It’s possible that the NBA’s free agent market won’t be very active this year. There won’t be many notable players available as free agents, and even fewer teams will want to sign them (at the moment).
The only teams with significant cap space at the moment are the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, and Orlando Magic.
Does this mean that after free agency starts on Thursday at 6 p.m. EST, nothing will happen? Of course not; this summer, we should have our pick of captivating stories, from free agent signings and blockbuster transactions to more subtle shifts inside Organisations.
1. Is it Real that Brooklyn’s Drama is Over?
It’s possible that the biggest story of the summer has already been resolved. When reports surfaced a few days ago that Kyrie Irving will reject his $36.9 million player’s option and sign with the Los Angeles Lakers for the $6 million midlevel exception, the Brooklyn Nets appeared to be on the point of folding.
Irving made the decision to extend his stay in Brooklyn for the last year of his deal after doing the arithmetic and seeing that the amount was far less than $36.9 million. The Nets were relieved to hear the news because they were worried that if Irving departed, Kevin Durant may demand a trade.
The Nets could still look at sign-and-trade possibilities with other teams despite Irving opting in (including the Lakers). It’s also possible that Irving’s erratic play has caused Durant to wonder if he should continue playing for the Nets.
Or, there’s the question of whether Ben Simmons can even play basketball. The first challenge has been conquered by the Nets, but there will certainly be more.
2. Are there Any Ways the Lakers could Improve their Group?
Despite the fact that Kyrie Irving and LeBron James had a public falling out while they were teammates with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Irving has since generated further controversy, the Los Angeles Lakers may have justified investing $6 million on Irving as a calculated gamble.
When the Houston Rockets bought out point guard John Wall, they would have wanted to sign him, but he appears to be going to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Lakers will benefit from Russell Westbrook’s choice to opt into his contract. It’s unfortunate for the Lakers that Russell Westbrook is opting into his contract since he will cost them $47 million. For this team, Westbrook’s top form would be invaluable, but the 33-year-old hasn’t displayed it recently.
Due to the Lakers’ underwhelming 2017–18 season, considerable changes are required for the following campaign.
But if they want to do anything this summer, they may need to go outside the box as they are far into the luxury tax. Do they have any alternatives for getting rid of Westbrook? At the very least, it probably wouldn’t hurt to look into that.
3. Is Jalen Brunson the Answer in New York?
On draught day, the Knicks made the unprecedented decision to forgo playing in the first round and instead gave away their first picks to free up salary cap space.
Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks were then traded to the Miami Heat for two second-round draught selections, cash, and salary cap space.
The rationale isn’t exactly a surprise as they prepare to offer Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson a maximum contract. Dallas won’t likely match the offer if they do because the player hasn’t been chosen for an All-Star team yet.
This is a major risk for a franchise that has previously suffered from paying huge amounts to players who aren’t superstars.
There is a fair chance that this will end up being a classic move that doesn’t achieve much for the Knicks, greatly hurts the Mavericks, and puts Brunson in a poor situation with an untradeable contract.
Or, to put it another way, it’s a poor deal for everyone. In the trade, that is what we refer to as “Knickery.”
4: Which Free Agent do you Believe will be the Best this Summer?
On the other hand, it’s possible that the Knicks are just aware of the limited number of free agents this summer. It’s still unclear who will be the top free agent.
Presumably, James Harden will decide not to accept the $47.4 million that the Philadelphia 76ers owe him. That seems, to put it mildly, exceedingly implausible given how the Philadelphia Eagles’ season ended last year.
Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards has the choice to decline receiving a salary for the upcoming season in favour of going unrestricted.
However, if he chooses that course, Washington might just outbid everyone else by making him the largest deal conceivable. The natural decision for him might be to continue being a Wizard.
Additionally, Zach LaVine, like Jimmy Butler, will be a free agent, however it is anticipated that he will stay with the Chicago Bulls and serve as their star player (not a bad legacy move, given who else has owned that title). After LaVine, the possible destinations for Brunson and Wall have already been discussed.
The most intriguing prospect in the draught is probably Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns, to whom the organisation has extended a $16.4 million qualifying offer.
The former first overall choice presently has two options: accept the offer and move on to become an unrestricted free agency the following year, or reject it and try to strike a better deal elsewhere.
The Suns will have the right to match any offer sheet made to them for him if he chooses the second option. However, if things grow too tense in Phoenix, they could always try to arrange a sign-and-trade. They definitely would prefer to do that to letting him leave (and it could be).
5: The Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors are in Quite Different Situations.
Who are our two opponents in the NBA Finals? One of them may require an immediate total cast overhaul, while the other may be fine without one (until they change their minds, of course).
Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II, and Otto Porter Jr., future free agents, could leave the NBA Finals winner Golden State Warriors.
All three players dramatically increased their value during the playoffs and in the team’s victory over the Boston Celtics.
Due to Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins’ forthcoming contract seasons, the Warriors must make a variety of challenging decisions about how to divide their resources.
But since Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams are all under contract and Al Horford is almost certainly coming back, the Celtics won’t need to make any substantial adjustments.
All indications point to them concentrating on enhancing their bench depth rather than making any significant moves this offseason, but they have a history of shocking the NBA in the summer.