The NBA is home to biggest and brightest superstars in basketball. In a superstar-driven league, the success and relevance of a franchise is anchored on a player’s star power and talent. Although prized commodities, one thing that is certain, the league constantly evolves and changes.
In the topic of change and stars, a real issue in question at this early juncture heading into the opener is which players will be changing area codes moving into the future.
Without further ado, here are 5 stars likely to be traded in the 2018-19 season.
5. Nikola Vucevic
The Orlando Magic has a stockpile of big bodies on their roster with the likes of Timofey Mozgov, Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Gordon, Mo Bamba, and Vucevic. Compared to everybody, Vooch is still currently the best big man and player on the underwhelming Magic team.
However, the Orlando youngling bigs are the future of the franchise. Mileage and experience will be crucial for their development and with no real ability to compete in the playoffs, it would be better to flip the young man for some assets that would come handy in the future.
4. Tobias Harris
Los Angeles Clippers wingman Tobias Harris has slowly transitioned into one of the league’s versatile scorers. With length and size that complements his inside-outside game, he is a great piece for a team in need for an additional scoring punch this season.
Entering a contract year, he is betting on himself this season by not signing the Clippers long-term offer. With an expected breakout performance this season, the Clippers will surely capitalize on the uptick of his numbers by flipping him to the team with the exact right offer.
3. Marc Gasol
There have been rumors and speculation that the tenured All-star center is unhappy and frustrated with the organization. At the same time, the Memphis Grizzlies needs to get with the program with the modern NBA of pace and space. With this in mind, it would be a good time for the Grizzlies to finally graduate from their Grit and Grind era by shipping their prized big man where he can be maximized at his age before it’s too late.
Although his numbers have been slowly declining, the Grizzlies big man still has the talent to make a difference on both ends of the floor. For instance, his growing love for the deep ball makes him a good piece for a big man that has the ability to space the floor. On the defensive end, he might not be as quick and agile than the younger version of himself, but his basketball smarts make up with good positioning and discipline on defense.
The only thing that may cause buyers to shy away from Gasol is his cumbersome contract that may possibly hit till 2020. The best bet for the Grizzlies is to ship him to a contender for some young pieces and picks. Younger teams in the NBA would unlikely be appealing to the Spaniard due to his desire to compete.
For the right package from a contender, Gasol’s contributions can elevate them to a notch closer to the elusive NBA championship this season.
2. Kemba Walker
The Charlotte Hornets are threading the needle on their All-star Kemba Walker. At the final year of his contract and at 28-years-old, are they willing to go all in on their franchise point guard who they may pay handsomely during his career decline?
To be fair, Kemba Walker was putting up excellent averages of 22.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 38 percent from the three-point line. Yet, his All-star numbers are not enough to power a lackluster supporting cast to the playoffs. In a point guard-centered league, there will always be a market for Walker’s talent and services.
Furthermore, the Hornets have been recently stockpiling young talent on their roster which does not necessarily mean playoff bound for a few more years.
However, team majority owner and arguably the greatest player of all time Michael Jordan has said that he would only move his All-star if it took one in return, but a promising youthful package could eventually pry the talented point guard from the Hornet’s hands knowing he can make a splash in the 2019 free agency.
Despite Walker’s loyalty to Charlotte, each organization is a living and functioning business. If it would mean better dividends for the business, a tantalizing package that would be hard to refuse could surely see Kemba Walker play in a different uniform this season.
The Jimmy Butler saga has gone from playoff appearance to panic mode in such a short span of time. Reuniting with his former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibideau in Minnesota, he was moved to the Timberwolves along with Justin Patton for a lottery talent package of Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markannen.
Everything seemed to pan out on the Wolves end of things, winning record, a ticket to the playoffs, his addition was clearly a boon for the team. Unknown to most, a heated situation was brewing in their roster. With clear displeasure and frustration on the work ethic and discipline of the younger Wolves, Butler was irked. A rift from young stars Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins were slowly taking shape.
Basketball went on and despite falling to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs, it was a successful one coming from a 14-year postseason drought. However, due to the friction, things just eventually imploded leading to the recent trade demand of the two-time All-NBA.
While things are still holding up on the Wolves and Butler end as the season approaches, it seems that they are trying to work it out for now. When things become irreconcilable, reminiscent of Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors, pulling the trigger on a decent trade should work in the Timberwolves favor sparing them from the headaches.
It is a reasonable thought that the situation can be mended, but it is more anticipated to see the Wolves swingman to depart in the middle of the season.