The Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics were recently eliminated from the 2017-18 NBA post season. Now, we are in the Finals and the season will be over within the next two weeks. Every team in the NBA, media included will have to turn the chapter on the upcoming season. The same two teams have reached the NBA finals for the fourth consecutive year and teams get antsy. In the eastern and western conferences teams watched the champion challenged to a seven games series. If you are a general manager and you feel your team is close, a move or two could close the gap on paper.
This is not a big free agent summer where a number of stars are all unrestricted at the same time so trades will be important. Last season, we saw Paul George traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder to join Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo carry his own team. Also, Chris Paul who was traded last season to the Houston Rockets to join James Harden and win the most games in the NBA. Moves of importance happen every summer whether big or small. The result of that movement is some players are no longer going to be starters on their team or may be out of the league all together.
We'll list the 10 NBA starters who will be out of the league next season and who will replace them.
20 Out Of The League: Zaza Pachulia
The Golden State Warriors are headed to the NBA finals for a fourth straight season. Going back to last year and before the start of the playoffs Zaza Pachulia was the starting center for the Warriors. Last season in the western conference finals Zaza Pachulia stepped under the foot of Kawhi Leonard when the Spurs had a 20-point lead in game 1 before Leonard missed the rest of the series. The play by Pachulia was so controversial that the NBA created a new rule for harsher punishment for a similar act. A San Antonio Spurs fan even went as far as suing Zaza Pachulia for causing Kawhi Leonard to sustain an ankle injury. You just cannot make this stuff up.
Pachulia averaged 5.4 points per game this season and 6.1 points last year. We have to all be honest here. The only reason that Pachulia was the starting center for the Golden State Warriors was he was willing to accept a contract for the veteran's minimum. When the team signed Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016, they needed to shed a lot of salary to make room for another max contract. Now that they have been able to develop some young talent over the last couple years, Pachulia's job is done and so is his career.
19 Who Will Replace Him: Jordan Bell
The Golden State Warriors did not have a draft pick in the 2017 NBA draft. The team spent $3.5 million to acquire a second round pick. That pick turned out to be forward Jordan Bell from the University of Oregon. As a junior, Jordan Bell averaged 10.9 points per game and 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks to help Oregon to advance to the final four. To start the season, Jordan Bell was the starter to begin the season. Bell showed the potential to switch on the perimeter and do a lot of the dirty work that Golden State needs. Having four all-stars on your roster, you will need to have role players that understand what it takes to win games and that may not necessarily mean scoring.
Pachulia does not bring much to the offensive or defensive end outside of post defense and solid rebounding.
The style of play that the NBA is gearing toward is position-less basketball. This favours Bell, who may not be a traditional center but he can play physical enough to hang with big men, and he's athletic enough to switch on wings. Bell dealt with injuries this season and could not start the way he finished but after a full training camp, Bell will be the starter going forward.
18 Out Of The League: Johnathan Motley
While in college at Baylor University, Johnathan Motley was an All-American his junior year and chose to forgo his senior season to enter the NBA draft. That season, Motley received the Karl Malone award for the best power forward in college basketball. He initially did not hire an agent but did so after the NBA draft combine. When you reach All-American status and standalone as the best player at your position in the NCAA, there is reason for optimism about your future in the NBA.
Unfortunately, Motley went undrafted and went to play in the NBA G-league for the Dallas Mavericks affiliate the Texas Legends. Motley split time between the G-League and NBA but eventually became the starter for the Mavericks by the end of the season. Owner Mark Cuban publicly stated that he wanted the team to lose games in order to better their odds in the NBA draft. Commissioner Adam Silver came down with a heavy fine and stated he will not tolerate this kind of behaviour from NBA teams. It was obvious that Motley was starting in the western conference and that can be directly related with Cuban's tanking comments. Next season, Motley will be out of the NBA back in the G-League with hopes of having his moment.
17 Who Will Replace Him: Mo Bamba
Graduating from Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Mo Bamba was considered one of the top players in the 2017 high school class and was a McDonalds All-American. Bamba was a sure one-and-done and chose the University of Texas to play his freshman season. In his debut, Bamba scored 15 points and 8 rebounds. After the season, Bamba was named to the Big-12 All-Defensive team and All-Big 12 Second Team. The Dallas Mavericks tanked this season in order to assure their chances at the number one pick. After Adam Silver penalized the Mavericks for tanking, there is no surprise to anyone that follows the NBA that they did not receive the number one pick.
With the third best chances to win the lottery, Dallas will be selecting with the fifth pick if they do not make any trades. Bamba is a perfect fit alongside their number one pick last season Dennis Smith Jr. A point guard's best friend is a big man that can defend and catch lobs around the rim. Dirk Nowitzki is the best player in the franchise's history and will play in his 20th NBA season next year. Bamba will have the chance to learn from one of the best big men in NBA history and Dallas will be glad to have him.
16 Out Of The League: Tyrone Wallace
The Utah Jazz selected Tyrone Wallace with the 60th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. That season, Wallace spent the entire year playing in the D-League for the Jazz's affiliate Salt Lake City Stars. Wallace renounced his D-League rights in the summer of 2017 when the intention of signing with an NBA club. A couple months later, Wallace signed a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. After not making the final cut during the preseason, the Clippers cut Wallace, and he signed on to play for their D-League affiliate Agua Caliente Clippers.
This season was a rocky one for the Los Angeles Clippers as they were gearing up for their first season without their superstar point guard Chris Paul. After an injury sidelined Patrick Beverly early in the season, the team relied on their rookie Milos Teodosic. Teodosic played professionally overseas for several years and had the necessary experience to play at the NBA level. Then, Teodosic was hurt and the team needed to add depth. Tyrone Wallace was signed to a two-way contract and called up to play for the Clippers. Wallace eventually broke through to become the team's starting point guard. Wallace showed the potential to play in the big leagues but with the returning starters, Wallace will have to go back to the G-League and try this all over again.
15 Who Will Replace Him: Patrick Beverley
Last off season everyone heard all the hype surrounding Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball. Even before he was drafted, his camp made bold claims about how well he would play in the NBA from day one. The problem with that statement is that game one was against the Los Angeles Clippers. If you know the history of Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley dating back to his days with the Houston Rockets, you know he would be up for the challenge. From the opening tip, Beverley hounded Ball defensively and Lonzo really struggled against Beverley and his full-court pressure.
This type of intensity on the defensive end of the floor was what the Los Angeles Clippers missed in his absence.
Chris Paul was more than a floor general and shot maker for the Clippers; CP3 also set their tone on the defensive end of the floor. This tone was also set this season in Houston which allowed them to become a top-5 team on both offense and defense. The last time Beverley stepped on the floor for the Clippers, Blake Griffin was still their leader and as we know that has all changed. Next season, Beverly will have a chance to return to the team and will immediately reclaim his spot as their starting point guard.
14 Out Of The League: Ivan Rabb
The Orlando Magic selected Ivan Rabb with the 35th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft and was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies on draft night. Rabb was a standout player at the University of California. After receiving All-Pac-12 second-team honors as a freshman. Prior to turning pro as a sophomore, Rabb received first-team All-Pac-12 along with a 14.0 PPG and 10.5 RPB double-double average. Tank season was in full-effect this year and the Orlando Magic were among the teams at the bottom of the standings for most of the second half of the season.
Ivan Rabb, the former McDonald's All-American was clearly only starting because the Magic's best option in that moment was to lose as many games as possible. Last year, Orlando was at the top of the draft and the team selected Jonathan Isaac who is similar to Rabb in some respects. Sometimes honesty is the best policy and the honest truth is that Rabb has not done anything to prove he belongs. As bad as the eastern conference has been the last several years, it is not hard to imagine a team in the top of the lottery becoming a playoff team a year later. Next season, Orlando will try to contend for the postseason and Rabb will likely be competing in the G-League.
13 Who Will Replace Him: Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Orlando Magic will select a player with the fourth overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft in June. Who that player will be has not been decided and who gets taken before their pick has a lot to do with that. If thing play out the way that I envision or something similar, the Orlando Magic will select Jaren Jackson Jr from Michigan State University. Jackson will not turn 19 until after the draft so the team will have a great mold to build from.
In terms of today's NBA, Jackson fits into where the league is headed. With the ability to moves his feet laterally on the perimeter and still defend the rim, Jackson will immediately improve the Magic's defense. While Jackson is similar to a lot of young big men as he is not polished in the post, he can develop with NBA coaching and training. The other candidates for Orlando at 4 are Marvin Bagley III and Trae Young. There is a chance that Jackson gets drafted ahead of Bagley, bit much of the same areas that Jackson excels in so does Bagley. The wild card is Trae Young who is a very different type of player, but whoever they decide to select will have an impact day one.
12 Out Of The League: Lance Thomas
During a four-year career at Duke University, Lance Thomas won an NCAA championship and earned ACC All-Defensive Team as a senior. After entering his name in the 2010 NBA draft, Thomas was not selected and instead played in the NBA D-League for the Austin Toros. Aside from a short stint with the New Orleans Hornets to start the 2011-12 season, Thomas did not get his first big break into the league until that upcoming February. Thomas left the Hornets and returned to the Toros but signed two 10-day contracts with the team before receiving a multi-year deal.
Thomas has spent the last three and a half seasons with the New York Knicks. Teammate Courtney Lee was asked what was so special about Thomas. “He does everything. He’s a guy that’s playing the wing spot and the 4 spot and when he’s at the 4, our defense picks up a lot because he’s able to switch with guards,” Courtney Lee said. "He has the foot speed of a guard defensively so he’s able to get back to the bigs so it takes a lot away when they’re running pick and rolls.” All of that is great and most of it is true but a player has to still put the ball in the basket. Thomas does not do that very well as he only averaged 4.1 points per game last season.
11 Who Will Replace Him: Kristaps Porzingis
The New York Knicks fired Phil Jackson and his hand-picked head coach Jeff Hornacek last season. Jackson got the chance to make it to a second head coach but was never able to reach the lofty expectations that the New York fan base placed on him. As the highest paid president in the NBA, Knicks fans wanted results and wanted them fast. One of the first major moves done by Phil Jackson was drafting Kristaps Porzingis with the 4th pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That pick was not well-received in New York on draft day, but the fans quickly changed their tune when watching him as a rookie.
This season, Porzingis started out as a potential MVP candidate and proved without a doubt that he could lead an NBA franchise as the number one guy.
What Porzingis did not realize is the toll on your body this role can have on a player. After a hot start to the season, Porzingis cooled off a bit and his gaudy numbers began to level out. On February 6, Porzingis tore his ACL and the Knicks chances were finished. Next season, Porzingis will be returning from injury and have a second chance to show his ability to lead a team on a post season run.
10 Out of the League: Corey Brewer
As a four-star McDonald's All-American, Corey Brewer signed on to attend the University of Florida to play for coach Billy Donovan. In his time there, the Gators were able to win two back-to-back championships and Brewer entered the NBA draft along with fellow teammates Al Horford and Joakim Noah. Brewer was the seventh pick in the 2007 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Two years ago, Brewer was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Lou Williams.
This season, the Lakers reached a buyout with Corey Brewer, and he was released by the team. Once he became a free agent, the immediate front runner became the Oklahoma City Thunder who are led by Brewer's former college coach. Surprisingly, Brewer posted his highest scoring average in the last three seasons. The Corey Brewer story would have had a great ending if the Thunder were able to have a deeper run in the playoffs. The team was a huge disappointment and Brewer's role with the Thunder will change if he returned next season. Brewer was only signed for the rest of the season and now he will be an unrestricted free agent. This is a young man's game and Brewer will be on the market for a long time, even into the upcoming 2018-19 season.
9 Who Will Replace Him: Andre Roberson
The Oklahoma City Thunder were in essence two different teams in one NBA season. The team before the Andre Roberson injury and the team post injury. With the 26th pick in the 2013 NBA draft the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Roberson before he was traded to the Thunder. If you look at his fit in OKC, Roberson is very similar to Thabo Sefolosha as the team's best perimeter defender and a person fairly limited on the offensive end. Teammate Russell Westbrook defended those limitations, “People outside our building, people across the world always complained about the things Andre didn’t do instead of embracing all the great things he did do.”
There is no denying that Roberson's inability to shoot the basketball from the free-throw and three-point lines are a problem. What most people did not realize was that the luxury of having his defense outweighed any issues he may have had scoring. With Carmelo Anthony as their starting power forward, the Thunder are at a disadvantage on defense to start. Anthony is not the athlete that he once was and is not being utilized enough offensively to have an impact with the starters. The injury to Andre Roberson placed more on the shoulders of Paul George, and he was now the team's "lock-down defender." Once the rehab process for Roberson is complete, the Thunder will accept him back with open arms.
8 Out of the League: Wesley Iwundu
The Orlando Magic selected Wesley Iwundu with the 33rd overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Iwundu was third-team All-Big 12 in both his junior and senior seasons before being selected in the draft. As one of the worst rosters in the NBA, Orlando was forced to play below average players heavy minutes this season. The team also had to deal with various injuries to their best player Aaron Gordon throughout the year.
By season's end, Iwundu was starting at small forward for the Magic. Wesley Iwundu played 9 games in the G-League for the Lakeland Magic and averaged 15.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Iwundu averaged 3.7 points per game for Orlando this season and as the team looks to improve their roster, Iwundu may be an early casualty. In an NBA that has gone more toward shooting in recent years, there is not much room for players that don't have that ability. It is not to say that a player who is a below average shooter cannot find success in the NBA, it is to say that those specific players must have other elite attributes. Iwundu is not great at anything yet, so it may make sense for him to continue his development in the G-League next year.
7 Who Will Replace Him: Trae Young
OK, you got me. Yes, I just wrote earlier how the Orlando Magic would draft Jaren Jackson Jr and now I'm saying they will take Trae Young. I alluded to the possibility earlier in this piece but until draft night, you never really know anything. Smokescreens are set to throw off the thinking of other teams and it is all a ploy for leverage or secrecy. If the Magic indeed feel that their best option is Trae Young, he will be a difference maker from the jump.
Orlando traded for the draft rights of point guard Elfrid Payton in 2014. This season, Payton was traded to the Phoenix Suns and the Magic may be back in the market for a point guard. After spending a top pick last season on a forward and already having Aaron Gordon in the front court as well, Young will seamlessly fit in Orlando. The success of Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors has shown every other team in the NBA the value of a great shooter that can create his own offense. Young is very similar to Curry in that regard but may have better vision and ball handling abilities than Curry did at the same age.
6 Out Of The League: Danuel House
There is a large chance that you have never heard of Danuel House before reading this article. House started his collegiate career at the University of Houston for two years before finishing his last two at Texas A&M. After his college career, House was not selected in the 2016 NBA draft but joined the Washington Wizards summer league roster. House played in one game for the Wizards that season before an injury derailed the rest of his rookie year. After the short stint with the Wizards, House returned to the NBA G-League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. After putting up averages of 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Vipers, the Phoenix Suns signed House to a two-way contract.
Like many others in the NBA lottery, the team wanted to put themselves in the best situation to win ping pong balls and not actual NBA games. House is not at fault here and the team knows that House did all he was expected to do. The 6'6 wing player will have to find another opportunity because next season, a healthy Devin Booker and Josh Jackson will eat up the majority of the playing time. Maybe House finds another team willing to give him a two-way deal but next year, House will be back in the G-League to start the season.
5 Who Will Replace Him: DeAndre Ayton
The Phoenix Suns started off the season as the worst team in the NBA by a mile. The team suffered an embarrassing 48-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in the season opener. The team was so dysfunction that their start guard Eric Bledsoe alluded to not wanting to be a part of the team on Twitter. Even though the Suns did eventually lose four games by 40 or more points, Phoenix was not historically bad and that is saying something.
The Suns were lucky enough to win the NBA lottery a few weeks back.
This is one of the drafts that most draft experts think surely will have multiple all-star caliber players and even some superstars. Before the lottery order, DeAndre Ayton was asked on CBS Sports Radio where he sees himself fitting, “Honestly, I could see myself in Phoenix. I could see a little Shaq and Kobe 2.0.” This was before the Suns were in position to take Ayton number one overall but the fit is as good as you could imagine. Some of the quote may have been to sell himself as the number one pick but Ayton is the clear choice for Phoenix and the pairing with Devin Booker will be formidable for years to come.
4 Out Of The League: JaKarr Sampson
From Akron, Ohio and played at St. Vincent St. Mary's High School you would assume that these were bylines in the biography of LeBron James. The fact is JaKarr Sampson also shares these same roots. Sampson signed to play collegiately at St. Mary's University and was already on NBA scouts radar after his freshman season. "He has a world of talent and this is a big year for him. He has the opportunity in the Big East to take a major step. He’s been a little in and out so far, and consistency is the hallmark we’re looking for out of him. He’s a first-round talent, but we’re looking for first-round production. There’s no question he’ll benefit from this second year in school in terms of his maturity, strength, the whole thing.”
Sampson would leave after his sophomore year and declare for the NBA draft in 2014. The NBA did not think highly enough of Sampson, and he went on to go undrafted. The Philadelphia 76ers signed Sampson to their summer league roster and the team would sign him for the regular season. This past year, Sampson spent time with the Sacramento Kings and averaged 4.7 points per game. It is hard for guys that have had multiple chances at the NBA level to stick so maybe next year Sampson gives an overseas team a chance.
3 Who Will Replace Him: Marvin Bagley
The Sacramento Kings are fortunate enough to select second in the NBA draft. Unfortunately, you do not know who the team will select and if you are a Kings fan, you hope they do not somehow screw this up. The connection to Luka Doncic is there with Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic was selected to in the 2014 NBA draft but did not come to the NBA until this past season. In his lone season, Bogdanovic showed the potential to do a lot of the things you would be getting in a Luka Doncic.
The best option at number two overall is selecting Marvin Bagley. There is so much talent in this draft that teams will just have to fall in love with a guy and rationalize in their heads the fit. Bagley will fit immediately in Sacramento alongside another 7-footer in Willie Cauley-Stein. In his only season at Duke, Bagley was highly productive and may have been the best player in the country. If you can get a player of that magnitude without winning the lottery, you select him and never look back. If you remember the timeline, Bagley reclassified to graduate a year early and if he didn't, he would be the number one overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft.
2 Out Of The League: Damion Lee
In college, Damion Lee played two seasons at Drexel before he suffered an ACL injury that ended his season, and he redshirted his junior year. Lee played another year at Drexel before he played his fifth and final season for head coach Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville. Lee went on to go undrafted in 2016 and signed with the Miami Heat for summer league. He went on to sign with the Boston Celtics and played in two preseason games before being cut and landing at the with the Maine Red Claws as a Celtics affiliate.
This season, Lee signed two 10-day contracts with the Atlanta Hawks before reaching a contract for the remainder of the season.
The Hawks were in a rebuild this season and were expected to be one of the bottom teams in the NBA. This is where players like Damion Lee have a chance to start in the NBA and the team can increase their lottery odds. With the Hawks, Lee averaged 10.7 points per game in his 26 minutes a night. Someone has to score the basketball so those numbers are often inflated due to the circumstances with the team. Next year the team should be better and Lee will have to look elsewhere to try to get his foot in the NBA door.
1 Who Will Replace Him: Luka Doncic
The most highly regarded European player ever may be Luka Doncic. The hype around Luka Doncic is something that we have never seen before. A European prospect has never been the number one overall pick in the draft and earlier this season Doncic appeared on course to change that. Things have cooled off a bit in Doncic but his Euroleague teammate and Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic had positive words about Doncic. "He's a born winner. No, I'm not kidding, he already has a lot of trophies, and medals. I'm happy for him. Mark my words, he's going to be one of the best in the whole world."
Scouts have mentioned how they do not feel that Doncic will be a point guard at the NBA level. Defensively, it is hard to picture how Doncic defends some of the elite level guards and may be better fit as a wing player. The Atlanta Hawks have the third pick in the draft and Doncic has to be considered as an option here. The team does have a point guard in Dennis Schroder but both players have the ability to score the basketball and facilitate. Hawks fans should be excited to select the best 18-year old player in the world that was the face of the second best league behind the NBA.