NBA: Sometime between now and the 2020 NBA draft on Nov. 18, the league should lift the monthslong transaction moratorium, permitting its yearly form of offseason chaos to formally begin. There are numerous things the NBA will have to sort out quickly, from the salary cap rules regulating next season to where games will be performed. Those negotiations and conversations with public health officials are a direct priority for commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts.
The team is currently pursuing a pre-Christmas Day beginning along with a reduced regular-season schedule for the 2020-2021 season, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst. But teams are also getting prepared to navigate the unpredictable roster shuffle which hits the league every offseason.
It has been more than eight months since the most recent NBA trade and more than 15 months since the last major move of this 2019 NBA offseason when Russell Westbrook was dealt for Chris Paul. That silence will finish fast. To preview what is to come, and in which the true transaction electricity is held, here’s our list of the men and women who are creating the biggest decisions this offseason, all their options, and the possible fallout.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo: The superstar everyone wants
- Victor Oladipo along with the Pacers’ front office: The expiring deal
- Fred VanVleet: The best available free agent
- Option 1: Re-sign at Toronto
- Travis Schlenk: The GM with cash to spend
- Clippers and 76ers: The high heeled disappointments
- Bob Myers and Sean Marks: The allure of star power
- Sam Presti and David Griffin: The playoff bubble teams
- Anthony Davis: The contract query
Giannis Antetokounmpo: The superstar everyone wants
Option 1: Sign a supermax extension
there is no more impactful decision this fall compared to whether the reigning two-time MVP will opt to signal the five-year extension he’ll be provided at the beginning of free agency by the Milwaukee Bucks. That would confuse the Bucks as title contenders well in the 2020s.
But it would also alter the aims of the teams hoping to lure Giannis Antetokounmpo away. The Toronto Raptors will not be as scared by an offer to unrestricted free-agent point shield Fred VanVleet that could damage their cap sheet. And also the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks may look to bolster their rosters today with long-term cash that previously would have been unpalatable.
Do not expect an immediate spending spree if Antetokounmpo re-signs — the 2021 course will still have star power, and the team is closely navigating pandemic finances — but his potential availability will continue to keep some groups in a wait-and-see manner until he signs his next contract.
Option 2: Hold off a decision until 2021 free service
Multiple sources have said Milwaukee will not seem to exchange Antetokounmpo when he passes on the extension. Rather, the Bucks will attempt to better their roster and apply another year to show Antetokounmpo why he must stay.
Waiting would give Antetokounmpo maximum leverage over Milwaukee over the subsequent 12 months. If the Bucks are willing to add to their citizenship to enhance the group — something ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported they are — Milwaukee could pursue a significant upgrade in transactions.
Victor Oladipo along with the Pacers’ front office: The expiring deal
Option 1: Pursue an extension
with one year left on his contract, Victor Oladipo seems like a possible extension candidate. But finding a number that makes sense for the two sides will not be easy.The Indiana Pacers will offer an expansion beginning at 120 percent of Oladipo’s salary for its 2020-21 year — a deal that could begin around $26 million, a couple million per year below what he could signal on a max contract next offseason as an unrestricted free agent. Oladipo, who suffered a torn quadriceps tendon in January 2019 and then struggled upon returning this year, could want to return next season and try to prove he is still the All-NBA player he had been in 2018.
Option 2: Measure trade options
There’s a motive Oladipo’s name has been mentioned for months as a potential trade target. Having only 1 year left on his deal places the Pacers set up to potentially lose him — something a small-market staff would always prefer to avoid. Along with the financial landscape of the league as a whole along with the Pacers specifically (with long-term money already committed to Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis) has rival teams wondering if they’ll be willing to spend to maintain Oladipo. But any trade talks here will be complicated.
Oladipo’s drama was uneven after returning from injury this year, and given his background, those worries would transfer to a new team.
Option 3: Wait for it out even
if this leads to Oladipo walking at a year, it could be the path that makes the most sense for both sides. The Pacers probably will not exchange Oladipo for a low-value package just to move him. Waiting would give Indiana a chance to determine exactly what this heart looks like at full strength before reevaluating things in the 2021 trade deadline, and would give Oladipo an opportunity to show he’s back to that he was pre-injury.
Fred VanVleet: The best available free agent
Option 1: Re-sign at Toronto
Raptors have two primary goals this offseason: re-sign shield Fred VanVleet, and do this without ingesting too much in their max cap space for 2021.Based on ESPN’s Bobby Marks, any VanVleet deal around four years and $80 million ought to keep Toronto in the celebrity race next offseason. But things get dicey if the Raptors start competing with larger offers for among the most important players.
option 2: Combine a team2
decades ago, VanVleet bet on himself in free agency, signing a two-year, $18 million deal that he far surpassed in terms of on-court value. He enters free service as possibly the best-unrestricted player with an opportunity to relocate. The teams swimming in cap area — such as the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, and Atlanta Hawks — missed the playoffs, so VanVleet could be choosing between taking a bit less to play in a winning position or a little more to attempt to turn around among those teams.In Detroit and New York, he could be a civilization setter in the middle of a rebuild.
Atlanta has designs on taking a big step forward next season, and with a secondary founder, shooter, and shield beside Trae Young produce a lot of sense.
Travis Schlenk: The GM with cash to spend
Option 1: Commit to long-term developments
Rival teams expect Atlanta to look to make substantial improvements this offseason. If the Hawks can add thickness around their young core of Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Clint Capela, they could input the unexpectedly competitive playoff mix in the Eastern Conference.With $42 million to spend, general manager Travis Schlenk can make competitive long-term supplies that most teams won’t be able to top. The Hawks won’t find a proven star in this class, but there are great players — including VanVleet, Davis Bertans, Danilo Gallinari and Joe Harris — that could add much-needed fire and shooting.
Option 2: Look at short-term improvements
The alternate route here is bypassing an extension for Collins (awaiting re-sign him before he’s a restricted free agent after this season) and getting the very best possible players currently on one-year deals. That would allow the Hawks to walk into next year’s free service with a full max salary slot and attempt to recruit a star after what they expect is an impressive season.
Clippers and 76ers: The high heeled disappointments
Option 1: Count on a brand new coach and new results
LA Clippers were the favorites to win the NBA title for the majority of the season before sputtering from the playoffs in the second round. The Philadelphia 76ers hardly ever watched their projected starting lineup on the court together.That could cause both groups to state the only change they had to make was on the bench — in which Tyronn Lue substituted Doc Rivers in Los Angeles and Rivers replaced Brett Brown in Philadelphia.
Option 2: Big moves
Both groups are under intense pressure to acquire, making them candidates to pursue roster changes before the season hints, though striking overhauls will likely be complex. Back in Los Angeles, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard almost certainly are not going anywhere. And following the trade to get George last summer, the Clippers don’t have many resources to send out.
They can attempt to unite players like Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Ivica Zubac in prices, but it’s tough to trade veteran role players for impact talent. They might also attempt to execute sign-and-trade bargains for Marcus Morris and/or Montrezl Harrell, however, the math there is tricky.
In the East, can the Sixers find a taker for Al Horford and balance their roster? Can they consider moving from Josh Richardson, who has one year left on his deal? Can Ben Simmons play point guard, like he has most of his livelihood, or electricity forward as he did in the Florida bubble before suffering a season-ending knee injury? And if Simmons is in the 4, where does Philly find a point guard? The answers to any of these questions could cause roster changes in Philly.
Bob Myers and Sean Marks: The allure of star power
Option 1: Win-now moves
As my buddy, Brian Windhorst is fond of saying, “Winning a championship means never having to say you’re sorry.” We’ve seen teams move all-star power at each of the previous two summers and win it all. The Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets could find themselves using similar opportunities this offseason.
For Bob Myers, Golden State’s president of basketball operations, that would mean attempting to utilize the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft and the gently protected future first-rounder from the Minnesota Timberwolves (along with the bloated contract of Andrew Wiggins) to add another high-level participant to a core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. For Sean Marks, Brooklyn’s general manager, that means possibly hanging a bundle including the Nets’ enticing young gift — Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jarrett Allen — to bring a third star alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Option two: Build for the long haul
from the NBA, there is always the chance some celebrity player shakes free whom no one is anticipating, but right now there isn’t an obvious trade goal for both teams.That’s especially true for Golden State, which will be unlikely to exchange an asset such as the No. 2 pick in the draft for a moderate upgrade. If there is not an obvious deal now, the best option for the Warriors could be to just make their pick, bide their time and determine what opportunities pop up. Brooklyn, on the other hand, already has plenty of nice complementary pieces for Durant and Irving — a formula we saw work for the champion Lakers. With Durant and Irving, both signed for multiple years, the Nets have enough time to determine what they have before trading their young players.
Sam Presti and David Griffin: The playoff bubble teams
Option 1: Adopt a rebuild
last summer, both Sam Presti (the Oklahoma City Thunder general director ) and David Griffin (the executive vice president of this New Orleans Pelicans) had franchise players requesting transactions to relocate to Los Angeles. Both turned those scenarios into huge hauls of youthful talent and draft resources. They could try to do the exact same this season, although the returns should not be as big.
After investing for Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari, Presti could try to extract additional value by turning them this offseason. Paul’s bloated contract (he has owed about $85 million over the next two seasons, including a $44 million player option in 2021-22) can make transferring him challenging but also if lower OKC’s asking price. Gallinari is an unrestricted free agent, but as a result of the lack of available cap space on good teams, he is a candidate for a sign-and-trade deal.
Griffin has a decision to make about Jrue Holiday. One of the league’s best defensive guards, Holiday has one year left on his deal, and in an offseason when there isn’t a lot of star power available, he could fetch a wonderful return to the Pelicans, allowing them to fully commit to building around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
Option 2: Maintain playoff contention
Paul and Holiday remain put, the two teams will expect to again remain in the playoff chase. Oklahoma City might have trouble doing this if the group doesn’t retain Gallinari, but given the absence of clear suitors for this offseason, the Thunder may have the ability to re-sign him and try to reverse him down the road. Meanwhile, New Orleans was the favorite to be the eighth seed before things went in the bubble — and the Pelicans will be convinced they can make a run at a playoff spot next year if Williamson is healthy and Holiday remains on the roster.
Anthony Davis: The contract query
Option 1: Commit Long-term
After teaming up with LeBron James to win a championship in his first season in Los Angeles, it’s hard to imagine Davis going anywhere when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this fall. Assuming he does re-sign together with the Lakers, Davis will have a choice to make: signal a short term bargain — one or two seasons — or a whole four- or five-year max contract.
If Davis chooses the long-term path, the Lakers can more easily plan around his salary obligations as they look to bring in more celebrities in the future and also to supplement the roster next season.
Option two: Move the short term route
A shorter-team deal changes the energy dynamic in Davis’ direction. If he signs a two-year agreement, that would let him sign a max contract for the large money — 35 percent of the salary cap — in 2022. A one-year deal would allow him to align with James, who can also become a free agent after next season.