On July 1 LeBron James will be opting out of the final year of his current contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and become an unrestricted free agent. His decision comes as no surprise. He will be leaving $21.6 million on the table as part of a plan to take advantage of a restructuring of the NBA salary cap in 2016. James is expected to sign another one-year deal with Cleveland and cash in on a big deal beginning in the 2016/17 season. The Cavaliers front office remains in close contact with James. LeBron’s strategy stands to make an additional $10-15 million over the next five years and onward.
LeBron James joins teammate Kevin Love, who opted out of his deal with Cleveland as well, as the top headliners of NBA free agency this 2015. Love who was notably absent from most the Cavaliers’ postseason run due to injury, is expected to talk to several teams as part of his exploration of options. Cleveland plans to entice Love to remain with the team, offering him a five-year deal worth in excess of $100 million. The team did show that it was able to compete at a high level despite his absence and will be able to move on if ever Kevin decides to play elsewhere. His decision will be something closely observed by James as he scans the free agency landscape as it unfolds. One thing is for sure, LeBron will not be actively recruiting Love to commit to the Cavaliers.
The Cavs have a lot on their plate as far as making sure they secure talent for 2015/16. J.R. Smith is an unrestricted free agent, while Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavadova, and Iman Shumpert are all restricted free agents.
One player who will definitely be wearing different colors this season is Portland Trail Blazers’ power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge has already informed the team that he will not be returning. The San Antonio Spurs are reportedly at the top of his list, but the Los Angeles Lakers are convinced that they are very much in the mix as far as landing his services is concerned and will be aggressively pursuing him.
The top international free agent on the market is Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol. The Spanish center is an unrestricted free agent and should easily be able to command a maximum contract from any team that wants to secure his services. He has recently expressed that he has no interest in joining the Lakers this coming season.
Despite statements from Gasol, the Lakers are confident that will be able to land a top big man free agent this Summer. The expectation is in line with their draft strategy in the 2015 NBA Draft when they decided to pick the best available point guard, D’Angelo Russell, 2nd overall instead of polished big man Jahlil Okafor.
Other notable top NBA free agents this 2015 include:
Paul Millsap, Thaddeus Young, Jimmy Butler, Monta Ellis, Rajon Rondo, Greg Monroe, Draymond Green, Josh Smith, David West, DeAndre Jordan, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Tobias Harris, Brandon Knight, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Paul Pierce
Not all of these free agents will find themselves on new teams. Several of them, such as Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Paul Millsap, Draymond Green are expected to be re-signed by their current teams.