Following an exhilarating NBA Finals, it’s time to look ahead to the offseason and what could transpire in the coming months. While the Lakers are celebrating their 17th championship, there are 29 other teams coming to steal their crown.
Unfortunately, not all of those 29 teams are contenders for next year's title. But maybe a massive move for a superstar could change their fortunes.
Here are five teams that are brainstorming some big moves this offseason.
Golden State Warriors
The last time the Warriors were in the playoffs, Golden State looked a lot different. Gone are Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, while Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry are coming back from injuries. After what amounts to a gap year, the Warriors are ready to make a play for another ring.
The cupboard isn't bare for the Dubs, either.
Curry, a three-time NBA champion and one of the best players in the league, remains.
Thompson, one of the best shooters in the history of the league, is coming back from a torn ACL.
Draymond Green, who ushered in the most effective era of small-ball, will be back with some fresh legs and more talented teammates.
Steve Kerr, one of only two active coaches with at least three rings as a coach, is still one of the best leaders in the game.
This team has had to sit on the sidelines for a long time, but they should probably make a few tweaks before embarking on their redemption tour. The Dubs should be thinking big, and that might mean packaging Andrew Wiggins, the No. 2 pick and the Timberwolves' future first-rounder for a disgruntled star. Perhaps Bradley Beal? What about Joel Embiid if the Sixers decide to split their aces? If everyone stays healthy, the Dubs will be back to their winning ways, but their best shot at unseating the Lakers is to shoot for the moon — like the Dubs did with Durant — and make a big splash.
New York Knicks
Another year, another offseason in which the Knicks are coming off a disastrous campaign, firing their coach and having a lower-than-expected draft position. Under new boss Leon Rose, a former CAA agent who represented the likes of Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and more, the Knicks could look to acquire an established player to provide some respectability to the franchise.
While New York likely lacks the assets to acquire a star in his prime, the Knicks do have the goods to pursue Chris Paul, who just finished a strong season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In a seven-game battle with the Houston Rockets, Paul averaged 21.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.6 steals and a +6 net rating. Yes, CP3 is 35-years-old, which means he's in the twilight of his career, he clearly displayed he’s not close to slowing down.
The Knicks could trade one of their young prospects (Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina) and some picks for Paul, who would add credibility to a Knicks team that doesn’t even know what that the word means. Paul’s contract pays him $85 million for the next two years, sure, but it’s not like the Knicks are going to be competing then. Paul can help develop RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson and help set them up for success in the future. The Knicks are a team famous for paying for past-their-prime stars, but in this case, if they avoid giving up too many assets, Paul could help usher in the next era of New York basketball.
Ben Simmons' season-ending injury was a killer for the Sixers' season. He’s a beast on defense and a fantastic playmaker. His versatility is crucial to unlocking Philly's potential, and his absence against Boston in Round 1 was a death sentence to their quest for a championship.
Simmons shouldn't be anywhere near the trade block. Calls to split up him and Embiid are still premature. In three seasons together, the two cornerstones have consistently outscored opponents when they share the court. The issue has never been Embiid and Simmons. Sure, their games don't exactly fit like a glove, but they make it work, and Philly would likely struggle to get proper value if they traded either of their stars.
The 76ers have already made one big move this offseason: the hiring of former Clippers coach Doc Rivers. Faults aside, Rivers is an accomplished head coach who has experience working with talented stars. But he inherits a horribly unbalanced roster chock full of big men and short on penetrating guards who can make shots.
To unlock their full potential, the 76ers need to swallow their pride and admit defeat on the Al Horford contract and trade their aging big man with a package of other assets to open up room for Simmons, Harris and Embiid to play together. There won’t be many takers for Horford, who has three years and over $80 million left on his deal, arguably the worst contract in the NBA. One of the biggest misconceptions in the league is there is no such thing as an untradeable contract as long as you are willing to attach some enticing assets.
The 76ers desperately need a ball handler who can create his own shot and set up his teammates. Look for them to pursue one hard this offseason.
No one would have batted an eye if a Pacers team sans Domantas Sabonis ran it back next season with Coach Nate McMillan and banked on the growing continuity of Malcolm Brogdon, Victor Oladipo, T.J. Warren and Myles Turner as their core. Instead, they fired McMillan, and it looks like Oladipo and Turner could be on the trade block, according to The Athletic.
Would Boston trade Gordon Hayward for Turner? The Celtics are desperate for a sturdier big man to take over for Daniel Theis, while the Pacers could move Sabonis to center and field a more modern attack. After initial rumors of the Pacers being linked with Mike D’Antoni and Chris Finch, it’s clear they are searching for an innovative offensive mind, especially since longtime assistant Dan Burke has historically always crafted top tier defenses.
Chicago already made the biggest and most-needed move of their offseason by firing coach Jim Boylen. Boylen’s run in Chicago was full of losing and rumors of locker room revolts and players purposefully skipping Boylen’s two-hour practices. In his place is former Thunder coach Billy Donovan, who has a 60.8% win percentage as an NBA coach. Donovan is the perfect coach to mold this Bulls team into a potential playoff contender.
As presently constructed though, the Bulls may not have enough. Star scorer Zach LaVine is here to stay, but his surrounding talent is still too young to make noise. Coby White provided a scoring spark off the bench, although questions remain if he'll ever be a competent defender. Lauri Markkanen had a miserable season, averaging 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds on 42.5% in 50 games, which were all career lows. Wendell Carter was also injured for a large chunk of the season.
While the Bulls should look to offload LaVine's contract, Chicago could look to package some of their young prospects for an established player. Perhaps trading for Myles Turner, a shot-blocking big man, could be just the move they need to take the next step toward relevancy. LaVine and White are going to score, but they add little-to-nothing on defense, so Chicago will need to compensate by adding plenty of rim protection. And could you imagine Carter and Turner protecting the paint together? It would be harder to get to the basket than Alcatraz.
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