Fantasy Perspective: 2017 Free Agents (cont.)
The NBA Finals are in full swing with the Cleveland Cavaliers looking completely overmatched. Though, if we learned one thing from last season, it’s to never count out The King. In the first two games of last year’s finals, the Cavs lost by 15 and 33 and everyone left them for dead. That being said, Kevin Durant is a bit better than Harrison Barnes, and this Warriors team may be the greatest team ever assembled. Combined with the fact that the 3-1 blown lead is still fresh in their heads, I just don’t see the Cavs pulling this one out.
All you degenerates are itching for something to do at this point in the season. With the fantasy season over, Your options are either play fantasy baseball….yuck, or read pointless speculation from some random guy on the internet. You’ve made the right choice.
In my next segment of pointless offseason free agent speculation, I take a look at another batch of players that might be in a new uniform next year. This is all guesswork based on system fit and salary cap, and it all could change come draft day. Regardless, it’s fun to try to get into the minds of the GMs.
Kyle Lowry: PG, TOR (Player Option)
Best Possible Landing Spot = Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers want to experiment with Ben Simmons running the point. But I think that’s a lot to ask of a 6’10” rookie coming off a major foot injury. Bringing in a vet like Lowry would help Simmons learn the position while also being able to get up to speed playing off the ball.
The Sixers have no other point guard that would compete for minutes. They play at a much faster pace, and have an elite big man in Joel Embiid. Look for Lowry’s 3 pointers, assists, and steal to increase while his efficiency suffers a bit.
Projected Landing Spot = Philadelphia 76ers
This is one of the rare times when the best opportunity is also very a very likely scenario. Lowry can earn up to $205 million over 5 years from the Raptors, but they may think that is too much money to commit to an injury prone PG that would be 36 years old in the last year of the deal. They have little chance to make it out of the East as long as LeBron is still in his prime. It would be wise to blow it up and stockpile picks for when “LeDecline” inevitably happens.
Lowry, a Philadelphia native, was traded from Houston to Toronto back in 2012. The Raptors GM at that time, Bryan Colangelo, is currently running the show in Philly and the two have stayed in touch over the years. The Sixers desperately need a point guard that can shoot 3s and help space the floor. There are a lot of signs pointing to Lowry playing in the city of brotherly love next season.
Paul Millsap: PF, ATL (Player Option)
Best Possible Landing Spot = Boston Celtics
I don’t think the Celtics will go hard after Millsap. They are set up for a long run on contention, and would rather spend up for a younger forward in Blake Griffin or Gordon Hayward. That being said, a reunion with Al Horford would be excellent for Millsap’s fantasy value. In the three years these two played together, Millsap was consistently a late-first/early second round guy.
Projected Landing Spot = Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets gave up a lot to get Mason Plumlee, but I think they cut their losses and try again. It was clear that the Plumlee/Jokic front court didn’t work, so Denver will look for another big man to compliment the Joker. Enter Paul Millsap.
The do-it-all forward would be a great fit in Coach Malone’s system. While Jokic would take on more of the offensive role, Millsap would add a much needed defensive presence. He is a player that is much more valuable than the box score suggests.
Jrue Holiday: PG, NOP (Unrestricted FA)
Best Possible Landing Spot = Milwaukee Bucks
Holiday would fit in with the Bucks because he can play both as the primary ball carrier and off ball for when they run Giannis Antetokounmpo as the point-forward. He has a 6’7” wingspan, which coincides with their plan to have the longest roster in NBA history. The only question is did Malcolm Brogdon show enough promise in his rookie year for the Bucks to trust him running the offense?
Projected Landing Spot = New York Knicks
When healthy, Jrue Holiday is one of the better PGs in the league. They started the season 2-10 when Holiday was taking care of his wife who had brain surgery weeks after giving birth to the couple’s first child. After Holiday came back, they broke off four straight wins and finished with a decent 34-48 record. The Knicks could clear $22 million by releasing Derrick Rose, and Phil Jackson desperately needs to make a splash move this offseason.
It could be a Holiday family reunion in New York. Jrue’s brother, Justin, plays for the Knicks, and has expressed interest in playing with his little brother. At the end of last season, Justin stated, “If we can play together, that would be a dream come true and we’d be successful doing it.’’
Otto Porter Jr: SF, WAS (Restricted FA)
Best Possible Landing Spot = Washington Wizards
One of the most underrated fantasy players last year, Otto Porter finished as the #22 overall player in 9 cat leagues thanks to his ability to be just above average in every category. He benefits from a system that doesn’t rely on him to be a huge offensive threat. He doesn’t have the ball in his hands too much so he can pick his shots carefully and limit his turnovers. If he was asked to become a team’s number one option, his scoring may increase but his efficiency would suffer.
Projected Landing Spot = Brooklyn Nets
The Wizards know how important a player like Porter is. Unfortunately, so do the 29 other teams. He will probably get a lot of offers, but Washington will have to chance to match. That being said, they may have to prioritize extending John Wall first. Porter played Georgetown, but don’t expect him to give the Wizards a hometown discount.
The Nets have a lot of cap space, and have expressed interest in Porter. They need to build a young core, and Porter is a great start. He just turned 24 years old, and could be a cornerstone piece for this rebuilding franchise.
Serge Ibaka: PF, TOR (Unrestricted FA)
Best Possible Landing Spot = Any team without an elite PF
At this point in his career, Ibaka is what he is. He has been on three teams in the past two seasons, but no matter his situation, he always hovers around a 4th or 5th round value. He is no longer the block anchor that he once was, but he’s still a unique asset that can collect 3s and blocks with low turnovers and doesn’t kill your percentages. As long as he doesn’t have too much competition for minutes, he will be a top 50 player next season.
Projected Landing Spot = Dallas Mavericks
The Raptors gave up Terrence Ross and a first round pick for Ibaka right before the trade line. It’s hard to believe they would give up that much for just a one year rental, but you can chalk that up as a desperation move for a team in win-now mode. Unfortunately, it led to being swept in the first round. As I said before, Lowry is an aging, injury-prone free agent. It might make sense to let him go, and sell high on DeMar DeRozan, and build for the future.
Mark Cuban knows that the Mavericks have a small chance of being competitive in the West next season, but that doesn’t mean he is going to tank. Dirk Nowitzki was injured in the season opener, and they started out 2-11 last season. Most wrote them off as a lottery team, but they fought back in were actually in contention for a playoff spot late in the season.