Matt Slocum/Associated Press
While the upcoming NBA offseason may not be quite as exciting or feature as many major moves as the last one, it’s still a time that could end up being worth the extended wait.
With the 2019-20 season set to resume on July 30, as 22 teams complete the regular season and playoffs in Orlando, Florida, the offseason won’t start until October, assuming everything goes as planned with the resumption of the season. That means players who are set to become free agents won’t get the opportunity to plan their futures until then.
Although the upcoming free-agent class may not be filled with major names, there are some talented players who are sure to make an impact if they sign with new teams.
Here are some predictions for where several of them could land this offseason.
Christian Wood, PF
Before getting claimed off waivers by the Detroit Pistons last summer, Christian Wood had played only 51 NBA games since making his debut in October 2015. And those games came as a member of four different teams: the Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets, Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Pelicans.
This season, the 24-year-old got his first opportunity to be a regular contributor and fared well. He averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 62 games while shooting 56.7 percent from the field.
The power forward moved into the starting lineup after Andre Drummond was traded on Feb. 6, and he scored at least 20 points in seven of the Pistons’ final eight games before the season was suspended.
Now, Wood is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and he should draw more interest than previous times he was available.
In May, The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III noted the Boston Celtics inquired about trading for the UNLV product at the trade deadline more than once, so it’s possible they’ll still be interested. He also listed the Hornets, Pelicans and New York Knicks as potential threats to sign Wood away from the Pistons.
However, Detroit should be in position to commit to Wood with a long-term deal and make him one of its key players as it continues to rebuild.
With Wood and Blake Griffin as the starters down low, the Pistons could use their first-round draft pick on a guard and have a solid rotation moving forward. So, Detroit will find a way to keep him around for the long term.
Prediction: Wood re-signs with Detroit
Derrick Jones Jr., SF
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
Derrick Jones Jr. has made positive strides over his first four NBA seasons, but he likely still hasn’t reached his full potential.
This season, the 23-year-old small forward has averaged 8.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 51 games for the Miami Heat, but he garnered the most attention by winning a controversial dunk contest during All-Star weekend.
It’s possible the Heat will be reluctant to sign Jones to a sizable deal this offseason, as The Athletic’s John Hollinger pointed out in May that the team could be trying to save cap space to land one of the big-name players expected to be a free agent in 2021 (such as Giannis Antetokounmpo).
The former UNLV star’s best offers could come from teams other than Miami, and there should be interest in a young wing player who continues to improve and develop.
One potential fit for Jones could be with the Atlanta Hawks. With Trae Young, John Collins and Clint Capela among their core players, the Hawks could benefit from signing some depth players to help them improve.
Jones is a solid defender who could be a nice fit in Atlanta, which could quickly take big strides in 2020-21 with the right moves. He should have interest in joining a young team that may start contending in the Eastern Conference soon.
Prediction: Jones signs with Atlanta
Josh Jackson, SF
Nick Wass/Associated Press
Like Jones, Josh Jackson is a young small forward who still has room to improve and likely will.
After averaging 12.3 points per game over his first two NBA seasons with the Phoenix Suns, he was traded to the Grizzlies last summer. However, his time with Memphis started in the NBA G League.
Jackson played with the Memphis Hustle until late January, when the Grizzlies finally added him to their roster. He then averaged 10.4 points in 18 games before the season was suspended.
It’s possible that showing was impressive enough for Memphis to want to bring the 23-year-old back after the season. Or he could be leaving for another fresh start with another new team, as there will likely be some organizations with interest in him. And one of those could be the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs may not be able to afford some of the top-tier free agents in this year’s class, assuming Andre Drummond accepts his $28.75 million player option. But Jackson is the type of player they could get on an affordable deal and who would provide depth at an area of need for them.
So, the guess here is that Jackson heads to Cleveland for 2020-21.
Prediction: Jackson signs with Cleveland