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Fresh Landing Spots for NBA Stars

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Buckle up.

As the NBA offseason grows near, there’s momentum building towards the 2024 summer being one with continuous movement of NBA stars. While there’s obvious landing spots for potentially available star players, there are some teams that could enter the fray and make a big splash this summer.

Let’s see who might be on the move.

Donovan Mitchell

It wouldn’t be an NBA offseason without constant conversations about finding a new home for Donovan Mitchell.

This summer provides the Cleveland Cavaliers with their last chance to move Mitchell before his upcoming unrestricted free agency in 2025.

Any and all conversations regarding a Mitchell trade will revolve around a return home to New York to create a star pairing in the Knicks’ backcourt alongside Jalen Brunson.

The Miami Heat will also certainly be in play for Mitchell given their earlier-than-usual postseason exit. The Heat could entice Cleveland with the young talent on their roster including Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic.

While New York and Miami are likely at the top of Mitchell’s wish list, there’s another team out there that could make a more enticing offer to Cleveland and provide a better basketball fit for Mitchell.

After getting swept in the first round, the New Orleans Pelicans could be looking to shake things up. Forming a star duo of Mitchell and Zion Williamson could catapult the Pelicans to the top tier of the stacked Western Conference. With Brandon Ingram, Trey Murphy, Jordan Hawkins and more, the Pelicans have more than enough assets to elevate themselves to the top of the Mitchell sweepstakes.

Landing Spot: New Orleans Pelicans

Brandon Ingram

By his own admission, the 2023-24 season was a disappointing one for Brandon Ingram.

His struggles began in the 2023 FIBA World Cup and lingered throughout the NBA regular season and playoffs, as Ingram never quite looked like the player we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in recent years. The Pelicans could view the 2024 summer as an opportunity to move Ingram and begin to retool around Zion Williamson.

There are many teams throughout the league that could enter the Ingram sweepstakes, should the former All-Star become available. If the aforementioned Mitchell trade materializes, the Cavaliers become a potential destination for Ingram. The Philadelphia 76ers could emerge as an Ingram suitor in an attempt to form an impressive trio of Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Ingram.

In addition to the Cavaliers and Sixers, there will be many teams around the league that check in with New Orleans regarding Ingram. One team that could enter the fray is the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks package would likely start with Dejounte Murray, as it appears the split-up of Murray and Trae Young is inevitable. The Pelicans could pair Murray with Williamson, while Atlanta could build around a core of Young, Ingram, Jalen Johnson and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Landing Spot: Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young

When the Hawks jumped nine spots in the lottery to acquire the first overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, they instantly became one of the most scintillating teams to watch this offseason.

Atlanta has many paths they could take this summer, including moving on from Trae Young. After a miraculous Eastern Conference Finals run in the 2020-21 season, the Hawks have a combined record of 120-126 in the three seasons since. There will likely be some serious consideration within Atlanta’s front office to blow it all up and move on from their polarizing franchise player.

If Young becomes available this off-season, there are several teams that could be interested in acquiring the three-time All-Star. There will certainly be conversations about pairing Young with French phenom Victor Wembanyama in San Antonio. Additionally, the Los Angeles Lakers will likely be in the market for a third star to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Although the Spurs and Lakers represent very intriguing landing spots, there is an emerging Eastern Conference contender that could swoop in for Young.

While the Orlando Magic’s 2023-24 season ended in heartbreaking fashion — losing in Game 7 of the first round to the Cleveland Cavaliers — the future is incredibly bright for this Magic team.

Orlando has the assets to make a big move, with young talent in Anthony Black and Jett Howard, as well as extensive draft capital. It’s abundantly clear that the Magic need to add both shooting and play-making to their young core of Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs. They can check off both of those boxes with a trade for Trae Young.

Landing Spot: Orlando Magic

Jimmy Butler

In the last few years, Jimmy Butler has turned himself into a Miami Heat icon.

A constant playoff riser, Butler has been front and center of the two NBA Finals runs that the Heat have made in 2020 and 2023. At 34 years old and approaching a lofty contract extension, however, there is a real possibility that Miami moves on from the face of their franchise.

If Butler were to become available, the team trading for him would have to be willing to part with significant assets. They would also have to ink him to a potentially two-year, $113 million max contract extension.

There would likely be a shortlist of the teams that are willing and able to enter the Butler trade market. The most obvious landing spot for Butler would be a reunion with Joel Embiid and the 76ers. The Sixers could right their previous wrong of letting Butler go and put themselves into position to make their first Eastern Conference Finals run with Embiid.

While Butler’s path to Philadelphia is the easiest to envision, there is another, more surprising path that could land Butler on a team with championship pedigree.

Injuries to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard softened the blow on what was an incredibly disappointing first season of the star duo. The Bucks could pair up Butler with Lillard as Miami envisioned this past off-season to join forces with one of the greatest players in the game today in Giannis.

The Bucks could send out a combination of quality veteran players including Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis, along with a combination of young talent such as Andre Jackson Jr. and MarJon Beauchamp, and draft capital. Miami could re-tool around Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Jaime Jaquez, Nikola Jovic and the players received via a Butler trade, while the Bucks could make a serious push for their second title in the Giannis era.

Landing Spot: Milwaukee Bucks

Lauri Markkanen

Utah Jazz executive Danny Ainge is no stranger to trading away star players.

In his time with Utah, he has already moved on from Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. In the Mitchell trade, he acquired who would later turn out to be the Jazz franchise player— Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen has thrived in Utah, but the organization’s focus on the future could lead to another Ainge blockbuster.

There would be countless suitors vying to acquire Markkanen should he become available. The Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic are a few teams that could certainly have interest. Realistically, almost any NBA team could convince themselves that they could use a seven-footer coming off of a 2023-24 season where he averaged 23.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game on near 50/40/90 shooting splits.

While there are many teams out there that could enter the Markkanen sweepstakes, there’s one unsuspecting team that could emerge victorious. One of the top storylines this offseason is going to be what big move the San Antonio Spurs make as Victor Wembanyama begins his sophomore campaign.

Although most of these conversations will involve pairing Wemby with a star point guard, the Spurs could instead build a dominant front-court paring with Markkanen. The Spurs have countless assets to offer Utah including the fourth and eighth overall picks in the 2024 NBA Draft as well as young talent in Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell. The duo of Wembanyama and Markkanen would be an incredibly interesting fit and could wreak havoc on the Western Conference.

Landing Spot: San Antonio Spurs

About Max Yellin

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