After Golden State’s dismantling of the Cavs in the NBA Finals, the time has come to start looking ahead to the offseason, the NBA’s third season. This year’s free agency crop consists of the 2014 NBA Draft participants whom haven’t signed extensions or had their team options exercised. This leaves the remaining group of 2014 draftees as restricted free agents, meaning their current team has the choice to extend their contracts when free agency begins or allow their player to hit unrestricted free agency and become available to any suitor.
Below are the 10 biggest names that will be potentially available to switch teams this offseason:
10) Rodney Hood- SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Anyone who is familiar with this league will agree that there isn’t much worse that a contract year can go than it did for Rodney Hood. After a promising 2017 season in Utah, Hood was moved to the Cavaliers at the trade deadline due to nagging injuries and the emergence of Donovan Mitchell. There, Hood immediately saw his scoring numbers dip, and as the course of the season and playoffs continued Hood stopped getting on the floor.
As someone who averaged 16 PPG for the first 39 games of the season, Hood should find suitors as he has the potential to be an effective slasher off the bench, however nobody is seeing their value on the market diminish by the day like Rodney Hood is.
9) Doug McDermott - SF, Dallas Mavericks
After three short stints in Chicago, Oklahoma City and New York, Mcbuckets finally started to look comfortable playing his game as a Dallas Maverick. McDermott shot the three ball at a 49% clip in 26 games for the Mavericks and was above average on the defensive end. With most teams desperate for off the bench shooting, McDermott still only 26 years old and continuing to get better on both sides of the ball, will be a prime target.
The Chef from Creighton will be one player to keep an eye on as a possible mid-level exception for a team looking for a low risk-high reward situation.
8) Dante Exum - PG, Utah Jazz
My personal favorite of the crop, Dante Exum is still only scratching the surface of his potential. Only 22 years old, Exum flashed signs of his potential as a two-way force in the playoffs, using his long arms on the defensive end, ferociously attacking the rim and hitting the open three ball. With Ricky Rubio under contract and both Dante Exum and Raul Neto hitting free agency, it would surprise me to see Exum walk away from the Jazz for nothing. However, a team without a first round pick could give Exum a look as he is the same age as many of the incoming rookies and with real NBA experience under his belt.
7) Jusuf Nurkic - C, Portland Trailblazers
Although Nurk was totally exposed in the playoffs, it won’t prevent him from getting a big paycheck in free agency. Nurk posted the best numbers of his career this past season and fit in nicely as a complimentary player for both Dame Lillard and CJ Mccollum. Anthony Davis completely abused him in the playoffs both offensively and defensively, leaving Terry Stotts no choice but to bench Nurkic but he will not be the first, nor the last, good plater to getting obliterated by the Brow.
I don’t expect Nurkic to make more than $12 million a year but anything under that wouldn’t surprise for the 23-year-old. Nurk still has lots of room for growth both offensively and defensively and if the progress he’s made in in Portland is any indication of his future value then locking him up under contract now will be a steal down the road.
6) Julius Randle - PF, Los Angeles Lakers
There is no better time for a breakout season than during a contract year. Randle is a three point shot away from being one of the best offensive power forwards in the league although his defense requires a lot of work. Randle leaves the Lakers in a tough situation because they have to resign Randle if they decide to keep their young core intact.
If, however, they decide to use their plethora of cap space to sign a high profile free agent or two then Randle might be the first one out the door. Regardless, Randle won’t find trouble locating a new home on the open market and still has his best basketball ahead of him.
5) Marcus Smart - PG/SG, Boston Celtics
The engine behind the Celtics sports car this season, Marcus Smart is the sixth-man any team would love to have. Smart’s lockdown defense, high energy and hustle were a key factor in the Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving-less Celtic’s ability to push Cleveland to a game 7.
Danny Ainge and co. have a tough decision to make with Smart as his deal expires this offseason and then Terry Rozier next. The Oklahoma State product is worth monitoring this offseason.
4) Jabari Parker - SF, Milwaukee Bucks
It’s been a tough start to Jabari Parker’s long heralded NBA career but the good news is that at only 23 years old, it’s still only at the beginning. It’s been hard for Parker to find a groove after two years of ACL injuries but he has shown flashes of stardom, including a 35-point game in April. Jabari’s fit with Milwaukee has been questioned due to the ball dominance of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton so a fresh start seems likely for the Duke prodigy.
A hometown reunion in Chicago makes sense for Jabari but any team that can grab his attention this offseason will try their best to reel him in.
3) Zach Lavine - SG, Chicago Bulls
Following a 10 month ACL recovery process, Lavine showed off his incredible athletic ability down the stretch of the season. Lavine provided glimpses of becoming a go-to scorer in the NBA, with an all-around smooth offensive arsenal gift-wrapped with a unique ability to explode to the basket. Still only 23 years old, Lavine’s per 36 numbers improved in all the major box score categories, especially in free throws where he was getting to the line almost twice a game more than before.
The Bulls shouldn’t shy away from giving Lavine the big deal he deserves, but if they do, all teams would be wise to inquire.
2) Aaron Gordon - SF/PF, Orlando Magic
There were conflicting reports about what the Magic planned to do with Gordon this summer but it should be a no brainer. They should keep him! Gordon battled an injury bug this season but when he was on the floor he acted as the prototypical small ball four that every team in the league needs. His three-point shot still needs work but it took a big leap from last season. Gordon jacked up almost three more treys per game than he did last season and shot it at a better percentage.
With sixth pick in the draft, Orlando would be wise to bring in a point guard to help Gordon succeed after the failed Elfrid Payton experiment. Orlando has a history of messing up all types of personnel decisions so Gordon’s fate is still unclear. In the right situation Gordon has the tools to become a valuable 3 and D player in the league.
1) Clint Capela - C, Houston Rockets
Last but not least the 23-year-old center who made himself a lot of money with his performance in the playoffs. After outplaying the likes of Karl Anthony-Towns and Rudy Gobert in the first two rounds of the playoffs there were questions if Capela could make his mark against the phenomenal interior defense and offensive rebounding of the Warriors. Capela was quiet in the beginning, but ultimately woke up and played a pivotal role in Houston’s heroic effort to dethrone the defending champs. Capela’s unique ability to run the floor separates him from his peers and his shot blocking ability provides rim protection that is coveted throughout the league. His free throw numbers took a hit in the playoffs but they improved enough in the regular season where D’Antoni chose to keep him on the floor late in games.
Capela is still raw but each year has developed a new facet to his game. Rockets GM Daryl Morey said it’s a priority to resign Capela but rumors persist that the Phoenix Suns have serious interest in the Swiss native. Capela’s market will be a marquee story for the upcoming NBA free agency. Stay tuned!
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Related Topics: Julius Randle, 2018 NBA Free Agency, NBA Free Agents 2018, Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, NBA Free Agency, Clint Capela, Zach Lavine, NBA Rumors, Jusuf Nurkic, Aaron Gordon, Doug McDermott, Marcus Smart