NBA Free Agents 2020: Latest Predictions for Hassan Whiteside, Top Role Players
The harsh truth about this year's NBA free agency is that there are no superstars on the board.
Sure, there's Anthony Davis, but he's a lock to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, which will allow him to go back out with LeBron James and defend their recent championship.
Outside of Davis, there's a few current and former All-Stars on the market like Gordon Hayward, DeMar DeRozan and Brandon Ingram, but that's it.
That doesn't mean that teams can't make themselves better with the right signing, however. There are quite a few great role players available. These are guys who can step in and be important, reliable pieces on contenders.
Here are a few players who fit that all-important bill and where they might land.
5. Jae Crowder (Unrestricted Free Agent)
For Jae Crowder, getting traded from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Miami Heat this past season was a stroke of good fortune.
The 30-year old forward worked his way into the rotation as a starter and was an impact player on both ends of the floor. With averages of 11.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game, the former Marquette standout jelled with former college teammate Jimmy Butler and helped propel the Heat to the NBA Finals.
Now that he's up for a new contract, it's going to be a tough call for Miami between wanting to keep him while also remaining flexible enough to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo next summer.
It's likely that the Heat will make Crowder a one-year offer in the neighborhood of $8 million to $10 million, but he's looking for stability.
"Obviously, I want security," Crowder told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. He continued:
"The league is an up-and-down league. You never know. I've been a part of trades, so I know about security.
"So I'm going to obviously give it thought on both sides — having security and my comfort with this organization. So, hopefully, it all comes together from both sides. And that's what I really want to do. But, at the same time, honestly, it's business. So I'll leave it at that."
Crowder will likely test the market, where he could command the mid-level exception of $9.3 million per year from numerous teams.
This will come down to what's more important to Crowder. Does he want to run it back with Miami or take his chances with another team that may not be as championship-ready but he has a nice three- or four-year deal?
Prediction: Jae Crowder signs a one-year deal with Miami.
4. Joe Harris (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Every team in the league needs shooters.
Brooklyn Nets guard/forward Joe Harris is a lethal shooter.
The 2019 NBA 3-Point Contest winner led the league that year in shooting from behind the arc, hitting an eye-popping 47.4 percent of his shots from deep.
Last season, his average dropped to 42.4 percent, but that's still good enough for seventh on the list. In 69 games, the 29-year old sniper averaged 14.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
Next season will look different for the Nets with the emergence of the superstar pairing of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. But even with those two dominant forces, they will still need a shooter like Harris.
For his part, general manager Sean Marks has said that bringing back Harris is a priority.
That may be easier said than done, though, because according to the NY Post's Brian Lewis' league sources, Harris "ticks a lot of boxes for any team."
Harris was a bargain at $7.7 million, but he's likely to command as much as $12 million per on the open market.
One of the biggest competitors for his services is likely the New York Knicks, who have plenty of money to spend and a dire need for a shooter of Harris' caliber.
The Knicks have money to spend and few options to choose from. Expect them to make a push to sign Harris.
Harris does want to stay in Brooklyn to play with Irving and KD, so it's possible that a deal can be made.
"Definitely. Why wouldn't you?" Harris told Lewis. "Those are guys I've gotten close with now that I've been with them this past year. They're obviously incredible players. You see what they're able to do when they are healthy and playing. I don't think there's anybody in the NBA who wouldn't want to play with those guys.
He also added his thoughts on the team's new head coach, Steve Nash.
"[Nash] just talked about how he felt about me as a player and wanted me to come back and be in Brooklyn," Harris said.
Prediction: Joe Harris signs with Brooklyn.
3. Jordan Clarkson (Unrestricted Free Agent)
After spending a spending some time in NBA purgatory with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jordan Clarkson got a new lease on life with the Utah Jazz last season.
Right away, he was a spark plug off the bench, pouring in 15.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Then, in the playoffs, he stepped up his production, helping the Jazz make a respectable run in the bubble with 16.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per outing.
Now that he's found his mojo, he's poised to be a hot commodity for teams looking for some offensive punch.
According to Tony Jones of The Athletic, the Jazz want to re-sign their reliable sixth man, but the salary cap may be a roadblock considering that they are hoping to keep him and use the mid-level exception to add some depth.
Jordan will likely get offers in the $12 million- to $15 million-per-year range, and to match that Utah would have to be willing to go into the luxury tax, which is something they rarely do.
Still, they have a strong young core in Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and will need Clarkson if they want to take another step in their quest for a championship.
They have got new ownership now, so there's a chance that Ryan Smith will come in with his checkbook wide-open.
If he doesn't, a team such as the Knicks will steal away Clarkson.
Prediction: Jordan Clarkson signs with Utah.
2. Marcus Morris Sr. (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Marcus Morris Sr. once again proved he's a valuable role player in his quick stint with the Los Angeles Clippers this past season.
Even though they came up short of expectations, Morris was one of the main reasons why they made it as far as they did in the bubble.
Morris' numbers took a hit in L.A., going from 19.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game with the Knicks to 10.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per outing, but that was expected playing alongside Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
The Clippers had major chemistry issues and may lose Montrezl Harrell to another team with deep pockets, but keeping Morris, a reliable two-way player, should be a priority and a lot easier.
The 6'8" forward took a two-year deal with the San Antonio Spurs and a one-year deal with New York after he got out of his Spurs commitment last year, so he's not above taking a short-term deal.
The crosstown rival Lakers might consider pairing Morris with his twin brother, Markieff, but that's not their priority, which should leave the door wide-open for the Clippers.
Prediction: Marcus Morris signs with the Clippers.
1. Hassan Whiteside (Unrestricted Free Agent)
The Hassan Whiteside experiment with the Portland Trail Blazers is likely over.
While he did an admirable job filling in for the injured Jusuf Nurkic, averaging 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and an NBA-leading 2.9 blocks per game, he's headed to the bench if he stays in Portland.
Also working against him is his salary expectation.
The 7'0" center was traded to the Blazers last summer at the tail end of the four-year, $98 million deal he signed with the Heat in 2016.
He's not going to command anywhere near the $27 million he was paid this past season, but he may be able to ride the big man wave to a respectable $12 million to $15 million salary from a team that needs his size and rim protection.
In today's NBA, a big man needs to be able to stretch the floor, defend on the perimeter and have a keen eye for making passes.
Whiteside is not that kind of player.
But with Harrell likely gone in free agency, the Clippers will be looking for a his replacement. And with the way that they had problems contending with the Lakers' bigs this past season, Whiteside could be the solution to their problems in getting over the hump.
There are other teams that could make a push for him like the Detroit Pistons, but if Whiteside wants to play for a contender, he will make a beeline for the City of Angels.
Prediction: Hassan Whiteside signs with the Clippers.