was a bust? He's got one more year remaining on his rookie contract, so it's put up or shut up time and then some for this onetime potential superstar.

21 Golden State Warriors: Jonas Jerebko

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

We've mostly refrained from including players who were just signed in the 2018 offseason, but we're willing to make an exception for Jerebko, who is one of those players who are the epitome of the word "journeyman" - he's played for a number of different teams, and hasn't exactly played well for any of them.

Jerebko isn't exactly a spring chicken, as he's turning 32 next March, and he's only on a one-year, $2.1 million deal. The Warriors don't really need much at this point (why should they), but they'd be much better off waiving Jerebko and focusing on Kevon Looney's development as a backup power forward.

20 Houston Rockets: Michael Carter-Williams

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, it's another new signee and another one of them who needs to be released this offseason. Michael Carter-Williams has dropped off seriously since he won Rookie of the Year honors in 2014, and while the main issues with him back then were his inconsistency and lack of shooting range, this time around, it's everything. Heck, he's not even a good defender anymore.

Rumor has it that the Rockets are in the market for another guard, as they shop power forward Ryan Anderson around in hopes of beefing up their backcourt. They should, by all means, go for a point guard, then cut MCW loose the moment they find a better backup for Chris Paul.

19 Indiana Pacers: Darren Collison

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

We aren't afraid to get controversial from time to time, and that's what we're doing with our entry for the Indiana Pacers, where we are nominating their starting point guard, Darren Collison, as the player they should let go of before the new season starts.

As the Pacers have Victor Oladipo as their superstar two-guard, Aaron Holiday as a rookie point guard, and the resurgent Tyreke Evans as a new acquisition at combo guard, Collison is almost expendable at this point. He's not a bad player, but he's proven time and again with multiple teams that he's not good enough to lead a team to the next level.

18 Los Angeles Clippers: Wesley Johnson

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Although there were times in the 2017-18 season where it seemed that the Clippers were close to getting a good player out of Johnson, these moments became fewer and farther in between as the season went on. All in all, the former fourth overall draft pick averaged 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds for the Clippers last season. Typical Wes Johnson.

It's almost a miracle that Johnson is still in the NBA at this point in his career, but we think that the Clippers will be the final stop in what has been a disappointing career in the pros. If they want to rebuild and focus on their young stars, they need to get rid of the older, more ineffective players, Johnson included.

17 Los Angeles Lakers: Luol Deng

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

It won't be easy to get rid of Luol Deng, but can you think of anyone else on the Lakers who should be released at this point? Deng, while not that old, has been in the NBA for quite some time, and his days as a reliable scorer and defensive stopper at the three are long gone.

One game and 13 minutes - that's what $18 million a year got the Lakers in 2017-18, and even if he's healthy nowadays, Deng appears destined to be demoted to third-string duty. He's too good for that, and the Lakers need to think of a creative way to trade him, or find a cheaper way to release him.

16 Memphis Grizzlies: Chandler Parsons

Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

You should have seen this coming from a mile away. It doesn't matter how they do it or how they soften the financial blow – the Grizzlies need to rid themselves of Chandler Parsons and his inflated contract, stat. Sure, injuries are largely responsible for Parsons being possibly the worst free agent signing in recent NBA history, but come on. The Grizzlies are in serious denial if they're not feeling the least bit of buyer's remorse with the Parsons contract.

Despite not being much of a scorer, newly signed small forward Kyle Anderson should be a virtual Swiss Army knife for the Grizzlies and should easily outplay Parsons at just a third of his salary. It's time Memphis parts ways with this overpaid, injury-prone former up-and comer.

15 Miami Heat: Hassan Whiteside

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

We'd like to cheat a little with this entry, because a look at the Heat's lineup reveals that they don't really have anybody whom they should outright release. But despite that "great talk" he reportedly had with Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley, there's a chance that Hassan Whiteside still wants out of Miami, and would want nothing more than to be traded.

Will he give the retooled Cavs a quality big man as Cleveland gives up Tristan Thompson and a couple of their guards, or will he end up somewhere else? In the end, it might not matter much for this double-double machine (provided he's healthy, that is), as long as he takes his talents away from the South Beach.

14 Milwaukee Bucks: Matthew Dellavedova

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference an NBA championship makes. After becoming a household (if hard to spell) name thanks to his chippy defense as a Cleveland Cavalier, Dellavedova was re-signed to a new contract, then traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, where he proved he wasn't worth the exponential salary increase. Still chippy on defense, yes, but not worth close to $10 million a year.

With the Bucks having picked Donte DiVincenzo in this year's NBA draft, it's clear that they have fewer plans for Delly than ever before. If only it could be easier for Milwaukee to release him.

13 Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Rose

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, how far have the mighty fallen? No thanks to an extensive injury history, Rose, who was the 2011 NBA MVP, has gone from bona fide superstar to bona fide second-string point guard, not to mention one who can't even get credited for assists.

As long as Jeff Teague is healthy, Rose won't have a chance to start for the Timberwolves, and if you come to think of it, he might even be in for a third-string role if Tyus Jones continues to develop. How can you avoid such a situation? Simple - release Rose, who's being paid on the cheap anyway, and focus on building up Jones as the T-Wolves' PG of the future.

12 New Orleans Pelicans: Emeka Okafor

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Pelicans just added Jahlil Okafor in free agency, so they might as well get rid of the older, unrelated Emeka Okafor after his admirable return following four years on the sidelines.

With New Orleans in need of frontcourt depth following DeMarcus Cousins' season-ending injury, the team signed the former second overall pick to a couple 10-day contracts, then for the rest of the season as he averaged career-lows of 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. As the Pelicans now have Julius Randle, not to mention the aforementioned Jahlil Okafor on board to play alongside Anthony Davis, this one should be easy – 'Meka's too old and too rusty to make an impact at this point in his borderline disappointing career.

11 New York Knicks: Joakim Noah

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Indeed, it feels like it's been quite some time since Joakim Noah has been relevant. Just four years ago, he was named Defensive Player of the Year after posting career-best numbers in most statistical categories for the Chicago Bulls, but in the years since then, he's battled injuries, league suspensions, and coaches (see: Hornacek, Jeff)  and has played in just 53 games over the last two seasons, including 7 in 2017-18. All that for four years and $72 million.

Recent reports have suggested the Knicks are trying to move Noah in the offseason, and if they can't find any takers, they might waive him by September. Don't be shocked if that happens – this once-stellar defender, rebounder, and passer has long been damaged goods.

10 Oklahoma City Thunder: Kyle Singler

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time, Singler looked very much like a minor second-round steal. Like fellow Duke product Josh McRoberts before him, he didn't turn out to be the second coming of Christian Laettner despite his impressive high school credentials, but he had a solid college career and looked destined to have a solid pro career as well.

Nowadays, Singler can barely get off the bench for the Thunder and has been virtually invisible on the stat sheet for the past three seasons or so. Maybe it's time for OKC to release him so they can make room for younger, more talented players.

9 Orlando Magic: Timofey Mozgov

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It still boggles the mind. How come the Lakers paid such a ridiculously high price to sign an average-at-best center like Mozgov? Is it because he's over seven feet tall (and you can't teach that)? Did they really think he'd develop into at least a 15-10 player in the middle? Whatever the reason is, the man is way, way overpaid, and Orlando needs to find a way to rid itself of his onerous contract.

If the Magic can't do just that and alleviate the financial impact of releasing him, then they'll be stuck with a third-string center earning $16 million as he sits behind an established star (Nikola Vucevic) and a promising rookie with tons of upside (Mo Bamba).

8 Philadelphia 76ers: Jerryd Bayless

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Currently, it would seem as if the 76ers are trying to get rid of Bayless, but are unable to. Rumors recently hinted that the veteran combo guard was almost traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyle Korver, only for the Cavs to pull back on the deal because they didn’t see Bayless as sufficient compensation. Can’t really blame them, you know?

He’s injury-prone, he’s still not consistent, and he seems more like a tweener than a true combo guard who can play both backcourt positions well. As he’s buried behind Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, T.J. McConnell, and (if healthy) Markelle Fultz, look for the Sixers to continue their efforts to trade or release him.

7 Phoenix Suns: Brandon Knight

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

One can almost say that Knight's NBA career hasn't been the same since that now-infamous moment when DeAndre Jordan posterized him with an epic dunk. And now that he's missed the entire 2017-18 season due to injuries, Knight is almost irrelevant on the Suns' lineup. Take note, he stands to be paid over $30 million over the next two seasons!

Just a couple years ago, Knight was still a competent starter, but with his injuries, Devin Booker's rise to superstardom, Josh Jackson's continuous improvement, and the fact that rookie Mikal Bridges can play shooting guard all in mind, he just seems superfluous at this point. Not to mention way overpaid.

6 Portland Trail Blazers: Meyers Leonard

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Is it too late now to say sorry to Meyers Leonard and tell him his time as a Trail Blazer is over? Pardon the Justin Bieber reference,  but the man often described as a seven-foot-tall, much less inked version of the polarizing pop star is dead weight at this point in his mediocre-thus-far NBA career.

A former 11th overall draft pick, Leonard has failed to make a bigger impact in Rip City since signing a new four-year, $41 million contract in 2016. Aside from Leonard's soft play, Jusuf Nurkic's arrival has also helped keep his minutes down, and with the eerily similar Zach Collins probably a bigger priority at this point, the Blazers need a way to get rid of this once-promising prospect.

5 Sacramento Kings: Zach Randolph

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

On one end, keeping Zach Randolph on the Kings would give 2018 second overall pick Marvin Bagley III a capable veteran mentor. However, doing so might also leave Skal Labissiere as the odd man out, and as we've seen in his two years in the league, he's shown more than a few flashes of brilliance.

All in all, Randolph has enjoyed great success in 17 seasons in the NBA and has matured significantly since debuting as one of the many man-children who made up Portland's infamous early 2000s lineups. He could choose to call it a career if the Kings release him, but it shouldn't shock anyone if someone else signs him to a one-year deal to provide experience at power forward.

4 San Antonio Spurs: Manu Ginobili

John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, we know. It sounds like heresy to suggest such a thing, and Gregg Popovich probably would never allow such a thing to happen. He'd rather have Manu Ginobili retire on his own volition than cut a San Antonio institution, and we get that. But if the Spurs are moving on from their old stars, and even their younger ones (cough cough, Kawhi Leonard) who have moved on to new teams, they might as well go whole-hog and release Ginobili.

Why should the Spurs consider this? Well, the simplest reason here would be to accelerate 2018 first-round pick Lonnie Walker's development, but even if Walker doesn't live up to expectations, the Spurs might need someone to take over in case new addition DeMar DeRozan chooses not to re-sign once his contract is up.

3 Toronto Raptors: C.J. Miles

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It may sound hard to believe for some, but C.J. Miles has been in the league for 13 years, going on a 14th, providing instant offense off the bench for teams that need it. While some thought that he'd be a potential superstar as a highly-regarded high school prospect, Miles has carved out a good, successful career for a second-rounder. However, he doesn't seem like a good fit anymore for the Toronto Raptors, whom he joined in 2017.

With Kawhi Leonard now onboard and Danny Green providing threes and D as another new wing player up north, Miles might be at a point where he's outlived his usefulness. It might be better if the Raptors release him instead of potentially allowing his minutes to get cut in half.

2 Utah Jazz: Alec Burks

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

We would have gone with Dante Exum, but given how the Jazz are still heavily invested in their disappointing, injury-prone likely backup point guard to Ricky Rubio, whom they just re-signed for three years and $33 million, we're going instead with Alec Burks, who's Donovan Mitchell's likely reliever at shooting guard.

It wasn't too long ago when Burks looked like the answer at two-guard for the Jazz, but with injuries having stalled his development, he's probably due for a fresh start somewhere else. Unless, knock on wood, Mitchell follows in Exum and Burks' lead and gets cursed with ill-timed injuries.

1 Washington Wizards: Ian Mahinmi

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Along with the aforementioned Chandler Parsons contract and the Lakers' deals with Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng, Ian Mahinmi's multi-year Wizards deal is another one of those notorious albatrosses from recent league history. Washington must have thought he'd have a chance to replace Marcin Gortat at center, and with Dwight Howard having recently signed a one-year contract with the Wizards, Mahinmi isn't likely to earn starting duties either.

Even if Howard wears out his welcome with the Wizards like many are expecting, it's hardly likely Mahinmi will be starting unless someone is injured. The Wizards might as well try to cut their losses and release this overpaid, otherwise average big man.

More in NBA