We have less than 48 hours until the NBA’s free-agency period kicks off, and rumors are spreading like wildfire. Speculate no more, because our staff know exactly what to expect come midnight Thursday. Here are their totally true predictions:
Mike Conley Jr. Goes to the Spurs; San Antonio Wins the 2017 Finals
Chris Ryan: Mike Conley is going somewhere in Texas. He might be a free agent, but if he chooses to leave Memphis (despite the extra money), he really has only three viable destinations where he can win, get paid, and start. Seriously, I checked. Of the three Lone Star squads, San Antonio is far and away the best landing spot for Conley Jr. He replaces Tony Parker (who is welcome to re-sign and take a reduced role), and completes the new Big Three with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Conley offers the same handle and creativity as Parker, with a deadlier 3-point shot. If Pop lands Conley, the rest of the league is on notice.
The Mavs Will Miss Out on All the Free Agents Again
Jonathan Tjarks: The Mavs are Charlie Brown and Hassan Whiteside and Conley are the football. Or maybe Dallas is Wile E. Coyote and the top free agents on the market each year are the Road Runner? Either way, the more things change, the more they stay the same in Dallas. Also — Mark Cuban is running for president in 2020.
Linsanity Will Return
Sam Donsky: Out of all of the many karmic retributions owed to the Knicks for their sins, one stands above the rest as the most potentially painful — which is to say, most certain to occur. It’s not Carmelo Anthony winning a ring elsewhere (he probably will). It’s not Mike D’Antoni working miracle shit in Houston (he probably won’t). It’s not even Derrick Rose getting Kristaps Porzingis hooked on Adidas (anything is possible). It’s Linsanity 2.0 — and I think it’s happening this winter. Jeremy Lin will save basketball in New York. In Brooklyn.
The Lakers Will Sign Their Savior … Sort Of
Jason Concepcion: The Lakers sign Chandler Parsons, who immediately becomes the veteran linchpin for a talented but raw team and the face of the franchise. Chandler, first-year coach Luke Walton, and Jim Buss tear through Los Angeles like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, but if there were only three horsemen and their saddlebags were filled with cocaine. Over Christmas, Buss gets hair plugs and donates his extensive collection of baseball caps to charity. Walton enters rehab; the team calls it “an unexpected family situation.” The Lakers finish 34–48. Buss notes the improvement over the previous season and doesn’t step down. “I meant three years starting this season,” he goes on to say.
Greg Monroe Will Be Traded to Charlotte Because of Friendship
Sean Fennessey: Michael Jordan owns the Hornets. David Falk was Michael Jordan’s agent for 15 years. Their partnership is legendary. Falk is Greg Monroe’s agent. The power forward’s plodding, ground-bound style has not been a fit in Milwaukee. Charlotte’s Al Jefferson is a plodding, ground-bound power forward and free agent — but he’s a 31-year-old with a post game in a shooter’s league. Monroe is 26 and has an opt-out clause in his contract after next season — this is too obvious. Monroe will shed antlers for a stinger. Bye, Al. Falk and Jordan will toast one more collaboration. The Hornets will finish fourth in the East. Al Jefferson will probably be a Knick. Sleep well, Al.
Hassan Whiteside Will Come Home
Tate Frazier: Jordan famously put salt in his shoes as a kid to help him grow. Whiteside took Epsom salt baths to ease the pain of his seemingly ever-growing, freakish frame. Jordan has counseled Hassan since his days at a Charlotte YMCA three years ago all the way up until Whiteside’s triple-double, Snapchat supremacy of today. Why make the leap to join Jumpman, you ask? Well, like most decisions Mike makes, it has nothing to do with the Charlotte Hornets. It has EVERYTHING to do with Jordan’s childhood nemesis: Debbie Whiteside. It wasn’t long ago. Michael Jordan remembers everyone who’s been picked before him, from Leroy Smith to Sam Bowie, all the way back to the playground with Hassan’s mother. Now it’s time to take his revenge and destroy Debbie in one-on-one on the daily — to finally cross over, and off another doubter who stood in his way. And oh yeah, the Hornets could really, really use a rim protector.
Pau Gasol Signs a One-Year Deal With the Lakers for Some Reason
Danny Chau: It’s going to be strange when Gasol decides to return to the Lakers on a one-year deal after the Knicks, Spurs, and Warriors all come calling. Gasol will talk about how he’s looking forward to returning to one of his favorite cities. He’ll express his excitement about helping the young nucleus and working as something of a player-coach liaison for Luke Walton. He’ll seem a bit distracted, though. The beacon of bland positivity that is his Twitter account will update less and less frequently, save for cryptic six-second Vines of Gasol, shrouded in darkness, humming familiar melodies with aplomb. His playing time, already scant to begin with, will devolve into no-shows after the All-Star break. The box scores will read “DNP–Fucking Rehearsals, Man.” Gasol will announce his retirement shortly after the Lakers win their final game of the season. He’ll fall silent for most of the summer. Hamilton kicks off the Los Angeles leg of its production tour at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre on August 11, 2017.