The 2018 off season figures to be yet another entertaining affair, with many impact players potentially on the move. Here is a breakdown of the most powerful agents in the NBA once free agency begins July 1st.
1. Rich Paul
Lebron James, Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Cory Joseph,Montrezl Harrell, Nerlons Noel
A close friend and business partner of the King, Rich Paul and his top client can opt out of his current deal with the Cavaliers and transform the league. At 33 and dominant as ever, James immediately elevates any team he chooses to the level of legitimate Finals contender. The rumors and desperate billboards are spreading in cities with aspiring super teams like Philadelphia, Houston, or LA. With Lebron being asked to shoulder a massive load for an uninspiring Cleveland roster, another LeExit may be upon us and Rich Paul will be right in the middle of it.
It shouldn’t be overlooked the 1 year nearly 18 million dollar contract that KCP received from the Lakers last offseason. With their eyes set on the King, overpaying for Pope and establishing a good relationship with Paul could pay off big for Magic Johnson & Co. Pope is a lanky defender that can help a lot of teams, though 18 million for him is absurd.
Among the other secondary players under Rich Paul’s representation, Nerlons Noel is a dissapointing tale. The once promising, versatile big man has taken to eating hot dogs during the game and racking up DNP’s.
2. Aaron Mintz
Paul George, Julius Randle, Trevor Ariza,JJ Reddick, Elfrid Payton, Ed Davis
Many have speculated that Mintz may be spending some time in Los Angeles this summer, as his top client Paul George may want to return to Southern California. George faces a very interesting free agency with the possibility of linking with James on the Lakers or elsewhere, or he could re-up with Oklahoma City. The 28 year old is one of the best wings in the NBA and he figures to be payed like one, but George is worth the price as a two way star.
Another of Mintz’s clients, Julius Randle will have a free agency to keep an eye on. The restricted free agent may be at the mercy of the Laker’s free agency decisions with the Lakers aspiring to improve on last season’s 35-47 finish. Los Angeles must choose whether the former lottery pick is a big part of their future, and Randle is a polarizing young player. The 23 year old Randleat has improved in each of his 4 seasons, but he lacks a true position in the NBA. Randle’s still able to effective as his rebounding, athleticism, and physicality are outstanding.
Reddick is another intriguing free agent as three pointers and creating gravity on the floor are paramount in the modern NBA. Reddick is a nice fit next to Embiid and Simmons, but as with so many other free agents his fate will be impacted by which jersey Lebron is wearing next season.
Lastly, ESPN’s Chris Haynes reported that the Warriors have interest in Trevor Ariza if he would be willing to take less money. Following the disappointing Nick Young signing, Ariza would be a tremendous fit and takes away from the Warriors top challenger out West.
3. Bill Duffy
Aaron Gordon, Zach Lavine, Rajon Rondo, Amir Johnson
Aaron Gordon has an a fascinating restricted free agency ahead of him because the Magic’s new management will have to decide on the 22 year old’s future. The uber-athlete averaged a career high 17.6 points, 8 rebounds while showing flashes of an improved three point shot – a resume that will intrigue both contenders and re-builders. Bill Duffy and Gordon figure to get a lucrative offer sheet from somewhere, and then the Magic will have to decide on whether Gordon is a member of the next great Magic team or not.
After acquiring Lavine in the Jimmy Butler trade, the Bulls chose to play it cautious with Lavine ahead of his restricted free agency. The explosive 22 year old guard was held to 24 games, but the Bulls are believed to be willing to match on any offer for a part of their young core.
Rondo had a good season last year in New Orleans after signing a 1 year deal with the Pelicans. The 31 year old point guard developed a nice chemistry with Anthony Davis and it would make sense for both sides to work out a deal.
4. Leon Rose
Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley,Dwayne Wade
After opting in to the final year of his contract, facilitating a sign and trade, and creating the second best team in the NBA, Chris Paul is going to command a large contract for a 33 year old point guard. Paul was awesome this season and into the playoffs, but injuries have plagued him at inopportune times in his career, such as the end of this year’s Western Conference Finals. Paul’s age and injury concerns aside, the Rockets, Rose and Paul will probably want to run it back with the #1 seed who gave the Warriors a serious run for their money. Paul has indicated that he doesn’t intend to take a pay cut, and I would be terrified of paying CP3 at 38 nearly 50 million dollars a season.
Carmelo Anthony has an Early termination offer for 27 million plus for the next season, an offer Sam Presti, the Thunder, and Stevens Adams would like if he accepts.
Don’t be shocked if Wade joins the King again for another go at a fourth title for those two.
5. Mark Bartelstein
Jabari Parker, Enes Kanter, Ersan Ilyasova, Joe Harris,Zaza Pachulia,Doug McDermott
The Bucks have a decision to make on the restricted free agent Jabari Parker, who has torn his ACL twice in his NBA career. Parker still has the talent that led to his #2 overall selection, but the question is what is the best use of resources to build a team around Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jabari makes sense for teams that have cap space and not enough young talent, because the 22 year old is a proven scorer.
Kanter has an 18.6 million dollar player option for next season and he has been non-committal about his feelings. The 26 year old is a traditional low post big that eats on the offensive glass but gets picked apart defensively, meaning his suitors are more likely to be teams not contending for a championship. Nevertheless, Kanter can give a team quality minutes in the regular season, but he may not get 18 million on the open market.
Ilyasova is an excellent role player and floor spacer and he should have many suitors if he doesn’t want to re-up with the 76ers.
As for Zaza, I think it’s safe to say his Warriors days are coming to an end, as the Warriors can turn to young bigs Jordan Bell , Damian Jones, and impending free agent Kevon Looney at center.