The free agent period in the NBA offseason has become another exciting aspect to the year in basketball. Following the often exciting NBA Finals, teams will shift towards the NBA Draft and then the free agent period. Star players have started to migrate over the years with big changes shaking up the league. LeBron James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat and then leaving Miami for Cleveland were bigger stories than the majority of things to happen during the season. Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors completely changed the landscape of the league this season.
Those examples are quite rare with the majority of elite talent usually staying put. Teams can keep their players by having the option to offer more money than any other team. The players that are currently struggling have the best chance at switching organizations in the offseason. Their teams will be less inclined to offer a max contract and the players may want a change of scenery. The summer of 2017 will see many interesting names hit the market come free agency. We’ll look at fifteen specific names that are struggling and the teams they may sign with very soon.
15. Danilo Gallinari: Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets are by far the worst team in the NBA this season, but they do have a lot of cap space to spend. Free agency will allow them to overpay a free agent or two in hopes of putting together a competitive team. Danilo Gallinari is currently a member of the Denver Nuggets. His work is impressive, but he’s still not living up to his full potential.
Gallinari is the kind of player the Nets desperately need on offense. Brook Lopez may be their best outside shooter of their better players and he’s a center that had three total three-point shooters entering the season. The trio of Gallinari, Lopez and Jeremy Lin could create some sort of optimism for the franchise as they continue their rebuilding process.
14. Blake Griffin: Oklahoma City Thunder
Blake Griffin is still putting up great numbers, so it may be a stretch to say he’s struggling, but he has definitely taken a downturn in recent years. There was a time Griffin was a clear All-Star and a potential top five player in the league. That is no longer the case with a couple of lackluster seasons right before entering free agency in a couple of months.
The Los Angeles Clippers may be the favorites to keep him, but the bad blood from last season, with him attacking a team employee, put him in the dog house. Griffin could ditch the Clippers for a chance to return home in a better environment. The Oklahoma City Thunder could attract the hometown boy by creating a new dynamic duo of Griffin and Russell Westbrook.
13. Brandon Jennings: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers have a loaded roster, but they badly need a backup point guard. They may find a rental this season, but that will only last until the end of the season. Cleveland will look for a veteran point guard that can score and facilitate in a bench role. Brandon Jennings is the perfect man for the job. The New York Knicks don’t give him enough of a role to shine, but he still has the scoring touch.
Jennings could be a potential sixth man of the year on the Cavaliers. Any potential Kyrie Irving injury or rest days won’t destroy the team’s chances of winning without him. Jennings is the kind of player that you don’t think would help a contender until he’s actually on the roster with a respectable role. Cleveland is the best fit if he chooses to take the veteran’s minimum for a shot at winning a ring.
12. Andrew Bogut: Golden State Warriors
The days of the traditional center are numbered. Big men are required to have a three-point shooting touch and some speed or they will be obsolete. Andrew Bogut is learning that the hard way on the Dallas Mavericks. Bogut fit perfectly on the Golden State Warriors defending the paint because the team could sacrifice his offense with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and others on the team.
Bogut is struggling immensely in Dallas and there’s no doubt he’ll leave the team in the offseason. Golden State could use a paint defender going forward. Bogut loved the franchise and the winning that came with the past few years. Don’t be surprised if he takes a pay cut to return to the Warriors for happiness and a chance to continue being a part of something special.
11. Darren Collison: Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks are struggling to find the right man at the point guard position. Deron Williams is past his prime. J.J. Barea and Devin Harris are often injured. Yogi Ferrell is unproven aside from one week of good basketball. Dallas will have a tough time finding a difference maker in the offseason and their best bet is to pick a veteran point guard to lead another committee.
Darren Collison shows flashes of brilliance, but is best splitting time with other point guards on his level in Sacramento. Dallas could find use of him and Rick Carlisle may be the right coach to get the best out of his talent, as Collison is a potential diamond in the rough. The Mavericks offer the best scenario and an escape from the Sacramento Kings franchise.
10. Nerlens Noel: Chicago Bulls
Nerlens Noel does not have a role worthy of his talent on the Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid will be their center of the future, while Ben Simmons is another taller player that will want to spend some time in the paint. The 76ers are just not the right team for Noel to progress. His defensive skills and athleticism make him an impressive asset if he’s placed in the right system.
One team that has a lot of talent, but lacks a great starting power forward is the Chicago Bulls. They are strong at the guard position, but need a young big man for the paint. Noel would flourish on a team with better talent and need for him. It would be the complete opposite from his current situation and allow him a chance to turn his floundering career around. He’s an RFA this summer, so this move could be tricky, but it would make plenty of sense for both teams.
9. Deron Williams: Utah Jazz
Things ended poorly for Deron Williams with the Utah Jazz. Williams was the face of the franchise for many years before growing unhappy. Utah dealt him to the Brooklyn Nets and the fans never forgave him for it. However, in the end, fans typically forgive their former star players as time heal all wounds. Williams is struggling badly on the Dallas Mavericks after a depressing decline over the past few years.
The Jazz are potentially going to lose their starting point guard if George Hill decides to take a spot in a more exciting location. Williams could start with a talented core of talent around him. A bench role would be even worthwhile for him, as he could contribute to a thriving franchise that once treated him as their superstar. A return to his home state didn’t work out, but maybe a return to his home franchise will.
8. Andre Iguodala: Boston Celtics
Andre Iguodala was the NBA Finals MVP for the Golden State Warriors just a couple of years ago and one of the most important pieces to their dominant run. However, his role is much less significant now following the signing of Kevin Durant to completely change the dynamic. Iguodala is entering free agency this upcoming summer and it is unlikely he will take a pay cut at this stage of his career like Golden State will want.
The Boston Celtics are the perfect fit for Iguodala. Boston has a young roster that could benefit from having the presence of someone with noteworthy playoff success. The Celtics lack small forward depth and Iguodala would get decent playing time there. Fans in Boston love work ethic and Iguodala could be the best under the radar signing of the summer.
7. Tyreke Evans: New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are in a tough place right now. Phil Jackson wants to trade Carmelo Anthony. Derrick Rose will likely be off the team by the offseason. They will badly need new talent, but will have a tough time attracting free agents. The best bet is to go after a talented player that is currently at their lowest value.
Tyreke Evans used to be good for 16 points, five rebounds and five assists per game every season. He’s currently having his worst year due to injury issues and lack of playing time on the New Orleans Pelicans. New York could benefit from the risk involved in signing him. Rose likely leaving means they’ll need a playmaker and Evans has done that in the past. Both Evans and the Knicks could be a perfect fit for each other.
6. Greg Monroe: Charlotte Hornets
Greg Monroe’s time in Milwaukee has been a massive disappointment due to the league changing. He’s at his best when he can post up in the paint and score that way. Most teams are going against that style of play. Michael Jordan is one old school mind that still values the traditional center, but the Charlotte Hornets do not have a strong option at the center position right now.
Jordan will likely be the one owner aggressively trying to convince his General Manager to sign Monroe. The fact that Monroe’s value will be quite low will help the Hornets find a contract that could fit their budget. Monroe will struggle to find a new starting position in the NBA, but Charlotte is one potential fit for him to start over. Of course, this is all contingent on Monroe not exercising his player option for next year.
5. Rudy Gay: Miami Heat
An injury has ruled out Rudy Gay for the remainder of the season, but it was already apparent that things with the Sacramento Kings weren’t going well before this. Gay has a player option, but we don’t expect him to want to stay in California. One team that is always looking to get the best out of untapped talent and will look for a great diamond in the rough is the Miami Heat.
Pat Riley and the Heat always find a way to make their signings work out. Gay likely having to sign a smaller short term contract due to the injury could land him in Miami. The combination of Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Gay would be a mid-tier team in the Eastern Conference and give the Heat another potential trade asset for the future once Gay’s stock rises again.
4. Serge Ibaka: Memphis Grizzlies
Serge Ibaka is having a terrible time fitting in with the Orlando Magic. His long tenure with the Oklahoma City Thunder allowed him to get used to winning. That ended when Orlando acquired him in a trade last summer and failed to implement him into the game plan well. The Magic are still an afterthought in the Eastern Conference and Ibaka will be a free agent in a few months.
The Memphis Grizzlies have seen Zach Randolph serve as their starting power forward during their recent string of success. Randolph has moved to a bench role and is nearing the end of his career. Ibaka would be the perfect successor as an elite defender with toughness to back it up. Memphis would improve and still keep their identity as a bruising team.
3. Derrick Rose: Philadelphia 76ers
Derrick Rose’s career went downhill following years of injuries to his knees causing his play to regress. Rose can still be a competent scorer, but he is struggling on the New York Knicks. Fans hoped to get MVP Rose, but instead are getting a slightly above average point guard. Rose will likely have to find a new team when he enters free agency in July.
The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the teams in the NBA that desperately need a point guard. Rose could add a veteran presence, some star power and would be a huge upgrade over the players currently at the position in Philadelphia. The options will be limited, but the 76ers could offer him an interesting deal to help their younger team.
2. Chris Bosh: Toronto Raptors
Chris Bosh’s future is in question with various health issues in play. Bosh wants to return to the NBA but the Miami Heat consider him a health risk and won’t allow it. Miami won’t release Bosh in time to let him sign with another team this season, so next season is the earliest we’ll see him. The talented power forward has struggled with accepting retirement.
Bosh will likely be able to sign a deal if he chooses to return. The Toronto Raptors were the franchise that drafted him and it would make a good story if he ended his career there. Bosh would want to play for a contender and Toronto is lacking a power forward, so Bosh could be a difference maker for the team.
1. Dwyane Wade: San Antonio Spurs
Dwyane Wade returning home to play for the Chicago Bulls has not worked out. Chicago is struggling to play .500 basketball, there is turmoil all over the franchise and Wade’s numbers aren’t impressive. The odds are definitely in favor of Wade leaving the Bulls to join a better team in the offseason, as he holds a player option for next year. Wade only has a few years left as a starting caliber player and will want to play for a contender.
The San Antonio Spurs may very well be the perfect fit. Pau Gasol’s contract coming off the books would allow them to offer another noteworthy star a short term deal. Wade has spoken positively about Gregg Popovich and he would improve the team. Danny Green could easily move to the bench and Wade’s would have a chance to add another ring to his resume.