“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” YES, that time of the year is approaching, the time where the only sports being televised are Baseball, Tennis, and Soccer, there are some others, but lets be honest, that Netflix account is about to come in clutch. Luckily, my personal favorite thing will be appearing off and on throughout the summer, that is, NBA FREE AGENCY!!!!! This NBA is FA period is special though, the reason being, there are two super teams in the league (Golden State Warriors, and the Cleveland Cavaliers), which both seem unbeatable by any teams in their conferences. That can all change this year, with talent out there like Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin, Kyle Lowry, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and more. We could see some major shake ups this coming season. Let’s hope this happens, because it would very much increase the entertainment value of the NBA season, and keep the fans more engaged throughout the season. Let’s take a look at the top free agents this summer and where they could be playing next year.
1. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant holds a player option this year, he can decide to opt in and continue trying to win some rings with the Warriors or opt out and go elsewhere. Durant could be the biggest surprise this offseason, like he was last offseason. Some speculation has come up about a return with the Brody (Russell Westbrook), but this said to only happen if he loses in the finals this season.
Where He Could Land: Golden State, Oklahoma City
Golden State: This is where I believe he will be playing next year. It is hard to see him leaving such a talented team. Though many have called him out for cheating the system, nothing is guaranteed in the league, and he could win many rings, or no rings. But with Golden State the potential of many rings, is much higher than anywhere else.
Oklahoma City: This is where I wish he would land. THEY WERE 1 GAME AWAY FROM BEATING THE WARRIORS. I can’t say much, being a Heat fan on his decision, but damn KD. You broke some hearts, maybe he pulls a LeBron and has an early exit….. Worked out pretty well for Bron.
2. Stephen Curry
This one is a lock in my opinion. I cannot see him leaving what he has help create, he loves Golden State and the fans, the team, and the staff. Though, if he left, it would be bigger than LeBron going to Miami in 2010, but again, very unlikely.
Where Could Land: Golden State, Utah
Golden State: Like I said before, it’s a lock.
Utah: Don’t listen to that guy, we are going to pair Steph with Gordon, Rudy, and make Exum into the best PG in the league. Could you imagine Curry with Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward? It would be a very fun team to watch, very scary to play as well.
3. Gordon Hayward
You’re probably thinking..why would I use a picture of him from college? Well, that’s going to be a large determination of where I think he lands. This would however, be a much easier choice IF it wasn’t for the Utah Jazz having a fantastic season and claiming the 5th seed in the west and a All-NBA team snub, which would’ve made him eligible to be one of the highest paid players. If the Jazz were a bad team, or maybe even a decent team that barely missed the playoffs, Gordon would probably have his Tom Brady jersey on at the Salt Lake City airport.
Where He Could Land: Utah, Boston, Washington, Miami
Utah: He has been the Jazz’s center piece since arriving in 2010. He has been through the ups and down of being a lottery team to building them up into what I call, the young Spurs. Each year he gets better and better, and he is a GREAT true scorer. Pair him with talent like Rudy Gobert and you have to great young pieces. If Utah wants him, they will need to bring in another scorer to take the pressure off of him.
Boston: As you can see in the picture I chose, Gordon is wearing a Butler jersey, after this offseason, the word Butler could be the city of Boston’s favorite word, Malcom Butler winning the Patriots the super bowl 3 years ago, the Celtics hiring former Butler head coach Brad Stevens, reuniting the brain of Stevens and the talent of Hayward. Not to mention, the Celtics are playing for a ticket to the biggest show in the NBA, though it doesn’t look likely now, put Hayward on that team and I believe it’s 50/50 between the Cavs and the Celtics.
Washington: Like the Celtics, Washington has key pieces in Wall and Beal, the trick is freeing cap space. They could let Otto Porter walk, and get rid of Gortat and Morris, and that should do the trick. The thing though is, as that would bring in a great versatile player, it leaves Washington in a similar spot they’re in now, no bench. But playing with Wall and Beal could be very enticing.
Miami: Though the Heat were not in the playoffs this year, they pulled off a hell of a come back. They also have some good pieces, Dragic, Whiteside, and most likely Dion Waiters, as well as some young talent like McGruder, Winslow, and Tyler Johnson. Though that doesn’t sound as exciting as Boston, Washington, even Utah, they have something very luring. Erik Spolstera, and Pat Riley. Riley will go down as one of the greatest executives to ever lead a teams management and player developmental programs. The Heat also have co-coach of the year Spolstera, who took older guys this year put them with some young guys, had a terrible record, but then he changed it up. He drew up plays and made roles that would work for the team he had, he turned an 11-30 team, into a 41-41 team that barely missed the playoffs. Spo has always been known to bring out the best in players and is a great basketball mind, he could help Hayward reach new peaks in his play and maybe a top 5 player in the league.
4. Blake Griffin
Blake has to make a choice this offseason, does he want to win, or does we want to be paid. I don’t think that both can be done for him. Especially being plagued by injury the last few seasons, and a jump shot that looked inspiring but turned out to be less than mediocre, he isn’t a top talent anymore. He is however, when healthy, one of the most athletic guys in the game that can help you anywhere on the court. He is getting older, same with the Clippers, and it may be time to get the hell out of Dodge.
Where He Could Land: Clippers, Boston, Oklahoma City
Clippers: If this happens, I can’t see it being more than a one year max, or a two year with a first year player option. They’ve let this experiment go on long enough without pleasing results. They can’t have CP3, Deandre, Blake, and enough room for what they really need, shooting. This is why he needs to decide if he wants money, or glory, money will be available in L.A., as for glory, as they say, history repeats itself.
Boston: Here is where the winning aspect comes in, I am a believer that if he goes to Boston will be the most complete team in the league, IT Bradley, Brown (Maybe Hayward too), Griffin, Horford, #1 pick, Rozier, Crowder, and more draft picks, yeah..I like their odds. Plus with Boston, he won’t have to adjust his game to be a scorer, they have shooters, just play big man ball and keep gas in the tank, next stop NBA Finals. But Boston must proceed with caution, Blake is VERY prone to injury.
OKC: This is in my mind where he lands. Plus, this is his best shot for winning and a max deal. Blake played at the University of Oklahoma, so he has that connection, not to mention there is a man there averaging a triple double. You know why we all love Blake? Because we love it when he has monster oops, you know who is really good at passing? Russell Westbrook. Plus can’t you picture this duo already? I still don’t think they win a championship, but Western Conference Finals are very doable I feel.
5. Chris Paul
This is the hardest one for me to decide. But there are many factors that play into his decision, including: Where Blake goes, Where Melo is traded, Is Melo Traded, Can the Cavs move some cap, Can the super-friends meet in Miami? Where ever he goes, that team gets one of the best basketball IQ’s to ever play. Not to mention one of the best passers ever. But at 32, he isn’t going to be able to give you long term answers, which can help cut down on the potential suitors.
Where He Could Land: LAC, San Antonio, New Orleans
*Note: Chris Paul has MANY teams considering him this year, I’ve tried to list who I believe can actually pull it off.
LAC: Like I mentioned with Blake, we’ve seen this experiment, and though entertaining, just not enough to get into the Western Conference Finals. But Paul has been there awhile, his family is there, his teammates he’s developed with are there. So it would be an empathy sign if he did choose them, they would still be a VERY good team. Just like always though, lacking shooters.
San Antonio: It must be nice to be an older veteran, who was once an All-Star, because San Antonio will always want you! This pick became much more likely with Tony Parker facing injury. What San Antonio has going for them too is a top 5 player in Kawhi Leonard, big man LaMarcus Aldridge, oh and the best coach of all time. Add CP3 into that mix, and you can hear jazz music playing already. It would be a beautiful display of fundamentals and preciseness that would make Tim Duncan contemplate returning (probably not but hey, who wouldn’t want to join this team?). The Spurs are known for bringing out the best of players when they get older, not to mention, multiple sources just broke news that CP3 and the Spurs already have “mutual interest” in one another.
New Orleans: People call me crazy for thinking this could happen, but I do think it could happen. It would be a younger, more versatile version of the Clippers. Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins, paired with CP3, I don’t see how the full potential of both of those big men are not brought out by the play of Paul. This would be different in the best way possible from the Clipper too, both of those big men can shoot! This would take the pressure off of Paul and give him the time to dribble around to let plays develop. Are we forgetting where Paul started his NBA journey at? I know it wasn’t as special as some players have been with the teams that drafted him, but Paul had some of his best years in NO. They would need to add some veteran help in New Orleans to make them a contender, but man, this would be a tough match-up for the style of play in Western Conference.