This NBA season has been noteworthy to say the least. Although the postseason has become somewhat predictable for fans, a lot of headlines regarding free agency will surely hit the surface within the next few months. From expiring rookie contracts, to superstars potentially declining player options, here is a look at which NBA franchise players will sign extensions, and which will sign elsewhere.
Stephen Curry (PG, Golden State Warriors, 2016 Salary: $12.1 mill)
According to Albert Nahmad, Steph Curry and the Warriors are closing in on a deal in which Curry will reportedly earn a max payout of $205 million through the 2021-22 season. This will come as a result of a “super-max” deal, and it will ultimately leave the franchise forced to pick which stars are worth handing max deals to, simply because they can not afford to give their entire starting lineup the same offer.
Curry is well worth every penny coming his way, and talks about an extension further prove that Curry will not be leaving during the free agency period, as he is viewed as the backbone to the Warriors franchise.
The Warriors will have a difficult time keeping both Curry and Durant this summer, but we’ll get to that a little later.
Jrue Holiday (PG, New Orleans Pelicans, 2016 Salary: $11.2 Mill)
Result: Leaves to Dallas Mavericks
The Pelicans do a have a much better set roster than the Mavs, but both franchises are nowhere near being labeled a contender within the Western conference.
The Dallas Mavericks will have more free cap space this summer than the Pelicans, and have made their interest clear in the New Orleans point guard. Another team in the running for Holiday is the New York Knicks, but they likely won’t have enough revenue to draw Holiday in.
The NBA does have a lot of players that desire to play for contenders, but there are also individuals that want the most money coming their way. I believe that Holiday will take a two or three year deal with the Mavericks, in hopes that they will build around him with their leftover cap space.
Chris Paul (PG, Los Angeles Clippers, 2016 Salary: $22.8 mill)
Result: Leaves to San Antonio Spurs
After six unsuccessful seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, I truly believe that the San Antonio Spurs are the favorite to sign Chris Paul. Although the Spurs would need to adjust their roster, it’s important to note that the franchise is only one or two pieces away from making their way back into the NBA Finals.
Paul would have less guaranteed money with the Spurs, but the Clippers have virtually no shot at an NBA title, let alone re-sign both Paul and Blake Griffin. Both free agents are likely to demand a high cap hit for the Clippers, and it would drain the front office financially to re-sign both superstars for the upcoming season.
Gordon Hayward (SF, Utah Jazz, 2016 Salary: $16 mill)
Results: Leaves to Boston Celtics
What most don’t realize is during Hayward’s days at Butler, he was coached by none other than current head coach of the Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens. With Hayward hitting this summer with the option to sign with his former coach, it should be remembered that the Utah Jazz currently signed Rudy Gobert to a $300 million deal.
Could the Jazz attempt to lure Hayward in with a max contract? Of course, but that would make for an awfully expensive frontcourt. On the other hand, the Celtics have one of the deepest rosters in the Eastern Conference, and with the addition of Hayward, they could very well give the Cavaliers a run for their money.
The Jazz, during the postseason, are essentially a dead end. The franchise remains to be above average during the regular season, giving the fans hope of a postseason run, yet the other contenders within the Western Conference are too much for Hayward to handle. By electing to move over to the East, Hayward could seek his first ever NBA Finals appearance.
Blake Griffin (PF, Los Angeles Clippers, 2016 Salary: $20.1 mill)
As I mentioned previously, I believe that the Clippers will only have the financial room to make a run at either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin. With that, I believe that Griffin won’t draw as much attention during the free agency period this summer as Paul, as he will ultimately opt to sign a massive extension with the franchise.
The only other franchises within the running for Griffin will likely be the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, neither of which seem more attractive than becoming the centerpiece in Los Angeles. With the Thunder, the main attraction is obviously Russell Westbrook. For the Heat, it happens to be Hassan Whiteside. After seven seasons with the Clippers, I find it hard to believe that Griffin will move on to another franchise this summer.
Kevin Durant (SF, Golden State Warriors, 2016 Contract: $26.5 mill)
Initially, I thought there was a shot that Durant would opt out of his player option, leave the Golden State Warriors, and return to his hometown and play for the Washington Wizards. While this idea is still valid to some, Durant has reportedly went on record and noted that he would be willing to take a pay cut in the future in order to remain with the franchise. It is expected that Stephen Curry will be the priority for the Warriors this summer, but keeping Durant happy should be a close second.
I find it hard to believe that the Warriors will have the capability, or finances to keep Curry, and re-sign Durant, Klay Thompson (free agent in 2019), and Draymond Green (free agent in 2020). All the aforementioned names are likely to demand a large sum of money, and will seek a lot of attention during their respect free agency periods.
I believe that the Warriors find a way to keep both Curry and Durant in Warriors jerseys by the time summer ends, but the franchise faces much great obstacles down the road.
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