One of the best ways for an NBA franchise to make immediate improvements to their teams is through free agency. Free agency provides a much easier way for elite teams to better their rosters as opposed to the draft, and this is because elite teams are normal selecting towards the end of the first round. Up and coming teams also can attract free agents and become contenders. The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat were both towards the bottom of the standings, but then in the offseason they added Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the Celtics case and LeBron James and Chris Bosh in the Heats case. This catapulted them into contenders and helped both franchise win an NBA championships.
Free agency has played a part in teams being able to win a championship, but it is also important for teams to hold onto some of their own players. Teams typically have the upper hand in resigning their own players. They also have the ability to offer a player more money than opposing teams, and if a player is a restricted free agent a team can match any offers made for their player. There is always a lot of player movement during free agency and the 2017 offseason will be no different.
Here are eight players who will change teams this offseason and seven players who’ll stay put:
15 Change Teams: Paul Millsap
Paul Millsap was slated to make over $21 million with the Atlanta Hawks during the 2017-18 NBA season, but instead is choosing to test the free agent market. Millsap has been an All Star during his time with the Hawks. The fact that he is opting out of $21 million sends a message to the Hawks, and that message is that Millsap does not think they can contend for a championship anytime soon. The Hawks have been stuck in the middle of the eastern conference playoff standing for a few years outside of the 2014-15 team that had the one seed in the eastern conference that year. Millsap will be heavily pursued by multiple teams this offseason, and his ability to stretch the floor and rebound the ball efficiently will guarantee him another large contract.
14 Stay Put: Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka made it known that he was not all that happy with the Orlando Magic, and the Magic granted him his chance at competing in the playoffs when he was traded to the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors gave up a first round pick to get Ibaka so it would not make sense for them to not resign him this offseason. Ibaka is versatile in the sense that he can shoot from outside and is also an excellent rim protector, and perhaps a full season with the Raptors will help Ibaka build more chemistry with his teammates. Ibaka has already expressed interest in returning to the Raptors. Unless another team severely overpays for Ibaka he should be in Toronto come the start of the 2017-18 NBA season.
13 Change Teams: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose was once an MVP caliber player, but his play has diminished due to numerous injuries. He can still contribute to a team as a starter or sixth man depending on which team gives him a chance. The New York Knicks are in disarray, and will probably opt to go with a younger point guard to help rebuild the franchise perhaps via the NBA draft. Rose made a whopping $18 million dollars with the Knicks, and likely will not get that much money annually on the open market. He has always been a below average three point shooter shooting only 21% last season with the Knicks. Three point shooting is a coveted skill in the NBA today, and Rose's lack of shooting makes him a less attractive free agent than in years past.
12 Stay Put: Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry has been one of the main scoring threats for the Toronto Raptors the past few seasons, and it is a mystery as to whether he will stay in Toronto or go elsewhere. The Raptors can give Lowry the most money. This may be the determining factor, and that is why I’m leaning towards him staying with the Raptors this upcoming offseason. Lowry will be sought after by many teams in free agency. His hometown Philadelphia 76ers are in the market for a combo guard, and the San Antonio Spurs need someone younger and more durable than future hall of famer Tony Parker. Lowry made $12 million annually last year, and well outperformed his salary by scoring over 20 points and dishing out seven assists per game.
11 Change Teams: Jeff Green
Jeff Green has played for a lot of different teams in his NBA career, so it is almost a guarantee that he will be moving on from the Orlando Magic just based off of probability. Green had a down year with the Magic in 2017. The Magic as a whole had a down year, but Green made $15 Million during the 2016-17 NBA season and did not perform to the level of his salary. Green only averaged nine points per game which is down four points from his career average. His ability to shoot the three will allow him to find a new team in the offseason, but his salary will be greatly diminished. If Green wants to stay in the league much longer he needs to have a bounce back year in 2017-18.
10 Stay Put: Jonathan Simmons
Jonathan Simmons made a measly $700,000 during the 2016-17 NBA season, but he is in line for an enormous pay raise in the coming years. Simmons burst onto the scene out of nowhere two years ago with the Spurs as a 25-year-old rookie. Now at the age of 27 he is scoring in double figures almost every game in only 20 minutes per contest, and the only way the Spurs would let him go is if another team decided to overpay for his services. Simmons is a restricted free agent meaning any team who offers him a contract the Spurs can match it to keep him. This improves the Spurs' chances of keeping Simmons, and as long as he doesn’t get a max contract offered to him he will be staying put in San Antonio.
9 Change Teams: Otto Porter
Otto Porter is a wing player for the Washington Wizards who is almost certainly going to get a big time pay raise this offseason. The Washington Wizards made a big time leap up in the standings of the eastern conference in 2017, and Porter was a good complimentary player averaging 12 points and seven rebounds a night. Porter is a restricted free agent which makes it much easier for the Wizards to be able to retain him. Last offseason saw many role players get outrageous contracts in free agency, and I think a team may be willing to shell out a lot more money than the Wizards are willing to give up to get Porter. Porter is still only 23 years old and he is going to have to step up his production even more in his fifth year in the league to live up to the pay raise he will be getting next year.
8 Stay Put: Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala is up for the sixth man of the year award for the 2016-17 NBA season along with Eric Gordon and Lou Williams, and although he may not win the award it is likely that he will be staying the bay area once he becomes a free agent this summer. The money is no longer a big time factor for Iguodala in his decision on where to play basketball next year. The Golden State Warriors have one of the best rosters in basketball, and Iguodala would have the best chance at winning more NBA championships with the Warriors going forward. Iguodala also has aspirations in the tech industry off the basketball court. The bay area is filled with opportunities in the tech industry, so Iguodala staying with the Warriors seems very likely.
7 Change Teams: Chris Paul
The Los Angeles Clippers have been trying to put together a contender for a while now, but they have failed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs in back to back seasons. Chris Paul is the leader of the team and his career has not been blessed with much postseason success. The Clippers postseason woes could prompt Paul to get out of town, and at the age of 32 he does not have many years of playing at an elite level left.
A team such as the San Antonio could potentially make a run at Paul this offseason. The Clippers can give Paul more money, but if Paul wants to win he will be much better suited to leave the Clippers this offseason.
6 Stay Put: Nerlens Noel
The Dallas Mavericks just acquired Nerlens Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers prior to the trade deadline in 2017, and they did not have to give up much to acquire him. The Mavericks can resign Noel to a new deal this offseason at great ease due to Noel being a restricted free agent. It wouldn’t make sense for the Mavericks to already give up on Noel, and at the age of 23 Noel still has a ton of years of good basketball left. Defense wins championships, and Noel is a great rim protector and good at stealing the basketball via intercepting passes and swiping the ball off defenders as proven by his career one and a half blocks and over one steal a game averages. Noel can’t provide much on offense but it’s still likely that he will be re-signed by the Mavericks this offseason.
5 Change Teams: Amir Johnson
The Boston Celtics made it all the way to the eastern conference finals this past season after finishing with the best record in the east, but they might choose to move on from veteran big man Amir Johnson this offseason. Johnson was a starter for the Celtics but only played 20 minutes a game. His averages of six points and four rebounds a game were subpar, and the Celtics more than likely can find a player with a similar skill set as Johnson at a cheaper price through free agency or the draft. It is almost certain that wherever Johnson ends up next season he will be coming off the bench.
Throughout his career he has been known as a great rebounder and defender, and these skills will allow him to latch onto another team next year.
4 Stay Put: Steph Curry
Everyone knows that the best three point shooter in basketball is Steph Curry, and the Warriors would be foolish to let him go this offseason. The Warriors can offer Curry the most money which will make it much easier for them to resign him. Curry has endured a lot of individual and team success while play in the bay area, and he has been named the most valuable player of the NBA and won an NBA title in the last three years with the team. With Curry leading the way the Warriors have made it to the NBA finals three consecutive years. In 2016-2017 Curry averaged 25 points and six assists a game and shot over 40 percent from the three point line. It seems logical that Curry would remain with the only team he has ever played for, and on paper the Warriors have the best team in the NBA.
3 Change Teams: Patty Mills
Patty Mills has never gotten the chance to play big times minutes in the NBA, and this is because he has primarily played the role as backup point guard for future hall of famer Tony Parker. The Spurs would love to be able to resign Mills this upcoming offseason. The Spurs have also been linked to big names such as Kyke Lowry and Chris Paul, and if they are able to lure one of these star point guards onto their team the likelihood of Mills coming back would be slim.
Mills will also be an attractive option for teams around the league. He is a decent scorer and shot over 40 percent from the three point line in 2016-17, and he may be in line for a pay raise and a starting position depending on what team he signs with.
2 Stay Put: Jrue Holiday
It wouldn’t be an enormous surprise if Jrue Holiday tested free agency and signed to play elsewhere, but the Pelicans offer a unique situation for the young point guard out of UCLA. If Holiday chooses to stay with the Pelicans he will get to play every game with two of the best front court players in basketball in Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins. The Pelicans may be able to make some noise in the western conference next year if they keep Holiday and add a few role players through free agency, and Holiday could have a breakout year with the Pelicans next season. Opposing defenses will focus primarily on stopping Cousins and Davis. This will give Holiday a lot of chances to get open looks, and his assist totals could also go up next year after a full season with Cousins on the team.
1 Change Teams: J.J. Redick
One of the most coveted skills sets in a player in today’s NBA is the ability to knock down three pointers at an efficient rate, and J.J. Redick is one of the best outside shooters in the NBA. The Clippers could potentially lose star players such as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin this offseason. This could entice Redick to sign elsewhere, and the only question is whether Redick wants to win or get a big contract. There are elite teams that would love to bring Redick into the fold as a spot starter or a role player.
Redick could also choose to get a big contract from a non-contender, and teams such as the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Philadelphia 76ers have already expressed interest in the veteran shooting guard.
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