As we inch closer to free agency on July 1, players will line up their visits with potential suitors. Who’s interested, what’s the pitch and how does the acquisition fit the roster? Among the top targets, Kyle Lowry could help form another powerhouse in the Western Conference.
Every year, players exercise their influence on roster decisions. Some choose to pick up the phone and recruit others to join a team looking to add assets. The league’s biggest stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant have switched jerseys for competitive advantages.
Last year, Durant’s free-agent decision changed the league. The Golden State Warriors went from blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals to bombarding the Cleveland Cavaliers with offensive firepower in a 4-1 series victory for the franchise’s second title in three years.
When looking back on the 2017 free-agent frenzy, what signing will we look back on as the transaction with the most impact? Where will the prominent names sign over the next few weeks?
Jimmy Butler Recruiting Kyle Lowry
Jimmy Butler gave out his direct contact number during the Minnesota Timberwolves introductory press conference, but he’s also making outgoing calls to Lowry, per Mitch Lawrence on Sirius XM (h/t Slamonline.com reporter Ryne Nelson)
According to Lawrence, Butler attempted to lure Lowry to the Chicago Bulls before the draft-day trade that sent him to Minnesota. The free-agent guard notched single-season career highs in three-point percentage (41 percent) and points per game (22.4).
Rubio showed improvement in his scoring ability toward the end of the previous season, but Lowry would be a clear upgrade at the position in generating offense. During the 2016-17 campaign, he averaged seven assists per contest to go along with his improved shooting efficiency.
With Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins on rookie contracts, the Timberwolves should have enough to offer Lowry an attractive deal.
Prediction: Kyle Lowry signs with the Minnesota Timberwolves
Rudy Gay Landing in Oklahoma City?
Earlier in the offseason, Rudy Gay left his options wide open for free agency, but the Sacramento Kings have clearly gone for the complete rebuild with young assets likely to play heavy minutes going forward.
At 30 years old, it’s time for Gay to move onto greener pastures with a chance to compete in the postseason for the first time since his 2011-12 stint with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Gay doesn’t have a single postseason series victory on his resume. For a player who can still provide 20 points per game and score on all three levels, it’s time to put a much-needed skill set to use on a contender.
According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Oklahoma City Thunder have shown interest in signing the 11th-year veteran:
The Thunder hoped Victor Oladipo would help Russell Westbrook with the scoring burden, but his point average slightly dipped compared to his last two seasons with the Orlando Magic. Gay could immediately put 20 points on the scoreboard as a spark on the offensive end.
In today’s NBA, a team can’t have too many scorers. Clubs will line up for Gay’s offensive prowess and veteran presence, but the Thunder will ink him in July.
Prediction: Rudy Gay signs with the Oklahoma City Thunder
Jrue Holiday Will Give New Orleans Pelicans First Shot
The New Orleans Pelicans traded for DeMarcus Cousins at the 2016-17 trade deadline in February, which significantly strengthened the frontcourt.
Anthony Davis and Cousins can score away from the paint, the latter nearly doubled the number of three-pointers made compared to his 2015-16 campaign. Nonetheless, the Pelicans need a floor general to distribute and feed the ball to the frontcourt All-Stars.
According to Wojnarowski, Jrue Holiday plans to meet with Pelicans brass about a deal after free agency begins. The 27-year-old guard averaged 7.3 assists per contest and should draw interest from multiple suitors on the market. According to Sporting News writer Sean Deveney, an aggressive Denver Nuggets front office will pursue the talented guard.
New Orleans will be desperate to keep and acquire backcourt talent. Expect the front office to overpay to retain Holiday. The Pelicans can offer a five-year deal.
Prediction: Jrue Holiday signs with the New Orleans Pelicans
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