This is a big summer for former Syracuse Orange basketball players in the NBA, as several will be in search of new contracts during what’s going to be a very truncated offseason. Before free agency gets started, we’re looking at where the SU standouts could wind up.
Everyone wants to know where Carmelo three to the dome Anthony will end up next season. He has already hinted at returning with the Portland Trail Blazers after verbally saying he wanted to stay with the team.
“I would love to stay,” he said. “I feel like this is the place for me to end my career. It could have happened earlier, but it didn’t. Now, where I’m at in my life and my career — this is where I want to retire.”
For some odd reason, I have a feeling that if the former NBA scorer champion doesn’t sign back with Portland, he can end up a Net. I mean why not return home? Next season is jam-packed with expectations for Brooklyn to fulfill. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will are back playing for the first time together.
Also covering the Nets, I’ve noticed there was a lack of veteran experience throughout the playoffs and I know this has to be stressed more if Brooklyn wants to come out the East. Going after Anthony is filling that gap. What could lure the 2003 NCAA Champ over would be a chance at winning his first NBA ring. Ironically, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving wanted the Brooklyn Nets to offer Carmelo Anthony a contract back in summer 2019.
Coming off some glaring performances in the playoffs, Grant made a statement to the league on why he will be one of most coveted free agents this summer. He brings defense , length, three point shooting, and also great slashing ability. Although the Portland native still has some parts of his game that he wants to improve on like ball handling and just shooting a higher percentage overall, teams like the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat are places that I think he’ll end up.
The Knicks don’t have much other than RJ Barrett (ed. note: do not disparage Mitchell Robinson in this house!) and the eighth pick in this year’s draft. If the Knicks pick up Grant they are already amplifying their defense, which is what fans would want to see after not making the playoffs since 2012. As the team’s new head coach, Tom Thibodeau will also stress this for the team next year. What can better New York’s chance at securing Grant will be acquiring Chris Paul. Over the past month, according to Scoop B, the Knicks have been on pursuit for the veteran floor general.
You can see why the future Hall of Famer will be the difference between whether Grant chooses New York or this next team, the Miami Heat. The Heat were so close but so far from winning their first championship since 2013 in this year’s Finals against the Lakers. Battling injuries throughout, it was still obvious that Spoelstra’s squad didn’t have enough anyway. If they pick up Grant, their zone defense will get even more intense and this will give the Heat another shooter. I won’t be surprised if he chooses the Heat over the Knicks to be safe.
Next up we’ve got Champ Cheese. After his odd but yet thrilling season that started with the Heat but ended in Los Angeles with the Lakers, Waiters showed signs that he wasn’t quite back to the player he used to be. His reputation of not following team conduct after what happened in Miami is also a case that will have the Philadelphia native searching hard to get paid more than the veteran minimum.
I see him returning for another stint with the Lakers, if they’ll have him. Due in part to injury, Waiters didn’t truly contribute the way he wanted to and I am sure the team would want him back because they knew when signing him that he would be an offensive catalyst off the bench. It wasn’t fair for Dion Waiters to go out like that. If he deserves anything, it’s at least revenge. Let’s see if Rob Pelinka will bet on the former Syracuse Sixth Man of the Year. Here are some of his reactions after winning his first championship this year. Be aware that the video contains some profanity.
While not the same big names as these three, there are at least two other former Orange players looking for NBA deals this winter. We’ll limit the list to just guys who were active this past season. But others floating around the G League or overseas could also find themselves in preseason camps with international travel limited.
MCW’s 2019-20 season wasn’t too bad, as he averaged 7.2 points, 3.3 boards and 2.4 assists per game with the Orlando Magic. He didn’t always set the stat line ablaze, but was a playmaker when called upon. Markelle Fultz will start at PG for Orlando, so the question is whether the Magic like him or DJ Augustin more to back him up. Other teams will be looking for guard depth too, though, so it could just come down to who can pay. The Golden State Warriors could be a fit, as could the Phoenix Suns. MCW probably wouldn’t mind a winning situation (Warriors), but minutes will be at a premium compared to what he’d get in Orlando or Phoenix.
Would actually think he’s headed back to Orlando right now, if they’re willing to carve out a substantial role.
Brissett didn’t play a ton for the Toronto Raptors this past year, averaging 1.9 points and 1.4 boards per game across 19 contests. Given Toronto’s abilities for homegrown guys, there’s a chance they keep him around, but who knows how long the window is open for this team — especially if Fred VanVleet departs. If he stays in Toronto, it’s probably in the G League given the team’s glut of wings and need for another big.
Otherwise, his NBA options could be limited since he wasn’t even a rotation guy for the Raptors. Perhaps someone takes a flier on his athleticism and potential forward needs. Some options there could include the Knicks, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves or Indiana Pacers; some of whom are at different stages than others with regard to letting a young guy like Brissett develop.
What about you? Where do you see Syracuse’s NBA players landing?