Kevin Durant is hands down the number one among the NBA free agents in the summer of 2016. As many as six teams have reportedly gained access (via a face-to-face interview) with the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar. And more are still hoping to get an audience with Durant even though they are not expected to contend for a title next season (Hello Lakers, Wizards and Knicks fans).
However, Durant is not the lone free agent that can manage to influence a franchise’s future—either in the short-term to becoming a title/playoffs contender next season or two, or a long-term plan of building their respective teams the next few years.
There are other worthy free agents in the market who can be a crucial piece for any team for their goals in the upcoming season and beyond.
Here’s a list—the top 25 NBA free agents this summer—available in the market. Along with their previous teams last season plus their projected new teams.
Free agency officially opens July 1 and it’s expected that offseason moves are going to be fast and furious as all teams zone in on their respective targets.
The elite NBA free agents of 2016
- Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder, forward)
Durant’s name is the hottest in the rumor mill and it’s no surprise; after all, he is Kevin Durant, perhaps the best all-around scorer in the entire league.
The contenders (San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors) are chasing him; the fringe contenders (Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat) are also on his heels; even the teams on rebuilding mode and looking to hit the jackpot in free agency (Washington Wizards, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers) will try to net the OKC superstar.
Kevin Durant’s destination: Oklahoma City Thunder or Golden State Warriors
- Hassan Whiteside (Miami Heat, center)
The most interesting case in 2016 free agency as he is an unrestricted free agent and with the Heat having no leverage of retaining him because all other interested teams can offer him the same amount/length of his maximum contract.
The Dallas Mavericks, Lakers and Knicks are the reported teams interested but Pat Riley and the Heat have stated early in offseason that he is their top priority (over Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng).
Hassan Whiteside’s destination: Los Angeles Lakers or Miami Heat
- DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors, guard/forward)
Unlike Whiteside, DeRozan has the potential to earn more in Toronto than elsewhere. He’s an NBA All-Star but many doubt if he is a transcendent talent at the same level of LeBron James or Kevin Durant—which means there are questions if he deserves the full max contract.
DeMar DeRozan’s destination: Toronto Raptors
- Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks, center)
Horford is in his prime so contending teams are taking a good hard look at him if he’s the player that will bring them over the hump. No young team will take a chance on him but the veteran teams (Spurs and Warriors) will consider the big man or teams that want to contend for a playoff spot.
Al Horford’s destination: Dallas Mavericks or New York Knicks
5. Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies, point guard)
One of the most underrated players in his position owing to his efficiency on both ends of the court. He can run a team and play defense but he’ll never be the super scoring guards which are the fad of late (Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook and John Wall). Conley at best is a “system player” but one who will can efficiently run that system.
Mike Conley’s destination: Memphis Grizzlies or San Antonio Spurs
Role players that can turn or return to being stars
- Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors, forward)
Barnes was on his way to a max deal before the 2016 NBA Playoffs began; after struggling in some postseason games and especially in the NBA Finals, teams are now worried if indeed he’s worthy of a max deal.
Harrison Barnes’ destination: Dallas Mavericks or Boston Celtics
- Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards, shooting guard)
Injury-prone guard has lost some value over the last few seasons but it’s likely that he still earns the max from his own team.
Bradley Beal’s destination: Washington Wizards or New York Knicks
- Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets, center)
How the mighty has fallen. One of the top centers in previous years but looks like no team wants to touch him because of attitude and chemistry issues. He’ll still get a nice contract and a team will risk on him because of his length, athleticism and defensive skills.
Dwight Howard’s destination: Dallas Mavericks or New York Knicks
9. Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls, center)
The Spanish center is old but still very serviceable. He’ll likely go to a team that wants depth in the front court and might even bring him off the bench to limit his minutes and usage. A great weapon in the postseason though, especially with his high basketball IQ.
Pau Gasol’s destination: San Antonio Spurs or Dallas Mavericks
- Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks, guard/forward)
A great shooter when he’s healthy. But he’s not been consistently healthy so a long-term max deal is in question.
Chandler Parson’s destination: Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Lakers
- Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks, power forward)
Opted out of his contract in Dallas not to get a long-term deal but to help the Mavericks chase some top free agents first.
Dirk Nowitzki’s destination: Dallas Mavericks
- Rajon Rondo (Sacramento Kings, point guard)
A point guard that still has no jumpshot but has everything else. Good landing place would be for a playoff/title contender that wants stability in the backcourt.
Rajon Rondo’s destination: Chicago Bulls or Memphis Grizzlies (should they lose Conley)
- Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets, forward)
Batum is hitting his prime and already riddled with various injuries that a max contract might be ill-advised. However, he is one of the versatile forwards in the league and should help any title/playoff contender.
Nicolas Batum’s destination: Charlotte Hornets or Golden State Warriors
- Ryan Anderson (New Orleans Pelicans, forward)
Stretch fours are highly valued in the new NBA so he’ll get a new lucrative contract.
Ryan Anderson’s destination: San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors
Players that can have major impact with their new (or old) teams
- Luol Deng (Miami Heat, forward) – stays in Miami or moves to Dallas
- Jordan Clarkson (Los Angeles Lakers, guard) – likely staying in Los Angeles
- Bismack Biyombo (Toronto Raptors, center) – likely to stay in Canada
- Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls, center) – New York or Houston
- Festus Ezeli (Golden State Warriors, center) – L.A. Lakers or staying in the Bay Area
- Kent Bazemore (Atlanta Hawks, shooting guard) – Washington or New York
- Jeremy Lin (Charlotte Hornets, point guard) – Chicago or Brooklyn
- Al Jefferson (Charlotte Hornets, center) – Houston or Dallas
- Evan Turner (Boston Celtics, guard/forward) – Golden State or Dallas
- Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic, shooting guard) – staying in Orlando
- Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks, center) – LA, if Lakers miss out on the top FAs
Should your favorite NBA team make a splash in the 2016 free agency and throw serious cash at some of these NBA free agents?