The 2016 NBA draft, though somewhat predictable at the top, created a tidal wave of change in how free agency will play out.
It looked easy to pen in notable free agents to big teams and call it a day. The fates of guys such as Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo and others didn't seem wildly tied to the draft going into it.
It turns out they were.
With the next generation of talent slotted into place, it's time to re-evaluate the fates of some notable free agents.
This seemed simple before the Chicago Bulls went and shipped Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks, a move the Knicks confirmed on Twitter.
With the move, one of Rondo's top destinations, if not the top one, evaporated.
That leaves Rondo with not much in the way of suitors. It sounds harsh, but the 2016 draft class was loaded with guard talent.
While this isn't meant to suggest Rondo is a terrible option, he is 30 years old. The saving grace is he tied a career high with 11.7 assists per game last year while playing with DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings.
The limited market might mean Rondo's best bet is a return to the Kings, something The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears hinted at:
If Rondo wants some continuity and to perhaps contend for a title in a few years, he's not going to bail for the Brooklyn Nets, a team with zilch in the way of notable talent outside of Brook Lopez.
No, Rondo won't want to leave the Kings now, not while getting to lean on big men such as Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Prediction: Rondo re-signs with the Kings.
Joakim Noah didn't have the best split with the Bulls this season, appearing in just 29 games while seeing his role significantly reduced.
There's no chance he returns to the Windy City, something the Rose trade also had a strong impact on.
Rose told the media he'd like to see Noah join the Knicks, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune relayed:
Before, it might have been easy to see Noah joining a center-needy team such as the Washington Wizards or perhaps heading to the Western Conference to help a team such as the Houston Rockets.
The options seemed endless. But the Rose trade—even before the point guard's comments—made New York seem like the top destination since the team lost starting center Robin Lopez in the deal.
At 31 years old, Noah can still be the defensive enforcer the Knicks need, and reuniting with Rose has to be the most alluring option on the table.
Prediction: Noah signs with the Knicks.
Howard isn't joining the Knicks.
There, that was easy, and it's out of the way. It doesn't make sense for the Knicks to blow a max contract on Howard when they can grab a rotational guy such as Noah and otherwise play a small-ball lineup with Kristaps Porzingis at center.
But a draft-day trade between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic seems to have killed any hope that Howard would return to the latter.
In the deal, the Magic acquired power forward Serge Ibaka, and George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel put it best:
Orlando got a shot-blocker it can put next to either Aaron Gordon in a small lineup or Nikola Vucevic in the usual deployment.
How about an unexpected contender such as the Dallas Mavericks? The team has Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki heading to free agency, meaning owner Mark Cuban has plenty of cash to spend this summer. Presuming Nowitzki stays around, Cuban won't blink at throwing max cash and whatever promises Howard demands at the star center's feet.
Eliminating the odd platoon of Zaza Pachulia, David Lee and A.J. Hammons in order to chase a title sounds like a Cuban-esque move.
Prediction: Howard signs with the Mavericks.
The Thunder might have killed any notion that Kevin Durant will leave the team this summer.
Dishing Ibaka may sound like a bad move at first, or perhaps an insurance policy concocted by a front office hoping to stand in a strong position if Durant leaves town.
In reality, Ibaka was growing out of favor within the team's lineups and is entering the final year of his deal. ESPN.com's Royce Young reported the Thunder made the trade in the hopes of convincing Durant to stick with the team.
In return, the Thunder got guard Victor Oladipo, a budding star who posted averages of 16.0 points and 3.9 assists per game last year and has at least one important fan, as Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman explained:
A Russell Westbrook-Oladipo-Durant lineup would be downright scary—and Durant knows it. Not only can the Thunder run an epic small-ball lineup to counter the Golden State Warriors, but they also got the No. 11 pick in the draft, which they used on center Domantas Sabonis, another upgrade at a position of need.
Many will argue Durant should leave and sign here or there, but the Thunder went out of their way to post a convincing rebuttal. Durant has unfinished business with the Thunder, a team that's already better than the one that almost made it to the NBA Finals this year.
Prediction: Durant re-signs with the Thunder.
All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.