As the NBA regular season closes, the NBA playoffs start and the offseason nears. While some players are too busy trying to win the title, there are those who are starting to get busy shopping around for new homes and contracts.
Here are the top 2014 NBA free agents and where we think they’re headed to:
Pau Gasol (Unrestricted Free Agent)
The Pau Gasol drama continues in LA, but as in all previous rumors, Gasol might not be moving at all. As per the LATimes.com on 4/17/14:
So maybe Gasol comes back after all. Especially if he agrees to a lucrative one-year deal.”
And here’s a piece from The New York Daily News as reported by LakersNation.com on 4/12/14:
“One league source said there is sentiment within the Lakers’ executive offices for a ‘peaceful, mutual parting’ with D’Antoni, who has one season left on his contract at $4 million. There’s another season beyond that, but it is at the team’s option.”
Although Pau relishes to play with his brother Marc Gasol in Memphis, bad history and Zachary Randolph’s possible return won’t make that possible. And while Pau will be a great fit for Phil Jackson’s New York Knicks, especially now that Lamar Odom is there, their payroll won’t allow Gasol to be there either. So when the Los Angeles Lakers fire Mike D’Antoni, Pau Gasol will most likely re-sign with LA, for financial reasons, a one-year deal that will benefit both parties. With the one-year deal, LA still has a shot at landing Kevin Love next summer while retaining Pau to have a quality big man for the 2015 season.
Dirk Nowitzki (Unrestricted Free Agent)
As in the case of Tim Duncan, this one’s a no brainer. Dirk’s long been the face of the Dallas Mavericks franchise, having led them to their only NBA title in 2011. Even Mark Cuban has told him before that he is and will always be their franchise player.
Luol Deng (Unrestrictcted Free Agent)
According to LatinoPost.com on 4/17/14, Fox Sports reported that:
“The Cavs are expected to make an offer, but after years of success, Deng may prefer to move on. The Lakers and Suns are among those interested, league sources say,”
With no one to help Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers will surely go after Deng, but considering that Dan Gilbert’s team has flirted with the idea of getting LeBron James to return, even if that would be a shot in the moon, they are expecting Luol to leave. And why not? With the success he’s had in the past both personally and with the Chicago Bulls, Deng is not the kind of player to stay on a losing team. He would be a perfect fit for a team like the Phoenix Suns, a team that is reportedly eyeing him. Depending on who they draft, the Lakers are also a possible home for him, considering that they are interested.
Eric Bledsoe (Restricted Free Agent)
After issuing a hand-off warning to other squads, Suns GM Ryan McDonough told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM:
“We view him as a core part of our team going forward.”
Although they did not make the playoffs, the Suns had an over achieving season. Considering the fact that Bledsoe played only 43 games, things look sunny for Phoenix once he teams up with Goran Dragic next season. So for the purpose of team success and the fact that Bledsoe had his finest season ever this year, Bledsoe will most likely re-sign with the Suns.
Greg Monroe (Restricted Free Agent)
Talent-wise, the frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond look formidable. However, two years without the results, plus the fact that the Detroit Pistons gambled on Josh Smith, Greg Monroe looks to be headed elsewhere.
Monroe said this himself to FreePress.com on 4/17/14:
“If you would have asked me two years ago would I be in this position, I would have definitely said no, but obviously this is a business and things change very quickly.”
It’s true that this is business, and on the other side of the coin, if that business is not making profit or championships for this matter, then it’s time to move on no matter how good the potential there is. So Monroe may be on the go, and a sign and trade to Phoenix or Dallas could happen. The San Antonio Spurs are a good destination as well, that is if they are willing to part with any of their talents considering the success they’ve had this season.
Carmelo Anthony (Early Termination Option)
Carmelo Anthony said this in a report by ESPN.com on 4/18/14:
“You know, I’ve never once said I wanted to leave. I always said that I wanted to explore my options, I wanted to see what’s out there.”
Seems Melo is saying he just wants to know his true monetary value. And he’s telling Phil not to extend some contracts. His intention to stay was solidified in the same report as he said:
“Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”
He’s right. When Charles Barkley left for Houston and Karl Malone to the Lakers, they did not win the title, which they said was the reason why they left their ” NBA homes.” Melo will definitely exercise his ETO, but will most likely remain with the Knicks for the max. Phil Jackson is too smart and he’ll assure Melo that Andrea Bargnani and Amare Stoudemire will be out after next season. They’ll join the “Kevins” sweepstakes and hope to land either Love or Durant. They can add one more All-Star too. Meanwhile, Jackson will try to get quality vets, like Odom, to beef up next year’s cast while they wait for 2016.
Miami Heat’s Big Three (Early Termination Option)
In an article by si.com on 3/26/14, they take a piece from Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:
“LeBatard asked whether Bosh—who can opt out of his contract after this season—will be in Miami next year. ‘True,’ Bosh answered. ‘And so will LeBron…,’ LeBatard continued. ‘True,’ Bosh replied.”
The reason why they are the Big Three is because there are three of them. After Miami wins it’s third straight title, the possibility of winning four in a row is too tempting. With a chance to one up the Bulls and Lakers, the Big Three will give it one more shot to attain the immortality of the Great Celtics squad of the 60’s.
Zach Randolph ( Player Otpion)
“But a person with knowledge of the Grizzlies thinking said Randolph will be the focus of their free agency affection and that the interest they have in Pau Gasol would be secondary.”
Z-Bo has played his best years in Memphis and he’s been a part of their great successes. At 32 years old, he won’t get a long-term deal that would make him opt out. And with the Grizzlies intent to keep him, he can’t say no to this win-win situation. He will most likely accept the player option and get one more year to think harder about leaving or deciding to be a member of the Memphis Grizzlies for life.
Tim Duncan (Player Option)
Coach George Karl said this about Duncan:
“I got a couple of phone calls, one from San Antonio, saying that Tim Duncan’s thinking this is going to be his last year.”
Here’s a guy who’s name is synonymous to consistency and loyalty, and the worst thing that could happen in the NBA is Tim Duncan playing elsewhere other than San Antonio. With the Spurs on top yet again this season, Duncan might hang up his fundamentals if they win the title. But if they don’t, he’ll finish that player option before really calling it quits. The Big Fundamental can still play, but he’s a classy guy who might want to leave while he’s on top.
Rudy Gay (Player Option)
In a report by FanSided.com on 4/15/14:
“Rudy Gay has the option to hit free agency in July and I think he is going to use it… so what would it take to get him in Charlotte? — $50 million?”
A long term deal with the Charlotte Bobcats at $50M is great, but walking away from $19M next season is crazy. Gay will accept the player option, as he won’t be going to a contender anyways. It’s not sure whether he really wants to win a title or just wants to be a big star. Either way, his butt is staying with the Sacramento Kings.
Three other notable unrestricted free agents not mentioned are Lance Stephenson, Kyle Lowry and Marcin Gortat, and they are all expected to re-sign with their original ball clubs by virtue of their teams making it to the playoffs. Indiana, Toronto and Washington are more likely to keep their line-ups intact for next season and see if they can take it to the next level next season.