The 2019-20 NBA campaign is set to resume in late July (or at least that’s what it looks like), meaning that the offseason will be quite a bit later than usual this year.
Actually, it will probably be around the time the NBA regular season usually starts. Weird.
Anyway, there are a few big names who could potentially be on the move this, uh, fall, and while there are certainly no guarantees that any of these guys will be traded, there seems to be a decent chance they will be shopped.
Here are the four NBA stars who are the most likely to be dealt next.
4. Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo is in a rather precarious position with the Indiana Pacers.
A couple of years ago, he was viewed as one of the top two-way players in the NBA. Now, he is in the process of making his way back from a devastating injury, and contract extension talks with the Pacers have stalled.
Oladipo will hit free agency next summer, and while eventually signing him to a max deal seemed like a no-brainer for Indiana in 2018, circumstances have changed.
The 28-year-old ruptured his quad tendon in January 2019, an injury that ended his 2018-19 campaign and has caused him to miss most of this season.
Oladipo remains the most talented player on Indy’s roster, but giving him big money over a long-term pact is pretty risky given the fact that the Pacers don’t know for sure if he will ever be the same again.
For that reason, it would not be shocking if Indiana considered moving him this offseason. If a team makes a strong enough offer, Oladipo’s days as a Pacer could be over quicker than we thought.
3. Chris Paul
Many weren’t even sure if Chris Paul would make it through this season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Well, not only did Paul remain with the Thunder past the NBA trade deadline, but he had led Oklahoma City to a 40-24 record before the hiatus.
However, that does not mean OKC will definitely be keeping him through next year. As a matter of fact, Paul’s performance this season probably increased the likelihood of him being dealt this offseason.
Why? Because the $55 million he is due over the next two years (including a player option for 2021-22) doesn’t look as bad. Okay, it’s still pretty ugly, but at least he has shown he can still play at a high level when healthy.
“When healthy” is certainly the operative term there, because Paul has not played 70 games in a single season since 2015-16. In his defense, he appeared to be well on his way to hitting the 70-game mark this year before the coronavirus put the league on hold, but history is not exactly on his side in terms of replicating that.
Regardless, there could be a team out there that will be willing to take on Paul’s salary with the hope that he will put it over the top. Of course, hammering out a deal that matches salaries will be the tough part.
2. Bradley Beal
Yes, I understand that the Washington Wizards inked Bradley Beal to a two-year, $72 million extension back in October, a deal that will keep him under team control through 2021-22 (he has a player option for the 2022-23 campaign).
But to think that means the Wizards are now dead set against trading him is probably erroneous, even if they say they don’t want to trade him.
Right now, Washington exemplifies what a treadmill team is. The Wizards are good enough to contend for a playoff berth, but not good enough to actually make any noise if they reach the playoffs. That also means they aren’t in a good position to land a high draft pick.
Sure, the tandem of Beal and John Wall sounds promising, but Wall is still recovering from a torn Achilles, and it’s not like these guys haven’t been playing together since 2012-13 with little to show for it outside of early playoff exits.
Beal is averaging 30.5 points per game this season. Couple that with the fact that he can’t hit free agency until 2022 at the earliest, and his value has never been higher.
There are numerous clubs that would make a play for Beal and would probably be willing to pay a heavy price if Washington makes him available, so the Wizards would be remiss if they didn’t at least actively test the market.
1. Kevin Love
The Cleveland Cavaliers made a textbook panic move during the summer of 2018, handing Kevin Love a four-year, $120 million contract extension after LeBron James walked.
It seemed pretty obvious that Dan Gilbert wanted to keep at least one NBA All-Star on his roster after the departures of both Kyrie Irving (2017) and James, so he jumped the gun and paid through the nose for Love.
But that never made much sense.
The Cavs are clearly in rebuilding mode and have a young nucleus that includes Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr. and Cedi Osman. Love just doesn’t fit that timeline.
While his contract is hefty ($30 million annually is a bit excessive for Love), there will probably be at least one team out there (maybe the Brooklyn Nets?) that would be inclined to bite the bullet and add Love as a final piece.
Cleveland likely wouldn’t be able to bring in the type of haul for Love that Washington would with Beal, but it would still be able to recoup some value and invest in the future.