Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

NBA Free Agents: Who'll Go Where?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

NBA Free Agents: Who'll Go Where?

Article excerpt

The free agent market in the NBA opens for business at 12:01 Friday morning and it promises to be a wild ride, with teams flush with salary cap room like never before.

Now the talent just has to live up to the contracts. And that's a problem because of the available cash -- six teams could have more than $50 million free under the cap, trying to lure two max- contract players. There might be more money around than players worth spending it on.

Here, we try to break down who gets the money and who is worth it -- and who is not.

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART, AND CASH, IS: It's anticlimactic, but the two biggest names in free agency are unlikely to switch teams this time. LeBron James returned home to Cleveland two years ago -- and despite opting out, is almost certainly staying there this time, just cashing in on the increased salary cap.

Kevin Durant is not even meeting with his hometown Wizards, but that doesn't mean he doesn't feel the pull of home. It's just that it's his adopted hometown of Oklahoma City that is the frontrunner to keep him in the fold.

The rising cap -- $94 million this year and ballooning to approximately $112 million next summer -- has made the one-and-one contract, a one-year deal with an option for a second year, the preferred method of getting all the money on the table for the current stars. If Durant were to do that in Oklahoma City by becoming a 10-year vet with one team he would pocket an extra $80 million over the span of the contract.

DeMar DeRozan is expected to stick around in Toronto, where he has spent his entire career.

WHO TAKES THE MONEY AND RUNS? Last year it was LaMarcus Aldridge who was the premier free agent to switch teams (and DeAndre Jordan who provided the most comic relief with his decision). So who will bolt for a new home among the top free agents this time?

It's not just James, Durant and DeRozan who seem tied to their current teams. The Hawks seem intent on keeping Al Horford in Atlanta. And that might open the door for Kent Bazemore to depart. Bazemore blossomed with the Hawks last year in the wake of DeMarre Carroll's departure.

Dwyane Wade opened eyes when a story surfaced this week that he would listen to other offers after sluggish negotiations with the Heat. …

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