Free agency is arguably the second-most exciting part of the NBA (aside from the playoffs). Free agency is all about teams boosting their roster in order to give them the best chance of winning the next season. Huge free agency moves such as Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers or LeBron signing with the Lakers have changed the course of history in the NBA.
This free agency class doesn’t have LeBron or Kawhi highlighting it, but there are a lot of players out there that teams would love to have to improve their team. Here is the player each team needs to pursue (Players to be re-signed are not included)
1. Atlanta Hawks
- Evan Fournier
Evan Fournier would be a great addition to the hopeful 2021 contenders. They lack wing depth with their backup two and three being DeAndre Bembry and the 43-year-old Vince Carter. Signing Evan Fournier would give them a huge boost for depth there.
Evan Fournier does have a $17 Million Player Option that he could exercise but if the Atlanta Hawks, who have the most money to spend in the upcoming offseason, can give him a better offer, he might just bite on it. He’d join Trae Young in the backcourt and Kevin Huerter would become the sixth man for them. Evan Fournier would complete this team and they’d become legit contenders for next season.
2. Boston Celtics
- Javale Mcgee
The Boston Celtics disappointed at the trade deadline after failing to get a Center. They essentially have wasted their season because they’re just one player short from being true contenders. Signing Javale Mcgee would give them that Center that they’ve been missing. Javale Mcgee is not a great offensive player, but he doesn’t need to be.
Between Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Jayson Tatum, they have plenty of offensive fire-power. What they don’t have is an interior presence on defense. Daniel Theis is a great player, but he is only 6’8. He’d be a great sixth man, but not a starting Center. Javale Mcgee (barring a trade) would make this team a real contender for next season.
3. Brooklyn Nets
- Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker has a player option for $6.5 Million next year, but the Nets could try offering their full mid-level exception for him. Jabari Parker was having a solid season before injuries kicked in again. Parker is one of the most injury-prone players in the NBA, but since the Nets have players like Taurean Prince and Kevin Durant who are both capable of playing the four, signing Jabari Parker is a low-risk, high-reward signing.
If Jabari Parker can even play 60 games, they’d have a tremendously deep team with Jarrett Allen/DeAndre Jordan and Prince coming off their bench. If he succumbs to his injuries again, then no harm is really done and Taurean Prince will continue to play the four. Jabari Parker would make them better, though, when he’d play and is a player they should make a target.
4. Charlotte Hornets
- Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside is coming off a fantastic season averaging 16.3 points and 3.1 blocks per game. His stellar play has made him one of the top free agents of this class and the Hornets have money to spend. They’re looking to surround their rising star, Devonte Graham, with as much talent as possible in order to not repeat the same mistake they made with Kemba Walker. Having Hassan Whiteside replace Cody Zeller would be a major upgrade that could elevate them to the playoffs, a mark they are surprisingly close to this season.
5. Chicago Bulls
- Dario Saric
The Bulls are looking for a replacement for their current Power Forward, Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen and Dario Saric are very similar players, but Lauri Markkanen has loads of trade value that they can use for more assets. The Bulls need to trade Lauri Markkanen to find some new assets. Dario Saric may not even start for the Bulls but he’d be a lot of help for a bench.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
- Justin Holiday
Justin Holiday is a backup guard for the Indiana Pacers and is coming off a very consistent season. He’s shooting 42.4% from deep and would be a great help to the Cavaliers who lack backcourt depth. The Cavaliers currently have Matthew Deladova and Dante Exum as their backup backcourt. Justin Holiday would play a big role off the bench with Kevin Porter Jr to make one of the best benches in the league with a team with playoff aspirations next year.
7. Dallas Mavericks
- Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard is coming off a career-saving season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s playing on a minimum contract right now but will be able to get paid a bit more this coming offseason. Now for any of you who play 2K, Howard will not actually be expecting a $20 million contract. Dwight Howard will likely want a mid-level deal around $8.75 Million.
Dwight Howard is 34 so it’s unlikely he’ll get another big contract. If Dwight Howard would join the Mavericks, they’d become a much better team. They need a better interior presence since Dwight Powell tore his Achilles. Howard could replace him as their starting Center as the interior defender they desperately need.
8. Denver Nuggets
- Bobby Portis
Bobby Portis is currently on the Knicks where he’s having a solid season off the bench, but the Knicks are likely to decline his Team Option since they’re looking to get as much money as possible. If this is the scenario, the Nuggets should jump on him. Their current starting Power Forward, Paul Millsap, is on an expiring deal and at 35, is not the ideal starter anymore. Bobby Portis could come in as their new, younger starter to help the Nuggets contend.
9. Detroit Pistons
- Fred VanVleet
The Detroit Pistons are in full-on tank mode. The majority of people who follow the Pistons believe that they are going to pursue LaMelo Ball or another Point Guard in the draft. They should not do this, though. Fred VanVleet will be unrestricted and the Pistons have loads of money to spend on the 26-year-old.
They could then draft a James Wiseman or a Deni Avdija in the draft to kill two birds with one stone. Fred VanVleet would give this team some valuable perimeter defense and some much-needed three-point shooting from their Point Guard. Fred VanVleet could be a key piece in making this franchise an #8-seed contender like they were in 2019.
10. Golden State Warriors
- Brandon Knight
The Warriors have two holes that they must fill to make a return next season: a Center and a backup Point Guard. Since they’re virtually guaranteed a top-five pick in the draft, it’s more than likely they’ll get James Wiseman, or at worst, Onyeka Okongwu. This means that they really only have one hole to fill in free agency.
Despite what many of you have heard, Brandon Knight was actually really looking really good in Detroit, averaging 11.6 points and 4.3 assists. It was only a nine-game sample size but the Warriors need an inexpensive backup Point Guard and Brandon Knight would fill the role well.
11. Houston Rockets
- Meyers Leonard
The Rockets took a huge gamble this year with their five-and-out system where they had the 6’5 PJ Tucker playing Center. It’s safe to say after losing four of their last five, two of which to the Knicks and Hornets, that their small-ball system isn’t a winning one. They need a big who can grab a rebound every now and then, but one that can also stretch the floor.
Meyers Leonard is a great shooter, currently starting for the Heat, who is worth mid-level money and would love to be a starting Center on a contending team.
12. Indiana Pacers
- John Henson
The Pacers are in desperate need of someone who can come in when Sabonis or Turner need a rest. John Henson, although he’s not that impressive, has been quite consistent in his backup role in Detroit.
John Henson can play both the four and five so he could come in for both of them and allow them to rest. The Pacers don’t have much money and they really need to give their bench a boost. John Henson is their guy.
13. Los Angeles Clippers
- Christian Wood
Christian Wood was in the midst of a breakout season. He proved himself as a dunking fiasco who is also an impressive floor-spacer. The Clippers are going to need a replacement Power Forward for Marcus Morris Sr who will likely be leaving to chase some more money. Christain Wood is a young, promising Forward who would love to play for a championship team.
14. Los Angeles Lakers
- Jerami Grant
The Los Angeles Lakers are already one of the best teams in the NBA, but they have a hole at Small Forward. LeBron plays Point Guard while Davis and Mcgee hold down the paint.
JeramiGrant would be a bit big for a Small Forward, but his 40% shooting from deep and impressive defense would allow him to easily. Grant would be a great addition on a mid-level exception to really make the Lakers a great team.
15. Memphis Grizzlies
- Marcus Morris Sr
Marcus Morris is coming off of his best season yet. At 30, he is averaging 17.4 points per game 43.3% from the field and 41% from deep. He is a silent monster that would be a huge help to the growing Grizzlies. Memphis has some money to spend and they are trying to become contenders with Morant and Valanciunas.
16. Miami Heat
- Danilo Gallinari
The Miami Heat have one of the most exciting teams in the NBA. Lead by Jimmy Butler, their young core of Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, and Tyler Herro all have all-star potential and have one of the best leaders on their team.
Jimmy Butler and the Heat currently hold the #4-seed in the East and are one piece away from really being a force. They have Meyers Leonard as their Power Forward and although he’s a good player, Danilo Gallinari is a clear upgrade and would push the Heat to be Eastern Conference contenders.
17. Milwaukee Bucks
- Langston Galloway
Langston Galloway is having his best season since his rookie campaign. He is averaging 10.3 points per game on 39.9% shooting from deep. Galloway is a true talent that would fit Milwaukee’s system perfectly. He is a great shooter who can space the floor for Giannis Antetokounmpo to drive.
That’s all you need to do on the Bucks. Langston Galloway would just sit in the corner and shoot for the Bucks as a great complimentary player.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves
- Davis Bertans
Davis Bertans was arguably the best three-point shooter this season. On the Wizards he averaged 15.4 points on 42.4% shooting. Davis Bertans has been the sole of Washington’s bench, so imagine what he would do on a team that actually has a shot at the playoffs next year. The Timberwolves have D’Lo and Karl Anthony-Towns already, so they need some floor-spacers to help those two out.
19. New Orleans Pelicans
- Andre Drummond
The Pelicans actually have a lot of money ready for next year. With Ingram and Williamson ready to become superstars, the one thing they are lacking is a true Center to grab their boards. Andre Drummond is the perfect choice because their Power Forward is 6’6. Drummond can grab rebounds without any help and will thrive with the New Orleans Pelicans.
20. New York Knicks
- Carmelo Anthony
It was extremely difficult to find a player for the Knicks since they are the only franchise with absolutely zero direction right now. Carmelo Anthony has actually said he plans to retire in Portland but they may have just been in the buzz of the moment.
The Knicks should re-sign Melo to get some butts in seats for nostalgic purposes because it would be the only thing they’d have going for them next season.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder
- Serge Ibaka
Nothing like a reunion right? Serge Ibaka is coming off a career-high season in scoring with 16 points per game on 51.8% shooting and 39.8% from deep. The Thunder are going to have their current Power Forward, Danilo Gallinari, coming off the books this offseason and what better replacement than their former Power Forward.
Serge Ibaka is a massively better defender than Danilo Gallinari and rivals Danilo Gallinari’s offensive skills as well. The Thunder are going to be looking to make the playoffs again and Ibaka is the way to go.
22. Orlando Magic
- Joe Harris
The Magic have a solid young core they are looking to build with, but their veteran, Evan Fournier, is set to be a possible free agent next season if he declines his player option. If that is the case then Joe Harris would be a wonderful replacement at Shooting Guard.
He’d play the same role only his three-point shot is slightly more consistent at 41.2% as opposed to Evan Fournier’s 40.6%.
23. Philadelphia 76ers
- Markieff Morris
The 76ers have a lot to fix a very little money to spend. Their top need is to improve their shooting, as well as get another good Power Forward as Al Horford continues to regress. Markieff Morris is coming off a rebound season where he is averaging 10.1 points on 38.6% three-point shooting.
While in Detroit, he was shooting 39.7% from deep, but was bought out and is currently coming off the bench for the Lakers. Markieff Morris would provide excellent floor-spacing and is a starting-caliber player if the franchise ever gets fed up with Al Horford.
24. Phoenix Suns
- Paul Millsap
The Suns signed their current Power Forward, Dario Saric, with high hopes that he’d be a serviceable player. Although he’s been okay, it was less than they were hoping for. Paul Millsap is looking for one last contract as he is 35 years old.
He’s developed a three-point shot and has been a glue piece for the Nuggets. The Suns will be in need of a new Power Forward and Paul Millsap would provide physicality and veteran leadership. With his age, it would also allow former lottery pick Cameron Johnson to get some more developmental minutes.
25. Portland Trail Blazers
- Goran Dragic
Yes, the Trail Blazers have Damian Lillard, but one thing that has always killed the Blazers is their lack of depth. They’re trying to win now since Damian Lillard only has a few more years as the all-NBA superstar that he is now.
Goran Dragic’s career is beginning to wind down as he is 34, but he’s still a competent player who is well in the ranks for Sixth Man of the Year. Goran Dragic would be the key backup guard for a team that, although is having a down year, could be an extremely dangerous team in the playoffs.
26. Sacramento Kings
- Montrezl Harrell
The Kings are another team with win-now aspirations that aren’t living up to the height. Signing the frontrunner for the Sixth Man of the Year award could change that.
The Kings desperately need a good backup Power Forward that Montrezl Harrel could play with ease. They could also play him at Center with Marvin Bagley at the four. Montrezl Harrell would get plenty of minutes on the Kings and help make that franchise a team that could make the playoffs in the West.
27. San Antonio Spurs
- Willie Cauley-Stein
The Spurs need a Center to join LaMarcus Aldridge in the frontcourt. Willie Cauley-Stein has been a bit of a journeyman lately but his production as a solid Center is undeniable. It’s unclear where the Spurs are going as of this point, but if they want to help LaMarcus Aldridge make the playoffs next year, Willie Cauley-Stein is the way to go.
28. Toronto Raptors
- DeMar DeRozan
If you thought a Thunder-Ibaka reunion would be cool, imagine this one. The Raptors are about to have a boatload of money freed up with Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol coming off the books, and the Shooting Guard spot wide open with Fred VanVleet looking for some money this offseason.
If the Raptors really want to threaten the Bucks, they need another star with Pascal Siakam. DeMar DeRozan is that guy. DeMar DeRozan would immediately make them Eastern Conference contenders and there’s no doubt they’d be contenders for the championship too.
29. Utah Jazz
- DJ Augustin
The Jazz need depth at the Point Guard. They’re having Jordan Clarkson come off the books and Mike Conley is quite injury-prone. DJ Augustin is having a nice 10.4 point per game and 4.6 assist per game season. He would be a huge help on a team that’s actually contending.
30. Washington Wizards
- Gordon Hayward
It’s no secret that Gordon Hayward is overpaid. The Wizards have some money coming off the books and although Gordon Hayward has a pretty fat Player Option, he may be willing to decline if it means long-term money for the next few seasons.
Gordon Hayward would join John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Rui Hachimura on a team that’s better than most might think. If this team would stay healthy, they could surprise some teams in the playoffs.