My goodness, we have a had a dramatic last few days haven’t we? First the D’Angelo Russell for Brook Lopez trade, then Dwight Howard is sent away from Atlanta after only one season. These are big time moves that give us a taste of what teams are thinking of doing for the future ahead.
What other moves could we see in the not so distant future to keep us on our toes? Here are my top 9 moves that could send shockwaves through the basketball world.
9. Chris Paul - San Antonio Spurs
This one would have huge repercussions felt across the whole league, but wouldn’t be very shocking, in fact it’s a no brainer for me. Paul is still a top 5 PG in this league and has one of the highest basketball IQs we’ve seen in a long time. He is the purest point guard we have in the NBA right now and is a threat from anywhere on the floor.
Paul is now a free agent and is in desperate need of a ring to complete in an already great career. Going to the Spurs would easily give him the best chance to do so. The Spurs were up on the Golden-State Warriors 76-55 until Kawhi got injured. Adding the most intelligent point-guard in the game to the team with the most intelligent coach of all time is a match made in heaven or hell for anyone facing them.
8. Blake Griffin - Oklahoma City Thunder
When the Clippers added Chris Paul to Blake Griffin in 2011 many predicted they would have won a title by the time they left. Paul was the best PG in the league back then and Griffin was the rookie of the year after averaging 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds a game. Six years later and all they have to show for it as some highlight dunks and some embarrassing playoff exits.
It’s time to detonate the ticking time bomb that is the Clippers breakup. They haven’t worked together and they need to hit the reset button. Like Paul, Griffin is a free agent this offseason and if has any sense he will be on the move. At 27 he’s just starting his prime and has a lot more to offer.
Pairing him with Russell Westbrook would certainly raise some eyebrows. Westbrook is the most athletic point guard in the history of the NBA, Griffin is still one of the best dunkers in the NBA today. These two in the pick and roll would be devastating and NBA rims would not know what hit them.
7. Andre Drummond - Boston Celtics
This one would certainly shake up the East. The Celtics last year were one of the worst rebounding team in the league and ranked 27th overall. Andre Drummond has a career average of 12.8, one of the best in the NBA.
This move would help take the Celtics to the next level. Drummond, apart from his free-throw shooting, is the perfect example of how effective the modern NBA center is. He rebounds a ton, is there for pick and rolls, alley-oops and drop offs. He blocks shots and defends the post, whilst also being mobile enough to give guards trouble on the perimeter.
If this were to happen, look for Cleveland fans to be extremely worried.
6. Gordon Hayward - Boston Celtics
Even though the Celtics had a better regular season record than the Cavs they were utterly destroyed in the Eastern Conference Finals 4-1, losing one game by nearly 50 points. They cannot keep up with the Beast in the East that is LeBron James.
They need more firepower; enter Gordon Hayward.
Hayward has just come off easily the best season of his career. After averaging 21.9 points a night on 47.1% from the field and 39.8% from three he has become one of the best wing players in the league and at the age of 26 he looks only to get better.
The Celtics rely too much on Isaiah Thomas for the offense and in the playoffs being 5 foot 9 just isn’t going to cut it. Adding Hayward would take the ball out of Thomas’s hands more and the give Boston’s opponents more stars to deal with.
5. Paul George - Cleveland Cavaliers
As it stands right now, the Cavs are nowhere near good enough to beat the Warriors in a best of seven series. The Warriors will only get better this year with improved team chemistry and all their core four players are under 29 years old. LeBron will be 33 this December and it will be the beginning of the end for him soon. He needs to win as much as possible right now and acquiring PG would be a huge move towards that.
George is one of the best two-way players in the league. He’s 26, shot just under 40% from three last year on 6.6 attempts per game and has been on the NBA’s All-NBA Defensive team three times so far in his career. Adding him to LeBron and Kyrie would give them an excellent defensive option against Durant, Thompson and Curry as well as being there for the open three-point shot and he can create his own offense, meaning that LeBron could get more rest next year.
This move would send a clear message to anyone challenging Cleveland next year; we’re back and we mean business.
4. Damian Lillard: "I Want To Be Traded"
Lillard must be feeling really frustrated. Only a few years ago the Blazers had a very talented core consisting of himself, Wes Matthews, Nicholas Batum and LeMarcus Aldridge. Now the future for his Blazers squad is very uncertain. They aren’t an attractive destination for free agents, they aren’t going to get any better with the team they have and Lillard is hitting his prime right now where he should be challenging for titles.
If he wants to win and win big then he can’t wait for the front office of the Blazers to bring players to him. If the Spurs fail to sign Chris Paul this summer then they could look to Lillard as their next option. Utah is also a very attractive destination if Hayward stays and Gobert continues to improve. That trio would be very intriguing indeed and would bring Utah back to real prominence for the first time since John Stockton and Karl Malone.
3. Anthony Davis Requests A Trade
One of the reasons I am really looking forward to next season is that we can watch if the two best big men in the NBA can work hand in hand together for a whole year. The combination of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins with their size, skill and touch should give opponents real trouble on both ends of the floor.
This match works on paper, but in reality it might be a catastrophe. The chemistry might be terrible, Cousins is known to be a volatile presence in the locker room. If all else fails then we could see Davis frustrated and demand a trade come to the All-Star break.
This certainly would catch everyone off guard. Davis is the best under 25 talent in the league and has a skillset we have never seen before. Mobile, a great shooter, a fantastic touch around the rim and a prolific shot-blocker Davis will be a huge presence in the NBA for at least the next decade.
2. Steph Curry Signs With Charlotte Hornets
Over last three years, the best contract in terms of value for money has easily been Steph Curry’s. Over that period he’s won two titles, two MVPs, become the best shooter we’ve ever seen and only collected around $36 million. He is now a free agent and could sign the largest NBA contract in league history.
But that may not be with Golden State.
The Warriors have three big contracts next year with Draymond and Thompson tied down to long term deals and Durant having a player option. If Curry wanted to sign a max deal with the Warriors then straight out the gate he would earn $36 million next year. If you add that to the contracts with Green, Durant and Thompson that roughly works out at $97.9 million, and with the salary cap projected to be around $101 million that would leave no room to sign the key role players needed to go on another title run.
Curry’s home state is Charlotte, it’s where his father played a lot of in his career, it’s where he grew up. Curry may feel that having brought two titles to Golden State he can go home and try and prove himself back home much like LeBron did.
This move would cause cataclysmic ripples across the league and would completely change the NBA we know it today.
1. LeBron James Moves Away From Cleveland
No matter what people say now, LeBron James is still the best player in the NBA and the league’s biggest star. He is the league’s most powerful individual and everything other teams do is in response to the moves made by this true titan of sports.
LeBron was made the NBA’s villain after leaving Cleveland in 2010 but redeemed himself by returning home to Cleveland in 2014 and winning a title for his original team. As I’ve stated above LeBron is getting old fast.
He needs to win now.
He left the Cavs in 2010 because they weren’t getting him the necessary pieces to really contend. If he see a repeat of this next season they don’t be surprised to see him bolt once again.
Many people believe that he would go to the Lakers who could have Paul George then as well as a host of emerging young talent.
The biggest star for the past 14 seasons moving to the league’s most famous team would be front page news for every sports paper round the entire world.
I guess all we’ve got to do is wait.