NBA's Best Players Most Likely to Change Teams This Offseason
With the NBA about to enter the official offseason, we should once again see plenty of big names on the move.
While 2020 won't feature a lot of star free agents (especially with Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram almost certainly staying put), the trade market could heat up due to a weak draft class.
Sign-and-trades could also pop up, especially if the salary cap doesn't increase due to revenue lost from the league's hiatus.
Whether due to the direction of a franchise, unhappiness with a role or a simple need for a change of scenery, these are the league's best players most likely to switch teams this offseason.
DeMar DeRozan, SF, San Antonio Spurs
DeMar DeRozan can leave the San Antonio Spurs in a number of ways this offseason.
The 31-year-old wing could choose to enter free agency, pick up his $27.7 million player option and then get traded or agree to a sign-and-trade that could net him a long-term contract and still get him to a destination of his choosing.
As someone who just missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years, DeRozan should be hungry to get back while he's still got some All-Star-caliber years left. With the Golden State Warriors returning to full strength and the New Orleans Pelicans getting a healthy Zion Williamson from the start in 2020-21, it doesn't look like the Spurs will be starting a new playoff run anytime soon, either.
If DeRozan opts out, only three teams (the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons) currently have enough salary-cap space to offer him the $27.7 million he'd be turning down, and only the Hawks appear to have a flicker of playoff hope next season.
That makes picking up his option or agreeing to a new deal before a trade his most likely way out of San Antonio, and that's what the Spurs should also prefer so they don't lose the four-time All-Star for nothing.
The Spurs are slowly being overrun with young talent, and veterans like LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay all hold just a single year left on their deals. Trading DeRozan now to help aide the inevitable rebuild would be best for all involved.
The Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Portland Trail Blazers should all be interested.
Danilo Gallinari, PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
If the Oklahoma City Thunder enter a rebuild, it would make sense for the 32-year-old Danilo Gallinari to find a new home in free agency.
Starting all 62 of his games at power forward for OKC, Gallinari averaged 18.7 points and 5.2 rebounds and shot 40.5 percent from three this season. At 6'10", 233 pounds, he's become the perfect stretch big in today's NBA, even nailing 41.8 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes.
The Miami Heat pursued a trade for Gallinari back in February, and plenty of other contenders should look to sign the 2008 No. 6 overall pick, especially those with a strong defensive center.
Miami should once again go after Gallinari, as should the Brooklyn Nets and Portland Trail Blazers, either in free agency or via a sign-and-trade.
Gallinari enjoyed the best season of his career under Doc Rivers and with the Los Angeles Clippers last year (19.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 43.3 percent from three). Now that Rivers serves as the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, the veteran 4 would be a great fit next to Joel Embiid if the team can somehow move Al Horford and chooses to keep Ben Simmons at point guard.
One of this year's best free agents, Gallinari can be a plug-and-play option for nearly any contender.
Buddy Hield, SG, Sacramento Kings
The relationship between Buddy Hield and the Sacramento Kings got muddy during last year's contract negotiations and only got worse when he was benched by head coach Luke Walton during the season.
According to The Athletic's Jason Jones, Hield "has soured on Walton to the point he will not answer his coach's phone calls."
While the relationship certainly has time to heal before the 2020-21 season begins, it may be best for both parties to pursue a trade.
Hield should bring back a significant return since the 27-year-old is one of the NBA's best outside shooters and is on a reasonable four-year, $88 million deal that could grow to over $100 million with incentives. The deal is front-loaded, starting at $24.4 million next season before dropping to just $18.6 million in 2023-24.
While his shooting numbers dipped this season (42.9 percent from the field, 39.4 percent from three), Hield had to play a large portion of the year without starting point guard De'Aaron Fox and split time between a starting and reserve role. As a full-time starter next to Fox in 2018-19, he averaged 20.7 points on 42.7 percent shooting from three, numbers he could easily get back to in a better situation.
Every NBA team can use outside shooting, and Hield has also shown his ability to get to the basket and hit from mid-range.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets would all be perfect fits.
Jrue Holiday, G, New Orleans Pelicans
Jrue Holiday, 30, no longer fits with the New Orleans Pelicans core because of his age, but the team may deem his leadership and defense too valuable to give up this offseason. If it does make him available, he could quickly become one of the most sought-after guards on the market.
New Orleans could look to trade him for one more high draft pick or young star to complete a cast of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Jaxson Hayes and others, especially with Holiday having the option to become a free agent in 2021.
The Denver Nuggets are one of the teams that could pursue him after "there was chatter at the deadline," per Mike Singer of the Denver Post.
The Philadelphia 76ers should have heavy interest in a reunion with both Holiday and JJ Redick as complementary pieces to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and the Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic could all use shooting guard upgrades, as well.
One of the NBA's most underrated players and best defenders, Holiday could quickly create a bidding war for his services, tempting the Pelicans to trade their star guard.
Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana Pacers
Just two years ago, Oladipo looked like a lifer in Indiana, breaking out into an All-Star following a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder and leading the NBA in steals.
One devastating injury and a first-round sweep later, Oladipo is anything but guaranteed to return to the Pacers in free agency after the 2020-21 season.
Teams that wish to trade for Oladipo will want a full medical report on his knee, hoping for a return to All-Star form and not the version who averaged just 14.5 points on 39.4 percent shooting from the field in 19 regular-season games this year.
At his best, Oladipo is probably the second- or third-best player on a championship team, able to drop over 20 points per game while playing lockdown defense on the other end. The Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks should all be interested, and all offer attractive situations that could compel him to re-sign in free agency.
The Pacers chose to trade Paul George going into the last year of his deal, getting Oladipo and fellow All-Star Domantas Sabonis in return. For a small-market team that hasn't attracted many stars via free agency, moving Oladipo now for a healthy offer would be the safe choice.
Chris Paul, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Without officially announcing it, the Oklahoma City Thunder are rebuilding, as evidenced by the mutual parting with former head coach Billy Donovan. While OKC went 44-28 and grabbed the fifth seed in the Western Conference, an aging Chris Paul and a treasure chest full of first-round picks mean the Thunder likely need to take a small step back before they can truly become a title contender.
Paul also posted a video message thanking the team on Twitter, and he sounded like someone who knows a trade is coming.
His contract is still brutal at $85.6 million over the next two years, but his All-Star play and leadership this season should convince a title-chasing team in search of a point guard upgrade to make a deal for him. The Milwaukee Bucks, the Philadelphia 76ers and even the Chicago Bulls, who could reunite him with Donovan, would all make sense, assuming they aren't prioritizing cap space in 2021.
The Thunder don't need draft picks and should be looking for expiring contracts to clear up $44.2 million in cap space and go star-hunting in free agency next offseason. Any young talent they can get back to pair with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be great, as well.
Paul and the Thunder had a memorable year together and should part on good terms.
Myles Turner, C, Indiana Pacers
Like Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner's time with the Indiana Pacers could be coming to an end.
The Athletic's Jared Weiss noted Turner is "possibly in the same boat" when he mentioned Oladipo was looking to move on this offseason. While the 24-year-old center still has three years and $54 million remaining on his deal, his numbers were down all year until he played without Domantas Sabonis in the postseason.
Sabonis missed the first-round series against the Miami Heat due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and Turner averaged 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.0 blocks while shooting 56.8 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three, all well above his regular-season averages.
Playing alongside Sabonis severely limited Turner's individual production over the course of the season. He averaged 25.7 points and 12.0 rebounds per 100 possessions on 48.1 percent shooting with Sabonis on the bench, compared to 15.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and a 42.8 field-goal percentage when the two shared the floor.
The Pacers should see what they can get for Turner, especially since Sabonis can take over as the team's starting center. Turner has already led the NBA in blocked shots, he's on a good contract, and he can play a modern game with his floor-spacing.
The Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics should all be calling about him.