B/R NBA Staff: Final Predictions for 2020 NBA Free Agency

Bleacher Report NBA StaffFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2020

Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson (13) drives past Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson (11) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Associated Press

With the NBA draft still in the rearview and the upcoming preseason already, almost unbelievably, on the horizon (Dec. 11), there really is no rest for the offseason weary.Β 

NBA free agency is here, and for all the talk about the insipid 2020 class, there's nothing underwhelming about what's on the line starting Friday at 6:00 p.m ET.Β 

Bleacher Report asked our NBA staff to share their predictions ahead of the NBA's big weekend. Do the same and hit the App for bragging rights when your team and your star align in free agency.Β 

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Warriors Chase Tristan Thompson

The Golden State Warriors were naturally devastated by the news that Klay Thompson has a torn Achilles tendon. Acting quickly, they have a deal in place to bring in Kelly Oubre Jr. from the Oklahoma City Thunder, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Oubre should slot into the starting lineup alongside Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green. The fifth starter could be No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, but that's a lot to ask of a 19-year-old who played just three whole games for Memphis during his college career and who won't benefit from summer league or a typical rookie offseason spent training with the team.

Throughout their championship runs, the Warriors always had size in the middle, and looking at the current market, veteran big man Tristan Thompson takes up a lot of space, is a strong screen-setter and is also a prolific rebounder.

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The market is flush with available centers, and the Warriors' taxpayer mid-level exception at $5.7 million should be enough to lure Thompson away from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He will let the Warriors bring Wiseman along more slowly while filling a need on the floor.

β€”Eric Pincus

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Hawks Give Gordon Hayward The Bag

Todd Kirkland/Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks possess more cap space than any other NBA team, entering free agency with a cool $44 million at their disposal, per ESPN's Bobby Marks.

Assuming Anthony Davis returns to the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans match any offer for restricted free agent Brandon Ingram, however, there will be no other current All-Stars on the market. Atlanta has to spend its money somewhere.

One name to keep an eye on? Gordon Hayward, who just surprisingly turned down a massive $34.2 million player option.

There's no way Hayward would have agreed to do so if something weren't already being worked out behind the scenes, especially not as a 30-year-old who's suffered various ankle injuries over the past few years.

Atlanta could throw a monster one-year deal at Hayward while keeping cap space open for 2021, which should bring about a much stronger free-agent class. It could also offer a longer deal at a lower annual rateβ€”something like three years and $80 million.

Since the Hawks are looking to get better fast before Trae Young becomes extension-eligible next offseason, expect them to be at the front of the Hayward sweepstakes.

β€”Greg Swartz

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Knicks Give Near-Max Money To Fred VanVleet

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The New York Knicks expanded their collection of young talent by adding Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley during Wednesday's draft, but the roster needs a two-way leader to follow. They've needed a point guard forever, and few organizations are more in need of a culture change.

That's a long-winded way of saying they need Fred VanVleet. And after taking a hatchet to the payroll, they'll have the funds to lure him back south of the border.

The Toronto Raptors want VanVleet back, but they surely have a walk-away price point, too. They also might've just drafted his replacement in Malachi Flynn, who The Athletic's Sam Vecenie called "the closest thing to Fred VanVleet ... since the man himself."

VanVleet sits a tier beneath stardom, but New York can give him a near-star salary without blowing the budget. It'd be a solid investment in the presentβ€”he was one of 12 qualified players to average 17 points, six assists and two threes in 2019-20β€”and a massive one for the future. Not only could he help bring the young 'Bockers along, but he could also help change the franchise's perception around the league.

That's worth massive money, and VanVleet has made it clear that's what he's looking to collect. New York needs to get this done.

β€”Zach Buckley

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Clippers Poach a Cross-Town Rival

Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

The Hawks are rumored to be Rajon Rondo's next home, but that might be a leak for leverage because they're one of the only teams with cap space.

Unless Rondo is purely looking for the most money and Atlanta is willing to drastically overpay, the Los Angeles Clippers make much more sense as a landing spot. He showed in the bubble with the Los Angeles Lakers that the "Playoff Rondo" phenomenon is real, and he can still help a title team even this far into his playing days.

In the latter half of his career, Rondo has also become a respected locker-room leader with rings and credibility, and that's something the Clippers badly need after their second-round collapse against the Denver Nuggets.

The Clippers are going to retool, and taking Rondo away from the Lakers is a move that makes sense for them on a lot of levels.

β€”Sean Highkin

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Mavs Get Greedy, Get Gallinari

Kyle Phillips/Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks made a big jump in Luka Doncic's second season.

Naturally, they're now going to be greedy, and it's worth jumping through a few hurdles for the chance to add a veteran scoring forward like Danilo Gallinari.

The Mavericks just added Josh Richardson in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers (sending out Seth Curry), which makes Tim Hardaway Jr., who picked up his $18.9 million player option, somewhat expendable. Dallas can use Hardaway to make a sign-and-trade deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder and land Gallinari on a contract in the $20 million range.

That would give the Mavericks a hard cap for the year at $138.9 million, but they should still be able to add a player with the $9.3 million mid-level exception without issue.

The Thunder, who seem to be collecting first-round picks from everyone in the league, would certainly need something valuable for Gallinari. Perhaps they could land Dallas' 2027 first-round pick or, instead, multiple second-rounders.

β€”Pincus

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Carmelo Anthony Joins LeBron James, Finally

Ashley Landis/Associated Press

With the Portland Trail Blazers, Carmelo Anthony proved he can still help a team. Now, as the Lakers are looking to add help for cheap, it's finally time for him to play with close friend and Banana Boat-mate LeBron James.

Anthony won't start, but he can score as much as he wants with the second unit and make it easier for general manager Rob Pelinka to eventually trade Kyle Kuzma for another upgrade. If he's a helpful role player on a team that will be entering the season as a favorite to repeat as champions, it will change the way people think about his career.

Previously, the time wasn't right for James and Anthony to play together. Now, it makes more sense than ever.

β€”Highkin