With another boring NBA Finals in the books, we can finally look forward to the fun stuff. As much as it sucks, at least it was a sweep. It was short and sweet and the fact that the Warriors walked to another ring should have GM’s and owners around the league more motivated than ever. It is time for one of the other 29 teams to finally make the right moves to take down this “super team” that everyone hates so damn much. Houston got close with the addition of superstar CP3 last summer but came up just short. Expect teams around the league to make similar, and bigger moves this summer.
Free Agency: Here is a preview of some of the bigger names that are potentially going to be on the move this summer via free agency, along with their possible landing spots (ordered from most likely to least likely).
LeBron James – Lakers, 76ers, Rockets, Cavs, Celtics, Warriors…?
At this point in his career, LBJ is solely focused on competing with Jordan. He wants to leave this game being known as the best to ever play it. Just listen to his press conferences and postgame interviews this last season. To do that though he needs one thing — more rings. He is more than likely going to end up wherever gives him the best chance to take down the Warriors in 2019, even if that means staying put in Cleveland and revamping the roster.
The one scenario that scares me more than anything else, is the chance he does the unthinkable like KD. He could feel that ultimately he will never be able to beat them, and therefore decide to join them. He could play 8 more years and win at least 6 rings if he takes his talents to Oakland. There is less than a 1% chance it happens, and it would probably ruin the NBA. But it would be dumb to assume the option isn’t at least on the table.
Chris Paul – Rockets, Lakers, Celtics
If CP3 were decide to bounce out of Houston, there’s only 2 ways it could happen. The first way is the banana boat. Yes it is back. D-Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul could all finally meet up in LA. Chris Paul was almost a Laker once before, which shouldn’t mean anything but for some reason it makes it feel more possible. If even one or two of the crew were wanting to meet up in LA, I wouldn’t be surprised if he caved.
The only way he ends up in Boston is if Danny Ainge does the unimaginable and trades Kyrie Irving. He is rumored to not want to re-sign in Boston next summer, so Ainge could re-sign Marcus Smart and stick with the 2 guards that led his team to the finals. It could be a genius move if he trades Irving somewhere he is willing to re-sign. Boston could get a superstar and multiple draft picks in return for a guy who they just went to the finals without. Not to mention Gordon Hayward was out as well. Paul could agree to a sign-and-trade with Boston involving Kyrie, or sign outright with them in free agency.
Paul George – Rockets, Lakers, Thunder, Jazz, Cavs, 76ers, Clippers
What George is looking for is really unknown. Is he wanting a ring, is he wanting a max deal, is he wanting to be the number 1 option, or is he simply wanting to return home? His decision this summer will hinge on those 4 questions. If LeBron does decide to stay put (which doesn’t seem likely), Cleveland could be a very likely destination. They’d have to dump off a couple big contracts for that to happen though. Donovan Mitchell is also actively recruiting PG.
DeMarcus Cousins – Lakers, Mavericks, Bucks, Pelicans, Bulls, Nets, Suns, Raptors
Unlike some of the other big name free agents, Boogie is chasing a check. He is going to require a max deal regardless of where he goes. It could potentially take him somewhere like Dallas, Phoenix, or Brooklyn if they are the only teams to offer him one. He essentially told the Pelicans to shove it up their ass when they had the idea of offering him less than a max, so you have to assume that is his top priority at this point. Toronto could be an interesting fit if they decide to blow it up and start from scratch. It really is wide open where he’ll be playing next season.
Clint Capela – Rockets, Mavericks, Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, Suns
The Rockets want to keep Chris Paul and Capela, but that doesn’t seem possible right now. Both will require max, or near max deals, and unless major trades are made, Houston can’t afford it. Last season they had one of the highest payrolls in the league, and that is with Capela on his rookie deal. Expect the Rockets to be in heavy trade talks for a lot of the summer. Capela’s future will depend on what trades are (or aren’t) made.
DeAndre Jordan – Rockets, Lakers, Bucks, Kings, Bulls
Houston doesn’t really make much sense as the most likely destination, but it is reportedly where DJ has desired to play for months. It could potentially mean him taking a pay cut for it to happen. Houston would also have to let Capela walk. It seems like a downgrade in the long run without a doubt, but maybe a slight upgrade for next season. To be honest, I don’t really think he’ll end up in Houston, but it sure doesn’t seem like he’ll opt-in for another season with the Clippers.
Julius Randle – Lakers, Jazz, Suns, Mavericks, Bulls, Kings, Raptors, Celtics, Clippers
The only way the Lakers let Randle walk is if they get 2 superstars in free agency or make a blockbuster trade. He is incredibly talented and only 23 years old. If LA doesn’t retain him, he will probably get a max contract elsewhere. Teams will be lining up to place their bid for Randle if something like the banana boat were to happen.
Aaron Gordon – Magic, Nets, Suns, Hawks, Kings, Bulls, Jazz
The Magic don’t really have a ton of young talent. They aren’t an optimal free agent destination either, unless you just really love Disney World. I highly doubt they will be able to entice any premier free agents better than Gordon, so I think he will probably stay put. Orlando makes some very head scratching moves though, so anything could happen here. I expect them to match whatever the highest offer is unless it exceeds $20 million a year. A team or 2 could offer him a max, or near max deal though, so don’t bank on him re-signing with the Magic.
Isaiah Thomas – Nets, Hawks, Kings, Suns, Magic, Raptors, Bulls
IT is going to go somewhere he will be the starter and make at least $15 mil a year. It might be Orlando or Phoenix, but this guy wants to start. You can’t blame the guy after appearing in the MVP conversation just 2 seasons ago. He’s now seen as a glorified role player. There is no telling where the next stop is for IT4, but he wants to reestablish himself as a dominant player wherever it is.
Trade Watch: A few blockbuster trades are bound to be made to try and end this half decade of boring playoffs and pointless finals. Here are some of the guys that I think could be on the move and some potential trade packages that could make it happen. Obviously Kyrie and Rozier both are not going to be traded, but it looks more and more likely 1 of the 2 will be.
Most likely destinations: LA Lakers, Houston, Cleveland, Chicago, LA Clippers, Raptors
- Trade package from Lakers: Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma for Kawhi
- Trade package from Houston: Clint Capela (sign-and-trade) and pick 46 for Kawhi
- Trade package from Cleveland: Kevin Love, Kyle Korver and a future draft pick for Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay
- Trade package from Chicago: Denzel Valentine, Kris Dunn, pick 22 and a future second round pick for Kawhi Leonard
- Trade package from Clippers: Patrick Beverly, Danilo Gallinari, Milos Teodsoic, and pick 13 for Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills, and Brandon Paul
- Trade package from Toronto: DeMar DeRozan and CJ Miles for Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay
Most likely destinations: New York, Houston, LA Lakers
- Trade package from New York: Kristaps Porzingis and Courtney Lee for Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris
- Trade package from Houston: Chris Paul (opts in for last year of his contract) and a future first round pick for Kyrie Irving
- Trade package from Lakers: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and pick 47 for Kyrie Irving
Most likely destinations: LA Lakers, San Antonio, Cleveland, Portland
- Trade package from Lakers: Brandon Ingram and pick 25 for DeMar DeRozan
- Trade package from San Antonio: Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay for DeMar DeRozan and Delon Wright
- Trade package from Cleveland: JR Smith, Kyle Korver, pick 8, and a future first round pick for DeMar DeRozan
- Trade package from Portland: CJ McCollum for DeMar DeRozan
Most likely destinations: Boston, Cleveland, Phoenix, Milwaukee
- Trade package from Boston: Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, and a future first round pick for Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins
- Trade package from Cleveland: George Hill, Kevin Love, and pick 8 for Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Karl Anthony Towns
- Trade package from Phoenix: Dragan Bender, Tyson Chandler, Brandon Knight and picks 16 and 31 for Karl Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague
- Trade package from Milwaukee: Tony Snell, Thon Maker, and Malcolm Brogdon for Karl Anthony Towns and Cole Aldrich
Most likely destinations: Minnesota, Phoenix, Cleveland, Toronto
- Trade package from Minnesota: Andrew Wiggins and Justin Patton for CJ McCollum
- Trade package from Phoenix: Josh Jackson, Tyson Chandler, and Alan Williams for CJ McCollum
- Trade package from Cleveland: JR Smith, Tristan Thompson and pick 8 for CJ McCollum and Zach Collins
- Trade package from Toronto: DeMar DeRozan for CJ McCollum
Most likely destinations: Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs
- Trade package from Phoenix: Marquese Chriss, TJ Warren, Tyson Chandler, and pick 31 for Kevin Love and Kyle Korver
- Trade package from Toronto: DeMar DeRozan for Kevin Love and 2020 first round draft pick from Cleveland
- Trade package from San Antonio: Kawhi Leonard, Pau Gasol, and Rudy Gay for Kevin Love, George Hill, and a future first round pick
Most likely destinations: Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets
- Trade package from Phoenix: Marquese Chriss and pick 16 for Terry Rozier
- Trade package from Orlando: Jonathon Simmons and picks 35 and 41 for Terry Rozier
- Trade package from Brooklyn: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and picks 40 and 45 for Terry Rozier
Most likely destinations: LA Lakers, Toronto, Chicago, Minnesota
- Trade package from Lakers: Josh Hart and the number 47 pick for Carmelo Anthony
- Trade package from Toronto: Serge Ibaka, Delon Wright, and CJ Miles for Carmelo Anthony and Kyle Singler
- Trade package from Chicago: Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine, Robin Lopez, and pick 22 for Carmelo Anthony
- Trade package from Minnesota: Andrew Wiggins and Cole Aldrich for Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Patterson, pick 53, and a future first round pick