As free agency starts Saturday, July 1st, at 12 AM EST, we look at the teams with the least clarity in terms of starting lineups and rotations at this moment. The ranking will be 1-5, with 1 being the least clear rotation.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Sure, there are many teams with multiple starters up for free agency this July. However, the Clippers have four of their five starters from the 2016-2017 season in free agency at this moment. This is very troublesome for the Clippers, as they could possibly re-sign all of them and continue to be a 50 win team, or lose most of them and immediately become one of the ten worst teams in the NBA.
These four starters are Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Blake Griffin. If the Clippers stumble and lose both Griffin and Paul in July, then look for them to trade some notable assets to help their future out.
2. Sacramento Kings
The Kings had three solid veterans last year, Rudy Gay, Tyreke Evans, and Arron Afflalo. All were getting paid 10+ million dollars a year, and all of them are no longer Kings. Another reason that the Kings lack any sort of clarity is that if all of their picks from the 2017 Draft make the roster, they will have 9 roster spots occupied by players still on their rookie contracts. The Kings will most likely have two or three rookies or second year players starting on opening day, so this provides a tough call to make for Sacramento’s immediate season.
3. Chicago Bulls
Now that Jimmy Butler is in Minnesota and Chicago got three players on their rookie deals for him, it is fair to say that the Bulls are looking to rebuild. Since Dwyane Wade, who will be paid 24 million dollars this upcoming season, is 35 years old, the Bulls have another obstacle keeping them from fully hitting the rebuild button.
Another very interesting thing the Bulls did was give up Jimmy Butler and a pick for what turned out to be Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen. All three of these players are bested by someone else at their position in Chicago with Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, and Robin Lopez all holding down the fort for now. Maybe the least clear thing about Chicago right now is why they got rid of Jimmy Butler for so little.
4. Golden State Warriors
It seems fairly ridiculous to think that the defending champion has much to worry about. But, consider this, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, and Andre Iguodala will all be unrestricted free agents come July 1st. Even if the Warriors re-sign Durant and Curry, their three best players behind their big 4 could all be gone for more money than what the Warriors are willing to give up. This could considerably hurt the Warriors’ chances for a repeat, considering both Iguodala and Livingston have played terrifically en route to two championships for the Warriors.
5. Boston Celtics
The Celtics lack much clarity for a few reasons. The first reason is that they have three guards in Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, and Avery Bradley that will be free agents after next year. Considering that Boston probably won’t be able to pay Bradley or Smart, it has led to lots of trade talks involving both of them. Another reason for a lack of clarity is that even though the Celtics have a set starting 5 right now, they are not very competitive against Cleveland. This, along with a slew of draft picks, makes the Celtics the centerpiece of any trade discussion involving star players like Paul George or Carmelo Anthony. Boston can also easily clear up space for a max contract in July. These are the main reasons for the cloudy situation Boston finds themselves in.