The NBA season is now in full swing, and despite a slow start, the dynasty that is the Golden State Warriors are back to their best, and most fans are assuming they will again win the NBA Championship, which has some people looking forward to next season, or more importantly, the upcoming NBA offseason. It can be one of the most exciting, or one of the most disappointing times for fans, but it always makes for shocking headlines, and we are sure that this upcoming offseason will be no different, as there are many free agents ready to shake up the entire landscape of the NBA. Obviously, some of these predictions could be very wrong, as things and people's opinions change very quickly, but here are our predictions for where the top 20 NBA free agents will sign this upcoming offseason.
20 Paul George – Los Angeles Lakers
For the past year, the PG13 to LA rumors have been strong and consistent, and despite the trade to OKC to join Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, it just makes too much sense for the former Pacers superstar to join his hometown Lakers. With Lonzo Ball, Brook Lopez and other young players on the team, the addition of George would make them fringe playoff contenders, and would definitely put LA back on track to become the force that the franchise has been for several decades. In George, the Lakers would be getting a player who can do it all at either small forward or shooting guard, and with such a reputation around the league, players will again look at LA as a legit destination for free agency, and would be the beginning of another boom period for the Lakers.
19 Lou Williams – San Antonio Spurs
Lou Williams has bounced around the NBA throughout his career, but his last two stops with Houston and now the LA Clippers have been fantastic, as he has become one of the most valuable bench players in the league. But with the Clippers struggling the way they are, it’s likely he will be on the way out, and despite so many teams who could use him, the Spurs are the one that fits him most, and could help them be the team to dethrone the Golden State Warriors. With a solid team already, the explosive scoring of Williams off the bench would give this team the punch that it needs, and we know they thrive playing team basketball under Coach Pop, so Williams would make them that much better. It’s entirely possible that Lou stays in LA (whether it be the Lakers or Clippers), but this would make the Spurs easily the top contender to the Warriors in the West.
18 Carmelo Anthony – Oklahoma City Thunder
Carmelo Anthony was at the center of plenty of drama this past offseason in New York, and he was eventually traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott, and as his window for a Finals appearance is closing, it’s doubtful he’ll leave the talented Thunder team. Paul George may or may not be on his way out, but having a shooter as talented as Melo alongside the ever dangerous Russell Westbrook will always make this team a threat. At this stage of his career, it’s doubtful many other teams would give Melo what he needs. He’s always wanted to play with his pals Chris Paul, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, so it’s better off if he just stays put.
17 Julius Randle – Milwaukee Bucks
Julius Randle is a very talented young player, but with Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson and Kyle Kuzma taking the majority of the headlines for this young Lakers team, it seems he is on the outside looking in with their young core. With the team making a play at Paul George and maybe other stars, they won’t be able to give Randle the contract he will no doubt covet. With Jabari Parker and the Bucks likely not coming back together at the end of this season, it makes sense for them to go after the talented Randle, and pairing him with Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo would make them an instant contender. He’s likely going to seek a huge contract, and he has the talent to justify it, but he’s not going to get that just yet. As such, a short term deal to prove just how good he is will likely happen here.
16 Enes Kanter – New York Knicks
Just days after he pledged his love for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Enes Kanter was dealt to the Knicks in a deal for Carmelo Anthony, and so far he has been playing fantastic in his new role as a starter. After standing up for Frank Ntlikina, The Knicks team and his city in a scuffle and online situation with LeBron James, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be going anywhere. The team is certainly improving without Carmelo Anthony, thanks to Kristaps Porzingis as the top star, and as the East still remains the weaker conference, they have a chance of being a contender in the very near future. With someone who plays so well on each end of the floor, it may be sooner than we all expect.
15 DeMarcus Cousins – Boston Celtics
DeMarcus Cousins has been one of the best big men in the NBA since he entered the league with the Sacramento Kings, but the team dealt him to the Pelicans to pair him with Anthony Davis, and while they’ve been great together, the team isn’t succeeding, and that’s why Cousins should join the Boston Celtics to create the NBA’s next great super team. The team still has some good draft picks in the near future, and adding Cousins to pair with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward would make this team all but unstoppable. The downside is that they may struggle to resign rving, but with Cousins, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Hayward plus those draft picks under the guidance of Brad Stevens, the team will be fine for years to come.
14 Isaiah Thomas – Cleveland Cavaliers
Isaiah Thomas was taken with the last selection in the 2011 draft, and he has been working his entire career to prove he is as good as he thinks he is, and that happened during the 2016 NBA season with the Boston Celtics. After he was traded, it has seemingly motivated him even more, and this will lead him to sign a huge contract with the Cavs following the 2017 season. It’s likely that LeBron James will be making his way out of Cleveland, so the team will need a superstar to stay alongside Kevin Love, and with the hard style that Thomas plays, he will no doubt become a fan favorite, and one of the faces of the franchise. Sure, most Cavs fans would have loved Kyrie Irving long term (especially after the start he has had to the 2017 season), but Thomas isn’t a bad guy to replace him with.
13 Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat
Dwyane Wade is coming to the end of his career, and it’s been a phenomenal run, but he is very injury prone, so this is likely his last contract in the NBA, so with LeBron James likely leaving Cleveland, why wouldn’t he return to the team that he played the majority of his career with, the Miami Heat? The team is very young, and Wade could contribute both on the court (likely from the bench) and as a veteran leader in the locker room, and it would only be appropriate that he retires with the organization that he brought three Championships too. There is always a possibility that he stays in Cleveland as they give him the best chance in the East to make it make to the Finals, but that may depend on how the team go in the 2017 postseason. At this rate, it’s about time Wade thinks about the end of his career and life after basketball.
12 Rajon Rondo – New Orleans Pelicans
Rajon Rondo isn’t like the new age of point guards in the NBA, but he can still get it done, and as he is coming to the twilight of his career, this will likely be his final NBA contract, and it’s likely he’ll stay put in New Orleans to guide this young team who are certainly on the way up in the very deep Western Conference. We’ll discuss the future of one of the Pelicans' star big men later on in the article, but it’s clear Anthony Davis isn’t going anywhere, so having a veteran leader and great passer like Rondo within the organization would be a very good idea. He won’t be demanding a lot of money, and yes, the Pelicans could do with some more young talent around Davis, but players just don’t want to play in New Orleans, so this is the best they can do at the moment.
11 J.J. Redick – Oklahoma City Thunder
The Philadelphia 76ers geared up this past offseason, and added J.J. Redick to their young core of Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz and Joel Embiid, and after paying Joel big money and looking to make a run for some big stars, it’s unlikely Redick will be back in Philly. With PG13 likely going to LA, he will leave a spot open for him at the Thunder. Redick would present a veteran presence and give Russell Westbrook another great shooter to find on the kick out after driving. He can also play some solid defense that will allow Carmelo Anthony back to SF, making them a more well rounded team. It’s likely going to be a very short term deal, but if this team can catch fire, they could be contending with the Warriors, Rockets and all the top teams in the NBA.
10 Clint Capela – New Orleans Pelicans
We’ll get to DeMarcus Cousins later, but spoiler alert, he isn’t going to be staying in New Orleans, so the team will have to find another talented center to play alongside the ridiculously talented Anthony Davis. With the Rockets looking to re-sign Trevor Ariza and Chris Paul, they might have to give up Clint Capela in order to achieve this. It’s true that Capela is a very talented up-and-coming big man, and he is a much cheaper option than Cousins, so it just makes sense for every side involved. He still has some holes in his game, and those must be addressed before he becomes the elite talent that some believe he can be. Alongside Davis and Rajon Rondo, that just might happen.
9 DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers were in danger of completely falling apart this past offseason with both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin become free agents, but Paul opted for a sign-and-trade while Griffin returned to the only NBA team he’s ever known. In 2018, it’s very likely that DeAndre Jordan will follow suit. The team is quite talented, but for some reason they are certainly struggling thus far in 2017, so getting their elite big man back would help their future in a very tough Western Conference. His free-throw shooting is still a problem for sure, but he can do everything else on a basketball court that a great center should be able to do, and while their LA counterpart the Lakers look to be gearing up for a long time to come, the Clippers must resign Jordan to stay afloat in an every improving West.
8 Jabari Parker – San Antonio Spurs
Jabari Parker came into the NBA at the same time as the likes of Julius Randle, and after a fantastic start to his career, he unfortunately got injured, and has been overshadowed quite a lot since that point. While he is carving out a very impressive career in Milwaukee, but it’s about to be over. It seems that the Bucks are content to let Parker walk away, as he would likely want more money than the team will pay, as they likely need to resign superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. So where will the rising star go? The San Antonio Spurs need to get younger alongside the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills, so adding Parker would be a phenomenal addition, and if he could learn from the likes of Pau Gasol, Gregg Popovich and LaMarcus Aldridge, he could very well be a superstar in the Lone Star State.
7 Trevor Ariza – Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets have been playing very consistent and explosive basketball in 2017, and it has many people picking them to meet the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, and that threat mainly comes from their three-point shooting. Although he’s not the biggest name on the team, Trevor Ariza could be just as important as anyone to this team. He has been with the Rockets for the past three years, and the team could certainly bring him and his tremendous three-point shooting back for quite a lot less money that it would cost to bring in a free agent, so it makes sense for both sides to come together for a deal. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the move that will put Houston over the top, but they play together as a team, and Ariza is a big part of that chemistry, so there is no need to break that up before they finally break the glass ceiling on their potential.
6 LeBron James – Philadelphia 76ers
There has been a lot of conflicting reports about the future of LeBron James in Cleveland, and after the Kyrie Irving trade and rumors that he isn’t happy in Cleveland, the popular opinion is that he will be gone. With the West getting tougher by the year, you have to imagine that LeBron will stay in the East, and there are a few top candidates who would become immediate contenders with his presence. The New York Knicks and the Miami Heat both come to mind, but with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and a young core in Philadelphia, this is the team that would bring King James the most success for the twilight part of his career. There’s certainly a chance that he stays in Cleveland, because they are still stacked despite their struggles early in this season, but combining James with Simmons and Embiid could make the Sixers serious title contenders, and would definitely help pay off The Process.
5 Aaron Gordon – Orlando Magic
Aaron Gordon became a household name after his performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contests, but this year he has taken his entire game to a whole new level, and is leading his Magic to a record few people expected at the start of the season. As they continue to improve, it’s unlikely Gordon will want to leave the team that is clearly built around him. As an incredibly talented and athletic 4, there’s no doubting the fact that many teams will be after him, but the pairing with Nikola Vucevic looks to be paying off in 2017, so if they can bring him back and draft/sign well, this could be a future contender in the East. This is the best Magic team since Dwight Howard was there, and while he isn’t the player Dwight was at the time, Gordon is the backbone of the entire Magic franchise, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was a one-franchise man at the end of his career.
4 Chris Paul – Houston Rockets
This past offseason, Chris Paul was a free agent, but he worked with the Clippers and Rockets to facilitate a trade so that it wouldn’t leave Los Angeles with nothing in return, and as he is again a free agent, it makes no sense to leave the organization he just joined, especially with the early success they have had. With Paul, the team gained the leader that many (including Kevin McHale) didn’t see in James Harden, and with their explosive offense, they remain the top contender to knock the Warriors off in the West. If they can add a piece this upcoming offseason, they could even become the favorite in the Western Conference. This may very well be Paul’s last contract in the NBA (depending on the length), so he must choose wisely; but if he wants the best chance at winning a ring, it may very well be in Houston.
3 Jamal Crawford – Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves won this past offseason, as they added Jeff Teague, Jimmy Butler and Jamal Crawford to add with their young core of Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. While Butler was the best player they added, Jamal Crawford is just as valuable, as he adds a leader to the team as a whole, but more specifically the bench, which is an area this team has struggled with in the past few seasons. The team may not live up to the lofty expectations placed upon them in season one with the new lineup, but if they want to reach their goal of an NBA Finals appearance, they’ll need to bring Crawford back, as he may prove invaluable to this team. Most teams in the NBA would love to have Crawford as a leader off the bench, but it just makes too much sense on both sides to not bring him back.
2 Nikola Mirotic – Chicago Bulls
Nikola Mirotic has been one of the lone bright spots for the Chicago Bulls over the past several seasons, and since he joined the team from Spain in 2014, has been the only bright spot for this organization. As they look to rebuild back to what their legendary franchise once was, they need a centerpiece, and with few free agents wanting to join Chicago, they will likely look to make him that cornerstone. He has been joined in 2017 by Lauri Markkanen, and they actually make quite a good combination, so with little else for the team to hang their hat on, they definitely need to keep Mirotic around, and it’s a safe bet to say that he will be returning to the Chicago Bulls in 2018 and beyond.
1 Kevin Durant – Washington Wizards
Kevin Durant became the NBA’s top villain when he joined the Golden State Warriors to create a modern day “super team,” and after getting a ring in 2016/17, with another one likely on the way in 2017/18, it’s more likely than not that KD will move on, and the likely landing spot is one we expected during his last free agency journey, his hometown Washington Wizards. It might be a struggle to fit him into the salary cap, but if they can get a deal similar to the one he signed with the Warriors, combining him with John Wall and Bradley Beal would make this team an instant favorite in an already weaker Eastern Conference. If KD is to leave Golden State, Washington seems like the only destination, and while the Warriors would love to bring him back, it might just make sense for KD to leave now, due to Stephen Curry's gigantic deal, and Klay Thompson’s future up in the air.
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