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Buying or Selling Early 2023 NBA Offseason Rumors and Buzz

Greg Swartz

While most of the attention this time of the year is on the NBA playoffs, 14 teams are already getting started on their offseason.

From rosters that are destined for a shakeup, star players hitting free agency and others looking for a contract extension or potential exit, summer buzz is already heating up as outside temperatures rise.

It's time to sort through the latest rumors from the association, seeing which are worth buying and which we should sell ahead of a busy offseason.

Toronto Raptors Reportedly "Heading to a Breakup"

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After securing the fifth seed in the East last season, the Raptors fell to ninth and the play-in tournament this year only to get knocked out by the Chicago Bulls.

There's no way a Toronto team that features this much talent should have missed the playoffs, especially since they chose to be buyers at the deadline by adding Jakob Poeltl to a core of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, O.G. Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr.

It should come as no surprise that there are already rumors of a potential shakeup coming.

"I think everybody in the league knows that Toronto is going to be heading to a breakup," a league executive told Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com Friday. Both VanVleet and Trent Jr. can turn down player options this summer and become unrestricted free agents, joining Poeltl. Anunoby's name was thrown around quite a bit at the trade deadline, although Toronto reportedly refused an offer of three first-round picks from the Memphis Grizzlies, per ESPN's Zach Lowe.

There may not be a single untouchable player on the roster, even the 21-year-old Barnes. The Rookie of the Year in 2021-22 didn't make the leap most expected in Year 2, averaging the same amount of points (15.3) yet on far worse efficiency (49.2 percent shooting overall as a rookie compared to 45.6 percent as a sophomore).

This team needs more shot-makers and a true backup point guard to VanVleet, assuming he sticks around.

After such a disappointing season, a breakup feels inevitable.

Buy or Sell: Buy

Klay Thompson Expecting Max Contract from Warriors

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As the Warriors navigate Draymond Green's contract situation this summer, there's also pressure to offer Klay Thompson an extension with the veteran shooting guard heading into the final year of his deal.

Thompson is owed $43.2 million in 2023-24 in the last season of a five-year, $189 million contract that he signed in 2019. The 33-year-old apparently isn't interested in giving the Warriors any kind of discount, either.

"Thompson, I'm told, has an expectation that he would be rewarded with a new, max-level contract extension this offseason," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on NBA Countdown Saturday.

While Thompson can expect a max deal all he wants, there's just no way Golden State will want (or need) to give him one.

Averages of 21.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and a 41.2 percent mark from three are good but not max worthy. According to ProFitX.com, Thompson's real-time contract this season is valued at $27.5 million and is projected to drop to $19 million next year when he'll turn 34 in February.

Golden State is already in a world of financial hurt, with a roster and luxury tax bill that could rise north of $500 million next season, according to Wojnarowski.

The good news for the Warriors is that no other team is paying Thompson $40-plus million at this stage of his career. There's no need to extend the veteran guard, with the two sides more likely to go into unrestricted free agency in 2024 than give him a max deal now with so many other hefty salaries on the books.

Buy or Sell: Buy that Thompson expects a max deal, sell that he gets one.

Chicago Bulls Not Interested in a Rebuild

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Despite winning their first play-in game against the Toronto Raptors, a loss to the Miami Heat in the second round of the tournament ended the Bulls' season without an official playoff appearance.

Chicago appears stuck in the dreaded middle of the NBA pack and will almost certainly lose its 2023 first-round pick to the Orlando Magic (top-4 protected). Starting point guard Lonzo Ball, who missed the entire 2022-23 season following knee surgeries, recently underwent a third surgery and could miss the 2023-24 campaign as well.

Starting center Nikola Vučević is an unrestricted free agent, with reserve guard Coby White becoming a restricted free agent as well.

Despite everything stacked against them, executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas apparently isn't interested in rebuilding.

"That's been thrown around all this season," Karnišovas said Sunday. "Blow up, rebuild. It's not on our minds.

While Karnišovas initially ruled out a rebuild, he would go on to state that all options for improvement would be on the table.

"At the end of the day, to be a .500 team is not good enough. It's not good enough for this organization. It's not good enough for the fan base. They deserve better," he said. "So, I'm going to have to look at everything. How I can help this group to do better? We have to move forward. I'll be open to anything."

If the Bulls did decide to trade veterans like Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and others and rebuild, Chicago owns its first-round pick and the Portland Trail Blazers' top-14-protected first-round pick in 2024 with a top-10 first-rounder owed in 2025 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Ball's knee issues have derailed what could have been one of the better teams in the East. With DeRozan set to turn 34 in August and entering the last year of his deal, the Bulls should heavily consider pulling the plug on this roster.

Buy or Sell: Sell that Chicago has ruled out a rebuild just yet.

Damian Lillard States This Is "Most Important Offseason" of Trail Blazers Career

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The Portland Trail Blazers were arguably the most disappointing team in the NBA this season.

Even after trading for Jerami Grant, re-signing Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkić and selecting Shaedon Sharpe with the seventh overall pick, the Blazers still finished 13th in the 15-team Western Conference.

Of course, this will only lead to more speculation about star guard Damian Lillard's future.

As Lillard told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith Wednesday on NBA in Stephen A's World, "I think this is our most important offseason since I've been here."

Portland will have another top pick in the draft, one that has a 10.5 percent chance of landing at No. 1 overall, per Tankathon.com. The team will likely need to re-sign Grant, however, as the 29-year-old forward will be one of the most sought-after free agents after averaging 20.5 points on a career-high 40.1 percent from three.

A divorce may be what's best for everyone, although neither side seems interested in one just yet.

"I ain't gonna say I'm putting them on the clock. I'm just saying if those things can't be done—if we can't do something significant like that—then we won't have a chance to compete on that level. And then, not only will I have a decision to make, but I think the organization will, too," Lillard said.

A lot will depend on the May 16th draft lottery and where Portland ultimately lands. While Lillard may prefer to be surrounded by veterans, getting a talent like Victor Wembanyama would go a long way in convincing him to want to stay.

Lillard is right. This is the most important offseason for the Blazers since he arrived in 2012.

Portland hopes it isn't also his last.

Buy or Sell: Buy. All options appear to be on the table for Lillard and the Blazers.

Mavericks Optimistic That Kyrie Irving Will Re-Sign

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Kyrie Irving's free agency will be one of the most interesting storylines of the NBA offseason.

Following a trade to the Dallas Mavericks, even Irving's strong play (27.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 51.0 percent shooting) wasn't even to help prevent the Mavs' freefall to the 11th seed in the West.

After playing for four teams over the past seven years, Irving will now be an unrestricted free agent this summer and can choose his next destination.

Mavericks GM Nico Harrison hopes and believes he'll stay in Dallas.

"I think the things that he said along the way about how he feels here, how he feels appreciated, how he feels accepted and allowed to be himself—those are the things that he said kind of consistently," Harrison said after meeting with Irving on Tuesday. "That's what gives me the optimism that he wants to be here."

Dallas has no choice but to re-sign Irving after what they had to give up to acquire him. However, there should obviously be hesitation about the number of years and final dollar amount, given the way his last few seasons have played out. According to ProFitX.com, Irving's real-time contract this season was valued at $38.2 million, up from his actual $36.6 million number.

If Irving wants to play on a max or near-max deal, the Mavs look like his best option as well. The teams with the most projected cap space (Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs) are all years away from being title or even playoff contenders.

Irving and the Mavericks appear destined to run it back, at least for next year.

Buy or Sell: Buy. If Irving wants to get paid and win, there isn't a better option.


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