5. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors, Player Option
The definition of the term “Late Bloomer”, should literally be changed to Kyle Lowry. At age 30, Kyle Lowry is playing the best basketball of his entire career. It may sound strange but, Lowry just might be hitting his prime years, in his late 20’s and early 30’s. Toronto’s All-Star guard is currently in the third year of a four-year $48 million dollar contract and, will have a player option this coming summer.
Although it would be very surprising to see Lowry walk, stranger things have happened. Lowry has been very vocal about his contract situation and has stated that he does want to opt out and resign with the Raptors. The biggest questions are just how long and how much? Toronto has a handful of young guards who are hungry to take Lowry’s spot. Canada’s own Cory Joseph left San Antonio and got even better and second-year guard Delon Wright, showed immense flashes of talent last season, with Toronto’s D-League affiliate “Raptors 905” and the NBA Franchise.
Although he probably will not get as big of a contract as DeMar DeRozan got this past offseason, while the Raptors championship window is still open, it makes sense for Toronto to go all in on Lowry, considering he is still playing amazing basketball. Let us not forget, Kyle Lowry is a back to back All-Star and, his bulldog mentality accompanied by the fact that along with DeRozan, he has literally helped turned the Raptors into a legitimate contender, should and will be rewarded.
4. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, Player Option
The Los Angeles Clippers will be in a very interesting spot this coming offseason. Their star duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will most likely both opt out of their current deals and, both will most likely demand max money. Los Angeles General Manager, Dave Wohl and Doc Rivers, Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations will have interesting choices to make. It has been reported throughout the past week that the Clippers, are preparing to offer Paul max money and max term, rightfully so.
Chris Paul is regarded as one of the best point guards in the game and one of the best basketball minds in the game as well. One of the only downsides to signing Paul to a five-year maximum contract is that right now he is 31 and the deal will likely pay him until he is 37. That being said, it remains to be seen how many more “good years” Paul has left in him. Also, the Clippers championship window will only be open for so long.
If Los Angeles eventually fall out of the championship picture during Paul’s five-year deal, they are basically stuck as offloading that type of contract has proven to be a daunting task. Much like Toronto, it would make sense for the Clippers to go all-in on Griffin and Paul as, they are in a “win now” mindset.
3. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers, Player Option
Blake Griffin will also have a player option at the end of the 2016-2017 season. It is expected by many that the 27-year-old will want a five-year maximum cContract. For Los Angeles, singing Griffin to the max would be a smart move. The team is slowly running out of time to win a championship and, with the Golden State Warriors seemingly a super team, they will need all the firepower they can get.
One of the biggest upsides for the Clippers in considering signing Blake to the max is his age. Griffin is only 27 and five years from now, he will be 32. This means, that if the big man can stay healthy, he will most likely be just outside of his prime when the contract ends unlike Chris Paul, who will be closer to 40 when his max deal would end. Blake Griffin staying put in L.A is less of a sure thing than Chris Paul.
It is quite possible that that Griffin’s hunger for a championship could lead him to sign with another team and even, sign with a team in the Eastern Conference. One of the biggest factors for the Clippers in signing Griffin is to sell him on the idea of winning an NBA Championship in L.A. Especially if the team fails to do so this year.
2. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors, Player Option
In the biggest move of the last offseason, Kevin Durant decided not to sign a possible mega-deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder and instead, decided to sign a short term, cheaper deal with the Golden State Warriors. This summer, Kevin Durant will once again be in the free agency spotlight if he decides to opt of his current deal.
If Golden State fails to win a championship this season, it will be very interesting to see where Durant may go. Currently, KD is playing some of the best basketball of his career and, has the power to turn any franchise into an instant contender. The dream scenario in the minds of many would be for Durant to finally win his championship ring, opt out and write all of his wrongs by returning to Oklahoma City. That scenario would be interesting but, seems almost unlikely.
It is more likely that if this year the Warriors do not win the NBA Championship, Durant opts into the second year of his deal. Remember, the “Big 3”, did not become NBA Champions until year 2. If the Warriors do indeed win, then they will really have to work hard to get both Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry re-signed.
He showed this season that he is willing to take a pay cut to win a championship, but, would Kevin Durant be willing to do it again this upcoming summer?
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, Unrestricted Free Agent
Steph Curry is finally going to get paid like a back to back MVP this coming summer but, by who? The Warriors, will have their hands full with re-signing Curry and possibly Durant which, begs the question, could Steph Curry really leave?
The simple answer is no. Speculation has begun to run rampant after Curry said “it [signing with home state Charlotte Hornets] is on my radar” It seems impossible to envision Curry leaving the Bay area anytime soon and signing with an Eastern Conference in the Hornets, would mean that Curry and Charlotte would have to face Cleveland in an earlier Playoff round.
Although a Steph Curry/Charlotte Hornets homecoming would be an interesting situation, Stephen Curry is and will be the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors for years to come which, is why it would be able to say “Curry will re-sign” with confidence.
NBA homecomings are always fun to see but, in the case of Steph Curry, it just would be baffling.
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