With free agency set to go underway in a matter of hours, I’ve set myself with the task of predicting where the Top 8 Free Agents of this year’s class will land. This list will not include players who already have intentions of re-signing with their old team: such as Kevin Durant, Enes Kanter, Chris Paul, etc. Adding on, the list is based on as to which free agency signings will have the biggest impact on their teams. Hence, having all that said, it’s time for me to break this list down.
1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers: Unrestricted Free Agent
Predicted Landing Spot: Los Angeles Lakers
It’s an absolute no-brainer here. At the time of writing this, fans have spotted James landing in LAX and NBA Twitter is going berserk about these reports (even though he takes a trip to Los Angeles every summer). However, I believe this time, along with many other optimistic Laker fans, that he will take his talents to Downtown LA and sign with the Lakers. LeBron will most likely go here based on the fact that the Lakers have room for another max deal (presumed to be Paul George, now looking unlikely), or reel in the likes of Kawhi Leonard in a trade. Paired with a superstar and complemented by the youth core the Lakers already possess, and the City of Angels has great reasons for excitement this upcoming season.
2. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder: Unrestricted Free Agent
Predicted Landing Spot: Oklahoma City Thunder
Unlike many people who follow the NBA, I strongly believe Paul George will now stay with OKC on a max deal. The PG to LA train was picking up steam ever since the Thunder got thrown out of the playoffs in the first round, but as of now, it’s cooled off. There have been multiple reports from Marc Stein of the New York Times stating Paul George is staying in OKC, and “strongly considering” signing two-three year deal with the Thunder. However, if Magic Johnson could persuade him to come play for his hometown team in the iconic Staples Center, things could change. But for now, I got him staying in OKC to finish the mission he started with Russell Westbrook; which is to get a ring.
3. DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans: Unrestricted Free Agent
Predicted Landing Spot: New Orleans Pelicans
One of, if not, the most dominant big men in the league, will definitely stay with the Pelicans to keep that big man duo with Anthony Davis. There’s really no reason for Cousins to leave; why leave a young and up and coming team who will most likely offer him a mid-20-million deal? There are already questions about his torn achilles, and if he decides to leave, that will definitely take a toll on how much money he receives. There have been slight whispers of him joining the Lakers on the second max deal they could offer alongside LeBron’s, but it’s looking unlikely at this point.
4. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers: Unrestricted Free Agent
Predicted Landing Spot: Dallas Mavericks
Here we go again. After jilting Cuban once in the past, Jordan has opted out of the final year of the huge contract he signed back in 2012. This time around, I believe he’ll join the Mavericks. They already possess a young core consisting of future superstars such as Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic, and Dallas needs rebounding help. Ever since Tyson Chandler left town after the franchise’s first chip in 2012, they’ve desperately needed someone to shore up the paint. And they’ve got the shot at bringing in the perfect replacement for the inconsistent Nerlens Noel, who has not lived up to the billing ever since he was drafted by the Sixers in 2012.
5. Clint Capela, Houston Rockets: Restricted Free Agent
Predicted Landing Spot: Houston Rockets
If I was to write this article before the draft, I would honestly have Clint Capela going to the Suns on a max deal. However, since they’ve drafted DeAndre Ayton with the first pick of the draft, Capela will likely return to the Rockets. Moreover, the real question here is whether another team will offer him a deal the Rockets cannot match based on their cap situation right now. The only way they will manage to match another team’s offer sheet (which will probably be around the 20-million per year mark) is if they get rid of Ryan Anderson’s, which will prove to be a tricky task. If no team decides to give Capela an offer sheet, the Rockets are in the clear for at least another year.
6. Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks: Restricted Free Agent
Predicted Landing Spot: Milwaukee Bucks
According to several reports, there is plenty of competition to acquire Parker’s services.“Besides Sacramento and Philadelphia,” Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times wrote. “Some other teams that have surfaced as potential landing spots for Parker [are] Chicago, Utah, Indiana, Atlanta, Phoenix and Brooklyn.” So clearly, there is plenty of interest for him around the league, but ultimately, I believe he’ll stay in Milwaukee. Despite him being not the greatest floor spacer on his team, he provides plenty of scoring alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, and it’d make sense for new HC Mike Budenholzer to match any offer sheet teams may give to him. The major question is his knees, and his health will determine how much he gets paid.
7. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: Restricted Free Agent
Predicted Landing Spot: Sacramento Kings
This take might be the hottest one on this list, but at the same time, it might be the coldest. The Bulls will definitely try and match the offer sheet given to them by the Kings, but if the offer comes close to the 20-million per year range, it might be too much money for them. This will also mean the end of the road for either Buddy Hield or Bogdan Bogdanovic, given that Zach LaVine will prove to be an instant upgrade over both options. Lauri Markkanen’s emergence throughout the course of last year as the team’s No. 1 option gives more reasons for the Bulls to contemplate letting go of LaVine, but it might be too much talent for them to let go.
8. Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic: Restricted Free Agent
Predicted Landing Spot: Indiana Pacers
Like Jabari Parker, Gordon is drawing plenty of interest around the league but it would definitely make most sense if he were to join the Pacers. He’d prove to be an upgrade over Thaddeus Young, and there have been reports stating that the Pacers are linked to him as a potential landing spot this summer. Gordon averaged 17.6 points with 7.9 rebounds per game last season. Playing alongside Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner, the team would have a solid young core pushing for a spot in the playoffs in a weak Eastern conference. He could always go back to the Magic since they have a pretty good cap situation at this time, but for now, I have him heading to Indiana.