Predicting the Final Destination for the Eight Top NBA Free Agents of 2021
After a shortened but exhilarating NBA season and the passing of the Draft, we are very quickly approaching one of the most exciting parts of the NBA calendar – the start of free agency.
This year’s class is set to be headlined by the likes of Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, and Kawhi Leonard.
With the start of free agency now only 48 hours away, there is probably no better time to predict where the top names on the market will go once the madness kicks off. There will surely be some key re-signings, but it is the shocking player moves that make NBA’s free agency period the best in all of sports. So let’s get right into it!
8. Goran Dragic – Miami Heat
While the Heat will not pick up Dragic’s $19.4-million team option, it appears that both sides have interest in a reunion. A new contract would provide Dragic with some term and protection, at a lower AAV, while giving the Heat the ability to go out and spend more money in order to build a team capable of returning to the NBA Finals.
- Honorable Mentions: New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks
7. Carmelo Anthony – Los Angeles Lakers
Melo is nearing the finish line, but still remains a very potent scorer and one who can get hot in any game at any time. The Los Angeles Lakers will have a bit of a financial crunch given the amount of money they will be spending on three certain players, but if Anthony is willing to take a hefty pay cut in favor of contending for a championship, this is a move that just may get Anthony his first ring and would provide the cap-strapped Lakers with a legitimate piece to add to their roster.
- Honorable Mentions: Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks
6. Victor Oladipo – Dallas Mavericks
While injuries have slowed Oladipo down over the past few years, the Dallas Mavericks look like an ideal fit. As Luka Doncic continues to grow into one of the game’s bright superstars, the Mavericks are desperate to add more secondary stars under the 22-year old phenom. Enter Oladipo, a two-way star at his best and a player that can surely help the Mavericks’ odds in the Western Conference if he is to remain healthy.
- Honorable Mentions: Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers
5. Mike Conley – Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz are doing what they can to create the space to bring back Conley. After selling Derrick Favors in order to create financial flexibility, the Jazz should have what it takes to bring back Conley and build on what was a very successful 2020-21 regular season. Despite a disappointing playoff finish, the Jazz were a top-10 offense and defense in the league and there is no reason to think the Jazz cannot take another step forward in 2021-22.
- Honorable Mentions: New York Knicks, Miami Heat
4. DeMar DeRozan – New York Knicks
I don’t necessarily buy the noise of DeRozan’s potential interest in playing in Washington. At 31-years of age, now is the time for DeRozan to look for a team that presents him with a chance to win. It’s hard to envision the Los Angeles Lakers have much of a chance to sign the aging star given their cap situation, but the New York Knicks need a scorer and after making some noise in the Eastern Conference this past season, a move to The Garden may be a good fit for DeRozan.
- Honorable Mentions: Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls
3. Kyle Lowry – Philadelphia 76ers
Lowry is still an All-Star level point guard and even at 35-years of age, he can still do a lot of things both on and off the court to help push a playoff team to a championship contender. Given his age, Lowry is looking to compete and with the allure of returning home for a chance to win an NBA championship, Philly seems like the right spot for him, especially considering they are only a couple of pieces away.
- Honorable Mentions: Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat
2. Kawhi Leonard – Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard is home and that is where he will stay. Entering the back-half of his career, Leonard would be looking for a long-term deal this Summer, but with the ACL tear that he suffered in the midst of the Clippers playoff run, the potential of opting into his player option for next year may also be a move that Leonard considers in favor of ideally entering next offseason healthy and at the top of his game.
- Honorable mentions: New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors
1. Chris Paul – Phoenix Suns
Some rumors suggest that a return to Phoenix is “all but destined” for Paul who continues to search for his first NBA championship. While the re-signing is by no means a foregone conclusion, the Suns epic run to the Finals, the continued growth of Devin Booker, and the revelation that has been DeAndre Ayton as a two-way force may be all that it takes to keep Paul in the Desert.
- Honorable Mentions: New York Knicks, New Orleans Pelicans