What will the top moves of free agency be this season? ISH counts off the top potential moves of the big names in the NBA.
Patty Mills: San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills had a great year under Poppovich, averaging 10.2 ppg in only 18.9 minutes per game. Patty Mills has proven himself to be an explosive option off the bench, mainly because the Spurs’ system suits his skillset so well. For this reason, Mills must stay in San Antonio where he will be at his best. I also don’t buy Kyle Anderson as an effective point guard who can replace Mills. Many people believe that Mills will cash in this summer after a good season, drawing interest from teams such as the New York Knicks, but because his style of play doesn’t translate well to a team outside of San Antonio, it would be in his best interests to remain there.
Boris Diaw: San Antonio Spurs
Boris Diaw had a phenomenal post-season, where he was a key player for the championship winning Spurs. Diaw is similar to Mills in that his strengths really fit well into the system in place in San Antonio. Gregg Poppovich has been converting seemingly useless role players from other teams into key players for his team because they fit well into his system. Diaw is a perfect example of this; he spent a few years on the Bobcats where fans complained that his complete lack of athleticism made him a liability on the court but Pop saw differently and utilized his unique pass-first playing style beautifully in his own system. Diaw will play his best in San Antonio and no other team would be able to utilize him the same way. For this reason he will continue to don the Spurs jersey.
Paul Pierce: Los Angeles Clippers
Paul Pierce continues to defy father time and his legendary footwork will carry him to at least one more effective season. There has been some chatter of a potential return to Boston, which would make for a great story, but at this point in his career, Pierce wants another title, which the openly interested Clippers could lead him to. He can provide quality minutes off the bench and some strong leadership on and off the court. He also would love to reunite with his old coach and friend, Doc Rivers.
Shawn Marion: Dallas Mavericks
Is this even a question? Shawn Marion is almost guaranteed to resign with the Mavs after many productive years there. He and Dirk will try and squeeze out a few more seasons of effective basketball before calling it quits. Marion still has some good ball left in him because of his toughness and superior defense. Look for him to continue to be a leader on a sputtering Mavericks team.
Trevor Ariza: Los Angeles Lakers
Let’s face it, the Lakers will not be signing LeBron or Melo this summer. It’s a tough pill to swallow for a team that has been the ultimate free agent destination for so many years. Trevor Ariza is coming off a great season with the Wizards and can provide some much needed scoring especially after the loss of Jodie Meeks and some tough defense. Ariza’s return to LA can be a win-win for the two parties and the Wizards aren’t likely to be willing to pay him as much as the Lakers can.
Pau Gasol: Phoenix Suns
The Suns could use the technical offense Pau provides and he will come at a good value as an aging veteran who has sustained a few injuries in his time. We can’t rule out a return to the Lakers, with whom he was an essential part of a back-to-back title run, but odds are he is on the move and Phoenix is a good fit for his style of play. Pau is towards the end of his career and he isn’t ready to be a part if the rebuilding process going on in LA. He will move to a team on the rise like Phoenix.
Gordon Hayward: Utah Jazz
Although Hayward is getting interest from several teams, especially the Charlotte Hornets, there is almost no way the Jazz will let him go. Hayward is a restricted free agent, meaning that the Jazz can match any offer that Hayward wants to retain him. If by some chance the Jazz let Hayward go, then the Hornets would be an ideal destination for the rising star. He would fit well in either system, with the Jazz it is a team he is accustomed to and would continue to succeed, and in Charlotte they have a need at Small Forward and he would fit in well with the other pieces in the Queen City.
Lance Stephenson: Indiana Pacers
Stephenson was one of the biggest surprises last season, as he rose to stardom after several average seasons. Although there are some tensions currently between the organization and Stevenson, I still believe that one side will give in a little to allow Stephenson to stay in Indiana. Stevenson has announced that despite some contract issues, he would still enjoy staying in Indiana. I think that the Pacers would love to have him back as well, but they want him under their terms. Stevenson should find himself in yellow and blue again next season, but it may take some compromise first.
Chandler Parsons: Charlotte Hornets
With the Hornets exploring Small Forward options, Parsons is a guy that every Hornets fan would love to see in teal and purple next season. If my prediction stays true of Bosh going to Houston, it is unlikely that the Rockets also keep Parsons. The Hornets would love Parsons’ ability to score from the Small Forward position, as they have struggled with that in recent years when they have started Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Parsons would be a great fit in Charlotte, and he should be happy if he lands there as well.
Dwyane Wade: Miami Heat
It is hard to imagine Wade wearing any other jersey than that of the Miami Heat. As an often injured veteran, Wade won’t provide a ton of value to any other team, so his winning days are likely over if LeBron walks, but he will be a member of the Heat next season regardless. Wade is a career Heat player and I would be surprised if any other teams even attempted to pry him away from Miami.
Chris Bosh: Houston Rockets
Like before, Bosh will be wanting to play for a contending team, but he recently announced he would also rather play for bigger bucks than what he was doing in Miami. In Houston he would be getting a higher salary, while playing on one of the favorites to come out of the West next season. This is the best fit for Bosh, as he would create the next Big 3 with Dwight Howard, James Harden, and himself. And with LeBron potentially leaving Miami, the Heat wont even be contenders next season, something very unappealing to a player like Bosh.
Carmelo Anthony: New York Knicks
Unlike LeBron, Anthony doesn’t care as much about his personal legacy as he does about the money rolling in from his play. And as long as the money is what he cares about, New York is the ideal destination. Anthony will once again be one of the top 5 paid players in the NBA, and although New York will not be a contending team, you can be sure Melo will have a lot more of whatever Melo spends his money on. Los Angeles (Lakers) and Chicago are also options, but I think that Carmelo is happy with where he is and wouldn’t want to sacrifice a few million dollars to play on a contending team.
LeBron James: Cleveland Cavaliers
“He’s going home, He’s going home, Tell the world he’s going home.” LeBron will be returning to Cleveland this summer, a city right outside his home town in Akron, Ohio. LeBron will instantly make Cleveland a contender to go all the way, as he will be paired with Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, and potentially even another big name that Cleveland could pull in (aka Kevin Love). King James won two titles in Miami, and I believe he is on track to win a couple more in Cleveland.