Day one of free agency was as wild as we’ve ever seen. You can review my grades of each signing from the first 24 hours here. (Another update: Greg Monroe to the Bucks on a 3-year/$50M deal. Um, the Bucks might be one of the best four teams in the east now …)
And yet, with literally billions of dollars being spent, there are still some big name free agents remaining on the board. I’m excluding the likes of LeBron James, Marc Gasol and Tim Duncan, because they aren’t going anywhere, and we all know that.
So far free agency has been about retaining players. But here are the top players left on the board that could switch uniforms like Monroe just did.
LaMarcus Aldridge – We’re still waiting on the biggest name to make his decision. He’s honoring all his meetings, which means he’ll sit down with the Knicks Thursday and try not to fall asleep before it’s over. As expected, the Spurs are still the leaders, but the surprise destination is now the Suns.
Sources: Suns have legitimately closed the gap in pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge. Tyson Chandler, perimeter talent. They’re a real factor.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2015
DeAndre Jordan – Like LMA, it’s a two horse race for Jordan. Will he stay with the Clippers, or will he make the move to Dallas? It truly sounds like a coin flip right now. In the end, the Clippers are the best fit. They’ve shown they’re committed to winning by bringing in Paul Pierce, and the Mavs don’t have a Chris Paul to gift DJ all those easy finishes at the rim.
Tobias Harris – Originally, it sounded like there was no chance of Harris returning to Orlando. The Celtics and Bucks were both realistic options, but it seems they’ve found other moves (or in the Celtics case they’re just trading water by signing smaller deals). The Blazers and Knicks are now the best options for Harris, but since Paul Millsap blew off the Magic, they may consider retaining Harris.
Robin Lopez – The way things are going for centers, Lopez figures to make a lot of money in the next couple of days. I’d say the most likely outcome is that he gets overpaid by the desperate Knicks. However, expect the Lakers and maybe even the Celtics to get involved.
Wesley Matthews – Wes is hot property for a guy coming off a torn achillies. The Mavericks and Raptors have been battling over him since the moment free agency began. The Mavs would like to place him alongside Jordan, while the Raptors want to play Matthews and Carroll in the frontcourt together. Then, the Kings cleared a bunch of cap space by dumping salaries to the 76ers, and now it’s a three team race. One of these three teams will land the wing, it’s just a guessing game at this point. Wes will follow the money.
Rajon Rondo – We keep hearing about the Kings clearing cap space for another player. Many feel it’s Rondo, but Sacramento has said Rondo is just one of many guards it’s considering. The only other question is, who else is after Rondo? There’s only two ways this is going to work out. 1. Rondo signs a one-year deal with the Kings for much less than people think. 2. Rondo signs a one-year deal with a team we haven’t even talked about yet for much less than people think. He’s in a horrible place. A one-year deal gives him the chance to prove his value is higher than most believe.
Monta Ellis – It felt like the Pacers were a lock to land Ellis, finally filling the Lance Stephenson void. Now that’s wide open, because the Kings are very interested. The Kings are probably more interested in Ellis than they are in Rondo. I believe SAC winds up offering the better deal and landing Monta. That leaves Rondo taking small money somewhere and the Pacers overpaying for another guard.
Reggie Jackson – Everyone expects Jackson to be back in Detroit, but with each tick of the clock it becomes more likely he winds up elsewhere. The Pistons can match any offer on Reggie, so they’re in the position of power, but if someone winds up desperate, maybe Detroit moves on.
Enes Kanter – The Thunder have been clearing space for Kanter for a while now, but still, nothing is done. Kyle Singler already got paid, which I was surprised to see get done before Kanter – who OKC values much more. With the lack of activity in New York, the Knicks are going to compete with the Thunder until the very end, and maybe overpay to pry him away.
J.R. Smith – The Cavs spent a TON of money of day one, so it’s very tough to see J.R. returning. He opted out of $6.4 million next season, so he’s going to be looking for big money. It’s tough to see where he lands. Put him on a bad team and he’s a problem. Put him on a good team and he’s just a smaller problem. Smith is going to be one of the last big names to sign and it’s going to be for too much money on a team that won’t be a factor.
Sneaky X-factor: Dwyane Wade — I was tempted to include Wade’s name above in the LBJ/Gasol/Duncan crew, but Wade isn’t a 100% lock to return to Miami. He’s very very likely to, but that still leaves the window open a juuust a crack. Miami is rumored to have offered a one-year max contract OR something along the lines of a 3-year/$50 million – 4-year/$60 million deal. If the Knicks or Lakers swoop in with a 3-year max contract offer, D-Wade would listen. Would it be a smart signing? Absolutely not. But it would be exciting.
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