If the following teams struggle during the 2018-19 NBA season, it may lead them to make wholesale changes to their roster.
The long-term fate of certain NBA teams may depend on how they fare during the 2018-19 season.
There’s only so many times a team can keep running back the same core without getting decidedly different results. Just ask the mid-2010s Los Angeles Clippers, whose Big Three of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan broke apart over a 12-month span after repeated playoff shortcomings.
Another first-round playoff exit or trip to the lottery dais could force a handful of teams to reevaluate whether they can win as currently constructed. If not, they could decide to ship out one or more of their top players — see: the Toronto Raptors this summer — either to extend their win-now windows or jump-start a rebuild.
Other teams, meanwhile, already may have an eye on 2019 free agency. For those with superstars who figure to be highly coveted next summer, they have less than 10 months to convince those players to stay put. A slow start to the season might force them to consider whether to shop those superstars ahead of the trade deadline rather than risk losing them for nothing next July.
Not every team will enter the 2018-19 season with championship aspirations. For some, a 50-win campaign and respectable playoff outing will qualify as a successful year. But if the following five teams fall short of expectations, they could make drastic moves either at the February trade deadline or next summer.