1 The best player in the world is choosing where he wants to spend the next phase of his career, which really involves a bunch of smaller questions: Where will his family be most comfortable? What style of basketball does he want to play? What kind of teammates does he want? We don’t exactly know what James’ priorities are, and his decision could alter the landscape of the league, especially if he goes West and makes the East even weaker. 2 The back-to-back Finals MVP will technically be a free agent, but there’s little mystery here. Durant has said on multiple occasions that he intends to re-sign with the champs. The only question is how long the deal will be. 3 George’s year with the Oklahoma City Thunder ended in a first-round exit, and yet he doesn’t appear to have ruled out a return. He has been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers for years now — will he be willing to go there without the assurance that another superstar is coming with him this summer? It is difficult to disentangle his free agency from LeBron’s. 4 Gordon, a 22-year-old restricted free agent, told ESPN’s Ian Begley that he wants a maximum contract and he’d like to finalize one with the Orlando Magic quickly. It is unclear, however, if the Magic want to pay him more than $146 million over five years. Gordon can theoretically defend all five positions, has improved his 3-point shot and is one of the league’s best athletes, but does Orlando think he fits with Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba long-term? 5 I almost had Parker ranked five spots lower — it’s hard to know what to do with a player like this. While Gordon has some unanswered questions about his role and how he’d ideally play on a winning team, Parker has a long injury history, fit issues with his current team and, most worryingly, severe defensive issues to overcome. At the same time, he is still 23, can get buckets and has plenty of upside. 6 Young has always been a versatile player and hard worker, and it’s convenient that teams will have the memory of him putting the clamps on Kevin Love (and spending some time guarding James) in the first round of the playoffs relatively fresh in their memories. He has his limitations — there isn’t that much stretch to his game and he struggles from the free throw line — but he’s an interesting midlevel exception candidate if the Pacers don’t bring him back. 7 Mbah a Moute was the best value signing in the NBA last summer, and you have to wonder if he will look for a raise or simply return to the Houston Rockets, where he fit in so well. It is a shame that a shoulder injury ruined his postseason, but that shouldn’t detract from the impact he made in the regular season. Every team can use an elite, multipositional defender like him, and he showed in Houston that he can put the ball on the floor and make plays if the floor is spaced well. 8 Gay was a role player for San Antonio, but his 2017-18 season has to be seen as a success in the context of his return from a torn Achilles. He turned down an $8.8 million player option with the Spurs, and now he has to decide whether to look for another opportunity to play with a contender or try to secure the best multi-year deal he can find. 9 The stretch forward is not a household name, but there will be good teams trying to sign him because of his 3-point shooting and tough defense. Bjelica shot a career-high 41.5 percent from deep last season, which is obviously appealing. The problem is that he has battled injuries and inconsistency over his entire Wolves tenure, and the front office might not be comfortable matching a lucrative offer sheet considering how much it is going to cost to retain Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns down the road. 10 One of the smart, under-the-radar signings of the Stan Van Gundy era, Tolliver is a the kind of guy who can hold a lineup together. He shot 43.6 percent from deep last season, and it shouldn’t be surprising if a team like Houston or Golden State nabs him on the cheap and earns praise from basketball nerds everywhere. 11 Ilyasova isn’t the stretchiest stretch 4, but he makes up for it with his rebounding, charge-taking and general effort. Philadelphia has grand plans this summer, but it should try to retain him if possible — Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid need all the floor-spacers they can get. 12 Bertans’ main value is a floor spacer, but the Spurs like him because he is also a natural fit in their system. He moves without the ball like a much smaller player, and I’m curious how he would fare if he was given a bigger role than he’s had in his first two years in the NBA. He’s a restricted free agent, though, so San Antonio controls whether or not we’ll get to see that. 13 Another Spurs restricted free agent, Anderson is somewhat of an advanced stats darling despite the fact he has never averaged more than one 3-point attempt per game. The crafty forward has drastically improved his midrange shooting and his finishing at the rim over the past few years, and he’s a capable rebounder and excellent passer. His unconventional style, however, makes him a weird fit for a lot of teams, especially those who want to push the pace and shoot a ton of 3s. 14 Scott is coming off his most efficient season, in which he shot 56.3 percent from midrange and 40.5 percent from 3-point range. He doesn’t bring much to the table other than the shooting, but the shooting is nice. 15 Green remained inconsistent with the Cavaliers, but posted a career-high 58.7 percent true shooting percentage and had his moments in the playoffs.

Source link