Where will these free agents go?
Rondo and Korver to Pelicans
After the Pelicans’ move to acquire Demarcus Cousins from the Kings before the trade deadline, they are now stacked with two of the league’s most dominant big men in Cousins and Anthony Davis, but will be missing a key component in a point guard. Jrue Holiday’s contract is up and the Pelicans should let him fly free in free agency and go hard after Rajon Rondo.
Rondo would be unstoppable with two guys like Cousins and Davis to pass to, and by adding a 3 point threat in Kyle Korver, the Pelicans would turn into a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.
Rondo thrived in Boston where he was allowed to sit back and feed Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, while running the pick and roll game with Kevin Garnett. He also torched the top-seeded Celtics in the first two games of the 2017 NBA Playoffs before injuring his thumb showing he still is one of the league’s best guards. Rondo thrives in a system where he can control the offense and the Pelicans are badly in need of a player like him to facilitate and dish their two, star big men the ball throughout the season.
If the Pelicans want to compete next year it would be smart for them to create their own big 3, joining Rondo with Bougie and The Brow.
Hayward Stays in Utah – Lowry Joins
All season it was rumored that Gordon Hayward would move to Boston in free agency to link up with his old Butler coach Brad Stevens. After their strong play in the first round of the playoffs and the standing ovation he received as he exited the court in their last game, it’s now believed he will stay in Utah.
After the Jazz got smoked by the Warriors in the playoffs they will be looking for another asset to join with Hayward and their two big-men.
Marc Stein of ESPN recently reported: “Late-season rumbles that Kyle Lowry will give legit thought to a free-agent switch to the West are sure to rise in volume after this series.”
Utah would be an ideal fit for Lowry where he would have two great big men in Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, while also having a dominant small-forward in Gordon Hayward. Lowry, who keeps having breakout seasons, averaging 22.4 points, 7 assists, and 4.8 rebounds this year, would fit perfectly with Hayward who would act as another Demar Derozan in Toronto as he averages 21.9 points a game. To top it off Utah could resign George Hill who was productive this season averaging 16.9 points a game. The Jazz also a very deep roster with Joe Johnson’s 9.2 points a game, Rodney Hood’s 12.7 points a game, and the other talented young players like Donte Exum, Shelvin Mack, Alec Burks, and Trey Lyles. Their one missing piece is a true, dominant point guard, and Lowry could be that guy.
If the Jazz could add Lowry in the offseason they would be in good shape to make a run at the Warriors in next year’s playoffs.
CPIII to the Spurs
With the Clippers having their fourth consecutive bust in the playoffs, they are now looking to change up their core and rebuild. CPIII, Blake Griffin, JJ Reddick and Paul Pierce are all either free agents or retiring. Griffin will likely change locations, it’s unclear what Reddick will do, and this leaves Chris Paul with the decision of coming back to a team in shambles or leaving to a new title contender to chase a ring. That is if the Clippers want to resign him.
At the age of 32 CPIII hasn’t won a championship, but still has a lot left in the tank. He averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists, and 5 rebounds this season all while shooting 41.1% from the 3 point line and 89.2% from the free throw line.
A Spurs team with an aging Tony Parker who will need surgery on his quad this offseason and with the possibility of 39 year old Manu Ginobili retiring as his contract is up after this year, CPIII could be a nice fit in San Antonio. They could use a selfless, veteran point guard to start in front of 34 year old Parker who’s been looking older and older each season he continues to play. Paul would be a perfect compliment to Kawhi Leonard’s dominance and Lamarcus Aldridge’s presence inside.
A team that was beating the Warriors superteam in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals by 23 before Kawhi Leonard exited the game with an ankle injury would surely be even more dominant with Chris Paul facilitating the offense. The Spurs need that extra piece if they want to get by the Warriors and Cavs for an NBA Title.
Blake Joins Russ in OKC
Again, with a Clippers team looking to rebuild and a front office who has been trying to move Griffin since last year’s trade deadline, Blake is bound to sign with anyone but the Clippers. So why not OKC?
A duo of Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin would terrify teams in the west. Arguably the two most athletic and forceful players in the league joining forces would haunt defenders dreams at night. Imagine the pick and roll game that would occur with Russ and Blake. Teams can barely guard Russ as it is, and if Blake joined there would be no ceiling on their success if they can both stay healthy.
A team who already has a great 2 guard in Victor Oladipo, and 2 other solid big men in Steve Adams and Enes Kanter needs another scoring threat like Blake who averaged 21.6 points and 8.1 rebounds last season.
2017 Projected Starting Lineup:
1 – Russell Westbrook
2 – Victor Oladipo
3 – Doug McDermott
4 – Blake Griffin
5 – Steve Adams
If Blake signs with the Thunder this would likely be their starting lineup, although they might set out to sign an affordable small-forward like PJ Tucker, James Johnson, Robert Covington, or Gerald Green to start in place of the unproductive McDermott. Either way, this lineup is very scary.
Ibaka-Harden Reunion in Houston
After the Raptors got swept by the Cavs in this years playoffs, along with Kyle Lowry voicing he wants to leave Toronto, Ibaka is sure to sign somewhere other than the Canadian city.
Houston would make sense for Ibaka. He would be reuniting with his old teammate and possible 2017 MVP James Harden. He would fill the void of free agent Nene Hilario who might not be resigned due to his abductor tear in the playoffs. With no Nene, the Rockets are left with 3 big men worth playing in Clint Capela, Ryan Anderson, and Montrezl Harrell. They could use another rim protector like Ibaka along with his ability to spread the floor with his 39.1% shooting from three this season. A lineup with Beverly, Gordon, Harden, Anderson, and Ibaka would pose a scary threat to opposing teams with everyone having the ability to hit the three-ball.
Ibaka would once again make the Rockets a contender for an NBA Title.
Durant to the Celtics
There is no telling what KD will do after his surprising move to leave OKC and join Golden State last offseason.
In a press conference after their sweep of the Jazz, Durant and Green were asked if the NBA Playoffs are boring. Their response is shown below.
Have the Warriors' playoff games been boring?
Kevin Durant: "Zzzzzzzzzzzz"
Draymond Green: "Bla, bla, bla, bla." pic.twitter.com/2R3O2YPkVF
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 9, 2017
If the playoffs are so boring, why would Durant stay on the Warriors superteam?
Back in 2016 when Durant was deciding where he wanted to play, it came down to Golden State or Boston. Obviously he chose GS, but with speculation of him moving teams once again this offseason, along the added incentive of the Celtics obtaining the Eastern Conference #1 seed in the playoffs, Boston might be his possible landing spot.
Boston has proven their talent and their desire to win their 18th Championship. They have another lottery pick in this years draft and are speculated to draft top prospect, Markelle Fultz. The Celtics have solid star-power in Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford, but also have endless depth on their bench. Young players Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Kelly Olynyk, and Jaylen Brown have proven their potential, only making a KD signing more intriguing for the once MVP.
With Boston on the rise and the Western Conference becoming more and more competitive it would make sense for KD to move east. If the predictions happen above (although it’s a longshot) the Western Conference would have six extremely strong teams in the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, Thunder, Jazz, and Pelicans. That’s not even accounting for other solid teams in the conference like the Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Nuggets, and the possibly Paul George led Lakers.
If Durant went to Boston, his only true threat would be Lebron James and the Cavs. This would rekindle the Boston-Cleveland rivalry and would make the Eastern Conference bracket much more exciting. The Celtics are looking to sign a big name this offseason and Durant just might be that name.