With NBA players seeking and gaining more control over their destinies and destinations, Free Agency is a anticipated as one of the marque events for basketball fans. As patrons of the game. fans pursue lists and try to construct the best possible scenarios for their teams but this rarely plays out in reality. More often than not, plans rarely are set in motion without bumps along the way.
Unlike the summer of 2016 - where there was a massive spike in the salary cap - teams in this round of Free Agency do not have much to spare. Many franchises are pressed for cap space, o simply have none to spare. This will certainly have a noticeable effect on free agents. Using some of the top free agents, I've devolved to the basic resulting pulse of all humans and brought out my prism of pessimism and looked at the doomsday possibilities for free agents who are to hit the market.
Isaiah Thomas: His hip injury worries all suitors
The former All Star Point Guard is insistent that his hip injury will not have an impact on what happens in free agency. While that could be reasonable given his gradual rise in production after joining the Purple and Gold, it can be viewed as somewhat delusional. Averaging 16 points and 5 assists in his 17 appearance for the Lakers, Isaiah prevented his stock from completely plummeting. Nevertheless, teams will be weary when negotiating with the 5-foot-9 point guard. Concerns about his short and long term health is likely to deter suitors. He believes he is worth close to - if not a max contract. The few teams willing to sign him will prefer to offer him a prove-it deal where they may offer a short term contract - of only one-to-two years - before committing their long term futures to Thomas.
Tyreke Evans: Only finds short-term deals
The veteran swingman was unable to find a host of opportunities last summer and took a one year contract valued and 3.3 millions dollar to call Memphis his home for the 2017-18 season. To his credit, Tyreke Evans averaged 19.4 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds to showcase the versatility needed in the modern game - an asset he was once touted for. But what if his production only lands him a year- or maybe two year deal? The Grizzlies tried to shop him before the trade deadline but where unable to get the soon to be 29 year old off their books. With his prime nearing the end, this might be his last best chance to cash in on a long-term lucrative deal.
Jabari Parker: Recurring injuries to scare teams into small offers
A healthy Jabari Parker is an offensive threat, capable of scoring 20 points or more on any given night. Despite this fact, the phrase still stands - the best ability is availability. This is been a hindrance in Parker's young career. Through his four years in the NBA, he has had two ACL injuries that have sidelined him for nearly half of a possible 328 regular season games. Combining his troublesome knee with his inconsistencies on defence - a now prerequisite for wing players in the NBA - Parker may not be worth a massive contract that could lure him away from Milwaukee. The Bucks would prefer to keep him on a discounted contract though Parker, would not.
Zach LaVine: The Bulls have an easy decision
Within days from now, Zach LaVine will be the proud owner of an eight-figure annual salary for at least the next four years. Given his restricted free agency status, the Chicago Bulls are likely to be footing the bill for his contract. In the event Chicago's front office isn't forced to meet with LaVine and his representatives for a final discussion, it can be assumed that LaVine did not receive a max contract offer from another team. Though the Bulls would match that contract, they should not be blamed for keeping it off the table until it is needed. LaVine is hoping to find a massive contract from another suitor to force the Bulls to match their offer.
Julius Randle: Signs early and Lakers miss stars
In today's era of sports, we longer harbour judgement for athletes who chase a massive payday over fit on roster. In the even the grass is greener on both ends of the field, the preferable choice is obvious: be on a promising team. Julius Randle is likely to be a casualty in the Lakers pursuit of superstar free agents, like LeBron James, Paul George and Demarcus Cousins. If these superstars are in no rush to put pen on paper to ink their futures, Randle might be seduced into a big money move to a team currently marinating in its own mediocrity before it is clear that the Purple and Gold have the cap space to offer him a max deal. And should Paul George and LeBron sign elsewhere, Los Angeles is certainly a much better situation for Randle than shipping his bags off to Atlanta.
Clint Capela: A Sign-and-Trade piece in a LeBron/ Paul George deal
The Rockets have aspirations of having the likes of a LeBron James to join their squad, though his would not be a painless process and would force General Manager Daryl Morey into gutting the depth of his squad. He would have to conjure up and elaborate sign-and-trade and this could include the possibility - however slim - of offering the Cavaliers the rim running center as Cleaveland will do anything to not take on Ryan Anderson's contract. And as much as the French bigman is valued in Houston, if the chance to sign LeBron is in play, you sign LeBron. This would see Capela play in a side where he would be forced into a leading role that is not optimal for him as he thrives in Houston's style of play.
DeAndre Jordan: Opts out of his final year and all his suitors disappear
A year can make or break the perception of a player. DeAndre Jordan will soon realize that opting into the final year of his contract will be better than becoming a free agent - though he is likely to do the latter. The hard thing for Jordan to realize is that he will not command the same attraction from other teams unlike the previous years. His decision to chase and secure long-term financial security will without fail result lower offers than that of what he values himself at. With the benefit of hindsight, he would be saying that opting in is a much wiser decision for him and will struggle to come to terms with the reality of a much smaller deal for the coming season and beyond.
Aaron Gordon: Does not have a max offer sheet extended
The Magic and Aaron Gordon face an identical situation to that of LaVine and the Bulls. The Magic ideally would not like to let go of a potential star though they can slow-play the situation. The high flying forward averaged a shade under 18 points and 8 rebounds in the past season and has added a continuously improving shot from range offering teams enough of a reason to throw max contracts in his direction. After all, they will not be able to steal Gordon away from the Magic without one. Similar to the Bulls, Orlando can wait before stepping in and offering Aaron Gordon the highest-dollar deal of them all. Gordon will aim to have a high offer from another team to pressure Orlando into handing him a max contract.
DeMarcus Cousins: Pelicans' offer him a short-term prove-it deal
New Orleans does not need to be persuaded into believing how great of a player a healthy DeMarcus Cousins can be. But, a ruptured Achilles for the Center complicates his monetary value. The Pelicans and other franchises understand that Cousins may never be the same player again. It is not a shot at Cousins but statement made from historical precedent whenever big men like Cousins sustain lower body injuries - like an ACL tear - that leaves them sidelined for months on end. Similar to Isaiah Thomas, Cousins is likely to receive a short-term prove-it contract before the Pelicans are to lock their future with Cousins. The market for him outside of New Orleans is thinning. Considering his past production and the rapport he has built fit the face of the Pelicans, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus will rightly demand a max contract. However, that may not be available anywhere.
Paul George: Long-term deal with OKC
Playing alongside a transcendent talent like Russell Westbrook for another three or four seasons is very appealing fo Paul George. But, signing a contract for max many to stay in Oklahoma City puts the franchise in a financial bind. This would mean that the Thunder would have their salary cap be devoted to Westbrook, George, Steve Adams, and Andre Roberson. While on paper and in practice that can be a terrific group of players in their prime to all play together, adding depth and shooting to their roster would be a herculean task. If George is to return to OKC, he will likely consider a shorter deal to give himself room to negotiate and give himself an out in the event that things do not go according to plan.
Chris Paul: Rockets do not offer a 4 or 5 year max contract
The Houston Rockets of the 2017-18 season was the only team since Kevin Durant joined the Bay to have given the Warriors a run for their money. Other than somehow teaming up with Golden State - what better option is there for the future Hall-of-Famer to have a chance of winning a title? The consensus in the basketball world is that CP3 is seek a max contract from the Rockets in the coming days, and they are expected to offer him a massive payday. He does not have much of a reason to leave (unless he and LeBron decide to team up in L.A.). However, the only feasible way Paul gives free agency a chance is if the Rockets do not follow through and offer him the max - his injury history and age will make the Rockets question whether Chris Paul is to receive the max. But the potential aftermath in the event the two are to part ways is a hypothetical situation that both parties would like to avoid.
LeBron James: Returns to Cleveland with the same roster
With Celtics and the 76ers on the rise and likely to challenge for the Eastern Conference spot in the NBA finals, their road to the promise land will be impeded by LeBron in the event King James is to stay in Northeastern Ohio. Nevertheless, there is absolutely no chance that the Cavaliers will even be able to put up a fight against Golden State or Houston in a 7 game series if there roster is even remotely similar to that of the 2017-18 season. With their lottery pick in the 2018 Draft, the Cavaliers drafted Collin Sexton, a young and promising Point Guard out of Alabama. LeBron does have reasons to return to Cleveland on a short-term deal though the Cavaliers failing to improve their roster would once again create the feeling of inevitable elimination for the coming season.