Following a regular season without a truly dominant team and a new collective bargaining agreement that makes it more difficult to spend money largely without impunity, the 2023-24 NBA calendar could turn into a free-for-all in terms of player movement.
On Monday's episode of The Lowe Post podcast (h/t RealGM), ESPN's Zach Lowe explained what the next year in the league could look like:
"This is all prelude to I think the next year in the NBA could be an unbelievable period of superstar and star player movement because you've just got a lot of sort of roiling situations. You have one year left before the really harsh trade rules kick into place after the 2023-24 season where teams over the second apron, like the Clippers, for instance, cannot even aggregate salaries. They can't add up money to bring in a big money player. That's starting after next season."
The rumblings about significant changes to some of the top teams as soon as this summer have already started.
Giannis Antetokounmpo only has two more guaranteed years left on his contract. The Milwaukee Bucks are looking for a new head coach after becoming just the fifth No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 8 seed in the first round of the playoffs.
If the Bucks have an early playoff exit again next season, Antetokounmpo's future could become a massive topic.
Immediately after the Golden State Warriors lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals, the futures for Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole were called into question.
Per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the Warriors are "privately optimistic" about retaining Green if he opts out of his deal and Thompson "still has strong internal support" despite a $43 million expiring salary next season.
The whispers about James Harden potentially returning to the Houston Rockets will only get louder after the Philadelphia 76ers flamed out in the second round of the playoffs.
ESPN's Tim MacMahon said on Lowe's podcast the Rockets "think he's coming," regarding Harden.
Joel Embiid seems unlikely to be moved in the immediate future after another playoff disappointment, but Zach Braziller of the New York Post reported last week there are at least "whispers" the reigning NBA MVP could seek a way out of Philadelphia if Harden leaves.
The Chicago Bulls have to start making decisions about their long-term future.
When the NBA and NBPA agreed to a new seven-year collective bargaining agreement, a lot of attention was paid to the limited roster flexibility for teams that exceed the second tax apron (roughly $17.5 million over the luxury tax).
Clubs that fall into the category won't have a taxpayer mid-level exception, nor are they allowed to sign any players on the buyout market.
The NBA has been a year-to-year league for a long time anyway, but it sounds like superstar movement could be even more prevalent.