The NBA landscape is always changing. There was clear evidence of that once again this summer. LeBron headed to the Lakers, Cousins joined Golden State, and Anthony Tolliver returned to Minnesota. This trend seems to be picking up steam in the NBA, rather than losing momentum. Next offseason will provide more changes in the NBA, and could entail a historic amount of star players swapping teams. Here’s five NBA stars that won’t be on the same team after the free-agent market reopens once again next summer.
What a rollercoaster ride it is being a Timberwolves fan. That’s right, I’m a Wolves fan. Possibly the biggest mistake that I’ve ever made, but I love it. The Timberwolves just ended a decade-plus playoff drought last season. Now, it looks like they could be in for another long run. While Minnesota is positioned to make the playoffs in the West with a healthy Jimmy Butler, if the team doesn’t advance past the first round come April, things will get even uglier than they already are.
It’s no secret that Jimmy Butler is a free agent next summer. It seems he’s made it known himself. This summer has been full of storylines about the Timberwolves with Butler not being happy with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Butler is seemingly unhappy with the young guns’ work ethic. So, now the entire Wolves fanbase is panicking about whether Butler will leave after just two years with the team. While the issues with the Wolves can be worked out with a solid season, it appears Jimmy Buckets is headed to the exit doors.
Surprise, surprise. Kevin Durant isn’t going to finish his career in Golden State. Sure, he could be taking one-year deals with the team to maximize his future earnings, but Durant is also keeping the door open to leaving the team he’s won two rings with. Durant seems to be taking a LeBron-like path in his career. He left a team that he never won a championship with to join a championship-caliber team. Now that he has two rings, maybe three after this season, Durant could look to try and win elsewhere, much like LeBron did returning to Cleveland.
Maybe next summer is too soon for Durant to bolt the Bay Area, but with the reported tension in the Warriors’ locker room last season, I think Durant will be in a different uniform come next season.
Poor Kemba Walker. As one of the top-tier point guards in the NBA, Walker has made the playoffs just twice in his seven-year career. Walker hasn’t been surrounded by great talent in Charlotte and it’s time for him to leave next summer. Kemba is an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019, and he needs to go someplace with a better supporting cast. Walker has the talent to lead a team to the postseason and do some damage, but it’s not happening in Charlotte.
Kevin Love just signed a huge contract to supposedly stay in Cleveland with the Cavaliers. Love signed the contract because he got a great financial deal. What we aren’t sure of is why the Cavs offered Love the contract. Is it because Cleveland views him as an important piece of their future? Is it because Love would be easier to trade on a long-term contract? We won’t get a true answer until the next two-three years play out. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t take a guess.
If I was a betting man, I think Kevin Love was signed in Cleveland to be traded. The Cavaliers have the potential to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but they aren’t contending for a title anytime soon. The Cavs are bound to go into a rebuild and that would mean unloading Love for future assets. That is exactly what I think will happen next summer in Cleveland.
If the Blazers don’t do any damage in the playoffs this season, it’s time to get some scenery changes underway. The Blazers are stuck in the middle of the pack in the West and can’t seem to perform in the playoffs. If similar happenings occur this season, the Blazers will shift their attention to a different gameplan. Switching that gameplan would involve trading Lillard or McCollum. I can’t see the Blazers trading Lillard, so McCollum would be the option.
McCollum is a high-tier shooting guard that is a very valuable player in the NBA. However, with Lillard and McCollum paired together, the Blazers haven’t been able to do much damage in the postseason. It will be time for the Blazers to make a change and trading McCollum is the gut-wrenching move that they will need to make.