Top NBA Free Agents to Watch This Offseason

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns reacts. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns reacts. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

 

The NBA looks ahead to a short offseason as it attempts to get back on track after the coronavirus disrupted the end of the 2019-20 season and the start of the 2020-21 season. The NBA Finals concluded a fortnight ago with the Milwaukee Bucks clinching the title at the expense of the Phoenix Suns, but free agency is already upon us. Starting from 6:00 p.m. ET on Monday, August 2, teams are open to negotiate with prospective players and agree in principle. It’s the time when deals are leaked, giving NBA fans an idea of what to expect in the coming season and how teams stack up against early NBA futures.

At the end of the week, at 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday, August 6, the signing period of free agency commences. This is when pen comes to paper, cementing officially key moves on the NBA landscape and by that same token the odds trading across sports betting platforms.

The 2021 free agency class is brimming with star power, as players like Kawhi Leonard (player option), Chris Paul (player option) and Kyrie Lowry (unrestricted), to name a few, are faced with big decisions. In this column, we look at some of the moves that are reportedly in play.

Chris Paul, who’s coming off a runner-up finish in the NBA Finals after the Phoenix Suns lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, was one of the most sought-after point guards headed into free agency. However, it’s been reported in the last few days that he’s agreed to terms with the Phoenix Suns.

According to ESPN’s NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Paul reportedly declined his player option with the Suns, worth $44.2 million, in order to broker a better deal through free agency. The Suns and Paul have reportedly settled on a four-year deal worth up to $120 million.

Paul was instrumental in Phoenix’s impressive postseason campaign, which kicked off with an upset over the defending champions LA Lakers. From teammates to coaching staff, Paul has been praised no end as a big character, a motivator and a leader in the locker room. So, it’s no surprise that the Suns were keen to keep Paul on side. As per DraftKings Sportsbook, the Suns are priced at +1600 to win the NBA Championship next year, a price tag that puts them inside the Top 5 best bets.

Another big name that was at the centre of much speculation in the lead up to free agency was Miami Heat point guard Jimmy Butler. However, just like CP3, Butler is staying put according to a tweet from Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Miami Heat have agreed to terms with Butler – a four-year deal worth $184-million. Thus, removing the All-Star from the free agency catwalk and underlining Miami’s odds for the upcoming season.

“Breaking: Five-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler is expected to agree to a maximum contract extension with the Miami Heat when the league year opens on Aug. 6, sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski,” wrote Charania in his tweet.

The Miami Heat finished runners-up to the LA Lakers at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. Although they failed to replicate their magical run this season, they were nevertheless amongst the playoff contenders. Miami Heat go into the 2021 NBA season as legitimate contenders that are priced inside the Top 10. As per DraftKings, the Heat are tipped at +2800 to win the NBA Championship next season.

Underscoring the Heat’s odds is the addition of Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors. Lowry, who’s been a stalwart in Toronto over the last nine years and played a pivotal role in the Canadian team’s championship run in 2019, was expected to leave T-Dot this summer when his contract expired. His deal with Miami is reported to be a 3-year deal worth $90 million.

Lowry’s recent tweet would seem to confirm this move. “Miami Heat X Kyle Lowry, Let’s Go!,” it said.

Norman Powell, who split last season between the Toronto Raptors and the Portland Trail Blazers looks to be on the verge of signing a deal with the Trail Blazers that’s worth $90 million over five years. Powell joined the Trail Blazers in a trade at last year’s deadline, but declined a $11.6 million player option with the Trail Blazers to become a free agent.

Arguably, one of the most impressive free agency splurges is set to involve Trae Young. The Atlanta Hawks have purportedly committed to the rising star for the foreseeable, offering the young gun a max extension on his rookie deal worth up to $207 million.

Young played a pivotal role in Atlanta’s season and was the driving force behind Hawks’ run to the Eastern Conference finals. Young’s outstanding play helped the Hawks upset the Philadelphia 76ers and give the Milwaukee Bucks at run for their money in the Eastern Conference finals. The Hawks lost the series 4-2. As per DraftKings, the Atlanta Hawks are priced at +3500 in NBA futures.

Suns vs. Bucks NBA Finals Game 6 Picks and Expert Insights

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks in the second half of game five of the NBA Finals.

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks in the second half of game five of the NBA Finals.

 

The Milwaukee Bucks are a game away from clinching the NBA Finals at the expense of the Phoenix Suns. So, will the Bucks pull off the feat or will the Suns force a game 7 when all is said and done tonight in Milwaukee? Thus, extending the battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy for one final game.

If the NBA odds were any indication, then the Bucks would appear to be the smart bet. Bookies are tipping the Bucks as the firm 4.5-point home chalk. And the way they’ve played the last three games of this series only enforces this market outlook

Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, 9:00 PM EDT – Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee

 

Bucks On A Roll

The Milwaukee Bucks are within a game of clinching the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy and with a home game on the cards tonight, they’re set up advantageously to get the job done in front of their adoring fans at the Fiserv Forum. One could say, it’s theirs to lose now too.

 

Winning game 5 was the crucial step that propelled the Bucks into this position, but they’ve been on a roll since game 3 of the series. The start of their three-game winning streak to come from behind and take a 3-2 stranglehold on the series. All three wins included covering the point spread at the same time, improving Milwaukee’s betting trends against the spread overall to 45-49-0 and a 5.7 winning margin. At home the Bucks are 25-21-0 with an 8.9 winning margin on average.

 

It was a narrow game 5 victory for Milwaukee but a crucial win nevertheless. The Bucks edged the Suns 123-119 to come through with the road upset as the +4 closing underdogs across multiple sports betting sites. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 32 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists while Khris Middleton put up 29 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.

 

The contributions came from everywhere, including Jrue Holiday who’s struggled somewhat on the offensive side of the ball during this series. In game 5 though he was his best self, adding 27 points, 4 rebounds and 13 assists to his team’s victorious lap in Arizona. As well. Pat Connaughton, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis added 32 points combined.

 

“When we’re all playing well,” Middleton said in his postgame presser, “we’re one of the best teams.”

 

“One more to go,’’ Antetokounmpo said before giving fans cause to worry as he stepped away from the postgame podium to get treated for cramping. By all accounts, Antetokounmpo is fit and fighting ready for tonight’s key game.

 

Suns Must-Win Game

 

The Phoenix Suns are fighting for their season tonight, faced with elimination for the first time in the playoffs. The NBA odds are stacked against them somewhat, but they’ve been one of the best teams in the league this season on the road. Overall, the Suns are 65-28-0 SU and 55-37-1 ATS with a 5.6 winning margin on average. On the road, they’re 30-16-0 SU and 25-20-1 ATS with a 2.5 winning margin on average.

 

The Suns started brightly in game 5, but things got away from them quickly after a strong first quarter. The Bucks took over in the second and third quarter before the Suns rallied in a thrilling fourth quarter that very nearly went their way as they came within a point in the final minute. Devin Booker was stopped on a drive by Holiday as he ripped the ball from him. Instead of letting the clock rundown, Holiday chucked an alley-oop pass to Antetokounmpo for an emphatic slam and foul with 20 seconds left on the clock.

 

“I was just trying to score the ball, he was behind me,’’ Booker said about Holiday’s crucial late-game steal. “I turned and he was right there.’’

 

It was a difficult loss to take at home as they’d come so close in the end after rallying back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and getting within one point, at 120-119, on a Chris Paul layup with 56.6 seconds remaining. Booker had a monster game with 40 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists while Paul added 21 points, 2 rebounds and 11 assists. Deandre Ayton had 20 points, 10 rebounds and 1 assist while Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges combined for 23 points, 9 assists and 4 rebounds.

 

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy,’’ Paul said. “We’ve got to regroup, learn from this game. We’ve got to win a game in Milwaukee.’’

 

NBA Predictions and Picks

 

The Milwaukee Bucks are on the cusp of winning their first NBA Finals since the 1970s, but the Phoenix Suns are not going to roll over. Indeed, this should be a rollicking affair at the Fiserv Forum tonight with both teams making a fist of this game. As such, it really could go either way in the betting.

 

All told, the Bucks are in pole position to win tonight and they might be worth a small flutter even if the odds are 2-to-1 or thereabouts depending on the choice top sportsbook. At the same time, the point spread in this final series has been a moot point as the winning team has covered each and every game. Thus, if this betting trends holds, tickling the Bucks as the 4.5-point home chalk as well could be worth it too.

 

NBA Picks: Milwaukee Bucks at -195 to win and at -4.5 (-110) to cover with DraftKings.

Suns vs. Bucks NBA Finals Game 4 Picks and Expert Insights

 Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks controls the ball against Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns . Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks controls the ball against Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns . Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Milwaukee Bucks finally cracked the win column after they took game 3 in convincing fashion, beating the Suns 120-100 before an adoring crowd. Now, the Bucks are looking to clinch back-to-back wins and multiple top sportsbooks are backing that notion by setting the Eastern Conference champions as the firm chalk.

As per Draftskings sportsbooks, the Bucks are laying 4.5 points to the Suns and they’re tipped at -190 to win on the money-line. In the meanwhile, the total for the game is projected to 221 points.

Will the Suns take a 3-1 lead in the series or will the Bucks even it 2-2 before the series returns to Phoenix?

 

NBA Finals Game 4

Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Wednesday, July 14, 2021, 9:00 PM EDT at Fiserv Forum

 

Suns Suffer Setback

The Phoenix Suns suffered their first setback of the series as they succumbed to a bruising 120-100 win that saw them fail to even whiff at the closing point spread of +4.5 on Sunday. The game was nowhere nearly that close.

It was an unpolished performance by the Suns at the Fiserv Forum this weekend, namely with Devin Booker misfiring and Deandre Ayton fouling in excess. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a monster night dropping 41 points on the Suns but it’s fair to say the Suns themselves played a massive role in their own demise on the night.

Booker finished the night with 10 points while shooting 3-of-14 from the field and 1-of-7 from 3-point range. It was a distinct comedown after totting up 31 points in the Suns’ 118-108 win in game 2. The young guard was quite dispassionate in his own assessment, citing the need for improvement without excuse.

“It wasn’t well, obviously,” Booker said. “But there’s nights like that. The most important part to me is winning the game, and we didn’t do that. I’m more frustrated about that.”

Suns coach Monty Williams assessed Ayton’s performance after the young centre gave the post-game pressers a miss. “He missed some shots. So that’s going to happen,” Williams said about Ayton. “When you get to the Finals, it means you’ve been in a number of situations. So this is nothing new to us anymore. He’ll bounce back.”

Chris Paul led the team with 19 points and 9 assists while Jae Crowder put up 18 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist and Deandre Ayton put up 18 points and 9 rebounds. Elsewhere, Cameron Johnson added 14 points and 5 rebounds.

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Bucks vs. Suns NBA Finals Game 2 Betting Preview

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks handles the ball. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks handles the ball. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Suns dominated the Bucks on Tuesday night and will try to take a 2-0 series lead when these teams meet on Thursday. However, Milwaukee will be out to even the score so it might not go as planned. Let’s analyze this Game 2 showdown and keep cashing our NBA picks!

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Suns vs. Clippers NBA Playoffs Game 3 Preview and Best Bet

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Mikal Bridges #25 celebrate. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns and Mikal Bridges #25 celebrate. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP

 

The L.A. Clippers are in trouble, but they might be the smart NBA pick for Thursday’s Game 3 matchup with the Phoenix Suns.

 

Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Thursday, June 24, 2021 – 9:00PM EDT at Staples Center

 

Everybody’s talking about that alley-oop. The Phoenix Suns were up against it Tuesday night, down 103-102 to the Los Angeles Clippers with less than a second on the clock. In-bounding from the left corner by the Clippers baseline, Jae Crowder found Deandre Ayton with the perfect lob, Ayton crammed it in, and here we are with the Suns up 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals.

The Clippers have been here before. They were down 2-0 to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round; they were down 2-0 to the Utah Jazz in the second. But the Clippers fought back to take both series, and really, all these games have been virtual coin flips between well-matched teams. The Clippers cashed in as 4.5-point road dogs on the NBA odds board for Game 2 of this series. Maybe they’re still the right choice for Game 3, after opening as 1-point home dogs at Unibet.

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