NBA

Anthony Davis Headlines a Strong NBA Free Agency Class — but Who Will Sign Where?

Anthony Davis headlines a so-so 2020 NBA free agency class.

This is not a class that will reinvent the wheel. Young standouts like Brandon Ingram and Montrezl Harrell have a chance to break the bank in the next few weeks, while veterans like Andre Drummond and Gordon Hayward have difficult choices to make.

NBA free agency starts Friday at 6 p.m. ET. This is your guide for everything that is to come in the basketball world.

Anthony Davis headlines the class

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Anthony Davis shouldn’t be on the market for long.

Davis is expected to decline his player option, then re-sign with LeBron James and the Lakers. That is the right move for all parties, especially after winning the NBA Finals last year.

Davis is among the best players, and has proven he can shine as the unquestioned No. 1 option. But the Lakers give Davis enough chances to be a star, and they are built for title contention over the next few years.

Mark it down: Davis will be a Laker for the next few years.

Fred VanVleet leads the other top-tier free agents

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Anthony Davis is easily the best player on the NBA’s free agent market.

The next tier below Davis contains young, talented players who are threats to make the All-Star Game in the coming years.

All players are ranked alphabetically, and the listed team is who they most recently played for.

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans: (restricted): The 23-year-old Ingram broke out for 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists last year. New Orleans, which already has Zion Williamson in play, would be wise to give Ingram a max contract. 

Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors: Where VanVleet winds up is linked to how the trade market for guards shakes out. The New York Knicks are always rumored to land big-name free agents, but this sounds like a match made in heaven. 

Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics (has a player option): Hayward surprisingly declined his $34 million player option. The New York Knicks have cap space and can give Hayward a substantial payday, albeit not at $34 million per year.

Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers: Montrezl Harrell is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and could be in for a big day. The Golden State Warriors have unfinished business after last year’s dismal season, and adding Harrell is a move that could help their chances of contending for the NBA Finals next year. 

DeMar DeRozan leads the veterans

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The next tier of players is veterans who still have a bright future either as a starter or an impactful bench player.

Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder: At 32 years old, Danilo Gallinari is eager to win an NBA championship. The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors each make perfect sense. Gallinari could slide in as an ideal stretch-four with either team. 

DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs (has a player option): DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, has already been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers. Assuming Anthony Davis re-ups with the Lakers, DeRozan would be a perfect addition and a Dwayne Wade, of sorts, to LeBron James and the Chris Bosh-type role that Davis is playing.

In other words, DeRozan can alternate between being the second or third scoring option — or even the fourth — on any given night. This also puts DeRozan, 31, in the perfect position to win an NBA Finals.

Goran Dragić, Miami Heat: Dragić turned into a fan favorite in his six seasons with the Heat. He may be the backup plan for the Los Angeles Clippers or Phoenix Suns if neither lands Chris Paul via trade. 

Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors: The three-time blocks leader is still going strong at age 31. Look for Kevin Durant to pursue a reunion with Ibaka on the Brooklyn Nets. 

What other notable players are there?

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The final tier of players on our list is veterans who have intriguing futures but don’t slot into the top-levels of free agency. 

Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers (has a player option): Drummond is expected to stick with the Cavaliers and pick up his $28.7 million player option. 

Carmelo Anthony, Portland Trail Blazers: Anthony revived his career in Portland last year. A reunion with the New York Knicks could be interesting, especially if the Knicks acquire Russell Westbrook, who Anthony played alongside in Oklahoma City.

An underrated option could be Anthony signing a cheap deal with the Brooklyn Nets. Anthony grew up in Brooklyn, so it would be a perfect homecoming. 

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards: Davis Bertans has been a promising forward in Washington. The Boston Celtics would definitely benefit from adding Bertans to their team. 

Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic (has a player option): Fournier and the Magic have some tough decisions to make. Fournier would be smart to stick around in Orlando with his $17 million player option and try again next year.

Jerami Grant, Denver Nuggets: A reunion between Grant and the Oklahoma City Thunder makes sense. Don’t be surprised to see the Detroit Pistons make a serious run at Grant, who averaged 12 points and 3.5 rebounds last year. 

Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets: Harris has quietly grown into one of the league’s top sharpshooters. Given the possibility of a depressed free-agent market, Harris might be better off re-signing with the Nets. 

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