July 1st is approaching, and that means one thing – – NBA musical chairs. Where you get to watch some of your favorite players leave for hopes that the grass is greener in a new city. Basketball may be gone until October (technically August, THANKS OLYMPICS), but free agency holds us all over for now. Without further ado, my Top-5 free agents look like this:
5) Dwight Howard, Center, 30-years-old
He can’t fit in today’s NBA. Needs to touch the ball to be productive. Never has put winning over money. Hard to play with. These are all things analysts and fan-boys shout out collectively when talking D-How. It’s all BS. Dwight Howard is still very good, one of the NBA’s best defensive centers, and still possess the game to be a 20-10 guy. Look, the systems in LA and Houston were not made for Howard, plain and simple. When your GM tells players before the season your second best player doesn’t fit the system and will see decreased touches what do you expect? A lackluster season that looked like a train wreck from the outside looking in. Howard still has 3-5 quality years left, and will easily demand a max contract.
Destination Prediction: Atlanta or Portland. Honestly, I believe D-How is headed home to the ATL!
4) Hassan Whiteside, Center, 27-years-old
I don’t think there is a more intriguing player in this free agency cycle. When Whiteside is playing level-headed and motivated he looks like a Top-3 center in the league, and the best rim protector in the game. When he commits stupid fouls and mentally takes himself out of games he looks like a project center that doesn’t deserve max money. Throw in that he has never participated in a full NBA season, while carrying the label as being injury prone, and that leaves GM’s scratching their heads on how much to pay the up-and-coming big man. We all know a couple teams will offer Whiteside a max contract, but will it come from a contender? That’s where I’m stuck, is he worth the risk? Can he stay healthy? Regardless, Whiteside will get his.
Destination Prediction: Dallas Mavericks or Miami Heat, but I think Mark Cuban finally gets the center he wanted in 2015.
3) Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard, 34-years-old
Will Wade finally leave South Beach? Miami fans feel confident that they can retain the face of franchise, but if there was ever a time he could walk to capture another title – – it’s now. D-Wade still has a couple solid years left in the tank, but I truly believe he needs to be the second or third option to get maximum productivity. LeBron left Cleveland to help Wade, I wonder if it’s a possibility that Wade returns the favor and meets up with Lebron in Believeland. Probably not, but how fun would that be? Wade isn’t going to receive max money, but I surely see it being in the $18-22 million per year range. I put Wade at three because he could take a good team and make them a great team with his offensive talents alone, and he wont command max money. Win-win for any team that lands him.
Destination Prediction: Miami, I could say Cleveland or Dallas, but I think Wade finishes out his illustrious career in Miami.
2) DeMar DeRozen, Shooting Guard, 26-years-old
One of the best young shooting guards in the NBA and he’s coming off one of his best seasons averaging 23.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4 assists. His game doesn’t necessarily translate in every offense, but does posses serious offensive talent. DeRozen makes his living off mid-range jumpers and taking it to the rack where he is a above average finisher. The one issue with his game is his three point shooting, and if he ever wants to make that next leap to the elite class he needs to add to his offense repertoire. Many people have written him off as a lock to head back home to the LA Lakers, but I don’t think DeRozen is the piece the Lakers need – – especially with the price tag attached. DeRozen will get a max contract, but where he signs the dotted lines depends on whether he wants to compete for a championship or not.
Destination Prediction: This is a two horse race between Toronto and the LA Lakers. I believe DeRozen stays in the ‘6’ and helps the Raptors try to capture the one-seed in the East.
1) Kevin Durant, Small Forward, 27-years-old
Everyone has been waiting to see where KD lands this summer for a couple years now. It’s not everyday a former MVP and easy Top-5 player in the NBA hits the free agent market, but when it does happen teams put the full court press on. KD is an offensive assassin, and with his progression on the defensive side he is in the generational talent category. The NBA world kept saying KD going to the Washington Wizards was a big possibility, but what they really meant to say was that there is no way in hell he is headed to DC. If KD is smart, and which I know he is, he signs a one-year contract to stay in Oklahoma City and gets a HUGE pay day after next season when the salary cap is suppose to explode.
Destination Prediction: Oklahoma City, with the possibility of him sneaking to play with the Golden State Warriors, in which case I quit watching the NBA.
*Honorable Mention Destinations*
Mike Conley, Point Guard – (Memphis, Dallas, San Antonio)
Al Horford, Center – (Oklahoma City, Portland, Washington DC)
Nicolas Batum, Small Forward – (Dallas, LA Lakers, Charlotte)
Harrison Barnes, Small Forward – (Philadelphia, Memphis, Golden State)
Chandler Parsons, Small Forward – (Portland, Memphis, LA Lakers)
*Bold indicates my prediction