Everyone take a deep breath. It appears NBA teams have pumped the brakes in free agency.
The last major domino fell when Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers and brought Paul George with him to Los Angeles. A Russell Westbrook trade looms large in Oklahoma City, but when it comes to the free agent market, general managers are staring at end-of-the-rotation players.
NBA TRADE RUMORS:
These five teams could pursue Russell Westbrook
For fans unhappy with how free agency transpired this summer, we’ve got bad news: Next year’s group is light on star power and depth. The No. 1 player on the board, Anthony Davis, might not be truly available now that he has landed with the Lakers.
While the Leonards, Kevin Durants and Kyrie Irvings of the world can’t be recruited next time around, there will still be useful players searching for new deals next July. Here’s a rundown of the top 2020 targets.
NBA free agency 2020: Player rankings
1. Anthony Davis, Lakers – player option
As noted above, Davis could simply opt out of his current deal and re-sign with the Lakers. This is the NBA, though, so it would be unwise to say Davis will 100 percent be in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future. If he actually hits the open market, expect a Kawhi-like chase for him.
2. Ben Simmons, 76ers – restricted
Simmons is reportedly discussing an extension with the 76ers worth $170 million over five years. Sure, there are always going to be concerns about his shooting range, but he’s already an All-Star, about to turn 23 years old this month. Philadelphia should get this done.
3. Pascal Siakam, Raptors – restricted
The NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2019 has become more important to the Raptors’ future with Leonard leaving Toronto. Similar to the Simmons situation (say that five times fast), the Raptors are likely to offer Siakam a huge extension. That would lock him in through his prime years.
4. Draymond Green, Warriors – unrestricted
Green has been the heart and soul of the Warriors’ dynasty. He is a three-time champion, three-time All-Star and five-time All-Defensive player. Golden State might give him what he wants and eliminate the need for a lengthy negotiation. If the Warriors are worried about paying Green as he crosses into his 30s, however, his free agency could be fascinating.
5. Jaylen Brown, Celtics – restricted
What is Brown’s ceiling? That’s the question the Celtics – and potential suitors – will have to answer. Brown looked like a rising star after a 2017-18 season in which he averaged 14.5 points and shot 39.5 percent from 3. Then Boston’s 2018-19 debacle dropped his value. Playing next to Kemba Walker instead of Kyrie Irving could flip the perception of Brown back in a positive direction.
6. Mike Conley, Jazz – player option
Conley has a $32.5 million option on the table for 2019-20. That’s a big check, of course, but he could decline that in favor of less annual money over more years. He remains a terrific point guard after averaging 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game with the Grizzlies last season. There should be plenty of interest.
7. Kyle Lowry, Raptors – unrestricted
Another experienced point guard who could be available should Raptors president Masai Ujiri choose the rebuild route. Lowry will turn 34 years old next March, so his salary will drop significantly. Fortunately for him, his game has never been built off athleticism. He still does all the little things to help his team win.
8. Brandon Ingram, Pelicans – restricted
The former No. 2 overall pick missed the end of the Lakers’ season with a blood clot issue. He appears to be fully healthy now and ready for a fresh start in New Orleans. His size and offensive skill set make him an extension candidate for the Pelicans, but outside teams will be calling his agent if they pass.
9. DeMar DeRozan, Spurs – player option
DeRozan could take the $27.7 million option and enter free agency in 2021. He quickly became one of the Spurs’ top scoring options (21.1 points per game) along with LaMarcus Aldridge (21.3 points per game). That said, DeRozan is a polarizing player; his style doesn’t fit perfectly with many teams or grade out well analytically.
10. Buddy Hield, Kings – restricted
Only three players hit more 3-pointers last season than Hield’s 278: James Harden (378), Stephen Curry (354) and George (292). Hield’s efficiency from deep (42.7 percent) on high volume (7.9 attempts per game) is incredibly valuable in the modern NBA. The bet here is an extension from the Kings.
11. Andre Drummond, Pistons – player option
Turning down $28.7 million could be risky for Drummond, who has led the league in rebounding the past two seasons. Centers like Al Horford and Nikola Vucevic got paid this offseason, but they’ve expanded outside the paint. In the pace-and-space era, traditional bigs are easier to replace than guards and wings.
12. Otto Porter Jr., Bulls – player option
Again, a hefty option to pass up at $28.4 million. However, Porter is a 3-and-D guy, as opposed to a big man. He’s a 40.5 percent 3-point shooter for his career and 26 years old. Harrison Barnes got nearly $90 million over four years after declining his player option. Porter could follow suit.
13. Danilo Gallinari, Thunder – unrestricted
It’s easy to forget Gaillinari is a pretty good player when healthy. In 68 games with the Clippers last season, he averaged 19.8 points per game and shot 43.3 percent from beyond the arc. A 6-10 shooter works just about anywhere.
14. Caris LeVert, Nets – restricted
LeVert suffered a scary foot injury last season, but returned to the Nets just three months later. Hopefully that’s a blip on the radar for the soon-to-be 25-year-old, who has flashed impressive scoring and playmaking ability in Brooklyn. The big question: How will the addition of Irving impact his performance?
15. Goran Dragic, Heat – unrestricted
It’s possible Dragic switches teams before the 2019-20 season if he’s included in a Westbrook trade. For the moment, he’s in Miami, where he has averaged 16.7 points and 5.4 assists over four-plus seasons. He’s on the back end of his career, but this class is low on point guards.
16. Eric Gordon, Rockets – unrestricted
Gordon found his calling as one of Mike D’Antoni’s long-bombers in Houston. He has shot nearly 36 percent from 3-point range on – weird stat alert – exactly 8.8 attempts per game in each of the last three seasons. The Rockets reportedly floated Gordon as a trade candidate in their pursuit of Jimmy Butler before he went to Miami, so maybe Houston will be prepared to move on next summer.
17. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kings – restricted
De’Aaron Fox gets the headlines, but he’s not the only exciting guard in Sacramento. Bogdanovic posted 14.1 points and 3.8 assists off the bench in 2018-19 as the Kings surprisingly flirted with a .500 season. His size (6-6) and shooting (37.5 percent on 3-pointers for his career) will certainly boost his salary.
18. Gordon Hayward, Celtics – player option
Is there any way Hayward is confident enough to reject a guaranteed $34.1 million? He would have to really show he’s back to his old self. He should continue to improve with a full season under his belt following a brutal leg injury in 2017, but will he ever be a top 15-20 player again?
19. Domantas Sabonis, Pacers – restricted
If the Pacers believe Sabonis can coexist with Myles Turner in the frontcourt, perhaps an extension is on the way. Indiana could draw a line in the sand and let him walk, though, putting a skilled big man on the market. It would be fun to see him in an expanded role.
20. Fred VanVleet, Raptors – unrestricted
VanVleet was a major X-factor in the Raptors’ championship run. He’s an outside threat opposing defenders can’t leave open, and he a pest on the other end. He will make just $9.4 million in 2019-20. Yeah, this guy is due for a raise.
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