With the free agency period officially over and done with, it is time to not only look ahead to the 2017-18 season, but it is time to take a peak at next year’s stacked free agent class. Many of the young players are finishing up their rookie scale contract which means they will be restricted free agents, while some veterans are set to become unrestricted free agents. Looking ahead there are some huge names that are set to be a free agent next summer including the four banana boat brothers (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade), DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, and many other talented players.
The league is starting to look like Golden State is going to remain the dominant powerhouse and everybody is trying to build a super team to beat the Warriors. With the Warriors having some of their top talents hitting the free agent market in the next few seasons (Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green) they could be setting back very soon, or they will keep the core together to create a dynasty like we have not seen before. Looking ahead there are some players that would be perfect fits for another team, and then there are players that will look to take the money next summer no matter what team offers it.
All players have different mind sets when it comes to free agency, some want the money, others want a good place to live, and others want to go where they need to go to win a championship. With that being said here is an early look forward at one player that every NBA team should chase next summer.
30. Atlanta Hawks – Avery Bradley
With the Atlanta Hawks entering their rebuilding phase they are going to have to find someone to build their team around. They might wait a year before making a big splash in free agency, but one player that will fit well in their system is none other than the best defensive shooting guard in the game today Avery Bradley. Bradley was recently traded from Boston to Detroit to help make room for the Celtics to sign Gordon Hayward, and with the likelihood of Detroit not wanting to pay Bradley after this season means that he will hit free agency and could very well get a max contract.
Bradley’s numbers on offense have improved year after year, and can easily be a solid two option for any team and is very well deserving of a max contract. Watch Atlanta try to have Avery Bradley to team up with Kent Bazemore, and Dennis Schroder.
29. Boston Celtics – Lou Williams
The Boston Celtics are in a unique situation where they do not need any more starting talent, but they need some help that could come off the bench. More importantly they need a guy who can come off the bench and score, and there is no better option that former sixth man of the year Lou Williams. Williams has spent the majority of his career coming off the bench, and can be very productive for a Celtics team that needs some one to come off the bench and consistently score for them.
With guys like Hayward, Horford, and the young talent that they have around them having a veteran like Lou Williams who can come off the bench and score at will would be huge for Boston. Not only would they be contenders at the moment, but adding the veteran would help the Celtics be even bigger threats to Golden State.
28. Brooklyn Nets – Amir Johnson
The Brooklyn Nets are known for making terrible choices since they moved their franchise from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012. One move that would not be terrible for them is to get a starting caliber big man, and one that they could grab is Amir Johnson. Johnson just signed a one year $11 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, but it does not look like he will be there for more than a year. With the 76ers having the young talent that they have, it will be hard for them to even consider keeping Amir Johnson.
Johnson could be a big time factor for the Nets, and when they have their first round pick, they can finally build through the draft. Looking forward look for the Nets to be big time players for Amir Johnson who can add front court depth to help their young back court of D’Angelo Russell and Allen Crabbe.
27. Charlotte Hornets – Tyreke Evans
The Charlotte Hornets could use a guy that can play either point guard, shooting guard, or small forward and one guy that can do that is Tyreke Evans. Evans just signed a one year $3.29 million deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, and it is to help his stock so he can hit free agency in 2018. The former rookie of the year, has not had a season in which he has played in all 82 games, as he has been unable to stay healthy.
Tyreke Evans can be a big time force off the bench, and can be a consistent scorer for the Charlotte Hornets. With guys like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who has not played to what the Hornets thought he would be when the drafted him in 2012, Evans can help the Hornets become a threat in the Eastern Conference. Look for both sides to be able to agree to a deal that will help both of them in the long run.
26. Chicago Bulls – Jabari Parker
The Chicago Bulls are looking for their new franchise player to build around since they traded Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night. One player that they should look to grab to help build for the future is none other than the home town boy Jabari Parker. The Bulls can offer Parker a ridiculous offer sheet that the Milwaukee Bucks might not want to match next summer.
The only big question mark on Jabari Parker is that he has not stayed healthy, but when he is healthy he has been a great player in the NBA. Looking forward, the Bulls tried building around the hometown team before in Derrick Rose, and it had its ups and downs, but with Jabari Parker the Bulls could have a backcourt that they can build off so they do not have to pay for a strong front court.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers – Joe Johnson
The Cleveland Cavaliers need a big veteran presence for their bench, and this guy would be a huge upgrade for them. That player is none other than former tenth overall selection in the 2001 NBA Draft Joe Johnson. Johnson would be a great shooting guard/small forward who could be a big time help for the Cavaliers. With the rumors starting to swirl about LeBron wanting to leave after the 2017-18 season, this move could help the Cavaliers keep LeBron.
The Cavaliers did nothing significant this current summer, and will look to do more than they should next summer to convince LeBron to stay. Cleveland has some big decisions coming up, and it is interesting to see what moves they make and what moves that they don’t make.
24. Dallas Mavericks – Brook Lopez
The Dallas Mavericks could go all in on a marquee free agent next summer, and one player that would be a good fit for the Mavericks is Brook Lopez. The former all star was recently traded to Los Angeles Lakers, but it does not look like he will stay there longer than a year. Lopez will look for a deal that will get him around $20-$25 million per season, and Dallas could give him that.
The Mavericks could partner up Brook Lopez with Harrison Barnes, and if their first round selection Dennis Smith Jr. is going to be as good as he was in the summer league then the Mavericks have a good core after Dirk Nowitzki retires. Look for the Mavs to go all in on the big man out of the University of Stanford who will be 30 years old by the time he hits free agency.
23. Denver Nuggets – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
The Denver Nuggets could use a talented shooting guard that could start or come off the bench and that player is none other than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope just signed a one year $17.7 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, but with the Lakers wanting to create a lot of cap space next summer for a run at LeBron or another superstar, it’s more than likely that they will not keep Caldwell-Pope.
Denver is on the rise and Caldwell-Pope could be a good fit for them in order to improve moving forward. Having guys who can score like Caldwell-Pope to go along with a cast of Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic and company could be a solid core to build around for the foreseeable future.
22. Detroit Pistons – Will Barton
With the Pistons potentially losing Avery Bradley after next year the focus for next summer for Detroit should be to sign a shooting guard. One shooting guard that would be a cheaper option for the Pistons is Will Barton. Barton can easily be a starting shooting guard for Detroit, and the Pistons could get him for a four year deal worth around $32 million which is not a bad deal at all for both sides.
For Detroit they get their shooting guard at a reasonable price, and for Barton he has a starting role for a team for however long both sides sign for. Looking forward this move makes sense then Detroit can focus on other key pieces that they need to add in order to contend in the Eastern Conference.
21. Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe
The Golden State Warriors are able to get free agents to sign with them because they have the best chance at getting that player a ring. One player that could definitely use a boost of confidence by playing for the Warriors is Greg Monroe. Monroe has not fit in Milwaukee as much as both the Bucks and Monroe would have liked, but in Golden State he would be able to play his style of basketball and do it in a limited role.
Monroe could be all about the money and go somewhere that will pay him next summer, but the Warriors should try to convince him to sign with them for a chance at a ring. Looking forward this move could work for both sides because the Warriors get a great rebounder, and a good post scorer to add to the mix of their team already. Monroe will have his best chance ever to not only play in an NBA Finals, but to win a championship as well.
20. Houston Rockets – Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo signed a one year $3.3 million contract this summer with New Orleans, but will look to take his talents elsewhere after the 2017-18 season. One team that would be a good fit for his style of play would be the Houston Rockets. Not only would Rondo run the point, but he would be facilitating to one of the best players in the league today in James Harden. Now I can see what you are thinking; where is Chris Paul in this whole scenario? Well, looking ahead to this season I think Chris Paul will have some trouble playing with James Harden and he could leave Houston after one year.
Now with that being a possible scenario, Rondo could be a great replacement not scoring wise, but creating space and jump shots for his teammates around him. That could help Houston become a better team, and have a legitimate shot at beating Golden State.
19. Indiana Pacers – Michael Carter-Williams
The Indiana Pacers are going through a rebuilding phase after trading away Paul George this season, and without a true point guard that can help put them in the right direction. One point guard that will be a free agent next summer that needs another chance at being a starting PG is none other than Michael Carter-Williams. The former 2014 Rookie of the Year signed a one year $2.7 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets this summer, and will be their primary backup for the season.
He has the talent especially at his height of 6’6 to be able to create for his teammates and help lead the Pacers back into the right direction. This signing could be beneficial for both sides because the Pacers could take a chance on a point guard at a reasonable price, and Carter-Williams has a chance to prove to the entire league that he has the talent to be a starting point guard in this league.
18. Los Angeles Clippers – Derrick Rose
The Los Angeles Clippers are entering their first season without Chris Paul as their starting point guard, and it could be a bit of a setback for the Clippers. Next summer they should go after none other than the former 2011 MVP Derrick Rose. Rose signed a one year $2.1 million contract this summer with the Cleveland Cavaliers which gives him a year to prove that he is still as good as he was before his knee injuries. It also helps Cleveland actually get a chance of trading away Kyrie while having a good solid point guard to start for them.
Looking forward, having Derrick Rose playing for the Clippers is a win/win situation. It is a win for the Clippers because they can get a scoring point guard who can help them on the scoreboard, while Derrick Rose has a chance to be a starting point guard in the league again.
17. Los Angeles Lakers – LeBron James
Now this whole list could be all about how every team should go after LeBron and what their pitch would be to get him, but that would not be fun. So let’s focus on one of the rumors that has been swirling around the league and that is LeBron’s interest in the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers having a lot of cap room after the 2017-18 season makes it hard to believe that he won’t at least consider going there. Plus with LeBron having a house in Los Angeles it makes it even harder to believe that he will not try and play for the Lakers.
The Lakers have shown interest and with their young talent that would be surrounding LeBron, it would be a huge selling point for them. If the Lakers could somehow land LeBron next summer, not only would they be favorites to play in the NBA Finals, but they could attract some big name players to come join LeBron in Los Angeles.
16. Memphis Grizzlies – Derrick Favors
The Memphis Grizzlies have some big questions that need to be answered and next summer they could answer one by signing power forward Derrick Favors. Favors is a former third overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft, and could be a good asset for the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies lost Zach Randolph via free agency, and Favors could be a big time help to recreate that dominate front court that led to their success in the past.
Having Mike Conley running the point, and Marc Gasol/Derrick Favors up front could be a rebirth of the Memphis Grizzlies without having to go through drastic changes. Looking forward, the Grizzlies could sign Favors and have him come off the bench, or they could have him start and be able to get him at a reasonable price. Look for both sides to take a liking to one another and the rumors of Favors going there start to swirl.
15. Miami Heat – Robert Covington
The Miami Heat could use a scorer at the small forward position that could either start or come off the bench and that player is none other than Robert Covington. Covington could be a huge help for the Heat who could get him for around $7 to $9 million per season. He is definitely no where close to a max player, but he could be a good solid role player that could help you build around your core.
Having Covington to go alongside Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and company could help the Heat in their process to compete in the Eastern Conference. Miami is a few pieces away from being one of the top teams in the East and the signing of Robert Covington could be one piece that can almost put the puzzle together.
14. Milwaukee Bucks – Marreese Speights
The Milwaukee Bucks could use a big man that can step out and hit a jump shot from time to time, and there is no better fit than Marreese Speights. Speights signed a one year $2.1 million contract with the Orlando Magic this summer, and will be looking for a new home after next season. Milwaukee could use Speights to try and help their front court become more of a threat in the Eastern Conference.
Looking forward the Bucks could lose out on Jabari Parker, but they know they could sign a veteran like Speights to a reasonable deal to help out their front court. With the team being build around Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks need to find pieces to put around him that need to help convince him want to stay in Milwaukee and Speights could be the starting piece of that.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Nick Young
The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the rise, and they could add some scorers to come of their bench. One player that would fit perfectly for them would be Nick Young. “Swaggy P” signed a one year $5.2 million contract with the Golden State Warriors this summer, but he likely only signed there to win a championship, then cash in next summer. One team that can pay him significantly will be Minnesota, who could sign him to be their spark plug to come off the bench.
With the Timberwolves having another scorer off their bench to go alongside Jamal Crawford, it would help Minnesota not only be a legitimate threat in the Western Conference, but they can help give the starters some much needed rest during the regular season so that they can be fresh during the postseason.
12. New Orleans Pelicans – J.J. Redick
The New Orleans Pelicans need a shooting guard in the worst way, especially one that can catch and shoot the basketball. One player that fits exactly what they need is none other than sharpshooter J.J. Redick. Redick signed a one year $23 million dollar contract this summer with the Philadelphia 76ers and it is ridiculous to pay a sharpshooter that much money for one season. The Pelicans have superstar Anthony Davis, and starting point guard Jrue Holiday as their big pieces under contract after the 2017-18 season, so adding some help to go along with them would help them tremendously.
If they can get a guy who shoots the ball so smoothly like J.J. Redick does, that’d be hitting the jackpot. Looking forward the Pelicans might be moving on from DeMarcus Cousins after this season, and if they are, J.J. Redick would not be a bad piece to add to help out their superstar.
11. New York Knicks – Dwyane Wade
The New York Knicks need another star caliber player to put around Kristaps Porzingis, and one veteran that would be a great addition and looks just like a New York Knick type of signing is Dwyane Wade. The eight-time all star opted into his player option for the 2017-18 season and is set to become a free agent after the season. The Knicks could be willing to shell out some serious cash to Wade especially if Carmelo gets moved like he is supposed to.
The Knicks could easily contend in the weak Eastern Conference especially if they can add some pieces to play around Porzingis. He has three championships under his belt, and he can help lead the Knicks in to the direction where they can potentially win a championship in the future.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder – Paul George
With the Oklahoma City Thunder trading for Paul George this summer, and George having a player option after the 2017-18 season. George is most likely to opt out, and the Thunder should do what they have to do to be able to re-sign George to a max deal so that can help keep Russell Westbrook a member of the Thunder for the foreseeable future.
George is a top ten player in the league today, and he and Russell Westbrook can be a dominant force in this league together and could start to attract more and more talent to come to Oklahoma City to play with them. Looking forward, the Thunder can contend in the Western Conference if they have those two guys to build around.
9. Orlando Magic – Isaiah Thomas
The Orlando Magic are in desperate need of a max contract player that they can build around. There is one guy that Orlando will have their eye on and that is none other than point guard Isaiah Thomas. With the Cavaliers possibly losing LeBron next summer, Thomas may not want to stick around in Cleveland on a sinking ship, so he could decide to take his talents elsewhere that will pay him the max contract.
The Magic are a young team that could improve if they could have a face of the franchise to build around, and Thomas could help attract free agents to Orlando like he just did in Boston. Thomas thinks he is deserving of a max contract due to his play over the past two seasons, and Thomas, who is a two-time all star, averaged 28.9 PPG this season, so he can be a good scorer that Orlando desperately needs.
8. Philadelphia 76ers – Zach LaVine
The Philadelphia 76ers could use another talented young player to help build a team around and there is none other than Zach LaVine. The restricted free agent could very well get the max contract, but the Chicago Bulls who he was recently traded to could bring him back and match the qualifying offer made by Philadelphia. One thing that is making it hard for teams around the league to want him is the fact that he has already tore his ACL once, so that adds some precautionary when it comes to potentially trying to sign him.
LaVine is a talented young player who is entering the prime of his career, and he could definitely be a solid all-around player for a young team that needs a scorer in clutch situations. Look for Philadelphia to go all in for LaVine next summer, and to try and build a solid four person core for the future of Philadelphia basketball.
7. Phoenix Suns – DeMarcus Cousins
The Phoenix Suns are one piece away from being a playoff team in the Western Conference, and that player is none other than DeMarcus Cousins. Yes, DeMarcus Cousins would be a great fit for the Suns, and would add a threat to their front court. Having Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, and maybe Eric Bledsoe for the foreseeable future to go along with a guy like DeMarcus Cousins up front would help the Suns be a competitive team for the first time since 2009-10.
Cousins is a three time all star who has averaged 20 and 10 throughout his seven year career and he can only improve from there. Looking ahead seeing Cousins in a Phoenix Suns uniform would be one of the most interesting things that the NBA has seen in a very long time.
6. Portland Trail Blazers – Carmelo Anthony
The Portland Trail Blazers are in desperate need of a small forward and there is no better option than Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has an early termination option for after the 2017-2018 season, which if he is still in a New York Knick uniform he will most likely opt out and become a free agent and Portland would be a great fit for the ten-time all star. With Portland already having one of the better scoring back courts in the league of C.J. McCollum, and Damian Lillard to go along with Carmelo Anthony would provide a dominant scoring trio that would be tough to stop.
Carmelo should look at Portland as a location where he can get paid, and would not have to do too much. With Lillard and McCollum hungry and use to carrying the load, Carmelo can take a step back and be a lights out scorer due to the fact that teams are going to have to guard Lillard and McCollum as well as him at all moments.
5. Sacramento Kings – Jusuf Nurkic
The Sacramento Kings should be going all in on a big guy next summer, and they should look no further than restricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic showed what he can do in a starting role, as the 22 year old averaged a double double after getting traded to Portland in the middle of the 2016-17 season. With Nurkic being a restricted free agent the Kings can make a qualifying offer that would be hard for Portland to be able to match, and could acquire the young Bosnian center.
Nurkic has so much potential as he can be one of the better centers in the game today, he just needs to have the minutes in order to do so. With Sacramento not only will he get the minutes, but he could be at least the number two scoring option for the Kings. Look for Sacramento to go all in on the young center who has tremendous potential.
4. San Antonio Spurs – Chris Paul
The San Antonio Spurs need a starting point guard that can help them facilitate the basketball, and can get his own baskets when needed. That player should of asked to be traded to San Antonio this off season and that is none other than Chris Paul. The nine-time all star would be a perfect fit in Gregg Popovich’s system, and could help bring back San Antonio back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.
Paul is such a great point guard, and is a top five one in the league today. The way he handles the ball and the decision making that he makes on the court makes it hard to believe that he would not fit in to the unselfish basketball style that the Spurs play. Chris Paul and the Spurs would be a match made in heaven and I will be surprised if it does not happen next summer.
3. Toronto Raptors – Aaron Gordon
The Toronto Raptors could use a guy that could play the small forward/power forward position and one player that fits that build is none other than restricted free agent Aaron Gordon. Toronto could grab Gordon by signing him to a good qualifying offer that would make it hard for Orlando to match it. Gordon’s young athleticism could add another feature to the Raptors that they do not have. If he could improve his shooting to go along with his athleticism, he could be a solid player in this league.
With his high flying ability and adding a jump shot to the mix, it could make him a good player in the NBA. That being said the Raptors should do what they have to to grab Gordon to be a part of what they are doing in Toronto.
2. Utah Jazz – Elfrid Payton
The Utah Jazz lost their face of the franchise this summer as Gordon Hayward signed with the Boston Celtics this summer. The Jazz could use a good point guard and one that would be a good addition for them is none other than restricted free agent Elfrid Payton. Payton has improved year after year and could get a good sized qualifying offer from the Jazz that might make it hard for Orlando to match it. The Jazz could use a guy like Payton who improves year after year and has a great vision to go along with his good passing ability.
Looking forward Elfrid Payton could be a good big time player for the Jazz, and could help lead them in the right direction. Utah should do their best to get Payton in a Jazz uniform by next summer, and he will help the young talent that they have by getting them all together as a cohesive unit and could help bring Utah back to the playoffs.
1. Washington Wizards – Corey Brewer
The Washington Wizards are set with their core, now they just need to add pieces to their bench to make them legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference. One player that would be a great addition to their bench is none other than Corey Brewer. The ten year veteran will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2017-18 season, and the Wizards would be a great fit for Brewer. He could help the Wizards provide a solid scoring option off the bench, and can help give guys like Otto Porter Jr., and Bradley Beal much needed rest so they are 100% in key situations.
Looking forward the Wizards could desperately use a guy like Corey Brewer to come off their bench, to legitimatize their claim as one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. Look for the Wizards to do what they can to attract Brewer to play in the nation’s capital alongside guys like Bradley Beal, and John Wall.
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