We’re pretty close to the offseason as we have just four teams left in the NBA playoffs. So with that in mind it’s time to start looking at some offseason stuff. I know I’ve been blogging a lot about the Draft, because, well I love the Draft. The other thing I love is free agency. I enjoy watching how teams work around the cap, how they create space and who they target. Plus, the NBA is the best league in the world when it comes to social media and July is always awesome when you start getting WojBombs.
We’ll take a look at 14 of the most important decisions with one caveat. We won’t be looking at restricted free agents, but instead will focus on player option, team option and unrestricted free agents. It should be worth noting that the first and most important domino will be LeBron James. We’ll also look at some possible landing spots with current space cap availability, roster makeup, etc. Things can change with trades obviously, but we’ll take a look assuming they just sign.
LeBron James (player option) - As I mentioned he’s going to be the first domino to fall. Teams will likely wait to make a major move until LeBron makes his move. He’ll likely opt out of his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent with the ability to leave Cleveland again. LeBron continues to prove he’s currently the best player in the game and will be a target for any team if he leaves.
Possible Landing Spots: Cleveland, Philadelphia, Houston
Nikola Jokic (team option) - Nikola Jokic’s agent pretty much came out and said for the Nuggets to decline his team option and then pay him essentially a max deal. Jokic is currently on his rookie contract, with him expected to make just $1.6 million this year. That’s clearly a steal for someone like Jokic, who has turned into not only one of the best bigs in the league, but just one of the best young players. By declining the team option, the Nuggets can sign Jokic to a 5-year, $146 million deal, keeping the core of him/Murray/Harris together.
Possible Landing Spots: Denver
Kevin Durant (player option) - After taking a team friendly contract to help the Warriors resign guys like Iguodala and Livingston, it’s time to get Durant paid essentially what the market dictates he should. We’ve already heard rumors that Klay is going to sign a team friendly contract this offseason to help the Warriors in the long term and keep the core of him/Steph/Durant/Draymond together.
Possible Landing Spots: Golden State
Kevon Looney (unrestricted free agent) - I put Looney here because I think he’s a fascinating young player. He missed the majority of his rookie year due to an injury and is now still just averaging 13 minutes per game. However, he’s starting to make a name for himself during this series against the Rockets with his defense. He has that unique skill set of being 6’9″ with extremely long arms and quick enough to stay in front of guards. We’ve seen him switch on to Harden and Paul and do a great job. He’s someone who I could see someone reach for.
Possible Landing Spots: Golden State, Atlanta, Dallas
Chris Paul (UFA) - This is the offseason we all saw that could possibly lead to the banana boat boys playing together in Houston. However, there’s a chance Paul dips elsewhere, but I don’t see that happening. Him and Harden played well together and there’s an easy fit. He doesn’t necessarily have to do as much as he gets older thanks to Harden’s ability to create for himself and others as well. I’d be shocked if he goes elsewhere, but the biggest question will be if he accepts a 2 or 3 year deal and not the 4-year max.
Possible Landing Spots: Houston
Trevor Ariza (UFA) - Ariza has turned into a prototypical 3-and-D wing in the modern day NBA. He has good length to defend multiple spots and is a strong catch and shoot player. However, he’s a bit older so the biggest question here will be if a team like Atlanta/Brooklyn, etc throws a bunch of money at him to draw him away from Houston. He’s currently a great fit in Houston thanks to being able to stretch the floor and help defend, especially since someone like Harden struggles on that end. You can throw him on the best guard or wing. I think one intriguing team would be Sacramento who could throw him a little bit of money, pairing him with Fox/Bogdanovic/Hield/the No. 2 pick, especially if it’s Ayton.
Possible Landing Spots: Houston, Sacramento, Philadelphia
DeAndre Jordan (player option) - One of the bigger names that is expected to be an unrestricted free agent is DeAndre Jordan, who gave us one of the best offseason moments a few years ago when Paul Pierce tweeted out a picture of a rocket. I just hope there’s another hostage situation this offseason. Jordan is one of the best pick and roll guys in the league and can protect the rim. He’s young enough that he will be getting a max offer. There are plenty of possible landing spots for Jordan, who can fit most schemes.
Possible Landing Spots: Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento, Los Angeles Lakers
Isaiah Thomas (UFA) - One of the more intriguing free agents out there is IT. He thinks he’s a max contract guy, but I’m not sure how many teams think that. He’s a diminutive guard who can score, can’t defend and coming off a big time injury. He’s also now 29 years old and does a team really want to shell out a max contract to someone like that? There’s two routes Thomas can go here. He can take a likely smaller monetary amount from a team ready to compete or a bit of a larger deal from someone who is a likely lottery team.
Possible Landing Spots: Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio, Atlanta
Tyreke Evans (UFA) - Evans had a really nice year for Memphis this past season, averaging just under 20 points and 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game. He looked like that playmaker that many expected him to be when he was drafted out of Memphis. He also upped his 3-point shooting to 40% this past season after being just a career 31% shooter. He’s going to be one of those guys that a lot of teams will try to target and he did a great job of making himself some money.
Possible Landing Spots: Memphis, Dallas, Los Angeles Lakers
Rajon Rondo (UFA) - We saw playoff Rondo make a return over the last month or so, but really he seemed to find a home in New Orleans. He enjoyed playing there, is friendly with Davis and Cousins and they seemed to enjoy playing with him. They also put together a strong defensive backcourt with him and Holiday as we saw them do a great job on Portland’s guards in the first round. Now, the question will be if he decides to go elsewhere or if a team is willing to give him any more money.
Possible Landing Spots: New Orleans
DeMarcus Cousins (UFA) - Another Pelican that’s a free agent, but this one is a bit different. Cousins is one of the best players in the league and seemed to find a home in New Orleans. He was playing the best ball of his career before suffering an Achilles injury that shut him down for the year. The Pelicans did thrive playing small ball in the playoffs, but they also were playing well with Cousins. Now comes the question if the Pelicans want to pair Cousins and Davis or if they want to try and get a wing and go small ball.
Possible Landing Spots: New Orleans, Los Angeles Lakers
Paul George (player option) - Another important domino here will be Paul George. Many expect George to opt out of his contract and then it comes down to whether or not he heads to the Lakers. That always seemed to be the plan for him when he hit free agency as he wants to head home and the Lakers do have a bunch of money to spend. However, what if they don’t get another big time name to come? Would he want to pass up playing with Westbrook to be the guy again out in LA?
Possible Landing Spots: Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Lakers
JJ Redick (UFA) - Redick took a one year deal with the Sixers and really fit in well with the system there. He provided that outside shooting for guys like Simmons to drive and kick or Embiid to find when he’s posting up. However, there is a report that he’s seeking $18-20 million per year in free agency now. Do the Sixers want to sign him for that sort of money when they can try and go find a bigger name? Now he did make $28 million this past season so it’s actually a paycut, but what if Redick is only offered $12-15 million?
Possible Landing Spots: Philadelphia, San Antonio, New Orleans
Derrick Favors (UFA) - Favors became intriguing to me when you see how he played with Gobert being injured. Favors moved into the starting role where the Jazz were able to use floor spacers around him. He put up good numbers in those games, averaging 16.5 points and over 9 rebounds per game. He’s just 27 years old and can find a couple of different landing spots. He’s someone who can start or be your first big off the bench as he’s used to both spots.
Possible Landing Spots: Utah, Washington, Los Angeles Clippers