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#pounditFriday, January 22, 2021

Eight NBA stars who could change teams this summer

Gordon Hayward Utah Jazz

It’s shaping up to be a busy offseason in the NBA, with numerous star players set to hit free agency. Others are under contract, but seem set to feature prominently in trade talks for various reasons.

On Wednesday, the talk was all about Chris Paul being dealt to Houston. That could be the first of many major moves to come.

Who will stay? Who will go? Who will be busy actively trying to get these guys? Here is a list of eight NBA stars who may well find themselves with new organizations next season, and what the future may have in store for them.

1) Paul George

At this point, it will probably be an upset if George isn’t moved. He’s told the Indiana Pacers that he’s leaving at the end of next season, and even if that knowledge will bring his trade value down, the Pacers will want to at least get something for him.

A number of teams have registered interest in George, but it doesn’t appear that anything has ever been close. The Boston Celtics tried on draft night, but talks reportedly stalled. Cleveland tried to put together an ambitious package, but their efforts seem to have fallen short as well, at least for the moment.

The Pacers seem to be in little hurry to move George, but their franchise is somewhat hamstrung until his situation is resolved. Expect him to be traded this summer.

2) Gordon Hayward

Hayward will be free agency’s premier scorer this summer, and will have a lot of suitors himself. The former Butler star is going to cost a lot of money and could ultimately stay with the Utah Jazz, as they can offer him a lot of cash and a chance to be competitive, but he’s sure to assess his options and contemplate any offers that come his way.

One report says Hayward’s first free agency meeting will be with the Heat, and that he will also meet with the Celtics and Jazz.

The Celtics make a lot of sense. They’re a team looking to make a splash, and they’re led by Hayward’s former college coach, Brad Stevens. There may be obstacles there, and Boston will face competition in a robust market — especially from the Heat.

Whether it’s with the Heat or Celtics, there is a real chance Hayward is in a different uniform next season.

3) Carmelo Anthony

Anthony publicly feuded with Phil Jackson over the past year, leading many to speculate he would be traded. Even Jackson, who was fired on Wednesday, said it would be best for Anthony to move on. ‘Melo has finally warmed up to the possibility of playing elsewhere, but the problem is that moving Anthony will be much easier said than done.

Anthony is 33 years old. He will want to play for a contender and can block a deal to any team he wants. He has been asking for a buyout, the Jackson wanted to trade him instead in order to get something in return. ‘Melo can opt out of his contract after the end of next season. It’s not totally clear what the Knicks’ asking price is or how motivated they are to move him.

He would be an intriguing option for a lot of teams if the Knicks opt to buy him out, but it’s unclear how the new leadership will feel about that. For now, Anthony remains in limbo. Everyone involved seems to agree that it’s best that he moves on; the trick is making it happen.

4) Blake Griffin

After trading Chris Paul to the Rockets, the Los Angeles Clippers are expected to focus on re-signing Blake Griffin. But the question is whether he will be interested in a return to the team now that they’re being dismantled.

Griffin has already made it clear that he’s going to opt out of his deal, which doesn’t come as a surprise. Even if he ultimately stays with the Clippers, he’ll make a lot more money by signing a new deal this summer.

Griffin has been viewed as somewhat likely to leave the the Clippers as a free agent. The Celtics figure to be involved, and if the Oklahoma City Thunder want another star to pair with Russell Westbrook, they could look into bringing Griffin back to his hometown. Other teams looking to make a splash will be lurking, too.

Though Griffin has dealt with injuries and off-court concerns, he’s still an impact player when on the floor, and will draw a lot of interest. Perhaps CP3’s departure will leave him feeling like it’s time to move on.

See Nos. 5-8 on Page 2

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