LeBron James: Sound weird but he did technically opt out using his player-option in a smart business move to maximize his earnings. The King of the Land isn’t going anywhere, don’t even think about it.
Kevin Durant approves of the draft day trade where OKC acquired his talented friend Victor Oladipo, stretch-4 Ersan Ilyasova, and 10th pick Domatas Sabonis. Don’t you think they would have finished the Warriors off if they had these additions a month ago? The bigger question is the status of Russell Westbrook, and that clearly has an impact on KD, which is why he should sign a 2-year deal with an option to be a free agent again in 2017. These visits should be considered as laying down a foundation for those teams trying to pry him out of OKC next summer.
Dwayne Wade has been good to Miami, taken paycuts, and the Heat have been good to him. Wade sending out his agent to contact a few teams is an effort to gain more leverage in negotiations with the spike in salary cap. I don’t blame him for that, but it’s been evident that both sides want Wade to end his career where it all started.
Dirk Nowitzki: It’s rare to see a player finish his career with the same team and those are certainly Dirk’s intentions. There is a chance that the franchise wants him to go out on a higher note, which could result in him joining another contender. Dallas is his home, where he’s beloved, and I don’t think he goes anywhere. I know the Warriors sound like a good idea, but is it really? I actually like how Miami sounds a little better, specifically to Dirk’s style of play and a chance to contend again with only one powerhouse in the east. Like most of us believe, however, he stays with the Mavericks.
DeMar DeRozen: He’s actually been vocal about his desire to stay. At first, he wanted to be part of something special when Toronto was struggling. Then they emerged as the 2nd best team with an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. DeRozen has expressed how he wants to build off of their current success and I believe him.
Harrison Barnes: Despite other mediocre teams trying to flash the cash at Barnes, how could he leave a possible dynasty where Andre Iguodala won’t always be around? Barnes didn’t have the best stroke in the postseason, but he is a young player with room to grow and he’s a valuable piece of the puzzle in Golden State. Plus, he’s a restricted free agent.
Festus Ezeli: Like Barnes, Ezeli has a role with the former champions and they actually prefer to keep him over Andrew Bogut, who they are reportedly trying to trade. Ezeli is another role player on a historic team that should get some tempting offers but I don’t see him departing at the end of the day as a restricted free agent.
J.J. Redick: The sharpshooter is a key contributor for the Clippers with a true point guard, and a total of 3 all-star caliber teammates to free him up in their own ways. The Clippers feel like they’re close with health on their side, and that includes keeping their starters in tact.
Austin Rivers: Apparently, he didn’t have a close relationship with his father growing up, I can’t really speak on something I don’t know much about. Maybe he’s having a good time being around Doc Rivers for the past few years, now that they’re both traveling around the NBA something Doc has done for a long time. Rivers is in a good situation with a talented roster, has the IQ of a coach’s son, and should be happy getting groomed under CP3 as he’s only 23 years old.
On the Move
Jamal Crawford: Since we’re on the Clippers let’s talk about Crawford. The former 6th Man of the Year has been an explosive scorer throughout his career. I don’t see a 36 year old out there every season. He keeps in good shape and he’s bee a healthy player, valuable everywhere he’s played. He did mention how he missed New York, and being the street ball legend that he is, he plays there all the time every offseason. He actually plays all over, but he really enjoys the Big Apple and I see him in a Knicks uniform for the 3rd time.
Al Horford: The fundamental all-star is leaving and never looking back. I think he’ll get calls from all over, with the more tempting suitors coming from Miami, San Antonio, and OKC. Detroit is going to do everything they can to land Horford and they would definitely make them a force int he east. All season long I thought him to be the perfect target for the Spurs, and how could an all-star decline that option? That was before I thought about the team that knocked the Spurs out of the playoffs. That’s right, the Thunder with Billy Donovan, who once coached Horford at the University of Florida. I want to say OKC is option #1 and San Antonio is #2.
Mike Conley: Along with Horford, I really believed Conley to be a primary target for San Antonio. I still do and it makes a lot of sense. It would be killer for the Spurs to land Conley, one of the best defensive point guards in the league on the same team with the Defensive Player of the Year in Kawhi Leonard. I actually like Conley’s offensive balance more than most care to pay attention to or discuss, he’s a pretty well-rounded player. I know Dallas has a ton of money to offer, but I see Conley leaving one playoff team for another playoff team. If not the Spurs, then sticking to the same state, he could replace Patrick Beverly and form a strong back court with James Harden in Houston.
Dwight Howard: It’s time for Howard to return to the Eastern Conference where he achieved success earlier in his career. This is still an elite center and the perfect fit for him appears to be where he’s from, and that’s Atlanta. They may be losing Horford, Howard is from there, and he was very comfortable in Orlando, leading them to a Finals’ appearance before getting traded. Kyle Korver is a great piece to surround Howard with, and they’ll make it a priority to feed him the ball just like he wants. Some enticing offers could come from the Celtics, and how about the Pacers as a dark horse for his services with Ian Mahinmi also hitting the market. In order, if I were D12, I would choose Indiana, Boston, then Atlanta. A lot of teams are interested, including Portland, I just see the big man going back to the east after two unsuccessful experiments out west. Howard would get his touches on all 3 of these teams. If the Pacers lob him a call I think it’s a done deal. If they don’t, then “welcome (back) to Atlanta where the players play.”
Hassan Whiteside: Miami can still offer him the most money and that may be all that he cares about right now. I do have my doubts as a player that has gone from starter to the bench. He was always in the rotation, but a young and upcoming player in his contract season can’t be happy with that demotion, even if it was better for his maturation process. As ideal as the Lakers’ situation is for him and the future of that young nucleus, there are some better teams that he could join like Boston or Houston. I don’t trust a young player trying to get along with Harden. If D12 was unhappy with his lack of touches, well, Whiteside has already expressed that same type of desire. I kind of want to see him go to the Celtics, but for some reason, the Mavericks are so desperate to give someone a max contract and this is their top candidate.
Joakim Noah: Like Howard, this is still an elite center when healthy. Also like Howard, this is a former Defensive Player of the Year and an all-star player. Derrick Rose gets traded to his home state of New York and they were seen hanging out together already. It’s no secret how great of a match this would be for Noah and the Knicks. I don’t find Washington to be of any interest to him, and the only other option he should consider is Golden State. Noah wants to win and that may have us feeling like Golden State is the clear-cut choice to make, but he and Rose have spent years trying to knock the rival king off of his throne. It wasn’t too long ago that Noah and the Bulls recruited and nearly acquired Carmelo Anthony, so now they could see how things could work.
Pau Gasol: Age is just a number for some players. Gasol is still playing at a high level and if Horford doesn’t work out for San Antonio, I’d consider them a strong option for Gasol. I think it’s down to the Spurs and Warriors for the 2-time champion. Just 2 seasons ago he led the league in double-doubles. He will only suit up for a contender, and since I have Horford going to OKC, I have Pau going to the Spurs.
Other Notable Free Agents
PG: Brandon Jennings, Rajon Rondo, Jeremy Lin, E’Twaun Moore, Ty Lawson, Deron Williams, Jerryd Bayless, Aaron Brooks, Leandro Barbosa
SG: Eric Gordon, Joe Johnson, Courtney Lee, Arron Afflalo, J.R. Smith, Gerald Green, Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson, Kevin Martin, Anthony Morrow, Jason Terry, O.J. Mayo, Marcus Thornton
SF: Nicholas Batum, Evan Turner, Luol Deng, Chandler Parsons, Kent Bazemore, Jeff Green, Wesley Johnson, Jared Dudley, Matt Barnes, Chase Budinger, James Johnson
PF: Ryan Anderson, David Lee, Josh Smith, Donatas Montiejunas,
C: Timofey Mozgov, Bizmack Biyombo, Jordan Hill
Restricted Free Agents
Matthew Dellavedova, Bradley Beal, Dion Waiters, Jordan Clarkson, Evan Fournier, Ian Clark, Allen Crabbe, Donatas Motiejunas, Jared Sullinger