NBA Free Agents 2020: Danilo Gallinari, Evan Fournier and Top Flight RisksMay 13, 2020
Barring a trading frenzy, the 2020 NBA offseason is unlikely to reshape the league's landscape.
There aren't many teams with significant cap space, and some that have it aren't far enough in their rebuilding process to justify using it. Maybe that's just as well, since there are few difference-makers available, and a majority of them aren't expected to seek a change of address.
There are players who seem likely to at least consider switching locker rooms, though, and even if they aren't tier-one stars, they can beef up a starting lineup or lead a second unit. We'll examine three of those players below and assess the likelihood of their offseason departures.
Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder
For the second straight season, Gallinari is helping his club capture a surprising playoff berth. Last year, it was a Los Angeles Clippers squad sorting out its post-Blake Griffin direction. Now, it's a Thunder team finding its way forward without Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
Gallinari's support scoring and lethal long-range sniping were invaluable to the Clippers, but they still sent him packing in the blockbuster trade for George. The Thunder aren't about to reel in a marquee free agent, but they should also consider a life without Gallo, since he's 31 years old and they're just starting down a long rebuilding road.
Any win-now team with spending money will want a shot at Gallinari. He's been a dangerous scorer his entire career, and lately, he's done a better job of staying on the floor and upping his efficiency. Dating back to last season, his nightly contributions include 19.5 points, 45.2 percent shooting and a 42.1 three-point percentage. Only five other players are averaging 19 points on 45/40 shooting over that stretch.
Now, consider that production is coming from a 6'10" power forward, and it's impossible to miss his appeal. He can space out an offense, carry it in spurts and keep it flowing with catch-and-shoot splashes. He's ready to help a team win big, but OKC isn't in position to do so.
Likelihood of Leaving: Probable
Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
Theoretically, free agency came at a good time for Fournier. The 27-year-old just engineered his most productive campaign to date, averaging a career-high 18.8 points per game on 47.0/40.6/82.0 shooting. In a shallow player pool, he had the chance to appear as one of its bigger fish.
But that's assuming teams trust the production. As The Athletic's Josh Robbins relayed, some opposing executives don't see Fournier as "a top-three offensive option on an above-average team" and others think he might "be best utilized coming off the bench."
There is value in support scoring as a complementary starter or featured reserve, but would teams pay enough to fill that role for Fournier to justify declining his $17.2 million player option for next season? If the campaign's suspension proves as costly as some project, can teams even afford to approach that salary?
Then again, waiting a year to hit the market offers no guarantees of increased earnings. The salary cap could still be feeling the effects of these massive financial hits. The player pool will feature many names more notable than Fournier's. And who knows whether he can post similar numbers next season (last year, he averaged 15.1 points on 43.8/34.0/80.6 shooting).
Likelihood of Leaving: Possible
Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers
Necessity brought Whiteside and the Blazers together. He needed a change of scenery with the Miami Heat's new rising star, Bam Adebayo, breathing down his neck. They needed a capable center who could hold down the fort while starter Jusuf Nurkic worked his way back from a broken leg.
The partnership worked well enough. Whiteside posted big numbers (16.3 points, 14.2 rebounds and an NBA-best 3.1 blocks), and Portland played much better with him (plus-2.3 points per 100 possessions) than without (minus-6.8).
But none of that means Whiteside now has a future in the Pacific Northwest. Nurkic was on the brink of returning before the season was suspended. Fellow big man Zach Collins should have been right on Nurkic's heels. Just like that, the Blazers would've gone from having a dire need for Whiteside to perhaps struggling to find minutes for the 7-footer.
This offseason should be no different. Even if Portland was impressed with Whiteside, it can't magically create minutes for him. Nurkic is a full-time 5 who averaged 27.4 minutes last season. Collins splits his time between the 4 and 5 and was getting 28.7 minutes before his injury. The Blazers no longer need Whiteside, but surely there's a center-needy contender out there that does.
Likelihood of Leaving: Highly Probable