1. Kevin Love needs to sign within the first couple days, otherwise these tabloid stories of phone calls, hats, and selfies are going to distract from teams trying to get better. I’ve been sick of hearing that stuff since it started back in November.
2. It seems most likely that Love stays in Cleveland, but I really do like the idea of him going to the Lakers. Love is a Cali sort of guy. After all, his uncle was a Beach Boy. As a Love fan, it was painful to watch him sputter in Cleveland last year. The team wasn’t interested in making him a focal part of the offense, and Love is talented enough to be the focus of just about any team’s offense. Then, he finally makes the playoffs like he came to Cleveland to do, and he gets hurt. It was rough to watch all around. Putting him with Kobe, Russell, Randle and Globetrotter Nance would make for a really fun core moving forward. And if they did that, maybe there wouldn’t be as much of a motivation to sign Rondo. (See #12)
3. More short term deals than ever are going to be signed. The cap is around $67 million now, but it’s going to shoot up to $90 million then to $108 million for the 2017-18 season. The age of superstar players seeking long-term contract security is gone, at least for the next few years.
4. Marc Gasol is likely to sign a five-year, max deal with the Grizzlies. We’ve heard that Gasol is only meeting with the Grizzlies, which makes sense considering how beloved and successful he’s been there. This is still a minor blow to some Knicks faithful who’ve held out hope that he’d be the big man they need.
5. LaMarcus Aldridge on the Spurs would be crazy, but don’t count out Portland. Just because LMA is a free agent, doesn’t mean he’s leaving town. Like Gasol, he’s become beloved in his market, and while there have been a lot of moves happening in Portland, the team could still definitely use him. For him to go to the Spurs, they’re basically giving up Danny Green. Obviously getting Aldridge makes the team better than Green does, but the Spurs may not be willing to give up all of their depth to add him.
6. Jimmy Butler may have the guts to take the qualifying offer. Butler bet on himself before the season, and it paid off in a big way. He could get a max deal this offseason, and it’s likely that multiple teams will offer him that. The Bulls have said they’re going to match whatever deal is thrown his way, and reportedly have already offered him the 5-year max that no other team can. The only thing Butler could do is pull a Greg Monroe, take the $4.4 million he’d make this year, and then sign a bigger contract with whatever team he wants. That contract would start around $21 million.
7. Spending may still be tempered this free agency. Before the new cap figures were announced, it was assumed that most teams would be a bit stingy with their money in order to better prepare for the impressive draft class coming around next year. Now that this year’s max deals mean little in the long run, that talk has subsided, but I wouldn’t be surprised if multiple teams with cap space hold out for one of the big fish next year.
8. Greg Monroe is likely to end up on the Knicks, but that may not be the best fit. As great as Monroe is, he isn’t the rim protector this team needs out of their big. ‘Melo is going to play a lot at PF, or at least he should if the triangle is really going to work, so that means Monroe would be forced to become the defensive anchor of the team. He is likely the best talent they could bring in, but the fit just doesn’t seem right.
9. The Knicks won’t sign a big free agent, but they’ll get their bait ready. The Knicks will bring in a couple players, perhaps Lou Williams and Brandan Wright, as part of their stepping stone into being a good team again. It’s the 2016 free agency period where they’ll really make a splash, but Phil is going to want to set this team up to be appealing on the court.
10. K.J. McDaniels will be overpaid. There hasn’t been a lot of talk about McDaniels since he went to Houston and hardly played, but he was putting up major number in Philly before being dealt. Some team is going to strike out on their first few choices and get desperate for McDaniels. I see the Lakers and Knicks as top candidates for this award.
11. Gerald Green will be underpaid. Green didn’t get nearly as much playing time as he likely deserved for the Suns, and that’s got to be hurting his stock. His numbers were relatively pedestrian (11.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg), but he played less than 20 minutes a night. I see the Mavericks and the Pacers as top candidates (assuming Indiana doesn’t get Monta Ellis.)
12. We seem to have forgotten about Rondo. Rajon Rondo was supposed to be one of the big prizes of this class, but since he blew up in Dallas, and really hasn’t played well for about three years, now no one is talking about him. I’m far from a Rondo supporter, but I still think he can be a valuable player for someone. Before the draft, I’d have been surprised if he went anywhere except to the Lakers, but after they took Russell, I’m not so sure. Maybe Sacramento is where he ends up. They’ll be able to sign him for far less than the max, allowing them to build a roster around Cousins and Rondo.
13. But there won’t be a big man like they need willing to go to LA. As great as getting Aldridge to the Lakers would be, they still need a rim-protecting center. DeAndre Jordan is that guy, but it’s more than likely he stays in the other locker room at Staples. Tyson Chandler is a possibility, but he seems interested in winning now (and intrigued by Milwaukee.) Most likely seem to be Biyombo or Asik. Neither is going to revolutionize this team, but both could be very helpful in getting them back near .500, especially if Kobe and Russell score like they’re able to.
14. The narrative of teams getting better when Monta leaves is overplayed. He scored over 20 ppg last year, and was just shy of 5 apg. He had a PER of just better than league average (16.5), so while he isn’t going to be a superstar, he’s still a valuable scorer to have on your team. Indiana seems most likely, but the Hawks are in the mix too, and if they can squeeze the numbers, he’d be some valuable offense for that team. Plus, you know, there’s this:
15. LeBron needs to take a pay cut if he really wants to win. Everyone is assuming that LeBron opted out of his contract so he could make more money, but really, if he wants to win in Cleveland, he needs to take a drastic cut so the team can get better players. I’m not one to say that players are worth any less than someone is willing to give them, or that they should take a cent less than they can. I didn’t fault Carmelo Anthony for re-signing with the Knicks. But ‘Melo didn’t switch teams with the goal of bringing a title to his hometown. LeBron did, so for at least one year, he needs to take less and let David Griffin build a solid team around him.
16. On that note, the Cavs need to add some youth. Experience is good when you’re trying to win a title, but this playoff run proved that a team where Mike Miller and Shawn Marion are supposed to be key rotation players is a team where the starters play a lot of minutes. They should look at the like of KJ McDaniels, Donald Sloan, and Luke Babbitt.
17. Whoever gets to be the Bulls backup point guard is a lucky man. Granted, Tom Thibodeau is gone, so who knows if the backup will have as explosive of a season as C.J. Watson, Nate Robinson, Aaron Brooks and co. have managed to have, but it’s fairly safe to assume that the next one-year guy is going to be glad he went to Chicago. Possible candidates: Nate Robinson, C.J. Watson, Ish Smith, J.J. Barea, Donald Sloan, Mo Williams.
18. Assuming the re-sign DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers have essentially no cap room and holes to fill. Lance Stephenson can’t be trusted to play 35+ minutes a game. It’s not unreasonable to think he can get back to a position where he does that, but just based on the past season, skepticism is understandable. Paul Pierce has been talked about, and he would be a great guy to play 12-15 quality minutes for this team. Re-signing Austin Rivers seems like a must after the playoffs he had. Then this team needs a better back-up big man than Glen Davis. Cole Aldrich is a possibility, as is Samuel Dalembert.
19. Don’t count out a trade between Boston and Philly. Not as much of a free agency thing, but something that will certainly need to be worked out soon. The Sixers now have a glut of big man talent, and even if you think that Embiid is never again going to step on the floor (which is a bit drastic) they should be open to moving one of their bigs for a talented young point guard. A team with a lot of point guard talent? The Boston Celtics. The Sixers have been interested in Smart, and the C’s need a big.
This trade would also have to include a couple of the roughly 300,000 draft picks the Celtics have stored, but it could go on to benefit both teams. Smart is the sort of point guard who can work with a big man core of Embiid and Okafor, and this would give the Celtics a lineup that can actually win, and win soon. Sure, losing Smart isn’t great, but Thomas and Rozier should be able to fill that hole nicely.
20. A Cousins/Karl/Lakers/Calipari/Divac/Ranadivé rumor will pop up roughly 13 times per day until next season starts. Then it will go down to 11 times per day.