With the NBA restarting its season on Dec. 22, this will be the shortest NBA off-season of all time. Because of the compressed free agency period, teams are likely to make bold roster changes in the coming weeks in an effort to become championship contenders in 2021. Here are The McGill Tribune’s predictions for NBA free agency maneuvers in the 2020 off-season.
Anthony Davis stays with the Los Angeles Lakers
After his first championship and an All-NBA First Team regular season campaign, Anthony Davis will most likely remain in southern California for the time being. However, because of the significant financial hit COVID-19 caused the NBA, Davis will most likely decide on a short-term deal, in the range of two to three years. If Davis remains, he and LeBron James will look to establish another Lakers dynasty, cementing their legacy among the ranks of other famous Laker duos such as Kobe and Shaq, or Magic and Kareem.
Demar Derozan to the Brooklyn Nets
Former Raptors All-Star Demar Derozan was traded to San Antonio just two seasons ago, and it seems like his time there may be coming to an end. The storied Spurs franchise has struggled after two decades of excellence that included five championships, and is continuing to rebuild following the recent departure of multiple Hall-of-Famers. Despite his player option to remain in San Antonio for another year, Derozan’s best chance to compete for a championship would be to join the newly formed powerhouse in the Brooklyn Nets. A “Big Three” of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Derozan would certainly cement the Steve Nash-coached team as a favourite in the Eastern Conference to challenge the defending champions.
Chris Paul Traded to the Philadelphia 76ers
In what would be the blockbuster deal of the off-season, future Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul could get moved to the City of Brotherly Love. Paul has never made the NBA Finals in his illustrious career, and a move to the 76ers would significantly improve his chances of doing so. In order to complete the trade, the 76ers would most likely have to give up rookie Matisse Thybulle, Al Horford, and draft picks. This would certainly be worth the risk, however, as Philadelphia has failed to proceed past the second round of the playoffs with their current core of All-Stars which includes Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Although the meshing of ball-dominant players like Simmons and Paul could be difficult, former Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni is now an assistant coach with the 76ers and will understand how to utilize Paul, his former point guard in Houston.
Fred VanVleet to the New York Knicks
Fred VanVleet is one of Toronto’s biggest stars and a core member of the 2019 NBA championship-winning team. However, if the Raptors are unable to re-sign VanVleet, the New York Knicks could build a championship contending team with one of the league’s best guards. This would be a heartbreak for Raptors fans across Canada, but New York, whose historic franchise is in the midst of a decades-long drought, is one of the NBA’s biggest basketball markets and could offer VanVleet a bigger deal than their rivals. The former Wichita State guard would bring championship pedigree to a young Knicks roster, and serve as a solid starting combo guard to vastly improve the team’s defence and shooting.
Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Miami Heat
Back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the biggest talent in the league today. With his contract ending in 2021, Milwaukee will likely be looking to trade Antetokounmpo away if it looks like he wants to leave the organization before next summer. The Miami Heat, who eliminated Antetokounmpo’s Bucks in the 2020 Eastern Conference semi-final, have shown interest in improving their already championship-contending team. However, in order to acquire Antetokounmpo, the Heat will likely have to give up a valuable player, such as up-and-coming Tyler Herro. With Antetokounmpo, Bam Adebayo, and Jimmy Butler, the Heat would have a “Big Three” to rival their legendary LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh trifecta of the early 2010s.
Carmelo Anthony back to the New York Knicks
After spending six years with the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony hopped from Oklahoma City to Houston and is now in Portland with the Trail Blazers. However, Portland might not be able to offer the 10-time All-Star a deal to his liking. As mentioned before, the New York Knicks are looking to end their bottom-of-the-conference streak and have the finances to convince Carmelo Anthony to return to the city where he grew up. Though Anthony is no longer in his prime, he has the name recognition that the Knicks seek. This would allow Portland to free up cap space and give Anthony and the Knicks a mutually beneficial agreement.
Danillo Gallinari to the Miami Heat
Power Forward Danillo Gallinari is more valuable than he’s ever been. As a career 38 per cent three-point shooter and consistent offensive threat, Gallinari is the most valuable trade chip the Oklahoma City Thunder have right now. With Chris Paul on his way out, the Thunder will likely be undergoing a complete overhaul to rebuild their team with a young core. As a 32-year-old, Gallinari doesn’t fit this vision for the future and seems to know it; reports of his ties to the Miami Heat have run rampant in the last few weeks, as they have sought to add him to their roster in the past. The addition of Gallinari to the Miami Heat makes sense: He fits in with the team-first interchangeable-parts style of play that earned the Heat a conference championship last year. This could be the move that puts Miami in contention for a Finals victory.
Serge Ibaka to the New Orleans Pelicans
Serge Ibaka is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 15.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 38 per cent from behind the arc. While his defensive value may have diminished, it is clear that his basketball IQ is higher than ever, and as a former champion, his experience on the floor has made him a desirable asset. While Ibaka has announced his intentions to stay with the Raptors, he will likely leverage his success from the last two seasons to earn a bigger paycheck with a team looking for an experienced player. The New Orleans Pelicans would be a perfect fit for Ibaka: With Zion Williamson at the core of their franchise, every move they make is contingent on his success. Ibaka would complement Williamson perfectly, bringing his ability to defend, stretch the floor, and much-needed championship experience to a roster of otherwise inexperienced young prospectives.