Some of the players to watch in NBA free agency, which starts Friday evening:
The 76ers can't afford to let him go, and Harden knows this. Other teams will want him, and that will make the 76ers dig deep, It might be a short deal, maybe two years with the second at his option, but if Philly is going to contend for a title this coming season it needs to surround MVP Joel Embiid with elite talent.
This one will be interesting. Irving is one of the best players in the NBA. He also tends to be a challenge, and evidently got unhappy over time at his previous stops — Cleveland, Boston and Brooklyn. It seems unlikely that Irving will want a short-term deal, but there aren't many teams that can afford him, either.
If Houston doesn't land Harden, maybe the Rockets take a swing at VanVleet and throw a ton of money his way. The Raptors need to decide on a direction; the next few days will show if the plan is to win right now, or take some time to reset a bit. What they offer VanVleet will likely tell the tale. He may be moving on.
Talk about a success story. Reaves was undrafted, averaged 7.3 points per game as a rookie, averaged 13 points per game this past season, and became the Lakers' third-best player behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Teams can offer him four years for almost $99 million, and that'll likely be what it takes the Lakers to keep him.
No team spends more than the Warriors. And Green might not be the easiest personality to deal with on a daily basis. But he was a very big part in all four of Golden State's recent championship runs. It's hard to envision him someplace else, though the new CBA rules raises the possibility that it'll happen.
This one should be easy. Middleton, somehow, seems to remain vastly underrated. The Olympic gold medalist and NBA champion is the perfect running mate for Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, simply because he doesn't seem to care if he gets five shots or 25 shots. Expect the Bucks to write the check and keep him.
The Nuggets want to run it back with as many players who were part of this year's title run as they possibly can. Brown will have to turn down $5 million or more next season to make that happen, since the Nuggets can't offer him anything over $7.8 million for the coming season. Denver is hoping Brown bets on himself here.
The Heat would not have made the NBA Finals this past season without these two players, both of whom were undrafted and became big successes as part of Miami's development program. They're in line for big paydays; probably $10 million or more awaits each starting this coming season. Miami might have to make a tough choice.
Everyone knows the common complaint about Westbrook: He's not a great 3-point shooter. But he never has been, yet is still part of the NBA's 75th anniversary team, is great with young players, is a nine-time All-Star, a two-time scoring champion and a three-time assist champion. There's one thing missing on his resume and he will bring value to a contender.
If teams want centers, the list starts with these guys. Lopez is 35 but had his best scoring season in six years, and that should make the Bucks want to keep him around. Poeltl is intriguing, a good finisher, has been a good rim protector more often than not, and might be entering his best years.
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