The NBA will enter uncharted waters when it resumes its 2019-20 season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, but one thing that is sure to happen is tampering, as 22 teams will be sequestered in the bubble with ample opportunities to line out trades.
Here are five possible moves that can emerge from the Orlando bubble once the season resumes on July 30:
Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Miami Heat
The Disney bubble could give the Heat a great advantage, as they can make the most of their time in familiar waters to make a run at the reigning (and perhaps back-to-back) NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Miami has been known to be saving up cap space for The Greek Freak, and players like Bam Adebayo could prove key to welcoming him to South Beach. The most important caveat of this, however, is who won’t be invited to the party — as the Golden State Warriors will be far away from Mickey Mouse Land and unable to tamper away with the 25-year-old superstar.
This is, of course, largely dependent on what goes on this season. Anything short of an NBA Finals bid, and Antetokounmpo might stick around for drinks a while longer to discuss his future in sunnier surroundings.
Bradley Beal to the New Orleans Pelicans
The Wizards secured their star shooting guard with a two-year extension this past summer, but that hasn’t kept teams from lusting after him — especially now that he’s blossomed into the second-best scorer in the league.
While there was interest from the Los Angeles Lakers to reel him in as the third cog for a would-be superteam, that money will soon be committed to Anthony Davis, who will become a free agent if he opts out of his contract at the end of the season.
That brings in the Pelicans, who are coming off a fast rebuild with a star in their sights in Zion Williamson. New Orleans had discussed the possibility of moving Jrue Holiday last summer before new vice president David Griffin took the reins and decided to keep him in-house.
That scenario can be revisited soon enough in Orlando, as the Pelicans fight for a playoff seed and look for ways to retool their roster in a not-so-distant offseason.
Rudy Gobert to whoever is willing to pay him
The rift between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell is not expected to be enough to separate the dynamic duo, but the two were not deemed inseparable in the way the likes of John Stockton and Karl Malone once were in Salt Lake City.
“They’re not Stockton and Malone,” a Western Conference executive told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “It’s a different time. There’s not a lot of guys like that anymore.”
The Jazz might be wearing some of the retro ’90s jerseys, but Mitchell and Gobert are no inseparable duo. In fact, Bontemps’ report noted that if Gobert does not agree to a contract extension with Utah, he could be next in the trade block.
It would be smart of the Jazz brass to line up potential suitors if they get internal wind that he would pass on the chance.
Now that may be pure conjecture, considering he could make the supermax if he opts out in 2021, as he’s a two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year and a newly-minted All-Star, which qualify him for a decent payday if he chooses to stay.
Kyle Lowry to the Lakers/Clippers
The Toronto Raptors made a wise move by extending Kyle Lowry for another year and a stiff $30 million, providing enough flexibility to trade him.
Things have gone better than expected for the franchise, as the Raptors find themselves as the second seed in the East and primed for another playoff run. Though if Toronto decides it doesn’t have enough to make another run at the NBA Finals, moving Lowry might be the most sensible move, now that the likes of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are on expiring contracts.
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers have been looking to solidify their point guard position — and who can be better than an experience point man in Lowry?
The teams might have to give up a pretty penny for his salary, but it might just be a worthy gamble for two in-town rivals looking to get the upper edge.
Myles Turner to the highest bidder
The Indiana Pacers looked like they would move on from Domantas Sabonis early in the season after contractual disagreements. After getting over the hump, it looks like they made the right decision by offering him a four-year, $74.9 million extension.
The 24-year-old is putting up a studly 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game while sharing the frontcourt with Myles Turner.
At one point, it was rumored that Turner would be the one to go from that frontcourt pairing, which would open up playing time for rookie Goga Bitadze.
Turner led the NBA in blocks last season and is in the first year of a four-year, $80 million extension of his rookie contract. With a base salary of $17.5 million per season with $2 million in unlikely incentives and $500,000 in likely ones (per Spotrac), interested teams can pounce on the opportunity to land the athletic center at a ripe 24 years of age.
Turner, now in his fifth NBA season, hasn’t evolved into a better scorer or a stronger rebounder during his time with the Pacers — but his defensive ability should still rake in some decent compensation, as Indiana would be smart to look into the highest bidder during this Orlando restart of the season.