David Zalubowski/Associated Press
There has been plenty of talk regarding the potentially star-studded 2021 NBA free-agent class, but at least one NBA executive believes it is being overrated.
According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, an anonymous NBA exec said: “It’s got a lot of name-value guys. But I do think it’s being overhyped because a lot of the guys are considerably older.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Victor Oladipo, Paul George, Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward, Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holiday and LaMarcus Aldridge are among those who could possibly be available on the open market in 2021.
Given his age (25) and the likelihood of his winning a second consecutive MVP award this season, Antetokounmpo would be the crown jewel of the 2021 free-agent class. However, anonymous NBA executives told Bontemps that they believe the Greek Freak will re-sign with the Milwaukee Bucks.
In that scenario, the Los Angeles trio of James, Leonard and George would emerge as the top options, but Bontemps noted that none of them are considered likely to leave their current situations. Plus, James is 35, Leonard is 28 and George is 29, so they don’t necessarily have a decade of dominance left in them like Giannis may.
Among the other possible top free agents, Bontemps noted that Gobert will likely remain with the Utah Jazz, Oladipo is coming off a ruptured quad, and Conley, Holiday, Hayward, Lowry and Aldridge will all be 30 or older by the time the 2021 offseason rolls around.
That isn’t to say the 2021 free-agent class will be devoid of stars or unable to provide teams with the boost they need to become championship contenders, but the name recognition may be clouding the reality of the situation.
If the biggest stars re-sign with their current teams, the class could be headlined by Hayward, Conley, Lowry, Holiday and Aldridge. All of them are All-Star-caliber players, but they are complements to a superstar on a top team rather than true go-to guys.
Lowry thrived in that role last season alongside Leonard and Pascal Siakam en route to winning a championship with the Toronto Raptors, and players of his ilk can bring a lot to the table for a title hopeful.
NBA fans have been spoiled with eventful, league-altering offseasons over the past two years with LeBron joining the Lakers and Leonard getting traded from the San Antonio Spurs in 2018, and the Lakers trading for Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Clippers acquiring Leonard and George, and the Brooklyn Nets signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving this past offseason.
Current indications suggest the 2021 offseason won’t reach those levels, but it should be a busy time with plenty of intriguing signings nevertheless.