The start of NBA free agency is rapidly approaching with it set to begin on Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. (est). There will be no shortage of intriguing players available with teams around the league looking to get better.
The 2021 NBA Draft has come and gone without much for player trades taking place before the actual start. There were some fireworks before it began with the highlight being Russell Westbrook being sent to the Los Angeles Lakers to team up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Each organization is going to have a list of players that they will be targeting in free agency this summer. Whether it be a player they want to add as a new face, or a player they want to re-sign, teams know who is on their board of desired players. The rumors have been flying and there’s a lot to watch as always with any NBA free agency period.
There was much greater anticipation for this year’s free agency class than there is now after a few developments have long since occurred. For starters, Giannis Antetokounmpo agreeing to a supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks ranks atop the list.
More recently, the top remaining free agent after other superstars have also since received contract extensions ended up being Kawhi Leonard. He has since undergone surgery to repair a partially torn ACL.
Provided that, let’s take a look at one free agency target for each team in the Eastern Conference this offseason.
Atlanta Hawks: John Collins
For the Atlanta Hawks, their main focus should be coming to a fair agreement with John Collins this summer. Over the past three seasons, Collins has become a key contributor for the Hawks, averaging 17+ points and 7+ rebounds in each season.
Given his ability to knock down threes (has shot 40 percent from outside in the past two seasons), Collins is going to be a coveted player on the open market. After a season in which they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta would be best doing whatever they can to retain Collins.
Boston Celtics: Evan Fournier
Ahead of this year’s trade deadline, the Boston Celtics made a move for Evan Fournier. Acquiring Fournier cost the Celtics $17 million of their $28.5 million trade exception they received by trading Gordon Hayward to the Charlotte Hornets. Given that, Fournier should be a primary target for Boston to re-sign this summer.
The Celtics need more shooting on the roster and Fournier is a capable shooter that can also put the ball on the floor. Fournier averaged 13 points per game and shot 46.3 percent from beyond the arc in his 16 games with Boston this season. It should be noted that the Celtics won’t have much room to much in free agency if they do re-sign Fournier.
Brooklyn Nets: Nerlens Noel
The Brooklyn Nets still boast arguably the best trio in the NBA with Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. By having a big three of superstar players, the Nets don’t have much money to spend in free agency. Nevertheless, Brooklyn should use some of the money they do have to upgrade at the center position.
DeAndre Jordan was completely removed from the rotation at the end of the season, forcing Durant to play as a small-ball five. Nerlens Noel is an intriguing name for the Nets to target as he brings rim protection and athleticism to the center spot. The only problem is that Noel could be out of Brooklyn’s price range, unless he decides to take a discount in hopes of competing for a title.
Chicago Bulls: Lonzo Ball
It’s no secret that the Chicago Bulls are going to pursue nearly every notable point guard that hits the open market. Finding a starter that can mesh well with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic is key to Chicago’s success next season. Lonzo Ball, who is a restricted free agent for the New Orleans Pelicans, is unquestionably on the team’s radar this summer.
Ball has become a much-improved three-point shooter in recent years, and we already his playmaking and defensive abilities would be welcomed additions to the Bulls. Signing Ball would allow Coby White to operate in a sixth-man role, which should benefit the young guard.
Charlotte Hornets: Richaun Holmes
The Charlotte Hornets surprised many this season despite not making the playoffs. The backcourt trio of LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Devonte’ Graham performed well together, with Graham being a restricted free agent. Gordon Hayward was productive before his season-ending injury, Miles Bridges did well with extra minutes, and P.J. Washington showed signs of improvement.
However, the Hornets need a formidable center to join the lineup before they take the next step. Richaun Holmes would be a great signing for Charlotte, giving them a center that has recorded 13.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per games in his last two seasons with the Sacramento Kings.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Jarrett Allen
Out of seemingly nowhere, the Cleveland Cavaliers found themselves being included in the James Harden trade. In the trade, the Cavaliers got both Taurean Prince and Jarrett Allen from the Nets. Once Allen arrived, the writing was on the all for Andre Drummond to be traded or bought out.
Allen is the best center set to hit free agency, but he’s a restricted free agent, and I don’t see the Cavaliers letting him go anywhere. In his 51 games with Cleveland this season, Allen notched 13.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. The 23-year-old big man has also shot over 60 percent from the field in the last two seasons.