- Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have been a playoff team every year for the past 6 seasons after the team drafted star power forward Blake Griffin in 2009 NBA draft and traded for star point guard Chris Paul in 2011. Now, the Clippers are in serious danger of losing their two top players this offseason as they have already lost Chris Paul and that makes it even likelier that Griffin will sign elsewhere. Los Angeles would barely be a playoff team even if they retain Griffin, but if they lose him then it could be devastating for the Clippers. The Clippers appear on their way to a somewhat lengthy rebuild after trading away Chris Paul and they are in a position that they might not even make the playoffs next season.
2. Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta was one of the top teams in the NBA just two seasons ago in 2014 when they had the best record in the eastern conference with 60 wins. Also, the Hawks haven’t missed the playoffs since the 2006 season. However, this is a team clearly on the decline as they have traded away Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, and Dwight Howard all within the past year. Paul Millsap was the player that made the Hawks a playoff team last season without much talent around him, but Atlanta is in danger of losing him in free agency this offseason. If Millsap leaves in free agency then the Hawks probably wouldn’t be a playoff team because there just isn’t much talent left on their roster. Point Guard Dennis Schroder has emerged as the franchise player for the Hawks moving forward, but if Millsap leaves then there will literally won’t be much talent on the roster at all. Atlanta has been getting rid of their key veteran players the past few years and now the Hawks are clearly a decline and it appears that they are faced with a lengthy rebuild.
3. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls already showed that they are moving in a different direction after they traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves during the draft. Chicago still has Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo on their roster, but they probably won’t be enough to be able to lead the Bulls to the playoffs anytime soon. Chicago has some very talented young players with Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, and Lauri Markkanen, although none of those guys are going to make this a good team immediately. Chicago probably won’t make the playoffs for the next couple of years, yet they have some good young talent that they can build around for the future even though it might take a few years to get their team back on the right track.
4. Indiana Pacers
Indiana is in an extremely tough situation right now because they are certainly a playoff team heading into next season as they are currently constructed. However, starting point guard Jeff Teague is a free agent this offseason and it would be a big loss if he were to leave. Also, the Pacers star player Paul George has expressed his intent to leave Indiana once he becomes a free agent after next season. The Pacers would probably receive a lot in return for Paul George if they trade him soon, but it would still put the team into a rebuilding situation where they probably wouldn’t be a competitive team for a few years. Indiana is still a playoff team as of right now, but if Teague and George leave soon as expected then this is clearly a team on the decline.
5. Toronto Raptors
This is a big offseason to say the least for Toronto as they could lose both Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka in free agency. Toronto might still be a borderline playoff team without those guys as they will still have DeMar DeRozan on their roster. However, the Raptors wouldn’t be one of the top teams in the eastern conference like they have been the past couple of seasons. We’ll see what happens for the Raptors in free agency, but this is a team that will probably lose at least one of their really key players and that would be devastating for a team that is already showing signs of decline.