Key: Names that look like THIS are still in play
Top 15 Free agent Small forwards
1. NICOLAS BATUM, Blazers - The Timberwolves came in strong right out of the gate, but new GM Neil Olshey knows how valuable a piece the French swingman can be. He failed to let him walk on a four-year offer sheet ($46 million) that now become’s Portland’s responsibility.
2. GERALD WALLACE, Nets - Although he’ll probably be a drain towards the end of his reported 4yr/$40 million deal, there’s nothing wrong with paying a guy who gives you everything he’s got nightly.
3. MICKAEL PIETRUS - His shooting stroke has never been worse, but the defense he played this past postseason highlighted his value. He wants to return to Boston.
4. MARTELL WEBSTER - The Timberwolves have bought him out. Foot and injuries have derailed a once-promising career for the former No. 6 pick, but he’s still just 25 since he came straight out of high school and can really stroke it if and when healthy.
5. JOSH HOWARD – He showed flashes of his old self in Utah last season and may be ready for one final push in his return from a 2010 ACL injury. Does the little things that help a team win, which makes him an attractive piece in a down year for small forwards.
6. GRANT HILL, Clippers - Even at 39, the oldest free agent on the market has some juice left, but last year’s career-low numbers scream buyer beware. He’s still a capable defender and playmaker, so the Clippers are happy he chose to back-up Caron Butler instead of joining the Knicks or Lakers.
7. ALONZO GEE - Held up decently playing major minutes in Cleveland these past two seasons, which could net him a raise from a team willing to test the Cavs stated desire to match any reasonable offer.
8. MATT BARNES - If he finds a way to be a more consistent perimeter threat, he’s a tremendous asset for a contender. His toughness and willingness to battle is tough to come across, though he’s worn out his welcome in most spots, set to join his fifth team in six years.
9. KYLE KORVER, Hawks - The Bulls grudgingly had to give up on him, as with Derrick Rose out most of the season and him commanding a $5 million salary if not bought out, a tough decision had to be made. Atlanta lands one of the league’s most effective 3-point snipers with Minnesota facilitating the deal.
10. DEVIN EBANKS, Lakers - He’s got the build and athleticism to become a defensive stopper, though there is danger that he’ll never overcome being an offensive liability. Still, he plays hard, is just 22 and figures to only improve. The Lakers have gladly given him another year to develop.
11. CARLOS DELFINO, Rockets - He’ll remind teams of his value playing for Argentina at the Olympics, but considering he’s not 100 percent, his health is going to be monitored as he rushes back from May surgery. When he’s right, he can be a threat offensively, which Houston is banking on.
12. TERRENCE WILLIAMS - Did his best NBA work during his late cup of coffee with Sacramento, where he reigned in his shot selection and consistently showed off his versatile game. Now 25, the hope is he finally gets it.
13. JEREMY EVANS, Jazz - Still attempting to carve out a niche in the league, the reigning Slam Dunk champ is worth a gamble given his professional demeanor and next-level athleticism. Utah has reached a three-year deal to continue fostering his development.
14. RASHARD LEWIS, Heat - He shot it horribly last season in D.C., looking like he belonged on a golf course. Still, after being moved to New Orleans and falling casualty to amnesty, he’ll look to make one final run at a championship with the Heat by accepting the veteran’s minimum. If his knees hold up, his experience and professionalism will be assets.
15. STEVE NOVAK, Knicks - He shoots, therefore he is. He’s got a skill that’s a weapon, which means he’ll be employed despite being one-dimensional. Getting $15 million over four years from the Knicks has to entice future role players to dump their agents and sign with Mark Bartelstein immediately.
Rest of the crop: RYAN GOMES, JOSH CHILDRESS (Greece), AL THORNTON, DERRICK BROWN, DOMINIC MCGUIRE, BILL WALKER, DONTE GREENE, SAM YOUNG, DEMARRE CARROLL, TERREL HARRIS, DAMION JAMES, SHAWNE WILLIAMS, MO EVANS, CARTIER MARTIN (Wizards), ADAM MORRISON, BOBBY SIMMONS, OTHYUS JEFFERS, DERRICK BYARS, DAMIEN WILKINS, JULIAN WRIGHT, RASUAL BUTLER, JASON KAPONO, JAMARIO MOON, DARINGTON HOBSON, CHRIS WRIGHT, DAJUAN SUMMERS, DJ KENNEDY, IME UDOKA.
Top 15 Free agent Power forwards
1. TIM DUNCAN, Spurs - Naysayers shaking their heads: “even his free agency negotiations are boring.” He’ll remain a Spur for fair compensation. That no-trade clause seems like an inside joke.
2. RYAN ANDERSON, Hornets - Criticism of his disappearing act in the playoffs is a little harsh. He had to adjust to a new role on the fly and couldn’t manage it. Still a terrific competitor, above-average offensive rebounder and an exceptional shooter. New Orleans’ Monty Williams will get the most of his ability and look to continue Stan Van Gundy’s quest of making him a more complete player even when his shot is failing.
3. ERSAN ILYASOVA, Bucks - He had opportunities in Europe to help net a juicier deal, and reportedly has a 5 year/$40 million offer on the table to remain in Milwaukee. Similar to Anderson as an offensive rebounding whiz who can step out and knock down jumpers.
4. JEFF GREEN, Celtics - Coming off a heart issue, he’s expected to be at 100 percent again. His ability to defend both forward spots and help a team without requiring the ball makes him well worth the risk, though $36 million over four years is on the higher end of what I thought Boston would spend for his services.
5. MICHAEL BEASLEY, Suns - He’s got no excuse if he fails in Phoenix, where he’ll be guaranteed touches and an opportunity to grow with the franchise that he hasn’t honestly gotten in Miami or Minnesota. At both stops, he was always part of Plan B, viewed more with curiosity than conviction.
6,. LUIS SCOLA, Suns - There’s concern he”s logged too many minutes, especially since he’s set to earn so many in these Olympics, but if managed right, should have legs to be a factor down the stretch. His footwork and touch will allow Phoenix to play through him in the post, lightening the load on frontcourt mates Beasley, Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat.
7. JJ HICKSON, Blazers- A flop in Sacramento, he resurrected his image with a late 19-game stint in Portland, shooting 54 percent and averaging 15 and 8. The Blazers have given him a 1-year deal for $4 million, banking that last year’s slow start can be attributed to an inability to adjust to new surrounding due to the lockout.
8. BRANDON BASS, Celtics - Returning to Boston (3 yrs, $20 million), Bass was quietly a superb glue guy who aided Kevin Garnett’s transition to the center spot late in the season. Expect him to be even more efficient in year two, as he and Rajon Rondo play well together.
9. KRIS HUMPHRIES, Nets - Can’t argue with his production or his motor, so after exploring its options, Brooklyn will deal with the Kardashian baggage and his issues on defense.
10. ANTAWN JAMISON, Lakers - His production slipped in Cleveland, partially the result of having to do too much. Still, at 36, his best days are behind him, having shot a career-low 40 percent last season. He made the right decision taking a pay cut to join L.A. to chase a championship.
11. JASON THOMPSON, Kings - The former lottery pick is 25 and looked the most comfortable he has in his short career last season. As a result, given his size and nimble feet, he’s someone the Kings are happy to have back and commit to long-term (5-years, more than $30 million according to the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Jones.
12. JORDAN HILL, Lakers - There are teams quietly hoping he’ll emerge as a major bargain, having provided a glimpse of his value this past postseason. He gave the Lakers solid minutes against OKC, protecting the rim and rebounding well. For nearly $8 million over two years, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports he’ll return to L.A.
13. ELTON BRAND, Mavs - After the amnesty axe fell in Philadelphia, he’ll have to carve out a new niche elsewhere considering his days as a franchise player are officially over. Dallas won the bidding for his services, spending $2.1 million.
14. KENYON MARTIN – The 34-year-old is a winner. Expect a title contender smart enough to want him out on the floor late in a game come May to emerge as his destination.
15. CARL LANDRY, Warriors - Undersized, but he’s proven he can be productive despite his limitations. He’s relentless, though likely better-suited to come off the bench to spark a second unit, which is apparently what he’ll be tasked with in Golden State.
Rest of the crop: BORIS DIAW (Spurs), MARREESE SPEIGHTS (Grizzlies), DARRELL ARTHUR (Grizzlies), IVAN JOHNSON, ANDRAY BLATCHE, REGGIE EVANS (Nets), ANTHONY RANDOLPH (Nuggets), MALCOLM THOMAS, YI JIANLIAN, CHRIS ANDERSEN, JARED JEFFRIES (Blazers), LOUIS AMUNDSON, ANTHONY TOLLIVER, TROY MURPHY, SAMARDO SAMUELS, LUKE HARANGODY (Cavs), VLAD RADMANOVIC (Bulls), DJ WHITE, CRAIG SMITH, JAMES SINGLETON, DARNELL JACKSON, SOLOMON JONES, GANI LAWAL, CRAIG BRACKINS, VERNON MACKLIN, JOSH POWELL, MAGNUM ROLLE, ERIC DAWSON, MIKKI MOORE, EDUARDO NAJERA, JEFF ADRIEN, BRIAN SCALABRINE.
Top 15 Free agent Centers
1. DWIGHT HOWARD, Lakers - Sure, he was under contract by his own foolish doing, but forced his way out, landing at option No. 2, Los Angeles, where he continues a great Lakers tradition. Unless the season is a complete disaster the long-term commitment will come next free agency period.
2. ROY HIBBERT, Pacers - Indiana had a replacement lined up in Chris Kaman, but matching his max deal (4 years, $58 million) is an investement in keeping the 7-foot-2 25-year-old entering his prime as the pillar of the franchise.
3. JAVALE MCGEE, Nuggets - He’s been a knucklehead, but had a national coming-out party against the Lakers in the playoffs, teasing suitors with his potential. Denver wants him back, but isn’t interested in breaking the bank to do it. Max offers for Brook Lopez wee not a good sign for those aspirations, but the Nuggets got it done for 4 years/$44 million.
4. BROOK LOPEZ, Nets - He got 4 years/$61 million after being subjected to nightly debate over his value as the centerpiece of the Derrick Howard trade talks. He’ll need to rebound and defend better to live up to max label, but there’s no doubt he won’t hold the Nets back offensively. Truly gifted at that end.
5. CHRIS KAMAN, Mavs - Dallas brings him in to lead a Plan B to surround Dirk with enough talent compete this season, earning $8 million for a one-year run with his ex-German National teammate.
5. OMER ASIK, Rockets - It seems like I’m in the minority in appreciating his value, even if the Rockets have a balloon payment in two years time after stealing him from Chicago. Still, his impact on the defensive end is monumental, and you’ve got to think the 26-year-old Turk won’t be as huge an offensive liability as he has been once he gets more comfortable with his new surroundings.
6. SPENCER HAWES, 76ers - The Sixers were at their best last season when he was, so while it was disappointing that he couldn’t raise his game to help them upset Boston when it mattered most, spending $13 million over two years on a skilled 24-year-old 7-footer is a good buy.
7. MARCUS CAMBY, Knicks - At 38 years old, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t played in more than a single playoff series in the same postseason since his Knicks days. Kind of dubious to consider since he’s back in New York, courtesy of a generous sign-and-trade that netted him a guaranteed $10 million.
8. IAN MAHINMI, Pacers - For starters, the Spurs found him, so you know he can probably play. He had some great games last season and disappeared in others despite getting regular minutes, but did shoot 64 percent against the Thunder. He knows his limitations. Strikes me as a spot starter with upside considering he’s still just 25. Indiana thinks so, too, handing him a four-year, $16 million deal in a sign-and-trade that got the Mavs’ Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones for this year’s run.
9. BRENDAN HAYWOOD, Bobcats - After swallowing the amnesty pill from Dallas, a solid defender who earned his ring will have to play in Charlotte. He probably had his fingers crossed tightly for a contender to win his bid, but $2.05 million got the job done as the league’s worst team nets a nice bargain.
10. ROBIN LOPEZ, Hornets- His best game last season was his first: 21 points, seven boards, brimming with confidence. That he struggled so much the rest of the way that he failed to break the bank when he otherwise would have. Look for him to compete with Jason Smith for the starting job, hoping to impress and positively impact his value.
11. CHRIS WILCOX, Celtics - Entering his 10th season, he’s another former lottery pick who has tapped out his potential but knows what the job entails. Coming off a heart issue that cut a promising tenure with Boston short, he’ll be back this season on a one-year, likely at the vet’s minimum according to CSN’s Sherrod Blakely.
12. HASHEEM THABEET, Thunder - The 7-2 bust can resurrect his career helping the Thunder win titles. It’s why Sam Presti applied a quick and effective full-court press, netting the former No. 2 pick to a two-year deal believed to be for the minimum. Playing with Serge Ibaka could be inspirational.
13. KWAME BROWN, 76ers - He’ll join his seventh NBA team in Philadelphia, which tells you that 7-foot busts can still earn a phenomenal living.
14. GREG ODEN – The line for his services won’t be out the door, but it only takes one. It’s understandable people forget what he did when he was healthy enough to play, but in his final full game, he corralled 20 rebounds. Sadly, that was on Dec. 10, 2009.
15. JERMAINE O’NEAL, Suns – You can’t go to Germany for that gimmicky knee surgery and not make this list. Plus, I love J.O. He’s been through a lot and still willing to fight. That goes a long way. Phoenix liked enough of what they saw from him in workouts to pull the trigger on a flier.
REST OF THE CROP: JOEL PRZYBILLA (Bucks), GREG STIEMSMA (Timberwolves), NAZR MOHAMMED (Bulls), AARON GRAY (Raptors), JON LEUER (Cavs), SHELDEN WILLIAMS, RONNY TURIAF (Clippers), JASON COLLINS (Celtics), KYRYLO FESENKO, HAMED HADDADI (Grizzlies), RYAN HOLLINS (Clippers), HASSAN WHITESIDE, MICKELL GLADNESS, DANIEL ORTON, MICHAEL ERIC (Cavs), JEROME JORDAN, DJ MBENGA, PRIMOZ BREZEC, JASON COLLINS (Celtics), JAMAAL MAGLOIRE, ERICK DAMPIER, TONY BATTIE, DAN GADZURIC, DAVID ANDERSEN, ALEXIS AJINCA, ETAN THOMAS, SOLOMON ALABI, HILTON ARMSTRONG, SEAN WILLIAMS, RANDOLPH MORRIS, KEITH BENSON, PATRICK O’BRYANT, GARRETT SILER, HAMADY N’DIAYE.
Top 15 Free agent Point guards
1. DERON WILLIAMS, Nets - The main domino that sparked every other move, his decision to open the Barclays Arena with the Nets means Mikhail Prokhorov made enough of an impression to ultimately build a title contender. People want to play with D-Will.
2. STEVE NASH, Lakers - Nobody ever thought he’d be pulling a Lakers jersey on to his body. Despite being 38-years-old, the shape he keeps himself in means L.A. should get a nice return on its 3-year/$27 million investment. The goal is to get Kobe Bryant even with Mike in the titles department while netting his first.
3. GEORGE HILL, Pacers - Indiana isn’t making a mistake by investing $40 million over five years in a home-grown product. He’s excellent on the defensive end and getting better by the day as a scorer/facilitator at the point, using everything he learned in San Antonio as a base.
4. GORAN DRAGIC, Suns - Phoenix got him for the same $9 million price tag that Nash got from the Lakers, so they clearly regretted dealing him to Houston. He’s probably overpaid at this point, but there’s no question his improvement has fattened up his wallet.
5. LOU WILLIAMS, Hawks - He found a new home in Atlanta’s reloading scheme, which means the former Georgia Mr. Basketball is coming hom. Sure, him and defense aren’t on a first-name basis, but he’s someone that’s been counted on to close out games. He can deliver the goods.
6. JEREMY LIN, Rockets - Shockingly, Daryl Morey’s “poison pill” of a contract worked to steal him from New York, which elected not to match. He’s a better fit in Houston, where he fills the team’s point guard vacancy and becomes embraced by a fan base eager to welcome a star.
7. CHAUNCEY BILLUPS, Clippers - Is anybody really doubting that the Clippers made a great move in making sure he returned? He only won over Chris Paul and everyone else despite extenuating circumstances. He’s got a Finals MVP, which means he’s got a history of coming up big when it matters most. He’ll be an asset.
8. JASON KIDD, Knicks - He’ll be in his 40s when his career ends, which is as it should be. His on-court IQ is genius. His 3-point stroke, as required, has improved. Not sure what kind of mentor he’ll be, but he’s sure to contribute to the Knicks winning.
9. JAMEER NELSON, Magic - It’s an upset that Orlando has invested over $6 million per year over the next three to keep him, but there’s no question he’s a phenomenal influence. A true pro, he’s apparently being paid to build a bridge.
10. DJ AUGUSTIN, Pacers - He was quickly scooped up by Indiana after Charlotte opted for Ramon Sessions and relinquished his rights. He’s gifted offensively, challenged defensively and best-suited to come off a contender’s bench.
11. RAYMOND FELTON, Knicks - No longer playing the waiting game. Wrote this weeks ago: In the right situation, he could be tremendous since he’d stay motivated. In the wrong one, status quo since he’ll feel he should start. Translation: Not a fan of the move.
12. DELONTE WEST, Mavs- Yep, he’s carried baggage. It seems to be significantly lighter now, and we didn’t dream that he can defend both guard positions like a rabid bulldog. When that mid-range jumper is on, he’s honestly tremendous. Dallas got him back at a relative discount.
13. KIRK HINRICH, Bulls - If nothing else, he annoys Dwyane Wade. The Bulls would love for him to be the bridge, then quietly accept the backup role when Derrick Rose is healthy. Not that he won’t play with the 2011 MvP, because yes, Wade hates being guarded by him.
14. RAMON SESSIONS, Bobcats - The Lakers job put him under the microscope, and while he never embarrassed himself, he didn’t shine. Bottom line, he’s in Felton’s category as an elite-level backup. Kemba Walker will share the gig with him in Charlotte.
15. AARON BROOKS, Kings - Did his damage in China last year, but will vie for minutes with second-year players Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette, likely coming off the bench.
REST OF THE CROP: JERRYD BAYLESS (Grizzlies) , RANDY FOYE (Jazz), LEANDRO BARBOSA, DEREK FISHER, JONNY FLYNN, CJ WATSON (Nets), KEYON DOOLING (Celtics), GILBERT ARENAS, LESTER HUDSON, PATTY MILLS (Spurs), RONNIE PRICE (Blazers), AJ PRICE (Wizards), JOHN LUCAS (Raptors), ROYAL IVEY (76ers), JANNERO PARGO, MIKE JAMES, NATE ROBINSON (Bulls), SUNDIATA GAINES, MIKE BIBBY, ARMON JOHNSON, ISH SMITH, LANCE STEPHENSON (Pacers), MAALIK WAYNS (76ers), WILLIE WARREN, POOH JETER, BEN UZOH, SQUEAKY JOHNSON, EARL BOYKINS, WALKER RUSSELL, MARCUS BANKS, DONALD SLOAN, BLAKE AHEARN.
Top 15 Free agent Shooting guards
1. ERIC GORDON, Hornets - There aren’t many young shooting guards out there with his ability to take a game over and there was no way New Orleans was giving him up. Fans won’t be mad at him too long for saying his heart was in Phoenix. The vitriol should cease once he hits his first 3-pointer — in preseason.
2. OJ MAYO, Mavs - He’s convinced his share of suitors that he wasn’t used properly in Memphis and that they’ll be getting a steal. Hopefully for Dallas, he’ll use the chip on his shoulder to learn how to play off Dirk Nowitzki well enough to carve out a long-term role as Mark Cuban reloads.
3. JASON TERRY, Celtics - A terrific shooter and brilliant pick-and-roll player, expect him to be a superb upgrade over Ray Allen. Seriously, this is a lock.
4. JAMAL CRAWFORD, Clippers - JCrossover’s job is to make sure the Clippers pick up his option in that fourth year, cashing in the rumored full $25 million deal. Nice guy. Root for him. He’s got a chance to be this generation’s Microwave, but has to do the work on the back end to prove me right.
5. COURTNEY LEE, Celtics - Walks into a great fit with a Boston squad that’s going to take advantage of his willingness to take big shots and defend. No moment has been too big for him, and given the price, he could be one of the biggest steals of this free-agent class.
6. BRANDON ROY, Timberwolves - Knees that work? Who needs them. I know one thing. I picked this guy to be the MVP of the league before they stopped cooperating. With him staging a comeback that the Timberwolves are willing to gamble two years on, I see him as a risk worth taking. Best of luck.
7. RAY ALLEN, Heat - It wasn’t be easy to disappoint brothers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but basketball is a business. He’ll be shooting 3-pointers for the Heat for less money, a better shot a title and a more peaceful relationship with his starting point guard.
8. JR SMITH, Knicks - New York still works, especially since he became such a dedicated defender in the spirit of winning. He showed his true colors and he’ll be embraced if his shot selection doesn’t turn the tide. The plan is for him to do well enough to opt out next year and hope for a more generous deal.
9. DANNY GREEN, Spurs - Sure, he tested the market. Still, it’s weird that a guy who became comfortable with being a key role player in college would ever leave San Antonio. “Only team for him” – 3 years, $12 million – fully guaranteed.
10. LANDRY FIELDS, Raptors - His poisonous back-loaded contract didn’t succeed in getting Steve Nash to Toronto, but the fact the Raps didn’t renege suggests they view him as the best available option next to DeMar DeRozan.
11. NICK YOUNG, 76ers - Another knucklehead who everyone hopes will grow up, it will be interesting to monitor what he’ll do in a one-year trial in Philadelphia.
12. BRANDON RUSH, Warriors - Golden State succeeded in keeping him after a strong first season under Mark Jackson, but had competition from the Lakers and a few other teams. He got a two-year deal worth $8 million with a player option for next season built in.
13. RONNIE BREWER, Knicks - He’s an elite defender who struggles to score when called upon. The Bulls moved on, but New York will gladly take up his cause with Iman Shumpert still healing and plenty of elite wings for him to pester standing in their way.
14. SONNY WEEMS, CSKA Moscow- A kid whose better-suited in a backup role, he put himself on the radar in Toronto last season. After failing to get the deal he wanted here, he’ll be a part of the solution of how CSKA replaces Andrei Kirilenko.
15. GERALD GREEN, Pacers - Finally grew up last year, demonstrating more than his ability to dunk. People who beat the odds like he did typically make it, which is why Indiana made sure it stole Brooklyn’s find.
Rest of the crop: CJ MILES (Cavs), SHANNON BROWN (Suns), JAMES ANDERSON, WILLIE GREEN (Clippers), DESHAWN STEVENSON (Hawks), JODIE MEEKS (Lakers). ROGER MASON JR (Hornets), MARCO BELINELLI (Bulls), MARQUIS DANIELS, JERMAINE TAYLOR, RAJA BELL, TRACY MCGRADY, MICHAEL REDD, KEITH BOGANS (Nets), ALAN ANDERSON (Raptors), JERRY STACKHOUSE (Nets), MORRIS ALMOND, MANNY HARRIS, PAPE SY, CHRIS DOUGLAS-ROBERTS, SASHA PAVLOVIC (Blazers), GARRETT TEMPLE, EDWIN UBILES, CORY HIGGINS, XAVIER SILAS, MARIO WEST, J.R. GIDDENS.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA