At 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning, free agency will be upon us for the NBA. And it will be that time for teams to start breaking out the checkbooks to spend.
During last year’s free agency period, it was the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, as he was taking meetings in the Hamptons while at his summer vacation house. Ultimately, he decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors and paved the way for them to win the NBA Championship this past month in dominating fashion.
While there isn’t that “must have” player like Durant this year (technically, he is again), there will be plenty of solid players for teams to try and convince to sign with the hopes of making their team better for next season.
Where do the top players go in free agency? Let us look into The Inscriber Digital Magazine’s Magic Ball of predictions for free agency in the NBA:
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
Let’s get the obvious out of the way because there will be no mystery this year and be wondering like we all did last summer. A year ago, he hosted several teams and chose to sign with the Warriors and left the Oklahoma City Thunder. Yes, he’s opted out of his deal with the Warriors, but he’s not expected to leave the reigning NBA Champions. Durant is expected to remain with Golden State and try to defend their championship next year. Don’t expect him to bolt again.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
The former NBA MVP is also a free agent, just like his teammate in Durant. And just like his teammate, he’s also not expected to leave town either. The Warriors have publicly expressed a strong desire to keep Curry. Given his popularity and how well he’s played over the last three years, they’d be crazy to let him leave. Curry will likely be staying put to continue Golden State’s dominance in the NBA.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
With Chris Paul getting traded, it’s a slight breakup of the team that has been one of the bigger disappointments in the NBA in the Clippers. Griffin opted out of his deal and will hit the market. At first, it seemed like his departure was all but inevitable with places like the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder as potential landing spots. But the Clippers have reportedly made it a priority now to try and keep Griffin. They’ll have the money to do so, and given how they were able to convince DeAndre Jordan to stay put, it’d be tough to see the Clippers letting Griffin leave.
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
Hayward is going to get a lot of interest on the open market once the clock strikes midnight. The Celtics want him. The Miami Heat want him. The Jazz would like to have him back. Aside from the previous three players, he’s considered one of the real prizes on the market this summer. It’s going to be a tough choice as to which executive’s offer he wants to accept between Danny Ainge and Pat Riley. It may come down to a previous head coach that Hayward once knew really well to close the deal.
Prediction: Boston Celtics
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
A few years ago, Lowry nearly left to sign with the Heat, but he chose to stay with the Raptors. Despite their playoff woes, the Raptors have been one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference with Lowry and DeMar DeRozen. Lowry could opt to sign elsewhere and try to start over; the Minnesota Timberwolves, or even try again with the Heat. But he can make the most money by staying put and get a max deal there. It’d be tough to imagine Lowry passing up that kind of money to play anywhere else other than Toronto.
Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
This is going to be a tough one for Golden State because Iguodala has been just as much of the success of the Warriors over the last three years. But the 2015 NBA Finals MVP wants to cash in on one last potential payday in free agency and that won’t be coming from the Warriors, who obviously want to keep Durant and Curry. Iguodala isn’t just going to chase a contract, he’ll want to win as well. And there may be a new team in the Western Conference that makes a ton of sense for a veteran leader like him.
Prediction: Minnesota Timberwolves
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks
Millsap is going to be in the same category as Hayward; he will draw a ton of interest in free agency and likely cash in somewhere else. With Atlanta rebuilding, Millsap staying in Atlanta doesn’t appear to be likely. He’ll get a solid payday, especially considering he came off his best season scoring 18.1 points with 7.7 rebounds per game. He may head out West in order to get that pay, but Millsap will get a solid deal this summer.
Prediction: Phoenix Suns
Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets
Nobody has improved their game more over the last two seasons than Gallinari has and he picked the right time to do so in Denver. Gallinari turned himself into a 14-15 point a game scorer into an 18-19 point a game scorer. A scorer with size who can average almost 20 points a night will certainly get a sizable payday given the spike in the salary cap. Unlike others, Gallinari will go to the highest bidder.
Prediction: Sacramento Kings
Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings
Gay has been one of the better players over the last couple of seasons that generally nobody knows about because he’s been on a pretty bad Sacramento team that’s now rebuilding after the trade of DeMarcus Cousins this past winter. He might be 30, but he’s easily capable of putting up 20-6 a night easily and again, with the spike in the market, he’ll easily get overpaid.
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans
There won’t be much speculating on Holiday, as it’s expected that he will get a five-year offer from the Pelicans and reports have said that he is expected to take New Orleans’ offer.
JJ Redick, Los Angeles Clippers
Redick is also a free agent in Los Angeles, but he’s not expected to re-sign with the Clippers. His ability as a sharp-shooting, three point scorer makes him an asset to whatever team he lands on. He’s on the other side of 30, but he should still expect to score a four-year deal this summer given his reputation as an elite three-point scorer whose averaged no less than 15 points per game over the last four seasons.
Prediction: Brooklyn Nets
Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs
Gasol did opt out of his deal with the Spurs, but he’s expected to stay in San Antonio to keep the core of the team together and make another run at the Warriors. If not for Kawhi Leonard’s ankle injury in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, that series could have gone differently. Either way, San Antonio is still primed to have another solid season. Gasol intends to be a part of another potential championship run in San Antonio and it would be a shock if he went anywhere else.
Chris Paul was originally supposed to be a part of this list and would have been much higher up, but his opt-in on his contract and then trade from the Clippers to the Houston Rockets this past week changed everything. Paul was expected to be pursued heavily by the Rockets and Spurs, but now he’s a part of the Rockets plans for the upcoming season and won’t hit the open market until next year.