WE are just a few hours away from the start of another crazy free agency period. When it ticks over to midnight and we roll into July, teams and players can officially negotiate new contracts. Of course, some of the biggest names in the game are up for grabs this offseason, which could lead to a seismic shift of power in the league.
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LET’S start off with a fairly easy one. Kevin Durant declined his player option yes, but there is no way he isn’t going back to Golden State. He would be leaving a perfect championship team that is likely to keep all of its core intact for at least another season. Regardless of the contract that he chooses, he’ll be back for another run at the title in 2018-19. After that, well that might be a different story.
AMID speculation that Durant wants a team of his own, there is doubt about his commitment after next season. With (potentially) three title to his name at this time next year, he might opt to join the Knicks, Bulls or Heat to try finish his legacy scoring a shit load of buckets in the bright lights of a stellar franchise/city. Either way, he will stay in the Bay for the next season making the Warriors, once again, undeniable favourites to complete a three-peat.
VERDICT: Re-signs with the Golden State Warriors
JUST quietly, Chris Paul returning to Houston isn’t signed sealed and delivered. I have no doubt that he will be exploring his options and he could potentially join LeBron and his other ‘Banana Boat’ buddy Dwyane Wade at a team of their choosing. Imagine if the trio ventured to the Lakers and were able to complete the quartet by getting Melo in the future. Fairytale ending?
Image from si.com
THAT being said, staying in Houston might be his best chance to finally become a champion. They need to bring the band back and obviously, his health will be a massive factor. Morey can add a few smart bits to their core of CP3, Harden and Capela, or even better land a big fish in Paul George or LeBron. Either way, taking the big payday while remaining with a contender fits Paul’s needs to a tee right now.
VERDICT: Re-signs with the Houston Rockets
DEMARCUS Cousins has flown slightly under the radar this summer with his free agency peers dictating the headlines. When he’s clicking Boogie is arguably the best big man in the league, but his dodgy Achilles is a topic of hot debate. Paying him a max contract is a risk considering his injury and it will be interesting to monitor his suitors this offseason.
WITH DeAndre Jordan apparently on Dallas’ radar, Cousins might not find the big contract out there that he wants. If he is going to get such a deal though then the New Orleans Pelicans are the ones who will probably pay him. He could be forced to take a one-year prove it deal from someone as well, but at this stage, I think NOLA will take the risk and give him the dough.
VERDICT: Re-signs with the New Orleans Pelicans
NOW things start to get interesting. Rumours are swirling in the past few days about Paul George considering a return to the Thunder. Apparently, George thinks he stands a better chance of winning there, despite being linked to the purple and gold for close to two years. Other players decisions might also dictate what George decides to do and it’s hard to rule anything out yet.
EVEN though these rumours are reporting that George is thinking about reuniting with Russell Westbrook, I’m not buying it. For years he has talked about how he wants to play for Los Angeles and fulfil a boyhood dream in the process. Not only can he do that and get paid a boatload of money, his signature with Magic and the Lakers could see other stars follow his lead…
VERDICT: Signs with the Los Angeles Lakers
THIS hurts. As a Cavaliers fan, I want to see LeBron stay in town and commit long-term to the Cleveland franchise. If I get annoyed at Dan Gilbert and co though I can only imagine how much shit James has to put up with and to be honest he did what he promised. He told us that he was going to bring a championship to the city and lo and behold he delivered.
Image from time.com
AT this point in his career his decision will commence the final chapter of his NBA career and every man, woman and dog have their own opinion on what they think LeBron is doing/thinking. I’m no different. I would be shocked, SHOCKED if LeBron committed to anywhere other than the Los Angeles Lakers next year. If he heads to the sunny coastlines of California it’s only a matter of time before the cavalry arrives. Whether that is in the form of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, heck even someone like DeMar DeRozan. With LeBron in town, nothing is impossible. Thanks for the memories LBJ.
VERDICT: Signs with the Los Angeles Lakers
5 Burning Questions
1. After shunning them in 2015 is DeAndre Jordan finally Dallas bound?
INFAMOUSLY the last time DeAndre Jordan was a free agent he was linked to the Dallas Mavericks too. He turned his back on a four-year $80 million dollar offer last time around and he could attract a similar offer this time too. If the Mavs avoid the other big men on the table and DeAndre really is their man then it seems to already be a done deal.
2. Who is going to pay Jabari Parker?…
SOME will be scared off by his ACL complaints, but Jabari Parker is still young and full of upside. The scoring forward has had some troublesome times at the Bucks ever since they drafted him second overall in 2014. He started to hit his stride late in the season once he was back at full health and is capable of being a 20 PPG scorer. Don’t rule out the Kings or Suns fast forwarding their rebuild by offering him a boatload of money.
Image from watchbasketballvideos.com
3…and which RFA’s will get a max deal?
SPEAKING of money a few restricted free agents are about to become very rich basketballers. Players like Clint Capela, Kyle Anderson, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Zach LaVine and the aforementioned Jabari Parker are all going to draw interest from rival clubs. A big offer sheet to try and pry one of them away could be coming and my guess is at least two of them will be at a new team next season.
4. Who will get a one-year payday?
LAST year we saw the birth of the one-year ‘cap filler’ contract. J.J. Reddick ($23mil) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($17.7mil). This year, once again they could be guns for hire, provide a scoring punch as a rental. There are a few other players such as Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley that fit the mould too. Watch this space.
5. Will the Spurs pull the trigger on a Kawhi Leonard trade?
EVEN though Kawhi wants out of San Antonio, the Spurs still hold all the power. They don’t have to trade their upset superstar, as he is still contracted for the upcoming season. However, they risk losing him for nothing at the end of next season if he really does want out. My guess would be a deal comes to fruition over the summer.
Don’t Sleep On
Nerlens Noel, Dallas Mavericks
SBF Free Agent Rank: 46
A fresh start is just what Nerlens Noel needs. After a tumultuous tenure in Dallas, Noel can still help a team and I think he will be coveted by a handful of teams. He could become the next Clint Capela emerging as a high energy guy off the bench. I’d love him in Cleveland if LeBron stays, but if not the Warriors and Wizards are nice fits.
Dante Exum, Utah Jazz
SBF Free Agent Rank: 36
WITH just 162 games under his belt in four seasons we clearly haven’t seen Dante Exum’s best yet. The combo guard is still a questionable shooter and if a team was chasing him it would have to be for the right price. Something around $7-$8 million a year seems fair with Miami, Utah and Orlando all interesting fits.
Isaiah Thomas, Los Angeles Lakers
SBF Free Agent Rank: 15
A few injury interrupted stints with the Cavaliers and the Lakers cost Isaiah Thomas a lot of money this year. He didn’t look anything like the lethal scoring threat that we saw evolve in Boston and he won’t likely be one of the first players signed when midnight strikes. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential upside with Thomas and in the right scenario (the Knicks are apparently interested) he could thrive again getting buckets.
Image from sportsnet.ca
Rajon Rondo, New Orleans Pelicans
SBF Free Agent Rank: 28
PERSONALLY, I still think Rondo has a lot to offer a team. He has been linked to a return with the Pelicans and while it seems likely there are others who will come calling. Orlando should make a place for the gifted playmaker, but like I said before he will probably still wear New Orleans’ colours unless anything new develops.
Rodney Hood, Cleveland Cavaliers
SBF Free Agent Rank: 27
RODNEY Hood’s future in Cleveland much like a lot of other players in the league hinge a lot of what LeBron decides to do. The young wing could be swept out of the Cavs hand with a healthy offer, even if they have the right to match any potential contract. If James leaves all of sudden that frees up a lot of touches for Hood to refind his mojo.
Brook Lopez, Los Angeles Lakers
SBF Free Agent Rank: 30
DON’T sleep on Brook Lopez taking a pay cut to sign with a contender. I don’t want to play the hypothetical game where Lopez becomes a Warrior, but to be honest staying in LA with a new super team is on the cards too. He rim protecting and floor stretching traits are coveted by all bigs in the league today making him a valuable free agent.
Avery Bradley, Los Angeles Clippers
SBF Free Agent Rank: 22
IF Avery Bradley can stay on the court for a good period of time then whoever signs him will have a bargain on their hands. He is a prototypical 3-and-D player who can be a starter on a championship calibre team. If a team with title aspirations doesn’t want him then Bradley can still help out a rebuilding organisation. He has been linked to the Grizzlies and emerges as a potential mid-level exception target.