Free agency is one of the most exciting times for basketball fans all over the world, even though newcomers have still yet to play a single game for their new franchise or just because of the fact that their favorite players aren’t going to leave town.
And if there’s something we all love, it's making predictions about what may or may not happen regarding our favorite teams and players, so speculation is always there when we talk about upcoming offseasons, drafts, and free agency.
Today, we’re going to do something quite bold, based on what we’ve seen of teams and players so far this season, we’re going to fast-forward ahead several months and predict what top-notch free agents are going to do when the time comes to make their next career decision.
We won't mention Kevin Durant because I fully expect that he will re-sign with the Golden State Warriors.
10. Avery Bradley - Free Agent
The Detroit Pistons have really improved this season, especially on the defensive end of the hardwood, and that obviously has a lot to do with Avery Bradley’s presence and suffocating backcourt defense. The guard is set to receive a lot of tempting offers next offseason due to his versatility, and even though he may resign with the Pistons, he’s very likely to test the waters in free agency for a couple of weeks at least.
9. Nerlens Noel - Free Agent
After racking up several DNP’s and barely seeing playing time at all, it’s pretty safe to say that Nerlens Noel’s time with the Dallas Mavericks is coming to an end. Noel is eager to get a max deal somewhere and his upside may grant him several suitors, although his durability is going to make it tough to entrust him with a large contract. Having said that, we expect him to go somewhere he can actually play.
8. Aaron Gordon - Offers Matched by Orlando Magic
Aaron Gordon is playing lights out right now for the Magic and is almost a lock to win Most Improved Player of the Year, so even though he’s set to become a restricted free agent, matching any offer would be a huge no-brainer from Orlando’s front office. Gordon is one of the game’s most exciting prospects overall and he’s finally starting to pay off, so he’s definitely going to be their franchise player for the long run.
7. DeAndre Jordan - Free Agent
Whether they manage to trade him or not, it’s obvious that DeAndre Jordan’s stint with the Los Angeles Clippers is going to be over very soon, and he’s not going to be with the team for the upcoming campaign next season. Jordan is 29 years old by now, and he knows this would be his last shot at a very lucrative deal, so he’s a lock to decline his player option and test free agency. With the Cavs and Rockets reportedly quite interested in the big man, he could be signing a big paycheck.
6. Carmelo Anthony - Accepts Player Option
Carmelo Anthony vetoed a no-trade clause from the New York Knicks because he “believed” in Russell Westbrook and what he’s capable of doing. Besides, Melo has been pretty productive in his Oklahoma City Thunder stint, and even though they’re not as good as expected quite yet, Anthony is most likely to use his player option and stay for at least one more season besides the reigning MVP.
5. Paul George - Free Agent
On the other hand, Paul George has also been outstanding on both ends of the floor for the OK3, but we just don’t see him being the third man for any team, and neither does he. George, being a Lakers fan and considering how aggressively they intend to pursue him this upcoming offseason, it’d be safe to expect that George may leave town to be dressed in purple and gold for the long-term future.
4. Isaiah Thomas - Free Agent
Isaiah Thomas’ plan was never to become a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, rather than to beat them. He’s yet to make his debut and even though he may seem like an instant fit and is going to have a huge shot at the title this year, we’d expect him to test free agency. That doesn’t mean he won’t resign with Cleveland, but that’s going to have a lot to do with LeBron James’ decision for his future.
3. Chris Paul - Re-sign with the Rockets
Chris Paul is already making a huge impact on the Houston Rockets, with the team being 1st in offensive and defensive efficiency when he and Harden are on the court. Houston, being his biggest shot at a championship, we’d expect him to sign a 3-year deal with the last year of the contract being a player option, considering he’d be 35 years old.
2. DeMarcus Cousins - Free Agent
DeMarcus Cousins has been a beast ever since setting foot in New Orleans, and he’s been even more reliable, durable and productive than Anthony Davis so far this season. Still, despite Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen coming to town, it feels as if the Pelicans are ages away from actual title contention. So, with Boogie desperate to make the playoffs and go the distance, we’d expect him to become a free agent and get less cash to play with a championship contender.
1. LeBron James - Free Agent
Most likely, we’re going to have a very quiet offseason until LeBron James finally announces his decision, and several pieces are going to start to fall from there. LeBron’s future has been surrounded by a lot of rumors, and all signals point towards him heading out the door. With the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly prepared to make a huge run at him and considering how many businesses he owns in LA, it’d be a safe guess that he’s going to test free agency and he will probably sign with the team who has the best chance to win the 2019 NBA championship.
Of course, if the Cleveland Cavaliers win title this year, he will probably stay until the end of his career.