Prominent playoff performers headed toward free agency
Many free agents this year will be looking for a major payday this offseason. The group possibly headed to free agency in July includes some prominent names from this year's NBA playoffs and here are some factors they could consider in making their decisions.
These players could hit free agency, but more as a formality than with any real desire to entertain offers from other teams:
-LeBron James, Cavaliers. Player option.
Reasons he will stay: He returned to Ohio with the goal of bringing a championship to Cleveland; will position himself for a huge contract bump in new salary cap.
Reasons he will go: You can never say never, so the only sliver of a chance he would even possibly consider leaving again would be If the Cavs fall short in the NBA Finals for a second straight year.
-Dwyane Wade, Heat. Unrestricted.
Reasons he will stay: He's the face of the franchise, an icon in South Florida with enough titles already.
Reasons he will go: No need to entertain this option, he is Mr. Heat.
-Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks. Player option
Reasons he will stay: Like Wade, the face of the franchise. Would only opt out to give the Mavs more flexibility.
Reasons he will go: Mark Cuban becomes vice president?
These players will get big offers from teams on the open market and likely will at least consider them.
-Kevin Durant, Thunder. Unrestricted.
Reasons he will stay: Russell Westbrook; Being up 3-1 on the Warriors; OKC has become his adopted hometown; no better chance to win anywhere else
Reasons he will go: After nine years, the need for a fresh start; head to the Eastern Conference to get out of the rugged West.
-DeMar DeRozan, Raptors. Unrestricted.
Reasons he will stay: Developed into an All-Star in Toronto; friendship with Kyle Lowry; fan support from Raptors; great chance to compete in East.
Reasons he will go: Like Durant, not many. Maybe a team like the Lakers throws big money at him and another free agent to try to create a new super team.
-Al Horford, Hawks. Unrestricted.
Reasons he will stay: Atlanta has been home for nine years; 108 wins in last two seasons; coach Mike Budenholzer.
Reasons he will go: Only one appearance in the East finals in his nine trips to the playoffs; Dropped from 60 wins in 2014-15 to 48 this season; LeBron James is in the East.
-Mike Conley, Grizzlies. Unrestricted.
Reasons he will stay: Close friend Marc Gasol; deeply ingrained in Memphis community; fits the ''Grit-n-Grind'' style.
Reasons he will go: Coach Dave Joerger left for Sacramento; core is getting older in a conference getting younger.
-Hassan Whiteside, Heat. Unrestricted.
Reasons he will stay: After being a basketball nomad, was given a chance to flourish with Heat; strong organizational leadership to further develop skills; good chance to win in wide-open East.
Reasons he will leave: Slim chance another team will offer more money per season than Heat will.
-Bismack Biyombo, Raptors. Player option.
Reasons he will stay: After floundering in Charlotte, emerged as a legit piece under Dwane Casey's tutelage in Toronto; a folk hero with rabid Raptors fans.
Reasons he will go: May need to give Raptors a hometown discount; many will be lining up to pay him big money with new television deal.
-Nicolas Batum, Hornets. Unrestricted.
Reasons he will stay: Had his best season as a pro under coach Steve Clifford; meshes well with Kemba Walker.
Reasons he will go: More money; more shots, which doesn't fit with his personality.
-Harrison Barnes, Warriors. Restricted.
Reasons he will stay: One ring on his finger and another perhaps on the way; loves the Bay Area; team chemistry.
Reasons he will go: A competing team makes a monster offer the Warriors cannot afford to match; the prospects of moving out of the Splash Brothers' shadows and into a more featured role.
-Bradley Beal, Wizards. Restricted.
Reasons he will stay: Formed a promising young backcourt with John Wall; New coach Scott Brooks; long-term security for a player who has struggled with injuries.
Reasons he will go: The Wizards shock everyone and land Durant, leaving them with not enough money to hang on to Beal as well.
These players will most likely be looking for new homes this summer.
-Dwight Howard, Rockets. Player option.
Reasons he will stay: No state income tax in Texas.
Reasons he will go: James Harden; Mike D'Antoni; dropping from West finals to first-round exit in one year; looking for one more long-term deal.
-Luol Deng, Heat. Unrestricted.
Reasons he will stay: Expressed love for organization and city; will be in the East hunt.
Reasons he will go: Heat would have a hard time paying him what he will command on open market from cap-flush teams looking for a hard-nosed defender and veteran leader.