No Strings Attached: The top NBA free agents available this summer
The season of basketball is over, but the season of business is just about to begin. July 1 will mark the beginning of free agency, when a number of contracts of top NBA players will expire and there will be a several restricted or unrestricted free agents on the market. For unrestricted free agents, there are no strings attached, and they can pursue their next move however they wish. Restricted free agents can sign offer sheets, but their own teams can match to keep them ensnared a little longer.
How many of these players will be wearing different NBA jerseys in a few months?
Here is my look at the top free agents this summer, where I also predict the chances of them changing teams this offseason:
1. LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Four years ago, he shocked the world with a very public “decision” to leave Cleveland for Miami. Last year, he shocked the world again, when he announced “I’m Coming Home!” to return to Cleveland. What happens now? LeBron has completed a successful return season with the Cavaliers as he carried an injury-riddled team to the Finals. But once again, he has opted out of his contract and will be a free agent with a player option.
Will LeBron actually leave Cleveland again? Most signs point towards ‘no’, and the belief is that LeBron will wait and see how the Cavs retool this summer before signing his own extension with them. But after his last two dramatic decisions, history has taught us never to be a 100 percent sure about King James again. LeBron is one of the few players in the league who dictates his own terms entirely, choosing teams instead of letting teams ever choose him.
Chances of departure: 10 percent.
2. Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
The reigning ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ is an unrestricted free agent this summer and you can be sure that nearly every team with cap space, will be throwing their money with hopes to ensnare his talents. Leonard is a rare superstar who can lead a team to success without any superstar aura, and his personality has been a perfect fit for the Spurs so far. He’s still only 24 and has a lot of years of basketball left in him.
It is highly unlikely that Leonard leaves the Spurs now. He may feign some interest to see his market worth, but eventually, I think he’s happy and comfortable in San Antonio. The Spurs will do everything in their power to keep him in their colours and build around the former Finals MVP.
Chances of departure: 5 percent.