Full NBA Free Agent and Player Move Predictions for the Summer of 2017

I’d first like to say I’m sorry if this article is not as good or as in depth as it could be. The reason for this is that I’m rushing to get this done. I unfortunately have to travel for a week starting on Friday, and I’ll have virtually no reliable internet connection. But I definitely wanted to leave my thoughts for this exciting free agent period upcoming, as well as my reaction to the huge Chris Paul trade that just happened. I’m going to rank the players in order of my opinion of their free agent/player value and go down the list. While I won’t go through every single player entering free agency or that has the potential to be moved, I’ll cover all the star players and other role players that I think can make a difference. Also, I won’t give accurate contract projections, mainly because I haven’t studied the cap room or CBA guidelines enough in order to truly understand it. I’ll just give a generalization that’ll hopefully leave the impression of whether I think the player will receive the max and boatloads of cash, or will simply get small millions from contracts of the current day. Here we go.

  1. Kevin Durant: Prediction – Re-signs with Warriors for 1 year plus 1,                    around 31 million $                                                                                                                                  Now you’re probably thinking,”Durant will obviously resign with the team that just won him a championship and might have the greatest roster ever assembled, why are you even writing about him.” That’s all true, but what really matters with KD is the money. He’s already stated that he’ll take a pay cut to help keep Livingston and Iguodala (two guys I’ll talk about later), which is why I have his salary at 31 mil. instead of the potential 34 million that he could get. KD will most likely stay in GSW the rest of his career and time will tell if he’s willing to sacrifice pride and luxuries for the betterment of the super team.
  2. Stephen Curry: Prediction – Re-signs with Warriors for around 4 years, 20-25 million per year                                                                                                                                                       I know, I know. 20 million seems way to low. Curry has been stuck with such an underwhelming contract for so many years that he’s actually viewed to be the unanimous “most valuable player” for the whole league for the cost of his greatness. To put it in perspective, Curry is being paid less than the guy who beat him out for 2010 rookie of the year: Tyreke Evans. You heard me right. Yes, I know guys like Delly, Mozgov, and Joakim Noah are getting more as well, but that’s only because of the stupidly high cap jump we saw last year. Tyreke signed his deal around the same time as Curry, meaning that teams thought Tyreke was a better or more worthwhile player than Curry just a couple of years ago. What an insult. But here’s the reason Curry won’t ask for a huge 5-year, 205 million dollar deal like Chris Paul: Curry doesn’t care about money, he said so himself. And why I believe him rather than other NBA stars who take money over winning is based on the whole culture of Golden State itself. They’re the most unselfish stars the league has ever seen, with Curry leading the charge. With how unbelievable of a shooter Curry is, he has every right to hold the ball, take ridiculous 3 point shots all game, and demand that he gets the ball for every big play. But he doesn’t. Rather, he shares the ball immediately after crossing half court, defers to teammates to help them get going, and the team is great because of that mindset. It’s Curry mindset that makes me think he’ll sacrifice a few mil. to help keep their key role players.
  3. Gordon Hayward: Prediction – Signs with Boston Celtics for max,                                   4 year 28 million a year                                                                                                                            I’ll be completely honest, I’m about 85% sure that Hayward will sign with the Celtics. I still give the Jazz a 10% chance to retain him, and I’ll give the crafty Miami Heat a 5% chance to swoop in and steal him. There’s a lot of evidence that Gordon is headed to Bean town. First, there’s the whole Brad Stevens-former coach connection from back in his Butler days, and Coach Stevens is even more important because of how he recruited Hayward. During his junior year, Hayward was around 6’2″, and was still an impressive basketball player, but he did not garner much attention from Division I scouts. Despite this, Stevens had already begun recruiting him saying that he believed in him and his potential. Low and behold, by his senior year, Hayward had shot up to a staggering 6’8″ and was now a ballyhooed national recruit. However, despite now receiving offers from big time programs, Hayward stayed faithful to his first believer and went to Butler and had a storied career. Don’t you think if he was loyal to Stevens then he’ll continue to return to the guy who always knew how great he was? But if that was the only evidence, I wouldn’t pick Hayward to go to Boston, but there is more.                                          The second and most plain reason is that Boston simply gives him a better chance to win then in Utah. Sure, Utah has constructed a fascinating roster with another potential all star in Gobert, but it’s nothing compared to the wealth that Boston has acquired. Not only do they have a 2nd team All-NBA guard in Isaiah, and two borderline all stars, but they also have 2 young studs in Tatum and Brown, and they still have a cluster of draft picks that they can use whenever the time is right to swap for a huge name star.                                                                                                                         Speaking of trades, let’s get back to the Jimmy Butler trade. Even though the Celtics were completely excluded from this deal, it’s their exclusion that gives more reason for Hayward going to Boston. The Celtics easily could’ve gotten Jimmy Butler if what the T-Wolves gave was the asking price. Heck, probably the only 5 players that Boston couldn’t get right now if they really wanted them are LeBron, Kawhi, Steph, KD, and Harden (sorry Russ, there’s a reason you were left off). So Boston clearly was capable of getting Jimmy, but they simply didn’t want him. And a big reason why they didn’t want him, in my theory, was that they’re completely confident that they can get another star anyways. By getting Hayward in free agency, they don’t have to move any of their pieces yet. They thought,”why move our assets now and create a log jam at the forward position when we can simply bring in an all-star forward without losing anything.” I think Boston is a very crafty and in-touch franchise, and I think that their sources have assured them that Hayward is coming.                                                                                                                                  I know that this is a whole lot of words for a one-time all star, but hang in there with me. My last reason that I think supports the Hayward move to Boston is his contract situation. I’m not going to get into the details now, but basically I found this article on theringer.com (my favorite sports-article site and run by my favorite NBA writer ever, Bill Simmons) that explained that because Gobert was named to First Team all-defense, he is now eligible for a bigger extension, which could cut into Utah’s cap and the amount of money that they could offer Hayward. Not to mention, Hayward just barely missed the cut for Third Team All-NBA, which prevents him from getting the “Chris Paul super-max” deal. Do all the math, and the difference in money that the Jazz could offer compared to Boston is only around 3 million. Yikes, I don’t 3 million dollars is enough to convince a guy to sacrifice winning and joining a contender. And one extra tidbit, is that a couple of years ago, when Hayward signed his last contract, he did not get as much as he wanted because the Jazz simply did not think he was worth that much. Flash forward a few years later, where Hayward has established himself as a preeminent player in the league, and maybe he’ll still be mad at the franchise that didn’t have full trust in him, and go to the coach who always knew he had it. In conclusion, I fully expect the G-man to be wearing Celtic green next year.
  4. Chris Paul, PG Houston Rockets – You’ve obviously all heard about the Chris Paul trade already, so rather than do any “predictions”, I’ll briefly give my reaction and thoughts to this blockbuster deal. First off, I was surprised at just hearing the rumors of CP3 wanting to join the Rockets. Didn’t James Harden just have his best season ever when he was given full control at point guard? Why would you want to add one of the league’s most ball dominant guards to a team whose alpha dog is a newly converted point guard that was 2nd in the league in usage percentage at 35.1%! But then I thought more about the move, the players, the coach, and the culture. I love Houston’s GM Daryl Morey, a super advanced, risk-taking analytics nerd who even hosts the NBA Sloan Conference every year where writers, analysts, and basketball junkies gather to compare stats and get new ideas for metrics and other things. He is the Billy Bean of basketball (as some even started to call Houston’s playstyle “Morey-ball”), as he constructed a roster with only one superstar, but a bunch of other undervalued 3 point snipers and lanky, energetic big men, and that roster ended up setting records and finishing with the 3rd best record in the league. While Morey didn’t the have the same setback of less money, he does have the ever-growing challenge of creating a team to match that of the Super-Warriors. Of course, much of the success is rightfully accredited to Coach Mike D’Antoni, who revolutionized offense, made the genius decision to move Harden to point guard, and likely has shown us the future of NBA offense. With all that being said, I now think that the Rockets will find a way to fit Chris Paul’s talent into their system. I don’t think they’ll fair as great as some are predicting, but players as smart as the Beard and CP3, and a coach as creative as D’Antoni, will find a way for the two ball handlers to share the duties and create for everyone. Most assume that Harden will go back to shooting guard, which is probably the case, but it’s an interesting stat that Chris shot a staggering 49.1% on spot-up 3s this last year, which might prompt them to experiment with him playing off ball. But now getting to the deal itself, Sam Dekker, Pat Beverly, and Lou Williams, and a top 10 protected first round pick for the Point God himself. Starting out, I think the biggest winner of the whole trade Chris Paul. He got EXACTLY what he wanted. He was sick of the Clippers’ organization, Doc the GM, and well, Austin Rivers, but he was not going to miss out on the 205 million dollars he assured for himself in the CBA restructured for himself. With this deal, he can get out but keep the money. He really is a master manipulator. Even though they were manipulated, I do think the Clippers are winners in some way. While it’s obviously a sad day when the only player that ever gave your franchise success leaves, it’s much better than having a Durant or LeBron situation where they abandon you and you’re left with nothing. Instead, they not only get something in return, but they actually get a lot in return. Dekker is a nice young player who can develop into a quality starter, Beverly is a great team player and has value for his tenacious defense, and they get another 1st round pick after lacking one for the last few years. The only semi-bad thing I think they got was Lou Williams, who is simply a copy and paste of Jamal Crawford. But he has value and can be swapped for assets. I already talked some about Houston. I still don’t love the fit or the players they gave up, but I love their aggressiveness and desire to compete with the best. A lot depends on in they can get a 3rd star to pair with their back court, but Houston is definitely a more interesting team because of this move, and I like it. The only losers here are Blake and DeAndre, who are most likely on the way out now. We’ll get to the later as well. 
  5. Paul Millsap: Prediction – Signs with the Spurs for 4 years, 28-30 million a year                            To be honest, the only thing I know with Millsap is that he’s leaving Atlanta. There have been few leads on where he is going, mainly because he’s a defensive minded, understated, all star from a small market team in a free agent class with superstar talent and funny and exciting role players (see: Dion Waiters). Here’s what I got for his leads. He could go to the young T-Wolves as of recruitment by Jimmy Butler and help lead the young stars, and he’s used to small markets so that wouldn’t bother him. He officially has a meeting set up with the Phoenix Suns, who are desperate for a star player and need forwards to go with their multitude of guards. He could always head to Boston with another star like Hayward and join the team of the future. Plus, I’m sure Boston would love the Power Forward upgrade of him compared to Amir Johnson. The Spurs are looking to move Aldridge , and will need a new Power Forward, particularly one that is a better defender than the previously mentioned LaMarcus. Sound like anyone we know? Plus his quiet nature would fit right in with the San Antonio culture and Kawhi Leonard. There’s always the chance of the old reunion thing with his original team, the Utah Jazz. He might like joining another young, upcoming team that’s defensive minded, but I don’t think he’d want to come if Hayward doesn’t return as well. The Rockets are still looking for a 3rd guy, and John Wall has already said that he’s recruiting Paul George, and if that’s unsuccessful maybe he moves on to another forward in Millsap that the team could use. Weirdest and scariest of all, I’ve heard a report that an assistant of the Golden State Warriors reached out to him and said that the Dubs are interested. They’d first need to re-sign Curry and KD, but then they might see how much money the could give him if he’s willing to sacrifice. Highly unlikely that he joins the Super Villains, but I just thought that was interesting. Ultimately, I will predict that he goes to the Spurs after they deal Aldridge, and he teams up with Kawhi to form the most quiet and deadly defensive forward combination in the league. But hey, I really am not sure about Millsap.
  6. Blake Griffin: Prediction – Signs with Miami Heat for 4 years 25-27 million a year, but strong possibility he signs with Phoenix Suns as well                                                                  I honestly thought Blake might stay with Clippers and a fan-base that loves him, and a report even came out that the Clips still think there is a good chance he comes back. But I think he’s gone after the CP3 trade. He needs a fresh start after the horrific last 2 years he’s endured. After being a perennial all star, 3rd in MVP voting in 2014, and having a 3-1 lead over the Rockets in 2015 when he was generating buzz like,”Blake might be becoming the best player in the league.” And then it all came crashing down. The Clippers lost the next 3, including blowing a 19 point lead while the Rockets’ subs were in. Blake disappeared in the 4th quarter of all the games, and got eaten alive by the likes of Josh Smith and Trevor Ariza. In 2016, he threw his infamous punch at a trainer which broke his hand and lowered his reputation around the league, and he came back for the playoffs only to get injured again and help squander a series to a clearly inferior Portland team. Not only that, but he missed the All Star game for the first time while the game transitioned to floor spacing and 3 point shooting big men, something that Blake is incapable of. And now, the 2017 season, where he starts out hot, but then falls to more injuries, still can’t shoot, missed the All Star game for a 2nd year in a row, and get injured for the 10 billionth time during the Jazz series, and LAC falls with him. He’ll want to seek a new beginning with less expectations, but more playmaking opportunities in the absence of Chris Paul. I say he goes to Miami because they are simply targeting too many guys to miss out on all of them. Remember, you can never count out Pat Riley. Miami lands him as the replacement for Chris Bosh in order to form their mini Big 3 of Dragic, Whiteside, and Blake: a team that’ll definitely make the playoffs in the East. Also, heading East will make it easier to be an All Star and gain back some attention. The other destinations are the ever attractive Celtics, and the star-hungry Suns, who have set a meeting with him and have personally reported that Blake has a strong interest himself. I still think he goes to big market Miami, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he lands in the desert either.
  7. Kyle Lowry: Prediction – Signs with Timberwolves on a 1 plus 1 deal around 23 million dollars a year                                                                                                                                Sorry Raptor fans, I think K-Low is gone. DeMar has already said he’s okay if he leaves, and we all know that he’s hoping to join a contender. However, I think the Spurs will know that he’s not worth the money he’s asking, and the Rockets already got CP3, so they’re out. That leaves Minnesota, in search of veteran talent and a new point guard to replace Rubio, which all points to Kyle Lowry. Factor that in with Jimmy Butler saying that he’s on a recruiting mission, and the T-Wolves’ bright future, and I can pretty confidently say that I think Lowry stays relatively in the north, residing in Minny. However, I’ll give the Spurs a slim chance and the Raptors might still want him. I’m just glad the Sixers drafted Fultz and didn’t chase a borderline all star, 32 year old point guard for a max deal. Phew.                                       With all the stars and main guys out there, I’ll give predictions for some free agent role players, and include a brief explanation for some.
  8. Otto Porter: Re-signs with Wizards for a near max deal – After his great shooting year, many teams, like OKC and Philly for example, will offer him a lot of cash. However, being a restricted free agent and with the Wizards appreciating what he brings, they match any offer as long as they aren’t able to acquire another all star beforehand.
  9. George Hill: Signs with Spurs around 3 years, 20 million a year – After striking out with point guards Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry, the Spurs bring back to Hill to take Tony Parker’s spot, as he was previously one of Pop’s favorite players. The Jazz are unable to retain him as they are focused on keeping Hayward and extending Gobert.
  10. Dion Waiters: Signs with Nets for 4 year, near max deal – I used to hate the way Dion played. But now, after seeing his swag this year, I am now a resident on Waiters Island. He is such a fun player and so talented that the lower level teams will give him a ton of money to hopefully spark some entertainment for their suffering fanbases. The Nets get Waiters and his awesomeness while the Heat let him go, knowing he’s not actually worth the money.
  11. Andre Iguodala: Signs with the Bulls for a 2 year near max deal – By far the most interesting role player in the free agent class, as he is a key piece for the best team in the league, and is capable of being a star on his own. He’s getting offers from everywhere as other GMs are eager to weaken the Dubs at any cost. Ultimately, I love Iggy, but I think money matters to him a lot, and the Bulls will have a roster spot and plenty of cash with many rookie contracts and Wade potentially being bought out.
  12. Serge Ibaka: Re-signs with the Raptors for 3 years, around 20 million a year – I’m also pretty uncertain with Serge as I haven’t heard much news, but I think the Raptors will want to see what he can give after only having him for half a season.
  13. Shaun Livingston: Re-signs with Warriors for 2 years 12 million a year – Another Warriors role player with a lot of interest, however, a lot of teams have recently settled their point guard spots and his value is not as high as Iggy’s, so he stays with the Dubs.
  14. Kelly Olynyk: Signs with Knicks for a ridiculous contract – This is the “he had one great playoff game, he must be a star worth tons of money” contract that former Knicks GM Isiah Thomas would give out to guys like Ty Lue. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, he passed this legacy on to the Knicks’ staff, and they’ll be ready for Kelly. Fortunately for the rest of the league, we can all laugh as Kelly struggles in MSG while earning 25 million a year.
  15. Rudy Gay: Signs with Thunder for 2 years, 16 million a year – Desperate to escape Sacramento, Rudy leaves for a team that needs shooting and another scorer/creator. A good fit for the NBA’s most unknown scoring mercenary.
  16. Jeff Teague: Signs with Knicks for 4 years, 22 million a year – I credit iPacers.com with this news, as they said that Teague and the Knicks have mutual interest. I think he leaves Indiana as they want to rebuild and tank as much as possible. Teague to New York.
  17. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Signs with Mavs for 3 years, 20 million a year – After drafting Kennard, Detroit is willing to relinquish KCP as they don’t want to pay for his massive contract while they’re grooming a new SG. Dallas takes him as they’re always willing to pay for exciting young players.
  18. JJ Redick – Signs with Sixers for 2 years, 10 million a year – The Process needs some more veterans and better shooters, both things they acquire in a guy ready to skip town after the news of CP3’s departure.
  19. Patty Mills – Signs with Raptors for 2 years 15 million a year – In the midst of this point guard swaparoo, the Raptors grab Mills to help fill in for K-Low as the Spurs are unwilling to pay up.
  20. Vince Carter – Signs with Warriors for 1 year at Veteran Minimum – He’s never made it to the conference finals his whole career, and with this move, he decides to hop along in hopes of going out with a ring. (Now just a few more predictions)
  21. Tim Hardaway Jr. – Bucks
  22. Nikola Mirotic – Bulls
  23. Pau Gasol – Spurs
  24. Mason Plumlee – Hornets
  25. Taj Gibson – Thunder
  26. Patrick Patterson – Nuggets
  27. CJ Miles – Trail Blazers
  28. Shabazz Muhammad – Pacers
  29. David Lee – Jazz
  30. PJ Tucker – Cavs                                                                                                                                       I’m running out of time and unfortunately can’t too in depth with trades write now, but I’ll leave some predictions without explanation down here, as well as other news and thoughts, please comment what trades you think will happen with these guys!
  31. Prediction: Paul George gets traded to Cavs, Kevin Love goes to the Nuggets, Pacers get draft picks and Kenneth Faried, other possibilities: traded to the Lakers or waits for free agency, traded to Rockets, trade to Celtics, trade to Wizards, trade to Spurs for LaMarcus Aldridge plus other young players
  32. Prediction: LaMarcus gets traded to Portland for CJ McCollum??? (Don’t really know, but I think Aldridge is getting traded) other: traded to Pacers, traded to Suns, traded to Kings
  33. Prediction: After failing to get Blake, Phoenix trades its 1st round pick, Tyler Ulis, and Tyson Chandler for DeAndre Jordan, other: DeAndre gets traded to the Celtics, maybe gets trade to the Thunder or Wizards                                                                           Sources: ESPN, basketball-reference.com, theringer.com, sports blog iPacers.com, spotrac.com, cbssports.com