The Best 2020 Free Agent Every NBA Team Can Realistically Sign

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 9, 2020

The Best 2020 Free Agent Every NBA Team Can Realistically Sign

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    The 2020 NBA free-agent market lacks the sizzle of summers past.

    Few teams have substantial money to spend, and most that do lack major win-now motivations. Maybe that's just as well, though, since the available player pool lacks in star power and stature.

    But money will be spent, and players will be signed. Time will eventually fill in the who, when and for how much particulars of those pacts, but an examination of everything from cap space to team status reveals which direction each organization can and wants to head.

    Since the offseason is a time in which to drown oneself in optimism, we're letting our glasses overflow while finding the best free agent—internal or external—each team can realistically sign.

Atlanta Hawks: Brandon Ingram (Restricted)

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    OK, so we're probably stretching the definition of realistic here since all signs point to the New Orleans Pelicans keeping Brandon Ingram, as reported by The Athletic's Shams Charania.

    But the sinewy swingman is such a perfect fit for Atlanta in terms of everything from talent and upside to skill set and timeline that if the Pels don't have a full max offer on the table as soon as the market opens, the Hawks absolutely should.

    The 23-year-old became a first-time All-Star and was crowned Most Improved Player this season while posting a slew of personal bests, including points (23.8), rebounds (6.1) and assists per game (4.2). He could immediately slot in as the second scorer Trae Young desperately needs, plus he could steer the offense when Young needs a breather (a huge deal since the Atlanta attack was 15.5 points worse per 100 possessions without him).

Boston Celtics: Aron Baynes (Unrestricted)

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    The Celtics' decision not to make a major move to replace Al Horford wasn't a huge problem—until it was. Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter and Robert Williams III formed a workable center rotation for most of the season, but Boston's inability to throw length and strength at Bam Adebayo in the Eastern Conference Finals proved a fatal flaw.

    The Shamrocks could see that missing muscle in a familiar face: Aron Baynes, who played the past two seasons with the franchise and remains a fan from afar. Adding a three-ball to his arsenal powered him to a career-best 18.5 points per 36 minutes, and it means he wouldn't gunk up the offensive spacing upon a return to the Northeast.

    Baynes isn't the sexiest name on the market—Jakob Poeltl and Chris Boucher might be more intriguing ways to address the interior void—but the C's have all the sizzle they need in Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Supporting those stars with a blue-collar bruiser could quietly be a best-case scenario for the offseason.

Brooklyn Nets: Joe Harris (Unrestricted)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

    The Nets have more than $73 million tied up between Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving next season, plus four other eight-figure pacts on the books. That theoretically limits them to bargain shopping, but they can (and should) splurge on in-house sharpshooter Joe Harris.

    He'll be highly sought-after—name one team that couldn't use more shooting—so this could get costly. But this isn't our money, right? More importantly, you don't follow two fortune-changing signings with penny-pinching the next summer. Championship contention is a pricey game, but if having a sniper like Harris increases the team's title odds (it does), that's literally a price you have to pay.

    Harris has the 18th-most triples since joining the Nets in 2016 (590) and the fourth-highest connection rate among the 238 players with 150-plus threes over that stretch (43.0). He wants to stay in Brooklyn, and the Nets plan to prioritize his free agency. This shouldn't be difficult.

Charlotte Hornets: Montrezl Harrell (Unrestricted)

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Theoretically, the choice should probably be North Carolina native Brandon Ingram, but it's hard to see him leaving New Orleans and harder still to imagine he'd choose Charlotte. So, this becomes a matter of frontcourt preference since the Hornets' top priority is addressing a center group that only has Cody Zeller for next season and no one signed beyond that.

    The Hornets could attack that void on draft night if James Wiseman is available and atop their big board when they come on the clock at No. 3. They could also roll the dice on Christian Wood's late-season emergence, or even try catching lightning in a bottle with someone like Chris Boucher or Harry Giles III. But the offense is in such disarray—30th in scoring, 28th in efficiency—that Montrezl Harrell's proven production should get him atop the wish list.

    He just went for 18.6 points in only 27.8 minutes per night. In doing so, he became just the ninth qualified player to ever average 18-plus points in less than 28 minutes. That's an extreme level of efficiency, and it leaves the door open for improvement should he land in a more sizable role than what he was given by the Los Angeles Clippers.

    Oh, and the fact Harrell also hails from the Tar Heel State doesn't hurt since the post-Kemba Walker Hornets could use a gate draw.

Chicago Bulls: Jae Crowder

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Even with a new front office overseeing a roster that just went 22-43, the Bulls are still very much thinking about the present. It's not an outlandish viewpoint, either, provided you buy this club having more talent than that dismal record suggests—as the new brass does.

    "We've talked a lot about 'This is not a rebuild,'" new general manager Marc Eversley told The Athletic's Darnell Mayberry. "We're looking to retool this thing, and we think [new head coach] Billy [Donovan] is going to put us in a position to do that in the foreseeable future."

    The Bulls don't have the widest margin for error if they want to compete next season, which means they can't pin their wing hopes entirely on Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison, neither of whom played 30 games. They also might prefer reliability over upside, which takes someone like Derrick Jones Jr. out of the running since there's no telling if his outside shot will ever come around or what kind of career he can have without one.

    Jae Crowder might be perfect, relative to Chicago's budget at least. He defends multiple positions, works in either frontcourt spot and never gets outhustled. It would help if his perimeter shot was a pinch more dependable (career 34.0 percent), but if it was, he probably wouldn't fit the Bulls' price range.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Derrick Jones Jr. (Unrestricted)

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Life without LeBron James is rarely fun for the Cavaliers, and it's clearly weighing on governor Dan Gilbert. After watching his club post sub-.300 winning percentages in consecutive seasons, Gilbert is "turning up the pressure for the Cavs to show real improvement next season," The Athletic's Jason Lloyd reported.

    Hopefully Gilbert is bracing himself for disappointment because this roster isn't ready to win. That's why it makes much more sense to tackle a risk-reward project like 23-year-old Derrick Jones Jr. than to pursue the kind of instant-impact, low-ceiling veteran Gilbert's win-now directive might force Cleveland to chase.

    The Cavs need to upgrade their frontcourt athleticism, and Jones can certainly do that. He bounces like he was given league clearance to wear moon boots on the hardwood, and the explosiveness weaponizes him in transition, rolling to the basket and lurking as an off-ball helper on defense. His 77.2 free-throw percentage could be a sign of better shooting days ahead, although there wasn't much volume.

Dallas Mavericks: Paul Millsap (Unrestricted)

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    If Tim Hardaway Jr. declines his $19 million player option, then he instantly vaults to No. 1 on the Mavs' free-agency big board. But given all the uncertainty with this market, it still seems wise to take the money and stay.

    That should then shift attention over to Paul Millsap, who can function as both the club's postseason guide and the "tough vet" Dallas wants, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon. Millsap's All-Star days are well behind him, but the 35-year-old still offers two-way versatility, outside shooting, toughness and a genius-level basketball IQ.

    Millsap, who has only missed the playoffs once since 2014, has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with the Mavs' young centerpieces, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. He could also make their on-court lives easier as his shooting and ball movement could be release vales for Doncic, and his ability to defend multiple positions would allow Porzingis to stay in his comfort zones at that end.

Denver Nuggets: Jerami Grant (Player Option)

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    If the Nuggets harbored any hope of Jerami Grant picking up his $9.3 million player option for next season, that bubble burst a while ago. He's not only expected to opt out, but his next contract could also feature an annual salary in the "$14 million to $16 million" range, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

    This news should surprise exactly no one who paid any attention to this situation. All eyes were on Grant's outside shot to see if last season's 39.2 percent success rate was sustainable, and he buried another 38.9 percent of his long-range looks. He also connected on career highs of 75.0 percent at the line and 68.6 percent within three feet.

    And for all that talk about Grant's offense, he saved his best work for the opposite end. He's armed with an enviable combination of length, athleticism and mobility, and his primary playoff assignments included Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James.

    Grant is only 26 years old. The Nuggets need to keep him around, and they seemed to acknowledge as much when they parted with a first-round pick to get him last summer.

Detroit Pistons: Christian Wood (Unrestricted)

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Pistons can and should carefully consider making a massive offer to Fred VanVleet given their long-term outlook (or lack thereof) at the point guard spot. But they more or less know what the 26-year-old has to offer, and frankly, it isn't enough to turn this team around without serious support from the rest of the roster.

    Christian Wood probably isn't changing the Pistons' fortunes, either. But given their rebuilding state, they almost have to see where his late-season emergence can eventually take him.

    Unless they have reason to believe it was all a mirage, they should buy big on his breakout. He looked like a unicorn-in-training once Andre Drummond got out of his way, averaging 22.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.7 threes and 1.0 blocks over his final 15 outings. Wood offers size, shooting and above-the-rim explosiveness, so he's an easy roster fit no matter what the Pistons are trying to build.

Golden State Warriors: Paul Millsap (Unrestricted)

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    John Leyba/Associated Press

    Advanced intelligence always felt like the Warriors' secret sauce, and it will grow even more important as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green advance through their 30s. Golden State needs to out-think and out-skill the opposition, and that's an easier task with a polished pro like Paul Millsap around.

    "Paul Millsap is a no-brainer," NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh said. "He reminds me a lot of David West and what he brought to the Warriors. A high-IQ, rugged, very skilled offensive player. And a guy who is willing to get after it defensively."

    Millsap can fill in at either frontcourt slot, and Golden State would be pretty interchangeable when he lines up alongside Green. The team would still have needs for a two-way wing and an above-the-rim center, but those itches are best scratched through the draft or the trade market.

Houston Rockets: Jae Crowder (Unrestricted)

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    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    Houston's previous contortions to skate under the luxury tax hint at a possible unwillingness to spend what it would take to add a difference-maker this offseason. But if the Rockets will put the mid-level exception in play, that's enough to net them a significant rotation player, if not a starter.

    Even without Mike D'Antoni, the Rockets plan to continue their small-ball style, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon, which puts a priority on finding players capable of handling defensive switches and playing bigger than their size. With James Harden at the center of Space City's universe, spot-up shooting is a must for almost everyone who hits the hardwood.

    Jae Crowder comes close enough to checking both boxes to make him a dream get for Houston.

    Shooting is the swing skill that would make or break this signing as he's had some nuclear moments (39.8 percent in 2016-17, 44.5 percent over his 20 regular-season outings with Miami this season) but is also prone to frigid spells. For the Rockets' budget, though, they can't afford a better gamble than hoping Crowder can find his range.

Indiana Pacers: Justin Holiday (Unrestricted)

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Big changes could be coming in the Circle City, where the Pacers have already moved on from head coach Nate McMillan. But if this roster looks dramatically different on opening night, it will be due to wheeling and dealing on the trade market.

    Indiana already has six eight-figure salaries on the books, and four of them are worth at least $18 million. The Pacers can probably only afford one impact signing for the mid-level exception, and it's hard to find a better way of spending that money than keeping Justin Holiday around.

    He pesters perimeter players on the defensive end and buries outside shots at an average-or-better clip (career-high 40.5 percent this season). That's the three-and-D skill set everyone wants, and it's highly coveted because it's such an easy roster fit and a critical part of a modern game plan.

Los Angeles Clippers: Marcus Morris Sr. (Unrestricted)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

    The Clippers parted with Maurice Harkless, Jerome Robinson, a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-round pick swap and a 2021 second-round pick to add Marcus Morris Sr. at the deadline. That's too much for a rental, which presumably isn't how L.A. views him.

    Even in a partial season with the team, his impact was obvious. He supplied toughness, multi-positional defense and supplemental shooting and scoring. In the playoffs, the Clippers were 14.5 points better per 100 possessions with him than without. He also wasn't afraid to speak his mind when he saw something he didn't like.

    He does a lot of things good teams need, and the Clippers very much need those things in an absolutely critical campaign for the organization. Both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can enter free agency in 2021, making this the definition of a championship-or-bust season.

Los Angeles Lakers: Anthony Davis (Player Option)

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    There is enough uncertainty with the financial climate to wonder whether Anthony Davis might actually exercise his $28.8 million player option. But that's the only suspenseful part of this process.

    Even the most fervent Lakers haters would have a hard time finding reasons for AD to bolt from his new Hollywood home. He's still getting the individual accolades to which he's accustomed—All-NBA and All-Defensive first teams—and similar numbers to what he had in New Orleans, only now he's co-starring on a likely champion. His partnership with LeBron James is seamless and historically special.

    "It's easy to play with a guy like that who's selfless and wants to win, and only cares about winning," Davis told Dime's Bill DiFilippo. "When you have a guy like that, it makes my job a lot easier."

    Whatever the Lakers hoped they were getting with Davis, he's been even better. He's only once contributed more win shares per 48 minutes (.250), and that was back in 2014-15 when he posted a player efficiency rating only topped by James, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo (30.8).

Memphis Grizzlies: De'Anthony Melton (Restricted)

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    The Grizzlies could've had cap space this offseason, but they invested it early in the Justise Winslow trade and Dillon Brooks' extension. Memphis must be smart with the rest of its budget, and using it to cover De'Anthony Melton's next contract is the most intelligent move it can make.

    He's a dominant defender who slithers between hounding opponents on the ball and creating chaos away from it. He recorded the third-most deflections per 36 minutes among the 246 players who played 1,000-plus minutes (4.8) and had the sixth-highest rebounding percentage ever by a player 6'2" or shorter (9.9). He has a Marcus Smart-like ability to play bigger than his size and bother almost anyone defensively.

    Granted, Melton needs to be special on that end since he's a non-shooting perimeter player at the other (career 29.4 percent from three). But he helps in enough areas—secondary playmaking and transition attacking on offense—that analytics love him. He easily paced Memphis' rotation regulars with a net differential of plus-9.1 points per 100 possessions.

Miami Heat: Danilo Gallinari (Unrestricted)

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    It seems more likely than not that Miami uses its surprising sprint to the Finals as fuel for running it back next season. Remember, the Heat aren't that far removed from overspending on a core that went 30-11 in the second half—and still missed the playoffs. So long as Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder are amenable to one-year balloon payments, that's probably how the front office invests its cap space.

    The Heat can get more creative, though, and they should as by far the best team with more than mid-level money to spend this offseason. Tack on their built-in market advantages and increased desirability from this Finals run, and they should have the most spending power of anyone. Using it to retain a group that finished 11th in winning percentage and seventh in net efficiency seems pretty uninspiring.

    Why not circle back to Danilo Gallinari, who had their full attention at the deadline?

    He's still the best way to fill the 4 spot as his three-point shot keeps the floor spaced and his ability to create adds another option for late-game (or late-shot-clock) situations. If he's open to pocketing a one-year contract with a massive salary to compete for the crown in South Beach, the Heat could raise their ceiling without spoiling any of their future ambitions.

Milwaukee Bucks: Wesley Matthews (Player Option)

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    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    If there's a major move for Milwaukee to make this offseason—you know, besides scoring a supermax commitment from Giannis Antetokounmpo—it will have to come via trade. Chris Paul makes perfect sense for what the Bucks need, and their proximity to a title should hopefully ease concerns about his contract.

    As far as free agency goes, the Bucks might do their biggest lifting internally. Robin Lopez could make things interesting by declining a $5 million player option, although that could certainly be his value in this market. Wesley Matthews' player option is only $2.7 million, and chances are he could fetch more as a veteran with a fiery outside stroke and the ability to defend high-level wings.

    As much as Milwaukee needs to show Antetokounmpo avenues to improvement, the message it can't send is a perception of penny-pinching. That already happened last offseason with Malcolm Brogdon, and while Matthews isn't on the same level, he also won't cost nearly as much.

    His 38.1 career three-point percentage alone is reason enough to consider him a keeper.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Malik Beasley (Restricted)

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Why should the Timberwolves want to keep Malik Beasley? We'll let president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas handle the response.

    "We're big fans of Malik," Rosas told reporters. "We paid a very, very strong premium to get him here in Minnesota. But we're excited. I think the small sample size we saw with him with the Minnesota Timberwolves showed his potential."

    If Beasley continues the torrid play he displayed after his deadline deal to the Gopher State, defensive coaches should already be plotting ways to slow this attack. In 14 games, he averaged 20.7 points and 3.5 three-pointers on 47.2/42.6/75.0 shooting. If he can be that kind of player in an offense that features Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell and whomever the Wolves get with the No. 1 pick, this will be one of the Association's most powerful attacks.

New Orleans Pelicans: Brandon Ingram (Restricted)

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    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    Brandon Ingram was barely a month into his 2019-20 breakout, and the Pelicans were already sold. Executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears in November that the club had "every intention of keeping him long term."

    If anything has changed since, it should only be more excitement on New Orleans' end.

    Ingram, the No. 2 pick in 2016, turned previous flashes of brilliance into a year-long demolition of opposing defenses. Everything from his three-ball (39.1 percent) to his decision-making (4.2 assists per game) clicked, and he looked every bit the part of someone who might one day help Zion Williamson lead a championship charge.

    New Orleans holds some leverage here since Ingram is a restricted free agent, but the team shouldn't try to use it. Rather than hoping to save some scratch by matching an offer sheet, the Pels should put a full max offer in front of him as soon as the collective bargaining agreement allows. Doing so would not only keep Ingram around, but it would also show Williamson a clear commitment to winning.

New York Knicks: Fred VanVleet (Unrestricted)

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Knicks have several chances to end their agonizingly lengthy search for a floor general this summer. They could broker a blockbuster for Chris Paul, a former client of new president Leon Rose. They could address it on draft night, perhaps by trading up for LaMelo Ball or standing pat and grabbing Tyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes or Cole Anthony.

    But Fred VanVleet offers the best balance between those options. A 26-year-old who already has a championship and 48 playoff games under his belt, VanVleet can take on the culture-changing role Paul would fill. As a four-year veteran who only became a full-time starter this season, he also offers some of the upside attached to those lottery prospects.

    The idea is VanVleet is good enough to help change the perception about the Knicks and young enough to still be a contributor whenever elite players consider them a legitimate destination. He is getting consideration from the Blue and Orange, per SNY's Ian Begley, and looks like the best option on the board.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Harry Giles III (Restricted)

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The message that the rebuild is coming for the Thunder couldn't be more apparent if Paul Revere was shouting it from horseback. The split from head coach Billy Donovan suggested it. So did what seemed an awful lot like a farewell video from Chris Paul.

    That should carry over into the offseason. The Thunder have no viable reason for re-signing Danilo Gallinari, save perhaps for attempting to trade him at a later date. Speaking of swaps, they should be shopping Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder right along with Paul.

    While they're at it, they should pay for a flier on Harry Giles III. He was once regarded as the best recruit in his class, but a serious of knee injuries and procedures have held him back ever since, to the point the Sacramento Kings (rather inexplicably) declined his fourth-year option.

    But he's still just 22 years old and clearly skilled. He filled out this season's per-36-minutes stat line with 17.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks. Stick him in the same frontcourt with Darius Bazley and put Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort on the perimeter, and OKC might already have a young nucleus to build around.

Orlando Magic: Jordan Clarkson (Unrestricted)

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Magic are so starved for offense they weren't even a month into the season when they started kicking the tires on a DeMar DeRozan trade, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor. They never made the move, of course, and their offense never escaped the cellar (23rd in efficiency).

    Jordan Clarkson is another way of addressing the issue. He doesn't have the track record or the same production as DeRozan, but he also doesn't have an aversion to outside shots and shouldn't command close to DeRozan's $27.7 million salary.

    Clarkson can be sporadic, but he just completed his most efficient campaign to date while also averaging 15-plus points for the second straight season. His 17.3 player efficiency rating was a career high, as were his 45.4 field-goal percentage, 36.8 three-point percentage and 152 triples. That's too much scoring punch for the Magic to ignore.

Philadelphia 76ers: E'Twaun Moore (Unrestricted)

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    Mike Ehrmann/Associated Press

    Philly's plans for free agency could be summed up in the headline of a classified ad: "Cheap shooters wanted." The Sixers are diving head-first into the luxury tax, which amplifies any offseason expenditure.

    "Using their taxpayer mid-level exception on somebody who can actually shoot would be hugely expensive—the contract would only be $5.7 million but including the increased tax penalty it would cost the Sixers $26 million," The Athletic's John Hollinger wrote.

    That'd be massive money for E'Twaun Moore, but then again, he'd be arriving to address a massive shooting shortage. Since Ben Simmons doesn't take threes and Joel Embiid makes them infrequently, the Sixers should be overloaded with spacers in their supporting cast.

    They're not at all, but Moore, a career 39.0 percent splasher, should at least get them some breathing room.

Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant

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    Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

    If the Suns are anxious to see a quick return on any free-agent investments, it'd be hard to blame them. While their playoff drought reached a full decade, they still constructed a mountain of optimism with their 8-0 sprint through the bubble.

    They don't appear far from a breakthrough, which will increase their interest in a quick-fix free agent. Maybe they'll see Danilo Gallinari or Paul Millsap as a finishing piece, and they should have the funds to chase them. But those are stop-gap solutions for a squad that, again, last booked a playoff trip in 2010.

    The appeal of Jerami Grant is the fact he can elevate the club now but also grow with the young nucleus. He'd be an open-floor asset sprinting alongside Devin Booker, and Phoenix would have a dynamic defensive tandem with him and Mikal Bridges. If the Suns have their stars already with Booker and Deandre Ayton, they can afford to (slightly) overpay for Grant's glue-guy game and explosive athleticism.

Portland Trail Blazers: Nerlens Noel (Unrestricted)

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    Mike Ehrmann/Associated Press

    The Blazers had to be pleased with what they received from Hassan Whiteside as a stand-in for Jusuf Nurkic. But with Nurkic back healthy and Whiteside bound for free agency, this partnership has passed its expiration date.

    Portland should tag Nerlens Noel as a cheaper alternative. He may not have Whiteside's bulk, but he offers similar length with more mobility and a better motor. Noel could even juice the offense as a more dynamic pick-and-roll screener (88th percentile to Whiteside's 63rd).

    Now, backup center is a lesser need than a two-way wing, but everyone is in the market for the latter. Rather than overpaying a lesser swingman to fill a need, Portland could benefit from a glut of non-shooting wings and add Noel on a contract he can easily outperform.

Sacramento Kings: Bogdan Bogdanovic (Restricted)

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    Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

    The Kings already tipped their hands with Bogdan Bogdanovic's free agency. More than once, actually.

    If they didn't intend to keep him, they could've flipped him for something interesting at the deadline. They didn't. Instead, they promoted him to the starting lineup and saw the club hit its stride shortly thereafter. He made his first appearance with the openers on Jan. 24. The Kings were 15-29 with a minus-3.5 net rating at the time. They went 16-12 with a plus-0.6 net rating the rest of the way.

    That doesn't all come back to Bogdanovic, but his well-rounded skills boost this bunch in every area. While he's 28 years old, he only has three seasons under his belt, so there might be a little room left for upward mobility.

    This decision is basically already made. Re-signing Bogdanovic is Sacramento's "top priority," and the club is ready to match any offer sheet, per The Athletic's Jason Jones.

San Antonio Spurs: Jakob Poeltl (Restricted)

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    San Antonio's shift to a developmental focus inside the bubble should also guide its offseason thinking. On a macro level, that means shopping the big-name (and big-money) veterans to any interested buyers. On a smaller scale, it means paying anything within reason to keep Jakob Poeltl around.

    He doesn't seem like a primary building block, but he's definitely a piece of the puzzle. He functions as an impact anchor on the defensive interior, shining brightest as a rim protector (fifth-most blocks per 36 minutes among rotation regulars) but also being agile enough to survive away from the basket.

    His offensive outlook is gloomy, particularly his plummeting free-throw percentage (46.5 this season). But if he's not needed for scoring, he can add value as a screen-setter, ball-mover and glass-cleaner.

Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet (Unrestricted)

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    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    You've surely heard about Toronto's big dreams for 2021. But what about its "big-time priority" for 2020?

    That's how Raptors president Masai Ujiri labeled Fred VanVleet's upcoming free agency, which seems like a big deal. The point guard will be heavily pursued—the Knicks, Pistons and Suns perhaps leading the charge—so it won't be cheap to bring him back.

    But an annual salary in the $20 million range might do it, and that would still leave the franchise flexible enough to chase Giannis Antetokounmpo next summer. VanVleet doesn't have the longest track record for someone collecting that kind of coin, but his NBA career is a continuous loop of colossal leaps.

    If he plateaus here (17.6 points, 6.6 assists), he's worth the money. If he keeps climbing, he might be a bargain.

Utah Jazz: Jordan Clarkson (Unrestricted)

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    The Jazz targeted Jordan Clarkson in search of a spark in December, and he ignited almost the second he touched down in Salt Lake City. Over his second and third games with the Jazz, he totaled 39 points on only 26 shots.

    The rest of the campaign brought more of the same, and come playoff time, he landed fourth on the club in points per game (16.7). He adds an attacking element this roster doesn't really have outside of Donovan Mitchell, and while he is prone to bouts of tunnel vision, Utah's plethora of passers help hide that weak spot.

    The Jazz need to be careful and not let Clarkson's next contract get out of hand. He's essentially a scoring specialist, and at 28 years old, it's hard to imagine he'll add many (if any) new layers to his game going forward.

    But Utah needs those points, and it won't increase its spending options by letting him walk. If he heads elsewhere, it should be because he got overpaid or chose to hoop elsewhere.

Washington Wizards: Davis Bertans (Unrestricted)

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    If every NBA offseason has a buzz word, the early favorite for 2020 is "priority."

    With so much spending likely taking place in-house, just about everyone is making early verbal commitments to their top free agents. It's no different with the Wizards and Davis Bertans.

    "He's been a priority," general manager Tommy Sheppard said, per The Athletic's Fred Katz. "I told him that. And really, nothing has changed there."

    Bertans has always been likely to stick around the District, especially when the Wizards held onto him past the deadline. They think they can compete with Bradley Beal and a (hopefully) healthy John Wall next season, and Bertans' lethal long-range stroke (200 triples at a 42.4 percent clip this season) will make that easier to do.


    All stats courtesy of and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.