As the NBA Playoffs continue, we’re soon going to be inundated with rumors and speculation regarding what promises to be an active offseason.
Will Kevin Durant leave the two-time defending champs? Where will Kyrie Irving land? These are the headliners.
Though, there are other stars who are in desperate need of a change of scenery. It’s a list that includes embattled Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, who requested a trade back in January. Meanwhile, the likes of youngsters Aaron Gordon and Andrew Wiggins could stand to start anew.
Here’s a look at 10 NBA stars that who need a change of scenery.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Why not start with the obvious? Davis’ trade request earlier in the year underscored just how hard it is for small-market teams to keep star players. It led to internal strife within the Pelicans’ organization and the eventual firing of general manager Dell Demps. There’s legitimately no way that this relationship can be salvaged. With former Cavs GM David Griffin now steering the ship, we’re expecting AD to be moved before the 2019 NBA Draft. It’s going to happen. Prepare yourselves.
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
Chicago is unlikely to unload LaVine after signing him to a four-year, $78 million extension last July. That doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t think long and hard about it. Despite seeing the guard average a career high 23.7 points per game last season, these Bulls finished with the fourth-worst record in the NBA. They could net a lot for LaVine in a trade and build around the top-five selection that’s coming in June. In turn, LaVine would get the fresh start he needs.
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis looked to unload this veteran during February’s trade dealing. It never came to fruition. With new people calling the shots within this organization, we expect a ramped up effort on the Grizzlies’ part. Conley, 31, has no intention of being part of a long-term rebuild in Memphis. With two years and north of $67 million remaining on his contract, Conley will be a hard sell. But expect this to happen. Memphis can take on bad contracts and potentially offer up picks to rid itself of the veteran’s bloated salary.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
We considered adding John Wall to the list. Unfortunately, he’s not a tradable asset. The veteran is recovering from a torn Achilles and just signed a super-max contract. With Ernie Grunfeld out in D.C., we expect the new regime to look hard into moving Beal. For his part, this All-Star guard has been seen as an enigmatic figure within the organization. That could lead to a blockbuster trade this summer. Beal, 25, would welcome a change of scenery after averaging a career-high 25.6 points in 2018-19.
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Orlando’s surprising 2018-19 campaign notwithstanding, the team will have to shake it up somewhat in order to be taken seriously in the Eastern Conference. That might include trading Gordon less than a calendar year after signing him to a four-year, $80 million deal. Still only 23 years old, this would be a boon for the forward. He was held back a tad in Steve Clifford’s system last season, averaging 16.0 points per game. It’s more than possible Gordon will live up to his contract with a fresh start.
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
Fans in Minnesota are still wigging out after these Wolves signed Wiggins to a four-year, $147.7 million extension back in October of 2017. Wiggins has responded by averaging less than 18 points on 43 percent shooting while playing deplorable defense. This came after he put up north of 20 points per game on nearly 46 percent shooting for the previous two seasons. If anyone wants Wiggins’ contract, it’s available. After all, the Wolves can’t have much confidence in him turning it around. A new city needs to be in the cards for the former No. 1 overall pick this summer.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
If Phoenix were to get the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, guard Ja Morant is apparently a real possibility. We’re not too sure how that situation would work out in the desert. It might be similar to Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry in Oakland years back. We’re also not sure if Booker is the headliner for Phoenix’ rebuild. The team might very well be interested in building around Deandre Ayton and Zion Williamson — adding other assets in a Booker trade. Either way, both sides might be better off if a divorce were to happen.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
We might very well be looking at the end of Westbrook’s tenure in Oklahoma City. The past two seasons have not gone according to plan for the player or his team. In fact, Oklahoma City has fallen victim to three consecutive first-round playoff exits since Kevin Durant’s departure. At some point it becomes obvious that something isn’t working. Westbrook and Paul George might be at that point. Could this lead to Oklahoma City doing the impossible and moving Russ? We’re not too sure. But it’s what might be the best for his career.
Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics
The only free agent in this article, it’s becoming rather clear that Irving has already decided to leave Boston. The team’s second-round playoff collapse at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks magnifies this further. Given the drama we saw unfold between the Celtics and their star guard this past season, it simply might be best for him to call another city home in 2019-20 and moving forward.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
James’ couldn’t have envisioned that the 2018-19 campaign in Los Angeles would turn out like a bad episode of “Desperate Housewives”. Taking the Hollywood theme to a new level, these Lakers missed the playoffs altogether. James was at sea by himself after attempting to orchestrate a trade for Anthony Davis in February. Magic Johnson’s sudden resignation added even more fuel to this. Now, with James’ handpicked option to become head coach looking elsewhere, it might be time for him to bolt Los Angeles. The only question here is whether anyone would want to trade for him.