By: Same Page Team
The NBA Free Agency period is nearly upon us, and there are a litany of interesting free agents looking for new homes. With the salary cap skyrocketing, NBA team have a silly amount of money to spend this off-season, which means we’re going to see serious bank handed out to guys we’re not totally sure deserve it. Dan Grant, Daniel Reynolds and Sean Woodley got together to take a look at some of their favourite free agents targets and potential landing spots.
Grant: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Reynolds: The sun is shining, the birds are chirping–
Woodley: –and the Knicks are a making aggressive and ill-advised roster decisions.
Grant: Just like clockwork. It’s almost comforting, somehow.
Alright guys, I’ve reviewed your selections and it turns out, there are some notable themes this year, namely the Lone Star State, places with nice weather and some sheer lunacy.
Let’s get into it.
Nic Batum to the San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio has masterfully transitioned from one era of dominance to the next, while steadily remaining the envy of the rest of the league. Adding Nic Batum to the newly assembled core of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge would just be cruel. If there’s one soft spot on the Spurs roster it’s at point guard. Patty Mills is probably best as an electric bench piece, while first-round pick Dejounte Murray has yet to take his crash-course in Spursology. Batum flourished as a secondary play maker with the Hornets this season, and could play as a 1-B distributor next to a fading Tony Parker, while also making the Spurs dauntingly switchable on defense. Small units featuring Danny Green, Batum and Leonard manning the two-through-four spots? Yes please.
It would take some cap finagling (like off-loading Boris Diaw and renouncing Manu Ginobili’s rights), but we saw last season that the Spurs have no issue shedding tertiary parts in order to make a splash.
Bismack Biyombo to the Dallas Mavericks
Who doesn’t love Bismack Biyombo? And who doesn’t love Dirk Nowitzki? That’s it. That’s the joke.
OK, but for serious: The Mavericks are in dire, dire need of a centre. I’m sure you watched their dreams of DeAndre Jordan crumble apart in real time like so many CyberDust messages. He was right there, ready to sign, until he wasn’t. It’s hard for a team to recover from a blow like that — the presence of Zaza Pachulia helps, but still. Fortunately, the Mavericks are not just any team. They re-calibrate and reload and try again. Biyombo is not the starting centre that Jordan is — he’s a bit better at free throws, but his movements still seem a little less considered. Neither will ever hit jump shots, but Biyombo almost embraces that fact. He is a guy you go to war with, a guy that’s got your back. Putting him in a pairing with Nowitzki (the ultimate inside-outside PF) and in a lineup managed by Rick Carlisle (who can do nothing if not hide Biyombo’s weaknesses) is a smart move. Sure, Bismack is not DeAndre, but dammit, that’s OK. As he himself has said: He is Bismack Biyombo. He is here to help.
Ryan Anderson to the Houston Rockets
With Dwight Howard departing for greener pastures (possibly even in-state) the Rockets are going to have to reconfigure their roster on the fly. Both Donatas Montiejunas and Terrence Jones are restricted free agents and could return, but both have been terribly injury prone over the past couple seasons. On the Lowe Post this week, Marc Stein revealed that the Rockets are expected to be big suitors for point guard Mike Conley, but I think Anderson is a better primary target, particularly given how well Patrick Beverley already fits next to James Harden.
In Clint Capela, the Rockets have a ready-made Dwight replacement — a guy who will crash the class and play in the paint. Adding an offensive sparkplug like Anderson beside him could give Houston a better version of the Dwight/Jones/Montiejunas combination they always relished having, but that was frequently derailed by Dwight’s want for the ball down low. Capela has no such illusions, and Anderson at his best is much better than either incumbent Houston power forward.
Listen, I’m Just Here for the Beach
Seth Curry to the Golden State Warriors
Seth is a restricted free agent who can barely get off the bench for one of the NBA’s worst teams. He badly needs to get away from Vivek and Vlade, or as I like to call them, V&V Music Factory (can somebody make a meme of these guys as the Butabi Brothers already?). Look, Goran Dragic brings Zoran with him wherever he goes, J.R. Smith got Chris a roster spot with the Knicks and the Morris brothers won’t shut up about each other. NBA brothers feel the love. It’s time for the reigning MVP to go full Michael Corleone and extricate his brother from the chum-infested water that is Sacramento. With that said, this is stupid. Let’s do this instead:
Mirza Teletovic & Evan Turner to the Los Angeles Lakers
This is the team that paid Roy Hibbert, Nick Young, Lou Williams and even Metta World Peace money last season. They’re the dying ground for middling NBA role players, even guys like Teletovic and Turner who have actually proved to be useful in the right situation. The fit actually works for a rebuilding LA Lakers team– Turner can be a secondary ball-handler and creator, taking some of the pressure off the young Clarkson/Russell duo, and Teletovic can space out their front court, which right now completely consists of Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. Both talented guys, but to steal my favourite Chuck joke of the year:
They could use some shooting, is what I mean.
Al Horford to the Miami Heat
Whenever talk turns to Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks, there’s a respectful hush. He’s so underrated. He can fit into any lineup. Wish my team could get him. These sentiments are true facts. Al Horford as been one of the best centres in the NBA for some time now, through injury and through having to play for the mostly ignored Hawks. In a modern NBA in which you need versatility, Horford is your man.
Which brings us to the Heat. Quite frankly, I don’t want the Heat to succeed, but I do think they’re in a position to make some interesting moves in that direction. First, they should probably just let Hassan Whiteside go. Guys, I’m here to tell you, it’s not worth it. Second, can you actually woo Kevin Durant (Bill Simmons’ “Pat Riley is the NBA’s pro whisperer” piece notwithstanding)? Third, Dwyane Wade is not getting any younger. It’s that last fact by which you have to assume the run has to be now. Chris Bosh may never be back, Wade is on his last knees, and Goran Dragic remains Goran Dragic. You know who could fit in with all of those pieces? Why, Al Horford, that’s who!
Allen Crabbe to the Los Angeles Clippers
Can you remember the last time the Clippers weren’t searching for a dependable option to sandwich between their stellar back court and explosive pair of big men? Putting together an offer sheet for Allen Crabbe, a restricted free agent, could finally solve one of the longest standing positional riddles faced by any top-tier team. Portland has the ability to match any offer made to Crabbe, but the Clippers could put the pressure on Neil Olshey with an early offer for the Blazers’ 39 percent three-point shooter.
By renouncing a few free agents, the Blazers cap sheet can become a wide open expanse of possibility. If Doc Rivers throws an offer at Crabbe in the $12-15 million/year range (crazy, I know, but it’s going to be the going rate for 3-and-D guys this summer) in the first couple days of July, it could leave Portland handcuffed as they hunt for some of the bigger names on the market. If it worked, the Clippers would finally have a complete starting five to take on the Western Conference with. Crabbe is the wing Chris Paul deserves.
Sure, Why Not?
Harrison Barnes to the Philadelpha 76ers
When Bryan Colangelo became the Sixers’ GM, I had the opportunity to caution some Sixers fans. With BC, you had to watch what he did right off the jump. The NBA Draft just happened, the big one that Sixers’ fans had been waiting for. They got Ben Simmons with the first overall pick. This is the Good Colangelo. The Bad Colangelo is what may come next: signing Harrison Barnes.
Let me be clear: I’m writing about this because of how ridiculous it would be. Barnes is one of the more highly-touted names on the free agency roundabout. He’s a restricted free agent which means the Golden State Warriors could match whatever offer sheet he signs. But there’s the rub — would they really want to? If you caught the last Finals, you may have watched Barnes absolutely, unequivocally shit the bed for seven straight games. The dude totally disappeared. And this is when playing with all-world teammates who do nothing else but get him wide open shots. You’re going to add him to a team that does not have those all-world teammates, playing the same position as the guy they just drafted with the number one pick? Bryan, please, think about this. And then do it anyway so we can laugh and laugh and laugh.
Chandler Parsons and Hassan Whiteside to the New Orleans Pelicans
The reasons to root for this admittedly far-fetched scenario are two-fold. If it were to work, Anthony Davis would finally have a pair of fringe stars to complement his other-worldly gifts as a player. Bloc Party would become the official band of the Pelicans with Davis and Whiteside sharing a front court, while Parsons would bring underrated secondary play making skills and the versatility to work as a small-ball four next to Davis in some more creative looks.
On the other hand, if the experiment were to crash and burn as a result of Parsons’ suspect knees and Whiteside’s volatility, it might finally put a Davis trade-demand on the table as he seeks to free himself from the clutches of Dell Demps. Who wouldn’t want to see another available superstar on the market for Danny Ainge to not trade Jae Crowder for? With Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson surely about to get albatross contracts from other teams, the Pelicans would have all the money in the world to either turn around the franchise or induce chaos. This is the impartial fan’s dream hypothetical.
Joakim Noah and Rajon Rondo to the Brooklyn Nets
It’s emerged that the New York Knicks are the heavy favourites to land Noah, a native New Yorker who would fill Robin Lopez’s recently vacated centre position nicely. Not as nicely as a 7’3 Lativian gangbanger who was born to play the 5 in the new NBA, but you do you Phil Jackson. No, Noah’s true destiny lies with the other New York franchise, and he’s going to bring along one of his oldest and most hated rivals to boot. Veterans of the Bulls-Celtics battles late last decade, these two guys have no love lost.
Rajon Rondo is good at some things (passing, Connect Four) and struggles with others (being a decent human being). But he’s the ultimate Brooklyn Net, because as a supremely talented player who never bothered to develop a jump-shot and rarely tries on defense anymore, he’s exactly the kind of buster owner Mikail Prokhorov likes to give money to. Now, with new GM Sean Marks in the house, this might not go down. He has that Spurs blood running through him. But can’t you see Prokhorov calling him up drunk one night from the Bay of Bengal, and screaming into the phone: “Get me the man with the funny hair, and the homophobe!”
Obviously this is ridiculous, as are most of our predictions (except Ryan Anderson, that one is cash). But such is the NBA’s silliest season. In a week, Kobe will be back on the Lakers and Kevin Durant will be a Washington Wizard and none of this will make sense anyway. Just kidding.
Or am I?