NBA Free Agents 2020: Predictions for Players Who Will Command Most Interest

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIAugust 7, 2020

San Antonio Spurs' DeMar DeRozan (10) dribbles up the court against Memphis Grizzlies' Dillon Brooks (24) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The 2020 NBA free-agent class leaves plenty to be desired. 

Most of the big names have player options that may make the most sense for them. Others are aging veterans or depth players who won't command the eye-popping contracts the league has become accustomed to.

All of it serves as a mere appetizer to the star-studded class of 2021, which features the likes of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kyle Lowry and Giannis Antetokounmpo, to name a few. Even if those players all re-sign, that still leaves Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jrue Holiday, Rudy Gobert, Victor Oladipo and Mike Conley available.

There is one name in the 2020 class that stands out, however: Anthony Davis.

The superstar forward was finally poached from the New Orleans Pelicans by the Los Angeles Lakers last year but will enter this offseason without a new contract.

That intrigue will likely be short-lived, but a there are a few more names available who could help shake up the league for years to come.


AD Remains in LA

Anthony Davis has made himself right at home with the Purple in Gold since joining last offseason. That won't be changing anytime soon.

Even after Davis reportedly declined a four-year, $146 million max extension in January, there's no reason to believe the club is going to let him walk away from LeBron James and what will essentially be a blank check. According to Yahoo Sports Chris Haynes, the move allows Davis to sign a max deal of five-year, $202 million this offseason.

There are few things that could change that.

For starters, the Lakers finished the season with the best record in the Western Conference and are considered a favorite to win the title in 2020. Davis is also playing some of his best basketball yet, averaging 26.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting a career-high 34.3 percent from behind the arc (with a career-high 3.6 threes made per game).

Add in the fact that he's teamed up with James, and there's little incentive for him to look elsewhere.

The larger question for both Davis and the Lakers is what the team looks like five years from now.

James is in his 17th season in the league. He will in his 40s before Davis would become a free agent again. In 2018, James said he would love to play in the NBA with his son, Bronny, but a lot can change between now and 2023 or 2024, when the younger James is eligible for the league.

In the meantime, the duo of James and Davis will keep the Lakes a title contender for the foreseeable future.


DeMar DeRozan Says 'Hello, Brooklyn' 

Kyrie Irving caused one of the first big media stories of his Brooklyn Nets tenure in January when he talked openly about certain players contributing to the team's future—and omitting plenty more.

The guard had to walk back those comments comments a bit, but the sentiment was out there, and it's hard to ignore. As the Nets prepare for the second offseason since their makeover began with the acquisition of Irving and Kevin Durant last summer, going after guard DeMar DeRozan could help expedite that process.

For that to happen, DeRozan would need to decline his player option with the San Antonio Spurs or help force a trade.

There's a way that could happen, as B/R's NBA GM Fantasy League examined in May.

DeRozan, meanwhile, is reportedly heading for an opt out after failing to agree to an extension with San Antonio. Haynes reported DeRozan would hit free agency without a new contract one day before the NBA went on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then the Spurs have earned an opportunity to continue their 22-year postseason berth streak in the NBA bubble, but it looks more than likely that will serve as the finale to the guard's time in San Antonio.

The 30-year-old has remained productive by averaging 22.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists; it just hasn't translated to the type of success San Antonio is used to.

In joining forces with Brooklyn, the Nets get a third star to go with Irving and Durant, while DeRozan can try to capitalize on being one of the top free agents in a weak class.

DeRozan is better off striking while he's one of the hottest names on the market. Helping finish off a new Big Three in Brooklyn could be the end result.


Fred VanVleet Jumps to the Knicks

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has earned himself a big payday, if not a bigger role on the floor.

The New York Knicks have the room to offer him both.

As one of the NBA's flagship franchises rebuilds under new head coach Tom Thibodeau, bringing in VanVleet would make plenty of sense to help add some experience and scoring.

Still just 26, the shooting guard from Wichita State took a big leap this season and is averaging 17.9 points, 6.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. New York has just one player averaging more points per game than VanVleet: power forward Julius Randle (19.5 points).

With the Knicks in line for a lottery pick, adding VanVleet alongside guard RJ Barrett and center Mitchell Robinson may help the rebuild process start to show noticeable growth.

Given that Thibodeau has a strong history coaching guards, with his previous rosters featuring Derrick Rose in Chicago and Zach LaVine in Minnesota, it shouldn't be too tough a sell for the 2019 NBA champion.