NBA free agency will not arrive for four-plus months, but there are still situations that revolve around the San Antonio Spurs and other teams.
On July 1, free agency will open for the San Antonio Spurs and the other 29 NBA teams. It’s one of the league’s most active days of the year, along with the trade deadline, and kicks off a flurry of moves. Players like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Gordon Hayward have switched teams in free agency, in recent years.
Four-plus months remain before free agency hits, but that does not mean the rumor mill stays quiet. If anything, it will continue to load up on potential transactions for the summer of 2018.
With the lull before the Spurs return to the court, let’s look at the NBA’s latest free-agent rumors and if they impact the Silver and Black:
Who will sign LeBron James?
Let’s get this out of the way first. LeBron James is the biggest name that will hit the market this summer, and will make “The Decision 3.0.” 2010 was the Miami Heat; 2014 was the Cleveland Cavaliers; what about 2018? It’s a once-every-four-years thing, but may be the last time James hits free agency, given he’s 33 years old, unless there’s another one-year pact in place.
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A handful of teams will be on James, including the Spurs, as ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes noted earlier this month (h/t Bleacher Report). That’s along with the Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and maybe the Golden State Warriors, barring a trade of one of their elite players.
Who knows if LeBron will even listen to San Antonio? They will not have the cap space to sign him, even if Danny Green and Rudy Gay opt out. It also means the departure of Tony Parker, unless he takes a minimum salary to return. Factor in a trade of Pau Gasol‘s $16 million salary and a potential inclusion of a first-round pick in any deal, and it creates a complicated road for the Spurs to even stand a chance.
This may already be the story of the offseason for the Spurs. Something must transpire before the thought of James even playing in the Alamo City, however.
Next: Will the Magic keep Gordon?
Will the Orlando Magic retain Aaron Gordon?
In his fourth NBA season, Aaron Gordon continues to develop into a promising, young power forward. He rose from a part-time role in Year 1 to a player that averages 18 points and 8 rebounds per game, along with a steady shot from behind the arc. At age 22, this seems like a player the Orlando Magic would want to build around.
Well, Gordon may not remain in Orlando after the 2017-18 season ends. According to Sean Denevey of Sporting News, the Indiana Pacers have interest in the Arizona product, as they “will be a player” in the restricted free-agent market. That means the Magic can just match any offer sheet, right? While that’s the case, they “quietly” shopped him before the trade deadline.
A contract for Gordon could be too rich for Orlando, who will potentially reenter another rebuild mode. If it’s $100 million over four years, will this franchise choose to pay him and keep a building block? If not, there’s the risk of losing him for nothing, pending a sign-and-trade between the Magic and whoever makes the offer sheet.
This only impacts the San Antonio Spurs if Gordon heads West. Do not expect it to be the Alamo City. Although a frontcourt of the 2014 first-round pick and LaMarcus Aldridge would ooze potential. Keep an eye on what the Magic do with one of, arguably, their best players.
Next: Paul George and the Lakers
Paul George-to-the-Lakers is the talk that will never end
For the past 12-24 months, Paul George and the Los Angeles Lakers have been mentioned as often as anything in the NBA. It’s the speculation that will never end, apparently, even after the Indiana Pacers sent him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in June.
While no new George-Lakers rumors developed since the All-Star Break, it does not mean the chatter of this connection will go away. In fact, Laker fans chanted this at Thunder star Russell Westbrook, at All-Star Media Day, according to USA Today:
Paul George is about three booths down from Russell Westbrook. When PG comes in, a “We want Paul” chant starts:Westbrook: “That’s out! Paul ain’t going nowhere. It’s over for that.” pic.twitter.com/mveYpo9u3D
— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) February 17, 2018
Before the Thunder trade, it felt inevitable that George would go to Oklahoma City. Now that he plays with Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Steven Adams and a talented supporting cast, will it be enough for him to accept a lucrative multi-year offer to stay?
With George, the Thunder are 33-26 and at No. 5 in the Western Conference. It’s not Houston Rockets or Golden State Warriors-esque by any means, but one of the best situations the Fresno State product will find when he hits free agency.
As for the San Antonio Spurs, if George stays in OKC, it keeps a three-headed challenge for position in the Western Conference. Given how this team has gelled since the start of 2018, it may be difficult to get by them in 2019, especially with the Spurs’ offensive struggles.
Next: DeAndre Jordan's status
DeAndre Jordan’s impending free agency
If LeBron James returns to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it takes the potential shock value out of free agency. The same goes for DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the small chance Chris Paul leaves the Houston Rockets.
Outside of these top players, there’s DeAndre Jordan, who seemed to be part of the Los Angeles Clippers’ activity at the trade deadline. Blake Griffin was sent to the Detroit Pistons, while the San Antonio Spurs were interested in one of the pieces that arrived in this transaction: Avery Bradley. No Jordan trade guaranteed him to stay in Los Angeles for the final two months of the season, before the likely use of his opt-out clause to hit free agency in July.
The market for the long-time Clipper center’s will take time to develop, but there’s a potential hint at what he may look for. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Jordan’s decision will depend more on where he wants to play than money. So, if a team with max cap room makes a contract offer of this kind, there’s no guarantee he will take it and be a rim protector for a subpar team.
If “DJ” wants to join a contender, then the situation gets interesting. The Cavaliers will near $300 million on the books if LeBron James re-signs, so that’s out the window. The Boston Celtics have Al Horford, and may not consider Jordan an upgrade for the price and potential hassle of clearing room. Most top-tier teams in the West do not make sense either, including the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves. However, if the Houston Rockets do not retain Clint Capela, will it mean Chris Paul pushes for his former “Lob City” teammate to reunite?
Jordan’s free-agent status will arguably be the most ambiguous of the offseason, and one that may develop before July 1 hits.