This off-season has the potential to change the entire landscape of the NBA. With teams such as the Portland Trailblazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks planning to make significant moves to their roster, the NBA would look completely different next season.
After the first round of the playoffs came to a close, various organizations immediately made significant moves. The Blazers, for instance, decided to part ways with head coach Terry Stotts while the Boston Celtics promoted Brad Stevens as general manager. If front-office moves don’t shake up the NBA, players such as Kristaps Porzingis and Kemba Walker will. Once both players were eliminated from the playoffs, they revealed their frustrations and want out from their situation. Regardless of the rumors, this off-season will most likely shake up the NBA. Here is a list of the top players that will most likely be traded this off-season.
5. Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook this season had an underrated start to his Washington Wizards debut. In the first half of the season, the Wizards were abysmal and faced many injuries. However, in the second half of the season, Westbrook led the Wizards to qualify for the play-in tournament. Unfortunately, the Wizards season was quickly ended by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Westbrook was arguably the main reason why the Wizards were able to reach the playoffs. In nearly every game after the All-Star break, it seemed that Westbrook produced meaningful triple-doubles. Without Westbrook, the Wizards would have been a lottery team.
The trade value of Russell Westbrook is still relatively low despite the comeback he had after the All-Star break. Westbrook’s contract and lack of playoff production are the main reasons his value is low. His triple-doubles are incredible, but they never lead to anything when it comes to the playoffs. Despite Westbrook’s track record, many teams are expected to be targeting a trade for the former MVP. These teams consist of the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat.
Having interest in a player does not mean that they will be traded. The Clippers, Lakers, and Heat have expressed interest in Westbrook but do not have enough assets or cap space to trade for Westbrook unless each team is willing to trade their best player. Expect Russell Westbrook to remain as a Washington Wizard until his contract expires.
4. Kemba Walker
The Boston Celtics in the last five seasons have been through many unfortunate circumstances. From Gordon Hayward’s devastating ankle injury to Kyrie Irving essentially giving up on the Celtics, Boston had an opportunity to form a new dynasty in the NBA but fell short of the expectation.
In the 2018 season, the Celtics were projected to make it to the NBA Finals. However, chemistry issues and injuries prevented the Celtics from ever forming a dynasty. This season especially, the Celtics struggled to replicate their previous season success as they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
The Celtic’s first-round exit this season ensued a path they feared would ever happen, which is a rebuild. Danny Ainge stepping down as general manager was the first sign of a rebuild happening. His tenure with the Celtics was special as he formed a roster good enough to win a championship in 2008. However, what solidifies the Celtics in entering a rebuild is Kemba Walker officially requesting a trade from the organization.
Days after their elimination, Kemba and the Celtics reportedly agreed to part ways this off-season. The Kemba chapter has been disappointing as he was never healthy to showcase his true potential on the Celtics. Kemba wanting to part ways with Boston is understandable as he expected to be a part of a championship contender.
Boston will most likely trade Kemba this off-season as many teams have expressed interest. These teams include the Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings. Like Westbrook, most teams do not have enough cap space to trade for a max-contract except the Dallas Mavericks. If the Mavericks fail to trade or sign anyone better than Kemba Walker, expect the Celtics and Mavericks to complete a transaction.
3. Kristaps Porzingis
The Dallas Mavericks, at one point, were up 2-0 against the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Mavericks ended up blowing their 2-0 lead and lost in seven games.
The Mavericks losing in the first round of the playoffs was somewhat surprising considering their advantage. Twice in this series, the Mavericks had the upper hand as they also won game five. All Dallas had to do was win one more game to advance, and unfortunately, they failed.
One of the main reasons Dallas was unsuccessful in beating the Clippers was primarily due to Kristaps Porzingis. From questionable shot attempts to being a liability on defence and rebounding, Porzingis played arguably the worst basketball in his entire career. This is due to Porzingis not liking his role in Dallas.
After the Mavericks were eliminated, reports from various outlets revealed that Porzingis never liked his role in Dallas. Once this news surfaced, many organizations revealed their interest in trading for Porzingis. These organizations include the Charlotte Hornets, Golden State Warriors, and Sacramento Kings. All three organizations have enough assets and tradable contracts to successfully trade for Porzingis. However, the Mavericks are in no position to tank or rebuild with Luka Doncic and instead want to contend in the Western Conference. With the Warriors having assets to satisfy the Maverick’s winning needs, expect the Warriors to make a blockbuster trade for Porzingis this off-season. However, if the Mavericks wish to do a slight rebuild, expect the Charlotte Hornets, who have been the most eager for Porzingis to make a trade.
2. Paul George
The Los Angeles Clippers will trade Paul George if they do not make the conference finals this year. With the devastating news of Kawhi Leonard suffering an ACL injury, it is unlikely that the Clippers will beat the Utah Jazz in the second round, solidifying that George will be traded this off-season.
The Clippers, since forming this “super-team,” has been highly disappointing and underwhelming. It is clear that the Clippers need a major reset button, and trading Paul George is the first step. While no team has confirmed any interest in Paul George, expect the Clippers to aggressively convince teams to make a trade for the All-Star forward.
1. Damian Lillard
Since the Blazers were eliminated in the first round, reports and speculations surfaced about whether or not Damian Lillard will be traded. For years, Portland has tried to win a championship with Lillard, but due to bad contracts and injuries, the Blazers were unsuccessful. Even though Lillard has been extremely patient with the Blazers, it appears that his patience could be running thin.
While the Blazers do not wish to trade Lillard, many organizations in the NBA have expressed their interest. These organizations include the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, and Los Angeles Clippers. The New York Knicks for weeks have been the most active team in expressing their interest in Lillard. They have been so active that various sources have crowned the Knicks as the favorites to land Lillard if he becomes available. Expect New York to form a new super-team in the Western Conference.