NBA Free Agency 2021: Bold Predictions for DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and MoreJuly 29, 2021
NBA Free Agency 2021: Bold Predictions for DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and More
While NBA headlines focus on the 2021 draft, free agency, which starts with the negotiation period Monday at 6 p.m. ET, isn't far behind.
This year, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry will hit the open market as two of the most recognizable names among the unrestricted free-agent group.
Over the last few years, DeRozan has expanded his skill set. He'll draw several suitors. As a former NBA champion, Lowry can bring leadership to a locker room. At 35 years old, he's still a solid lead guard who can score and distribute to playmakers.
As former teammates with the Toronto Raptors, DeRozan and Lowry could join forces once again on a playoff contender.
What's next for two of the top free agents? Who's an underrated pickup with some upside? We'll provide three bold predictions for the most intriguing players on the open market and how they fit at those potential landing spots.
Los Angeles Lakers Sign G DeMar DeRozan
For eight consecutive campaigns, DeRozan has averaged at least 20.1 points per game, but he's more than just a scorer going into his 13th season.
DeRozan became a better facilitator in three years with the San Antonio Spurs. For the 2020-21 term, he averaged a career-high 6.9 assists per game.
Because of DeRozan's strides as a ball-handler, he's the top unrestricted free agent in this year's class. The 31-year-old will likely receive offers from more than a handful of teams. Nonetheless, he has an interest in going back to his native state of California.
Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times wrote: "DeRozan, who starred at Compton High and USC, has interest in returning home to play for the Lakers, even if it is for less than the $27.7 million he earned last season in San Antonio, according to people not authorized to speak publicly on the matter."
If DeRozan isn't interested in the most lucrative deal on the table, he could fit with the Lakers alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Going into his age-37 term, James can relinquish some of his ball-handling duties and allow DeRozan to run the offense in stretches. The versatile wingman can create his own shot and handle a portion of the scoring load if necessary. Los Angeles would have a legitimate Big Three in this scenario.
Miami Heat Sign G Kyle Lowry
Lowry has played beyond his best years, but he averaged 17.2 points and 7.3 assists per game last season. The six-time All-Star has also become an efficient three-point shooter, converting 39.6 percent from beyond the arc for the 2020-21 term.
According to The Athletic's and Stadium's Shams Charania, the Philadelphia Sixers, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers will pursue Lowry.
At this stage in Lowry's career, he may not want to sign with the Pelicans, who have an unstable situation after hiring their third head coach (Willie Green) in three years. The Mavericks have turnover at the head coaching position as they brought in Jason Kidd to replace Rick Carlisle. As trade rumors swirl around Ben Simmons, the Sixers may have to sort out a situation with one of their stars first.
If DeRozan takes a pay cut and signs with the Lakers, Lowry may choose to go elsewhere for financial reasons despite the opportunity to play with a former teammate.
In Miami, Lowry can join a playoff-caliber squad and a world-class organization under team president Pat Riley. With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in place as the Heat's lead stars, the 15-year veteran can set the table for the offense and push this team back in title contention.
In this scenario, Miami would decline the $19.4 million club option on guard Goran Dragic's contract to make room for Lowry.
San Antonio Spurs Sign F Kelly Oubre Jr.
Keep an eye on Kelly Oubre Jr. in the next few weeks. He had a solid 2020-21 campaign with the Golden State Warriors, averaging 15.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per outing.
If the Warriors re-sign Oubre, head coach Steve Kerr plans to bring him off the bench, which doesn't seem appealing to the six-year veteran, who talked about the prospective role with Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes on the Post Up podcast.
"Being 25 years old, the way that my career has been shaping out, the growth that I've shown in my career to go from the 15th pick to continuously have my numbers grow each and every year and my role and opportunity on the team to grow each and every year, to have a year where my opportunity is lessened, and then as the year goes on I'm put into this category of trying to shape out the future of the organization when I haven't been given a fair opportunity to show what I can do on a large scale—yeah, it is unfair.”
Don't count on Oubre's return to Golden State. At 25 years old, he's probably on the lookout for a starting position.
The San Antonio Spurs have a guard-heavy roster with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV and Devin Vassell as budding players in the backcourt. Keldon Johnson logged most of his minutes at small forward, but at 6'5", 220 pounds, he can slide into a guard role as well.
At 6'7", 203 pounds, Oubre can play as a 3 or 4 in a smaller lineup. He won't have to lead the Spurs in scoring. His rebounding and on-ball defense would bolster the frontcourt.
Player salaries courtesy of Spotrac.