The 2016-17 NBA regular season is still young and this upcoming summer there will be many impact free agents as well as potential free agents available. 2017’s Free Agent Class, is shaping up to be one of the deepest and, most impactful in recent memory. It may even be bigger than last summer. For all we know, this upcoming Free Agency could change the balance of the NBA as we know it. Mega deals are sure to be signed and maybe, just maybe, impact superstars will pack their bags and take their elsewhere.
Honourable Mention: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, Unrestricted Free Agent
Yes, LeBron James is once again a free agent. Will he go anywhere else? Absolutely not. Quite frankly, James only makes the list here because he is indeed a Free Agent again. After bringing Cleveland a championship, as he promised, it is a virtual lock that Lebron James will be staying put this summer. Expect king James to sign another short-term deal to help Cleveland attract other key free agents, and to keep us fans on our toes, speculating about another possible and, unlikely heartbreak in Cleveland.
10. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors, Unrestricted Free Agent
At age 32, Iguodala’s play is on the slow decline. This summer, Golden State will need to try and sign both Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry which, makes it even more likely that Iguodala walks. Over the past few seasons, Iguodala's production and minutes have started to drop which, is fair considering he does play for the Golden State Warriors but, what still makes Andre Iguodala such a valuable asset is his tenacious perimeter defense.
Iguodala serves as one of the Warriors defensive anchors off the bench and currently adds around 6 points as well as 3.7 assists. Add the fact that he was also an All-Star in 2012 and All-League Team member three times and 2015 Finals MVP, any team, especially a young one looking for established veterans would welcome the presence, experience, and talent that the 32-year-old possesses. For Andre Iguodala, there is not much left for him to accomplish and this summer, if he is to walk away from the Golden State Warriors it will be interesting to see where he ends up.
Could a reunion with the Philadelphia 76ers, the team that drafted him to be on the Horizon?
9. J.J Redick, Los Angeles Clippers, Unrestricted Free Agent
Much like Conference rival Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers will try and re-sign Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, who are expected to opt out of their respective contracts. That leaves one key member of the Clippers on the outside looking in, he is none other than J.J Redick. At 32 years of age, Redick is showing no signs of slowing down. Currently, Redick is on pace to have a career year. Averaging 15.6 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist on 49.1% shooting and 46% three-point shooting, Redick may never be an All-Star, however, his almost automatic shot will be sought after by many. Los Angeles will not be able to re-sign all their key players and possibly losing Redick, would be a huge loss but, in a day in age where the three point Shot is arguably the most important, JJ Redick’s sharp shooting could earn him a nice payday elsewhere.
There is also the possibility of L.A’s sharpshooter taking a serious pay cut to remain with the team however, it is more likely that we will see Redick in a new uniform during the 2017-18 season.
8. Dwyane Wade, Chicago Bulls, Player Option
After shocking the world singing with his hometown Chicago Bulls this past summer, Dwyane Wade will once again hold the future in his hands. It seems most likely that Wade will opt in to the second year of his deal as he is set to make a nice $23 and a half million dollars, but stranger things have happened.
Without a doubt, it is no secret that Wade would be open reuniting with LeBron James. Rumors swirled last season that Wade and the Cavaliers had a mutual interest in each other but money, was the biggest issue. As previously stated, it is more likely that Wade stays in his hometown of Chicago. Dwyane Wade may be getting older but his play is still as good as ever and with his new found three point touch, in the event he does opt out, many teams will most definitely desire his services.
7. Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz, Player Option
Gordon Hayward is having a career year and on the cusp of becoming a bonafide star. Currently averaging 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, Hayward and the Utah Jazz find themselves seeded Seventh in the Western Conference. The interesting thing here is that Hayward holds the decision in his hands and there are two ways this could play out.
First, Utah makes the playoffs and Hayward decides to opt in believing that the team is finally ready to contend. Second, Utah misses the playoffs and Hayward, coming off a remarkable season decides to test the waters thinking the grass may be greener elsewhere. If the second scenario is to happen, it will not be easy for Utah to re-sign it’s star. Hayward possesses many skills teams would have no issue paying to acquire. The 26-year-old is still in the prime years of his career, is a solid Three Point shooter, even better midrange game and attacks the basket hard. Hayward also plays good defense. In the event Hayward does opt into the final year of his contract, Utah gets another full season to decide how they will go about getting Gordon Hayward locked up.
Hayward is in arguably one of the most interesting situations on this list. Not only is he in the prime years of his career but, the Utah Jazz are also in the midst of finally taking a big leap and breaking it’s playoff drought.
6. Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks, Player Option
After losing Al Horford last summer, Atlanta is once again at risk of losing another star. At 31 years of age, Millsap keeps on getting better and better every year, to the point where some, would even say that he overachieves. Over the past few seasons, Millsap has taken his game to new heights, with All-Star game selections in the past three seasons to show for it. Millsap possesses a lethal midrange game which, in this day in age, for a big man is extremely valuable. On the season, Millsap is shooting 43% from the field on about 13 attempts per game. Millsap’s free throw percentage is 74.6% on 3.9 attempts per game.
Losing Millsap would deal Atlanta a major blow, but it is expected that the 31-year-old big man will re-sign at a higher cost. If Millsap does opt in to the final year of his three-year deal, he will make about $21 million dollars but he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2017-18 season.
5. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors, Player Option
The definition of the term “Late Bloomer”, should literally be changed to Kyle Lowry. At age 30, Kyle Lowry is playing the best basketball of his entire career. It may sound strange but, Lowry just might be hitting his prime years, in his late 20’s and early 30’s. Toronto’s All-Star guard is currently in the third year of a four-year $48 million dollar contract and, will have a player option this coming summer.
Although it would be very surprising to see Lowry walk, stranger things have happened. Lowry has been very vocal about his contract situation and has stated that he does want to opt out and resign with the Raptors. The biggest questions are just how long and how much? Toronto has a handful of young guards who are hungry to take Lowry’s spot. Canada’s own Cory Joseph left San Antonio and got even better and second-year guard Delon Wright, showed immense flashes of talent last season, with Toronto’s D-League affiliate “Raptors 905” and the NBA Franchise.
Although he probably will not get as big of a contract as DeMar DeRozan got this past offseason, while the Raptors championship window is still open, it makes sense for Toronto to go all in on Lowry, considering he is still playing amazing basketball. Let us not forget, Kyle Lowry is a back to back All-Star and, his bulldog mentality accompanied by the fact that along with DeRozan, he has literally helped turned the Raptors into a legitimate contender, should and will be rewarded.
4. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, Player Option
The Los Angeles Clippers will be in a very interesting spot this coming offseason. Their star duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will most likely both opt out of their current deals and, both will most likely demand max money. Los Angeles General Manager, Dave Wohl and Doc Rivers, Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations will have interesting choices to make. It has been reported throughout the past week that the Clippers, are preparing to offer Paul max money and max term, rightfully so.
Chris Paul is regarded as one of the best point guards in the game and one of the best basketball minds in the game as well. One of the only downsides to signing Paul to a five-year maximum contract is that right now he is 31 and the deal will likely pay him until he is 37. That being said, it remains to be seen how many more “good years” Paul has left in him. Also, the Clippers championship window will only be open for so long.
If Los Angeles eventually fall out of the championship picture during Paul’s five-year deal, they are basically stuck as offloading that type of contract has proven to be a daunting task. Much like Toronto, it would make sense for the Clippers to go all-in on Griffin and Paul as, they are in a “win now” mindset.
3. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers, Player Option
Blake Griffin will also have a player option at the end of the 2016-2017 season. It is expected by many that the 27-year-old will want a five-year maximum cContract. For Los Angeles, singing Griffin to the max would be a smart move. The team is slowly running out of time to win a championship and, with the Golden State Warriors seemingly a super team, they will need all the firepower they can get.
One of the biggest upsides for the Clippers in considering signing Blake to the max is his age. Griffin is only 27 and five years from now, he will be 32. This means, that if the big man can stay healthy, he will most likely be just outside of his prime when the contract ends unlike Chris Paul, who will be closer to 40 when his max deal would end. Blake Griffin staying put in L.A is less of a sure thing than Chris Paul.
It is quite possible that that Griffin’s hunger for a championship could lead him to sign with another team and even, sign with a team in the Eastern Conference. One of the biggest factors for the Clippers in signing Griffin is to sell him on the idea of winning an NBA Championship in L.A. Especially if the team fails to do so this year.
2. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors, Player Option
In the biggest move of the last offseason, Kevin Durant decided not to sign a possible mega-deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder and instead, decided to sign a short term, cheaper deal with the Golden State Warriors. This summer, Kevin Durant will once again be in the free agency spotlight if he decides to opt of his current deal.
If Golden State fails to win a championship this season, it will be very interesting to see where Durant may go. Currently, KD is playing some of the best basketball of his career and, has the power to turn any franchise into an instant contender. The dream scenario in the minds of many would be for Durant to finally win his championship ring, opt out and write all of his wrongs by returning to Oklahoma City. That scenario would be interesting but, seems almost unlikely.
It is more likely that if this year the Warriors do not win the NBA Championship, Durant opts into the second year of his deal. Remember, the “Big 3”, did not become NBA Champions until year 2. If the Warriors do indeed win, then they will really have to work hard to get both Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry re-signed.
He showed this season that he is willing to take a pay cut to win a championship, but, would Kevin Durant be willing to do it again this upcoming summer?
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, Unrestricted Free Agent
Steph Curry is finally going to get paid like a back to back MVP this coming summer but, by who? The Warriors, will have their hands full with re-signing Curry and possibly Durant which, begs the question, could Steph Curry really leave?
The simple answer is no. Speculation has begun to run rampant after Curry said “it [signing with home state Charlotte Hornets] is on my radar” It seems impossible to envision Curry leaving the Bay area anytime soon and signing with an Eastern Conference in the Hornets, would mean that Curry and Charlotte would have to face Cleveland in an earlier Playoff round.
Although a Steph Curry/Charlotte Hornets homecoming would be an interesting situation, Stephen Curry is and will be the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors for years to come which, is why it would be able to say “Curry will re-sign” with confidence.
NBA homecomings are always fun to see but, in the case of Steph Curry, it just would be baffling.