The 2020-21 NBA season is all set to start just days before Christmas, which means there will be a significantly shortened offseason this time around.
That doesn’t give teams much time to make all the moves that the NBA has been known for over the past few years. However, there is already a lot of talk of potential deals involving big-name stars that could go down over the next few weeks.
SBOTOP highlights a handful of those big stars who could be on brand new teams by the time the new season starts in December.
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans
Of all the players on this list, Holiday seems the most likely to be on a new team come next season. The Pelicans have reportedly begun trade discussions for the 30-year-old All-Star guard as they look to go all-in on their rebuilding project.
Holiday won’t be short of suitors as his skill set makes him an ideal fit for would-be title contenders. He doesn’t need the ball to be an effective offensive player and is well-suited to being a secondary playmaker. He’s also one of the best defensive guards in the entire league.
While he’s not the type of star who can significantly alter a team’s NBA 2020 odds to win the title, Holiday should still make any team he ends up on markedly better, which makes the race to acquire him so interesting.
Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets
LeVert had a breakout season for the Nets next last season. The 26-year-old averaged a career-best 18.7 points, albeit in just 45 games. However, the Nets will finally have injured superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back next season, which puts LeVert’s future in Brooklyn into question.
LeVert, who is a ball-dominant scorer, is not an ideal fit alongside those two stars. The Nets need more defence on the team if they hope to join the list of serious title contenders this season, and trading LeVert could land them such a player.
The Jrue Holiday-for-LeVert has been a popular trade rumour since it seemingly makes sense for both sides, so it wouldn’t be all that surprising if that deal does end up happening.
Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics
The Celtics’ charm hasn’t rubbed off on Hayward, who’s had some rotten luck since arriving in Boston. He suffered a catastrophic injury just minutes into his debut and hasn’t quite been the same All-Star-calibre player since. His role on the team has also been significantly reduced with the emergence of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as well as the arrival of Kemba Walker.
As a result, there are serious rumblings about Hayward potentially leaving this offseason. He has a player option for $34 million, which he could decline to become a free agent. But he could also opt in and request for a sign-and-trade.
The Celtics would certainly prefer to keep Hayward, who still makes them a much better team when he’s healthy. But given all the bad luck Hayward’s had in Boston, a clean break could end up being the best move for both sides.
Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder
After a disappointing last season in Houston, Paul proved he wasn’t in decline just yet as he had a terrific season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 34-year-old point guard made several NBA 2020 highlights this past season, averaging 17.6 points and 6.7 assists in 70 games to lead OKC to the No. 5 seed in the very competitive Western Conference.
But with the Thunder expected to go into full rebuilding mode, they would likely prefer to move on from Paul. A trade to the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers, where he could play with good friend LeBron James, has been a popular rumour going around.
However, Paul’s enormous salary of over $40 million in each of the next two years makes it quite difficult for the Lakers — or any team, for that matter — to trade for him. Still, a contending team in need of a point guard should at the very least consider a move for CP3, who still has much to offer.
Ben Simmons/Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
The Simmons-Embiid combination has been the subject of much debate over the years. There’s a widespread belief that the two All-Stars simply aren’t compatible on the court and must be split up to get the best out of either of them.
The arrival of new team president Daryl Morey has only added more fuel to that fire. Morey has shown time and again that he is not afraid to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade, so there’s a real chance the Sixers finally send one of their young stars away this offseason.
Morey is a smart man, though, and it’ll take the right deal for him to part with one of his franchise players. Which leads to the last man on this list.
James Harden, Houston Rockets
As soon as Morey took the Sixers job, the speculation followed that he would plan to reunite with Rockets superstar James Harden in Philly. And given their styles of play, Simmons for Harden seems like the most likely trade if one does happen.
The Sixers would surely love that trade as they get one of the best players in the league who can score at will and can open new possibilities offensively for Embiid and the rest of the team.
The trade isn’t quite as great for the Rockets, though, and they reportedly aren’t interested in any deal involving the former MVP at this time. But if they want to cut costs and start rebuilding, a young star like Simmons is as good a return as they’re ever going to get for a 31-year-old Harden.
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