5 NBA teams that could be completely different next season | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats & Rumors

0 out of 5

    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    For many teams, the 2021 NBA offseason could be a time of subtle change.

    Kawhi Leonard is the only superstar free agent, and it seems very unlikely that he will leave the Los Angeles Clippers. That might just as well be because few teams have a lot of cash to spend and even fewer associate significant cap space with winning attentions.

    But for a handful of clubs, the coming months could bring radical transformations.

    Whether it’s because of playoff disappointments, roster flaws, or, in one case, the exit of a superstar that spawned a top-to-bottom overhaul, the next five teams could enter next season in some form. completely different from the one they left this one.

1 out of 5

    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    So much for summer vacation.

    The Boston Celtics have already been very busy since losing in five games in the first round to the Brooklyn Nets. Former president of basketball operations Danny Ainge retired and former coach Brad Stevens stepped in. Just two weeks into his new role, Stevens has written a blockbuster, sending Kemba Walker and draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a package built around former Celtic Al Horford.

    This could just be the start for a team that hasn’t lived up to expectations this season. The Celtics were supposed to be in contention for the crown; they went .500, had to punch their ticket to the playoffs in the play-in tournament, and were knocked out of the first round.

    Jayson Tatum isn’t going anywhere. He is the centerpiece of the organization. Jaylen Brown is Most likely staying put too, though if the Portland Trail Blazers are willing to talk Damian Lillard’s trades (more on that later), Brown could possibly be high on their wish list.

    If the Celtics swing a big trade without sacrificing a star wing, it likely spells the end of the road for their oldest player, Marcus Smart. It could also mean giving up a prospect or two such as Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith or Payton Pritchard to sweeten the offer and increase the yield.

    Boston doesn’t care much about heading into free agency past the Evan Fournier acquisition deadline. The Celtics presumably want to keep him for his scoring, shooting and lineup support (and have more future financial flexibility after Walker’s deal), but if an offense-hungry buyer blows his market, it could be out of the equation, too.

2 out of 5

    Richard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press

    The Dallas Mavericks are almost two months away from being able to rework their roster, and they are already unrecognizable.

    Rick Carlisle, their head coach since 2008, is gone. His exit was preceded by the departure of president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, who has spent the past 23 years with the franchise. Nelson’s farewell followed a report from The Athletic’s Tim Cato and Sam Amick detailing such a mess within the front office that it raised concerns over Luka Doncic’s desire to stay long-term.

    Other than that, however, things are going well. Or wait, no, they absolutely aren’t.

    The Mavericks not only failed to find their coveted third star, they also saw the flop of presumptive second star Kristaps Porzingis in their first-round loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Over the course of seven games, he scored 20 points once, finished in single digits three times, and encountered myriad defensive mobility issues. His future earnings ($65.5 million over the next two seasons) and injury history weigh heavily on the organization.

    Dallas will almost certainly buy Porzingis this summer, but the Mavs may not like the market they find. It’s hard to imagine they’ll fetch more than an equally flawed and expensive player or perhaps a collection of non-stars.

    Dallas could have more than $35 million in cap space this summer – flexibility that will disappear once Doncic signs his maximum extension – but that would cost the team a regular rotation like Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Richardson or Willie Cauley-Stein.

    The redesign has already begun, and it could take off in the next few months.

3 out of 5

    Carmen Mandato/Associated Press

    In the past calendar year, the Houston Rockets have traded James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Robert Covington and PJ Tucker. The resulting list could lead to an entire series of “Who does he play for?” on DTT.

    Because Houston is in such an early stage of its rebuilding, it employs a handful of relatively interesting youngsters and plenty of placeholders. That will likely still be the case next season, although the part of the team that holds the spot could include plenty of new faces since the Rockets only have six players with guaranteed contracts for 2021-22.

    Of this group, only two appear as automatic guards: Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. Once the Rockets secure the contracts of Jae’Sean Tate and Kenyon Martin Jr., they will also enter the circle of trust, but this is barely an outline of the 2021-22 iteration of Space City.

    On the business front, Houston looks likely to buy Eric Gordon, Danuel House Jr. and DJ Augustin to gain immediate buyers. The Rockets will surely try to pawn John Wall as well, but given his injury history and future earnings ($44.3 million next season and a $47.4 million player option for 2022- 23), his tenure with the team will more likely end in a buyout.

    It might be worth noting general manager Rafael Stone stress a desire to present a competitive roster at its end-of-season press conference. While that sounds like something you might say to not alienate a fan base that may still be reeling from The Beard’s departure, there may be a scenario where the Rockets are actually buyers this offseason. . We wouldn’t do it that way, but it’s not our decision to make.

    Regardless, the 2021-22 Rockets could be drastically different from their 2020-21 version.

4 out of 5

    Steve Dykes/Associated Press

    It’s not always easy for NBA teams to determine their formulas are flawed, but two things should force the Portland Trail Blazers to make that concession.

    First, this club has been knocked out of the first round in four of the last five playoffs. Optimists will note there was a Western Conference Finals appearance, but pessimists will point out Portland only had to beat an Oklahoma City Thunder team that reset after this season and a young Denver Nuggets club still learning how to win.

    It may not be enough to force the front office to act. But Damian Lillard’s post after the Blazers were fired by a Nuggets team missing their starting backcourt should be.

    “Obviously where we are is not good enough to win a championship if it’s not good enough to come out of a first-round series with two of their top three or four players not on. the field,” Lillard told reporters.

    The Blazers have since parted ways with Terry Stotts, their coach since 2012. Starting center Jusuf Nurkic wondered aloud if he would return. Lillard and teammate CJ McCollum have become regulars on the commercial machine circuit. Norman Powell (player option), Carmelo Anthony and the intriguing but oft-injured Zach Collins (restricted) lead a sizeable group of Portland’s impending free agents.

    And while Portland has no 2021 draft picks to trade, Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little loom as possible sweeteners.

    Lillard turns 31 in July. If he’s not running out of patience with the status quo, Portland policymakers should be.

5 out of 5

    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    If you listen carefully, you can probably hear the collective groan of the Washington Wizards fanbase. Yes, folks, we’re here to talk about the potential Bradley Beal trade that he and the team keep saying won’t happen.

    But what exactly is Washington supposed to hunt?

    The Wizards cannot pose as title contenders. They weren’t a .500 team this season, needed to win a tournament game just to make the playoffs, and were forcibly ejected from the playoffs with their last three losses totaling 71 points.

    Next season they’ll have $94.7 million between Beal, Russell Westbrook and Davis Bertans, but the rest of their roster is filled with unproven youngsters. It’s as if they had one eye on the present and the other on the future. Again, what is the goal?

    More importantly, what should it would be?

    “The right decision is to [trade] Beal and will likely buy out Westbrook,” an Eastern Conference executive said Sports IllustratedIt’s Howard Beck.

    It seems unlikely the Wizards will go that far in the offseason, if only because what they can get for Beal now (although surely still huge) might lag behind what they could have. obtain by the trade deadline. But they have already parted ways with coach Scott Brooks and could continue to make some sizeable changes.

    Robin Lopez, Ish Smith, Raul Neto, Garrison Mathews (restricted) and Alex Len will be free agents, and outside of perhaps Mathews, they all look like leak risks. If the Wizards are aiming to compete and bring back a good chunk of these players, they should probably consolidate some of the prospects and draft picks (including this year’s 15th selection) for players more capable of helping Beal and Westbrook in this moment.

    Still, the external calls for Washington to pull the plug won’t go away until he takes the plunge or significantly improves the roster around his backcourt. It’s a busy offseason anyway.

    Unless otherwise stated, stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball Reference. Salary information via Spotrac.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.

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