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Michael Conroy/Associated Press
The NBA bubble boasts far more than just basketball.
As teams share hotels, there’s been plenty of time for players to fish, golf and possibly talk about future plans.
“The next superteam will come out of this,” one NBA coach told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “I believe it’s inevitable.”
While players can contact each other at any time (in a bubble or not), never before have this many teams been so close together with so much down time.
The Olympics have served as an opportunity for players on opposing teams to develop bonds and plan future team-ups. But while an Olympic team features only 12 players, there are well over 300 currently packed together at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
That kind of proximity could lead to some newly formed superteams in the next few years, either via free agency or trade requests.
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Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press
New Superteam Lineup: PG Damian Lillard, SG CJ McCollum, SF DeMar DeRozan, PF Paul Millsap, C Jusuf Nurkic
The Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs happen to be sharing the Yacht Club Resort at Walt Disney World, but they’re headed in separate directions while fighting for the eighth seed in the West.
While Portland is getting Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back from injuries, the Spurs will be without LaMarcus Aldridge as he recovers from shoulder surgery. That makes DeRozan the primary option for a sinking San Antonio team, a role he shouldn’t have to be playing.
Even though the Blazers are getting two starters back, they’re still thin on the wing. Presumptive starting small forward Carmelo Anthony is 36 and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. To compete in the West, Portland may need some more star power.
It shouldn’t be hard for the Blazers to convince DeRozan to come to Portland. The four-time All-Star controls his future with a $27.7 million player option for the 2020-21 season, and he may prefer to join a win-now squad like Portland with a gaping hole at small forward.
DeRozan could give the Spurs an ultimatum: Work out a trade with the Blazers, or I’m walking away for nothing in free agency.
A package of Collins, Trevor Ariza, Rodney Hood (player option) and Nassir Little would be a nice mix of veteran and young talent for the Spurs to take back, giving them some building blocks if they enter a rebuild or potential starters for another playoff run.
If DeRozan finds his way to Portland, the Blazers will still need a starting power forward with Collins gone. Shooting is a must around DeRozan and Nurkic, and the Blazers would be limited to their mid-level exception in free agency.
An ideal target? Paul Millsap, who is shooting a career-high 44.0 percent from three this season and could be willing to take a discount coming off a three-year, $90 million deal.
The Blazers would go from a potential eighth seed to one of the West’s best teams next season.
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Matt York/Associated Press
New Superteam Lineup: PG Jrue Holiday, SG Devin Booker, SF Brandon Ingram, PF Zion Williamson, C Derrick Favors
Lost in the buzz surrounding Zion Williamson in New Orleans this season is how many draft picks and how much other young talent the Pelicans have saved for future trades.
Among the Pelicans’ neighbors at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort? The Phoenix Suns.
The Suns and Pelicans are both battling for the final playoff spot in the West, although with very different odds. New Orleans’ starters have registered the best net rating of any bubble team (plus-26.3 in 230 minutes), while the 26-39 Suns trail the Memphis Grizzlies by six games with only eight games to play.
If Phoenix misses the playoffs, it will mark a decade straight of lottery trips. Williamson, Brandon Ingram and the rest of the Pelicans should kindly remind Booker about that. While Booker is under contract until 2024, he wouldn’t be the first star in recent years to force a trade.
If Phoenix gives in