Friday 18 August 2017 / 03:06 PM

KEY FREE AGENCY PERIOD LOOMS

This summer promises to be an exciting one for NBA fans, as there are quite a few prolific free agents that are going to be available. The 2016-17 season seems like it will have quite a few roster shake-ups that will make the league even more entertaining. So who are some of the big players in this off-season’s free agency?

It would be totally irresponsible to start with anyone but Kevin Durant, the once-in-a-generation talent currently with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In terms of career scoring average, he is fourth-best. He is one of the greatest scorers in NBA history, and even more astonishing is the efficiency with which he scores, while also contributing in assists, rebounds, steals and blocks. Where is he likely to end up? The two potential destinations seem to be the Washington Wizards (his hometown team) or the Golden State Warriors, who would create a phenomenal dynasty with his signing. Of course, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are also suitors, while OKC will be doing everything they can to hold on to Durant.

Mike Conley has established himself as one of the most consistent and well-rounded point guards in the league. He becomes a UFA (unrestricted free agent) at the end of this season, and although it was originally thought that he would stay with the Grizzlies, Dave Joerger’s departure might very well have shaken the scene up. Several NBA insiders say that big market teams with a need for a point guard (ahem, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets anyone?) will be “all over Conley”.

The Atlanta Hawks’ Al Horford is a player that would probably garner lots of offers, but seems likely to stay with the Hawks. He is probably going to be given a max contract. Horford has become one of the premier two-way threat big men in the league, as the center is one of a handful of players with over 50 blocks and 3-pointers made in the league this season. The reason he seems likely to pick up a max contract with the Hawks is that Atlanta did not decide to trade him when they had the chance.

One player that has thrown himself into max-contract discussions this season is Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets. He is an all around strong wing player – he can go off for points, be a playmaker, pick up boards and defend well. While he will probably never be the superstar on a team, his consistent and well-rounded game make him an extremely valuable player who several teams lacking a strong wing will be after.

In the nation’s capital, the Wizards’ Bradley Beal is an UFA after this season. The shooting guard is an efficient scorer and strong defender who can change games by himself. If he can stay injury free, he is a superstar-caliber player. While he is a free agent, it seems very likely that the Wizards will offer him the max deal and keep him.

The final big (and I mean big) player up for grabs as an unrestricted free agent is Hassan Whiteside, who has broke out in a major way the past two seasons for the Miami Heat. Known for his defensive ability and an uncanny knack for picking up rebounds and blocks, he is a fearsome center and now regarded as one of the best big men in the league. It is unclear if anyone will take a chance on Whiteside, though there will certainly be many teams interested.

Whiteside’s teammate Dwyane Wade is probably the second-biggest name on the UFA list this summer, but seems certain to stick with Miami and be their premier salaried player. ‘Wade County’ doesn’t seem like it will go anywhere.

[YouTube – MplayMusic]

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About the author

Alex Moskov

Alex has come on board with CBS as our basketball and gridiron expert, providing opinions and analysis from the bright lights of the NBA and NFL.

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