This year’s free agency is littered with superstars. Not since LeBron James left Cleveland the first time has there been such potential for a shift in power. We might wake up Sunday morning to a Lakers team that could vie to one of the top two spots in the West, or a Sixers team that will be a shoe-in to make the Finals. This is my favorite time of the year because I love when the NBA shakes things up.
LeBron James has opted out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope for the Cavs to get him back, but it doesn’t seem likely and it would take some big moves by the Cavs to convince LeBron that he should stay. If he goes to the Lakers, he could, potentially, be joining Paul George and/or Kawhi Leonard in LA.
George became a free agent after opting out of his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. What was supposed to be a “Superteam” in OKC, turned out to be a first round playoff exit to an up and coming Utah Jazz team. The dynamic just didn’t work…and by that I mean that Russell Westbrook is a one man wrecking crew who doesn’t know how to play with others, right KD? The only reason Carmelo Anthony decided to stay in OKC is that he knows that no one in their right mind would pay $27.9 million for him on the open market (which is precisely what OKC owes him for the 2018-19 season).
Let’s get back on track…
If James decides to go to the City of Brotherly Love and join the likes of Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, he’ll likely make the Sixers a Finals lock for next year. Combine that with the report that the Sixers are trying to trade for Kawhi Leonard and you’re looking at a serious title contender.
Clipper’s Center DeAndre Jordan has also opted out of his contract and is exploring his options in free agency. The Mavericks look like an obvious choice because they have the cap room and a need at center, but he’s not the only center available. DeMarcus Cousins is also looking to get paid this summer, but might be disappointed because he’s coming off an ACL tear… not the best time to test the market if you ask me. The Mavericks will look to add either Jordan or Cousins on July 1st, although Cousins might actually be attainable at a lower price and he’s the better of the two despite the injury. The Wizards should be a looking for a big and the Warriors have emerged as a dark horse to consider trying to sign Jordan. The most likely outcome for Cousins is that he will return to the Pelicans, but it won’t hurt to see what he’s worth on the open market.
Chris Paul is expected to re-sign with the Rockets regardless of where Lebron signs, so don’t expect any surprises. Other interesting names in free agency this year include former MVP-candidate Isaiah Thomas, Lakers Forward Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Nerlens Noel, Jerami Grant, and Jazz Forward Derrick Favors. These second-tier players could play a huge role in impacting the landscape of the NBA next year depending on where they end up. We haven’t seen what Jabari Parker is capable of because he’s had a number of injuries, but I wouldn’t write him off. His work ethic and abilities make him an extremely desirable asset. Grant and Noel are defensive stoppers who are still developing their offensive games. Grant has moved ahead of Noel in my book, but that is due to the opportunity Grant was gifted in Oklahoma City to showcase his talent. Noel was buried on the Mavericks bench. Mavericks coach, Rick Carlisle, didn’t like Noel’s personality and let it be known. I don’t believe Nerlens had a fair shake. I’m interested in seeing what type of interest he’ll generate on the open market.
It is Free Agency Eve and I couldn’t be more excited. Make sure you’re watching/listening to/reading all of the reports starting at midnight tonight. Happy Offseason, everyone!