By: John Morgan Francis
Yes, the 2017 free agency has all but concluded. However, the summer of 2018 has the impact free agents of Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Demarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Isaiah Thomas, Chris Paul, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan. A lot can change in a year from now but let’s break down where their destinations could be.
Lebron James: San Antonio Spurs
Lebron has always spoke highly of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. Same goes for Popovich regarding James. San Antonio also has a top-3 player in the world: Kawhi Leonard. With Kawhi locking down opposing stars and still managing to grab 26 a game, Lebron could fully maximize his offensive game with one of the greatest coaches ever. We could possibly see 32/9/8 stat lines from Lebron. The Lakers seem to be a popular option but seeing they’re the third worst team in the league, they don’t necessarily qualify as a championship roster.
Kevin Durant: Golden State Warriors
Durant will likely sign, again, a 2-year deal with a player option the second year. As long as the Warriors can keep their core in tact, he likely won’t be going anywhere. Durant seems to be happy every second of every day in the Bay Area, something he definitely wasn’t in Oklahoma City.
Russell Westbrook: Oklahoma City Thunder
Russ decides to play super hero and stay with the franchise that drafted him, unlike former teammate Kevin Durant. He takes the super max they gladly offer him and never wins a championship. No, that is not a typo.
Paul George: Los Angeles Lakers
Magic Johnson was right to not trade key players for George. George is on the record saying he wants to play for the Lakers but if he has success in OKC, he’s not ruling out any other options. However, unfortunately for George, the Westbrook-PG13 tandem will not work. If it couldn’t work with Durant, what makes anyone think it’ll work with George, who is a poor man’s Durant? George thrived with a pass-first play maker (Lance Stephenson) in Indiana. If Lonzo Ball lives up to the hype, George likely wouldn’t turn that option down.
Isaiah Thomas: Boston Celtics
As a Celtics fan, I’m against paying Thomas the max. However, I can see Danny Ainge offering him a 3-year deal with a team option the third year. This allows Ainge to keep a core of Al Horford-Gordon Hayward-Isaiah Thomas in tact for a few more years while farming their young studs behind them. I really don’t see Thomas going anywhere else, especially with the cap situations most teams will be facing next summer.
Chris Paul: San Antonio Spurs
It’s no secret Lebron wants to play with Chris Paul. Carmelo Anthony would love to join the party but unfortunately his knees and defense, along with cap-appetizing contract won’t be very appealing to Popovich. Paul, however, would likely take less to just make the Western Conference Finals, something he’s yet to do in his NBA tenure. Paul, Lebron and Kawhi would likely be favorites over Golden State.
Demarcus Cousins: Los Angeles Lakers
Like George, Cousins thrives with pass-first point guards (Rajon Rondo). Magic would have an in-prime big-two with Lonzo and Brandon Ingram progressing as young stars. The Lakers, thinks to their cap-clearing this summer, would have space to max both super stars.
DeAndre Jordan: Los Angeles Clippers
DeAndre is staying put. He loves L.A. and L.A. loves him, so much, in fact, they held him hostage from Dallas a couple of summers ago.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Indiana Pacers
Aldridge has declined in a better system (San Antonio) than with Portland. Why, no one really knows. But if Lebron and/or Paul are coming, he’s for sure out the door. Indiana turned down the option of a rebuild when they traded for Oladipo and Sabonis before free agency. Aldridge would be a nice fit by Myles Turner and a fresh locker room. The Pacers would also elevate back to their usual 7-8 seed in the East.