As draft day approaches and the free-agency cycle nears its beginning, the landscape of the NBA is sure to change drastically.
With LeBron James and the Miami Heat nourishing their second straight championship after another successful postseason, the full focus of The Association now relies on offseason moves.
There is no shortage of players who are looking closely at finding a new home for next season, as the league's elite stars look to unite and threaten the Heat's stranglehold over the championship race. The blueprint for a championship-caliber team in the 21st century has been put out there, and that will inspire some of the NBA's best players to find a new setting in order to chase that elusive ring.
Let's take a look at the players who are most likely to be playing in a different uniform next season.
Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks
The news of Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis opting out of his contract, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, was hardly a surprise and is only further proof that his days with the Bucks are over.
One potential suitor that has already surfaced is the Sacramento Kings, whose new head coach, Mike Malone, has a great relationship with Ellis and could persuade the high-scoring guard to join his side, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
Broussard's report also stated the Lakers, Hawks and Mavericks have interest in Ellis, although the Lakers would have to work a sign-and-trade deal.
Ellis' time in Milwaukee looked doomed right as it started, as him and Brandon Jennings manning the same backcourt is far from a match made in heaven. Both guards boast a shot-first mentality, and their styles of play often took away from the potential of other players.
The Bucks may still pursue Ellis and convince him to stay, but as of now, all signs point to the 27-year-old finding a new home this offseason.
Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers
One can only imagine how the Eastern Conference Finals would've turned out if the Pacers had Danny Granger for the playoffs, but Indiana shouldn't feel discouraged about its chances of contending for a championship if Granger heads for the exit.
Paul George's ascendance from a solid starter to an absolute NBA superstar means that Granger will have to accept a much less significant role with the team, which will inevitably force Indiana's hand in attempting a trade for its swingman. There's no reason to believe he can't return to his normal production, but his stock is still high and will only drop if the Pacers hold onto him and play him less.
According to Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Los Angeles Clippers are interested in making a move for Granger. And with the Clippers' sole focus this offseason being to please free agent Chris Paul, a move for one of the NBA's premier swingmen wouldn't exactly displease him.
Lance Stephenson came into his own in the 2013 postseason, which only diminishes Granger's potential impact on the team further.
When a group of players gel so well as team like we saw the Pacers do in these playoffs, inserting one of the team's key players can often turn into a distraction more than anything. When the Pacers put that into effect and combine it with Granger's massive trade weight, moving him should be a no-brainer.
Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers
Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe won't be a free agent this summer, but he's been all over the trading block and seems to be the most likely asset to go if owner Donald Sterling can pull off a big trade.
Bledsoe's value cannot be understated for a team that is still uncertain about the future of superstar Chris Paul in L.A. But despite recent signs of Paul's unhappiness with the Clippers organization, their collection of talent and championship-contender status should convince the 28-year-old to stay.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are resisting moving Bledsoe in a potential move with the Celtics (per Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN). But, as I mentioned previously, that report also states that the Clippers are interested in including Bledsoe in a potential deal for Indiana's Danny Granger or Orlando's Arron Afflalo.
With Paul's happiness as the No. 1 factor, Bledsoe is the easiest bit of trade bait on the Clippers roster. The 23-year-old's game has reached a whole new level in the past season, and he would be a starting point guard on a handful of NBA rosters.
Plus, Bledsoe's departure means the likelihood that key parts like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan would stay on the West Coast, which CP3 shouldn't dislike.
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