This article is dedicated to predicting who will be the five most active teams this free agency period, and offseason. Things that come into play are resigning players, pursuing other free agents, and trades.
Los Angeles Lakers:
Might as well start with the obvious team. The Lakers have their backcourt of their future, and Kobe Bryant at the small forward position, leaving for them to need to sign some big men with their huge amount of cap space. Robert Upshaw was signed to a summer league deal, and I think he will star there, and gain a contract for the season from the Lakers, who could use him as their rim protector of the future. So if you take that into considerations, the Lakers have one big hole left for their starting five, that is power forward. Luckily for the Lakers, there is quite a few of them available during free agency. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love will be the two most sought after, and the Lakers now have a good chance of signing one of them. Love has always wanted to play in Los Angeles, but has been very expressive about staying in Cleveland this summer. Aldridge has said the Lakers are moving up his list for teams he would like to sign with, but with San Antonio offering the chance for immediate championship contention, I think he will end up there. This may seem like a lost, but there is still Paul Millsap, who is a great player, and would give the Lakers a great stretch four, and frontcourt partner for Upshaw. Millsap might also be a little more obtainable of the bunch. Millsap should also cost less than the previous two, which would allow for the Lakers to target players for their bench, as that needs to be filled out as well.
New York Knicks:
One of the worst kept secrets in the NBA. The Knicks will try to be very active this offseason, as they try to accelerate their rebuilding process. Although the Knicks have not been linked recently with any big names, they can use their cap space to get two or three good players, to help their roster, which is extremely lacking in young talent. As of 6/29/15, the Knicks are the front runners to sign both, Greg Monroe and Aaron Afflalo. These two would greatly increase the chances for the Knicks to make the playoffs next season, but would not make them title contenders. With these two added, the Knicks could target a defensive wing such as, Al-Farouq Aminu, who will be a cheaper signing, and fill a need on the perimeter. This would give them a starting five of Jerian Grant, Aaron Afflalo, Al-Farouq Aminu, Carmelo Anthony, and Greg Monroe, which is capable of competing in the east for a playoff spot. David West has also been closely linked with the Knicks, and if he is also signed, you could slide Anthony to the small forward position, and move Aminu to a bench role. Langston Galloway would then be able to be the Knicks sixth man, with Aminu has the seventh man. If Porzingis is brought over to play this season the Knicks could then allow for Porzingis to come off the bench, and slowly adapt to the NBA game, while giving them a pivotal offensive bench piece.
Will this be the year the Dallas Mavericks actually get the star free agent they want? Odds are pretty high with that of LaMarcus Aldridge, but they will face some stiff competition from the San Antonio Spurs, who are scheduled to meet with him July 1. With Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Gregg Popovich all planning to be at the meeting, Aldridge just might not be able to say no to their plans with him. If they can not land Aldridge, who has said he would rather play in Dallas, than San Antonio, Dallas will look to sign DeAndre Jordan, who will harder to pry away from the Clippers. Jordan has said the Mavericks, are the only team he would consider leaving for, but with the Clippers ability to offer him more money and years, with already established chemistry, I do not see Jordan leaving. The Mavericks also have to worry about the potential loss of Tyson Chandler, as the Milwaukee Bucks seem pretty determined to try and sign him. The Mavericks have the cap room to overpay if necessary, but are hoping he takes a discount for them. If Jordan and Aldridge sign elsewhere, and Chandler is resigned, the Mavericks have expressed interest in resigning Monta Ellis, but with competition from the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks, he too may become too difficult to resign. The Mavericks look to be a completely different team next season, and unless a key free agent is signed, or their players are retained from last year, the Mavericks could be looking at missing the playoffs next season.
When almost half of your team is free agents, you are going to be one active team in the offseason. Of course, you have LeBron James, who is coming back, but is waiting to see your other offseason moves first. Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and Matthew Dellavedova are all restricted free agents, so you have the ability to match anything to keep them. With Thompson wanting a max contract, and playing the same position as Kevin Love, I think the Cavaliers will have to decide between one or the other. Love is more for a finesse team, while Thompson is more physical. Thompson and James share the same agent, so seeing him out of Cleveland is hard, and with the rumors of Love wanting to play in Los Angeles, a separation may occur. The drafting of Rakeem Christmas, who I compare almost exactly to Tristan Thompson, could signal they will try to keep Love instead, and replace Thompson with Christmas. Shumpert could see many offers thrown his way, and his defensive tenacity is needed in Cleveland, so they will probably match any offer he is given to keep him. Dellavedova had his moment in the playoffs, but lost steam after being hospitalized, and if you look at his regular season performances, Delly will not be getting a huge raise this offseason, as some expect, and should remain on the Cavalier’s roster for cheap. The Cavaliers then have to discuss whether to bring back J.R. Smith, or let him walk. Smith was a key scorer off the bench for the Cavaliers, but his inconsistency could cause the Cavaliers to let him walk in hopes of a cheaper option. Kendrick Perkins, Mike Miller, and James Jones, these players can be brought back for the veteran minimum, or just be let go, as they are not crucial pieces of the team. Jones offers the most upside, as a floor stretcher, but there is plenty of younger ones in free agency. As everyone knows, there is the rumors of Dwayne Wade in Cleveland, but he wants a deal around 3 years, $60 million, and if the Cavaliers plan to resign everyone, this is not possible. Wade is a great player, but his inability to stay healthy, the Cavaliers would be wise not to invest top money into a aging, injury plagued star. The Cavaliers will not be as active in signing other team’s free agents, but have a lot of work to do with their own roster.
Daryl Morey also seems to have something planned. Although in the past few days, Morey has said the Rockets will likely be staying quiet this offseason, as they look to resign their own guys, the Suns have said they are looking into the idea of trading Bledsoe, if they do resign Brandon Knight. With a hole at the point guard position, why not try to go after one of the better ones in the league, as you look to keep up with Warriors, Thunder, Clippers, and Spurs. The Rockets trade plan would have to be built around a lot of prospects, as they do possess any elite ones, but enough of these prospects should make the Suns consider puling the trigger. If Bledsoe is unobtainable, I expect the Rockets to make a run at Rajon Rondo, as he and Josh Smith have always wanted to play together, and he would fill their need at point guard. Most people would groan at the thought of Rondo on their team, but I think Houston would be a good fit for Rondo, as he looks to resurrect his career.
With free agency only hours away, teams begin to hope to sign players they think will help their chances to compete for championships. Some of these moves will be busts, as seen every year, but it will be those teams that find role players, who exceed their expectations that will have won free agency. No matter your stance on free agency, and whether you would rather your team to build via the draft instead of free agency, free agency is an exciting time in the league’s calendar, as talent is moved from one team to the next, and you see the power shifting.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17