It might be crazy to speculate about the offseason when we are not even halfway through the regular season. Currently, we sit at the third month of NBA basketball and so far it has been a wonderful season filled with thrilling games, dominant performances, and of course, it wouldn’t be an NBA season without the juicy drama.
The offseason is often times referred to as the "dead time" in the NBA but if you take a closer look, that statement is utterly false. First off, we get the NBA Draft where new talent flood in and potential trades can change the league in an instant. Second, we get the actual off-season, where marquee players look elsewhere as a change of scenery and much like previous years, one move can change the landscape of the league in an instant. Lastly, we get to the part where teams start to figure out their blueprints and try to trade for players that can accelerate their team whether they are rebuilding or they just want to compete for the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy.
In this article, we will tackle trades, signings, and draft picks that will completely turn the league on its head. Here are 7 surprising trades, signings, and draft picks we could see this offseason.
Josh Jackson has been a major disappointment for the Phoenix Suns this year. A clear step down from his showing last year, Jackson has failed to adjust to the system Coach Igor Kokoskov has instilled during the offseason.
The Phoenix Suns will most likely finish with a top-five pick during draft night and with a shallow talent pool to choose from, they might pull the rug under Jackson and trade him to try and move up to get two lottery picks. A lack of starting point guard and power forward, the Suns are most likely keen on getting Zion Williamson along with someone like Ja Morant or Quentin Grimes, all three are currently projected to go to the lottery meaning Phoenix will seriously have to consider giving up on the second year wing.
It might be contradicting to say Goran Dragic will sign with the Phoenix Suns since they will most likely target a point guard this coming draft. But Dragic is an upcoming free agent (player option) who will look to make money and help a team win. Enter the Suns who have enough cap space to sign a veteran that can still contribute.
While Dragic and the Suns’ management have a somewhat murky past, that was during Ryan McDonough’s regime, and who knows? Maybe Goran reconsiders, because after all, he is still a fan favorite in the desert.
As it stands, the current projected top-three prospects are Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish, all from Duke. While the trio definitely packs star power, playing together ultimately means one of them will fall on the radar of most simply because of their numbers taking a dip.
Currently the point guard depth of this year’s draft is the shallowest in recent memory, but Ja Morant from Murray State has caught the attention of basketball purists all around the nation. Morant is a lengthy point guard and is in consideration for being one of the most athletic point guards in the world. If there is a player that can break into the top-three, it is definitely Morant and who knows, he might even go as high as number two.
This is the first season without LeBron James in Cleveland since the start of 2010. So far the Cleveland Cavaliers have looked as expected; a rebuilding team that will lose more games as the season progress.
If Owner Dan Gilbert and General Manager Koby Altman get impatient (which they will), chances are they will try and offer major pieces for Los Angeles Clippers’ forward Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari is having a revitalized year this season in LA and he is certainly in consideration for the All-Star team. Cleveland has a good core to build around in Kevin Love and rookie Collin Sexton, Gallo would fit in perfectly as a secondary offensive weapon.
The New York Knicks can afford to sign max players if they really wanted to. With a little wiggle room, their salary situation is manageable but they need to be extra careful in handing out money. The Knicks will definitely look at Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant as options, but they also have to consider the future with Kristaps Porzingis who is worth the max if healthy.
DeMarcus Cousins, on the other hand, will look to get paid after taking a major discount this offseason with the Golden State Warriors. With Enes Kanter likely gone, Cousins would be an ideal target for New York if Durant and Irving go elsewhere.
If you are not familiar with Tyler Herro, he is a shooting guard from Kentucky that can light it up with ease. Herro has a beautiful stroke and is athletic enough to get by defenders. If there is one thing the Wildcat needs to improve on, it is his defense as he is easily beat to the spots by collegiate players.
Today’s NBA requires shooting more than anything and if Herro has a good showing in the NCAA tournament, he can definitely move up the radar of most. We have seen shooters, especially from Kentucky, succeed in the NBA with the likes of Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, and to some extent, Malik Monk.
The Toronto Raptors have a clear goal in mind this offseason and that is to bring back Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is a free agent and with reports going around that he prefers Los Angeles, the Raptors will try their best to surround Kawhi with talent as a way to lure him back in. If the Raptors are serious about keeping the former finals MVP, they will look at trading Jonas Valanciunas and Norman Powell not only to create salary space, but also to upgrade in positions of need.
Right now the Raptors are on a roll but you cannot help but think, somewhere at the back of his mind, Kawhi is still thinking about Los Angeles.
An upcoming free agent, Klay Thompson will definitely find himself in the middle of a handful of suitors. Thompson is one of the greatest shooters of all time as he has broken records set by NBA legends. Of course, he has also set the most three-pointers in a game (14) earlier this season.
So why does Klay even consider going to the Indiana Pacers when he has won three championships with the Warriors? Joining the Pacers will mean Klay will have a chance to prove to the world that he can be the main option on a team. Plus, Indiana has the cap space needed to offer him the max. If Klay is up to the challenge expect him to don the yellow and blue of Indiana.
Like we mentioned earlier, one of the three Blue Devils of Duke will surely take a hit in terms of production and so far this season it has been Cam Reddish. Reddish has been overshadowed by R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson because the latter two needs the ball in their hands to succeed meaning the touches for Reddish has been limited. If the draft is to be held today, Reddish would most likely be top-three still but if the scoring drought continues for him, it will only be a matter of time until he falls past the top-five and maybe even the top-ten.
Speaking of the Big Apple, the city is notorious for having one of the most knowledgeable fans around the world. Knicks fans, in general, know when the product on the floor is good as the verse themselves on the nuances of what makes a good or bad player. While they have had their miss like the Kristaps Porzingis draft situation, Knicks fan will most likely demand Durant or Irving as opposed to Cousins. If management wants the situation to be under control, they will try their hardest to trade for All-Star caliber point guard Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies. Conley has always been one of the most underrated players of his generation and with the spotlight of New York on him, he might finally get the recognition he deserves.
With all the Durant and Irving talk going around the NBA circle, one guy that has been lost in the shuffle is Kemba Walker. Walker is one of the most talented players in the NBA but he has been stuck on basketball purgatory with the Charlotte Hornets who have either bounced out of the first round or failed to make it as a ninth seed.
The Los Angeles Lakers will definitely prioritize Kawhi Leonard this summer but if that plan fails, there is always room for Walker. While Walker is not the same caliber as Kawhi, he is definitely a good consolation prize any fan would want.
For those of you who don’t follow the draft, Rui Hachimura has been a revelation this season. As a player, Hachimura can be classified as those valuable Swiss Army knives due to his versatility and his ability to pretty much do it all on the court. Whether it is scoring, passing, rebounding, or defense, any team can easily count on Rui to produce.
So why would this be a shocker? As it stands, Cleveland is poised to make a top-five pick this coming draft and Hachimura has been mocked as a fringe lottery talent. Cleveland has been known to reach for talent they feel can contribute immediately, like Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and of course, Anthony Bennett. It won’t be a surprise to us if they decide Hachimura is ready as well.
A former top-three selection, Jaylen Brown has been a disappointment this year for the Boston Celtics. With his scoring, rebounding, assists, and shooting percentage down, Brown has taken a step back from his amazing playoff run last year. The regression can be pointed towards the return of Gordon Hayward, but the blame should ultimately fall upon Brown himself.
Danny Ainge has been known to trade for future assets and if the opportunity presents itself, he will trade Brown for future first round picks and a talent that can contribute right away this coming draft night. Even a simple trade to allow the Celtics to move up might get it done.
The Brooklyn Nets have the most cap space in any team this coming offseason. With the room they have, the Nets can sign two max contracts which means they will keep an eye on Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard. Out of the three, Kyrie’s future is up in the air as he has yet to make an actual statement on where he prefers to go (yes, we do not believe he actually wants to stay in Boston). But on the other hand, Irving has been very vocal about his desire to be the main guy on offense, something Brooklyn can provide, given how young their core of Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and D’Angelo Russell currently is.
At this point, you have a clear idea of what the Phoenix Suns need this offseason just by reading this article. The Suns indeed need both a point guard and a power forward and the latter can easily be answered in this upcoming draft where you have a collection of talented power forwards scattered on the lottery - Zion Williamson, Nazreon Reid, Daniel Gafford, and Charles Bassey are the most notable ones, with Zion projected to go first.
The surprising part will come when the Suns, who are projected to go top-three, take a point guard. Passing on the better talent for team fit has happened before and it will surely happen again in the near future, but the question is, how near? Probably six months from now.
At this point, you are probably tired of hearing about the Los Angeles Lakers as they dominate most media content. The arrival of the most celebrated athletes this generation to the most popular franchise in basketball history will always garner attention.
Anyway, the Lakers definitely have issues, as they have failed to live up to expectations. Their record is a testament of how the pieces do not fit and how most players need to sacrifice for LeBron James. One guy that has struggled fitting in next to King James is Brandon Ingram, who has taken a slight step back in terms of production. At this point, LeBron probably wants to win and in order to do that, he needs solid role players; role players that GMs are willing to trade for Brandon Ingram.
We have talked about Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving as two players teams will look at. Naturally, the best players attract the most attention and these two are certainly two of the best the NBA has to offer and it is only fitting they team up.
Brooklyn has by far the best contract situation in the NBA with their space to sign two max players. Signing both Kyrie and Durant will ultimately come down to how well they sell the team to the players. Of course, it is going to be tricky with Kyrie wanting the ball in his hands most of the time, but for the greater good of the team, the Nets need to bag both.
If you are a basketball fan who has any form of internet, chances are you have heard of Zion Williamson. Williamson’s dunk videos have circulated social media for years now. Zion burst into the scene when he was in 9th grade throwing down the most athletic dunks imaginable.
While the hype is still on, Zion has yet to show an ability to stretch the floor out to the three-point line, something teams factor heavily when drafting a player. While you could argue Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons are on the same boat, those guys provide something on the court that allows them to see play whereas Zion is out on the floor mostly for his scoring ability. If the lack of shooting is as bad as it seems, Zion might not be the first name called come draft night.
Now, this one seems a little farfetched but it might still be possible. Anthony Davis is a free agent in the summer of 2020, if the New Orleans Pelicans fail to surround him with talent by then, it might be time to move on from The Unibrow.
A team that can potentially trade for Davis is the Golden State Warriors. While it will be tricky to manage, it is entirely possible with a couple of specific moves which includes a couple of sign-and-trades that include fan favorites Klay Thompson (he re-signs with the Warriors in this scenario) and Draymond Green.
Imagining Steph Curry and AD together is a scary sight indeed and it is certainly possible.
Like Durant and Irving, Kawhi Leonard has been mentioned quite a few times in this piece already. The former Finals MVP is the top prize for most teams, including both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kawhi’s “camp” has made it clear he wants to play in Los Angeles but they never mentioned which team. If Leonard is the competitor he always says he is, he will ultimately sign with the Clippers and avoid teaming up with rival LeBron James.
The Clippers have the cap space to pull this off and if they do it will be the biggest signing in Clippers history.
Earlier we mentioned Zion not being taken overall. Naturally, someone has to overtake him for the top prospect and we believe Naz Reid has the most potential to dethrone Zion. Reid is a freak specimen, at 6’8", and also has an NBA-ready body and the skillset to back it up. Reid excels on the defensive side of the court but he has shown a much-improved offensive game this season for LSU.
If there is a player that can outdo Zion and impress frontcourt personnel and scouts around the league, it is going to be Reid.