Predictions for NBA’s Largest Free Agents
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As the 2018-19 NBA season comes to a close, the free agency period will start up on July 1st. Each team has to deal with losing key players, but who will re-sign? Here is a largest free agent for each respective franchise and whether they will re-sign or leave during free agency this summer:
Atlanta Hawks: Kent Bazemore (11.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.3 SPG)
After spending each of the last 5 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Kent Bazemore exercised his player option that will pay him $19.2M in the 2019-20 season. Forced to play 3 less minutes per game, Bazemore saw decreases in his points and assists, and also shot 1.8% less from the field. With Kevin Huerter viewed as the starting shooting guard, Bazemore makes for a strong bench piece.
Boston Celtics: Kyrie Irving (23.8 PPG, 6.9 APG, 5.0 RPG)
After a troubling season filled with rumors and speculation, the Boston Celtics and Kyrie Irving have yet to agree on a contract extension. In addition, Irving is projected to meet with both the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers this summer; organizations with far more practical cap space than Boston. While Celtics owner Danny Ainge is confident about reaching a deal with Irving, the future between the two sides remains vague.
Brooklyn Nets: D’Angelo Russell (21.1 PPG, 7.0 APG, 3.9 RPG)
Coming into the summer as a restricted free agent, D’Angelo Russell will be worth every penny for the Brooklyn Nets. According to sources around the league, the Nets and Russell are expected to move forward on a deal that will pay the point guard $21M annually. During his breakout season, Russell appears to have placed himself as a lead candidate for the Most Improved Player award.
Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker (25.6 PPG, 5.9 APG, 4.4 RPG)
After 8 seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker has only seen the playoffs twice, and has never gotten past the first round. While getting paid is a priority for Walker, he has also emphasized his desire to win. The front office in Charlotte will try their best to make winning a priority, but their current roster is not built to compete against the elite competition in the East.
Chicago Bulls: Robin Lopez (9.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.1 BPG)
Based on the latest reports, it seems as though Robin Lopez will remain with the Chicago Bulls past free agency this summer. Although the organization is in the midst of a rebuilding process, Lopez has offered his desire to stay put. This past season, Lopez started in only 36 games; his lowest total since coming off as a bench in 2011.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Marquese Chriss (5.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.6 SPG)
The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have a lot of free agents to deal with, and many wondered whether Marquese Chriss was worth the headache. Based on league sources and past incidents, Chriss has the tendency to “go at it” with the coaching staff, but multiple members of the Cavaliers hope Chriss will return on a team-friendly deal this summer.
Dallas Mavericks: Kristaps Porzingis (N/A)
After being traded from the New York Knicks to the Dallas Mavericks, Kristaps Porzingis won’t be going anywhere during his restricted free agency run this summer. Based on the latest interviews involving Porzingis and Dallas’ front office, the 23-year old has intentions of ending the Mavericks 3-year playoff drought. As it stands, Porzingis is expected to earn the full 5-year, $158M max extension from the Mavericks this summer. This all obviously comes prior to Porzingis’ recent incident involving a fight in Latavia.
Denver Nuggets: Paul Millsap (12.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.2 SPG)
According to the Denver Post last month, Paul Millsap has expressed his interest in remaining with the Denver Nuggets until the end of his career. The 34-year old holds a team option worth $30.1M next year, but the most likely scenario involves the Nuggets denying his option in order to create a more team-friendly deal. Last season, Millsap’s 27.1 MPG and 12.6 PPG were his lowest since the 2009-10 season.
Detroit Pistons: Ishmael Smith (8.9 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.6 RPG)
The Detroit Pistons don’t hold a demanding free agent on their current roster, but Ishmael Smith played a role with the team from the bench over the last 3 seasons. Averaging 28.3 minutes per game since signing with the team in 2016, it’s hard to imagine Smith gaining much traction elsewhere. However, in NBA free agency, teams tend to overpay for the first glimpse of talent they see.
Golden State Warriors: Kevin Durant (26.0 PPG, 5.9 APG, 6.4 RPG)
Viewed as the most attractive free agent this summer, just about every team with enough cap space will make a run at Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant. As it stands currently, the New York Knicks are the front runners to compete with the Warriors for Durant’s services. It would be fair to say that the media doesn’t bother most NBA players, but Kevin Durant clearly obsesses on the opinion’s of others. We don’t think he would be as successful with less talent in New York, so let’s see what his future holds.
Houston Rockets: Austin Rivers (7.2 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.0 APG)
While the Houston Rockets season was cut short, Austin Rivers was impressive towards the home stretch. In the series against the Golden State Warriors, Rivers was +18.5 per 100 possessions. While Steph Curry was +24, he was -12 when facing Rivers.
Indiana Pacers: Bojan Bogdanovic (18.0 PPG, 2.0 APG, 4.1 RPG)
The Indiana Pacers have been vocal about wanting to re-sign Bojan Bogdanovic, but there are teams with a bit more cap space. Bogdanovic won’t earn the max contract from any potential suitor, but he’s earned roughly $18-20M on an annual basis. This is a difficult situation that could go either way.
Los Angeles Clippers: Patrick Beverley (7.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 0.9 SPG)
Patrick Beverley will never light up the scoreboard with flashy statistics, but he’s one of the best pound-for-pound defensive players the league has to offer. The Los Angeles Clippers have been adamant about retaining Beverley, but he has stated he is looking forward to enjoying the process.
Los Angeles Lakers: Rajon Rondo (9.2 PPG, 8.0 APG, 5.3 RPG)
After finishing out his one-year, $9M deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, Rajon Rondo claimed a large factor in him staying would be the front office’s decision over the next head coach. With that being Frank Vogel, it’s unclear whether Rondo will finish his career in purple and gold.
Memphis Grizzlies: Jonas Valanciunas (12.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 0.8 BPG)
Last month, it was reported that Jonas Valanciunas preferred to remain with the Memphis Grizzlies moving forward. With a $17.6M player option on the line, it wouldn’t be surprising for him to exercise his option rather quickly.
Miami Heat: Goran Dragic (13.7 PPG, 4.8 APG, 0.8 SPG)
Back in 2015, Goran Dragic signed a 5-year, $85M deal with the Miami Heat. Heading into this offseason, Dragic has to decide whether he wants to opt into his $19.2M player option. While Dragic is looking to take his time and figure out the next step for his career, this was his worst statistical year since 2011.
Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton (18.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 6.0 RPG)
The Dallas Mavericks are among the suitors aiming to be aggressive when it comes to Khris Middleton this summer. However, Middleton stated over three months ago that he would look to remain in Milwaukee if they had a team that could compete. With a ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bucks will overpay in order to retain Middleton.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Rose (18.0 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.7 RPG)
After spending the last two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Derrick Rose is set to become a desired free agent this summer. Two suitors included in the race for Rose are the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls. According to Rose’s agent, B.J. Armstrong, they are going to examine all offers and take what suits Rose best.
New Orleans Pelicans: Julius Randle (21.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.1 APG)
The New Orleans Pelicans are undergoing their debacle with Anthony Davis, but that won’t be the issue facing Julius Randle. Although the two sides have expressed mutual interest on a contract extension for quite some time, the Pelicans are favored to land Zion Williamson in the NBA Draft, forcing Randle to play elsewhere.
New York Knicks: DeAndre Jordan (10.9 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 1.1 BPG)
It’s important to note that the New York Knicks offered to buyout the contract of DeAndre Jordan after the Kristaps Porzingis trade, but he elected to remain with the team to finish out the season. That speaks volumes, but it’s doubtful that the front office will overpay for someone who will have alternative deals on the table.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Raymond Felton (4.3 PPG, 1.6 APG, 1.0 RPG)
The Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t in danger of losing a Paul George-type superstar this summer, but Raymond Felton is a 14-year NBA veteran. Turning 35 in June, it may be more realistic that retirement is a more attractive destination for Felton rather than joining his eighth NBA franchise.
Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic (20.8 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 1.1 BPG)
According to Orlando’s front office in late April, retaining Nikola Vucevic is viewed as a top priority. Spending the last seven years with the Magic, Vucevic understands the process based on previous interviews, but hasn’t been offered a new deal as of yet.
Philadelphia 76ers: Jimmy Butler (18.2 PPG, 4.0 APG, 1.8 SPG)
The “Process” didn’t quite work out for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019, as they were knocked out by Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors. Although Jimmy Butler’s impact in Philadelphia was consistently felt by opposing defenses, he is still a top-tier free agent this summer. The 76ers rank 25th in available cap space this summer.
Phoenix Suns: Kelly Oubre (12.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 0.9 SPG)
Throughout the season, it has appeared clear that Kelly Oubre wants to remain with the Phoenix Suns for the long-haul. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement by July 1st, Oubre is permitted to test the open waters. However, this should be a predictable transaction for the Suns.
Portland Trail Blazers: Al-Farouq Aminu (9.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 0.8 SPG)
This is a rather mysterious case to make, considering very little outlets are covering Al-Farouq Aminu’s plans during free agency. Shooting his highest percentage from the field (43.3%) since 2013, it’s difficult to imagine him traveling elsewhere.
Sacramento Kings: Harrison Barnes (14.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.9 APG)
The Sacramento Kings and Harrison Barnes are expected to work on a long-term extension over the summer, seeing that he holds a $25.1M player option next season. Based on previous interviews and reports, Barnes loves the community of Sacramento, so expect for him to stick around.
San Antonio Spurs: Rudy Gay (13.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.6 APG)
Head coach Gregg Popovich has been vocal about wanting Rudy Gay to return to the San Antonio Spurs, and he’ll likely get his way. While he’s no longer receiving 30+ minutes per game, Gay saw an increase in almost every offensive category in comparison to his 2017 season.
Toronto Raptors: Kawhi Leonard (26.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.8 SPG)
To be clear, the Toronto Raptors belong solely to Kawhi Leonard. While Kyle Lowry has been on the team far longer, Leonard has made a larger impact. Many speculate whether Leonard will contemplate heading Los Angeles to play with the Clippers or the Lakers this summer, but the game-winner over Joel Embiid in the Eastern Conference Semifinals should secure his future.
Utah Jazz: Ricky Rubio (12.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.6 RPG)
Both sides are unwilling to commit to one another for the time being, and Ricky Rubio is already working out to prepare for the 2019-20 season. While most teams aren’t in need of a point guard, Rubio is certain that he will choose the franchise that gives him the best opportunity to get on the court.
Washington Wizards: Trevor Ariza (9.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.5 SPG)
After 14 seasons in the NBA, Trevor Ariza will once again enter free agency. Although the Los Angeles Lakers have shown previous interest, Ariza and the Washington Wizards are looking to work together on a contract extension. There will be outside offers, but Ariza should remain in DC.
Featured Image: Bleacher Report
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