Every offseason trades are made that shake the foundation of the NBA, whether it was Anthony Davis and Paul George being sent to Los Angeles or the Rockets and Thunder swapping star point guards, these trades happen every offseason adding excitement as NBA stars hit the court in new uniforms. With the draft and free agency approaching, moves could be made sooner than later, with most teams who make these trades looking for a new franchise mindset. Without a clear-cut start date for the season, teams will look to make moves in the early parts of the offseason in hopes to have more time with their new franchise player. Teams like the Rockets, Clippers, 76ers, Wizards, Nets, Spurs, Trail Blazers and Bucks all could be involved in big trades after falling short of expectations in the bubble. Fanbases will be shocked for good and bad reasons when their team switches it up heading in a new direction. Which teams are looking for a new star? Which teams are looking to tear it down? Each will have to decide with the NBA season fast approaching.
James Harden/Russell Westbrook
The Houston Rockets have come up short in past years, is this the year they inevitably call it quits on James Harden? The answer to that question is most likely no, but it is never out of the question, the Rockets are without youth or draft capital leaving them in a tough situation. Since Houston traded for James Harden in 2012, they have reached the conference finals twice falling to the Warriors both times. Harden turned 31 in August and is nearing the end of his prime. With the departure of GM Daryl Morey, the Rockets could head in a different direction going forward without James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The Mike D’Antoni Rockets were not built for playoff success without a viable centre. They were dominated by players like Anthony Davis, and although they are effective offensively, their defense can become sloppy and slow moving. A rebuild is inevitable for Houston and a long playoff drought will develop in Houston unless management is confident their team can win the NBA championship. They should put some real thought into trading James Harden before it is too late. With interest looming around the NBA, a Westbrook trade could decide the fate of this franchise and swapping him for another star or future assets will show where Houston’s thoughts are on trading Harden. The Rockets announced they will not make many moves this offseason believing that they are a championship contender but with another underperforming season Harden and Westbrooks’ value could diminish leaving Houston without young talent and draft picks. Although trading James Harden would be tough it’s a move the Rockets should consider.
Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons
It has seemed evident that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons struggle to coexist, and with neither having a reliable 3-point jumper, it clogs the lane causing offensive struggles. Without a reliable three-point shooter the 76ers could not get their offense going in the first round of the playoffs against Boston. Embiid excelled the entire bubble but could not seem to win due to a lack of supporting cast when Simmons was injured. Philadelphia needs to decide which star they will keep and which they will deal as the first pick has not been locked down by Minnesota and the 76ers could acquire draft capital. With Doc Rivers as their new head coach, a jump from forward Tobias Harris should be expected (Harris averaged a career high 20 points per game while being coached by Doc Rivers in Los Angeles). Another player Philadelphia should look to trade is Al Horford, who was paid a lot of money for a very disappointing season. Horford was not the same player offensively or defensively that he was in past seasons in Boston. Philadelphia controls their own future if they fail to make moves, and they will come up short again unless they commit. Their main priorities should be either building a team around Embiid or building around Simmons, each need shooting to succeed and something the 76ers do not have. Acquiring Buddy Heild and Lamelo Ball could go a long way for the overall success of Embiids career as well as the success of the 76ers.
Chris Paul had a make or break season determining the player he would be moving forward this season. Chris Paul led the Thunder, to the 5th seed in a tough western conference while also acting as a mentor for young guard Shai Gilgeous Alexander. Oklahoma City did not just battle to the playoffs, but into the playoffs putting up a 7-game fight against the Houston Rockets, down to the final seconds of play to decide a winner. Chris Paul averaged 17.6 point to go with 6.7 assists and 5 rebounds per game, and it is no secret the Thunder are shopping Paul off his hard-fought season. Interested teams are contenders looking to add one more piece, and teams such as the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks have all been linked to a potential trade for the all-star point guard. A trade to the Lakers could make an intriguing big three and pairing Paul with two of the best players in the NBA would be a perfect recipe for a repeat. The Thunder will look for young assets as they add to an already solid young foundation. Paul is the most likely player on this list to be dealt, judging by his situation in Oklahoma City neither sides are unhappy, and a mutual decision will be made that Chris Paul’s time as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder will soon come to an end.
Although the Wizards have said multiple times that Beal is unavailable a trade is still possible. Beal told reporters in the past that he is happy in Washington and would rather stay than go. In 2016 Bradley Beal signed a 5 year 127-million-dollar contract including a two year 72 million-dollar extension making Beal one of the highest paid guards in the entire NBA, right up there with teammate John Wall. After the Wizards extended Beal’s offer, mock trades came pouring. Teams looking to add scoring and playmaking will look to make a trade with the Wizards closer to the draft. Whether it’s the Warriors or Nets to make a move for Beal, those teams are the notable front runners who could come away with the 30 point per game scorer. Although Beal and the Wizards seem happy with each other, a trade would not shock the NBA judging by the history and unpredictability of players and general managers.
This article is original content published by sports writer Matthew White. Please feel free to link to and discuss this article but do not copy content.