The clock is ticking down to the start of the NBA’s off-season. Free agency begins at midnight July 1 (Eastern time) with a handful of good players available. What we want to know is will they stay with their current team or will they leave to something new in hopes of putting themselves in a better situation to possibly win an NBA championship?
The 2017 crop of free agents includes two former MVPs, Golden State Warriors teammates Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, who will not be going anywhere, and several other constant All-Stars.
While some of the biggest names on the market might not be on the move when free agency deals are being made, there are plenty of options for teams shopping with salary cap space.
Andre Iguodala from the champion Warriors is also a free agent but it would be in the best interest of Golden State to re-sign him and a few others they have on the market because teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers are looking to target him in the attempt to try and weaken this otherwise dominant team.
The L.A. Clippers have a few unrestricted free agents, most importantly Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Both players opted out of their contracts to test free agency.
Paul is on the wrong side of 30 but still a dominant player at his position and teams are lining up regardless of age or injuries. Paul has averaged 18.1 points per game, 9.2 assists per game and five rebounds per game and could possibly be going to the San Antonio Spurs if everything works out that way. (Editor’s note: Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets prior to press time).
Paul clearly wants to be on a team that will compete for a title and we know the Clippers are not that team. The Spurs aren’t that team, either, because who in the Western Conference is really going to challenge the Warriors. San Antonio wouldn’t be a bad place and you can never count Coach Greg Popovich out.
Coach Pop is one of the greatest coaches ever and I am anxious to see what his plan is if indeed Paul leaves the bright lights of L.A. for San Antonio.
Griffin is no scrub either and his presence will definitely be missed should he choose to take his talents to another city with a brand new team. With the Clippers’ championship window closing fast, will he look for greener grass somewhere else?
Griffin is no doubt a dominant player. A power forward standing six feet 10 inches and 251 pounds, you definitely feel him on the court. That is when he is in fact on the court. Griffin has battled injury after injury and because of those injuries the Clippers suffered and were not able to go as deep in the playoffs as they may have gone if Griffin had been on the court. Griffin averaged 21.6 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game and 4.9 assists per game last season.
If the Boston Celtics cannot acquire Gordon Hayward, Griffin could definitely be a substitute in that free agency plan to sign a star and then trade for Paul George from the Indiana Pacers, league sources told the Vertical. The Denver Nuggets have also made upgrading at power forward one of their top off-season priorities, which is why they desire Kevin Love from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Nuggets also have hopes of crashing the list of suitors for Griffin as well as Atlanta Hawks unrestricted free agent Paul Millsap.
Hayward is an unrestricted free agent with the Jazz. He is a small forward and has a player option, but is expected to opt out to test free agency. He is a versatile player and will become a free agent in the middle of his prime years. The Celtics and the Miami Heat are among the top teams who are interested in him.
He will get you buckets when needed and will make any team he goes to a little better than they were.
Wherever these players may land, it will be interesting to watch and determine who, if any, will challenge the Warriors the next three to five years.
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.