For years, the NBA has suffered from unbalanced conferences. For the last few years, the West has been significantly better than the East. A barely .500 team could actually make the Playoffs in the much weaker East.
This summer did not change that. In fact, the NBA’s unbalance problem only got worse.
Eastern stars like Paul George and Jimmy Butler found new teams out West, leaving their old squads in disgrace. Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving may be joining them, as their situations are getting worse by the day.
With the bulk of the NBA’s biggest names heading to the Wild West, it leaves room to wonder: who will be the one to head East?
Here are the 5 most likely Western star candidates to take their talents to the East:
When LaMarcus chose the Spurs a few years ago, he never imagined it would turn out like this. The team as a whole looks great, but Aldridge has had enough. According to him, the Spurs haven’t used his talents the right way. He feels like he’s not being used to his maximum potential, and his role has diminished a lot since his first days on the team. If the right team gives him a good situation, he would likely leave the Spurs in a heartbeat.
CP3 is desperate for a ring. In Houston, he has a great chance to get one. But even with a team as loaded as the Rockets, it’ll be hard for him compete with the Warriors and Spurs. The West is just too tough. If the experiment in Houston fails to materialize, Paul could elect to head East for an easier road to the Finals. Who knows, maybe he could even find himself playing for the Cavaliers, alongside LeBron James.
This is a bit of a longshot, but DeMarcus could find himself wearing Celtic green in a few years. His stint with the Pelicans has been short, so it’s hard to gauge how successful he can be there. But the Pelicans aren’t known for stability. And if the team ends up being a disaster, the Pels may find themselves hitting the reset button. A trade with Boston or Cleveland could see DeMarcus heading East, and would probably make the most sense.
Like DeMarcus, Rondo is a part of a Pelicans team surrounded by misfortune. Even if they don’t trade Rondo, it’s hard to see him staying long term. A return to Boston, a stint with LeBron in Cleveland, or a contract in New York could all be future possibilities for Rondo. He doesn’t have to ring chase, but the East could be his best chance to play a role for a decent team. Not to mention that Rondo’s time in the West has not brought him much success.
A bit of a question mark at this point in his career, Kenneth Faried’s role in Denver has declined dramatically. Once one of the best young guys in the league, Faried has fallen into the shadows in Denver. He needs a change of scenery, and the Nuggets surely have no use for him. Several East teams (like the Wizards) would love to have him on the roster. He adds rebounding, athleticism, and toughness to any organization willing to take a chance on him. And that team will likely be out East.