5 Players Getting Paid This Offseason
It’s hard to believe this offseason could compete with the hectic one we experienced in 2017, but it appears that it will. Franchise players like Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James and championship hungry stars like Paul George and Chris Paul are just a few of the names to keep an eye on come July 1st. While these are the names that will garner the most attention this summer, there are a handful of impactful rising stars that will command large paydays as well. Here now are the five players that are likely to get paid that you may not even realize are involved in the free agency discussion.
1. C Clint Capela, Houston Rockets
It’s no secret how crucial Capela was to the deep playoff run Houston made this season. His play in the Western Conference Finals will likely draw some attention from teams needing a big man capable of protecting the rim for the next decade. Capela is a Restricted Free Agent, so in the unlikely event that he receives no offers from any other team then he will remain in Houston for one more year on his 2-million-dollar contract. As mentioned, this is very unlikely. Capela averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds a game, and he’s only 24. Teams in need of a reliable center will likely offer him some serious cash. Houston will probably match any offer and ultimately keep Capela, but re-signing Paul will not be cheap, and with rumors circulating about George or James coming to play for the Rockets, the front office may decide to let Capela get paid elsewhere to secure another star that can help them beat the Warriors.
2. PF Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers
Julius Randle is a proven young big man with the ability to play well on both ends of the court. His athleticism should draw in at least a few offers from desperate teams in need of a spark plug. Randle fills that role effortlessly when coming off the bench, but when he started games this season, he proved he is a starting caliber forward as well. He can guard multiple positions and plays his role effectively. I assume the Lakers will be able to match any offer due to their abundance of cap space but as with others employed by teams pursuing the King this summer, Julius Randles’ whereabouts next season largely depends on where LeBron James decides to play.
3. G Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics
Whether you’re a Boston Celtics fan or not you likely know Smart. The scrappy, gritty, and yes flopping Smart. Despite his inability to score consistently, Smart is among the league’s top defenders, especially for his age. More importantly, his effort is contagious, as it’s picked up by his teammates and usually leads to big runs for the Celtics. GM Danny Ainge has not said either way whether he will match offers that come in for Smart. With Boston tied up with salary it’s likely they can’t afford to match a larger deal that could be offered by other teams.
4. C DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans
It’s as simple as this: Boogie is getting paid big time. New Orleans can and will likely re-sign him but if they don’t, Cousins will go wherever he can get paid the most. At the end of the day DeMarcus Cousins is still the best center in the league and the Pelicans are smart enough to not let him go when they can re-sign him. Of course, if he proves to not be the same dominant force after his torn Achilles, then that’s a whole different ball game.
5. C Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Jokic is a front office’s dream come true right now. A top five center in the league at 23, a franchise player, all at the expense of a million dollars a year. This obviously can’t last forever. The Nuggets know Jokic is worthy of a max deal, but they will need to be smart about when he gets it. Denver’s team option gives Jokic 1.6 million for the 2018-19 season. If they go this route, Jokic would be an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 NBA season. This is okay if they are confident he will re-sign. If they declined the team option Jokic would be a Restricted Free Agent on July 1st and he will likely get massive offers and Denver will have no choice but to match them, ultimately hurting the team’s chances at signing other free agents this offseason. But using the team option does run the risk that he decides to play elsewhere after next season. While it is unlikely, keep an eye on the situation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nuggets decided to go all in on Jokic sooner rather than later.