With the NBA season at its end, there’s a long list of NBA free agents that could benefit many teams. The problem is some may choose to stay while others may take their talents elsewhere. Of course, money is always a great incentive, but nowadays players want to win and want to pick the best team for them even if they might have to take a pay cut, kind of like the Spurs did to keep their original lineup. One big name that will draw lots of attention during free agency is Kevin Durant. Durant will obviously take his time to decide what team he wants to play for whether it might be his hometown Washington Wizards, follow the money to the Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Lakers or stick with the team he’s been playing with all these years, the Oklahoma City Thunder. He certainly has many options.
Other notable names during free agency include LeBron James, Andre Drummond, DeMar DeRozan, Mike Conley and others. Possible destinations for these players could be the Lakers, Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics or San Antonio Spurs. Of course, other teams could make some noise as well, but those are teams that may make more noise during free agency. The Lakers are one team that need to rebuild especially with the great Kobe Bryant retired. DeRozan has been a name mentioned to possibly fill Bryant’s spot, but the Lakers also have the number two pick in the NBA Draft so if they decide to take Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons, they’ll need to decide if they want a key player now or focus on the long run.
There are also other low key names like Ty Lawson, Gerald Henderson, Mario Chalmers, Harrison Barnes, Leandro Barbosa, Matt Barnes, and others. These players definitely have the talent, it’s just where they decide to play that may or may not surprise NBA fans. For example, Barnes and Barbosa have a good thing going for them in Golden State so them leaving the Warriors would be surprising. Other lesser known names could help in a bench role as well and the Warriors bench showed why having a good solid bench is important. Every team has a chance to rebuild or at least make their team better than before. The good news is there’s a whole list of players teams can choose from. We'll now decide which eight players should leave their team and which ones should stay.
15 Leave - Brandon Jennings
Although, Brandon Jennings may have found a new home with the Orlando Magic, Jennings should probably play for a different team unless he’s comfortable playing behind Elfrid Payton. Jennings may feel he’s capable of being a starter for a team again, but has to slowly show that he’s starter worthy. Ever since that Achilles injury he suffered, Jennings hasn’t been his explosive self.
He’s still an unrestricted free agent so other teams could use him as a bench player first and work his way up to being a starter. He’ll most likely leave the Magic for a team he feels can make the playoffs rather than stay with a young Magic team that won't be ready to contend for a while. At this stage of his career it's the smart move to make, and the Magic likely won't mind Jennings going elsewhere.
14 Stay - Mike Conley
Mike Conley should start and end his career with the Memphis Grizzles. During the NBA season he suffered an Achilles injury that put him out for the rest of the season, but seems to be good now. Plus, they got rid of Mario Chalmers so now Conley has to be the guy at point. Conley will most likely get more money with a new contract with the Grizzles and with a new coach who knows if healthy, he and the Grizzles can make some noise in the playoffs again. The Western Conference may be jam packed with good players, but he’s capable of quietly sneaking is way up there with the top names. If they could retain Conley and add another piece in free agency, the Grizzlies could have a nice bounce back season in 2016-17.
13 Leave - Mario Chalmers
Before Mario Chalmers' season ending Achilles injury, Chalmers was actually playing well for the Memphis Grizzles. He still managed to play a good portion of the NBA season. It was still a shame that once he got hurt, the Grizzles decided to waive him soon after. You can bet that he’s working hard during his recovery process eagerly wanting to get back on the court.
As an unrestricted free agent, Chalmers could go back to the Heat or Grizzles again, but it seems unlikely so whatever new team he chooses, he can help in every possible way. He can fill in as either a starter or a bench role since he’s already comfortable doing whichever. If we had to decide on a final verdict though, Chalmers would be better off leaving Memphis and finding a team where he doesn't have to be relied on.
12 Leave - Joakim Noah
It seems like the Chicago Bulls are moving on from Joakim Noah since he lost his starting spot and didn’t play much in the regular season because of injury and eventually the coach's decision. This means teams like the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Boston Celtics are interested in him. Noah is a hard working individual who can quietly pound the stat sheet so whatever team he chooses, he’ll make sure his presence is heard. After a disappointing year, you can bet that Noah will have a chip on his shoulder and will be looking to prove himself all over again.
He spent nearly a decade with the Bulls and now feels his time there is up. Still many teams could use a big man that hustles like him fighting for the rebound and working hard for the block.
11 Stay - Harrison Barnes
There may be rumors Harrison Barnes could be leaving the Golden State Warriors for the Los Angeles Lakers or a different team for more money, but Barnes should stay with the Warriors. Not everyone gets the luxury of playing alongside Steph Curry and he’s doing what every NBA player wants to do, which is win. He may not like having the backseat behind Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, but those are the main scorers. Barnes has his moments every now and then, but he shouldn’t give up something good just for money and possibly being the main guy. Besides even if Barnes gets an offer somewhere else, the Warriors can simply match that to keep him. Barnes has a chance to be a part of a Warriors dynasty for the next few years.
Just like many Spurs players have taken a hometown discount to keep the core together, Barnes should do so for the Warriors. With a salary cap increase coming, Barnes can take a one-year deal and wait for his big payday next year.
10 Leave - Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson may have only been in the league for a couple of years, but maybe for the sake of his career Clarkson should leave the Los Angeles Lakers. He is a restricted free agent so the Lakers could just match any offer he receives. Still, it doesn’t seem like Lakers are making him the main guy after Kobe’s retirement. They’re focusing on bringing on someone else and boosting their team's star power. Clarkson can still stuff the stat sheet at times, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Lakers are getting wins. The Lakers are going to be looking to reel in a big fish in free agency and they'll be focused on getting Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram in the draft. Clarkson doesn't seem like a priority to them.
Two years with Lakers and it not being too successful, he should seek a trade to a different team.
9 Stay - Evan Turner
There’s no doubt Evan Turner likes to play for the Boston Celtics and wants to improve his game there so expect him to resign with Celtics and play for a solid team. The Celtics may be undersized and a team not many would think would win, but they did beat the Warriors in the regular season partly because of Turner. The Celtics just faced a tough team in the playoffs and unfortunately for them they lost in the first round.
The Celtics like to use Turner as the guy bringing the ball up the court and is also comfortable coming off the bench. He’s perfectly fine taking on any role whether it’s a starter or bench player for the Celtics. Boston is just starting to come out of their funk as a franchise and if Turner stays in Boston, he can help lead their resurgence.
8 Leave - Dwight Howard
Unfortunately, Dwight Howard has the skill set to be dominant big man, but the Houston Rockets may not be the team for him. At times, he seems frustrated with the team even though he has said he wants to play for the Rockets, they don’t feel the same way. Howard has the player option to become a free agent which is what he’ll likely do. It's naive to think Howard won't opt out of his contract and test the free agency waters. Some teams that may be interested in him are the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, and he could even return to the Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe now retired.
The only problem is do they want to deal with a big man that struggles from the free throw line because that’s a risk any team has to make if they bring him in. Also, how long would it be until Howard wears out his welcome yet again?
7 Stay - Rajon Rondo
Although, the Sacramento Kings may not have had a winning season this past year, Rajon Rondo seems like he’s comfortable playing for them. His passing ability is out of this world and DeMarcus Cousins approved of that and wants Rondo as his teammate. The Kings signed a new coach as well, Dave Joerger. He helped bring a hurt Memphis Grizzles team to the playoffs so who knows maybe this is the Kings turn.
Things with Rondo didn’t go too great for him in Dallas, but now things seem differently with the Kings even though they didn’t get the needed wins. Rondo didn't seem to get along with George Karl, but with Karl out in Sacramento, that opens up the possibility of Rondo staying put.
Still, it won’t be shocking if Rondo signs a new deal with the Kings and continues his career there.
6 Leave - Bradley Beal
The Washington Wizards haven’t really gotten the breakout season Bradley Beal was supposed to have, but that doesn’t mean they’re giving up on him. However, if they plan to pursue Durant during the offseason, that would mean Beal would have to take a pay cut if they bring in Durant. The Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks are interested in him and if Wizards don’t match any teams' offer for Beal, he could be headed somewhere else.
Plus, not being able to play the whole full season doesn’t help his case, but when he does play, he can knock down the three ball. So if Wizards are able to get Durant, Beal might not be in the picture so it’s more likely he’ll be with a different team next season. It's better that Beal tests out the market before Durant makes up his mind, rather than waiting in limbo to see if the Wizards bring him in.
5 Stay - Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade is far from done with the Miami Heat. He may be an unrestricted free agent, but look for him to re-sign with the Heat. Plus, Wade has many things to look forward to next season especially with Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside recovering from their injuries. They pose as a big threat when on the court. Luol Deng is also an unrestricted free agent, but look for the Heat to re-sign him as well and keep their same starting five. Of course, bringing in LeBron James would be an even tougher team to beat, it won’t be surprising Heat that Wade is back with the Heat pushing for another successful season.
Wade proved something this season, as he was essentially a one-man show in the playoffs, leading the Heat to Game 7 of the second round against the Toronto Raptors. Miami is his home and it would just feel wrong to see D-Wade in another uniform.
4 Leave - Pau Gasol
There were many rumors saying Pau Gasol may join the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs could absolutely use Gasol’s versatility being able to shoot and pass. Plus, he provides the defense Greg Popovich demands from his players. In fact, Gasol ended sixth for most rebounds and fifth in blocks in the NBA so the Spurs aren’t the only team that are interested in him.
The only problem is Gasol has a player option so he could decide to stay with the Chicago Bulls. That isn’t necessarily bad because the Bulls have Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler who can go off at times so the Bulls are playoff material. However, the Spurs are the probable destination for Gasol if he chooses to be a free agent. Gasol will likely go down the path of many players and take a one-year deal, biding his time for a salary cap increase next season. One year in San Antonio seems like a pretty sweet deal.
3 Stay - LeBron James
LeBron James may be one of the greatest of all time in the NBA, but he’s also mentioned he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat once more. Their team is scary with the pieces they have and James heading back there again would make it seem unstoppable. However, it seems James wants to play for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. He promised when he returned two years ago that he would bring the city of Cleveland their first NBA championship and build something there.
The scary thing about the Cavaliers is that Kyrie Irving can explode at any moment and he’s only 24. James also has the option of simply taking a one-year deal with Cleveland and head to free agency all over again next summer when the cap increase comes into effect.
2 Leave - DeMar DeRozan
As good of a backcourt, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry is, DeRozan may take his talents elsewhere and a probable spot for him is the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s where he was born and raised so playing for the Lakers would be what he wants. It’s just hard imagining him leaving the Toronto Raptors because that’s where he started his career. Plus, the Raptors had a good run in the playoffs so it would be difficult to see Lowry without his partner in crime.
Still, he has a great chance to test the market as a free agent and the Lakers are looking for someone to fill in Kobe’s shoes. DeRozan would fit right in especially since being the main man is his forte. He would also get a young gun to help him out after the Lakers select a future star at no.2 overall. It will definitely be tough for the Raptors to keep DeRozan north of the border.
1 Stay - Kevin Durant
It’s a shame Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder haven’t won the NBA title yet, but all those rumors of Durant leaving his sidekick, Russell Westbrook seem unlikely. Westbrook has a different passion for the NBA which is hard to find with a different team. No matter what people say, Durant is probably staying with the Thunder. There have been rumors he could be joining his homeland with the Washington Wizards or Los Angeles Lakers could bring him, but with whatever team he chooses Durant will always remain the main guy the only difference is with a different team.
He and Westbrook made the Warriors work hard for every game they played, so it would be shocking if he leaves the Thunder.
The Oklahoma governor even offered Durant a seat in the cabinet if KD chooses to stay in OKC. How could he refuse an offer like that?