After Cleveland beat out the 73-win Golden State Warriors in Game 7, the Cavs have won their first NBA title ever. Also, this title was the first for a Cleveland sports team since Jim Brown led the Cleveland Browns back in 1964. The Cavs are also the first team to win the Finals after trailing in a series 3-1.
But now it is time to turn the page and focus on next season. The NBA Draft is this Thursday at 7 pm ET, and Free Agency begins on July 1st. Just after the Cavs title, players begin to search for new homes as teams try to build a contender.
In this installment of "Biased Boston Sports Roundtables," we dive in and try to predict the destination of the top 10 Free Agents available this summer.
With certainty that Dwayne Wade will re-sign with Miami, number 10 on our list is...
10. Harrison Barnes - Golden State Warriors (10.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.5 apg in 4 seasons)
Jordan: Watching Harrison Barnes play this postseason, as a Celtics fan, I'm very concerned about the interest level between Ainge and Barnes. Barnes has steadily improved since his rookie year, posting a career-high in scoring (11.7 ppg), but this guy went full Roy Hibbert this postseason. For those of you who don't understand, it's when you perform extraordinarily well in the regular season, only to suck in the playoffs. And Barnes suuuuuucked this postseason. His value has totally depleted from the max deal he probably wants, making him a strong candidate to remain in Golden State. The Warriors have some decisions to make in the near future with Curry and Thompson, so to be able to retain Barnes for a cheap price would certainly be ideal for the Dubs.
Niko: Barnes is a tricky case for all of the reasons Jordan alluded to above. Right now, he excels in his role as a 4th or 5th option on the star studded Warriors, but would he really transition into being "the guy" or even a top end sidekick? I have serious doubts about that and see him being closer to a Jeff Green type role player rather than an elite, perennial all-star type wing. I could see the Lakers making a run at Barnes as a Plan B/C for them, but my best guess is the same as Jordan's: Barnes will probably remain a Warrior.
Dan: Barnes is inconsistent which will turn some teams off, but he will still land a large contract from a team trying to make a splash. Unfortunately that team will be the Boston Celtics, who once again settle for sparklers instead of the fireworks Danny Ainge promised.
9. Bradley Beal - Washington Wizards (16 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3 apg in 4 seasons)
Jordan: Another player testing Free Agency for the first time, Bradley Beal also put up a career high in points (17.4), but also played a career-low in games (55). Beal and Wall have the makings of being an elite backcourt in our Nation's Capitol for a long time. However, Beal can get more money from another team as the Wizards seem to be primed for a push at the biggest name in Kevin Durant. It is probably a 50-50 chance that Beal leaves Washington. I'm not sure on the interest level, but I could really see Beal ending up Dallas. Beal is a versatile guard who has a lot of speed, and his lack of assists reminds me of Monta Ellis, who used to be a Maverick. With Dirk opting out of his deal, he looks like he is going to come back on a pay cut to try and get one more ring before hanging it up. So a realistic player to target for Dallas would be Beal.
Niko: With Beal a restricted free agent, the Wizards can match any offer (surely to be a max) the talented shooting guard will receive. I think they'll do just that, keeping in tact their exciting backcourt tandem.
Dan: Beal will not want to ruin a good thing he has going, and will re-sign with the Wizards in hopes they can lure a third star to push for Eastern Conference supremacy.
8. Dwight Howard - Houston Rockets (17.8 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg in 8 seasons)
Jordan: Dwight Howard was a player that was bouncing around the rumor mill around the deadline as a player that would likely be dealt. The Rockets decided to make Howard their own rental and decided to keep him. Now Howard has a player option, but it's highly likely that he's leaving. He's been a shell of his former self since joining James Harden in Houston, so he's likely gone. The Celtics will likely pursue Howard, but I most likely see him going to the Blazers. Portland missed an inside presence this year after losing LaMarcus Aldridge to San Antonio last summer, so Howard is a realistic option on the cheaper side for the Blazers to get. I also feel that Howard and Lillard can gel really well.
Niko: I think the Mavericks (albeit several years later) finally get their guy. Dallas is desperate to put together one last formidable supporting cast for Dirk's final run, and at least on paper, Howard fits in nicely with Nowitzki and co. If not Dallas, look out for Howard's hometown team the Atlanta Hawks to make a push. If Horford leaves, they'll have a gaping hole at the 5 spot.
Dan: After DeAndre Jordan got cold feet and spurned the Mavericks, Cuban will not let it happen again. He will land the most frustrating big man in the NBA in hopes of giving Dirk one more chance at a title.
7. Al Horford - Atlanta Hawks (14.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.7 apg in 9 seasons)
Jordan: A really good example of a player who has adapted his game in order to gain an edge on the competition is Al Horford. Horford developed a 3-point shot this season and was a very solid big out there behind the arc. Horford is a very versatile big who can run the floor with or without the ball, and he can finish or dish it out to an open teammate. A true, unselfish player who's going to get paid this summer. The team that I see Horford going to is the Boston Celtics. The Celtics showed that they're a very solid NBA team, however, they really lacked an inside presence this season. And it showed as Millsap and Horford owned the C's in the playoffs. The reason Horford is likely out of ATL is because they look like they may go for the rebuild.
Niko: I also think Al Horford is going to end up in green next season as a member of the Boston Celtics. Danny Ainge's plan A is obviously to sign Kevin Durant, or trade for Jimmy Butler, and Horford would be an integral accessory piece in either situation to make the good guys a real contender for Banner 18.
Dan: Horford is destined to become a Celtic. After rumors of him being traded there at the trade deadline, Horford's time in Atlanta is at an end and he will join Harrison Barnes as the two max contracts the Celtics can dole out.
6. Mike Conley - Memphis Grizzlies (13.6 ppg, 5.6 apg, 1.5 spg in 9 seasons)
Jordan: It's hard to believe Mike Conley is a 9-year vet. But Conley is a player who is quietly a very solid player at the point guard position. The only problem is, his team cannot build a contender around him due to the aging bigs of Gasol and Randolph. Conley will likely go somewhere that is poised for a title right away, and that team is the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are nearing the end of an era, as Parker, Duncan, and Ginobili are all on the way out. So adding Conley not only builds for the future, but also increases a chance to win now. Perfect move for the Spurs to make. Just depends on what role Conley wants.
Niko: Interesting take, Jordan. I didn't really think of the Spurs as a candidate for Conley based purely on their lack of need at the point guard position (Parker, Patty Mills), but I don't think they can be ruled out. If Conley wants to take a slightly reduced role, at least at first (ala Lamarcus Aldridge, David West) and be on a perennial contender, it could be a match made in heaven. That being said, if the Knicks don't trade for Derrick Rose, I see them rolling out the red carpet for Conley. It's a coin toss, but I'll say the Knicks get the veteran.
Dan: Conley will instantly become the best guard on the Knicks and the lure of the big city will be enough for Conley to take his talents to NYC as Carmelo Anthony's facilitator.
5. Demar DeRozan - Toronto Raptors (18.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.6 apg in 7 seasons)
Jordan: Derozan is another player that is improving as he gets older. He averaged a career-high in points (23.5) this past season and led the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals. But his time is done in Toronto because it seems like he really wants to play for the Lakers. After Kobe's retirement, the Lakers now have a ton of cap space and they need a star to build around with Russell. DeRozan is young and is a guy that puts butts in seats, could be a real fan-favorite in LA.
Niko: Born and raised in Compton, California, it's supposedly always been Derozan's dream to play for the Lakers. It's certainly there for the taking if he still wants it.
Dan: DeRozan seems to me that he will be loyal to the team that has allowed him to grow into an All-star. Having been a game back of the Cavs in the East last season, DeRozan will roll the dice again and hope the Raptors can take the leap forward in the East.
4. Hassan Whiteside - Miami Heat (11.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.9 bpg in 4 seasons)
Jordan: Hassan Whiteside really burst onto the scene this year as a defensive monster. 3.7 blocks per game this year! Unbelievable numbers. Whiteside played his way to a max deal this season, and he will definitely get one. I'm 100% convinced he's going back to the Heat. Whiteside gels in that lineup far better than I can see anywhere else, and with Bosh's career in question, Miami can't let him go.
Niko: With the unfortunate uncertainty of Chris Bosh's playing future, Pat Riley and the Heat front office don't have much room to play with this offseason, especially in the frontcourt. If they want to keep contending, bringing back Whiteside is almost certainly priority #1. My money is on the gifted big staying put.
Dan: Whiteside will stay with the team that he burst on the scene with. He will re-sign with the Heat and be a defensive anchor for them going forward.
3. Andre Drummond - Detroit Pistons (13.2 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 1.6 bpg in 4 seasons)
Jordan: Drummond is an animal, averaged 14.8 boards this season. He's a monster, only thing he cannot do is shoot free throws. Drummond is fan-favorite material anywhere he winds up. I don't see him leaving Detroit though. They now have a Big-3ish group in Jackson, Harris, and Drummond and it would be foolish for the Pistons to let him walk.
Niko: Drummond isn't going anywhere. Take that one to the bank. He'll be a Piston next season.
Dan: Drummond is the new face of the hack-a-Shaq treatment and saw his way to the bench during the Pistons crucial games. Drummond is a guy who can take over the game with his raw talent but needs to shoot better to justify the contract he is about to get. Drummond re-signs with Detroit.
2. LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers (27.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 6.9 apg in 13 seasons)
Jordan: LeBron came back to Cleveland to win a title, and that is what he did. Now he can opt out of his contract and go back to Miami. He loved playing with D-Wade, it makes perfect sense.
Niko: Winning the Finals definitely re-opens the possibility of James bolting from Cleveland again. He obviously loved Miami, and I wouldn't rule out the Lakers, but I do see him re-upping in Cleveland again, most likely another one-year deal with a player option.
Dan: As hilarious as it would be for LeBron to opt out, he is not going anywhere unless he can find a way to get Anthony, Paul, and Wade on the same team as him. Let's just hope that wrist he broke at the end of game 7 heals in time for the Cavs to defend the title.
1. Kevin Durant - Oklahoma City Thunder (27.4 ppg, 7 rpg, 3.7 apg in 9 seasons)
Jordan: In all honesty, the only place I see Durant going other than back to OKC, is Boston. The Celtics need a superstar, and Durant seems to be the most willing to come here if the Celtics can give him what he wants, a max-deal plus whoever was on the list of players his agent gave Danny Ainge. Make it happen, Danny!
Niko: I agree with Jordan here. The most likely scenario is Durant staying put, but the Celtics cannot be ruled out as an Eastern Conference alternative. We can dream all we want, but until we hear otherwise, Durant will stay with OKC and give it another go with that core.
Dan: Durant will be attracted to the place he has called home and the money they can offer. On top of that, he can get a deal where he can opt out next season and him and Westbrook can choose where they want to try to win a title next. Durant calls OKC home for at least one more year.