Before the NBA Finals can even end, media and fans alike have been speculating whether LeBron James will remain with the Cleveland Cavaliers or leave “The Land” once again to sign with another franchise. But King James is just one of many intriguing free agent stories heading into this summer. Here, Metro lists the Top 25 NBA Free Agents Available This Offseason. Will these players stay put or cash out with another squad?
25. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat SG
At 36, Dwyane Wade finished his 15th season in the NBA, still averaging a serviceable 11.4 points per game. Wade obviously has history with the Heat, having helped lead the franchise to three NBA titles. But what is Pat Riley and company willing to give the unrestricted free-agent shooting guard in the twilight of his career?
24. Nikola Mirotic, New Orleans Pelicans PF
Nikola Mirotic had his best season yet, averaging 15.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game — both career-highs. That, and the 27-year-old 6-10 power forward played a strong hand in helping Anthony Davis and the Pelicans sweep the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs, seemingly making his value greater during this free agency period.
23. Isaiah Thomas, Los Angeles Lakers PG
Isaiah Thomas could have been higher up on this list, but we just don’t know what to expect from the 5-9 point guard, who averaged 15.2 points per game in only 32 games this season, coming off of a hip surgery in March. Will he be able to generate enough buzz to back up the Brinks truck with a big free-agent pay day? And more importantly, can he return to the legit MVP candidate form he flashed in the 2016-17 season, when he averaged 28.9 points per game?
22. Elfrid Payton, Phoenix Suns PG
The potential and upside is there, as evidenced by his career-high 37.3 percent clip that he was able to get his three-point shooting up to earlier this season. Whether Phoenix believes in that potential and upside enough to give him a big contract remains to be seen.
21. Will Barton, Denver Nuggets, SF
Simply put: Will Barton can fill it up. The 27-year-old swingman averaged a career-high 15.7 points per game for the Nuggets this season. Could he play an even-larger role on another squad?
20. Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics PG
The Celtics returning Kyrie Irving next season combined with the emergence of Terry Rozier — as seen during this postseason — creates the opening for the franchise to possibly deem Marcus Smart expendable. Then again, what Smart might lack offensively, he more than makes up for with his dogged defense. How important is the latter to the Celtics and at what price?
19. Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers C
A growing offensive game with a penchant for passing with flair, this seven-foot center would be a welcome addition to most teams in the league. And at 23, he has the youth to become a building block for a rebuilding franchise and to land a hefty free-agent contract in the process if Portland doesn’t want to pay up.
18. Avery Bradley, Los Angeles Clippers SG
The veteran shooting guard ended his season in La La Land, but does he want to be a part of the Clippers’ rebuilding process? We’ll find out what the unrestricted free-agent veteran’s plans are soon.
17. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz PF
Derrick Favors seemingly increased his value for this free agency period courtesy of a respectable bounce-back season, in which he averaged 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds over 77 games.
16. Trevor Ariza, Houston Rockets SF
Playing alongside James Harden and Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza helped the Rockets attain a league-best 65-win season this year, coming within a game of eliminating the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Will the Rockets pay to keep the veteran small forward?
15. Enes Kanter, New York Knicks C
Enes Kanter was the lone bright spot in another poor season for the New York Knicks, averaging 14.1 points and 11 boards per contest. Will the 26-year-old center opt out of the final year of his contract, which is worth $18.6 million to enter free agency?
14. JJ Redick, Philadelphia 76ers SG
Shooting is still at a premium in the NBA and JJ Redick is still a marksman, shooting at a 42-percent clip from beyond the arc this season. Is he one-and-done with the Philadelphia 76ers or will he stick around to provide veteran leadership to the squad, which is laden with young talent?
13. Carmelo Anthony, Oklahoma City Thunder SF
On paper, the trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony might have looked great. But on the court, the Thunder’s Big Three spelled an OKC-ya in the first round of the playoffs. Will Melo, who averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game, wait to see what PG-13 does before he makes his own free-agency decision?
12. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls PG
At 23, is Zach LaVine ready to take the leap and become an NBA All-Star? Will the Chicago Bulls shell out the major cash to sew up his future? One of the many free agency dilemmas that await.
11. Tyreke Evans, Memphis Grizzlies SG
Tyreke Evans did himself a huge favor, turning in the best season of his nine-year career since his rookie season back in 2009-2010. After averaging 19.4 points per game and seemingly increasing his stock, will the unrestricted free agent land the biggest contract of his career? It’s possible
10. Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks SF
We know what Jabari Parker is capable of when healthy. The problem is he hasn’t been healthy, mired in issues with his knees, having only played in 31 games this season. That will dictate the restricted free agent’s contractual future, for sure.
9. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers C
DeAndre Jordan has a player option for next season that comes after he averaged 12 points and 15.2 rebounds per game. Sounds like another solid payday.
8. Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers PF
Julius Randle made his fourth NBA season his best yet, averaging 16.1 points and eight rebounds per game. Whether that fits into the Lakers’ offseason plans remains to be seen, as the Purple and Gold have the most favorable cap situation in the league.
7. Clint Capela, Houston Rockets, C
Imposing, menacing, tough. Those were some of the words that described Clint Capela’s 2017-18 season, in which he posted averages of 13.9 points, 10.8 boards and 1.9 blocks per contest — all career-highs. Will the Rockets award the restricted free-agent 24-year-old with a deserving, big contract extension?
6. Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic, PF
Aaron Gordon just keeps getting better. The 22-year-old averaged career highs in points (17.6 per game) and rebounds (7.9) this season, leaving the Magic with an important decision to make over the restricted free agent, who seemingly has all the tools to be a perennial All-Star for a long time.
5. Chris Paul, Houston Rockets, PG
If Chris Paul didn’t suffer a hamstring strain, missing the last two games of the Western Conference Finals, it might have been he and the Rockets in the NBA Finals instead of the Golden State Warriors. That being said, it would be a shocker if the unrestricted point guard leaves H-Town after one season. Then again, NBA free agency can be shocking at times …
4. DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans, C
Boogie and The Brow were beginning to look every bit as unstoppable when Cousins tore his Achilles. Now, will the Pelicans max Cousins out to keep him in New Orleans or will another team swoop in on the unrestricted All-Star center?
3. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder, SF
The player option is there for Paul George to pick up and remain with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Or … he could pursue a spot with the Los Angeles Lakers franchise that he has rather unabashedly fawned after.
2. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors SF
Closing in on his second straight NBA title, it seems like a formality that KD picks up his player option and remains in Dub City. At what price, though? Will he make a push to make significantly more or once again be willing to take a cut to ensure the future stability of the championship squad?
1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers SF
Whether LeBron leaves “The Land” or stays, the NBA free agency market is in the palms of King James’s hands as his world to play with. Would the Rockets and a chance to play alongside James Harden and friend Chris Paul be a potential landing spot? Or would the possibility of CP3, Paul George and King James signing with the Lakers be on the table for the four-time MVP? Whatever happens, it’s going to be interesting.