With each week that passes, we’re getting closer to the start of the NBA offseason, and every franchise’s front office is looking to improve their team. With so many top-tier talents hitting the open market, there are many possibilities in terms of who will get the rights to their services. With so many rosters looking for an upgrade, many of these players are going to be the subject of a bidding war.
The NBA Free Agency period is one of the most exciting in sports, as we continue to be shocked year after year, and the next two years should hopefully be no different, as teams look to solidify themselves as contenders to the dominant Golden State Warriors. Teams will look to add veterans to complete their roster, while others will be looking for superstars to complement their young groups, but either way, expect plenty of shocks and exciting moves. Today we are going to look at the next two years of free agents and where we think they will end up.
20 2019: Marc Gasol – San Antonio Spurs
Marc Gasol is one of the most talented and skillful big men to ever play in the NBA, but unfortunately he’s stuck in Memphis with a team going nowhere. So in 2019, despite the fact that he’ll be in the twilight of his career, he’ll still be a major asset, and joining a contender like San Antonio is a perfect fit. His brother Pau may or may not be there then, but teaming them up would be a great sight to see, and alongside Kawhi Leonard they would make one hell of a team, and would be one of the top teams in the Western Conference. To make this happen, Marc may have to take a huge pay cut, but he will be much older when this happens so he may want to sacrifice the money for a shot at an NBA Championship, and San Antonio just seems like a great fit.
19 2018: Paul George – Los Angeles Lakers
Paul George was destined to leave Indiana in 2018, but the team made a fantastic deal to send him to OKC (as the Pacers have come out on top in the deal with MVP-level play from Victor Oladipo), and while the Thunder are finding their footing in the Western Conference, he’s still going to opt out following the 2018 season. Being from Los Angeles, the Lakers are the perfect landing spot for George, and pairing him with the likes of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and potentially Klay Thompson in 2019, could make them a playoff contender very soon. It makes perfect sense, and while the Lakers aren’t going to land LeBron like they desire, this isn’t a bad second choice.
18 2019: Kemba Walker – Indiana Pacers
Kemba Walker is probably the most underrated point guard in the NBA today, and unfortunately that’s because his team is quite average, but when he hits the market in 2019, there won’t be many players who compare to him at the position. With Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and some other young stars on the rise, it seems fitting that he would join the Indiana Pacers. He’s got fantastic handles and often comes up clutch in the big moments, and while the Pacers have much more work to do to become a legitimate playoff contender, they can do that in 2018, and adding Walker in 2019 could be the final piece to the puzzle. There will be many teams after him, but Indiana is the perfect blend of new stars and opportunity (ones you won’t get in the West because it’s so stacked), and it would be a great way to improve on an already good career.
17 2018: Enes Kanter – New York Knicks
Enes Kanter was committed to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but when they had the chance to acquire Carmelo Anthony, they sent him to New York, and as the starting center, he is proving to the entire NBA just how good he can be when given the right minutes. Alongside Kristaps Porzingis, this has become one of the more consistent and dominant frontcourts in the Eastern Conference, and although they’re on the outside looking in at the playoff picture right now, it would make sense for Kanter to return to the Knicks next year. They’ve already got the horrible deal with Joakim Noah to deal with, so there’s a chance that Kanter walks in free agency, but after seeing him stand up to LeBron James for his teammate Frank Ntlikina, it looks like he’s committed to New York.
16 2019: Dwight Howard – Charlotte Hornets
Dwight Howard has bounced around in his NBA career, and despite the drama that often surrounds him, he’s always been a consistent force on the court when healthy. Despite the lack of team success in Charlotte this year, it’s been one of his best seasons in many, many years. He still rebounds at an elite rate, and his offensive game is improving again after years of regression, but his age and penchant for drama will deter a lot of teams from bringing him in. And as Kemba Walker will likely be leaving the team, they need a leader, and that leader is Dwight Howard. It won’t be a long term deal, as we can’t imagine he has much time left on the court, but a nice two-year deal would be a great way to end what has been a fantastic, if oftentimes troubled career.
15 2018: DeMarcus Cousins – Boston Celtics
DeMarcus Cousins has been a consistent force for his entire NBA career, but unfortunately it’s been spent in places that give him little chance of team success, so when he’s free in this upcoming offseason, that has to be his focus, and if he puts his own agenda aside, Boston is the perfect place for him. Teaming Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Boogie together would make them almost unstoppable, and with young guys like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum on the roster, the future would be incredibly bright. We know he’s had problems with coaches, but Brad Stevens is one of the best in the game today, and if Boogie is serious about team success, Stevens could get the best out of him, and this move just makes sense from every angle possible.
14 2019: Klay Thompson – Los Angeles Lakers
The Golden State Warriors have been fantastically built over the last few years, but due to their success and their need to pay some of their bigger players, Klay Thompson won’t get the payday he feels he deserves. With the team the Lakers are building, they become the perfect landing spot for one of the best two-way players in the NBA today. The Los Angeles Lakers are on a big upswing with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram all playing well together, so adding Thompson in 2019 after PG13 in 2018 would make them one of the better teams in the West, and gives them the star power that a franchise like that has become accustomed too. Sure, Thompson and the fans would love to see him stay in Oakland, but it just isn’t possible with the amount of money they’ll need to spend, and unfortunately, it’s Klay who is going to be pushed out.
13 2018: Isaiah Thomas – Cleveland Cavaliers
Isaiah Thomas had a breakout year in 2016, and was one of the hottest players in the NBA, and the Boston Celtics capitalized on that knowing that they were going to have to give him a max contract in 2018 if he stayed. They then got Kyrie Irving back from the Cavaliers, and now as IT looks to enter Free Agency, it’s likely he sticks around to become the face of Cleveland basketball. He has been hot and cold since his return, but rust is expected after being out for so long. When he’s hot, he is one of the best players in the NBA, and when LeBron inevitably leaves Cleveland, they will throw everything they’ve got at bringing Thomas in for a long time.
12 2019: Harrison Barnes – New York Knicks
When the Golden State Warriors won their first NBA title as this current group, Harrison Barnes was a key part of the team, but he decided to leave in free agency and was replaced by Kevin Duran. Although he hasn’t had the team success he wants in Dallas, he’s played quite well, and will likely get a big deal when he hits the market for the second time in his career. To get max money and a chance at success, the New York Knicks would be a great landing spot for Barnes, as he could be teamed with Enes Kanter, Kristaps Porzingis and the promising young group they’re creating in The Big Apple, and as an all around leader he’d be the perfect compliment to this team. Moving out of the West would give him the best chance at team success, and the Knicks just make great sense for Barnes, as he could be the final piece in the puzzle that lands New York as a serious contender once again.
11 2018: Chris Paul – Houston Rockets
Chris Paul came to the Houston Rockets this past offseason in a major trade, and it’s improved the team a tremendous amount, so when he enters Free Agency this upcoming offseason, don’t expect him to be available for long, because the Rockets are the best threat to the Warriors in the West, and CP3 isn’t going to break that up so soon. They may not end up dethroning the Warriors this year, but with improved chemistry and experience together heading into next season, they’ll undoubtedly be their biggest threat again, and a good draft pick plus another solid Free Agency pick up could see Houston becoming favorites out West. Out of everyone on this list, this is the one we are most confident in, because at the end of the day, most NBA fans want to see CP3 get the ring he deserves.
10 2019: Kyrie Irving – San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs came very close to acquiring Irving when Cleveland traded him away this past offseason, but for some reason or another they came up short. When Irving hits the market following the 2018/19 season, it will be the perfect time for them to swoop in and pick him up. Coach Gregg Popovich has proved time and time again that he’s the best coach in the NBA, and despite criticism of Irving that he can’t play in a system or he’s too selfish, he’d be a perfect fit down in Texas. He’s stepped out of LeBron’s shadow this season, and proved that he’s an MVP-caliber player, and we’ve seen what success the Spurs can have with such players on their squad, so pairing Kawhi Leonard and Irving could make for a breathtaking duo.
9 2018: DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are struggling this season, mainly due to injury, but the one constant in their team has been the presence of DeAndre Jordan, who is one of the most consistently dominant big men in the NBA, and with a Player Option coming up this year, it’s likely he’ll give the team that drafted and signed him another chance. With a healthy Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari and Austin Rivers, this would likely be a different team, so assuming they’ll be healthy next season, it makes sense for Jordan to stick around one more year to see if they can finally have the postseason success they should be having. He is up for Free Agency again the following year, and if it doesn’t work out in L.A., we can imagine there will be quite a few teams lining up for his services.
8 2019: Jimmy Butler – Minnesota Timberwolves
Jimmy Butler joined the young, hungry Timberwolves in a blockbuster deal, and the way the team with stars Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins is performing, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t look to opt out with his player option. They might not have the experience or the chemistry of a Golden State Warriors, but they have the star power to match the top teams in the West, and Year 2 and 3 with this new personnel might lead them to the NBA Finals. If he does opt out and take the money for a bigger deal, we can’t really blame him, but if the team continues on the upward trajectory they are currently on, they could be the next dominant force in the West.
7 2018: Lou Williams – Miami Heat
The Miami Heat have more potential than most teams in the Eastern Conference, and after a slow start to the year, it finally looks like they’re putting it all together, and when LeBron James potentially breaks up the Cavaliers this offseason, there will be a vacancy at the top of the East. If Miami can bring in the brilliant scoring of Lou Williams, it could be them who step up and take it. They’ve got a great starting lineup led by the brilliance and inside dominance of Hassan Whiteside, so adding someone who can lead the bench and keep their momentum throughout games would be a great addition. Not to mention, Erik Spolestra is a great coach who could lead them back to the top of the East with this signing.
6 2019: Hassan Whiteside – Miami Heat
Hassan Whiteside may just be the most underrated player in the NBA today, but because he plays in Miami, he doesn’t get the recognition of players like Anthony Davis or Draymond Green. Still, he is as good on the defensive end as anyone in the NBA, and will seek a pretty penny once he hits free agency. With that being said, the Heat are improving game by game, and have become the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, and with a young core around Whiteside, he’s going to make the easy decision to stay. He may not have the flashy offensive game of someone like his rival Joel Embiid, but he is a game changer inside, and if Miami can make some good free agency signings and draft picks around him, he could become the most valuable asset in the entire NBA.
5 2018: Carmelo Anthony – Oklahoma City Thunder
Heading into the 2017/18 season, it looked like despite all the drama, Carmelo Anthony was going to stay a Knick, but thankfully they came together with the Thunder to pair him with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. While George may be on his way out in 2018, Melo will likely be sticking around. At this point in his career, the Thunder are the most likely team to give him playoff success, as his style works with the team, and no other team will pay him the money he wants, so it makes sense to stay put. He’s got limited time left in the NBA, and this may be his final time to test free agency through his Early Termination Option. For both parties, the right decision should be to keep Melo in OKC, and if they could put the right pieces around them, the Thunder may even have a run at the Western Conference Finals.
4 2019: Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs
Despite being injured for the most part earlier in the season, Kawhi Leonard is still one of the best players in the NBA today. Although there will be a huge bidding war for his name when the time comes, San Antonio is home for him, and under Coach Pop, there is literally not a single reason to make any drastic changes. They’ll need to add some players around him to again become the force they were several years back, but Leonard is the perfect building block to build the next great Spurs dynasty around, so wrapping him up long term is ideal. Sure, he doesn’t have the offensive game that others do (though his 25.5 ppg last season suggests otherwise), but he always works hard to improve, and is a great leader, so don’t expect Kawhi Leonard to be rocking any other jersey in the near future.
3 2018: Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors
When Kevin Durant decided to team up with Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Draymond Green, it solidified the Warriors as perhaps the greatest team in NBA history, and while the team eventually has to break up, that won’t be in 2018. With Steph Curry just signing a huge extension, the Warriors don’t have enough left to resign both Klay and KD, but it’s likely they’ll pick up his player option for 2018, to potentially close out a 3-peat depending on the results of the 2018 playoffs. Wherever he goes in 2019 will likely become one of the favorites to win it all, and strong favorites include his hometown Washington Wizards, but for now, the dominant force in Oakland will stay together.
2 2019: Nikola Mirotic – Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls didn’t have much hope heading into this season, but their young core has come together and exceeded expectations. Although it’s early, you have to say that if they keep up this level of play, this season should be considered a success, and it’s on the back of young guys like Lauri Markkanen and Nikola Mirotic. They’ve still got a long way to go before they get back to the success that they felt during the '90s and even the early 2010s with Derrick Rose, but on the back of those guys and talented guards like Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn, it could happen, but they NEED to wrap up Mirotic. He has all the skills you could want in an NBA player, and it just makes sense to bring him back, as he could be the backbone of an incredibly successful NBA team for years to come.
1 2018: LeBron James – Philadelphia 76ers
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA today, and he has been for several years now, and despite the fact that he returned to his "home team" of Cleveland and brought them the NBA Championship that they were coveting, he’s likely again going to move on from the Cavaliers this offseason. The team that makes the most sense is the young 76ers. Alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, this team would be almost unstoppable in the East, and that’s LeBron’s best chance of winning his fourth NBA Title, as the West would likely prove too difficult to conquer (unless he joined the Warriors, which isn’t happening). Hopefully he doesn’t make this decision in such a disrespectful way this time around, but we all know he’s not happy in Cleveland, and Philly gives him the best chance to come home with another NBA Championship.
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