By Shawn Dennis
This upcoming Monday, August 2nd, the NBA will transform once again as Free Agency begins. Although the list of All-Star type caliber players is short, this Free Agency has plenty of guys that can bring a contending team to the next level or can fill a much needed hole in a roster.
We’ve already seen early transactions made by the two biggest rivals in the NBA, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. LA now is without any of their young and promising core that started back in 2016 drafting Brandon Ingram, as a trade for Russell Westbrook sent Kyle Kuzma to the Washington Wizard. For the C’s, Tristan Thompson is playing out West for the first time in his career, joining the Sacramento Kings, while Boston acquired Josh Richardson, Kris Dunn, and Bruno Fernando in the process.
It’s essential to mention the top free agents that will likely remain on their current team first before listing players that are more likely to be on the move.
Those being: Chris Paul, Mike Conley, Victor Oladipo, John Collins, Evan Fournier and Jarret Allen. The reason why I didn’t include Kawhi Leonard in the mix is due to the idea that the Dallas Mavericks could potentially match a contract if he opts out of his player option. It’s an extreme wild card no doubt, but it’s one that has to be mentioned for as crazy as the NBA has become in the last decade with signings.
Moving right along, here’s a list of free agents that should be on the move and where I expect they’ll end up.
Duncan Robinson- After a stellar 2019/2020 season that led the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals, Duncan Robinson has a tough decision to make. Either give the Heat another go and likely take less money than he’s looking for or go to a team that’s less of a contender.
In Duncan’s shoes, he knows that the Heat are willing to trade him for another All-Star caliber player to create a trio in Miami. That being said, I think he’s going to chase the bag and go after whatever team offers him the most cash. If Golden State doesn’t bring back Kelly Oubre Jr, I think Robinson would make a great fit for an off the bench scorer, and is easily able to insert into the starting lineup. That or the Dallas Mavericks to give more scoring for Luka Doncic.
Dennis Schroder- There’s no doubt that Schroder wants nothing to do with wearing purple and gold next season. There seemed to be no chemistry with the team and his playoff performance was bleak. Schroder is also expecting a contract of at least $100 million-plus, which LA can’t offer now that Westbrook has joined the team.
The Chicago Bulls are desperate for a point guard, and now without Kris Dunn, have more of a reason to pursue someone like Schroder.
Kyle Lowry- Everyone in the league has their eyes on long-time Toronto Raptor, Kyle Lowry. There’s no question that Lowry will get paid this offseason and if he still wants to compete for another title, I don’t see it happening in Toronto.
There’s only been a couple of teams still trying to pursue Lowry outside of Toronto: the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers. It would be a homecoming for Lowry to head to Philadelphia, he would fit extremely well in a Doc Rivers system, and the Sixers are desperate for a true point guard. I think a sign-and-trade could be on the table and if Pascal Siakam gets traded elsewhere, the Raptors may want to take on Ben Simmons in a deal.
DeMar DeRozan- Former teammate of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, is also looking to join a contending team this offseason. It’s difficult to assess what DeRozan is worth at this point in his career, especially given he hasn’t had much playoff time since being traded to the San Antonio Spurs.
The New York Knicks have the best chance of bringing him on because of their cap space lining up to his projected contract expense if he doesn’t want a paycut. The odds of him winning a championship in New York aren’t much greater than staying in San Antonio however. The Spurs do have the ability to match any contract he’s offered, so it’s quite possible he’ll stay in San Antonio for another season.
Lonzo Ball- Do the Pelicans want to give Lonzo Ball another go around with All-Stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram? The logical answer is yes, considering Eric Bledsoe was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies a week ago and Kira Lewis Jr. hasn’t developed enough to take a starting position at the helm.
Ball is in a really interesting spot. It would be bizarre if New Orleans decided not to match any qualifying offers from other teams, but they could also go the route of a sign-and-trade if it’s an option. The five teams that keep getting brought up are Dallas, Toronto, Chicago, Miami, and the Knicks because they all need point guards. For me, Lonzo would fit alongside Doncic really well, but I think Dallas needs more of a veteran presence like what the Phoenix Suns did with Chris Paul.
Carmelo Anthony- The 37-year-old Melo may be on his last limb at an opportunity to win a championship. The Portland Trail Blazers roster could change drastically if Damian Lillard requests a trade or if they find a worthwhile deal for CJ McCollum. Being in the league for 18-years, the seasoned veteran Melo certainly has to realize that he’s made enough money in the league and now has one last shot to put himself on the best team to win it all.
The team that makes the most sense all-around for him is the Los Angeles Lakers. Between his relationship with LeBron James, having already been a teammate to Russell Westbrook, and Kyle Kuzma no longer there, he has the available minutes and best chance to win a championship as a Laker.
As anticipated as everyone is for Free Agency to begin, the season doesn’t start until October 19. Players and teams alike are going to take their sweet time in assessing what is their best decision. Hopefully we see some action on August 2 either way.
Stay tuned in to all the action, rumors, and deals with JDF Sports along the way!