The NBA offseason is always filled with major shakeups, but this year’s has been one of the most active in recent memory, with many different stars changing teams by way of trade or free agency. Nearly two weeks after the new league year, teams may not be done just yet. Here are five stars who could be the next to wear a new jersey.
5. Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
Wiggins is really pushing the definition of “star” in this case. The 2014 first overall pick has not lived up to expectations, yet was still given a max contract by the Timberwolves. He’s an explosive athlete who possesses a great scoring ability, but doesn’t do much else. He has yet to develop a consistent outside shot, doesn’t create for others, and is not known as a strong defender.
Wiggins was supposed to combine with Karl-Anthony Towns to form an unstoppable offensive duo, but instead, Wiggins has -handcuffed Minnesota. With his contract on the books (four years and over $122 million remaining), it is extremely difficult for the T-Wolves to make any significant upgrades to the roster, which is why some are speculating that KAT could be the next superstar to request a trade. We aren’t at that point yet, but if we ever reach it, it will be because Minnesota was unable to find a team willing to take on Wiggins’ massive contract for such a one-dimensional and inefficient player.
Wiggins is likely a negative trade asset, which means that the Timberwolves would have to send draft picks and/or young players to Wiggins’ new team. He is still only 24 years old, but Wiggins’ lack of improvement is concerning, and while Minnesota would very much like to move on from him, it will be very difficult.
4. D’Angelo Russell, Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant leaving Golden State wasn’t a surprise. The Warriors pulling off a sign-and-trade to replace him with another NBA All-Star was. 23-year-old D’Angelo Russell is now Steph Curry’s backcourt mate, but that may not last. Russell needs to handle the ball in order to be effective, and while the same could be said for Kevin Durant, Russell doesn’t exactly stand seven feet tall or play on the wing.
Speaking of playing on the wing, Klay Thompson would likely slide over to the small forward position as soon as he returns from the torn ACL he suffered in the NBA Finals. Thompson is a very good defender, but asking him to guard the Durants and LeBron James’ of the league is tough. Add in Draymond Green playing power forward at 6’6″ and Golden State would be running one of, if not the smallest starting lineup in the NBA.
Swapping Russell for a better (and bigger) off-ball player makes a lot of sense, although that can’t happen for at least six months. Thompson’s recovery could have a large impact on how long Russell sticks around, and things will get very interesting as the February trade deadline approaches.
3. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Beal has long been rumored to be a trade target of many teams, but to this point the Wizards have refused to deal him. That could change if Washington was able to move on from John Wall’s albatross contract in the same deal. If the Wizards do change their minds, Beal may be the most sought-after player on the trade market, and could net a large haul if Washington decides to undergo a complete rebuild.
Beal is coming off perhaps the best NBA season of his career, as he averaged 25.6 points, 5.o rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game, is 26 years old, and is under contract for two more seasons at a reasonable price; under $29 million each season. His value won’t get any higher, but it’s up to the Wizards whether or not they want to cash in.
2. Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
It seems like Love has been involved in trade rumors for the entirety of his time in Cleveland, yet nothing has ever come of them. He is coming off an injury-plagued season, will turn 31 in September, and has three years and over $91 million remaining on the extension he signed last summer.
From everything Love has said, he wants to stay with the Cavs for the remainder of his career, and when the team offered him that max contract, they viewed him as the centerpiece of a team that could make a playoff run, even after losing LeBron James. That forecast was wrong, as the Cavaliers finished with the second-worst record in basketball. To be fair, Love missed 60 games, but it’s incredibly unlikely that the team would have done much better even with their best player healthy.
The Cavs are in the beginning stages of a full-blown rebuild, and Love doesn’t exactly fit that timeline. By the time Cleveland is expected to become competitive, Love could be 35 or 36. It may be in the best interest of the team to get what they can for him now, even though it likely won’t be all that much. If it doesn’t happen, Love will remain a fan favorite and won’t cost the team too much in draft positioning.
1. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder
This one is almost like cheating. As soon as the trade between Houston and Oklahoma City was reported, Paul was as good as gone from the Thunder. A 34-year-old chasing his first ring and a team sitting on the biggest draft pick stockpile in the league aren’t exactly fits for each other. Due to Paul’s massive contract, there aren’t a whole lot of destinations for him, and OKC may actually have to attach a pick or two to Paul in order to ship him out, but it’s practically guaranteed to happen at some point before the season begins.
Paul can still help a team, but he hasn’t been healthy for three seasons now. The Miami Heat seem like the most likely trade partner, but if Paul somehow becomes a free agent by way of a buyout, the Los Angeles Lakers are still in need of a starting point guard.