The 2019 offseason was quite a memorable one for the NBA. An unprecedented number of stars were available in free agency and their movement changed the face of the league. Star players like Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Anthony Davis were all traded.
The 2020 offseason could offer just as much drama. Teams going to want to hold on to their top players. With lots of money to be spent and not enough good players to go around, it could get very competitive. Here are a number of the NBA’s top flight risks.
Brooklyn Nets: Joe Harris
Joe Harris, drafted into the league by the Cavaliers in 2014, signed a deal with the Nets in 2016. While he has always been a terrific shooter, the shooting guard’s game evolved in Brooklyn and he became a more complete player.
Shooting is Harris’ calling card and that’s a skill always high in demand in the NBA. The Nets will certainly want to bring the wing back into the fold, but competition will be heavy. Expect Harris to sign a high dollar deal with someone this summer.
San Antonio Spurs: DeMar DeRozan
During the summer of 2018, Kawhi Leonard let the Spurs know that he was no longer interested in playing for them. Leonard was dealt to Toronto where he won a title, and San Antonio received DeMar DeRozan in return.
There is no guarantee, though, that the shooting guard will stay in Texas long-term. Armed with a player option, DeRozan has informed the Spurs that he will not continue to play with them unless he has a long term deal.
Chicago Bulls: Kris Dunn
While the draft is often full of players who were one and done in college, some teams like to take players with a bit more experience. Kris Dunn was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016 after 3 great years at Providence.
Dunn was later traded to Chicago. He has started most games for the Bulls and has shown some flashes of the talent, but not enough to justify his top 5 draft status. Still, there will be some teams who want to take a shot on the young point guard.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Love
Kevin Love came over to the Cavaliers in 2014. The power forward teamed with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to lead the team to 3 straight finals appearances, winning one. Soon after, James and Irving were gone.
Love seems like a luxury on a clearly rebuilding Cavs team. Had it not been for a few different injuries, he may have been out of Cleveland already. There will certainly be teams interested in trading for Love this summer and it’s likely the Cavaliers deal him.
Denver Nuggets: Paul Millsap
The Denver Nuggets spent the early part of the 2010s as a pretty bad team. The turnaround started in 2017 when they signed Paul Millsap away from the Atlanta Hawks. The bruising power forward has helped Denver become a contender.
Millsap is aging, though, and the Nuggets will soon have to start paying some of their young players. The soon to be 35-year-old will still be sought after by teams looking to improve their interior toughness.
New Orleans Pelicans: Derrick Favors
The Utah Jazz selected Derrick Favors with the 3rd overall selection in the 2010 Draft. While he hasn’t quite become an All-Star level player, he is still a valuable rebounder and defender. 2020 has been his best season yet.
The Pelicans have some tough decisions to make, though. Brandon Ingraham has developed into a max-contract level player. And Zion Williamson will also be soaking up minutes in the front-court. Contenders around the league will be eager to pay Favors if he hits the market.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Malik Beasley
Sometimes all a player needs is an opportunity. Despite having some serious ability, shooting guard Malik Beasley spent most of his time on the bench for a very deep Nuggets team. He was traded to Minnesota at the trading deadline.
Beasley has blossomed since joining the Timberwolves averaging over 20 points a game and shooting three-pointers at a very high level. The ascending player will be a free agent in 2020, though Minnesota will have the opportunity to match any offer.
New York Knicks: Mo Harkless
Maurice Harkless has seemingly been in the NBA forever, but he is actually just 26-years-old. The small forward also provides two things every team craves, strong shooting and top-notch wing defense.
The Knicks, who acquired Harkless in this deadline’s Marcus Morris deal, have said they would like to have him back next year. There will be an awful lot of competition for him, though as his skills are something most NBA clubs are willing to pay for.
Utah Jazz: Mike Conley
After a terrific Freshman year at Ohio State, the Grizzlies drafted Mike Conley Jr. 4th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft. Since then, the point guard has provided steady leadership, toughness, and defense.
Traded to Utah during the 2019 offseason, Conley Jr. has a tough decision looming. The member of the Jazz can either play for $32 million in 2021, or go hunting for a long term deal. Whether or not Conley Jr. exercises his option, the Jazz would like him back.
Sacramento Kings: Bogdan Bogdanovich
During the 2017 NBA Draft, the Kings acquired the rights to Serbian forward Bogdan Bogdanovich. It’s turned out to be quite a coup for Sacramento. The Serb was a contributor right away and has gotten better each year.
Realizing that Bogdanovich was a player on the rise, the Kings offered him a 4 year $50 million deal. The forward turned it down, betting on himself to have a more robust market in the upcoming off-season.
Detroit Pistons: Christian Wood
When injuries or trades open up playing time, teams can sometimes discover a diamond in the rough. A trade of Andre Drummond to the Cleveland Cavaliers opened up more playing time for 24-year-old Christian Wood.
On the bright side for the Pistons, they may have discovered a star. Wood has averaged almost 19 points and 10 rebounds a game. On the other hand, Wood will be an unrestricted free agent. The Pistons will have to give him a handsome raise to retain him.
Los Angeles Clippers: Montrezl Harrell
For a number of years, Montrezl Harrell would come off the bench and look really good in limited minutes. Many wondered if he could replicate those same numbers over more minutes and the answer has been a resounding yes.
The big man has put up nearly 19 points and 7 rebounds in around 28 minutes a game for the Clippers. There will be a number of teams willing to pay to see if Harrell can do more as a number 2 or 3 option.
Miami Heat: Goran Dragic
Goran Dragic began his professional basketball career way back in 2003 at the age of 17. He’s been in the NBA and has bounced from the Phoenix Suns to the Houston Rockets to the Miami Heat.
He hit his career peak in Miami in 2018 when he made the league’s All-Star game. This year, he has acted as a reserve for the team while still scoring 16 points a game. Some team in the offseason will likely offer Dragic the chance to be a starter.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Danilo Gallinari
Almost seven feet tall, Danilo Gallinari has long been known for his ability to shoot, but he provides more than that. The small forward, who was drafted into the league by the Knicks, has also played for the Nuggets, Clippers, and Thunder.
Gallinari is in the midst of his best season for the Thunder, averaging a career-high in points (19.8) and rebounds (6.1). He is likely to be one of the better players available in free agency this year and should have plenty of interest.
Portland Trailblazers: Carmelo Anthony
After many years of providing high levels of scoring, Carmelo Anthony spent a large portion of the 2018-2019 season out of the league. The small forward stayed in shape, though, and signed with Portland after the 2019-2020 year began.
The signing has worked out great for both parties. Anthony has played very well for the Trail Blazers averaging around 15 points and 6 rebounds. There will be plenty of teams looking into Anthony following the season including the New York Knicks.
Phoenix Suns: Aron Baynes
Aron Baynes began his career coming off the bench for teams like the Spurs, Pistons, and Celtics, providing defense, toughness, and fouls. But he has evolved in his play over the last couple of years, becoming more of an offensive force.
The New Zealander began the 2019-2020 season as the Phoenix Suns starting center. He excelled in the role averaging more than 12 points and 6 rebounds. Many teams could look to make Baynes their 2021 starter.
Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet had a tremendous college career for some very good Wichita State teams. Thanks to his short stature, VanVleet went undrafted in 2016, signing on with the Toronto Raptors. He spent a number of years as Kyle Lowry’s backup.
VanVleet got better every year and, eventually, the Raptors began to play him in the same lineup as Kyle Lowry. The point guard has had his best year yet in 2020, averaging 17 points and 6 assists a game. He is likely to sign a very big deal this offseason.
Memphis Grizzlies: De’Anthony Melton
In 2019, the Memphis Grizzlies acquired shooting guard De’Anthony Melton from the Phoenix Suns in a deal involving Jevon Carter and Kyle Korver. The shooting guard has received a boost in minutes for the Grizzlies and his numbers look really solid.
But when the 21-year-old’s numbers are projected over 36 minutes, they look even better. Melton provides scoring punch, passing and rebounding. Players usually don’t hit free agency at such a young age and Melton should draw significant interest.
Washington Wizards: Davis Bertans
When the San Antonio Spurs reached a verbal agreement with free agent Marcus Morris, they moved Davis Bertans to Washington to clear salary cap and playing time. Morris, however, reneged on his deal and signed with the Knicks.
The Wizards made out like bandits as Bertans, now getting significant minutes, has shown himself to be an excellent player. The sharpshooter will be a hot item as an unrestricted free agent. Washington does retain his Bird Rights, meaning they can go over the salary cap to resign him.
Los Angeles Lakers: Anthony Davis
The 2019 offseason was a star-studded affair. A number of the league’s best players were available either by free agency or trades and their movements sent shockwaves throughout the league. 2020 will be a little quieter.
Anthony Davis could change that, though. The Lakers superstar could hit the open market if he chooses to do so. It’s unlikely, as Davis is playing alongside LeBron James for a very good Lakers team. There is, however, a chance that it could happen.