The Calm Before the Storm: Free Agency Thoughts

Feature image: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

I love the off-season. The draft is always fun but free agency is another beast entirely, as fans, writers and even league executives await a tweet that reveals a free agent’s destination, a change in fortunes, a change in scenery, a change in direction…it all happens in free agency if it hasn’t happened in the draft.

And this year’s free agents class is chock-full of great players. Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Blake Griffin, Gordon Hayward Kyle Lowry and Paul Millsap to name a few. Sure, not all free agents will necessarily leave their teams but free agency is a wild beast. You just don’t know…

There’s so much talent available this summer, far exceeding last year’s free agency class. From potential franchise changers to role players…it’s all here this summer.

Quite a number of teams are already regretting how much money they spent last season. Teams like Houston already looking to move on from Ryan Anderson, Atlanta possibly from Kent Bazemore… I think you’re going to find that the teams who didn’t spend all of their cap space for the sake of spending (Boston, Denver, Phoenix etc.) are going to be the teams with a huge say in free agency this season.

Because teams might look to move on from the mistakes of years past, I think you could see a lot more trades that relieve salary so that they can become involved in free agency this season, which may cost teams valuable assets. Look at the Lakers, they had to sacrifice D’Angelo Russell just to dump that horrible Timofey Mozgov contract. The Nets are ultimately going to reap the benefits of the Lakers’ mistake, even if they’re left with Mozgov for a few years.

That’s just one story, are there similar ones waiting to be written when July 1st hits?

We’ve already seen superstars under contract on the move via trade. Chris Paul and Jimmy Butler so far but surely there’s more to follow, and you’d imagine Paul George will eventually join this club. What if OKC can’t convince newly crowned MVP Russell Westbrook to sign another extension? That’s an interesting thought.

Chicago are in an interesting spot. They’re clearly heading for a rebuild but their veterans (Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade) will surely seek a way out of Chicago and I think you’ll see them wiggle free. Who knows where they’ll end up.

Boston haven’t looked great recently. With the Timberwolves package that the Bulls ultimately settled for, the Celtics could’ve easily have gotten involved and acquired Jimmy Butler. That’s just a fact. They’ve seemingly been reluctant to overpay but it’s cost them the opportunity at acquiring one star. How will free agency play out?

Restricted free agency should be interesting as always. The Brooklyn Nets are always in play in this market, just waiting to catch playoff teams unawares with big offer sheets that they may not be willing to match. Players like Tim Hardaway Jr., KCP, Andre Roberson and Otto Porter could be pried away with big money offer sheets.

Miami are my team to keep an eye on. Watch out for them, think they’ll be big players in free agency, especially if there’s a resolution to be found with Chris Bosh that will free up a lot of cap space. They’re my favourites to land Gordon Hayward.

Let’s do some predictions. Those are always fun.

Who stays?

Curry and Durant stay, that’s for sure. I think Serge Ibaka stays in Toronto along with Kyle Lowry as will Jrue Holiday in New Orleans — they simply have to keep him.

Who’s leaving? Lots of players.

Griffin, Millsap, Hayward (NOT to Boston…), I think some team will pry Andre Iguodala away from Golden State with an offer he can’t refuse, JJ Redick will leave as will Danilo Gallinari.

It’s going to be a wild summer filled with bad contracts no doubt but, hey, you never know.

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