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What’s Next For Each NBA First Round Loser

For eight of the thirty NBA teams, the offseason has officially started after an early exit in the first round. Some losses were expected and could start a rebuilding phase while others came as a surprise and may lead to major all-in trades.

Here’s a look at the next potential step for each of these eight teams.

The Washington Wizards looked outmatched all series long against the top seeded Philadelphia 76ers. Superstar Bradley Beal was in trade rumors all season long and it may be time for the Wizards front office to move on and start a rebuild.

Beal has two years left on his contract with the last one being a player option. After averaging over 31 points per game this season, Beal’s value should still be sky high and would be a great way to start a rebuilding phase.

This was an unexpected run for the New York Knicks which ended in a disappointing series loss to the Atlanta Hawks in five games. After only posting 18 points per game and shooting less than 30% from the field, Julius Randle showed that he may not be a number one option on a contender even after his first All Star appearance this season.

Upgrading the guard position could be crucial for the Knicks and Chris Paul or Lonzo Ball would be great fits. Neither would be a number one option but both are great ball distributors who could help Randle or even R.J Barrett turn into that true top option.

Formerly Eastern Conference Champions, the Miami Heat couldn’t even pick up a win against the Milwaukee Bucks during their matchup in these playoffs. The Heat are in an interesting spot as they have the cap space to go out and sign the best available player in free agency which could end up being Kawhi Leonard.

Young players such as Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson could be used as trade chips to trade for someone such as the previously mentioned Bradley Beal.

Now for the most interesting Eastern Conference team, the Boston Celtics have already made fireworks after losing to the Brooklyn Nets. Former head coach Brad Stevens is moving into the front office and will now be in charge of hiring his replacement.

Despite being the seventh seed in these playoffs, the Celtics still have Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to build around and will hopefully have a healthy Kemba Walker for an entire season next year. Reloading with some quality role players could be the best move for the Celtics as they look to start a new era starting with a new head coach.

Moving into the Western Conference, Memphis Grizzlies fans have a lot to look forward to after battling hard with the top seeded Utah Jazz losing in five games.

Both Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks are great building blocks for the future and Jaren Jackson Jr. should be healthy for a full season. The Grizzlies aren’t paying anyone big money so getting a star playmaker, preferably a forward, in free agency would be the best move.

Similar to the Grizzlies, the Dallas Mavericks are another young team that nearly beat the Los Angeles Clippers in their matchup but lost in seven games.

Luka Doncic is already a rising star but the big question is whether or not Kristaps Porzingis will be the co-star for Doncic for the future. Solving the Porzingis issue should be the number one concern for the Mavs but alongside that, there is space to add another star in free agency.

In one of the more entertaining series during these playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Denver Nuggets in six games. While Damian Lillard played out of his mind during the series, the rest of the roster was questionable at times.

With limited cap space to add a big name in free agency, the Blazers can either go all-in on a player such as Karl-Anthony Towns or trade both Lillard and CJ McCollum to start fresh. Lillard has four years left on his contract so it would take a lot to move on from him but given the right offer that would be the move of the offseason.

Closing out with the most recent NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns in six games marking the first time LeBron James lost a first round series. The Lakers are going to have major questions at guard.

Dennis Schroder will be a free agent and he only averaged 14 points having one of the worst playoff series of his career. While giving Schroder a second chance could be an option, going after the previously mentioned Damilan Lillard or Chris Paul would put the Lakers back in championship contention.

Logan Bourandas is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

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