There are many elite talents in the NBA who have had the unfortunate outcome of being either traded, drafted or simply put into a scenario where their team has not been competitive in recent years. In today’s league, the players have more power than ever before, and even if they are under contract, they can force their way out of a situation.
Some prime examples of this recent phenomenon have been Kyrie Irving leaving Cleveland, Paul George wanting out of Indiana, and Anthony Davis publicly requesting a trade mid-season with New Orleans. Here are some star players that may be on the move this off-season.
Zach LaVine has become one of the premier talents in the Eastern Conference over the past two seasons. However, Lavine has been cursed with some truly bad teams during his 6-year NBA tenure, as he is still yet to make a postseason appearance.
He began his professional career with the Minnesota Timberwolves before being traded to the Chicago Bulls in a blockbuster deal involving All-Star Jimmy Butler.
One of his most notable achievements early in his career was becoming a two-time Slam Dunk Contest Champion in 2015 and 2016. Though since being traded to Chicago, he has expanded his game beyond sheer athleticism as he has blossomed into a borderline All-Star for the Bulls.
LaVine was hurt for the majority of the 2017/18 season, but over the past couple seasons, he has averaged upwards of 24 PPG. Prior to the 2018/19 season, LaVine never averaged over 20 PPG, and despite taking more shots, he has been able to sustain a strong shooting percentage, as he has shot over 37% from three, 45% from the field, and 80% from the FT line since then.
Even with all of the improvements to his game, LaVine has been unable to bring his team any success. Every season he has been with the Bulls, including this year, the team has had under thirty wins. They always end up being a lottery team, and for a player like LaVine who is entering his prime, this has become a less than ideal situation.
The most LaVine has to gain while staying in Chicago is that he gets to stay the star player; however, if his success is not translating to wins, then it may be time for the two parties to part ways.
LaVine is under contract for the foreseeable future, as he does not reach free agency until after the 2021/22 season. Though with disappointing seasons stacking up, it will be no surprise if LaVine will want out soon. Some potential landing spots for the budding star can be teams like the Memphis Grizzlies or the New Orleans Pelicans.
Memphis would be a nice fit for LaVine because they have a very nice young core that is highlighted by Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, and Jaren Jackson Jr. Along with that, they have already shown to be competitive in a very tough Western Conference, as they held the 8th spot before the NBA went on hiatus.
New Orleans would be a great fit too because of the dynamic style of offense that they play. The Pelicans are another team with a great young core, as LaVine could complement players like Lonzo Ball and Zion Williamson very well. If Brandon Ingram chose to not resign this off-season, LaVine could slide right into that role, as it proved effective with Ingram becoming a first time All-Star this season.
LaVine has already shown displeasure with the Bulls franchise, specifically head coach Jim Boylen, and moving on might be the next best step for him.
There is no longer a debate whether Bradley Beal is a star in this league. However, despite having a career season in 2019/20, misfortune seemed to constantly strike him.
First off, Beal was snubbed from this year’s All-Star team. Instead of being selected, the likes of Kyle Lowry, Ben Simmons, and Khris Middleton were all chosen ahead of him. Beal had significantly better seasons than all these players, as only Khris Middleton averaged over 20 PPG, albeit only 20.4 PPG.
These numbers are laughable in comparison to Beal who averaged 29.1 PPG before the break, which was the highest scoring average ever for a non-All-Star entering the break. It was ridiculous that he was not selected as an All-Star, but it was the players chosen ahead of him that made the decision to leave him off even more questionable.
Other issues that Beal had to deal with this year was playing without his All-Star counterpart John Wall. He has been out since December of 2018 with a left heel injury that eventually led to a ruptured left Achilles tendon. The absence of Wall has been a key reason why the Wizards have been unable to find success over the past few seasons. They were a playoff team in four out of the previous five seasons before Wall got hurt, and the team’s performance has never been able to fully recover since.
Beal is one of the most dynamic shooting guards in the NBA, but right now he is whittling away in Washington DC. His talents need to be taken advantage of while the iron is hot, and the best move for both sides may be to part ways.
He is only under contract until the 2020/21 season; however, if the Wizards are smart, they should look to deal him this off-season. They are not expected to compete at the top of the East next season, and Beal is not doing them any good wasting away his years for a losing franchise. Washington can definitely get at minimum a first-round pick and most likely more as Beal would be a desirable asset for many teams to test as a one-year rental.
A great destination for Beal might be a team like the Lakers. This would be highly unlikely just based on contract reasons alone; however, the Wizards could get some nice pieces like Kyle Kuzma and some picks, while also having salary relief. This is more of a dream scenario, but a trio of Lebron James, Anthony Davis, and Beal would be a lethal combination.
Another more likely candidate to make an offer for Beal would be a team like the Orlando Magic. This is a team with draft picks and young players who are still coming into their own. They are not a team that has seen much success in recent years, but they did make the postseason in 2018/19, and it seems that all they need is that one star to make them a legitimate threat.
Nikola Vucivic, Aaron Gordon, and Markelle Fultz may all reach their peaks with the help of a player that will give them the ability to consistently win games. They have a coach in Steve Clifford who has been able to bring some very bad Charlotte Bobcat/Hornet teams to the playoffs in the past.
With the right talent, there is no telling where Clifford could bring the Magic, and Beal might just be what the team is missing. Beal is in a tough situation with Washington and with his free agency looming, it would only seem right that he gets sent off to a team where he could contribute.
From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, Kevin Love went from being on a team that made four consecutive NBA Finals, including a championship in 2016, to being on one of the bottom feeders of the Eastern Conference.
Love was traded to the Cavaliers in 2014 as a result of Lebron returning to Cleveland that same off-season and Cleveland wanting to form a big-three of James, Love, and Kyrie Irving. However, once James left the team for the Lakers in 2018, it left the franchise in a bit of a hole.
Cleveland had invested so much into keeping Lebron that they built their team around him, and without him, the roster somewhat fell apart. Love is a five-time All-Star and still a quality player at the age of thirty-one, but because the team is rebuilding, his role has been diminished.
He is getting less minutes and putting up worse numbers, but this is more a result of inconsistent playing time and no longer being the centerpiece of the offense. Love is under contract until 2023 with major money attached to his name. Cleveland gave him a big extension in 2018 with the hope that they could get some value out of him through a trade rather than losing him to free agency, but they have not gotten many bidders.
The most likely cause for this is his massive contract and the team putting too high of a price on Love. Kevin Love is still one of the premier stretch fours in the league, and he can fit into many offensive schemes as well with his ability to shoot the three ball, rebound relentlessly, and pound the paint.
At this point, it should only be a matter of time before Cleveland part ways with Love. If they can lower their asking price and potentially take on some of his contract, a deal could be made. Some ideal teams that could land Love are the Portland Trailblazers and the Houston Rockets.
The Trailblazers are a team that have never been able to make that next step, and a major reason being that they have not had a quality forward since LaMarcus Aldridge. Landing a high caliber player such as Kevin Love would fill up so many holes for Portland. He can shoot the outside ball and with Jusuf Nurkić’s health in question, and Carmelo Anthony on the decline, Love could solve all their needs.
Houston would be another great fit for Love because of their need for size. The team has emphasized how they want to play small ball after trading Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks, but Love fits Mike D’Antoni’s offense perfectly.
For starters, he would give them the much-needed size plus Love is a great outside shooter and one of the best outlet passers in the game. Love could fill a similar role he had in Cleveland with Harden and Westbrook, and it would really make Houston a tough team to defend.
The glory days are over, and Cleveland needs to finally part ways with their beloved big man and send him somewhere he can make an impact.