Here’s the thing about this 12 months’s NBA free agency: there may not be plenty of unrestricted free agent movement. There won’t be plenty of major free agents on the market, nor are there plenty of suitors (in the intervening time). At time of writing, only the Detroit Pistons, Recent York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic have a big amount of cap space.
Does this mean nothing will occur after free agency officially starts at 6pm EST on Thursday? Absolutely not, this summer should provide us with loads of storylines whether or not they revolve around free agent signings, blockbuster trades or simply general franchise upheavals.
1) Has the drama in Brooklyn really ended?
Potentially the most important story of the summer might need already been squashed. Just a number of days ago, it looked as if the Brooklyn Nets were about to separate up as Kyrie Irving was rumored to be opting out of his $36.9m player’s option, potentially signing with the Los Angeles Lakers for the $6m midlevel exception.
Eventually, Irving whipped out the calculator and realized that this was significantly lower than $36.9 million and opted in to the ultimate 12 months of his deal in Brooklyn. This was a relief to the Nets, who were anxious about Kevin Durant asking out if Irving were to depart.
Nevertheless, now that Irving has opted in, it’s still possible that the Nets could pursue a sign-and-trade with one other team (including the Lakers). It’s also not not possible that Irving’s unreliability has made Durant wonder if the entire Nets experiment is price it. Or, yeah, and there’s also the “can Ben Simmons actually play basketball in any respect” query. The Nets have leapt one hurdle, but there are more to come back of course.
2) Can the Lakers improve their roster?
We are able to debate the wisdom of the Lakers adding Irving to their roster in any respect – the last time LeBron James and Irving were teammates back with the Cleveland Cavaliers it resulted in a public falling out, and Irving has only attracted more controversy since then – nevertheless it would have been a defensible gamble at $6m. Additionally they would have liked to snag John Wall after the Houston Rockets bought out the purpose guard, but all reports have him going to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The excellent news for the Lakers is that Russell Westbrook is opting into his contract. The bad news for the Lakers is that, well, Russell Westbrook is opting into his contract and he’s going to cost them $47m. The very best version of Westbrook could absolutely help this team, but we haven’t seen that version of the 33-year-old shortly.
After last season’s failure to make the playoffs, the Lakers could use some major changes. But they’re well into the luxurious tax, and might have to get creative to tug anything off this summer. Can they unload Westbrook and get any value for him? It may not hurt to explore that option.
3) Is Jalen Brunson the reply in Recent York?
On draft day, the Knicks made the curious decision to skip out on the primary round altogether, trading their picks to be able to clear up cap space. Then they traded Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks for 2 second-round picks and money for much more cap space.
The explanations, it seems, usually are not all that obscure as they’re preparing to supply a max contract to Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson. In the event that they accomplish that, it’s unlikely that Dallas will probably be willing to match that provide on a player yet to make an All-Star team.
It’s a high-risk move for a team that has been burnt up to now by handing out huge contracts to non-superstars. There’s a solid likelihood this might find yourself being a classic move that doesn’t make the Knicks significantly better, makes the Mavericks appreciably worse and finally ends up with Brunson stuck in an unhappy spot with an untradeable contract. In other words, a nasty deal for everybody. Here within the biz, we call that “Knickery.”
4) Who exactly will probably be the highest free-agent this summer?
Alternatively, perhaps the Knicks are only aware how slim the pickings are this summer. Right away, it’s not entirely certain who the highest free-agent will probably be. Should James Harden opt out of the $47.4m he’s owed by the Philadelphia 76ers, it’s probably him. That, to place it mildly, seems unlikely considering how poorly things resulted in Philly last season.
Meanwhile, the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal could turn down his option for next 12 months and grow to be an unrestricted free agent. But when he does that, Washington can simply offer him a bigger maximum deal than anybody else. It might be a no brainer for him to stay a Wizard.
Likewise, Zach LaVine will probably be an unrestricted free agent but reports have him staying in Chicago to be the face of the Bulls (not a nasty legacy move, given who else has owned that title). Beyond LaVine, now we have already discussed the likely destinations of each Brunson and Wall.
Probably the most intriguing name might be the Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton, to whom the Suns have submitted a $16.4m qualifying offer. As a restricted free agent, the previous No 1 overall pick could either take it – becoming an unrestricted free agent next 12 months – or refuse it to hunt a bigger contract elsewhere.
Should he take the second option, the Suns can match whatever offers they get for him. One assumes that they’d fairly do this than letting him walk, but there’s the opportunity of them working a sign-and-trade if the situation in Phoenix feels untenable (and it might be).
5) The Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics in differing situations
What of our two NBA finals opponents? Well, one in every of them could also be due for a serious lineup makeover while the opposite could potentially be all set, that’s unless they resolve otherwise.
The world champion Golden State Warriors might be losing key pieces including Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr, who’re all scheduled to grow to be free agents. All three players were vital parts of their finals win over the Boston Celtics – indeed of their entire postseason run – and have actually upped their value. Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins are also eligible for extensions, so the Warriors have plenty of decisions to make about methods to spend their money.
The Celtics, nevertheless, won’t need to make any major moves with their core 4 of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams all under contract and Al Horford prone to return. All points indicate that they are going to mostly take a look at bolstering a skinny bench fairly than making huge moves, but this wouldn’t be the primary offseason that they shocked the NBA.