With the NBA Draft behind us, its time to turn our attention to free agency. The offseason has already seen notable players change teams. Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Brook Lopez, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul among the biggest names. As NBA free agency opens officially today, July 1, some major names are available.
Where will the biggest stars land? Let’s take a stab at predicting where the top 2017 free agents will end up.
1. Kevin Durant: Golden State Warriors
To no one’s surprise, Durant and the Warriors were a perfect match. The 2017 Finals MVP is as close to a lock to return to Golden State as possible. Durant opted out of the second year of his deal and will wait until the Warriors roster is constructed to re-sign.
2. Gordon Hayward: Utah Jazz
Top two guys stay with their teams? BORING! I know, but Hayward won’t be leaving Utah. Did you know that Brad Stevens was his coach at Butler? As interesting as the Celtics are, losing to LeBron in the Conference Finals is not very appealing.
While the Warriors aren’t any easier to get past, Utah’s core is stronger than Boston’s. With Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood and Ricky Rubio the Jazz have a good, young foundation.
3. Kyle Lowry: Orlando Magic
The Raptors have hit their ceiling. The team is always competitive but doesn’t have the tools to get past Cleveland. The Magic need playmaking and scoring from the point guard position. The Magic have a very young, athletic core with Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Issac. Lowry could provide veteran leadership to a team that has talent but needs direction.
4. Otto Porter: Washington Wizards
Porter had a breakout season this year. Improving his three-point percentage to 43% and his free throw percentage to 83%, Porter showed his potential as a scorer. With his length and defensive ability, adding the three point shot was huge for Porter. At 24, Porter is a big part of the Wizards core and as a restricted free agent, they won’t let him get away.
5. Jrue Holiday: New Orleans Pelicans
With Cousins and Davis dominating the ball as much as they do, the Pelicans need a guard who can play off the ball. Holiday can run the point but has shown the ability to hit the three. The Pelicans are so top heavy in their front court that they can’t afford to let Holiday go.
6. Paul Millsap: Phoenix Suns
The Suns were interested in Blake Griffin, but they missed out. Millsap offers scoring ability, but at age 32, is obviously not the same player as Griffin. The Suns need to take some steps toward winning, adding Josh Jackson to Devin Booker and Eric Bledsoe was a good start. With Millsap, the offense opens up more for Booker and Bledsoe.
7. J.J. Redick: Philadelphia 76ers
The Process has entered the competitive stage, Redick gives the 76ers the shooter they desperately need. With Fultz and Simmons running the offense, Redick creates the space needed for Simmons and Embiid to operate. The Clippers can’t afford to keep Redick and he doesn’t fit their current plan. With $50 million in cap space after declining Gerald Henderson’s option, the 76ers have money to spend and need a shooting guard.
8. George Hill: San Antonio Spurs
Hill was drafted by the Spurs in 2008 and was traded for Kawhi Leonard. Hill and Gregg Popovich have kept in touch and Popovich has said trading Hill was the toughest choice he’s made in his career. With Tony Parker’s career winding down and coming off a postseason injury, the Spurs need a new point guard. Hill knows the San Antonio system and can provide another scoring option to take pressure off of Leonard.
9. Serge Ibaka: Sacramento Kings
Ibaka had an up and down season after being traded to Orlando, then to Toronto. With elite shot blocking and a consistent three point shot, Ibaka could fit in nicely in Sacramento. With D’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Justin Jackson, the Kings need front court scoring. Ibaka’s defense can also allow them to play small and pair rookie Harry Giles with Ibaka and have rim protection.
10. Dion Waiters: Indiana Pacers
Of course Dion Waiters had a huge contract year. With a shallow shooting guard market, Waiters could be seeing big money coming his way. His shot selection is still questionable but he could be the ideal sixth man. With Paul George on his way to Oklahoma City, the Pacers need young players to form their core. Pairing Waiters with Myles Turner, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis could be the start of a good young nucleus.
11. Nerlens Noel: Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks traded for Noel at the trade deadline and will certainly re-sign him. Noel is a restricted free agent and the Mavericks will match any offer made to him.
12. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Brooklyn Nets
KCP shows flashes of a potential star, two-way guard in the league but isn’t consistent. At 24, Caldwell-Pope has major upside and the Nets need young players to build around. They added D’Angelo Russell this offseason and signing Caldwell-Pope would give them strong backcourt to start with. Caldwell-Pope is a restricted free agent, but a max offer could pull him away from Detroit.
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