NBA free agency begins Saturday, but we’ve already had a flurry of trades and rumors surrounding some of the league’s best players as the craziest time of the basketball calendar approaches.
Several of the league’s marquee franchises, including the Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks, could be very active in free agency. Even teams with limited or no salary cap space, like the Cleveland Cavaliers, could get involved through sign-and-trades and other moves.
Everyone is chasing the defending champion Golden State Warriors, who look poised to dominate the sport for several more seasons.
Here are the top 10 free agents of the 2017 class, along with predictions on where they might sign.
(It should be noted that Warriors forward Kevin Durant and guard Stephen Curry are free agents, but the chances of them leaving probably is less than it snowing outside of Oracle Arena in July. So, they’ve been omitted from the following list.)
1. Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, Utah Jazz
2016-17 Stats: 21.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.5 apg
Possible Landing Spots: Boston, Miami, Utah
Hayward has increased his scoring average in each of his six pro seasons. He’s a dynamic scorer just entering his prime.
2. Blake Griffin, PF/C, Los Angeles Clippers
2016-17 Stats: 21.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.9 apg
Possible Landing Spots: Boston, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers
Griffin is a quality scorer, rebounder and playmaker, but various injuries that have kept him out of 83 games over the last three seasons are a concern.
3. Paul Millsap
2016-17 Stats: 18.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.7 apg
Possible Landing Spots: Atlanta, Denver, Toronto, Portland, San Antonio, Boston, Dallas
Millsap is a reliable scorer who’s improved his shooting range over the last few seasons. But will teams be lining up to pay him $30-plus million until he’s 36?
4. Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto Raptors
2016-17 Stats: 22.4 ppg, 7.0 apg, 4.8 rpg
Possible Landing Spots: Minnesota, Toronto, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Utah, New Orleans, Milwaukee
Lowry, when healthy, is one of the best offensive point guards in the league. But the Chris Paul trade, in addition to the 76ers moving up to draft Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick, has diminished the point guard market a bit.
5. JJ Redick, SG, Los Angeles Clippers
2016-17 Stats: 15.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.4 apg
Possible Landing Spots: San Antonio, Philadelphia, Miami, Brooklyn, Utah, New York, Los Angeles Clippers
Redick is one of the best 3-point shooters in the league and would provide much-needed scoring depth as a starter or bench player.
6. Serge Ibaka, PF/C, Toronto Raptors
2016-17 Stats: 14.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Possible Landing Spots: Toronto, Portland, San Antonio, Denver, New York, Miami, Brooklyn, Phoenix
Ibaka is a versatile player capable of defending small forwards, power forwards and centers. He’s also developed a pretty good 3-point shot.
7. George Hill, PG, Utah
2016-17 Stats: 16.9 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.4 rpg
Possible Landing Spots: Utah, Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Indiana, Milwaukee
Hill isn’t an elite playmaker, but he’s a well-rounded scorer and excels in pick-and-roll sets. He would be a good Plan B for teams who try to sign Lowry and fail.
8. Otto Porter, SF, Washington Wizards
2016-17 Stats: 13.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 apg
Possible Landing Spots: Washington, Brooklyn, Indiana, Miami, Utah, Sacramento, Dallas, Los Angeles Clippers
Porter set career highs with 13.4 points per game and a 43.4 percent shooting rate from 3-point range during a breakout 2016-17 campaign. His length, versatility and outside shooting make him a valuable swingman for today’s style of NBA basketball.
9. Jrue Holiday, PG, New Orleans Pelicans
2016-17 Stats: 15.4 ppg, 7.3 apg, 3.9 rpg
Possible Landing Spots: New Orleans, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago
The Pelicans almost have to re-sign Holiday because they don’t have the salary cap space to find an adequate replacement. But if he leaves New Orleans, plenty of teams should show interest in him.
10. Danilo Gallinari, SF, Denver Nuggets
2016-17 Stats: 18.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.1 apg
Possible Landing Spots: Boston, Denver, Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Chicago, Utah, Los Angeles Clippers
Gallinari is a proven scorer, has 3-point range and ranks among the league’s best free throw shooters. His injury history is a major concern, though.
Thumbnail photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports Images
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