Every team in the league has a certain player that can help get them to the next level. For some teams, it could be part of a rebuild while for others it could make them a contender. Resigning free agents is a major key in the NBA and knowing how to evaluate talent. In this article, I will be breaking down a top free agent target for each team and tell you how that free agent fits in with the team.
The Perfect Free Agent For Each NBA Team:
Atlanta Hawks: PF Julius Randle
The Hawks are in need of a young player who has the potential to be a star and a building block. Julius Randle had an outstanding season with the Los Angeles Lakers last season putting up 16 ppg and 8 rpg. The Hawks drafted Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Omari Spellman, and Devonte’ Graham. They drafted players who can space the floor and shoot with the best of them. Julius Randle would fit in nicely with Atlanta and could be the guy on the Hawks.
Boston Celtics: SG Marcus Smart or C Dwight Howard
The Boston Celtics have one of the best teams in the league and made it to a 7th game in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Celtics lost their two top players with season ending injuries in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. The Celtics don’t need to make any moves this summer other than bringing back the same team from last season. Resigning Marcus Smart will be a top priority for the Celtics due to his leadership and being the heart and soul of this team. Boston could also look to add Dwight Howard after his reported buyout from the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics could use an upgrade at the center position and Howard would be a perfect fit although they added Robert Williams in the draft.
Brooklyn Nets: SF Joe Harris
The Brooklyn Nets won’t have much money to spend in free agency this summer so don’t look for them to make any big moves. After trading away Mozgov for Howard to free up cap space for the summer of 2019. The Nets started discussing a buyout with Howard and will eat his contract this season. The Nets will have enough cap space to pursue two max players next summer so they will look to bring back players on one year deals this offseason. Joe Harris was a nice addition off the bench last season so look for the Nets to bring him back on a one year deal or a low long term deal.
Charlotte Hornets: SG Treveon Graham
The Charlotte Hornets don’t have much to spend in free agency and while they could compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Hornets have a veteraned based roster and they could look to unload some contracts if they aren’t contending for a playoff spot. Treveon Graham didn’t have a spectacular season last year but he was an okay bench player and the Hornets may look to resign him for cheap to give him another chance with a new coaching staff.
Chicago Bulls: SG Zach Lavine
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The Chicago Bulls are in the process of a rebuild after trading away star player Jimmy Butler last offseason. The Chicago Bulls got some nice pieces in return for Butler in Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, and Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls also had one of the best drafts this season in drafting Wendall Carter and Chandler Hutchinson. Zach Lavine missed most of last season recovering from an ACL injury but he did play a couple games at the end of the season to get back into basketball activities. Lavine is a restricted free agent so the Bulls can match any offer that Lavine signs with another team but I would expect the Bulls to go out and sign Zach themselves.
Cleveland Cavaliers: SF LeBron James
The Cleveland Cavaliers have made the NBA Finals the past 4 seasons since LeBron James has come back to Cleveland. LeBron came back to Cleveland to win a championship for his hometown and he accomplished that goal. LeBron is now a free agent again and speculation is that he will be moving on from the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers still have a shot to retain LeBron and they should do everything in their power to keep him in Cleveland and revamp the roster around him.
Dallas Mavericks: C DeMarcus Cousins or C DeAndre Jordan
The Dallas Mavericks haven’t had the success that they have planned in the past couple of seasons. With their franchise player Dirk Nowitzki coming to the end of his career they will be looking to add another star player. The Mavericks have some good young talent in Dennis Smith Jr, Harrison Barnes, Luka Doncic, Johnathon Motley, and Dwight Powell. The Mavericks seem like they want to make a splash in free agency this year and they have been linked to DeMarcus Cousins which would be a nice addition. DeAndre Jordan is also another player but with his player option it might be tough.
Denver Nuggets: C Nikola Jokic
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The Denver Nuggets have missed the playoffs the past two seasons on the final night of the regular season. The Nuggets have one of the best rosters in the league and one of the youngest. The Nuggets drafted Michael Porter Jr in the draft with the 14th pick in which could be a steal if he can stay healthy. The Nuggets don’t have to make many moves this summer but resigning their star center Nikola Jokic is the top priority. Jokic can do it all on the offensive end and the defensive end while becoming one of the best players in the game today.
Detroit Pistons: PF Anthony Tolliver
The Detroit Pistons made a huge splash at the trade deadline last season when they acquired Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers. The Pistons hired a new head coach this offseason after parting ways with Stan Van Gundy. Dwane Casey got hired by Detroit after he was let go by the Toronto Raptors. The Pistons are in win now mode with Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson. The Pistons don’t have much money to spend in free agency but retaining one of their best shooters off the bench in Anthony Tolliver will be huge. His veteran presence and his ability to stretch the floor.
Golden State Warriors: C Dwight Howard
The Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA and have been to the NBA Finals the past 4 seasons while winning 3 of the 4. The Warriors have expressed interest in getting younger on their bench. The top priority for the Warriors is retaining Kevin Durant which will happen on a long term contract. The Warriors are going to be in the need for a starting center with Zaza, Javale, and David West all being free agents. Dwight Howard would have to take a discount to join Golden State but signing Howard would be a huge signing.
Houston Rockets: PG Chris Paul and C Clint Capela
The Houston Rockets had the best record in basketball last season and were a half away from knocking off the defending champions. The Rockets also had the MVP of the league in James Harden who had a remarkable season. The Rockets have been reported to be pursuing LeBron James to pair with Harden and Paul but the Rockets think they are fine with the team they have. The Rockets should retain Chris Paul and Clint Capela along with their role players and make another run in the Western Conference.
Indiana Pacers: SG Will Barton
The Indiana Pacers had a surprising season last year after trading away Paul George. Victor Oladipo has an outstanding season earing him the most improved player award. The Pacers took the Cavaliers to 7 games in the first round of the playoffs. Will Barton was one of the top scorers off the bench last season for Denver and has stated that he wants to start. Adding Barton would take some pressure off of Oladipo on both ends of the floor.
Los Angeles Clippers: PG Isaiah Thomas
The Los Angeles Clippers are in need of a scoring punch from the guard position and on a cheap contract. The Clippers did draft 2 guards in the NBA Draft but they are going to need some time to adjust at the next level. Thomas will likely be looking for a one year deal to prove himself and show that he is back from his hip injury. The Clippers and Thomas could be a nice fit in which they will both help each other.
Los Angeles Lakers: SF LeBron James and SF Paul George
The Los Angeles Lakers have a young team and enough money to sign two max free agents this summer. Their has been speculation since the start of last season about the Lakers going after top free agents. The Lakers have been linked to James and George for quite a while now. If the Lakers can land both guys with their young core and add some veteran pieces then they could contend in the Western Conference next season. LeBron James and Paul George have been rumored to be wanting to team up and play together.
Memphis Grizzlies: SG Marcus Smart
The Memphis Grizzlies had a down season last year due to the loss of Mike Conley. The Grizzlies should still be in the playoff hunt in the Western Conference with the return on Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Memphis draft Jaren Jackson Jr with the 4th pick in the draft and he will be a big part to the success in Memphis next season. Marcus Smart would be a perfect fit in Memphis due to his toughness and grit. Pairing Conley and Smart would be a nightmare for opposing backcourts with their toughness on defense.
Miami Heat: SG Wayne Ellington
The Miami Heat made the playoffs last season and will look to build on that this season. The Miami Heat will have a decision to make on Justice Winslow and Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside expressed his fusturation with his lack of playing time and wanting to move on. Retaining Wayne Ellington who was a factor off the bench for Miami while setting a franchise record for 3 pointers made in a season.
Milwaukee Bucks: PF Jabari Parker
The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and have one of the top players in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks should look to bring back their team from last year and try to make another run with Middleton, Bledsoe, Brogdon, Parker, DiVincenzo, and Giannis. Jabari Parker had a nice season after returning from a knee injury and has the potential to be a good player in this league but the Bucks will also need to be in the market for a center.
Minnesota Timberwolves: PF Luc Mbah a Moute
The Minnesota Timberwoleves had a nice season last year before falling to the Houston Rockets in the playoffs. The Timberwolves have enough scoring on the offensive end with Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Karl Anthony Towns, Taj Gibson, and Derrick Rose. The Timberwolves need defense off the bench and Luc Mbah a Moute could help them with the defense and guarding either forward position. The Timberwolves also drafted Josh Okogie who will be a contributor off the bench. The Timberwolves will look for a bounce back season next year and to make a deeper run in the playoffs.
New Orleans Pelicans: C DeMarcus Cousins
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The New Orleans Pelicans had a nice season last year even with Cousins going down with an achilles injury. The Pelicans acquired Cousins a year and a half ago to pair him with Anthony Davis. The Pelicans should look to resign Cousins and make a run back to the playoffs and possibly the NBA Finals. Cousins and Davis have been a dynamic duo together and pairing them with Jrue Holiday who is one of the most underrated players in the league gives them their own big 3.
New York Knicks: C Enes Kanter
The New York Knicks are in a rebuild but have a talented young core to build around. The young core consist of Frank Ntilikinia, Kevin Knox, Kristaps Porzingis, Mitchell Robinson, Trey Burke, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Tim Hardaway Jr. Enes Kanter was one of the bright spots last season with his ability on the offensive and defensive end of the floor. Kanter has a player option but with the new head coach and new front office in New York. He has made it seem like he wants to be here for the long run and if it ends up opting out then the Knicks should look to sign Kanter to a long term deal.
Oklahoma City Thunder: SF Paul George
The Oklahoma City Thunder had a disappointing season in that they had high hopes coming into the year. The loss of Andre Roberson was one that hurt the Thunder in the playoffs. Paul George has said some things that make you think he will be back in Oklahoma City to play with Russell Westbrook. The Thunder should bring back Paul George and add another piece in Avery Bradley or Marco Bellinelli off the bench to give them another scoring option.
Orlando Magic: PF Aaron Gordon
The Orlando Magic have had some down seasons the last couple of years. The Magic have a new head coach this season in Steve Clifford who was the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets. The Magic drafted Mohamed Bamba in this years draft to be their center for years to come. Resigning Aaron Gordon who is still young and has potential to be a impact player in this league and pairing him with Bamba would form a dynamic duo in the frontcourt. Aaron has improved year after year and is starting to have the star potential.
Philadelphia 76ers: SF Paul George
The Philadelphia 76ers had a remarkable season last year in making the second round of the playoffs after being at the bottom of the league for the past 4 – 5 years. The 76ers have a young core in Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Zhaire Smith, Dario Saric, and Robert Covington. The 76ers have been linked to going after LeBron James to form a superteam in Philadelphia. Paul George would be a better fit in Philly than LeBron in my opinion because of his ability to stretch the floor and play with or without the ball. Ben Simmons is the primary ball handler in Philly and pairing him with Embiid and George could be deadly.
Phoenix Suns: PG Rajon Rondo
The Phoenix Suns had the worst record in the league last season which resulted in the number 1 overall pick in the draft and a new head coach. The Suns have the best young core in the league with Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, TJ Warren, Mikal Bridges, and DeAndre Ayton. The Suns may be ready to compete next season in the Western Conference but they are still missing a point guard and a veteran who can take the young players under their wing. Rajon Rondo would be a perfect fit to lead this team to the playoffs and possibly furthur. Rondo is a veteran presence on and off the court and is a point guard who will lead a team and puts his teammates first before anything else.
Portland Trail Blazers: C Jusuf Nurkic
The Portland Trail Blazers have one of the best scoring back courts in the league. Portland’s defense improved last season when Nurkic was in the game which lead Portland to a top 3 seed in the Western Conference. Jusuf Nurkic was acquired a couple years ago from the Denver Nuggets and vastly improved Portland. The Trail Blazers will resign Nurkic and should look to go after a forward that could improve their team and add another scoring option.
Sacramento Kings: PF Jabari Parker
The Sacramento Kings have had success in the draft the past couple of seasons. With their franchise guards in DeAaron Fox and Buddy Heild. The additions of Marvin Bagley and Gary Trent in this years draft the Kings are posied for the future. If they can land Jabari Parker to play the small forward position he can come in and be the go to guy and build something special in Sacramento. The Kings starting lineup could look like DeAaron Fox, Buddy Heild/Iman Shumpert, Jabari Parker, Marvin Bagley, and Skal Labissiere/Harry Giles.
San Antonio Spurs: SG Mario Hezonja
The San Antonio Spurs are one of the greatest franchises in NBA history. The Spurs had a good season last year before being eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. The Spurs were without their superstar Kawhi Leonard for most of the season after a quad injury. Mario Hezonja would be a nice fit in San Antonio whether or not Kawhi is on the Spurs. Mario could start at the forward position or could be a nice addition off the bench for the Spurs and give them offensive potential and high defensive ability.
Toronto Raptors: PG Fred VanVleet
The Toronto Raptors had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season and had high hopes in making the NBA Finals. The Raptors ended up getting swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs which insured the firing of Dwane Casey. The Raptors GM has said that nobody is untouchable for the right price but I would be surprised if any of their star players get traded. With the Raptors being 26 million dollars over the cap space they won’t be able to go after any big name free agents but bringing back Fred VanVleet to run the second unit is key. Fred was a difference maker for Toronto last season off the bench and when he got the start on nights Kyle Lowry was off.
Utah Jazz: PF Derrick Favors
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The Utah Jazz had an exciting season last year with the play of rookie Donavan Mithcell. The Jazz have a good young core and our ready to compete for the next couple of years. With the addition of Jae Crowder at the deadline with his toughness and grit on the defensive end and shot making ability on offense. The Jazz will look to bring back Derrick Favors who has the best year of his career last season and step up big time when Gobert went down with an injury. Favors will look to add to that remarkable season and take the next step in his development.
Washington Wizards: C Dwight Howard
The Washington Wizards have had good regular seasons but disappointing playoffs the past couple of years. The Wizards have a dynamic back court in John Wall and Bradley Beal who can impact a game on both ends of the floor. The big hole for the Wizards is the center position and since they just traded Gortat to the Clippers for Austin Rivers they are in need of a starting center. Dwight Howard who had a good season last year could thrive in Washington with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The pick and roll game and being a dominate inside player is where Howard is at his best. Pairing Howard with Porter and Morris in the front court could make for an exciting season for the Washington Wizards.
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