Here it comes again: NBA Free Agency. For fans, this experience can either be horrific or tremendous with top players leaving their teams for more money or to win a championship.
Now it is time for the endless speculation about top players that just creates more chaos which seems to be what the free agency is every year: speculation and money. Sports writers try to project where a player is going, and then, those fans think he is coming which creates more chaos.
You get the picture?
However, this year we have an outstanding NBA Free Agency class. Guys like LeBron James, Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade, and Marc Gasol lead the class, and that is just the beginning.
1. LeBron James / Age: 30 / Status: Player Option, opt out / Most Likely Destination: Cavaliers
There is tons of speculation on LeBron about whether he is staying or leaving; however, there is no good reason for him to leave Cleveland. The Cavaliers are over the cap, but LeBron wants to win a championship in Cleveland. He is the best player in the NBA, and that should be enough to describe why any team would love to have him. Is he going to leave? No, at least not this year.
His legacy would be ruined if he were to ditch his hometown again, too. LeBron is building something special in Cleveland, he won’t risk losing it.
2. Marc Gasol / Age: 30 / Status: Unrestricted / Most Likely Destination: Grizzlies
Marc Gasol could be considered a top five center with his ability to score and dominate in the post. If the Grizzlies had Mike Conley for the whole playoff series versus the Warriors, then they could have won with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the post dominating Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green. Again, the Grizzlies have money to spend this year and giving a max deal to Gasol will not be an issue. He is staying in Memphis.
He grew up in Memphis, went to high school in the area, and has been a fan favorite since being traded to the Grizzlies. Him leaving, while possible, is unlikely.
3. LaMarcus Aldridge / Age: 29 / Status: Unrestricted / Most likely Destination: Spurs
Now the speculation behind LaMarcus is he could practically go anywhere. There have been talks about Houston in a sign-and-trade, the Mavericks who have money to spend for him, or staying in Portland who could pay his contract also. However, he is going to San Antonio. Why? They can pay him, and they can win with him.
LaMarcus would give the Spurs another versatile forward who is able to play defense, and spread the floor out for Tim Duncan in the post. The Spurs have needed another post player along side of Duncan that could shoot. Even with Diaw and Splitter, I do not think Pop will turn away from augmenting Aldridge.
4. Kawhi Leonard / Age: 23 / Status: Restricted / Most Likely Destination: Spurs
Kawhi Leonard might be the best young player in the NBA right now along with Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond. Kawhi can do it all. Defense, shoot, handle the ball: all things Kawhi thrives in with the Spurs.
He is a restricted free agent and with the Spurs signing Aldridge, they can possibly also afford Kawhi if the Spurs front office gets clever. He wants to stay in San Antonio, and he will stay in San Antonio.
5. Kevin Love / Age: 26 / Status: Player Option, opt out / Most Likely Destination: Cavaliers
Look, if the Cavs had Kyrie and Kevin Love in the NBA Finals, they would have won, its that simple. The Warriors could not stop LeBron by himself. Adding Kevin Love for shooting purposes, and Cleveland would have their first ring.
Remember, Lebron lost his first NBA Finals with Wade and Bosh when they were the big three. Everybody stayed, and they won two rings. Its very possible that that success could be recreated with Love and Irving in the fold.
6. Jimmy Butler / Age: 25 / Status: Restricted / Most Likely Destination: Bulls
Butler is definitely a great young player, and he proved he is great scorer and a solid defender. Butler definitely could leave Chicago, but he is a restricted free agent and teams like the Lakers cannot give anything that valuable up to get Butler in a sign-and-trade deal. The Bulls have enough money to give him a max deal if they want. Consequently, that makes me think he is staying in Chicago. But there is a chance that the right offer comes around that Chicago can’t match.
7. Dwyane Wade / Age: 33 / Status: Player Option, opt out / Most Likely Destination: Lakers
This would definitely be an unique pairing with Wade and Kobe together. Both are known for being top scorers on their teams and having injury problems. However, this pairing could definitely work out.
Wade probably would want to stay in Miami, but the Lakers will throw up a ridiculous desperate attempt to convince Wade to decline his player option and go to Los Angeles. Wade and Bryant are both scorers, and the Lakers have struggled to score and play defense. If the Lakers could add a hardworking, defensive big man then they could definitely enhance their record and maybe make the playoffs.
8. DeAndre Jordan / Age: 25 / Status: Unrestricted / Most Likely Destination: Clippers
The Clippers need three players to stay to continue to be a fantastic team: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. DeAndre is able to score, dominate the glass, and protect the paint. The Clippers have enough money to give him a good deal close to a max. He wants to stay with the Clippers, and the Clippers will give him the money to keep him there. The team would fall apart without him as the defensive anchor.
9. Greg Monroe / Age: 25 / Status: Unrestricted / Most Likely Destination: Knicks
Moose chose to leave Detroit last year by signing a deal to make him unrestricted this year. Moose can play well in the post, and hits the glass well on both sides of the floor. However, he is not a great defender, and for the Knicks that could be a problem. If he leaves Detroit, the only place I see him going is New York. The Pistons can pay him a max deal to keep him in Detroit, but he might be on his way to New York instead.
The Pistons paying him big money would be a mistake, as it would further crowd the frontcourt with Andre Drummond and Ersan Ilyasova already in the fold.
10. Draymond Green / Age: 25 / Status: Restricted / Most Likely Destination: Pistons
I might be stretching it a little bit, but there is a definite possibility he leaves Golden State. If the Pistons do not resign Greg Monroe that leaves them with plenty of money to re-sign Reggie Jackson and sign a player to a max deal. Draymond wants to come back to his home town (Detroit) to play. Golden State are limited on spending which could mean a change in scenery for Draymond.
However, recent success with the Warriors makes leaving Golden State hard for anyone. This one is up in the air.