NBA free agency is always a frenzy, and every year there is always a surprise or two, which means this list was very hard to put together. From Kevin Durant a year ago to LeBron James and “The Decision”, NBA free agency always generates a buzz, and the right free agent can take a team from fringe contender to playoff favorite in a heartbeat. On the flip side, missing out on a free agent or losing a player to free agency can gut a team and their hopes. So who will change the fortune of a franchise or stay loyal to their team this year? Read on and find out as we look at eight NBA free agents who will jump ship during the 2017 off season, and seven who will decide to stay put.
15 On The Move: Andre Iguodala To The Utah Jazz
The Warriors have a huge offseason coming up, as Iggy, KD and Steph are all pending free agents, and logical thinking states that they won’t be able to keep all three of them. That means that the odd man out is the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala. Because of Harrison Barnes and Kevin Durant, Iggy has been reduced to a bench role in the past few years, and although he has excelled at it, he still has the talent and mental makeup to be a starter in the league, and that is what he will do when he is forced onto another team in the coming years. We will look later at the fate of Gordon Hayward, and he may be moving on from the Jazz, and if that is the case, Andre would fit in well with that young, talented lineup. Although he may be a drop off from Hayward, he would help that team tremendously.
14 Staying Put: Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade made the decision last offseason to leave the Miami Heat, the team that drafted him over a decade ago, and decided that he would go back to his hometown of Chicago to play for the famed Bulls. It’s safe to say that the 2016-17 season isn’t going as he would have hoped. Sure, the team is only one game out of the playoffs, but for a team with veterans like Wade and Rondo alongside star Jimmy Butler, they should be so much more, and while that might lead fans to think Wade is on the move, that’s unlikely to be the case. Wade has a player option in his contract for about $23 million, and it is quite hard to see another team may more than that for someone of his age and injury history. Still, you never know, there’s a guy in Cleveland named LeBron James who is quite influential, and he just may want to bring his friend in for one last shot at glory.
13 On The Move: Gordon Hayward To The Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are in as good a position as any team in the NBA currently, as they have a true superstar at the point with Isaiah Thomas, a lottery pick in the upcoming draft, and they are currently sitting in the number seed in the East. What player wouldn’t want to join that team? Although they’ve currently got Jae Crowder at the small forward position, the team needs another superstar to become a true NBA Finals contender, and the best player that will be available at that spot is current Utah Jazz superstar Gordon Hayward. This move makes sense for both parties, and although the Jazz are improving at a rapid rate, the grass is much greener up in Boston, and if the Celtics could get Hayward’s signature in combination with a lottery pick, they would be favorites in the East by far and away over LeBron’s Cavs.
12 Staying Put: Patty Mills
Patty Mills came to the NBA as an underrated and undervalued player, and while he may not be seen as a star player now or ever, he plays a certain role for the Spurs, and it’s one he plays brilliantly. It’s unlikely that either team will want to move on from the chemistry that they have together. No one knows about Patty’s desire for money or his reasoning for whichever team he chooses in free agency, but for now, it looks like his role within the Spurs is developing and maturing, and if he comes back to the Spurs, it’s very possible that he could take on the role of permanent starting point guard. This situation may change depending on their success in this upcoming post season, but after a career that has been solely with San Antonio, it’s hard to see Patty Mills leaving the team to go somewhere else.
11 On The Move: J.J Redick To The Philadelphia 76ers
J.J Redick may be getting up there in age, but the sharp shooting two-Guard remains a true offensive weapon, and if he can be put in the right system, he will flourish. Now I understand that it’s a big call for someone to leave the Clippers who have been a playoff regular over the past few years, especially for a young team like the Sixers, but if they can get a good draft pick to surround the young talent they have now, a veteran like Redick who still plays at a high level would be perfect. The team went after Harrison Barnes last year with no success, but if they can lure someone like Redick and stay healthy, J.J.'s trust in the Process (Joel Embiid, that is) may just lead them right to the 2017-18 playoffs.
10 Staying Put: Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka should be one of the most sought after free agents in this upcoming offseason, but when you look at his situation after being traded from the Magic to the Raptors, there’s no real reason for him to leave, as he has a great chance of making it to the Finals in Toronto surrounded by talented stars DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry. With a fantastic ability to rebound and block shots, Ibaka would be coveted enough, but he has added a fantastic midrange shooting game as well, and that could make him the final piece for a team to make a serious playoff push. With the Wizards, Cavs and Celtics all getting geared up for a big few years, it would make sense for both Ibaka and the Raptors to stay together, so Toronto could build a championship contender around three very talented players.
9 On The Move: Paul Millsap To The LA Clippers
We will discuss later in this piece the fate of the current power forward for the LA Clippers, Blake Griffin (spoiler alert if it’s not obvious already, he’s on the move), but that will leave the team with a hole at the four, and outside of Griffin, there is no better player at the position than the veteran Paul Millsap. He may not be the highlight reel dunker or the athlete that Griffin is, but Millsap would bring a gritty, veteran presence to the team, and he still remains one of the best mid range shooters in the game. Whether he goes to LA or somewhere else, there’s a pretty strong chance that Millsap’s time in Atlanta is over, as they aren’t getting past the top four in the East anytime soon.
8 Staying Put: Danilo Gallinari
A year ago, it would have been almost a certainty that someone with the all-around skills and experience of Gallinari would want to move out of Denver and to somewhere that he can build for playoff success, but after improved play throughout this season, Gallinari should look to stay with the Nuggets, as they have a very talented core and a bright future ahead of them. With Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray and other talented pieces, Gallinari fits perfectly into the Nuggets system, and if the team can manage to lure a big time free agent to their team, they could be set for a deep run in 2017-18. This one, however, could go either way, and if money is the motivating factor rather than long term success, perhaps we see him move. Right now, I predict that Danilo will stay in Denver after this upcoming offseason.
7 On The Move: Rudy Gay To The Portland Trail Blazers
Rudy Gay is one of the most talented players in the NBA, but he has never been able to fully harness that, and he has struggled to produce consistently throughout his NBA career, but he is far too talented to be wasting the back end of his career in a place like Sacramento, and he will look to leave as soon as this current season is over. This is almost a certainty, as he has made his feelings about the Kings known, but it is uncertain where he will end up. There are plenty of teams out there who could use a scoring three off the bench, but a playoff team that could use the depth the most is the Portland Trail Blazers. Although Gay may not be enough to take them to the upper echelon in the West, it sure is a big step up for their bench which has struggled throughout this season.
6 Staying Put: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose was traded away from the Bulls to the Big Apple a year ago, and although the Knicks aren't playing too well, Rose has talked about his love of New York and the team, and those type of comments leave you thinking that he may return next season to try and build something with this core for the long term. We just saw Rose sign a huge deal with Adidas, so you’d think that money would be less important to him, which may mean the Knicks can secure him as their point guard for the long term. I’m not very certain about this one, however, as there would be many teams out there that suit such a talented player. After the team didn’t move him at the trade deadline, it became apparent that they like him, and are confident they can bring him back for the 2017-18 season and beyond.
5 On The Move: Tony Allen To The San Antonio Spurs
Tony Allen is getting up there in age and that’s no secret, but the man can still defend like no other. Right now, he plays hard and still puts up great numbers in limited minutes for the Grizzlies. He’s a free agent at the end of this season though, and where is good defense and hard work best-appreciated in the NBA? The San Antonio Spurs. Sure, it might take some time for Allen to gel in the system, but with Gregg Popovich leading the way, Allen could thrive in his final contract, and even help the Spurs knock off the Warriors or the Rockets in the West. This may not happen, but seriously though, can you imagine the great defense of Patty Mills, Tony Allen and Kawhi Leonard up against the Warriors? That’s something that I definitely want to see.
4 Staying Put: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant was the talk of not only the NBA world, but the sporting world as a whole this past offseason when he decided to leave the team that drafted him, and his friend Russell Westbrook to go and join the already high-flying juggernaut that is the Golden State Warriors,. As such, there is practically no chance he goes back on that a year later. Some of his reasoning behind the move to Golden State was to have fun playing basketball and play in a system which promotes fun, team-oriented basketball, and despite his injury, it looks like he is doing just that this year, so that’s another reason why he will stay. Money may be an issue with three Warriors up for free agency, but it’s hard to imagine that the Warriors didn’t plan for this before last year, and we should expect KD to stay put.
3 On The Move: Chris Paul To The New Orleans Pelicans
Chris Paul came to the Clippers to join Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in order to chase a championship, but a few years on from that move, the team hasn’t made any significant impact in the Western Conference playoffs. That could end up driving the star point guard away from LA. Now, what team can we think of that Chris has ties to that are also in a position to succeed in the playoffs with one or two moves? New Orleans. The Pelicans just pulled off a gigantic trade to pair DeMarcus Cousins with Anthony Davis, and although Jrue Holiday is currently running the team, an all-around, veteran star like CP3 would be perfect for the team, as his veteran leadership and skills would make them a true playoff threat.
2 Staying Put: Stephen Curry
This one is the most obvious on the list, as there is no way that Curry would leave the team that has taken him to two straight Finals, with a third looming in 2017. Although he may have to take less money than he would get elsewhere to fit Kevin Durant back on the team, he would be dumb to leave such a situation. With the Warriors, Curry is the most exciting player in the NBA, and his partnership with fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson makes them potentially (probably) the best shooting backcourt in NBA history, but you never know. Whether he stays or goes, one thing is for certain, Steph Curry will remain the best shooter in the NBA, and whether it’s with his hometown Charlotte Hornets, the Warriors (which it should be) or any other team, Curry will remain must see TV.
1 On The Move: Blake Griffin To OKC
The Oklahoma City Thunder have had a fantastic year despite having a less than stellar overall team, due to the amazing year of Russell Westbrook, who looks like he will not only end the season with 40 triple-doubles, but also become the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a points/rebounds/assists triple-double. With Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams behind him, there is potential for this team, but they need to make a huge splash in this upcoming offseason, and a high-motor, athletic scoring power forward would be perfect. That man may probably be Blake Griffin. With the Clippers struggling to succeed in the postseason, we can expect to see a mass exodus from the team, with CP3 and Griffin most likely on the move, and with Griffin and Westbrook leading the Thunder, they could be a genuine threat to the Warriors, Spurs and Rockets.
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