The NBA free agency period has become incredibly compelling theater over the years, at times outpacing the excitement of the season itself. That intrigue’s grown even more this past decade, as LeBron James and others have discovered how to control every second of the sports news cycle with their impending decisions.
This summer, there may not be as many big names on the market, but there’s still plenty of potential for movement. What we’re concerned with here, however, are the contracts that fail to relocate at all.
Who are the 10 NBA free agents most likely to re-sign with their current team?
1. Steph Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors
Steph’s the face of the Warriors and has become a league icon with Golden State. He’ll need to get paid this offseason, clearly. But he certainly understands the sacrifices that every player on this Warriors squad needs to make in order to keep this nucleus together (and the team not drowning in luxury tax). No one wants to break up the band and disrupt a run that could yield several more titles before its over. Curry’s staying put.
2. Kevin Durant, PF, Golden State
See above. Durant came to the Warriors to compete for a title and play with Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. After a season of accomplishing his goals, it would be counter-intuitive for the superstar to just pick up and leave the Bay Area. Like Curry, he’ll need to make some salary sacrifices for this to work. But it seems like everyone’s on board to keep the title defense alive.
3. Pau Gasol, C, San Antonio Spurs
Gasol’s already said he’ll re-sign with the Spurs, despite opting out of 2017-18’s $16 million contract. The move is simply a device to help the team have some flexibility to make the moves it needs to this offseason. Gasol would create demand at numerous other spots around the league. However, he’s comfortable in this system and believes the Spurs are his best shot to win another title (and he’s probably right).
4. Nerlens Noel, C, Dallas Mavericks
Technically, Dirk Nowitzki should be here, since his 2017-18 team option will be declined so the team can create a new contract for him. But part of Dirk coming back again requires the pieces in place to make a run back toward the postseason. Noel was acquired to be a force in the middle, and a key piece of the next era of Mavericks basketball. Dallas will pay whatever’s necessary to keep him around — even if that number’s to its own detriment.
5. Manu Ginobili, SG, San Antonio
Manu may end up retiring. If not, he’ll be back in San Antonio. As a bench contributor last year, he averaged 7.5 points per game. That’s not amazing, but his continued ability to shoot somewhat and (more importantly) generate steals, make him valuable to this franchise as a role player. The Spurs may be better off spending that money elsewhere, but this group’s loyal and it’s unlikely they’ll force him out if he elects to return.
6. Joe Ingles, SF, Utah Jazz
Since Utah’s likely to lose Gordon Hayward, it’s likely they’ll make some concessions to keep Ingles around. His seven points and three rebounds per game weren’t great, but the Jazz would be paying him based on what’s likely needed post-Hayward. With more minutes, that could turn into 10-11 points and five boards. Nonetheless, he’s a contributor that plays defense, draws defenders in, and understands the current system.
7. Otto Porter, SF, Washington Wizards
Porter’s a restricted free agent, which is what makes him so likely to return to D.C. His breakout last season wasn’t necessarily expected, though it was welcome for the Wizards who continue to try and figure out what the team is outside of John Wall. Some lunatic may try to float a ridiculous contract to Porter for his 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. But it’s likely that Washington pays up before that offer sheet comes across the table.
8. JaMychal Green, PF, Memphis Grizzlies
Putting in solid work replacing Zach Randolph, Green’s emergence has made Z-Bo’s pending departure a little more easy to stomach. But that also requires Memphis re-signing Green. His nine points and seven boards per game aren’t increasing much more over the course of his next contract. Still, he’s an integral piece of the Grizzlies’ adherence to “grit n’ grind” style of play. He’ll re-sign barring a big offer sheet (he’s still restricted).
9. Jrue Holiday, PG, New Orleans Pelicans
The Pels are in win-now mode after dealing for DeMarcus Cousins, and are likely glancing at the Doomsday Clock on Anthony Davis’s time in New Orleans as well. Holiday’s no superstar, but given the cap situation, he’s the best the team will be able to get at the point guard position. That’s far from an insult, either. A 1 that can pair 15.4 points per game with 7.3 assists is still valuable. Hopefully the Pelicans figure out some pick-and-roll plays this season.
10. Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto Raptors
SB Nation points out that while Lowry’s probably too expensive for Toronto, there also aren’t a lot of teams that can pay him the money he deserves. That could potentially mean a short-term deal for Lowry and the Raptors. But at what cost? After seemingly driving toward Eastern Conference contention, Toronto looked pretty far away from that last year. Lowry may return in part because he’s over 30. However, the Raptors need more to contend.