In July, the NBA free agency will be in full swing once again and superstars are up for grabs for teams with enough cap space to sign them. It would be interesting to see if there will be another blockbuster team-up which purpose is to counter the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors’ star-studded line-ups.
Although Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry will be unrestricted free agents this off-season, they have already expressed their intent to return to the Golden State Warriors. Instead, we will look at seven stars who can opt out of their contracts and are likely to leave their current teams.
NBA Free Agency: Hayward, Griffin and Paul Lead List
1. Gordon Hayward
After a career year, the Utah Jazz star’s value is probably at its highest. After being named an All-Star in 2017, teams will not hesitate to give him max money, including his current team. However, his Butler ties with Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens might prove to be valuable. He is pegged as one of the best young coaches in the league and the Celtics just clinched the top seed before succumbing to the Cavs in the ECF. Not to mention, they own the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
2. Blake Griffin
The Clippers will do everything humanly possible to retain the services of the high-flying superstar but Griffin is free to test the free agency waters to his heart’s content. The top contenders for his services are the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics. Not only do both teams have enough cap room to sign the forward, he will also fill a huge void at the four position for the lucky franchise he commits to.
3. Chris Paul
With the LA Clippers unable to get past the second round since Paul’s arrival in 2011, some analysts believe it is finally time to end the Lob City era. With Paul nearing the twilight zone of his career, he is in “win now” mode more than ever and the San Antonio Spurs might just be the team that can give him his much-coveted ring.
4. Kyle Lowry
After getting swept by the Cavs in the second round of this year’s playoffs, the 31-year-old All-Star guard made it known that winning a ring is now his top priority. With Toronto unable to get past LeBron James every time they meet in the postseason, rumor has it he plans to sign with a Western Conference contender.
5. Paul Millsap
The All-Star forward will be one of the most coveted players in the NBA free agency due to his versatility, unselfishness, and outside shooting. With the Hawks leaning towards rebuilding, Millsap can opt to return to the team that drafted him, the Utah Jazz. Also, he can bolster the Bulls line-up provided Wade returns for another season.
6. Serge Ibaka
Ibaka was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Raptors during this year’s trade deadline but his addition was simply not enough. Although he likes the culture of the team, the departure of Lowry may convince him to jump ship as well to a contender. Contenders needing an elite interior defender are the Washington Wizards and the Portland Trail Blazers among others according to Orlando Sentinel.
7. Dwyane Wade
Wade is not getting any younger and looking at the Chicago Bulls’ performance in the off-season, he can’t be blamed if he decides to leave his hometown team. The future Hall of Famer is at a point in his career where nothing else matters but to win another ring. Perhaps, reuniting with LeBron James in Cleveland is his next best chance, granted GM David Griffin can find a way to free up some cap space.
Here’s more NBA free agency news on other high-profile free agents by Adrian Wojnarowski:
Sources on @TheVertical: Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari intends to become an unrestricted free agent. https://t.co/ZRlcRYw5CC
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 30, 2017
Here are some predictions on where these stars will land in this video below by CaineLovesCali:
Should these players resort to signing with established contenders, it will be more beneficial for the league since there will be more teams that could rival the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. This could also set a wider gap between rebuilding teams, which may cause some fans to lose interest watching the games live. Nevertheless, it is more than likely these stars will affect each other’s decision once the 2017 NBA free agency period kicks into high gear.
Will this year’s NBA free agency tilt the balance of power in both conferences? Let us know what you think will be the likely destinations of the stars mentioned above in the comments below!