It’s already been a wild NBA offseason, with two All-NBA-caliber players changing squads and plenty of rumblings about plate-shifting moves in the offing. To get set for the official start of the NBA’s annual version of “Supermarket Sweep,” we convened for this week’s roundtable: What move do you most want to see after the NBA’s 2017 free-agent season opens on Saturday?
Here are our picks. Let’s hear yours in the comments.
The Celtics to the Fireworks Factory
It’s been three years since Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck predicted offseason fireworks … just before the organization’s only free-agent signing was Evan Turner. Every year since, he suggests they were this close to landing one or two stars who would make them a contender.
There were two summers of Kevin Love, a DeMarcus Cousins discussion that would never die, and Tom Brady flying in for a Hamptons meeting with Kevin Durant. Whether through rumor or reality, Celtics fans have been built up to believe everyone from Russell Westbrook to Carmelo Anthony could walk through that door, and the owner has only fueled the fire.
In between, general manager Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens helped Isaiah Thomas turn into an All-Star, added Al Horford and retooled a roster that reached the Eastern Conference finals. And even that felt like somewhat of a letdown, because what if Durant had chosen Boston?!
Just last week, the lead-up to an NBA draft in which Boston owned the No. 1 overall pick was overshadowed by talk of the Celtics trading for All-Star forwards Jimmy Butler or Paul George, so moving down in the draft and selecting Jayson Tatum at No. 3 elicited some disappointment from fans.
The Celtics have more assets than anyone: cap space, draft picks, young talent, you name it. But when those pieces are constantly brought up in trade talks for bigger names, and the team builds advertising campaigns around the chase for Banner 18, the fact that the front office’s rebuild resulted in a conference finals five years after the last one is eclipsed by those what ifs.
This summer, we’ve known Ainge’s plan for a week before it goes into action: Sign Gordon Hayward into cap space, trade for George, and cue the fireworks, because BANNER 18 BABY! Would I like to see four All-Stars in Boston because I live a short drive from TD Garden? You bet. Mostly, though, I just want the Hayward-George 2018 campaign to work so I don’t have to hear someone say at another Fourth of July barbecue, “Hey, I heard the Celtics are trading for Anthony Davis.” — Ben Rohrbach
Andre Iguodala to Any Team But the Warriors
The Golden State Warriors’ romp through the 2017 playoffs has changed the face of competition in the NBA. While overwhelming title favorites are certainly not new to the league, a squad that seems so far ahead of the field (including the genuinely terrific Cleveland Cavaliers) is something altogether different. The Warriors haven’t exactly limited the NBA’s popularity — the enthusiasm surrounding this offseason’s possible star moves is proof enough — but it might be nice to feel more genuine doubt over the identity of next June’s champion. At the very least, it would be nice if the postseason felt as exciting as the week before free agency.
The Warriors will enter next season as championship favorites no matter what happens in free agency, because they’ll still have four All-NBA talents in their primes on the same team. But losing Andre Iguodala would at least open up some gaps in the armor. Over the last three seasons, the 33-year-old wing has been the second biggest force (behind Draymond Green) driving Golden State’s peerless versatility at both ends. His skills as a defender, facilitator and acceptable outside shooter have inspired the two best lineups in the NBA over that time — the original Death Lineup and the relatively fresh Hamptons Five group that proved so unbeatable over this postseason. There are more important players on the Warriors, but Iguodala is responsible for many of the key ideas behind the team. They’re less distinctively great when he’s off the court.
Take him off the team and it suddenly becomes much easier to match up with Golden State. The team’s complicated cap situation means that it would be very difficult to add an adequate replacement, even with a glaring hole for any veterans seeking a championship ring. If the Warriors have to play a traditional big man, they get a lot easier to guard and stretch defensively. Anyone who saw Zaza Pachulia’s struggles against the Cavs throughout the last few games of the NBA Finals knows how these lineups could struggle. The fluidity that makes the Warriors so dangerous simply would not be present to the same degree.
The presence of Kevin Durant is enough to guard against any calamities; it is very difficult to imagine the Warriors not being fine. But their closest rivals need some room to maneuver, and the loss of Iguodala is the best way to create it. — Eric Freeman
J.J. Redick to the 76ers
Redick just turned 33, he’s entering his 12th season, and he hasn’t made it past the second round of the playoffs since the spring of 2010. If indeed he’s intent on following longtime backcourt partner Chris Paul out the door of Staples Center, as was reported Wednesday, it would make some sense for him to look to join a contender that might give him a better shot at the O’Brien Trophy than the post-CP3 Clips figure to provide.
On the flip side, though, Redick’s never truly cashed in. The biggest contract he’s ever inked was a four-year, $27 million deal in the sign-and-trade that sent him to the Clips in the summer of 2013, and the most he’s ever made in a season was the $7.4 million he earned in LA last year. Entering free agency as the top unrestricted shooting guard on a post-new-TV-money market, Redick’s poised to score a very big deal somewhere — “a likely price tag of $16 million annually,” Bobby Marks of The Vertical suggested last month, while Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times indicated the former Duke star might be looking for between $18 million and $20 million per year.
So we need a team that’s got gobs of cap space, that’s desperate for shooting, that might benefit greatly from the vaunted Veteran Leadership and Professionalism that a respected hand like Redick brings to the locker room, and that might also be ready to take a meaningful step on the path from Tantalizing Collection of Theoretical Assets to Real and True NBA Team.
Hmm? What’s that?
The 76ers ranked seventh in the NBA in 3-pointers attempted per game last year and 10th in makes. Their accuracy left much to be desired, though, as they canned just 34 percent of their long balls, 25th among 30 NBA teams. The highest-volume 3-point shooter on the team, small forward Robert Covington, made just one-third of his attempts last year. Among returning Sixers who played more than 10 games, only Nik Stauskas and Joel Embiid shot better than league-average from beyond the arc.
Enter Redick. The Sixers have reportedly expressed interest in the veteran sniper, who shot 44 percent from deep during his time in LA, has finished among the NBA’s five most accurate long-range bombers in each of the last three seasons, and led the league with a blistering 47.5 percent hit rate two years ago.
He’s a shooter opposing defenses can’t afford to lose, a lethal marksman who drilled nearly 45 percent of his catch-and-shoot triples, according to NBA.com’s SportVU tracking data, and ranked in the 92nd percentile in points produced on spot-up shots, according to Synergy Sports Technology’s game-charting. He’s nearly as deadly on the break, generating 1.3 points per possession as a trailer in transition who forces defenders into difficult decisions — do we fan out to the wings and risk giving up a layup, or do we race to the paint and leave one of the most accurate shooters ever wide open?
Redick’s presence would give 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons, 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and Rookie of the Year finalist Dario Saric much more room to break down defenses and make plays, and bigs like Embiid and Jahlil Okafor more space to finish on the interior. And if Embiid and Simmons are healthy, and Fultz is the genuine article as a three-level scorer on and off the ball, Redick could see nearly as many clean open looks in Philly as he did running with CP3, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in LA. He’s no lockdown artist, but he’s a smart and experienced team defender who would help coach Brett Brown’s ongoing efforts to solidify the Sixers’ perimeter defense.
Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo might prefer keeping his powder dry for future use rather than paying big multi-year money to a player who doesn’t neatly fit with his team’s timeline for competing, and whose presence could divert playing time from potential pieces like Stauskas, promising second-year French wing Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and 2016 first-round draft-and-stash Furkan Korkmaz. But depending on what decisions Colangelo makes on offering extensions to Embiid, Covington and Stauskas, and with non- or partially guaranteed deals like those for Gerald Henderson, Richaun Holmes and T.J. McConnell, Philly could have enough money to burn to make Redick think hard about taking a shorter-term offer.
If the numbers add up, Colangelo should think about taking that shot. The Sixers are still a ways away from contending; Redick won’t get them there. He would expedite their journey to becoming consistently competitive, though, and would aid the development of players who will most likely dictate Philly’s future, in ways big and small. — Dan Devine
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