It took less than 30 minutes for Kawhi Leonard to sign with the Spurs last night. I got the notification on my phone at 12:24 am: “Kawhi Leonard signs 5-year max deal with Spurs.” Cool, I knew that weeks ago; just about everyone did. A lot of free agents are going to boringly re-sign with their own teams very soon, and a lot of the free agents’ decisions are only a formality at this point. Even if we pretty much know where a lot of these guys are going to end up, very few things are set in stone right now. That means there’s nothing to stop me from putting a few free agents on teams they’re never going to play for. Without further ado:
LeBron James – Atlanta Hawks: When you make more money from endorsements than your NBA salary, it’s not a good idea to make everyone hate your guts. LeBron will retire in Cleveland, but how much fun would this Hawks team be with James running Mike Budenholzer’s system? Kyle Korver might shoot 60 percent from three with LeBron sucking in the defense for him. Sure, they’d have to move on from both Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll to make it work, but that seems pretty inconsequential when you could be running a small ball lineup where LeBron can throw the ball in just about any direction and find a solid shooter.
Marc Gasol – Milwaukee Bucks: I don’t think I’ve heard or read anything regarding Marc Gasol’s free agency that didn’t mention how much he loves living in Memphis. The thing is, the Bucks could really use a good center, and Marc Gasol would be the perfect anchor for the middle of their defense. How different can Milwaukee be from Memphis? They’re both blue-collar towns next to iconic bodies of water. Marc would hardly notice the difference.
Draymond Green – Detroit Pistons: The Warriors should match any offer sheet Draymond can sign with another team. If the team cares about winning, they’ll bring back the majority of last year’s roster and Draymond will be at the top of that list. If they cheap out, however, and balk at a max deal for the runner-up (who probably should have won) Defensive Player of the Year, he could instantly turn the Pistons into an interesting playoff team in the East. Draymond could provide them defensive fortitude on the perimeter, as well as cover power forwards that are too much for Ersan Illyasova. They’re still not a contender, but they’re getting closer.
Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs: Huh, that’s weird. I could have sworn I typed Spu… No, computer, I’m picking a team other than the Spurs for Tim Duncan, now let me write another team’s name. I’ll type it out one letter at a time: S-A-N-A-N-T-O-N-I-O. Okay, fine, I give up. Timmy’s playing for the Spurs, always and forever until the heat death of the universe. I can’t even pretend to think anything different.
P.S. As a Celtics fan, all of these players not named Tim Duncan would look great in Celtic green. I’m just saying, Brad Stevens is a great coach and the city is really underrated in NBA circles.