Top Free Agents: 2020 NBA Offseason
With the state of the NBA put on hold because of the pandemic, sports fans don’t know how this season or next season will play out. It’s increasingly challenging to determine where players will go in free agency. If guys want to join contenders, they don’t know who the best teams are. If guys are looking for big pay-day’s, teams haven’t seen them play in months. Is it fair to deem someone like Davis Bertans, a big-time free agent, because he played well in 50 games? The 2020 free-agency will be far more unique than those before it.
The goal of this article is to provide potential landing spots for each free agent mentioned, give an explanation of why, and estimate what kind of contract they should receive.
#1. Danilo Gallinari
Gallinari is one of the most exciting players on this list because, like a fine wine, he is getting better with age. Statistically, Gallinari had one of his best years last year with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He finished 2nd in the NBA in offensive rating last season only behind Luka Doncic by 0.2. Yes, that’s right. Danilo Gallinari had the second-best offensive rating in the entire NBA. Better than Lebron James, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, all of them (except Luka). That just goes to show you how much of an impact Danilo can still make in the NBA when appropriately utilized.
Gallinari’s stats for the 2019-2020 season.
Let’s try and determine some suitors for Galo.
A) Oklahoma City Thunder
I think it makes the most sense for Danilo to stay in OKC. He doesn’t clash with any of their emerging stars as of right now, and if anything, he compliments them very well. Danilo has had great success in OKC because of the system and personnel they have, so why leave? If the Thunder can afford him on a short term deal, I think it would be mutually beneficial for Gallinari to stay put.
B) Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers struggled shooting the ball consistently this year, especially from deep. They ranked 17th in the NBA in three-point percentage, shooting only 35.5%. Gallinari would definitely improve that number; he’s shot over 40% from deep in back to back years. He could be the piece the Lakers thought Kuzma was going to be. Gallinari would be a rock-solid third scoring option behind James and AD and would make the Lakers more dangerous in the half-court offense.
It’s no secret that Lebron James likes to play with shooters, Gallinari is one of the premier shooters in the NBA. This match seems too good to be true.
C) Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are the defending champions, and as it stands right now, still a top-three team in the Eastern Conference. The addition of Danilo Gallinari could propel them to the top as clear cut favourites to make the finals.
Currently, the Raptors frontcourt is defensively sound but offensively limited aside from Pascal Siakam. Gallinari would be an excellent 3rd or 4th scoring option on a team that does not have a defined pecking order when it comes to hitting the scoresheet. Gallinari would start and push OG Anunoby to the second unit, which makes the Raptors one of the deepest teams in the NBA.
To estimate the contract that Gallinari will receive, I will use similarity scores to other players, while also factoring in age, health, and style of play.
Health: Injury-riddled past, currently healthy
Style of Play: Spread offense. Ideal for the modern NBA.
Player he is similar to: Tobias Harris
Similarity score to Tobias Harris: 92%
Tobias Harris’ current contract: 5-years, $180 million.
Gallinari is five years older than Harris, so I don’t expect him to get as many years or as much money as Harris. Judging purely off of production, though, they should be close.
I estimate that Gallinari will receive a 2-year, $45 million deal.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) May 18, 2020
#2. Montrezl Harrell
Last year Montrezl Harrell was a runner up for the sixth man of the year. If this season had run until completion, he probably would have won. Montrezl is a mobile big man who gets up and down the floor, finishes in transition, he can play in the pick and roll and crashes the boards with the best of them. This past year, Harrell had a PER score higher than Donovan Mitchell, CJ Mccollum, and Ja Morant, all all-star caliber players. He was also 11th in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game, an incredibly valuable statistic. Offensive rebounds create second chances. The more opportunities a team has to score, the more they will score.
Harrell’s stats for the 2019-2020 season.
Montrezl is due for a pretty big pay-day that the Clippers may not be able to afford. There are plenty of teams salivating at the chance to make Harrell an offer he can’t refuse.
A) Boston Celtics
At the guard and wing positions, the Celtics are deep and talented, but at power forward and center, they are paper-thin. Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis are nothing more than rotational pieces. When they play against Joel Embiid, Deandre Jordan, Bam Adebayo, Marc Gasol or Brook Lopez in the playoffs, they will get dominated. Celtics are in dire need of a big man in the modern NBA, and Harrell is precisely that. He’s a two-way big with mobility and does a great job finishing around the basket. The Celtics finished 14th in the NBA this season in rebound rate, which is ok, but not good enough to make them contenders. They’ll need to address this in the offseason, and I believe Harrell is the perfect candidate.
B) Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs ranked first in the NBA last year in offensive efficiency, and that was without a true starting center. Boban Marjanovic and Maxi Kleber are good rotational pieces, but they are not starting-caliber players for a western conference playoff team. The Mavericks should be aggressive in pursuing a big free agent this summer, and I think Harrell would be an excellent option for them. Even though Dallas was the third highest-scoring team in the NBA last year, they ranked 26th in points in the paint. Their offense struggles to get clean looks near the basket, and that’s where Harrell would help.
Harrell also excels in the pick and roll. Dallas had the second-highest point per possession (PPP) in the pick and roll in the NBA last year. Harrell seems like he would fit in perfectly with Luka and the Mavs.
C) Portland Trail Blazers
It is no secret that the Blazers have been on the hunt for a big man since the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge. Whiteside has been efficient, but his slow, lumbering play does not translate well into the modern NBA. Harrell is the complete opposite and would compliment Whiteside very well if Whiteside decides to stay in Portland. Whiteside would be able to stay down low, rebound, and protect the paint. Harrell could play in transition, and be a factor in the high pick and roll. Lillard and Mccollum consistently have to create a competitive advantage with dribble moves and isolation plays along the perimeter. With a big like Montrezl who can play in the pick and roll, it gives the Blazers a new way to create an advantage on offense.
Montrezl is also a solid defensive player, something the Blazers have needed for a while. Portland finished 26th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, 26th in opponents points per game, and 23rd in defensive rebounding last season. The Blazers desperately need to address their defensive woes this offseason. Montrezl Harrell is the answer.
To estimate the contract that Montrezl will receive, I will use similarity scores to other players, while also factoring in age, health, and style of play.
Style of Play: Mobile Big. Great for the modern NBA.
Player he is similar to: LaMarcus Aldridge (In terms of production)
Similarity Score to LaMarcus Aldridge: 98.17% similar (WOW!)
Lamarcus Aldridge Contract: 2-years, $50 million.
Montrezl is much younger than Lamarcus and plays the game to fit the current NBA style of play. This will give Montrezl more years on his contract, but it’s unlikely that he’d get as much money a seven-time all-star.
I estimate that Harrell will receive a 4-year, $70 million contract.
ESPN projects Montrezl Harrell to win Sixth Man of the Year, with Lou Williams a close second. Dennis Schröder is still way too close for comfort. https://t.co/seeLa4x5vt
— Clips Nation (@clipsnation) June 1, 2020
#3. Demar DeRozan
It was reported that if the Spurs and DeRozan cannot come to terms on an extension that he will decline his player option for the 2020-2021 campaign. With the Spurs looking like they are entering rebuild mode after this season, a 31-year-old star doesn’t sound like someone who should be part of their future plans. Expect him to hit free agency this season.
At 31, Demar has blossomed into a capable secondary playmaker who can play sound system basketball. Demar still possesses great athleticism and explosiveness when attacking the rim. He is an excellent free throw shooter and is lethal in the mid-range. Not being able to shoot the three hurts his stock, but the 4-time all-star is still an incredibly valuable asset on the offensive end.
DeRozan’s stats for the 2019-2020 season.
A) Los Angeles Lakers
This can only happen if Demar takes a massive pay cut to fit the Lakers salary cap. It’s been rumored that he has wanted to play in his hometown for years, so I don’t think it’s out of the question.
Demar could be the third scoring option on a championship contender, a role that I believe he would excel at. At 31, Demar is coming off his most efficient season in his career, shooting 52.6% from the field. Since he got to San Antonio, Demar has also had career-high numbers in rebounding %, and assist %. Even though his scoring has gone down, Demar has become a more well-rounded player. I think the Lakers could really benefit from having a third scoring option as talented as DeRozan.
B) Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are one piece away from being legitimate contenders in the Western Conference. They have the deepest roster in basketball, but they need one more piece if they want to contend with the Lakers and Clippers. The Nuggets are deep at power forward, center, and point guard and are weakest at the wing positions. Will Barton, Gary Harris, Jerami Grant, and Torrey Craig are all nice pieces, but they don’t have a legitimate star at the two or three positions. That’s why DeRozan would fit in perfectly in Denver. He could be a secondary playmaker after Jokic and add a consistent second scoring option to their roster. This would open up more scoring opportunities for Jamal Murray and more open shots for Barton and Gary Harris.
DeRozan’s mid-range proficiency would also be an added element to an already versatile offense. Jamal Murray can knock down the three, Jokic is excellent down low, and Demar is a master of the mid-range. With the addition of Demar, the Nuggets can beat you from anywhere on the floor on any given night.
C) Dallas Mavericks
This one is a long shot, but the Mavs should seriously consider going after DeRozan in free agency. The Mavs are currently starting Tim Hardaway Jr at small forward with Dorian Finney-Smith as the only other wing on the roster. If they want to be legitimate playoff contenders, they need to have better wing play.
DeRozan brings efficiency and secondary playmaking to the Mavericks, something that can be helpful for their offense. By letting Demar create plays in the half-court, it will allow Luka to score off-ball instead of always creating his shot.
The Mavs are an offensively focused team, so defensive woes for Demar can be overlooked to a degree since almost everyone on their roster struggles defensively. DeRozan can focus on creating in the half-court and making smart, winning-basketball plays. I think he would be an excellent fit in Rick Carlisle’s system.
To estimate the contract that DeRozan will receive, I will use similarity scores to other players, while also factoring in age, health, and style of play.
Style of play: Mid-Range focused, a dying breed of basketball.
Player he is similar to: Khris Middleton
Similarity Score to Khris Middleton: 90.47%
Khris Middleton’s current contract: 5-years, $177.5 million
Demar is older than Khris Middleton, he’s slightly worse statistically than Middleton, and Middleton is much better suited as a current NBA shooting guard because of how efficient he is as a three-point shooter. With all of that in mind, I believe that DeRozan will sign for fewer years and less money.
I estimate that Derozan will agree to a 2-year deal with a player option for a third, where he will make $24- million per year.
Y'all forgot how fun DeMar DeRozan is to watch pic.twitter.com/ZifetlHkMH
— ☂️L͎u͎c͎☂️ (@JJudahHours) June 2, 2020
Even with this analysis and speculation around the league, nobody knows what will happen in free agency. This year’s NBA season is still up in the air and could be a significant factor in determining where players will end up next season. Teams that may have seemed like contenders could fall flat, and teams could emerge out of nowhere to become desired destinations. Players could improve or decline their stock, and organizations may make trades to shake up their roster thoroughly. At the end of the day, you never know exactly what is going to happen in free agency. That’s what makes it so much fun.