The NBA free agency period is coming up quickly, and this year is going to be crazier than most. Lebron James is a free agent this offseason, and that is going to be an adventure on its own. But instead of focusing on that, we decided to focus on all the other top free agents. So with that being said, here’s our projections for where the top NBA free agents NOT named LeBron James will sign. Note: this list only includes unrestricted free agents.
The Pelicans showed that they don’t need Demarcus Cousins to succeed, as they swept the Trailblazers and even beat the Warriors once during their second-round matchup. Factoring that in with the near-max contract that they gave Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans might not have a lot of room for Cousins. They also need to consider re-signing Rajon Rondo, who was instrumental in their success this year. If it comes down to a choice between Rondo and Cousins, Rondo should be the choice. That being said, Cousins definitely wants to follow the money. He might follow the money to Dallas, where Mark Cuban’s team famously missed out on Deandre Jordan a few years ago, and with another high lottery pick, Cousins could be a great addition as a veteran presence.
After coming within one game of the NBA Finals, there’s no way Paul leaves Houston. The Rockets seemed to have a legitimate shot to win that series too before Paul strained a hamstring at the end of Game 5. With that being said, it would be earth-shattering if Paul left the Rockets for anywhere else. He had an incredible year in Houston, and alongside that supporting cast, Paul would be primed for another huge year.
The writing was on the wall for a long time that George was going to end up a Laker. But now, it’s not that definite. Russell Westbrook needs all the help he can get in OKC, and George would be an instrumental piece if they want to dethrone Golden State. The Thunder are going to do everything they can to keep PG13 this offseason. Carmelo Anthony still has one more year on his deal, and he seemed to be the cause of any of the chemistry issues on the team. But keeping George would be instrumental in taking the next step to winning a championship. Will the pitch be enough? George said “We’ll see” when talking about staying with the team, but with the Lakers potentially gearing up to go after Kawhi Leonard and/or Klay Thompson next offseason, it’s very possible George stays in OKC.
This is the toughest one to predict, after the roller coaster ride it has been over the last year and a half for Isaiah Thomas. He went from a superstar expecting a max contract, to injured goods whose future is harder to predict than LeBron’s. He was asked about a potential return to the Celtics, and his response was “Anything’s possible” so who knows what’s in store for IT this offseason. Look for him to sign a one-year “prove it” type deal for a team that will give him an opportunity to start. If he proves that he’s healthy and can still play, he can go get a huge contract in 2019.
Jordan has a player option that he is able to exercise for next season, but even if he doesn’t, staying with the Clippers might be the best option for him. They can pay him what he wants, and he can shine as the only real star on that team. If he were to opt out and leaves LA, keep an eye on the Boston Celtics. They wouldn’t be able to pay him what he wants, but he would have a real opportunity at winning a championship. If he opts out, he would have to decide what’s more important: money, or a championship?