Now that the draft has concluded and some moves were made that have some teams looking much different than they did a week ago, we look to free agency, beginning at 12:01 AM on July 1st. Every team needs an upgrade somewhere, whether it’s a star center or a backup point guard.
I’m going to go over one free agent each team should go after. No player will be repeated, and this will not include Kevin Durant or LeBron James. All Free Agents listed won’t be going back to their team, this is specifically which new player each team should acquire.
Atlanta Hawks- Deron Williams
When Atlanta traded Jeff Teague away last week, it was a clear sign that they are prepared to extend Dennis Schroeder’s contract, and give him the starting job at PG. But now they need a backup PG, particularly a veteran with a lot of experience whose contract will be cheaper than most. Even if Deron signs a short-term contract, it would be a great addition for Atlanta.
Boston Celtics- Eric Gordon
There are quite a few guys I considered putting here, but settled with Gordon, the same player I recommended in my Celtics Offseason Preview. The Celtics desperately need 4 things: a shooter, a backup SG, an instant offense player, and a center. Gordon fits all but the last of these. He’ll be cheaper than most free agents, which would allow them to go after an Al Horford, or maybe Hassan Whiteside or even Al Jefferson.
Brooklyn Nets- Ty Lawson
This is a weird one, yes. Why would they go after a player with off the court issues like his when he isn’t even too great on the court anymore? The Brooklyn Nets are in a worse situation than any team in the league. They’re not going to acquire a prized free agent. What they have to do is go for a home run with Lawson. Sign him to a short-term deal with a team option, and hope he can revive his career being one of the top two options. This is a realistic addition for the Nets, and let’s not forget, the former Denver Nugget was the best player on a playoff team, he’s capable of being a good player.
Charlotte Hornets- Kent Bazemore
I want to preface this point by saying, this is only if they don’t retain Nicolas Batum. Bazemore has always been pretty underrated as a shooter, and a defender. He defines the term “3&D Player”, and he would be a poor man’s Batum for Charlotte, but provide more shooting, which they need.
Chicago Bulls- Ish Smith
Since trading Derrick Rose, the Bulls have yet to add his replacement. Ish Smith would be a great scoring PG like Rose that Chicago could get on a 2 or 3 year deal. He stood out with the Sixers last season, and it doesn’t seem like they’re going to bring him back due to their lack of shooting, which Smith doesn’t do particularly well.
Cleveland Cavaliers- Wesley Johnson
When you look at Cleveland’s depth chart, they need someone athletic off the bench, as well as a new backup SF since the retirement of Richard Jefferson. Wesley Johnson can be both of these things for the defending World Champs. Sure, his NBA career so far has been underwhelming to say the least, but he has a boatload of talent, and playing with and behind LeBron James would certainly maximize his potential.
Dallas Mavericks- Mike Conley
Here we have the first big signing. Conley to Dallas has been rumored for quite some time now, as Mark Cuban and the rest of the Mavericks organization has been interested in him for a long time. He would be a great compliment to Wesley Matthews’’ game, and would be a nice fit alongside Dirk Nowitzki.
Denver Nuggets- Jared Sullinger
The Nuggets have a solid young core, surrounded by good complimentary players like Wilson Chandler and Danillo Gallinari, but there’s one place that needs an upgrade: power forward. Kenneth Faried is popular among Nuggets fans, but he doesn’t have the offensive game to be a starter anymore. What the Nuggets should do is sign a PF who does the opposite of Faried, and that player can start so Denver can stretch the floor. Then they can have Kenneth Faried be an enforcer off the bench, a role he’d easily thrive in. Sullinger is a shooter with a few post moves,but lacks athleticism and isn’t a great defender and he’s an average rebounder. Faried demonstrates the exact opposite talents, he is a hustle player who runs, jumps, dunks and defends. This would be good contrast of styles for the Nuggets.
Detroit Pistons– Jerryd Bayless
Detroit needs a new backup PG after they traded away Brandon Jennings, specifically someone who can create for himself and others. Jerryd Bayless has been able to do this for a long time, and underrated backup in the league.
Golden State Warriors– Kris Humphries
When a team wins 73 games, it’s hard to say they need to upgrade anywhere, which they really don’t. But they could use another big that can grab rebounds and protect the rim, someone like Kris Humphries. Ever since the Kim Kardashian divorce, he’s gone unnoticed as one of the best rebounders in the league.
Houston Rockets- Al Jefferson
James Harden needs help. And I mean, James Harden desperately needs help. Al Jefferson is a player who at any time can get the ball in the low post and put it in the basket, it would be a huge relief for Harden to dump it into “Big Al”.
Indiana Pacers– Courtney Lee
Larry Bird had masterful few days last week, first flipping George Hill into Jeff Teague, and then taking advantage of Sean Marks’ vulnerability in Brooklyn and getting a great complimentary player in Thaddeus Young for just the 20th pick. Now what they need is a SG who can defend and hit 3s, is a veteran, and can start, which would allow Monta Ellis to hog the ball all he wants off the bench, and come in at the end of games. Courtney Lee has been one of the most underrated shooting guards in the league for a long time, and he would be a great fit in his home state of Indiana.
Los Angeles Clippers- Nene
Resigning DeAndre Jordan instead of trading him a year earlier was a big mistake for the Clips, because he can’t play at the end of games due to it apparently being impossible for him to learn to shoot half-decent from the free throw line. His backup has to be someone who can finish around the rim, protect the rim, and know post moves. Nene would bring a good veteran presence to the locker room.
Los Angeles Lakers- Bismack Biyombo
` The Lakers need a big man, and they need one badly. Biyombo is not worth a max deal, but he’s possibly going to get a contract close to one, and if I were LA I’d take the risk. He’s a solid defender who is still developing his offensive game, but he’s a big upgrade that’s much needed. This would be a plan B, because Hassan Whiteside isn’t coming. They shouldn’t fear Biyombo returning to Toronto after the Raptors chose Jakob Poeltl with the 9th pick.
Memphis Grizzlies- Evan Turner
With it being completely possible that Mike Conley could leave, the Grizzlies could have a hole at the 1 and at the 3. Turner would be a SF who handles the ball, which would allow them to go after a score first PG.
Miami Heat- Zaza Pachulia
Even if the Heat keep Whiteside, I think it would be smart to get another big as his backup, and Pachulia seems like a smart option, a cheap and realistic one for Pat Riley and company. He knows good defensive positioning and has become one of the more efficient PnP players in the league.
Milwaukee Bucks- Dion Waiters
Milwaukee has built an interesting roster to say the least, but they need shooting and they need depth on the wing, which is something Waiters could provide. Waiters had a prominent role in OKC’s offense in the playoffs last year, but he very well may be on the way out after the Thunder’s acquisition of Victor Oladipo. He might demand more money than he’s worth, but they have cap space to make the move anyways and take a risk.
Minnesota Timberwolves- Kevin Martin
The Wolves don’t have too many needs other than a shooter and another veteran, and bringing back Kevin Martin would be smart. He’s cheap, a shooter, and a veteran, one who’s played in Minnesota as well.
New Orleans Pelicans- Jamal Crawford
What the Pelicans desperately need right now is a perimeter scorer, someone who you can give the ball and be confident he’ll put it in the basket. That pretty much sums up Crawford’s game, it would be a huge weight lifted off of the shoulders of Anthony Davis to have Jamal, and it would take pressure off of rookie SG Buddy Hield.
New York Knicks– Gerald Henderson
With it being 99% certain that Phil Jackson is signing Joakim Noah, the Knicks top priority should now be to get a few solid perimeter players, and Gerald Henderson is a very affordable option, especially for a player like Henderson who can defend and hit the 3 with some consistency.
Oklahoma City Thunder– Jason Terry
OKC, now possibly having the best roster in the league, do not need much, so why not add another shooter and a veteran who will be a great mentor to younger players?
Orlando Magic– Jeremy Lin
Since Orlando’s starting PG in Elfrid Payton has no offensive game whatsoever, it’s only smart to have his backup be a great scorer like Lin. They may have to slightly overpay, but they have the money to do so and get away with it.
Philadelphia 76ers- Allen Crabbe
Philly needs a guard at each position, and Allen Crabbe is one of the 3 most underrated players in the entire NBA. He would be an outstanding pickup for the Sixers as the advance into the next stage of their rebuild.
Phoenix Suns- Harrison Barnes
This spot hasn’t been rumored for Barnes, but I actually think it would be a good fit if the Suns are willing to give him a max contract, which history would tell us they are. He’d add to a great young core in Phoenix. This might not be as likely as others but it would work well.
Portland Trail Blazers- Chandler Parsons
At the moment it seems to be down to the Lakers and Blazers for Parsons, with LA more likely to be his destination spot. But, Portland has the money to offer him just as much cash as the Lakers do, and they’re a better fit for his skill set. Portland would then just need to find another big and they would be set for the 2016-2017 season.
Sacramento Kings- Solomon Hill
The Kings need to add shooting on the wing, even if they have to overpay, after their horrendous drafting. They will have to pay Hill more than he’s worth, but it would be a solid fit for his talents.
San Antonio Spurs- Arron Afflalo
San Antonio did need an energizer point guard, until they somehow were able to draft DeJounte Murray with the 29th pick in Thursday’s draft. Now, they need another player on the wing to add depth to their rotation, and Afflalo will always make 3s and play great defense for any team.
Toronto Raptors- Lance Stephenson
“Born Ready” would be a good fit in Toronto as they need another wing, but don’t necessarily need a good shooter. He showed he still can be a quality player last year with Memphis, and it should earn him a multi-year contract.
Utah Jazz- Festus Ezeli
After his lackluster performance in the Playoffs (primarily Game 7 of the Finals), Festus played himself out of a lot of money. But he could still get a pretty nice deal in Utah, backing up Rudy Gobert.
Washington Wizards– Marvin Williams
The Wizards should probably just try to get as many good players as they can, and Marvin Williams is definitely a good player. He can start or come off the bench, and play the 3 or the 4, whatever is needed of him. Quality players with flexibility like Williams are exactly the type the Wiz should pursue.
Now, there are quite a few notable Free Agents who weren’t mentioned in this article, so here is a list of a bunch of players with what team I think they will sign with, a lot of them just being players resigning:
Kevin Durant- Thunder
Dwight Howard- Celtics
DeMar Derozan- Raptors
Andre Drummond- Pistons
Hassan Whiteside- Mavericks
Bradley Beal- Wizards
Jordan Clarkson- Lakers
Evan Fournier- Magic
JR Smith- Cavaliers
Joakim Noah- Knicks
Meyers Leonard- Celtics
Nicolas Batum- Mavericks
Jarrett Jack- 76ers
Ryan Anderson- Pelicans
Pau Gasol- Thunder
Al Horford- Heat
Boban Marjanovic- Spurs
Luol Deng- Heat
Rajon Rondo- Kings
Matthew Dellavedova- Cavaliers
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