When the 2016-17 NBA season comes to an end somewhere around the middle of June and either the Golden State Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers win the rubber match of the past two champions, two events will happen that will potentially change the landscape of the league for the next few years. The first takes place on June 22 when the NBA welcomes a fresh new crop of rookies, led by one of the better selection of guards that we have seen in a while (not to mention Mr. Ball). The second takes place at 11:59:59 on June 30. That's when management will finish dialing the phone number or ring the door bell of their preferred free agent hopeful and willingly hand over a boat load of cash to some deserving (and some not so deserving) players they feel will get them over the hump.
Players such as Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Gordon Hayward are all but guaranteed to be wearing the same uniform again next season, but for others, including some of the notables listed below, a return to their current team isn't as much of a lock. Aside from KD moving to Golden State last summer, Al Horford left Atlanta for Boston, Dwyane Wade went back home to Chicago and Pau Gasol headed to Texas to join the Spurs, all of which were contracts and signings that made sense. On the other hand, the Grizzlies offering Chandler Parsons $98.5 million was a waste, same can be said for the Magic handing over $72 mil to Bismack Biyombo and lets not get started on the Knicks throwing $18 million a year at Joakim Noah until 2020.
As with any free agent group, there's going to be some worthwhile signings that will help teams take the next step up the ladder of success and others that will once again make many of us shake our heads wondering how and why. Some may be small names that make the biggest splash, while others may be big names that make an even bigger flop.
15 Thrive: Jrue Holiday (Current Team - New Orleans)
They have a front court that only few teams could dream of in terms of talent with Brow and Boogie, but in order to run the show, the Pelicans need to bring back their starting point guard. At 26 years old, Holiday is still young enough to keep up with the new generation of talent, but old enough to have gone through the ropes of being a professional basketball player, especially at the point guard spot.
14 Flop: Blake Griffin (Current Team - LA Clippers)
There are a number of teams that believe Blake Griffin still has something left in the tank and chances are he does, just not a full season worth. Chances are the Clippers need a few more pieces to sniff a championship, but is Griffin one of them?
13 Thrive: P.J. Tucker (Current Team - Toronto)
During this season's trade deadline, the Raptors basically brought in Tucker to do what Demarre Carroll did not and at a fraction of the cost. After returning to his original NBA club in a trade that brought him over from the Phoenix Suns. Tucker's blue collar, hard nosed, workhorse approach to the game not only made him valuable to Coach Casey, but also a fan favorite. While he doesn't have the resume that Carroll or Serge Ibaka have, the grit and grind that comes with Tucker more than makes up for less of the sexy stats.
12 Flop: Derrick Rose (Current Team - New York)
Man, some team is going to look at DRose and think that he'll be worth the money, possibly even max money, with hopes that he will once again return to his early Chicago years. However those days are long passed, even if they were just five years ago. Completing a 5year, $94 million contract, Rose believes that he's worth more than he should actually be paid.
11 Thrive: James Johnson (Current Team - Miami)
The Heat are in search of a big name talent after watching James, Wade and Bosh depart from South Beach over the last couple of years, ending the team's powerhouse run that last for many years. After signing a one year, $4 million contract with Miami after two years in Toronto, where he was stuck playing random minutes off the bench, Johnson found a niche with the Heat's second unit, playing the most minutes of his career and averaging the best stats of his eight year career.
10 Flop: Rajon Rondo (Current Team - Chicago)
The experiment on paper looked promising even despite the mileage. Adding Rondo and Dwyane Wade to Jimmy Butler appeared to give the Bulls one of the best back-court trios in the East, at least on paper. Then there was the season of locker room and on-court drama that resulted in a roller coaster regular season and a first round playoff knockout.
9 Thrive: Deron Williams (Current Team - Cleveland)
He's far from the elite player that he once was, but Williams still has the ability to provide a steady hand at the point guard position, especially for a veteran team. Grabbing Williams off of the waiver wire late this season, the Cavs bring in a suitable back up for Kyrie Irving, one capable of still impacting a game here and there.
8 Flop: Rudy Gay (Current Team - Sacramento)
Not yet the upper echelon of players, Gay has always been that second or third tier type star that teams hope will elevate his game another notch and help catapult them to the next level. Unfortunately such has not been the case during Gay's career. Currently holding a $14.3 million player option for next season with the Kings, Gay saw his 2016-17 season cut short with an Achilles injury just thirty games into the season.
7 Thrive: J.J. Redick (Current Team - LA Clippers)
The window that was the Clippers opportunity to claim their first championship is nearly closed. At first it was all fun and games down in Lob City with fans and players excited about the Clippers taking over the city spotlight from the struggling Lakers, but at the end of the day, both franchises have walked away each season failing to measure up to expectations.
6 Flop: Tyreke Evans (Current Team - Sacramento)
After spending his first four years with the Kings and earning Rookie Of The Year honors, big things were expected from the combo guard in Sacramento. Then they traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans. So much for gratitude and considering what the Kings got in return for Evans, he wasn't valued that much.
5 Thrive: Greg Monroe (Current Team - Milwaukee)
Depending on how Monroe decides to play this, he could either return to the Bucks under his $17.8 million player option or give up the cash and decide to test the waters for a better situation than what he faced all year in Milwaukee. After being a starter for most of his NBA career, including the majority of his games played last season with the Bucks, Monroe found himself coming off the bench for coach Kidd for all of his 81 games during the regular season and the six game playoff run.
4 Flop: Kyle Lowry (Current Team - Toronto)
Unfortunately for the Raptors, the Cleveland Cavaliers finished second in the Eastern Conference regular season standings. This meant an early playoff match-up that saw Toronto quickly dismissed from any chance at a deep post season run, despite having one of their best rosters in history. Add to that the loss of their All-Star point guard to an ankle injury and there was little chance that the Raptors could match last seasons success.
3 Thrive: JaVale McGee (Current Team - Golden State)
He was (and probably forever will be) once the star of Shaqtin' a Fool, but now, McGee is taking over the big man role for the Warriors, despite coming off the bench. While Zaza Pachulia gets the starting nod, McGee has given the Warriors a better, more athletic option at the five spot.
2 Flop: Dwyane Wade (Current Team - Chicago)
Like his teammate Rondo, Wade gave the Bulls fans high levels of hope for a return to prominence this season as the homegrown guard returned to the Windy City. Sure Wade is 35 years old and sure there were moments in which he was the flash of old, but considering that he has a player option for nearly $24 million for next season, that kind of money shouldn't be used for a player on the decline.
1 Thrive: Andre Iguodala (Current Team - Golden State)
Iggy has about 45 days left on his current four year, $48 million deal with the Warriors before he heads into what is likely his last contract of his career. At 33 years old and thirteen years into his tenure, AI Jr. has become more of a component to the machine rather than the main cog that he was expected to be during his spotlight time in Philadelphia.
Coming off the bench for the Warriors, Iguodala has the skillset to spell either Curry, Thompson or Durant and still not miss much of a beat. Now more of a facilitator and defender than scorer, Iguodala is their third oldest member of the team and fourth longest in terms of playing years. Chances are high that number 9 will finish out his career in San Francisco rather than anywhere else in the NBA.
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