In the midst of trade season and with free agency fast approaching, speculation surrounding free agent landing spots are growing louder by the day. Names such as Lebron James, Paul George, Gordon Hayward and Chris Paul have dominated headlines since the off-season began, which has taken some shine away from a few 'under the radar' free agents that could heavily impact the league and play factor to championship calibre teams.
1. Kyle Lowry
As Kyle Lowry approaches free agency, there is clearly only one thing on his mind.
"A ring. Nothing else," he said, per TSN's Josh Lewenberg. "I just want a ring.”
Lowry is 31 years of age. He played the best basketball of his career last season averaging a career high 22.4 points and 7 assists in 60 games for the Toronto Raptors and has also made 3 consecutive all star appearances.
Lowry is expected to opt out of his contract and officially become a free agent on July 1st. The most crucial question is whether or not he will decide to stay in Toronto with his good pal Demar Derozan and try to figure out a way to succeed the Goliath that is Cleveland? OR will we see him sacrifice his home in Toronto for an opportunity to pursue a ring somewhere else?
Upon being asked this question, Kyle responded “I think I can do it anywhere I play.”
From this it can be seen that Lowry’s mindset may ultimately end up in his departure from the Raptors.
Toronto can offer him the five-year 'super max deal' worth in excess of $200 million. The most any competitor can propose is a four-year pact at close to $153 million.
Will the money be enough to make him stay? Or will he take his talents to a team like the San Antonio Spurs and try to chase the one thing on every NBA player’s mind?
At this point it is safe to say that Kyle has a completely open mindset and has the potential to end up on any team that offers him a chance to contend for the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy.
It all boils down to whether or not Lowry will choose the money and his home, or pursue his dream of a ring.... Whatever happens, only time will tell!
2. Zach Randolph
In his 16 year NBA career, it is clear that Zach Randolph has established himself as one of the grittiest players in the league. Last season the veteran took a step back and came off the bench, providing some solid minutes for the Grizzlies second unit. In accepting this role he played exceptionally well and showed that he still has got what it takes to compete at an elite level, even though he’s approaching his 17th season in the NBA.
Randolph will be a perfect role player for any team that he decides to sign with. His knowledge and passion for the game, as well as his talent and dedication, will allow him to merge perfectly on any team. His well rounded offensive game and his tenacious ability on defense will be highly regarded by any team in the market for a big man.
There has been a few teams rumoured to have genuine interest in Z-Bo. Sources say that the Miami Heat are one of the teams that have him in their sights.
Heat are lacking in the front court after the departure of PF Chris Bosh and while Randolph more than likely won't be filling the void as the teams starting power forward, he is still one of the league’s more effective low-post scorers and can give a team offensive spark and defensive production off the bench.
The Boston Celtics are another potential fit for the talents of a player of Z-Bo’s stature. It has been years since the Celtics had a big that fights on the boards like Randolph, and he could bully players in the paint better than anyone else on the team currently. Randolph and Horford could feed off each other extremely well. Z-Bo could snag the boards and bring the hustle, while Horford brings the touch and spreads the floor.
Whether or not Z-Bo decides to stay or go, there is no denying that his talents and IQ would be beneficial for any team.
3. Paul Millsap
Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; the new general manager Travis Schlenk has said that retaining Millsap remains a priority. However, he acknowledged that Millsap may receive better offers elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent. Schlenk went on to quote, “We are going to make Paul our very best offer,” “Will he have better offers? I don’t know. Do we want to keep Paul? Sure.”
He goes onto say that “if you are building a team with all the things I’ve said, Paul checks all those boxes.”
It is clear that Atlanta have every intention of re-signing Millsap. The question remains is will a better offer lead Millsap to another team?
The 4 time all-star has proven himself to be one of the best two-way forwards in the NBA and would be able to bring extensive assistance to any team that he signs with. His 18 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists prove how versatile and well rounded his game is.
A destination that makes sense for both parties would be Houston. Outside of the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, no team takes themselves more seriously as a potential contender than the Rockets. Moving Ariza and Lou Williams in a trade (both very realistic possibilities) would get them in the neighbourhood of having the cap room with which to work as to make a potential offer. Millsap could be that solid offensive player that would be able to provide relief for Harden and help carry some of the load offensively. As well as jetting the rockets straight into title contention.
However, any player looking at signing the last significant contract of his NBA career (almost surely in Millsap’s case), is going to explore all of his options. But the potential for Millsap to contribute to a championship contender is something to be weary of!
Written by Alex Hatzi