Projected Landing Spots For The Top Upcoming NBA Free Agents
With a wild offseason looming where stars like LeBron James, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and others could hit the open market, let’s take a look at some of the possible landing spots for the top 25 free agents to be. Designing from ISH’s official graphic designer, Noah Hammerman. All photos were used courtesy of each player’s ESPN headshot.
Destination: Opts in, Cleveland
Jimmy Butler – Chicago Bulls
Restricted / Shooting Guard / 6-7
With Derrick Rose looking more and more like he is nearing the end of his stardom (or even career), the Bulls front office may realize Jimmy Butler is the future of their backcourt. His restricted free agency allows them to match any offer, but maneuvering to be able to match the max offers he will receive will be tough.
There is a real chance Butler leaves Chicago, and teams like Detroit and Los Angeles will be attempting to steal him from the Bulls.
The Bulls will realize how important he will be to their future, and will make the appropriate actions (bye bye Taj Gibson) to resign him.
Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat
Player Option / Shooting Guard / 6-4
No questions here. Wade will opt in and stay around for another chance at a title with his buddy Chris Bosh (hopefully) back in the fold.
Goran Dragic – Miami Heat
Player Option / Point Guard / 6-3
Dragic made a giant fuss getting to Miami at the trade deadline, and while he will for sure opt out of his deal and listen to other offers, he has made it clear that Miami is the place for him. Expect a max or near max deal for the Slovenian as he echos in a new era of HEAT basketball.
DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers
Unrestricted / Center / 6-11
Jordan is making an impossible to miss case for Defensive Player of The Year, and his value this offseason will skyrocket as he will be the best rim protector to hit the market in quite a while.
The Clips have his bird rights and they may have realized this season how vital he is to this team. I’d expect the Clips to make a serious offer to the freak athlete.
But the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks may also be in the mix for a big rim protector to fit in with their young cores.
Destination: Los Angeles
Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks
Unrestricted / Power Forward / 6-8
Atlanta will pursue hard, as they will regret the whole “two year deal” agreement they gave Millsap two summers ago.
Millsap has been an All Star in each of his seasons with the Hawks, and he will be ready to cash in on his final big deal of his career as he approaches age thirty.
The Raptors and Pacers are most likely to come after Millsap, and I can see them throwing a 4 year, $50-55 million deal at the stretch four.
However if the Hawks show they can be playoff contenders and not just regular season champions and actually make noise this playoffs and get out of the East, pulling Millsap out of the system he has thrived so well in would be difficult.
They have a good shot at doing that.
Al Jefferson – Charlotte Hornets
Player Option / Center / 6-10
While Jefferson can opt of the final season of his 3 year, $41 million deal that will net him almost $14 million, and probably will, it is unlikely he leaves Charlotte.
Jefferson has found a true niche in Charlotte, and he is a huge fan favorite. The Hornets are a team that really appreciates Jefferson, and he has a good environment around him for prolonged success.
He is likely to opt out, but also to remain with Charlotte on a slightly larger, higher paid deal.
Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs
Unrestricted / Center / 6-11
The Big Fundamental has had a magnificent, illustrious career, creating a dynasty like no other down in San Antonio. But with the aging Spurs lined up for a 6th or 7th place finish in the West, it looks as if their time as perennial contenders may be coming to a close.
The NBA seasons are long and take a toll on player’s bodies, especially older ones like Duncan. One of the smartest players in the game will realize that it may be time to hang it up.
I’d say Duncan and Ginobli call it a career after this season, barring a deep playoff run.
Destination: Hawai’i for a nice retirement.
Greg Monroe – Detroit Pistons
Unrestricted / Center / 6-11
The Magic, Hawks, Celtics, Lakers, Knicks, and Raptors will all find themselves in a bidding war for the young big man who still has loads of untapped potential.
If Millsap bolts the Hawks or Aldridge bolts Portland, both of those teams will look for fill ins for those spots.
Monroe is going to get PAID this summer, as someone will bet on him being the next big thing. He would look good in Orlando alongside rising stars like Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, and maybe even Elfrid Payton.
Brandon Knight – Phoenix Suns
Restricted / Point Guard / 6-3
The Suns gave up two star point guards and netted just one in return at the trade deadline. That one is Brandon Knight, who enters restricted free agency this summer.
Knight has played like an All Star this season and his true ceiling has really increased.
There is relatively zero chance the Suns let Knight walk after giving up so much to attain him. He returns to the Suns on a long-term deal, whether matched by Phoenix or offered by them.
Rajon Rondo – Dallas Mavericks
Unrestricted / Point Guard / 6-1
While Rondo’s fight with coach Rick Carlisle spawned rumors of a forthcoming divorce between the Mavericks and Rondo, he remains open to the idea of resigning in Dallas, according to Yahoo Sports.
Nevertheless, Rondo will have no short list of suitors. The Lakers and Knicks will come the hardest, while the Kings and Pacers will also chase the championship winning point guard.
The Lakers have long been rumored to be ready to pursue Rondo at all costs, and they can provide the money and situation that Rondo needs.
Destination: Los Angeles (Lakers)
Monta Ellis – Dallas Mavericks
Player Option / Shooting Guard / 6-3
Monta Ellis is the perfect fit in Dallas and loves it there. His teammates and coaches have never said anything but great things about Ellis, and there is no reason to think he would opt out and leave Dallas.
Ellis was a star in Golden State, but once Steph Curry and Klay Thompson came around, it was time for him to go. He scored a lot, but inefficiently, in Milwaukee for a season.
His signing with Dallas marked a change in his career, and that was consistency. Dallas is a no nonsense kind of franchise, and he should be content chasing titles with Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, and co.
Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors
Restricted / Small Forward / 6-7
Reports surfaced earlier in the season that Green might pursue a contract with his hometown Pistons in his free agency this summer.
That makes a lot of sense, both for Green and for the Pistons. It is likely that Greg Monroe walks in free agency, giving Detroit money to spend in free agency.
Green would fit perfectly alongside franchise cornerstone and center Andre Drummond as a stretch four, and the attack of Brandon Jennings, Reggie Jackson (if resigned), Drummond, and Green would be a playoff contender out East.
Detroit may be able to offer much more than Golden State can afford to match.
Reggie Jackson – Detroit Pistons
Restricted / Point Guard / 6-3
Reggie Jackson was one of the biggest names traded at the February deadline, and Detroit knew exactly what they were doing to acquire him.
Jackson had made it clear that he preferred starting and being the main ballhandler of a team rather than being a sixth man on a contender. Detroit capitalized on this.
Jackson fits in to Detroit’s longterm plans for sure, despite the positional battle to come with streaky scorer Brandon Jennings.
Detroit will match any reasonable offer for Jackson.
Brook Lopez – Brooklyn Nets
Player Option / Center / 7-0
Lopez does not appear to be a big part of Brooklyn’s future. He hasn’t held a starting spot this year, and was basically traded to the Thunder before the Thunder checked themselves and went with Enes Kanter instead.
Mason Plumlee and newly acquired Thaddeus Young are the future of Brooklyn’s frontcourt. Lopez will probably realize this and opt out, but there is a chance he isn’t willing to let $15+ million out of his grasp.
This one could go either way, but if he does opt out, the likes of LAL, NYK, San Antonio, and Houston will be calling Lopez.
He would make a great fill in for the possibly-to-be retired Tim Duncan.
Destination: San Antonio
Roy Hibbert – Indiana Pacers
Player Option / Center / 7-2
Hibbert is going to have a tough choice this summer. He can opt out and sign for less money than he would receive in his last contractual year, but go to somewhere that may appreciate him more than Indiana does…
Or he can opt in and go one more year with the Pacers, whom of which no one knows what to expect from them when Paul George returns.
If I was Hibbert, I would get out of there. They look like they may be entering a 2010-Atlanta Hawks-eternal-mediocrity stage.
I can see Washington giving him all they got to play him and Gortat together as a massive frontline. Hibbert went to Georgetown and has ties to the area, and the fit makes sense.
If Washington can come up with the space to offer him the right deal, then that is the way he will go.
Destination: Washington DC
Tyson Chandler – Dallas Mavericks
Unrestricted / Center / 7-1
The consummate professional that is Tyson Chandler has had an illustrious career. Playing alongside Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dirk Nowitzki among others. He has had tours in Chicago, New Orleans, Charlotte, Dallas, and New York.
I think a guy who has played so well and been so efficient for such a longtime deserves to spoiled a little bit.
Which is why it is completely justifiable for Tyson Chandler to go ring hunting this offseason.
It may cost him contractually, but he is looking to add to that NBA finals ring collection (won one with Dallas in 2011).
But Cleveland is likely to retain both Kevin Love and King James for at least one more year, and they need an established rim protector and efficient inside offensive presence.
Chandler may hop on the bandwagon and take a cheap deal to chase for championships with LeBron and company this summer.
Jeff Green – Memphis Grizzlies
Player Option / Small Forward / 6-9
Since being traded from what was a bottom feeder (Boston) to a title contender (Memphis) this season, his stats have taken a hit, but his value has increased.
Green is the ultimate team player and a guy you want on your team when the going gets tough. He has been invaluable for the Grizzlies this season and really changed their offensive dynamics for the better.
If they can afford to resign him AND Marc Gasol, that would be ideal for them. However Gasol is priority, and there may not be money left over to satisfy Green. He will be chased by perennial contenders, middle of the pack teams, and rebuilding teams looking for veteran leadership alike.
The Magic strike me as a good landing spot, as well as the Clippers, Raptors, Wizards, and Nuggets.
Luol Deng – Miami Heat
Player Option / Small Forward / 6-8
Depending on Chris Bosh’s health and if the Heat can retain Goran Dragic, Deng will likely opt in to the second half of his two year, $20 million deal.
The Heat are still a good team with lots of pieces, and there may not be a better fit out there for Deng.
Also, there may not be a $10 million a year market for him.
David West – Indiana Pacers
Player Option / Power Forward / 6-9
The marriage between the ever ferocious David West and the Indiana Pacers is likely to come to an end this offseason, as they won’t want to overpay the aging forward.
However, his services would be coveted elsewhere, most especially up in the North.
The Raptors have long been rumored to have interest in West, and the fit of him alongside Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and Jonas Valanciunas makes too much sense for him to pass it up.
Toronto will have some cap clearing to do, but they can make it work. West could make them go from good to great.
Jamal Crawford – Los Angeles Clippers
Team Option / Shooting Guard / 6-5
Crawford has experienced great success with the Los Angeles Clippers and has always seemed motivated and happy to play in the city of Angels.
However, if the Clippers fail to advance past the first round of the playoffs again this year, his return will become more unlikely.
He is getting up there in age, and his time is limited to cash in on a big contract or a title.
Therefore, he will have no shortage of suitors. The Cavaliers, Rockets, Mavericks, Hornets, and Heat seem like obvious choices for Crawford. The Hornets stick out as a team that can offer a relatively heavy contract as well as a good playoff chance.
Leave a Reply