2017 Free Agents; And Their Best Possible Destinations From a Fantasy Perspective
While projecting superstar free agents to sign back with their original team is a boring offseason read, it is the most likely scenario. The new CBA tried to combat the formation of “super teams” like the 2017 Golden State Warriors by introducing a new incentive for superstar players to stay with their current organization. This new rule, AKA the “Kevin Durant Rule,” allows teams to offer more money to their franchise players. For example, The Warriors can offer Steph Curry a max deal of 5 years $209 million while the 29 other teams can only offer up to 4 years $133 million.
That being said, returning to their old teams may not be the best situation from a fantasy perspective. Below I lay out where the top 5 free agents will likely land, and which landing spot would maximize their potential for a great fantasy season.
Kevin Durant: SF, GSW (Player Option)
Best Possible Landing Spot = Golden State Warriors
KD was the #1 fantasy player in 9 cat leagues in his first year with Golden State. It’s hard to imagine him being better anywhere else. While his PPG were predictably down, he posted career highs in rebounds, FG%, and blocks, with a career low in turnovers.
A move to Washington would be interesting. Pairing him with a pass first PG in John Wall on his hometown team would certain put him back into contention for the scoring title, but part of what made him such a great fantasy player last season was his unreal efficiency. I don’t think he would match that anywhere other than Golden State.
Projected Landing Spot = Golden State Warriors
He genuinely seems to be having fun this season. He is having one of the best seasons of his career, and winning a ring this season would just about guarantee his return to the Warriors.
Steph Curry: PG, GSW (Unrestricted FA)
Best Possible Landing Spot = Denver Nuggets
Curry will get a max offer from the Warriors, and he will most likely sign it. However, it’s fun to imagine Curry on a team without 3 other all-stars stealing shots from him.
If he had the green light to shoot a Kobe-esque 25 times per game, we could see some numbers that we’ve never seen before. Plus, without blowing out just about every team they play, they would need him for 35+ minutes per game.
Pairing him with the best passing big man in the league, Nikola Jokic, would ensure he gets a ton of open 3s giving him a chance to best his own record of 402 3-pointers in a season.
Projected Landing Spot = Golden State Warriors
Curry will sign the max offer, and he will continue to be an anchor for points, 3s, steals, and FT%. Nobody in their right mind would pass up that big of a contract on the best team in the league in a city that worships him.
Gordon Hayward: SF, UTA (Player Option)
Best Possible Landing Spot = Houston Rockets
The Jazz ranked last in pace last season, and Hayward still posted a career high in points earning him his first All-Star bid. Moving to an up-tempo team like the Rockets would give him an extra 9 or 10 possessions per game.
The Rockets had a ton of success using Trevor Ariza as a stretch 4 and having Ryan Anderson come off the bench. This lineup opens up a spot at SF for Hayward. With Harden giving him open looks and the insane spacing on that team, it’s hard to image Hayward not posting career highs across the board.
Projected Landing Spot = Utah Jazz
“Hair Jordan” has become one of the most complete players in the NBA. He can score at will; hit the 3, and is a decent defender. Plus, he has the best hair in the league. These types of players don’t grow on trees, and the Jazz are going to do whatever it takes to keep their franchise player.
Blake Griffin: PF, LAC (Early Termination Option)
Best Possible Landing Spot = Oklahoma City Thunder
Blake is one of the superstars I am confident will have a new team in 2017. The Clipper’s roster is older; they have no depth and no draft assets. Their championship window is closing fast. I think Blake knows this, and will want to get out.
Blake teaming up with Westbrook on his hometown team is a match made in heaven. He would fit well down low with Steven Adams, and add another scoring threat to a team that desperately needs one.
Projected Landing Spot = Boston Celtics
The Clippers have already tried to trade him to Boston. Although it never came to fruition, the Celtics can now sign him without giving up any assets.
Celtics are the #1 seed in the east, they have the #1 pick in the 2017 draft, and they have the ability to sign a superstar like Griffin. They look like they could be a legit contender for the next couple seasons, which is a big selling point for a player looking for his first ring.
Chris Paul: PG, LAC (Early Termination Option)
Best Possible Landing Spot = New Orleans Pelicans
Sorry Florida Gulf Coast… New Orleans would be the new Lob City. CP3 has spent the last six years perfecting the alley-oop with a center that can’t score outside of 3 feet. Having both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins at his disposal is a dream come true.
That big 3 would be a playoff team in the west, but I’m not sure it’s enough for them to contend with the Warriors, Spurs, Cavs, or Celtics. At this point in his career, CP3 is looking for either a title or another big payday.
Projected Landing Spot = Los Angeles Clippers
Under the previous CBA, teams were not allowed to offer 5 year max contracts to players that would be 36 years old during any point of the contract. The new CBA revised that rule from 36 years old to 38 which benefits Chris Paul, who just so happens to be the current union president. All signs point to CP3 getting one last massive deal from the Clippers.