Every year in the NBA, there is at least one all-star rumored to be on the move. It is a trend that has become more common in the association. As the teams and players around the league are constantly changing, situations surrounding current stars can go from good to bad and vice versa. That said, NBA stars potentially getting traded is always on the table.
As some teams rise from the basement of the standings, others once at the top start to fall. Stars on those fallen teams begin to seek out new opportunities on a different roster. Sometimes a team is competitive and playoff-bound but isn’t good enough to win it all. Maybe their team can’t crack a playoff spot as their contract nears its expiration. It all varies but often reaches the same conclusion.
With that in mind, we will look at the current state of affairs for a few teams in the league. From there, we’ll list the next five NBA stars that will soon be traded.
1. Zach LaVine
A prolific scorer, Zach LaVine has asserted himself as one of the NBA’s elite guards this season. With career highs in multiple figures, LaVine earned himself his first all-star selection in 2021. However, despite his continued development, the Chicago Bulls have failed to court a contender around him during his tenure.
It wasn’t for lack of effort on management’s end. The Bulls made a blockbuster deal with the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline for all-star big man Nikola Vucevic. The move was supposed to give the Bulls the requisite star-power to lead their franchise back to the postseason. Unfortunately, Chicago failed to even qualify for the play-in tournament.
With the 26-year-old’s contract set to expire in the summer of 2022, the Bulls have to court a viable team next season. Even if they do make the playoffs, will that be good enough? If LaVine plans to seek out a championship opportunity, the writing may already be on the wall in Chi-Town.
2. Damian Lillard
Dame has repeatedly vowed his commitment to the Portland Trail Blazers. The contract extension he signed back in 2019 hasn’t even kicked in yet. Said extension would have Lillard making an average of $44 million a year until he’s 35.
The Portland Trail Blazers have practically been the same type of team since they drafted Lillard. They were good but never great; close, but never close enough. The same rings true today. Portland remains a safe bet to make the playoffs annually. However, few people, if any, confidently pick them to win it all. Lillard has already stated that he’d be fine if he doesn’t win a championship. That doesn’t mean that the Trail Blazers would be.
Regardless of what the players desire, the bottom line for every team is to win the title. If the current trend of the team continues (playoff berth, no championship), I can see Portland moving off their stars and acquiring younger talent to rebuild.
The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the premier teams in the Eastern Conference today. They are among the top five teams with the best odds to win the 2021 championship. After a disappointing 2020 season, the organization cleaned itself up last fall and dominated this time around. That said, there does remain one question on this team. Can Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid coexist on a championship roster?
We know that their collective talents can lead a franchise to regular-season success. However, as Philly knows, the postseason is quite different. Simmons’ inability to shoot jumpers wouldn’t be much of an issue if he weren’t playing next to a low post scorer like Joel Embiid. Both players limit one another by the nature of their game.
As Embiid has flourished into an MVP candidate, Philadelphia would probably keep him if they had to choose. Barring a title victory between now and 2022, don’t be surprised if Simmons is traded elsewhere.
4. Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker’s signing with the Celtics was shocking. There weren’t any rumors surrounding the move leading up to it. At the time, it made sense. With all signs pointing toward Kyrie Irving leaving for Brooklyn, replacing him with Kemba ought to have been a fair exchange. Ultimately, things have not worked favorably for Walker nor the Celtics.
On top of dealing with injuries for a large portion of his time in Bean-Town, Kemba hasn’t looked the same since his arrival. As Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown came into their own, they took over the team offensively. But overall, Walker hasn’t done much to compliment them.
With that as the case, the former first-rounder is already back in trade rumors. With the C’s having regressed from their 2020 campaign, Kemba could be moved sooner rather than later.
5. Bradley Beal & Russell Westbrook
The Washington Wizards closed out the regular season as one of the league’s hottest teams. Led by their star-studded backcourt of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, the Wiz clawed from the league basement to the eighth seed. Although impressive, this season showed that Washington doesn’t have but so high a ceiling with this roster.
Similar to Portland’s situation with Damian Lillard, Washington should consider moving on and starting to rebuild. I don’t see much point in trying to compete with a roster that can’t compete for a championship. Besides, Washington could get a lot in return for one of the game’s top scorers and a triple-double machine.
As I said before, things are always subject to change in the NBA. How teams across the association shift, the players follow, and vice versa. Under these circumstances, you know it won’t be long before the next batch of NBA stars are traded. The only real question’s to ask are about who and when.