The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, ranks the best free agents on the market this summer.
1. Kevin Durant (SF)
Team: Golden State
Durant, a lock to remain in Golden State, will likely sign a two-year, $65 million contract with a player option for the second year.
The short-term approach will give the Warriors flexibility to re-sign Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
2. Stephen Curry (PG)
Team: Golden State
Once one of the best bargains in the NBA, Curry is set to become the highest-paid player in the league.
Curry is eligible for the Designated Player Veteran Contract and can sign a five-year, $200 million contract with the Warriors.
Because Curry has Bird rights, Golden State can exceed the cap to bring him back.
3. Gordon Hayward (SF)
Gordon Hayward opted out of his $16.7 million contract for next year and will likely get a max offer starting at $29.7 million.
Hayward will have plenty of suitors this summer but Utah has a clear advantage financially and with a level of familiarity.
Hayward would earn an extra $44 million re-signing with the Jazz and would be on a playoff team for the foreseeable future.
4. Paul Millsap (PF)
A free agent for the second time in three years, Millsap opted out of his $21.4 million contract for 2017-18.
Millsap is still one of the top power forwards in the league and has appeared in four straight All-Star games.
With new general manager Travis Schlenk at the helm in Atlanta, it is unlikely the franchise will write a blank check for the All-Star’s services.
Expect Millsap to get slightly more than the salary he opted out of.
5. Blake Griffin (PF)
Team: L.A. Clippers
While there will be a high demand for Griffin, who opted out of his contract Friday, injuries during his previous three seasons will have teams relying on their medical departments for guidance.
Before the 2015-16 season, Griffin had produced five straight All-Star appearances and was one of the top power forwards in the league.
Griffin is still considered an elite player when healthy, but he has averaged just 54 games the past three seasons and has been hurt in the playoffs the past two years.
Because of their cap situation, Los Angeles would not have ample cap space to replace Griffin if he were to leave in free agency.
6. Kyle Lowry (PG)
The market will dictate what free agency holds for Lowry, but establishing a salary that addresses his success and future production should be the focus of Toronto and agent Andy Miller.
Lowry will get a significant pay raise from the $12 million salary he opted out of.
The concern is giving a max deal that starts at $34.6 million to a 31-year-old guard who has ranked in the top two in average minutes played the past two seasons. He also appeared in only 60 games this past season.
Lowry will have a decision to make. He can possibly take less with a contender in Toronto, or sign a max-level contract with a rebuilding team and be the focal point.
7. Serge Ibaka (PF)
Ibaka is part of a crowded power-forward class this summer.
Not at the max-money level of Griffin, Ibaka should see a substantial pay raise from his four-year, $49 million rookie extension.
Still not the elite defender he was in Oklahoma City – his defensive rating was 108.3 in Orlando and 106.6 in Toronto – Ibaka’s basketball IQ makes up for his defensive inefficiencies.
Ibaka has Bird rights, allowing the Raptors to exceed the salary cap to re-sign him, but with Lowry being the priority, Toronto will be pressed against the luxury tax if both return.
8. George Hill (PG)
A crucial piece to a Jazz team that came close to making the playoffs in 2015-16, Hill is the team’s engine when he is healthy.
But for the second time in three seasons, Hill played less than 50 games because of various injuries, and when he is out of the lineup, Utah struggles.
Hill should see his pay double from the $8 million he made last season, but Utah will need to keep an eye on its salary-cap situation for July and in the future.
9. Jrue Holiday (PG)
Team: New Orleans
Holiday has all the leverage with New Orleans.
The Pelicans can either retain Holiday at a high cost or use their roughly $13 million in cap space to find a replacement.
If Holiday is brought back, New Orleans would have only the $8.4 million mid-level exception and $3.3 million bi-annual exception to improve its roster.
10. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG) (restricted)
Since making a jump during his second year, Caldwell-Pope’s production has pretty much leveled off.
But he remains one of the top two-way players in this year’s class. Caldwell-Pope also will have leverage when it comes to contract negotiations.
With the Pistons right at the salary cap, they would not have a suitable replacement if they don’t match Caldwell-Pope’s offer sheet.
11. Otto Porter (SF) (restricted)
Porter is part of Washington’s big three, and outside of Durant and Hayward, he is the top wing on the market.
Porter has improved in each of his four seasons in the league and will likely get a salary that starts at $25.5 million.
The Wizards, with no cap flexibility, can ill afford to lose Porter and will likely match any offer sheet for him.
Porter is represented by David Falk, who is not afraid to advise his clients to sign a one-year qualifying offer if talks break down.
12. Andre Iguodala (SF)
Team: Golden State
The return of Durant on a likely one-plus-one contract would give the Warriors the flexibility to retain one of the top sixth men in the league.
Iguodala has been an integral part of the Warriors’ success the past three seasons, so expect him to have plenty of suitors this summer.
Iguodala is unlikely to get the four-year, $72 million deal the Lakers gave Luol Deng last summer.
With the market limited because only a third of the teams in the league have cap space, Iguodala should get something in the neighborhood of $15 million annually.
13. J.J Redick (SG)
Team: L.A. Clippers
The Clippers’ future cap situation could make one of the top shooters in the NBA expendable.
Although Redick has Bird rights, allowing Los Angeles to exceed the cap to bring him back, the free agency of Paul and Griffin will force management to weigh the financial costs in salary and luxury tax.
Redick is durable, missing just 11 games the past three seasons, and could get a salary in the $16 million-$18 million range.
14. Dirk Nowitzki (PF)
For the second consecutive summer, Nowitzki is a free agent.
Unlike last summer when Nowitzki opted out of his $8.6 million contract, Dallas elected not to exercise its $25 million team option for 2017-18.
Declining the option is not an indication that the future Hall of Famer is leaving the Mavericks. It was simply a move related to preserving possible cap space for free agency.
Expect Nowitzki to be back on a short-term contract.
15. Danilo Gallinari (PF/SF)
Gallinari opted out of his $16.1 million deal for next season.
Gallinari has battled various knee and back injuries during his nine-year career and has played more than 70 games only twice.
Health concerns aside, Gallinari is coming off an impressive season, averaging 18.2 points on 44.7 percent shooting and 5.3 rebounds.
Now more of a hybrid power forward at this stage of his career, Gallinari’s ability to stretch the floor and guard power forwards is a perfect fit for the small-ball trend.
16. Jeff Teague (PG)
Solid, durable and consistent, Teague has missed three total games the past two seasons. He rebounded from a slow start with the Pacers to average 15.3 points and 7.8 assists.
With Paul George on the trading block, Indiana will face a summer of uncertainty, starting with the potential high cost of keeping Teague.
17. Rudy Gay (PF/SF)
Recovering from season-ending Achilles’ surgery, Gay opted out of his $14.2 million contract for next season.
More of a hybrid power forward now, teams will need to rely on their medical and training staffs when it comes to a recovery timetable for Gay.
18. Zach Randolph (PF)
Randolph has embraced his bench role with Memphis.
He can still start if needed, but at this stage of his career he is best suited to anchor the second unit.
Randolph, along with restricted free agent JaMychal Green, has some leverage because Memphis doesn’t have the cap space to replace both players if they were to leave.
Because of the Grizzlies’ 2016 free-agent spending, they have $92 million in committed salaries before addressing Randolph and Green.
With the majority of teams having the $8.4 million full mid-level exception, Memphis likely will need to pay more than that to keep Randolph.
19. Nerlens Noel (C) (restricted)
Acquired at the trade deadline, Noel was the rim protector Dallas hadn’t had since the days of Tyson Chandler.
Noel did miss his rookie year recovering from ACL surgery and has averaged 48 games in his three NBA seasons. Durability issues will be a concern during contract negotiations.
Noel has Bird rights and the Mavericks can match any offer sheet from another team.
Noel’s $10.9 million free-agent cap hold gives the Mavericks flexibility to create cap space if needed before signing Noel.
20. Andre Roberson (restricted)
Team: Oklahoma City
Roberson is one of the top defenders in this year’s class and his style of play fits perfectly with coach Billy Donovan’s style.
He is still a work in progress on the offensive end but is not a liability if he is surrounded by offensive-minded players.
The Thunder will likely match an offer sheet on Roberson, but doing so likely will come at the cost of becoming a luxury-tax team in 2017-18.
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