Logan Riely/Getty Images
Some free-agency periods can change the entire power structure of the NBA.
The 2020 class almost certainly isn’t doing that. But one superstar will hit the open market, and several other household names will join him there.
We’ll peek into our crystal ball to predict what awaits three of this offseason’s top free agents.
Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis might need all of a half-second to decline his $28.8 million player option for next season. But it would be a financial move—not an indication of his desire to relocate.
He can maximize his earnings by delaying his commitment, but that doesn’t make his preference any less firm.
In January, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported, “No one within league circles anticipates Davis leaving the Lakers after one season.” Days later, NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin wrote: “I know zero sources around the league who think otherwise.”
If this season resumes, Davis has a chance to contend for an NBA title with LeBron James and the Lakers. Basketball life can’t get much sweeter.
The only item to iron out with the 27-year-old’s free agency is whether he takes a five-year max now or goes the shorter route.
A three-year deal with an option for the third seems imminent, since it keeps pressure on the Purple and Gold and lets Davis rejoin free agency as a 10-year veteran, when he is eligible to receive a larger percentage of the salary cap.
Prediction: Davis signs three-year deal with Lakers.
DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs
There are reasons to think DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs will continue their relationship this summer.
For starters, San Antonio handpicked him to be the centerpiece of the July 2018 swap that sent Kawhi Leonard north of the border. Equally important, DeRozan holds a $27.7 million player option for next season, and it’s hard to imagine him sniffing out a salary that size in a market nearly devoid of win-now shoppers.
That said, there are even more reasons to anticipate he’ll bolt from the Alamo City.
Long the model of consistent excellence, the Spurs are suddenly overdue for a reset. That leaves them with little use for a 30-year-old DeRozan, who clogs the cap and takes developmental minutes and touches away from their young guards.
To an offensively inept club like the Orlando Magic, though, he could seem like a savior. He’s one of only 12 players to average 22 points and five assists, and he’s one of two players in that group—along with reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo—also shooting 50-plus percent (52.6).
Even if DeRozan has to reduce his salary, he might prefer the security of a longer deal.
Prediction: DeRozan signs four-year deal with Magic.
Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC has soared past the most optimistic expectations this season, and Danilo Gallinari played a major part in that success. The 6’10” scoring forward leads the team in triples (3.0 per game) and ranks second in points (19.2).
When healthy, he’s a walking mismatch—too big for smaller defenders, too elusive for slower stoppers. He’s slippery enough off the bounce to create his own shot and lethal enough from long range (career 38.1 percent) to add value as an off-ball sniper.
That’s highly appealing to a win-now shopper like the Miami Heat, who tried getting him at the deadline. He’s probably less important for a franchise still laying the new foundation after losing both Paul George and Russell Westbrook last summer.
If the Thunder play the long game this summer, they’ll probably pursue a path forward that doesn’t involve Gallinari. Look for the Heat to circle back to their potential missing piece, probably on an inflated one-year deal that pays him above market value but keeps their books clean for the summer of 2021.
Prediction: Gallinari signs one-year deal with Heat.