I made my original free agency predictions about 10 days ago, which you can find here.
Based on the news and rumors that have surfaced lately, I decided to revise my predictions a little bit. Note that some of the explanations for some of the free agents are exactly the same as before.
Marc Gasol: Grizzlies – Based on everything that’s been reported, it sounds like Gasol is a virtual lock to re-sign with Memphis. He might not even schedule visits to meet with other teams.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Spurs – The rich get richer. Aldridge and Duncan would create a monstrous front court, plus they have that Kawhi guy, and Tony Parker. The challenge for the Spurs is to create enough cap space to sign Aldridge to a max or near-max contract. They’ll have to trade Tiago Splitter and some other pieces. If they can’t do that, and Aldridge is forced to sign elsewhere, I think he’ll end up with the Lakers.
Goran Dragic: Heat – The Heat are reportedly offering him $90 million over five years. With Deng opting in, Justise Winslow being added to roster, and Wade likely staying, the Heat should be a top team in the East. I see no real reason for Dragic to leave unless another team offers him a four-year max contract.
Kevin Love: Cavaliers – Him opting out wasn’t much of a surprise and I see him signing a short-term deal with Cleveland. Probably a two-year deal with the second year being a player option.
Rajon Rondo: Kings – The Kings seem like an ideal fit with Rondo because he’s crazy and the Kings are crazy. He’s not better than Darren Collison, but the name-value and recognizability he brings along with him may entice the Kings to take a stab at him. He and DeMarcus Cousins might fight each other and that’d be fun to watch. The Rockets could be an option here since it’s known they want another perimeter player that can create, but he can’t shoot and that goes against the Rockets’ three-or-layup offense.
And luckily after picking Russell, the Lakers will not be an option here.
Dwyane Wade: Heat – All this chatter of him joining the Cavs is interesting, but I think the Heat will give in and offer Wade a reasonable deal. Wade with the Heat is comparable to Kobe with the Lakers, and it’s a lose-lose for both sides if Wade leaves because he wasn’t offered a fair deal. Now I don’t think Wade will get the “Kobe contract”, but they’ll find a way to keep him around.
Tobias Harris (RFA): Celtics – This one is tough to predict for me. Obviously since Tobias is an RFA, the Magic will be able to retain him no matter what another team offers. He apparently has max offers, or near-max offers, from the Celtics and Pistons. So it’s just a matter if the Magic want to give him that or not.
It’s a tough call though, since Orlando has drafted players in the past couple years that can replace Harris (Gordon and Hezonja). Either way they’re not going to be contending for anything, so it might be best to let the younger and cheaper players develop.
Khris Middleton (RFA): Bucks – Multiple reports say that the Bucks will be bringing him back at all costs, and I believe them. He’s a perfect complementary wing in the modern NBA. Terrific shooter, and is an adequate defender. Capable of creating his own shot too. The Bucks don’t really have any major contracts, and after trading Ersan Ilyasova to Detroit, they freed up even more money to spend. Middleton will likely command a 25% max, and the Bucks should gladly pay up.
He’s my favorite target for the Lakers, but unfortunately it doesn’t look like he’ll be an option.
Jimmy Butler (RFA): Bulls – Bulls will match any offer. He’s easily a 25% max player.
DeAndre Jordan: Clippers – I think it’s either Dallas or the Clippers for Jordan. The Clippers are closer to contending than Dallas, but if DeAndre truly wants a bigger role on offense, Dallas would seem to be a better fit. The Clippers can offer a fifth year, but he apparently wants a shorter contract. So this is a tough prediction, but I think he stays with the Clippers.
DeAndre would be a perfect fit for the Lakers, but I don’t think he’s seriously considering them.
Greg Monroe: Knicks – With the acquisition of Ilyasova in Detroit, the writing on the wall is there for Monroe’s departure. A big that can shoot from mid-range, score from the post, and pass is a nice fit for the Knicks’ triangle offense. Not to mention the Knicks can offer the max.
Draymond Green (RFA): Warriors – The Warriors would be foolish to let a key part of their championship team walk, and they’re not foolish. Draymond will stay in Golden State, though it will be at David Lee’s expense.
Wes Matthews: Mavericks – To me, Wes Matthews was the toughest player to predict. If he didn’t tear his Achilles, he’d be a highly sought after free agent. He still will be, but you’d have to think it will cause some hesitation from prospective teams. That being said, a healthy Wes Matthews is a nice fit for the Mavericks. He’s a career 39% three point shooter, and is a reliable defender. They also need a wing after losing Monta Ellis.
It’ll be interesting to see what type of contract he’ll get. I think he’ll probably get something worth somewhere between $8-14M annually, though teams may be reluctant to offer him anything longer than 2-3 years.
Tyson Chandler: Mavericks – I have DeAndre spurning the Mavs to return to the Clippers, so after losing out on Jordan, Dallas will probably scramble to bring their much-needed rim-protecter back. Milwaukee will reportedly make a run at him too.
Danny Green: Knicks – I have the Knicks signing Greg Monroe, so cap-wise it could be tough for them to sign both he and Danny Green since they have only $22M in cap space. Monroe could get anywhere from $14-16M and that might price them out of the Danny Green sweepstakes. If they cap make the money work, this makes sense for both sides. Green is a NY-native, and fills a need as a 3-and-D guy alongside Carmelo Anthony. Green can play both the 2 and the 3, which needless to say is important since Melo can play both the 3 and 4. Detroit could be an option here too.
DeMarre Carroll: Lakers – This is another tough one to predict. Carroll is a perfect wing for the modern NBA. Great perimeter defender, and he’s shot the ball well from behind the arc for two straight seasons after being basically a non-shooter early in his career. Since he’s the type of player that fits with every team, there will be substantial interest.
Carroll is exactly the type of the player the Lakers need, and they shouldn’t hesitate to offer him a lucrative contract. I didn’t realize that the Hawks don’t have his Bird Rights, so they might find themselves to be priced out.
Paul Millsap: Hawks – Surprisingly, I haven’t heard/read much about Millsap’s free agency so far. Mike Scott could be an option to replace Millsap, but he really fizzled out at the end of the season, and probably isn’t ready to take over. Millsap made just $9.5M this year, and he’s in for a huge pay raise. It may be tough for Atlanta to keep both Carroll and Millsap, and if they have to choose between the two, they should go with Millsap.
Robin Lopez: Lakers – Other than DeAndre and Marc Gasol, Lopez is probably the big man that fits the best with the Lakers. He’s the rim-protector they need, and he’s from Los Angeles too. Most fans won’t be too thrilled with getting Lopez as a consolation prize after missing out on Aldridge and Jordan, but it would be one of the more underrated signings.
Monta Ellis: Pacers – The Pacers desperately need someone other than Paul George that can create offense, and that’s exactly what Monta Ellis does. If the Kings get lucky and Rondo doesn’t sign with them, they will pursue Ellis too.
LeBron James: Cavaliers – He’s not going anywhere.