On July 1, 2017, the NBA Free agency starts and this year we have multiple different pieces who are out their to be had by many teams. Besides for the superstars, who might be changing teams like: Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin, and Paul Millsap their are guys who are not stars who will affect the outlook of the NBA. The superstars will always get your foot in the door, but the role players are the ones who will win you those close games in May and June. Free Agency is one of the best times of the year to me. I love watching how teams maneuver around the Salary Cap because it’s fascinating to me. The move the Houston Rockets just made was magnificent because they got a guy they wanted(Chris Paul) and also kept their Mid-Level Exception($8.7 million) to attract good role players to their team as well. The Rockets General Manager always wants to make his team as flexible as possible, and he showed his brilliance with that.
The Upper Echelon
Teams like the Celtics, Spurs, Cavaliers, etc. have an interesting dilemma to handle because everyone is chasing the Warriors. The Celtics and the Cavaliers are both in the hunt for Paul George. George can help both, but what these teams would have to give up would be huge. The Cavaliers can destroy the fabric of their team. George will present a new look for the Cavaliers, but that was not the reason they lost to the Warriors. The Warriors were able to rely on their bench and could rest their guys for the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers could not play with Lebron off the court and that was their demise. The Celtics have the pieces to get George and still have a credible bench, but George does not put them above the Cavaliers. I am not a big Isaiah Thomas as a max contract guy because of his defensive liability, and even though he is a great player, the risk is too high to bet on him for the future.
The Spurs and Lamarcus Aldridge are close to parting ways and the Spurs want to trade him. Aldridge wanted to be the franchise guy and once he walked on the court in San Antonio, Kawhi Leonard took that from him. It will be hard to find a partner to take on Aldridge’s contract, but the Spurs have to dump him somewhere. I think a good place will be Brooklyn because they have no problem taking on salary dumps. Aldridge has two more years on his deal with the final year being a player option. Dumping him in Brooklyn would be a great deal for the Spurs. The only problem will be what the Nets send to the Spurs. Do I think this deal will happen? It probably will not but it should be considered. The Spurs must dump his contract and send a draft pick with him to make the deal work.
Restricted Free Agents
Every year restricted free agency impacts teams and destroys their cap flexibility for the long term. Look at what the Brooklyn Nets did last year to the Miami Heat and the Portland Trailblazers. They signed Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe to max deals and forced their respected teams to match the contracts. The Nets have crippled these teams for the future, especially the Trailblazers, and the Nets still have a great cap space for the future. I am watching Restricted Free Agents like: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Otto Porter, Andre Roberson, etc. who could see a huge amount of money this year and could force their teams to decide if they want to keep them or not. A couple guys who will be good Restricted Free Agents who should change teams are : Jonathan Simmons and Joe Ingles. Both guys had amazing post seasons and their teams have to make a decision on them. Ingles is the interesting one because his postseason, showed teams how versatile he is and versatility is needed in today’s NBA. His ability to shoot and defend as a SF could help multiple teams. Wings are needed in today’s game, the Finals showed everyone this. The ability to switch everything helps a team expand their defense and creates matchup problems on fast breaks.
Veterans are needed on every team who are a few pieces away from a playoff push or a championship run. This year we have many veterans who are looking for a new team, and what matters to them is important. Many guys are not like David West, who turned down $10 million two years ago to go pursue a ring. Two years later, David West is a champion and he accomplished what he set out to do. Vince Carter is the Renaissance man in the NBA and he has accomplished so many things in the NBA, but he has never been to the Finals. I wonder, if that is weighing on his decision this year. I think Vince on the Warriors is a serious thing especially if Iguodala leaves them. Tony Allen would be another great guy to watch because he has achieved everything in the NBA, even a championship, but he was not a focal part of that team, and now he could be. If he is willing to take a pay cut, I would love to see him on the Spurs. The Spurs have one of the best shooting coaches in the world, Chip English, and the only problem with Allen is his shooting stroke. People tend to forget that Kawhi Leonard was not a great shooter in college and in his early years, but Chip worked with him and made him the deadly shooter he is now. Allen has never had that to my knowledge and if he is willing to take the challenge than he should pursue it.
After the Chris Paul trade, I am very interested in the business of Blake Griffin. Griffin is a great player and no matter how many injuries he has had, he still can play. Blake has changed his game from his rookie season. Blake has went from a power and unorthodox post scorer to a fluid playmaker who has good range on his shot. Griffin has a lot to prove to many executives and pundits in the NBA because he cannot stay on the court, but a change of scenery could be best for him. I would love to see him in Miami with that training staff because they have helped many guy’s careers. The reclamation projects they have done to: James Johnson and Dion Waiters have been amazing. Both guys could see max deal this year. Johnson loved what the Heat staff did for him, that he is leaning towards resigning with them. Many training staffs in the NBA are different and have different ways of getting their guys in shape, but the Heat have arguably one of the best. Griffin can also be great for their team because of his dynamic skills on the court. The Heat have good role players, but need that go to guy who can help when things get tough. Erik Spoelstra has turned into one of my favorite coaches after what he has done with that team since Lebron left. Griffin has never played under a guy who can actually coach like him, and he could need that for the future. With that, Blake’s decision could help change the balance in the Eastern Conference because his game is a matchup problem waiting to happen.