Two months remain until the start of the 2023-24 regular season, and Fantasy basketball players are starting to focus on preparing for this year's drafts. While a few storylines have already been resolved, several stories continue to develop and are worth monitoring in the weeks leading up to Fantasy drafts.
James Harden trade request
One story that has continued to develop is Harden's ongoing trade request. The 33-year-old exercised his player option in late June with the intention of working with the 76ers to find a trade partner. Harden initially hoped to be traded to the Clippers, but no deal has materialized, and the 76ers recently indicated that trade talks have ended. The team said it plans to have him back for the start of training camp, but he previously stated that he doesn't plan to report to camp if he remains in Philadelphia. Harden is still an elite Fantasy option and has averaged a double-double in three consecutive seasons. As long as he's on the court for the start of the 2023-24 campaign, he should play a prominent role, regardless of the uniform he's wearing.
Damian Lillard requests trade to Miami
Another player with a single-team trade request is Lillard, who wants to be dealt to the Heat. His deal seems more likely to come to fruition. He contemplated his role with the Trail Blazers during the offseason, deciding he doesn't want to be part of a rebuild, especially after the team drafted Scoot Henderson at No. 2 overall. Due to the specific nature of Lillard's request, the two sides have been able to go back and forth while discussing compensation. A few other teams have expressed interest in getting in on trade talks, so even if the deal with Miami falls through at some point, Lillard will probably be able to find a new home.
Bradley Beal shipped to Suns
Beal played a leading role with the Wizards over his first 11 seasons in the NBA but will have a change of scenery for the 2023-24 campaign after being traded to Phoenix in June. The 30-year-old averaged 25.6 points, 5.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 35.6 minutes per game over the last seven seasons. Some of his stats may decline this season now that he'll be playing alongside a star-studded lineup that includes Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.
Kristaps Porzingis traded to Boston
Porzingis has made headlines for a few reasons this offseason. The first was when he was traded from Washington to Boston in June before agreeing to a two-year contract extension. Porzingis' talent hasn't been questioned throughout his career. He's averaged over 20.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in four consecutive seasons. However, his biggest downfall has been his health. His 65 games played last year marked the first time he topped 60 games in a season since the 2016-17 campaign. The 28-year-old is already dealing with an injury with his new club, as he recently announced that he'll miss the FIBA World Cup due to plantar fasciitis. Porzingis is expected to be ready for the start of training camp following a 4-6 week recovery program, but it's somewhat concerning that he's already dealing with injury concerns during the offseason.
Jordan Poole dealt to Washington
The Wizards' return when they traded Chris Paul to the Warriors was Jordan Poole, who has shown steady improvement over his first four NBA seasons. Poole started in 43 of his 82 appearances with Golden State last year and averaged a career-high 20.4 points and 4.5 assists in 30.0 minutes per game. The Wizards also traded Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis during the offseason, so Poole should be able to step into a leading role with his new team, making him an intriguing Fantasy option.
Ja Morant suspended 25 games
The Grizzlies suspended Ja Morant from team activities indefinitely in mid-May while investigating an incident where he appeared to flash a gun on Instagram Live -- the second such occurrence within the last year. The league ruled on the situation following the NBA Finals and suspended Morant for 25 games to begin the 2023-24 season. While Morant should be a solid Fantasy asset if he can remain on the court upon his return, managers must stomach the fact that he'll miss nearly one-third of the season.
Chris Paul traded to Warriors
Chris Paul has largely evaded Father Time as he enters the twilight years of his career, but his scoring production took a hit during his third season in Phoenix. Over 59 games last year, he averaged 13.9 points, the lowest mark of his career. He supplemented his production with 8.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game, but the Suns were ready to move on during the offseason. It initially looked like he'd be waived, but he was traded to Washington before being rerouted to the Warriors. Whether Paul will have a starting role with his new team remains to be seen, but he should be able to complement Stephen Curry's play style nicely.
Chet Holmgren returns for Summer League
Holmgren missed his entire rookie season due to a foot injury. He returned to action during this year's Summer League play in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Over four Summer League appearances, the lanky big averaged 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in 29.8 minutes per game. He's also practiced with Team USA recently, further signaling that he's fully healthy. Holmgren should immediately have a prominent role for an up-and-coming Thunder squad. Fantasy managers should feel comfortable taking him in the middle rounds of drafts.
Wembanyama drafted by San Antonio at No. 1 overall
Although Victor Wembanyama going to the Spurs with the top pick in the draft wasn't surprising, it's still a Fantasy-relevant one. The 19-year-old played in just two Summer League games to manage his workload. He was productive over a limited sample, averaging 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in 27.2 minutes per game. Even in redraft leagues, Fantasy managers who want Wembanyama will need to select him in the first few rounds of drafts. He appears poised to make an immediate impact in the NBA.
Malcolm Brogdon trade falls through due to injury
Though Malcolm Brogdon won Sixth Man of the Year during his first season in Boston last year, he was on track to be moved during the offseason. However, a trade with the Clippers fell through due to concerns over a partial tear in his elbow/forearm. While Brogdon was initially considering offseason surgery to address the issue, that speculation has been quiet over the past few months, making it increasingly likely that he'll be able to avoid a procedure. It's unclear how much of an impact he'll have early in the 2023-24 campaign. Brogdon has dealt with various injuries in the past, and Fantasy managers drafting him will be taking a risk, especially until an update on his health is provided.
Bucks' stars undergo knee procedures
The storyline of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton undergoing knee procedures early in the offseason would likely be closer to a non-story if Antetokounmpo were playing in the FIBA World Cup. The Bucks still don't seem too concerned about either player's availability for the start of the regular season, especially since Middleton signed a three-year, $102 million contract with the team in late June. While it still seems likely that both players are ready for the 2023-24 campaign, their status is worth monitoring ahead of Fantasy drafts.