Picking An Offseason Target For Every Team In The NBA

The NBA Finals could come to an end this week if the Boston Celtics manage to pull off a sweep of the Dallas Mavericks. But even if the Mavs extend things the distance, the offseason is rapidly approaching and 28 teams are waiting to execute their plans to put together a team for the 2024-25 campaign.

This summer figures to be a fascinating one, particularly after a number of teams that believed they were legitimate title contenders fell short of their goal. Some learned they’re further away than they thought, while others had smaller holes exposed that need to be filled to take that next step. Beyond that, the new NBA tax threshold penalties will begin having a big effect on teams this summer, and we could see some flurries of action on the trade market as teams start thinking about the long-term ramifications of some of their big contracts.

Here, I wanted to pick a unique offseason target for each team that is at least somewhat realistic, either in free agency or on the trade market, and is not a player currently on the team. A lot of teams will spend their summer looking to re-sign their own guys, but that’s not nearly as fun to talk about, so I’m focused on outside additions to the team that’s currently constructed. For some teams, that’s a star. For others, it’s acknowledging their financial reality and trying to find the best guy that fills a need and might take a vet minimum. Some of these are certainly highly unlikely, but each looks to fill a need and, for trades, the team should have assets capable of at least making the other team listen to a call.

EAST

Atlanta Hawks: Brandon Ingram

The Hawks are in a fascinating spot, especially now that they have the No. 1 overall pick. It is widely assumed they’ll be trading one of their top guards. There are a handful of teams that figure to register interest in one or both of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, and the Pelicans should be on that list. Of the players the Hawks could reasonably target (along with picks), Ingram’s the best of the bunch on the teams that will be in the market. He isn’t a perfect player, but would give them some wing scoring while not blocking the development of any pieces of their current young core, headlined by Jalen Johnson.

Boston Celtics: Alex Len

Boston will mostly be in the business of keeping their current group together, but they will probably be looking to bolster their frontcourt rotation behind Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford. Luke Kornet and Xavier Tillman are both free agents, and if Kornet were to walk especially, they’d likely be looking for someone that could fill that third big role. You can insert any of the vet min bigs here, but we’ll flag Len as a higher-end possibility for what should be a fairly coveted spot on a championship caliber roster.

Brooklyn Nets: Aaron Wiggins

I have no idea what the Nets will do this summer. They seem determined to run it back to a degree, but some in their fanbase hope they blow it up and fully rebuild. They’ll be getting calls about a lot of guys on their roster, and it’ll be interesting to see who they’re willing to discuss in a trade and who they aren’t — to this point, all reports indicate they’ve turned down every overture for Mikal Bridges. They should be in the business of looking to add some promising young talent, especially in the backcourt, and if I were them, I’d be on the horn with Sam Presti to see if the Thunder are interested in any of their veterans and might be willing to part with Aaron Wiggins, who has shown that he deserves to step into a more prominent role.

Chicago Bulls: Andrew Wiggins

The Bulls are going to try and trade Zach LaVine again, but I don’t really think they can be really picky in trade talks given LaVine’s gigantic contract. They might just need to settle for splitting up that long-term money. The goal in Chicago remains being competitive, and whether that’s the right choice or not, it seems they’ll look to re-sign DeMar DeRozan, elevate Coby White, and look to shuffle the deck a bit with a LaVine trade (and maybe still hope Lonzo Ball comes back). In terms of the possible LaVine destinations, I think Golden State is their best bet to get something decent in return, with Andrew Wiggins representing a connective piece on the wing who provides a theoretical fit for what the Bulls need. The problem, of course, is Wiggins has, aside from 2022, always been better in theory than on the court, but again, Chicago won’t be able to really be picky here.

Charlotte Hornets: De’Anthony Melton

The Hornets could use a solid veteran in their backcourt (particularly one that plays defense) as they continue to retool with a hopeful core group of LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller. Melton would fit the bill and they could try to structure a larger-money, short-term deal that gets him a little money. Plus, they could probably trade to a contender in a year-plus if they are still rebuilding and Melton wants to go to a playoff team. Plenty of teams could use Melton, but the Hornets are uniquely positioned to be able to blow him away with a big contract.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Trey Murphy III

The Cavs are reportedly indicating to teams they don’t want to trade Darius Garland, even if they re-sign Donovan Mitchell, but I’m guessing that’s mostly trying to ensure other GMs don’t try to low-ball them on offers. There are a number of teams that need point guard help and Garland should garner a lot of interest, even if the Cavs don’t actively shop him and simply answer the phone. The Pelicans are on the list of teams looking for point guard help and the first name I’m asking for, before Brandon Ingram or anyone else, is Trey Murphy III. He is a guy I think has star potential but is in a bit of a weird situation with the Pelicans roster glut on the wing. I’m not sure New Orleans would be willing to part with him, but that’s the guy I’d move Garland for (along with the requisite salary-filler) if I was Cleveland.

Detroit Pistons: Tobias Harris

The Pistons have a ton of money but aren’t a very appealing destination right now. Tobias Harris had a dreadful year in Philly and just never panned out as the third star there. A return to Detroit could be a soft landing spot for Harris and has some value for both sides. He would be a significant upgrade on the wing for the Pistons and would give Cade Cunningham an actual adult to play with who can hit shots, and Harris might just need some time back in a place without the pressure of expectations to re-find his form.

Indiana Pacers: Kelly Oubre Jr.

The Pacers big focus will be re-signing Pascal Siakam, but they should also be on the hunt for some more defensive versatility on the wing. Oubre Jr. was fantastic for the Sixers, and while Philly will probably look to bring him back, the Pacers should make some overtures and see if they can’t bring him in. Oubre showed his growth as a defender and was excellent cutting to the basket, which would fit well with how Indiana likes to operate.

Miami Heat: Naji Marshall

Miami doesn’t have much in the way of money and they’ll probably try to make a superstar trade again — and, perhaps, will be forced to if Jimmy Butler pushes his way out. However, I don’t know what name they can go land with what they have to offer. Of the free agent options, Naji Marshall makes a ton of sense as a Heat Culture type of guy (Willie Green once referred to him simply as, “a knife”) and given New Orleans’ cap crunch, he might be available.

Milwaukee Bucks: Jeff Green

The Bucks need guys they can play in the playoffs, and those are hard to come by. Jeff Green went and got the bag last year from the Rockets — and who can blame him — but if they decline their team option on Uncle Jeff, the Bucks should be trying their best to bring him in as a trusted veteran to bolster their frontcourt rotation.

New York Knicks: Karl-Anthony Towns

I think the most likely course of action for the Knicks is to bring back OG Anunoby, try to re-sign Isaiah Hartenstein, work some on the margins, and hope for better health next year. But, this is the Knicks and they’re always connected to a pursuit of a star, so I can’t help myself here. They are loaded with picks and can make the Wolves an offer that provides some financial flexibility, which they might deem important depending on their ownership situation, and the draft capital to go after a different star they might feel is a better fit. Again, I do not expect this to happen, but with some real uncertainty at the ownership level, the way things ended in the WCF, and that second-apron looming, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that the Wolves would answer the phone.

Orlando Magic: Malik Monk

The Magic are connected to Paul George and Klay Thompson, but I go in a bit of a different direction here and have them go after more of a microwave scorer in Malik Monk who fits their long-term timeline and allows them to add more elsewhere if they desire. I’m not sure Orlando is going to be able to sway a star like Paul George to come there just yet, and I also don’t think giving Klay Thompson a big, long-term deal is the right answer for them. Monk’s been terrific in Sacramento, and the Magic really could use an injection of life into their offense in the form of a guy that can create his own shot from the guard spot. Monk does that and has become an improved passer in Sacramento.

Philadelphia 76ers: Paul George

The Sixers really do make all the sense in the world for George if he’s ready to leave Los Angeles. Joel Embiid is an MVP, Maxey is a budding star, and they really need more out of their third star on the wing than Tobias Harris has provided. The Sixers have one shot at bringing in another star before they’re capped out once Maxey signs his max deal this summer, and they will make an all-out push for George to be that guy.

Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry

Toronto will be shopping Bruce Brown to contenders and should be looking for shooting in return there. In free agency, they need some point guard help and why not bring in an old friend to serve as the shepherd for the rebuild. I’d venture a guess that the only place Lowry would consider outside of Philly is Toronto, and he’d honestly be a great fit to fill both an on-court need and a veteran leadership need for the Raptors.

Washington Wizards: Markelle Fultz

Speaking of teams that need adults in the room, it’s the Wizards! They could use a bit of everything, but don’t have much money right now. If Tyus Jones leaves, the point guard situation goes from bad to rock bottom, and as such, they should take a peek at Markelle Fultz. His defensive abilities would be a welcome addition, as would his rim pressure on the offensive end. Playing next to Jordan Poole would mitigate some of the shooting concerns, and Washington could use a veteran point guard who has recent experience helping a young team grow. It would also give Fultz, a Maryland native, a chance to go back home.

WEST

Dallas Mavericks: Lonnie Walker IV

Dallas should be quiet for once this summer. I’d expect them to explore options to get off Tim Hardaway Jr.’s expiring deal like they did with Davis Bertans last year at the Draft, but otherwise, I think they’re mostly set with what they have. Bringing back Derrick Jones Jr. will be the biggest challenge, but either way they should be on the lookout for vet min options who can hit threes and hope they hit again. Lonnie Walker IV shot 38.4 percent from deep last year in Brooklyn and might be one of their best options to try and bolster their roster coming off of a Finals run.

Denver Nuggets: Mason Plumlee

I think Denver should explore the trade market for Michael Porter Jr., just to see if there’s anything great they can get in return there. I don’t think that perfect return is out there, though, so I’ll go with an old friend here as a depth addition to their frontcourt, which is desperately needed. Mason Plumlee was helpful as a backup for the Clippers a year ago, and knows how to provide backup assistance to Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets don’t have anyone behind Jokic they can really lean on, especially for playoff minutes, and maybe they can convince Plumlee to take a minimum to get a shot at a ring.

Golden State Warriors: Zach LaVine

The Warriors have to try and take a swing this summer. Their future cap sheet is already a mess, so adding LaVine is just another log on the fire. If the goal is to try and give Stephen Curry a chance at one more real run at a title, they have to find some real scoring pop to help him. LaVine has his flaws, but he can get buckets and doesn’t need someone else to create them for him. The Warriors need that and while I don’t think it makes them a top contender, it would certainly give them a fighting chance if everything breaks right. That’s the best they can really hope for, and we’ll just see if they’re willing to pay the price to do it.

Houston Rockets: Mikal Bridges

Houston’s desire to add Bridges has been well reported, and while they were rebuffed at the deadline, I would expect them to be right back in the mix with Brooklyn, trying to pry Bridges away from the Nets. He makes a ton of sense for what they want to do and is a better fit in a place where he doesn’t have to be the primary guy on offense. Whether it’s Bridges or someone else, I’d be pretty surprised if Houston doesn’t try to make some kind of splashy trade this summer, as they seem determined to take another leap into the playoff picture next year.

Los Angeles Clippers: Wendell Carter Jr.

The Clippers are expected to re-sign James Harden and will try to bring Paul George back as well. How successful they are with that second point will determine exactly what they do this summer, but I think the frontcourt needs to be a focal point for them. Getting someone that can space the floor and protect the rim should be a priority, and I’d see if Orlando would part with Wendell Carter Jr. given their glut of frontcourt options (and the re-emergence of Jonathan Isaac). They can offer some needed backcourt shooting help in the form of Norman Powell, and in return get themselves another option at center.

Los Angeles Lakers: Dejounte Murray

The Lakers are going to try to get somebody, and we know they chased Murray at the deadline. I’d expect them to rekindle those talks this summer, and while Murray’s reputation as a defender with some is out of touch with reality, his offensive creation would be a boost for an L.A. team that simply lacks it. There aren’t going to be a ton of options for L.A. (maybe LaVine) with what they have to offer, and for the need they have in terms of on-ball creation, I think Murray does make sense and might not cost too much.

Memphis Grizzlies: Malik Beasley

Memphis had such a disastrous year with injuries that they’re just going to throw out everything from the past year aside from the positive developments of young guys like GG Jackson. Everything bad gets flushed and they’ll hope to be right back in contention with Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. leading the way. However, they were always going to be looking for shooting and Malik Beasley will be a free agent. The Grizzlies don’t have money and might get outbid with their taxpayer mid-level given how well Beasley shot last year, but that should be the starting point in their free agent search for more spacing.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Aaron Holiday

The real offseason target here is clarity on the ownership front, but on the court, I’d expect Minnesota to mostly run it back. I do think they’ll need to look at some point guard depth, as they’re heavily dependent on Mike Conley, who turns 37 in October. Perhaps Monte Morris returns, but if not, Aaron Holiday might be the best option at the vet min level. There’s the slimmest of chances they make a big change (and, as noted above, a couple teams should give it the old college try), but if the plan is to run it back, they’ll need to be very savvy (and lucky) about finding help on the vet min market.

New Orleans Pelicans: Darius Garland

I know the Cavs aren’t talking Garland trades just yet, but the Pelicans should be first in line there. I think he’d be a great fit for New Orleans, especially with the pace I think they want and need to play at to maximize Zion Williamson. This summer should be when they look to cash in some of their future firsts and the point guard trade market should present some real options. They also will probably call up the Hawks to see what they’re asking for Murray (and Young), but I like the Garland fit better for the Pelicans, although the asking price will be steep.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Isaiah Hartenstein

The Thunder need more size, that was pretty evident in their loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The good news is, they’ve got money to make that happen, and while they could be a landing spot for a number of big men, there’s already rumblings they could take a run at Hartenstein to pry him away from the Knicks. He would bring them a lot of what they need from rebounding to shot blocking to screening to rim-running. They have the cap space to make the Knicks flinch in a bidding war, and they won’t have to pay any of their young guys just yet, plus the cap’s about to go on a steady rise with the new TV deal anyway.

Phoenix Suns: Kris Dunn

The Suns, like some of these teams, are in cap hell and their only real recourse is to go after vet min guys. Aaron Holiday probably will be on their list as well, but I’ll go with Kris Dunn as the ideal point of attack defender for Phoenix. It’s possible Utah just pays Dunn and gives him a little more than the vet min to stay, but the Suns should be starting there and then working down the list of available point guards for someone that can dribble and defend.

Portland Trail Blazers: A 2025/26 First Round Pick

I tried to figure out a player for the Blazers for a long time and I have to be honest, I was struggling, as they’re one of the few teams in the Western Conference who should focus on developing their young core while their eyes are on the Cooper Flagg sweepstakes next season. I think they’ll be listening to offers on a handful of guys, but in the immediate, acquiring draft capital will be top of mind in any move they make. This team is still a ways away and still has to figure out what they have with young guys. As such, the focus should be making a move to bring back another first round pick for next year (or the year after). They added picks long into the future with the Damian Lillard trade, but I think they’ll explore ways to bolster their draft capital in the immediate this summer.

Sacramento Kings: Bruce Brown

The Kings took a small step back this year, but in the West, that’s enough to get overtaken by a bunch of teams. As such, I don’t think running it back can be the plan once again, and a shakeup might be needed. The Raptors should be shopping Bruce Brown and the Kings can offer some needed shooting in the form of Kevin Huerter, who might be a touch redundant on the Kings as currently constructed. Brown would give them some needed defensive versatility as well as some more playmaking alongside De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. I think Brown could be very fun with the Kings and if the goal is to bounce back into contention, he’s the exact kind of player Sacramento should be pursuing, even with the understanding the risk of Brown potentially being a one-year rental.

San Antonio Spurs: Trae Young

The Spurs should absolutely be swinging for the fences when it comes to their pursuit of a point guard this summer. I don’t think they should settle for an upgrade, and should only really be interested in parting with their treasure trove of picks for a legitimate star. Trae Young, while not a perfect player, is a legit star, and he and Victor Wembanyama would be an insanely fun duo. Wemby can’t be fully unlocked until he has a point guard that can get him the ball on time in his spots, and there’s not many (if any) in the league better at that than Young. Wembanyama can cover for some of Young’s defensive deficiencies, and to Young’s credit, he’s taken some strides on that end in terms of effort over the last year or two. Garland is the other intriguing name on the market, but beyond those two, I don’t think it’s worth it for the Spurs to take half measures here, and I would make Atlanta give me a firm no before considering other options.

Utah Jazz: Anfernee Simons

The Jazz could do anything this summer. They could continue selling to add more picks even though I don’t think they need any more. They could hold firm and eat up cap space by being a salary dump location. They could also try to make a splash and add a young player that could emerge as a star, which I don’t think would completely preclude them from still being at the top of the lottery next year. If I were Danny Ainge, I’d give Portland a call about Anfernee Simons to see what their asking price is, because Utah could really use an upgrade in the backcourt and Simons has some genuine longterm potential. I don’t think this is likely, but it’d make some sense for both sides.

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