The reality of today's NBA is that players no longer stay on one team. Players want to get paid, and NBA teams don't want overpay. That applies to NBA superstars, aging veterans and backups. Sometimes, those superstars get paid, but big-name players also leave for other teams and greener pastures. Here are four NBA stars that could be headed to new teams in 2016, and where they'll end up.
Joe Johnson to the Memphis Grizzlies
Johnson's massive contract ($24.9 million this year) has kept the Brooklyn Nets from progressing as a franchise, and it's a pretty safe bet that both sides will look for a clean start in 2016. Brooklyn will use that newfound salary cap space to try and go after some of the marquee free agents in this class while Johnson will try to catch on with a contender. The Grizzlies are a team that needs an offensive boost to get them through the West, so getting Johnson at a discounted price (if he's willing) seems like the most likely scenario.
Kobe Bryant & Pau Gasol to FC Barcelona
Before Lakers fans start freaking out, let me explain myself. Bryant's contract expires after the season, and he's indicated that he wants to retire after the season. However, he has also thrown around the idea of playing in Europe after this year to earn some extra money and extend his career. No NBA team is going to offer him anywhere near the $25 million he'll make in 2015-16, so if he does play somewhere else in the 2016-17 season, chances are that it will be in Spain or Italy.
His former teammate Pau Gasol, a native Spainard, also has his contract expiring after the season and has entertained the idea of teaming up with Bryant and returning to play in his home country for the last part of his career. Think of this as the aging soccer superstar moving to the MLS to make more money and extend his career.
Al Jefferson to the Los Angeles Lakers
Jefferson smartly opted-in to his last year of a three-year deal with Charlotte, allowing him to sign a much more lucrative contract in 2016. He'll do just that and go to the highest bidder, which won't be the small-market Hornets. Los Angeles is looking for any semblence of a capable center (Roy Hibbert is only under contract for one more year), and they'll likely throw a lot of money at Jefferson to get someone with his outstanding scoring ability.
Brandon Jennings to the Brooklyn Nets
Jennings is a shoot-first point guard that has fallen into NBA anonymity in Detroit, but is still one of the better point guards in the league. The Pistons plan to use a two point-guard system this year with him and Reggie Jackson. This probably won't work defensely, so as Jackson starts to see more playing time (Detroit have him a max deal this offseason), Jennings will turn his attention elsewhere.
Brooklyn will have plenty of cap space after Johnson's contract comes off the books a big need at the point guard position with Jarrett Jack - who's best suited as a sixth man - serving as their starter. Jennings would give them another much-needed scoring option next to Brook Lopez.Back to the NBA Newsfeed