Unlike last off-season, we’re going to see a ton of top end NBA free agents in 2021.
Players like future Hall of Famer Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul have opted out of their current deals to sign more lucrative and lengthy deals with their respective franchises the Clippers and Suns.
Meanwhile, there’s a large amount of youngsters set to become restricted free agents. The list includes Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins and point guard Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans.
With the NBA Draft having taken place last Thursday in Brooklyn, free agency opens up Monday, just four days later. That doesn’t mean trades and stuff won’t happen beforehand.
The top five free agents are Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, John Collins, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
Leonard is easily the cream of the crop of this free agency class, but don’t expect him to leave the Clippers. He’s been linked to the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat since the Clips lost in the Western Conference Finals.
A series he missed with a torn ACL. He recently had successful surgery on the knee but won’t be available until after the new year and possibly around the All-Star break. But he’s a “MEGASTAR” and, when healthy, his presence instantly makes anyone a contender.
Paul, arrived in the “Valley of the Sun” and helped lead the Suns to the cusp of an NBA title. The Suns will run-it-back with CP3, so that means he’ll sign a deal of at least 3 years and probably around $90M. He’ll be 40 when that deal ends.
Collins, teamed with “Ice Trae” aka Trae Young to lead the young and upstart Atlanta Hawks within two games of the NBA Finals.
During the season, the franchise considered trading the rising stretch four, but he showed them how valuable he is during their playoff run. I’m of the belief he stays in “Hotlanta” and continues to mature and develop under Nate McMillan, who defined a role for him once he was inserted as coach. He’s a guy McMillan says they need back.
DeRozan, and his free agency rumors have him linked him his hometown Lakers. That could really come to fruition if the Lakers and Spurs could work out a sign-and-trade, but don’t hold your breath though as Pop has never been to keen on helping an arch nemesis get better.
Another option is DeRozan taking a well below market deal to head to Tinseltown.
It could be a good thing for both sides involved as DeRozan mentioned last week it’s not about money but about titles now. We’ll see about that though, as he’s still one of the best wings in the game, and the Lakers can only offer him about $6M.
Lowry, has his championship ring now, so for him, it’s about money and a chance to win another title. He was dangled by the Toronto Raptors at the trade deadline this past season only to be kept. Now he could be part of a sign-and-trade deal, and he’s still a top-flight point guard who shoots over 40% from deep. The Miami Heat are chomping at the bit to add him. The Knicks need to consider it as they are $50M or so under the cap.
Underrated Free Agent Possibilities:
Mike Conley Jr – Savvy floor general who bounced back in his second season in Utah, even becoming an All-Star after struggling in year one. Shoots 41% from deep. Jazz need to re-sign him.
Lonzo Ball – Showed some real improvement this past season in Nawlins’. Now he’s set to cash in as his upside looks bright.
Victor Oladipo – Injury plagued, but when healthy he can still get it done. He may be relegated to accepting a mid-level exception type deal in a prove-it, one-year deal with a contending team.
Jarrett Allen – He’s potentiality one of the most underrated NBA free agents of the cycle. He averaged 13/10/2 on 61% shooting after being dealt by the Nets to the Cavs in the James Harden blockbuster deal. Cavs need to lock him up long-term.
Lauri Markkanen – A real stretch four, who shoots 40% from distance. He struggled a bit this past season but many attribute that to Billy Donovan’s system which really had no role for him. Still a lot of upside for a near seven-footer with a feathery touch from outside.
Next Five Probable Pick-Ups:
Norman Powell – Athletic Three and D wing
Kelly Oubre Jr. – Athletic Three and D wing
Andre Drummond – Rebounding and defensive big
Spencer Dinwiddie – Bucket getting combo guard who’s coming off a torn ACL
Duncan Robinson – Lethal sharpshooter who struggles in other facets of the game.