Front-Office Insider: Ranking the top free-agent point guards

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Stephen Curry is in line for a major raise. (AP)
Stephen Curry is in line for a major raise. (AP)

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, ranks the top point guards in this offseason’s free-agent class.

THE BEST

1. Stephen Curry
Age in free agency: 29

Insider info
Being All-NBA and winning MVP the previous two seasons make Curry eligible for the new designated veteran player contract.

Curry can sign a max contract starting at 35 percent of the salary cap, which is $35.3 million annually, and for a total of $207 million. Under the old CBA, Curry would have been a Tier 2 max player and limited to a starting salary of $30.3 million for a total of $175 million.

Expect Golden State to leave its $18 million free-agent cap hold on the books and sign Curry once their own free agents (Kevin Durant and Ian Clark) are re-signed.

2. Chris Paul (early termination option)
Age in free agency: 32

Insider info
While the new designated player contract will likely reward the Warriors Steph Curry, the new over 38 rule benefits the Clippers Chris Paul.

With the change of the rule (previously over 36) Paul can now sign for five years (instead of four) with a starting salary of $35.3 million.

While Paul remains one of the elite PG, the soon to be 32-year-old will be earning $35.3 million, $38.1 million, $40.9 million, $43.8 million and $46.6 million during the course of his contract.

Without a young point guard waiting in the wings and with limited cap flexibility, expect Paul to be re-signed in the early days of July.

Kyle Lowry will likely opt out of his deal and put the pressure on the Raptors. (AP)
Kyle Lowry will likely opt out of his deal and put the pressure on the Raptors. (AP)

3. Kyle Lowry (player option)
Age in free agency: 31

Insider info
Expect Lowry to opt out of his $12 million contract for next season. He’ll have seven days from the date of the Raptors’ final playoff game to make a decision.

Toronto will have to decide what the financial commitment should be for a 31-year-old who has ranked No. 2 in minutes per game the past two seasons.

The franchise will also have to weigh whether the new contract is a reward for past All-Star seasons or future production.

While Cory Joseph filled in admirably when Lowry was sidelined with a wrist injury this season, Toronto will be limited from a cap perspective and with what could be available in the market if Lowry is not brought back.

4. George Hill
Age in free agency: 31

Insider info
Hill, who has been the engine for Utah when healthy, was the missing piece for the Jazz, who came close to a playoff berth last season.

But health has been his issue. For the second time in three seasons, Hill played less than 50 regular-season games.

Since 2014-15, Hill has battled knee and left-toe problems, and most recently has dealt with a groin injury.

When Hill has been out of the lineup, Utah has struggled.

Hill should see his pay double from his current $8 million salary, but Utah will be cognizant of their salary-cap situation in July and in the future.

Though Utah ranked 30th in salary this season, the Jazz will likely jump into the top 10 next season when the Rudy Gobert extension begins and after All-Star Gordon Hayward’s free agency.

5. Jeff Teague
Age in free agency: 29

Insider info
Teague is durable, solid and consistent.

He’s in his prime, has missed only three games the past two seasons and rebounded from a slow start this year.

Teague’s $13.2 million cap hold will have the Pacers right at the $101 million salary cap for next season.

With Paul George likely becoming a free agent after the 2017-18 season, Indiana will face a summer of uncertainty starting with the potential high cost of Teague.

6. Jrue Holiday
Age in free agency: 27

Insider info
Holiday has some considerable leverage with the Pelicans.

After the acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans’ choices will come down to retaining the point guard at a high cost or using the roughly $10 million in cap space to find a replacement.

New Orleans could retain its top-three pick in the draft and select a point, which would cost a fraction of what Holiday would cost, but that’s an unlikely scenario.

If Holiday is re-signed, New Orleans would only have the $8.4 million and $3.3 million bi-annual exceptions to improve the roster.

Derrick Rose’s career is in transition. (AP)
Derrick Rose’s career is in transition. (AP)

7. Derrick Rose
Age in free agency: 28

Insider info
New York can either re-sign Rose or use his $30 million free-agent cap hold to find a replacement.

However, with $18 million in cap room if Rose were to leave – and the top free-agent point guards likely to stay with their teams – New York would need to look to the draft or split its available room between two point guards who could either start or come off the bench.

Before his recent knee surgery, Rose was injury-free through most of the 2016-2017 season.

Now facing an off-season of rehab, teams interested in Rose will need to take a short-term approach and rely on their medical teams this summer.

When healthy, Rose is best suited to play off the ball at this stage of his career.

8. Patty Mills
Age in free agency: 28

Insider info
Can Mills, a career backup, handle starter minutes?

Since signing with San Antonio in 2012, Mills has served as the perfect understudy to Tony Parker.

With Mills in the prime of his career, he could be looking for an opportunity to start.

Mills could be had for half the price of what Holiday could earn.

San Antonio has Mills’ Bird rights but signing him could come at a significant cost.

9. Shaun Livingston
Age in free agency: 31

Insider info
Livingston could be a casualty of Kevin Durant’s potential free agency.

If Durant opts out of his contract, Golden State will likely have to decide between retaining Livingston or Andre Iguodala. Livingston’s $10.9 million cap hold currently counts against potential cap space that would be used to sign Durant.

Livingston is one of the league’s top guards coming off the bench and has the versatility to play multiple positions.

10. Darren Collison
Age in free agency: 29

Insider info
The three-year, $15 million contract Collison signed in the summer of 2014 has proved to be of value for a player who can start or have an impact off the bench.

Although turmoil has plagued the Kings, the former UCLA star has been one of their most consistent players.

Collison’s best role would be that of a sixth man on a playoff team.

His starting salary for next season should be right at the $8.4 million mid-level.

11. Deron Williams (non-Bird rights)
Age in free agency: 33

Insider info
At this point in his career, Williams is probably best suited to coming off the bench.

Williams has battled various injuries the past five seasons, and while he can start if needed, 20 to 25 minutes per night is best for Williams.

Because of his non-Bird rights, the Cavaliers would need to use their tax mid-level exception to bring him back.

THE REST

Milos Teodosic
Age in free agency: 30

The Serbian guard has earned All-Euroleague honors the past seven seasons and was MVP in 2010 for CSKA Moscow, one of the premier teams in Europe.

A 6-foot-5 guard who sees the floor exceptionally well, Teodosic is one of the most creative passers not only in international play but potentially at the NBA level as well.

As past European players have shown, there is a transition period for players striving to become lead guards and there is concern about how Teodosic will hold up in an 82-game season.

Teodosic has not averaged more than 27 minutes per game in the past six seasons and played a high of 63 games in 2015-16.

Teodosic’s contract with CSKA expires at the end of the season and he will be free to negotiate with NBA teams without the need for a buyout.

Other free-agent point guards (in order of team)

• Jose Calderon, Atlanta
• Brian Roberts, Charlotte
• Ramon Sessions, Charlotte (team option)
• Michael Carter-Williams, Chicago (restricted)
• Yogi Ferrell, Dallas (Team option, restricted)
• Beno Udrih, Detroit
• Bobby Brown, Houston (restricted)
• Raymond Felton, L.A. Clippers
• Tyler Ennis, L.A. Lakers
• Jason Terry, Milwaukee
• Ron Baker, New York (restricted)
• Norris Cole, Oklahoma City
• Sergio Rodriguez, Philadelphia
• Langston Galloway, Sacramento (player option)
• Ty Lawson, Sacramento
• Shelvin Mack, Utah
• Trey Burke, Washington (restricted)
• Jarrett Jack
• Mario Chalmers
• Toney Douglas
• Greivis Vasquez
• John Lucas

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