2020 NBA Free Agents: Rumors, Predictions Based on Late-Season Buzz

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 8, 2020

Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward (20) and Kemba Walker (8) plays against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

The main focus of the 2020 NBA offseason will be whether Giannis Antetokounmpo signs a supermax contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, but that is far from the only intriguing storyline.

Gordon Hayward, Brandon Ingram and DeMar DeRozan are among the marquee free agents who could be available once the 2019-20 campaign comes to a conclusion.

Hayward and DeRozan have player options on their respective contracts for the 2020-21 season, while Ingram is a restricted free agent.

There is a possibility all three players won't hit the open market, but if they do, potential suitors have to be ready.


Latest NBA Buzz

Gordon Hayward

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 08: Gordon Hayward #20 of the Boston Celtics brings the ball up court during the third quarter of the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at TD Garden on March 08, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressl
Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

If Hayward opts in, he is due $34.1 million on the back end of a four-year, $127 million contract.

According to Boston Sports Journal's Brian Robb, the Celtics are "very interested" in retaining the 30-year-old's services on a long-term deal no matter what decision is made this summer.

Heavy.com's Sean Deveney reported that the belief around the NBA is Hayward will opt in and then test the market in 2021. 

"It's too much money to pass up," one general manager told Deveney. "He could get a longer deal if that is what he really wants. But I don't think the Celtics want to give it to him, they have a lot of young guys to pay and the starting (salary) number on whatever the contract is will not be close to $34 million. He can opt in this year and then take a big contract next year. When you look at what he has done since his injury, he has only gotten better. He could get better next year and be ready for the summer of 2021."

Hayward is averaging 17.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 50.2 percent from the field this season.

His numbers have improved over last season, when he produced 11.5 points per game and hit 46.6 percent of his field goals. 

It makes sense for Hayward to return for the 2020-21 campaign because he will receive a substantial pay day and have a chance to contend for a championship. 

The $34.1 million would be the most money he has earned in a single season, and if he improves his statistics more, he could command a larger deal on the open market in 2021. 

If Hayward exercises his option, the Celtics would be paying both him and Kemba Walker over $34 million, while Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart would be on eight-figure contracts as well.

Prediction: Hayward remains in Boston.


DeMar DeRozan

Tony Dejak/Associated Press

According to CNBC Sports Business reporter Jabari Young, DeRozan is "not happy" with his current situation in San Antonio.

"I don't have to sugarcoat anything. DeMar DeRozan is not happy in San Antonio," he said in an appearance on ESPN Radio San Antonio. "The offense is not running as smoothly as one should think with a guy like him in the lineup and there are problems there. You have to decide if you're going to take that money, or if you're going to come back to a situation that is just not suitable." 

If DeRozan looks past some of the issues he has with the Spurs and opts in, he would be in line to make $27.7 million during the 2020-21 campaign.

With uncertainty surrounding the salary cap for next season due to the suspension of the current campaign, the best financial choice may be to play another year with the team. 

DeRozan's numbers have not suffered since he was dealt by the Toronto Raptors in 2018, as he is in line for his seventh consecutive season with over 20 points per game

Before the league suspended play, the 30-year-old shooting guard was averaging 22.2 points, 5.6 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game with a shooting percentage of 52.6. 

Although there would be things to work out in the Spurs offense to suit his preferences, DeRozan would still be the go-to guy while earning a sizable amount.

Prediction: DeRozan finds a way to come back to San Antonio.


Brandon Ingram

Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor reported that the New Orleans Pelicans are expected to "match any offer sheet" that comes in for Ingram. 

In that situation, the 22-year-old would make a minimum of $9.4 million next season since that is what the qualifying offer is worth.

Ingram is experiencing a career year with the Pelicans, who acquired him in the Anthony Davis trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 56 games, he is averaging 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists as one of the leaders of the team's young core. 

If New Orleans can keep its collection of premier talent together, it could become a consistent figure in the Western Conference playoff race. 

Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes form a nice backbone to a roster that will include Jrue Holiday and J.J. Redick as the top earners next season.

Prediction: Ingram comes back to New Orleans.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference.

Contract information obtained from Spotrac.


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