Through the first few months of play we already have quite a few NBA storylines developing that can lead us to new revelations about a handful of teams in the league. Every year since Kevin Durant made his way to the Golden State Warriors in 2016, teams and players have made their best efforts toward putting themselves in a position to either immediately or eventually be able compete with this juggernaut team in Oakland. Seeing as how the Warriors have won back to back titles, it's more than safe to say that everyone else's efforts hasn't panned out too well. However, that won't stop this train of player mobility from continuing to steam ahead.
Now, I know it is way too early to get into what could go down next summer, but it wouldn't hurt to speculate a little. Besides, if everyone on the national stage can do it, then I don't see the issue in us doing it too. This article isn't just about next offseason though, it includes things we can see happen as soon as next week. We've got developing trade scenarios growing all around the league this early into the season, and based on where some teams go the rest of the way, these situations may either dissolve or grow stronger. In this article we will list 10 trades and 10 potential free agent signings we could see go down in the next year, and discuss how the players involved could get to these points as well as the possible agendas the teams involved in these situations may have with these moves. Here are 20 transactions that could happen in the NBA within the next 12 months.
20 Trade: Blake Griffin To Washington
I know what some of you are probably thinking: "the guy who questioned Dwight Howard going to D.C. due to locker room issues now all of a sudden wants to add Blake Griffin of all people to the mix?," to which I say of course not. I wouldn't make this deal if I'm the Wizards, but I think that it is possible for them to take a chance with this trade.
While Blake Griffin isn't exactly the stud he used to be and bringing him in does add cause to concern as it pertains to chemistry, and injuries, his talent coupled with that of Wall and Beal would both create the most talented Wizards starting lineup ever assembled, and likely give the Wizards a better shot at competing in the Eastern Conference for the next few seasons.
19 Signing: Kevin Durant To Los Angeles Clippers
Kevin Durant is entering what could be his last season in Golden State and that has many fans excited not only for the teams he may potentially sign with, but also for the future of the league in relation to the competitive fervor that many have found to be nonexistent since KD's arrival to the Warriors.
Now there are going to be plenty of suitors bidding for Durant's services, but what the Clippers present simply cannot be ignored. A stable front office group, an above average roster to begin with, and a chance to remain in California as the premier player on what would become a prime contender in a slowly weakening Western Conference.
18 Trade: C.J. McCollum To Orlando
The Trail Blazers are in a bit of a rut at the moment. They peaked to new heights with their current core last season and locked up the third seed in a very competitive Western Conference. Now I hate to break up one of the best offensive backcourts in the league, but if Portland is going to get better in the postseason they need more reliable sources of production other than their offensive stars. This could come from trading C.J. McCollum.
A combo guard in C.J. McCollum would be able to fill the void at the point guard spot for the Magic and make them a legitimate playoff contender in the Eastern Conference
17 Signing: Kyrie Irving To New Orleans
Now I understand that the consensus ideal is that eventually Anthony Davis will want out of New Orleans. Moreover, I am also well aware that Kyrie Irving has already verbally committed to Boston for the foreseeable future.
However, Irving will be one of the most sought after free agents. And yes, that Knicks option that he admitted to heavily considering will be open. He could always go join the Suns or the Pacers, or even the Jazz, but how about the Pelicans? They can't offer him the most money, but they can offer him a pretty good chance at continuing to compete for a title while playing alongside one of the best players in the league today in Anthony Davis on what is currently a pretty decent team. One that would become even better with his presence. Just something to consider.
16 Trade: Mike Conley to Milwaukee
The Milwaukee Bucks have found some buzz going for them so far this season. Placing an array of outside shooting threats around Giannis Antetokounmpo has proven to be highly beneficial to the Bucks offense. With the tall and slender pieces on the team the defense looks to be pretty promising as well. However, even with all these things going for them they are only considered to be at best a dark horse contender in the east behind the likes of Boston and Toronto.
The Memphis Grizzlies will have to accept eventually that their time is up and they need to rebuild their team. The first step into this process would be to trade away Mike Conley, and sending him to Milwaukee seems like the right move.
15 Signing: Kawhi Leonard to Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard's story has been incredibly hard to understand. This entry simply boils down to one question? What does he want?
Let's be real about this, the Clippers aren't the A-team in LA. Typically they are one of those teams that would have to trade to acquire an all-star player of Leonard's caliber. However, they present the best opportunity to give Kawhi everything he presumably wants.
Close to home, check. Face of the franchise, check. In a position to compete, if they get him then yeah definitely, check. Toronto gives him that premier player option but he's far from home. The Lakers give him that chance to be home, but LeBron is the head man, and they already have their eyes on guys like Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis. The Clippers seem like the perfect spot.
14 Trade: Markelle Fultz to Phoenix
I don't think Markelle Fultz is nearly as bad as some people have made him out to be. I just don't think he fits in Philadelphia. Especially since the team now has Jimmy Butler from Minnesota, another ball-handling playmaker. Philly needs guys who are more skilled at the catch and shoot at the two spot, something Fultz is not yet capable of doing.
Fultz, could move to a rebuilding Suns team, who are need of a point guard anyway. He won't be so heavily pressured to be a primary scorer, as he will have several offensive threats to give the ball off to like Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and T.J Warren, and will be able to focus more on his playmaking ability at his natural position in games while continuing to rehabilitate his shot formation in training.
13 Signing: Tobias Harris to Brooklyn
Tobias Harris remains one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He is one of the biggest reasons as to why the Clippers have not broken down to oblivion since breaking up the "Lob City" crew and deserves a whole lot more credit than he has been given thus far. However, despite the difference he has made for the Clippers, his time with the team may be coming to an end next July.
Enter the Brooklyn Nets. Because of the lack of interest the upper tier players in the league seem to have had in joining the Nets in recent memory, this has made the franchise more willing to "overpay" for the second tier players. Examples of this include offering a max contract to Otto Porter a few years ago, a heavy pursuit of Julius Randle, and a willingness to absorb Timofey Mozgov's albatross contract to acquire D'Angelo Russell from the Lakers, to name a few. A max contract offer to Tobias Harris may be next in line.
12 Trade: Marc Gasol to Cleveland
So again, I am of the mindset that the Grizzlies should go into the tank seeing as how their team has little to no chance to compete for postseason success this year and beyond with their current core. With that, I already discussed a potential deal to unload Mike Conley's contract, but then what? Move Marc Gasol.
Cleveland should make a move to acquire a player like Gasol to form what could be a highly formidable frontcourt pairing with him and Kevin Love. Worst case scenario is that things don't work out, he leaves in free agency, but Cleveland can say they tried to create something strong. Moreover, If the Gasol thing backfires and they still miss the playoffs and he leaves, then you can fully commit to a rebuild with added cap room.
11 Signing: DeMarcus Cousins to Dallas
The Mavericks signing DeMarcus Cousins would unite him with a young backcourt duo brimming with potential in Dennis Smith and Luka Doncic. Whether or not Boogie will be back to his regular form or close to it upon his return to action will determine just how dangerous a signing like this could possibly be.
Since things appear to be working well with DeAndre Jordan, there is a chance that Dallas will continue with him. But Cousins, assuming full health, would without a doubt make Dallas a better team. Considering that they are in the playoff hunt this season, their chances would be even better with this signing next year.
10 Trade: Anthony Davis to Boston
I know the Pelicans have looked solid so far this season, and assuming that he will eventually want out of New Orleans, the Lakers look to be the obvious choice here considering Anthony Davis' new management team. However, Davis can only dictate so much of his future until his free agency in 2020. That being said there is one team that has been said to have a lot of interest in the superstar big: the Boston Celtics.
What makes them the most likely to acquire Davis is the seemingly unlimited amount of assets they have to offer. That said, Boston wins. Period. The Pelicans likely get younger stars to build around, and the Celtics will get one of the five best players in the league and add him to a remaining core including the likes of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward (assuming he gets back to regular form), Marcus Smart, and others.
9 Signing: Goran Dragic to New York
I could have said Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, maybe even Eric Bledsoe, but out of all the point guards that will be available in free agency next summer, I think the one that will be most likely to sign with the Knicks is Goran Dragic.
It just so happens that the Knicks are a slowly rising, young team in need of some more help at that point guard spot. On top of that, New York's head coach David Fizdale used to work in Miami as an assistant, and assuming he hasn't cut ties with the franchise entirely, he could start recruiting Dragic to New York pretty early. He may not give you that flash that other points in the league do, but he's still an All-Star, who I believe would make the Knicks a playoff team if he came aboard.
8 Trade: John Wall to New York
It's not working in Washington. For whatever reason, the Wizards have not shed the poor performances that haunted them all of last season, and I have reason to believe that their star point guard John Wall is a primary culprit for this mess. Coming into the season the Wizards were expected to be far better than they've shown so far.
If the team improves in his absence he should be moved. If they commit to the idea, I see the Knicks emerging and making a deal for the star point guard. It may be risky, but for New York it would be acquiring a star who can be effective on both sides of the floor, thus giving them a better shot to compete.
7 Signing: Marc Gasol To Los Angeles Lakers
Marc Gasol is a player that the Lakers should have on their radar. Not only can he do just about all the things JaVale McGee is currently doing for this team, he can also do it with a stronger shooting prowess on the court. On top of that, given his age and the understanding that the Lakers will also be pursuing guys like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler and others, Gasol may be convinced into taking a pay cut to give the Lakers leeway to bring in another star to form a more formidable team capable of winning a championship.
6 Trade: Damian Lillard To Miami
A deal like this could only happen if the Trail Blazers gain the mindset that they cannot compete in the West with what they currently have and opt to move in a different direction. Obviously the Blazers have had their playoff woes follow them for a while now and the continued failure to get far in the postseason can be attributed to the lack of consistency from the team once the postseason begins. That being the case, moving on from their franchise player, Damian Lillard, may be the route they take to either re-tool the team and remain competitive, or kickoff a rebuild.
For Miami, they are one of the best coached teams in the league. A defensive identity complimented by depth. One thing that could steer them closer to that championship conversation, is the acquisition of a legitimate superstar player. Dame is a top 15 player who would likely put them in better position to contend.
5 Signing: Kemba Walker To Utah
Kemba Walker has said on several occasions that he loves Charlotte and wouldn't mind at all staying with the Hornets. However, knowing of their history and lacking of a second legitimate star playing aside him, it is all but guaranteed that Charlotte won't be in position to win the East. While he has enjoyed playing in Charlotte, Kemba has also expressed a desire to be part of a winning team, one less concerned about competing for the playoffs and more about competing for championships.
The Utah Jazz are one of the NBA's best defensive teams, and while being led by a limited level of talent and star power on their roster, they still manage to not only win games but remain a threat in the gauntlet that is the Western Conference. If they were to add a player like Walker to bolster their offensive prowess, it just may bring them closer to reaching the top of the conference.
4 Trade: Lonzo Ball To Orlando
Before explaining myself, I need Laker and Magic fans to understand something first: it's not 2009. Neither of these teams will be in the NBA Finals in June. Both sides need more if they truly aspire to someday get back to how things were in that year (google 2009 NBA Finals). That said, allow me to defend this entry.
For Orlando it boils down to team construction. They have their bigs for the foreseeable future in Aaron Gordon and Mo Bamba. Jonathan Issac appears to be coming into his own in year two, and Evan Fournier is a solid starter at the two. There just seems to be one missing piece. Maybe you've heard me say this before: YOU NEED A POINT GUARD!!! Enter Lonzo Ball.
As for the Lakers fans who I know will feel a way about this, you know LeBron is 34 right? It's not that he and Lonzo don't mesh well (though it could be better), it's that if I'm trying to win as soon as next season, I need more seasoned vets and stars to put around LeBron and quickly.
3 Signing: Jimmy Butler To Los Angeles Lakers
To me it seems that Jimmy Butler's main preferences would be situations that offer him the following circumstances: A high profile, big market city team with the cap space to give him the max contract he feels he has earned, a team he can join and be an unquestioned leader and primary offensive threat, a roster full of players committed to winning games and have a willingness to sacrifice to achieve such a feat, and somewhere he can go to compete for championships.
There isn't a single team that can offer all of these. However, there are quite a few that can offer most of these conditions, and of the four teams I came up with, (the other three being Utah, Brooklyn, and the Clippers) the best option would be the Los Angeles Lakers. He won't be the unquestioned leader, but he'll be a primary threat in time, get that max contract, will have players around him committed to winning over anything else, and he'll be on what would become a championship threat upon his arrival
2 Trade: Bradley Beal To Los Angeles Lakers
Looking at the Lakers, it has become clear in the little time that has passed this season that they desperately need more outside shooting if they want to go compete for conference supremacy moving forward. There is the option of waiting for free agency. After all, they do now have the best player in the world in a prime destination for anyone to live, so waiting for the season to end and going after a guy like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, or Jimmy Butler could work out, but that's no guarantee. After what happened with Paul George last summer, trading for another star might be the right way to go.
Bradley Beal, an All-Star caliber player with a strong outside jumper and scoring prowess, would fit seamlessly into that starting lineup for the Lakers, instantly making LA better. Depending on the players received in the deal, the Wizards would present themselves with some new options regarding their roster.
1 Signing: Kevin Durant to New York
While they can't offer Kevin Durant the most amount of money, the Knicks do have a few things rolling in their favor. Not only are they in the weaker conference in the league in the East, but they also have a lot of young talent, all of whom would be very complimentary to KD's game and would benefit exponentially upon his arrival. The most important thing that the Knicks present to the superstar is an opportunity to further cement his legacy as an all-time great.
Joining a franchise that is typically in turmoil, by signing on, leading the way back to relevance, and potentially delivering the first NBA title(s) to New York since the '70s would not only add to his already stacked list of accomplishments as a player, but would also strengthen his case to be remembered as an all time great player. KD may not be the type of guy that is as into all that legacy hype as a guy like LeBron apparently is, but it is still intriguing enough to consider, isn't it?