With free agency being less than a week away, I decided to rank each free agent based on their value. Listed below the free agent is the destination where I believe the free agent is most likely to end up.
1. LeBron James
Technically LeBron is a free agent, but he isn’t leaving Cleveland. He’s openly said that he will be returning to Cleveland next year in hopes to win another title. But since he is still a free agent, he is number one due to him being LeBron James.
2. Kevin Durant
Oklahoma City Thunder
I can’t see Kevin Durant leaving OKC, nor can a lot of people. After being in OKC for his whole career basically, it’ll be tough for him to leave the town he calls home. After being so close to making it to the NBA Finals, as well as the Thunder making a blockbuster trade draft night to help improve the team, Kevin Durant better go to a damn good team if he decides to leave the Thunder. Plus if he stays where he is, he’ll make a lot more money than if he went elsewhere. The NBA is a business, and money talks.
3. Andre Drummond
At the age of 22, Andre Drummond is one of the most valuable free agents this year, and his stats show why. Averaging 16.2 points and 14.8 rebounds per game last season, Drummond will get a huge contract thrown his way. He is a restricted free agent, so expect the Pistons to match any offer thrown at Drummond. Other teams will give Drummond offers regardless, probably the max as well, just in case. Expect Drummond to be back in a Pistons’ uniform next season with a fat check and a big smile on his face.
4. Al Horford
Al Horford is a player that comes onto a team and immediately makes an impact. His defensive presence and all-around way of playing alone make his team better. Horford has had ties to the Celtics for a while now, dating back to the trade deadline in February. The Celtics have the ability to offer him the max and will probably do so. He’ll help the Celtics defensively and give the team the veteran assistance they need.
5. Hassan Whiteside
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are looking to make a splash in free agency and it all begins with Hassan Whiteside. At 27, Whiteside could be the leader of the Lakers’ young core. He’s a great defender, averaging 3.7 blocks per game last season and would make an immediate impact on this young Lakers’ team. A frontcourt of Julius Randle and Hassan Whiteside would be scary. Expect Whiteside to be thrown the max as well, which the Lakers can definitely afford.
6. Demar Derozan
Demar Derozan has made it known that he does not wish to leave the city of Toronto this offseason. This is understandable, because why would he leave Kyle Lowry and the team that made it to the Eastern Conference finals? He wishes to continue to build his legacy with the Raptors, in hopes to go farther next season.
7. Mike Conley
The Bulls are expected to go after a number of free agents once free agency starts, including Hassan Whiteside, Nicolas Batum, Harrison Barnes, and Mike Conley. The Bulls are in search of a point guard after trading Derrick Rose to the Knicks, where they received guards Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant in return. Not to bash on these two, but I’m sure the Bulls are looking to upgrade their point guard position. Conley is a very well-balanced player and would help the Bulls rebuild faster than with one of those two as their starting point guard.
8. Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal is one of the best shooters in this free agency class and one of the better young shooters in the league. At 22, Beal will be looking to make big money as a restricted free agent. He’ll keep improving as he gets older and continues to grow his game. One concern is his injuries. He hasn’t played a full season since joining the NBA. His age and ability to improve makes him a valuable player for a team to spend money on to add to their team. Expect the Wizards to match any offer, though, keeping the Wall/Beal backcourt intact.
9. Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard leaving the Houston Rockets is inevitable. There are a number of teams Dwight could join this offseason, including the Trail Blazers, Knicks, Hawks, Celtics, Magic, etc. I see him going to Dallas because Mark Cuban will stop at nothing to make sure Dirk Nowitzki stays in Dallas. Dwight will more-than-likely be making max money wherever he decides to go, and I’m sure Cuban and the Mavericks will have no problem offering that to him. He would be the perfect center to put alongside Dirk; a defensive, double-double beast that’ll help the Mavericks be a playoff-contending team.
10. Nicolas Batum
After being acquired by the Hornets via trade last offseason, nobody was sure how Batum would play out as a Hornet. He didn’t disappoint this season, helping Charlotte make the playoffs as the sixth seed, tied for third. His all-around and versatile game makes him so valuable to a team. He will more than likely be receiving a max contract this offseason, and expect him to stay in Charlotte to build off of their success from this past season.