HOUSTON — The offseason is in full-swing with less than a month to go before the NBA Draft, and the biggest dominoes are already piling up for player movement
In a Monday edition of the Locked On NBA podcast, host Nick Angstadt was joined by Locked On NBA insider Howard Beck to give predictions on how the biggest moves play out this summer.
James Harden has been connected with a return to the Houston Rockets as far back as Christmas Day, but the former MVP going back to Texas would represent a clear step back in the caliber of team he is leading.
“If he’s going back to Houston he’s basically saying he doesn’t care about winning titles, so I’m going to say not a lock,” Beck explained.
After a sweep in the Western Conference Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers appear likely to pursue additional star talent on the open market, with All-Star Kyrie Irving the most likely target - although Beck doesn't see it.
“Kyrie to the Lakers made sense a year ago, Kyrie to the Lakers does not make sense now,” Beck said. “I think he stays with the Mavericks.”
In Portland, Damian Lillard finally appears open to another situation if the Trail Blazers cannot or do not load up the roster around him with the talent to chase a championship again. They hold the third overall pick in the NBA Draft and could look to trade it and finally go all-in around Lillard for a season.
“This is the year it happens,” Beck voted. “The Blazers are trading the third pick.”
Back in the Eastern Conference, All-Star Zach LaVine could once again be available after signing an extension with Chicago last summer but taking a step back statistically as he dealt with knee soreness all season. The Bulls are in flux, with multiple key players hitting free agency and young guard Lonzo Ball out for over a year with significant lower body injuries.
Beck does not expect Chicago to move LaVine.
“The Bulls have never seemed like they have the appetite, once they picked this direction … to try anything else,” he said.
For more NBA offseason predictions, check out the Locked on NBA podcast!