Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
The 2020 NBA offseason does not yet have a definitive start date, but it is coming. At some point this summer, the future of pending free agents such as Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol will be determined.
For Davis—unquestionably the biggest prize potentially available this year—things will likely hinge on how the Los Angeles Lakers’ postseason eventually unfolds. The seven-time All-Star has a player option for 2020 and is unlikely to exercise it.
The question now is whether he believes the Lakers can be perennial contenders. He’s going to be heavily compensated wherever he signs next, so his decision will be about championships and what Los Angeles does in the offseason to deliver them.
According to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, the offseason plan could include going over the luxury tax line in order to keep as many of the five players with options as possible:
“If L.A. is willing to spend up to the hard cap apron (about $6 million over the luxury tax line) its options expand significantly. I’ve also assumed the Lakers will waive little-used Quin Cook, who only has $1 million of next season’s $3 million salary guaranteed, and stretch that payment.
“One of the player option scenarios is easy—Anthony Davis will opt out and re-sign for the max, which under an adjusted cap would be $32.7 million. The others are less clear. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo are reasonably paid and could just as easily opt in as not.”
If the Lakers spend the money to bring back their core and to potentially build upon it, they should have a good shot at being legitimate contenders in 2021. That should be enough to convince Davis to remain in L.A. for the foreseeable future.
Prediction: Davis signs a max deal with Lakers
John Amis/Associated Press
While Davis is hoping to be a part of a championship team this season, Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol was one last year. As is the case for the Lakers star, his decision could hinge on the direction of the franchise.
Though Toronto currently holds the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, it may not be a contender for the long term. Players like Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet could all move on this offseason.
“As far as next season, the win-now mentality and summer 2021 could be headed for a collision. VanVleet, Gasol and Ibaka will all be unrestricted free agents; some other players who played important, but lesser roles (Chris Boucher, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson), will be free as well. And OG Anunoby will be eligible for a contract extension,” Hollinger and Blake Murphy wrote for The Athletic.
The Raptors may not retain both Gasol and Ibaka, and while the latter is the younger option (30 versus 35) this also makes him the more attractive one in free agency. His two-way talents would be coveted by many a contender.
If the Raptors are headed toward a transition year, Ibaka may prefer to sign elsewhere.
Gasol, while still a quality center at 35, isn’t likely to be a prized free-agent target. Retaining him shouldn’t be as difficult or as expensive.
Prediction: Gasol re-signs with Toronto on a short-term deal.
Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward should also receive plenty of free-agency buzz this offseason. The 30-year-old has had a fine 2019-20 campaign, racking up 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
According to Hollinger, the Miami Heat could try to pluck him away from Boston.
“The team to worry about, at least a little, is Miami. Hayward nearly signed there in 2016 before picking the Celtics, and the Heat are absolutely in win-now mode,” he wrote.
As Hollinger points out, though, Miami doesn’t have the cap space to realistically offer Hayward a competing offer. If the Butler product opts-in with the Celtics, he’ll earn just under $34.2 million for the coming season.
Boston’s other offseason moves will likely play a role in Hayward’s decision, but that sort of up-front cash will be difficult to turn down.
Expect Hayward to collect and test free agency a year from now.
Prediction: Hayward opts-in with Boston.