The NBA offseason is a rollercoaster ride that really does not end until the start of the new season.
From free agency to trade talks, there is never a dull moment in the offseason, even when teams are on vacation and taking a break before training camp begins in September like they are doing right now!
Trade rumors surrounding All-Stars like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell and Russell Westbrook continue to circulate league circles each and every day and looking ahead to the 2022-23 season, there is still a lot to discuss.
New players and new teams will emerge as threats and after the very first games of the 2022-23 season concludes, new rumors will begin to form, possibly changing the trajectory of the league.
From recapping some things that have or have not happened this offseason to foreshadowing what is to come as the NBA prepares for a new season, I will do my best as always to address these questions and more submitted by fans around the league for Fastbreak’s latest edition of “The NBA Fan Mailbag.”
1. Which teams were the biggest “winners” of the offseason?
Every team always makes good moves and bad moves in the offseason and quite honestly, the definition of both of these is a matter of opinion.
To me, the three teams that really stood out in free agency and on the trade market this offseason were the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers. Each of these teams added talent to their roster and none of them really gave up much value in the process.
Looking at the Celtics, they are coming off a run to the NBA Finals and now they not only bring back their entire core from this championship-caliber team, but they add Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. Plus, Brad Stevens always has a trick up his sleeve and has proven to be aggressive in terms of adding winning talents to the Celtics, so they may very well look to add even more talent before or during the 2022-23 season.
The Kings added Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, KZ Okpala and rookie Keegan Murray, all of which will be key talents around the likes of Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox. To me, I think this team has a good chance to claim a Play-In Tournament spot not only because of their new, revamped roster, but because of their new head coach in Mike Brown.
As for the 76ers, they not only got All-Star James Harden to take a near $15 million pay cut, but the team was able to sign Danuel House Jr. and veteran P.J. Tucker as a result. Philadelphia also moved Danny Green, who is out with a torn ACL, for De’Anthony Melton from the Memphis Grizzlies, a trade that I feel like has not received the right amount of attention given that Melton is an impactful bench talent that can help the Sixers win right now.
2. Will a team take a chance on Dennis Schroder ahead of training camp?
We saw that Dennis Schroder did not have much value on the trade market this past season when he was with the Boston Celtics and he really did not have a market either in free agency last offseason, hence why he took a small, one-year deal with Boston to begin with.
It is slightly shocking to see that no team has shown interest in signing Dennis Schroder this offseason, but this all goes back to the number that the veteran guard has put on himself. Teams around the league do not view him as a core building block and they instead view him in the role that he played with the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons – a sixth man bench talent.
Maybe the Atlanta Hawks or Milwaukee Bucks will be interested in signing him given that they still have a roster spot open and could look to add backcourt depth behind their All-Star point guards, but Dennis Schroder has no market right now and that is unlikely to change at this point in the offseason. Where he will wind up playing basketball during the 2022-23 season remains a major mystery.
3. Do you believe Donovan Mitchell, Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant will be traded before the start of the new year?
There is always someone who asks the million dollar question of “will this All-Star be traded?”
Of course everyone wants the answer to all three of these questions, but to be perfectly honest, nobody really knows at this point because the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves killed, buried and closed down the cemetery that the trade market currently resides in.
No team in the league can pay the price the Brooklyn Nets have on Kevin Durant and we are starting to get to that point with the Utah Jazz and Donovan Mitchell since the Jazz are wanting more value for Mitchell than they got from Minnesota for Rudy Gobert.
In this trade, they received five players and five first-round picks from the Timberwolves, one of which was a first-round pick swap.
If I had to give an honest answer, I would say that I’m leaning “60-40” in favor of Donovan Mitchell being on the move to the New York Knicks this offseason, but this very likely would not be a two-team deal, which could complicate things and wind up ending trade talks altogether. For Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, indications right now are that both All-Stars will remain with the Nets for the 2022-23 season. I guess we will have to wait and see how this all plays out!
4. Of the teams that missed the playoffs this past season, which do you think has the best chance to claim a playoff spot during the 2022-23 season?
Call me crazy, but I am a firm believer, at least right now, that the Sacramento Kings will make the Western Conference Playoffs via the Play-In Tournament. This is my one bold prediction entering the 2022-23 season and I am sure many are hopping on the Kings’ bandwagon right now, if there even is a bandwagon for this team.
Look… the Kings have been made fun of enough and all good things, bad things in this case, come to an end at some point. Not making the playoffs for 16 consecutive seasons truly is remarkably bad to think about, but I really like the moves this franchise made this offseason.
Next to Paolo Banchero, Keegan Murray is on my list of early Rookie of the Year picks for next season and alongside De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, this franchise has Harrison Barnes, Kevin Huerter, Keegan Murray, Malik Monk, Davion Mitchell and Richaun Holmes.
Again, maybe I am crazy, but I think this Kings team can be competitive and win 35-plus games this upcoming year to get into the Play-In Tournament picture.
5. Looking ahead to the 2022-23 trade deadline, which players will be the most talked about and most likely to be moved?
Outside of Donovan Mitchell, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, not many other players are being talked about as “on the trade block” this offseason. At this point, many teams are happy with what they have achieved in the offseason and they are not really looking to make any other deals before the start of next season.
Looking ahead though, there are some key names that stick out as potential trade deadline targets across the league. A lot depends on team’s records by midseason and their chances to contend in their respective conferences, but Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets), Bojan Bogdanovic (Utah Jazz), Jordan Clarkson (Utah Jazz), Josh Richardson (San Antonio Spurs) and Will Barton (Washington Wizards) could all be experienced, veteran trade targets for contending franchises.
We might as well throw Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers) on this list as well since he has been a trade deadline target for teams every season since he was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 2015!
Compared to past seasons, I do believe that the 2022-23 season has a chance to be extremely competitive with really only three to four teams not having a chance to make the playoffs. Buckle up because this upcoming year is going to be filled with a lot of high-level basketball being played across the NBA!