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The 10 Biggest Questions of the NBA Free Agency | Bleacher Report



0 out of 10

    Tony Dejak / Associated Press

    Another round of the NBA-free agency is upon us, and would not you know? We have some urgent questions.

    Very many of them.

    Where will the prime-time flight land? Which teams and players will the market be waiting for? How does a gloomy climate affect buyers and sellers? Which players will take a bath? Can someone be overpaid?

    This is just a taste of our curiosity. It goes deeper, gets more complicated and always sets the stage for complete chaos.

    And let's face it, we would not change our NBA summer.

1 of 10

    Ronald Cortes / Getty Images

    It turns out that the Kawhi-Leonard-sized Domino in San Antonio may have to fall before the free agency's chain reaction train can leave the station.

    LeBron James "remains hesitant" to start with the theorists of the Los Angeles Lakers superteam alone, according to a report by ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski. Along with Paul George's apparent fondness for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers Front Office faces an increased "pressure" to complete a trade for Leonard and use him as a freelance agent.

    The Spurs do not feel crunching at the same time. They are happy that this situation shifts after the report. In fact, they had not admitted to losing Leonard since the NBA draft.

    Director-General R.C. Buford said the team's first preference remains " what we can to keep Kawhi as part of our group," according to Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com. San Antonio even closed Tuesday night as a betting favorite to retain Leonard, according to OddsShark .

    As the Spurs carry on, a direct impact will have on the rest of the league. George and James are the two best known flying risks of the summer. If one or both delay a decision until the Leonard saga reaches its conclusion, the entire market is put into a pattern of hold patterns.

    The refusal to do business with Los Angeles (and Philadelphia) offers some semblance of closure … outside of San Antonio. So we do not forget it, the Spurs have to plan their own future.

    Being in limbo with Leonard makes it harder to plan a freelance approach. The Spurs have no significant cap-place without losing their salary, but they have the non-taxpayer mid-level exemption ($ 8.6 million). Leonard's status will determine which players target her and whether she will reinvest in Kyle Anderson (limited), Rudy Gay and even Tony Parker.

    Will the Spurs act as a team and try to win now? Will you be a franchisee in a reconstruction? Or will they secure themselves somewhere in between and throw Leonard's future into the balance without making any telltale additions or subtractions?

    We will know soon. We think. Could be. Hopefully.

2 out of 10

    Tony Dejak / Associated Press

    A Cleveland Cavaliers player and co-worker from 2017-18 recently told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com they believe that their team " Best "has chance of another" aspirant to land LeBron James.

    The Lakers are reportedly fighting for Leonard to appease the quadruple MVP, while in the meantime Joel Embiid is recruiting James for the Philadelphia 76ers

    Surrendering to the Houston Rockets makes sense in the world when James' primary interest is immediately to beat the Golden State Warriors, but he does not seem to be a fan of Clutch City, and his BFNND (best friend, not named Dwyane) tells people that his BBB (Banana Boat Bae) wants to be in Hollywood.

    Meanwhile, loud for TMZ Sports, 13-year-old LeBron James is Jr. probably in the Enroll in Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles. (In a related note, we should all hate ourselves for meddling in the life of a teenager.)

    Oh, and Kyrie Irving essentially referred to James as NBA's [2014 Kevin Durant voice] – real MVP. Should we start the sign-and-trade scenarios of Boston Celtics now? Or is James just going to L.A. Or maybe Houston? Or maybe Cleveland?

    And will he sign a long-term contract that includes four or, in the case of Cav's, five years? Or will he go the one-plus-one route? Will he even get rid of his contract?

    Will it all end with Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum wearing a Cavs jersey?

    Fifteen years into his career, James still has the NBA on the line. Some movements will take place regardless of his decision. But the offseason will not officially start for everyone else until he reveals his next destination – hopefully he can do it, more landscape-willing, sooner rather than later, after Shelburne, Windhorst, and Woj.

3 out of 10

    Layne Murdoch / Getty Images

    Paul Georges's free agency does not nearly cause the same ruckus as LeBron James's trip to the open market, but he's still the third co-lead in this summer week epic. And unlike his other headliners, he's a flight risk with no apparent loyalty.

    Lakers apologists will fight mercenary designations, but they are not the only fanbase that attracts his attention. The Thunder are firmly in the game, as the New York Times & # 39; Marc Stein first reported (H / T Daily Thunders Weston Shepherd) and Shelburne, Windhorst and Woj later confirmed.

    "Here they are I've taken a huge trading risk for me, knowing that I have a year with my deal," George said in his first part of the ESPN three-part documentary about his freelance decision ( about the Oklahoman ) Brett Dawson). "But I felt that I was not as strong as I. All I know is that you left something on the table, even so far, it's bothering me."

    Do not hesitate to explain Georges free agency a two-man race between the Lakers and Thunder, if you dare. But the NBA's offseason is routinely home to the unexpected. That means: does not count the Sixers.

    They completed their playoff march in the second round with plans to prosecute George, James and Leonard for the Philadelphia Inquirer 's Keith Pompey. Nothing they have done since then indicates that they are done with it.

    With all the talk about how the Lakers can add superstars in tandem, the Sixers are right there – except for a postseason core. They have the flexibility to sign George and beautify the Spurs with the most enticing package for Leonard. Or they could talk to James about a sign-and-trade system.

    Never underestimate the potential for a dark horse to come out of the left field. Other teams that have Cap Square will not appeal to George, but he can expand his wish list if the Thunder is a sign-and-trade scenario game. And they should be. You'll have luxury control problems without him, but Russell Westbrook's timeline timeline timing keeps them in a talent-acquisition mode, no matter what.

4 out of 10

    Oscar Baldizon / Getty Images

    Here is a list of all teams at risk of exceeding the $ 123 million luxury tax threshold if they do not pay and / or refrain from the main free agents separate:

  • Boston Celtics
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Houston Rockets
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Miami Heat
  • Minnesota Timberwolves [19659043] New Orleans Pelicans
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Washington Wizards

Yes, you count correctly. Fourteen teams are in or around the tax area. And the list could be extended to 17 squads. The Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, and Milwaukee Bucks are all in the area, but their evasive paths are gentler than most.

Half of the association does not pay taxes. Some (if not most) of these teams will use the five D-Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge to submerge below the luxury line.

Houston, Golden State and Boston (assuming Marcus Smart stays around) are the only ones who should enter the tax without a break. They have the star power to justify the investment. Cleveland and Oklahoma City are classified in this group when James and George resist outward advocacy. The same goes for New Orleans when it re-signs DeMarcus cousins.

Everyone else? They will actively seek to avoid or avoid the tax to varying degrees of success and failure.

5 out of 10

    John Bazemore / Associated Press

    If potential taxpayers want to relieve their salary, they have to do that to find dumping grounds. Good luck with it.

    Only a handful of teams have the capacity to swallow bad money, and many are unwilling to digest these pills. Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk has already declared his squad open, but other cap-flush squads must follow

    Five of the other eight teams with serious space – or access to it – will function as off-season buyers: the Lakers , Sixers, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers and Phoenix Suns. The Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings are well placed to absorb lousy contracts, but their front offices might as well feel like free-agency players.

    Flipping Timofey Mozgov for Dwight Howard ate the flexibility of the Brooklyn Nets. They could create more room to breathe, but in 2019 they are set for neatly clean books. The New York Knicks are in similar territory. They want to save money by next summer, by Newsday & # 39; s Al Iannazzone

    The list of potential salary sponges ends here. Suppose the Bulls and Kings stay on their own path, and they create a three-man market with Atlanta. That number could climb to four or five if the Lakers, Mavericks, and / or Suns emerge blank in free agency.

    Atlanta, Chicago and Sacramento can name their prize and stoke prospects. It could take more than a first-round first-round election to claim expiring salaries (Jerryd Bayless, Kenneth Faried, Wesley Matthews, etc.).

    And if you ask so much for contracts with an upcoming expiration date, just think about how much it will take to get the Luol Dengs (two years, $ 36.8 million) and Evan Turners (two years, 36, 5 million dollars) of the world.

6 out of 10

    Josh Lefkowitz / Getty Images

    Both taxpayers ($ 5.3 million) and non-taxpayers ($ 8.6 million) should prove particularly useful in this tight summer market , But how valuable is still to be seen.

    Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams was one of only seven players to have scored 20 points and five assists per game last season, Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Damian Lillard and Kemba Walker.

    Williams signed an extension in February with the Clippers, which was worth less than the non-taxpayer MLE

    In general, much more can be for a rude awakening.

    Avery Bradley wanted something "in the range of $ 20 million" before he was traded to Woj for the Clippers. Will Barton rejected a $ 42 million four-year extension from the Nuggets last summer, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. A source told Rocket Wire's Kelly Iko that Trevor Ariza "is seeking a $ 50-60 million contract over four or five years".

    Tyreke Evans has signed a one-year contract with Memphis on the semi-annual exemption last July and then in the best season of his career. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signed a lucrative blanket deal with the Lakers in the hope of transferring his performance into a relatively fat long-term pact.

    Apart from certain established squads, which teams offer one of these quality names more than the non-taxpayer MLE? A thirsty retail market admirer like Indiana or Phoenix could do that, but that's far from guaranteed. At age 33, Ariza will be happy to secure taxpayer MLE somewhere outside of Houston.

    Will the players settle down? Will we see an upward trend in one-year layover contracts? Could a barren landscape make veterans like Ariza come sooner than usual? Are the Warriors really so charmed?

7 out of 10

    Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press

    Restricted free agency invites over-the-top contracts of design. When established teams have the right to get used to an offer, rival admirers inflate price tags to pimp the newcomers or simply compete with opposing cover sheets.

    The nets have turned these tricks into an art form in the last two summers. They threw Allen-Crabbe, Tyler Johnson, and Otto Porter over the market, each crammed with expensive reservations such as poison pill structures (Johnson) and commercial kickers (Crabbe, Porter). And while they touched all three (Crabbe is now in Brooklyn), they left Portland, Miami and Washington to deal with ambiguous buyers of remorse.

    This practice seems to be dead for the moment. The cap market has dried up in the league, and the restricted free-agent market is almost without worthwhile rolls of dice.

    Consider the top 7 options of Bleacher Report by Adam Fromal:

    1. Nikola Jokic
    2. Clint Capela
    3. Aaron Gordon
    4. Julius Randle
    5. Marcus Smart
    6. Jabari Parker [19659043] Kyle Anderson

    According to Yahoo Sports Jokic gets a maximum of the Nuggets from Shams Charania ]. He deserves it. But who else?

    Capela and Gordon shot cases in the dark in most other Offseasons. Maybe they still get maximum love from aggressive buyers. The Mavericks and Pacers are great in both cases. If they do not join Jokic, nobody will.

    No team pays for Randle, Smart, Parker, Anderson or even Zach LaVine. The market will not ask for it. More importantly, with the exception of Jokic, no restricted free agent is risking a max-money game.

8 out of 10

    George Bridges / Associated Press

    About six million free agents who were big men breathed relief as the Mavericks went to deal with Luka Doncic. To put him in third place meant that they could not vote Mo Bamba in 5th place. That meant they would take advantage of their cap-place in a center. What meant and still means – that a big man is paid. This is great news for this one big man.

    As for the rest … well, it does not look good.

    Everywhere in depth graphics, and you'll hardly find a team outside of Dallas that needs a big one. Even squads with their own free agents could be driven to probing alternatives.

    New Orleans has a good cause with Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic up front if it does not want to invest in DeMarcus' cousins ​​after the Achilles injury. Portland can turn to Zach Collins instead of paying Jusuf Nurkic (restricted).

    Clint Capela will be in high demand, but Derrick Favors, Brook Lopez and Kyle O & Quinn all could be closer to the Bargain Bin. The Clippers will not go overboard to retain DeAndre Jordan (player option). Untried assets like Nerlens Noel, Lucas Nogueira (limited) and Jahlil Okafor can forget the benefits of expensive planes.

    Once the Mavericks get their type, the game is over. They are the only team with a blatant need for the 5, plenty of room in the cap and the intention to spend. Everywhere Bigs will run out of leverage when making a decision – one that could go around the corner after lifting Doug McDermott's qualifying bid for added flexibility, according to ESPN.com Zach Lowe ,

9 out of 10

    Gene Sweeney Jr. / Getty Images

    Sign-and-trades have become a rarity since LeBron James' first free agency tour. There are hardly any incentives to mediate.

    Teams are subjected to the hard cap when obtaining free agents in a sign-and-trade, which is problematic. These squads are primarily above the cap – hence the sign-and-trade. Breaking them down will make it harder to adjust the salaries of the superstars or fill the rest of the roster while staying under the luxury tax apron.

    Players who agree to the contracts as part of this process may also only deal with 5 percent increases year-on-year, compared to five-year pacts, which offer 8 percent bumps. That's a lot of money for formalities with a maximum of money.

    Feel free to delay the teams who plan years in advance for certain freelance classes, and the call for sign-and-trade is virtually non-existent.

    Will a market that is barren change that? Maybe. Teams beyond the cap, but outside the clique of candidates need to get creative in enhancing their turn.

    Mid-level exception versions can only do so much in the harshest of landscapes. Sign-and-trade scenarios give teams like the Bucks or Utah Jazz, who have room under luxury taxation, the opportunity to make larger swings without navigating a labyrinth of wage dumping logistics.

    Also with limited free market The prospect of overpaying an Aaron Gordon or Jabari Parker could convince established companies that they would try at the last minute to capitalize on their disposals.

    Shield and Trades also make a name for themselves as a useful tool for taller names with lukewarm character markets (cousins) and could help George and James expand their search or improve the chances that they will end up in the same place.

10 out of 10

    Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

    How many superstars are the Lakers going to acquire? On? Two? Three? (Besides, what will they do if they all miss?)

    Will the Sixers win George or James? Trade for Leonard? Land two of the three?

    Could the Celtics fully attend the Kawhi contests? Do you have something else in stock? Are they preselected to be Super Super Masters because Gordon Hayward logged just five minutes last season and because Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are both in the fast lane to "Boston should not hunt Kawhi" Starr?

    Could the Cavaliers draw a Christmas miracle from their thin air in July? Do Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton, Future First-Rounders in 2022 or beyond and partially guaranteed contracts for 2019-20 have the juice for another star that convinces James to stay?

    Is there a smacking? -in-the-face striker to strike? Could not quite competitors like Blazers, Raptors, Thunder or Wizards be lucky in the Trade Block? Do the Spurs have the nerve to keep Leonard and the resources needed to care for another star?

    Are the Nuggets a sneaky – good bet to endure the luxury tax and use their collection of expiring contracts, prospects and future first-rounders Party Crash Blockbuster developments? Does Jazz have to swap the tracks for a third A-Lister to play alongside Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell?

    Come on, people. This summer is going to be strange.

    Unless otherwise stated, statistics are courtesy of NBA.com or Basketball Reference. Salary and Cap Hold information about Basketball Insider and RealGM.

    Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter ( @danfavale ) and listen to him Hardwood Knocks Podcast, shared with Andrew Bailey of B / R.


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