Top 10 NBA free Agents
Carmelo Anthony and Zach Randolph are no longer on the table, having inked their extensions. Yao Ming's health shrouds the path of his career in doubt, much less his free agent availability. Ray Allen has decided to pick up his option and remain in Boston through next season.
And, for the sake of argument, we're going to move forward under the assumption Tim Duncan will follow a course of action that will lead him back to San Antonio, whether this includes passing on his early termination option, or choosing to exercise it as a means toward saving the Spurs some money.
Beyond these players, who are some of the top free agents to decorate the shelves for general managers to peruse when the time comes?
After heading to Boston in the trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, Green undoubtedly saw his stock drop, a facet that may be compounded by his “restricted” status. It’s not that he doesn’t have the raw skills — he does — or that age has sealed away the majority of his career — it hasn’t (he turns 25 in August). Rather, it seems to be that he’s a player without a position; not quick enough for small forward, not strong enough for power forward. Yet, in the right situation, such as being paired with a strong center, he has too much ability to not have someone give him a chance.
Like several others on this list, Young used the playoffs to open the eyes of many to what he is capable of on the court. The difference: Young is young, only 23. He displayed a near endless motor in the opening round against the Heat, which fed breathtaking displays of athleticism and versatility against a trio of players many consider the epitome of such traits. Throw the financial constraints on the 76ers, and you have a player who may be embraced by the open market despite his “restricted” status.
Age, now 31, and injuries have taken their toll on Prince, but he continues to show the ability to be a defensive stopper, as well as sink open shots. His length will not fall victim to time, meaning these are not gifts that should abandon him completely. Now free to do as he wishes as an unrestricted free agent, it will be interesting to see if he shows interest in returning to a rebuilding Detroit team. If not, he can make an immediate impact on a contender.
Another restricted free agent, Stuckey’s suitors will have to contend with the Pistons for his services. He’s been a solid defender capable of taking on either guard position and has room for growth at 25. As a scorer he is able to use his body to draw contact, often earning trips to the free-throw line, but continues to struggle behind the arc (26.6 percent for his career on 3-pointers). Expectations may have been curbed to some degree, but Stuckey still has the skills to be an impact player.
One of two Chandlers on the list, Wilson has shown a gradual but steady improvement in his play since coming into the league. He’s extremely athletic and can be a positive impact on a game at either end of the court. At only 24, he also has a lot of time to improve on the vast physical gifts at his disposal. He’s a restricted free agent, and it’s hard to imagine Denver not making a real effort to keep him, though they may find their hands full if they also hope to keep Aaron Afflalo, J.R. Smith, Nene and Kenyon Martin.
Someone will be willing to give Landry a healthy payday. He’ll turn 28 in September and has shown an innate scoring ability, though his lack of size and defensive polish may limit his ultimate contributions. He underperformed while in Sacramento, but provided a solid offensive option off the bench for the Hornets after West went down. While not the type of player capable of carrying the bulk of the offensive load for extended stretches, Landry can be an impactful sixth man or spot starter.
After tearing his ACL March 24, the odds skyrocketed that West will not exercise his early termination option. Yet, his offensive skills would likely make him an attractive target for a few teams. He’s averaged at least 18 points the past five seasons while converting over 50 percent of his attempts each of the past two. At 31, his age, compounded by the need to recover from an injury that often takes two years to show a complete return to form, may work against him.
The younger, and suddenly less maligned Gasol, drew the attention of many with his outstanding playing this postseason. He has the size to be a force in the paint at both ends of the floor, though his on-man defense may show room for improvement. At only 26 years old, he comes with time for a team to grow around him if needed. He is a restricted free agent, meaning teams will have to deal with Memphis to claim him, an obstacle that cannot be ignored.
Only a season ago, fears lingered that Tyson Chandler would never again be the player flying through the air to finish Chris Paul lobs while anchoring a defense. What a difference a year makes. Fresh off claiming a championship with the Mavs, Chandler remained healthy and proved to be more than capable of being the player many had envisioned him becoming, and he will turn just 29 in October. Undoubtedly, Dallas will make every effort to keep their prized unrestricted free agent, but the possible constrictions of a new CBA may open the door for others to pry him away.
Nene seems destined to remain in Denver, but if an agreement can’t be reached and he exercises his early termination option, it’s easy to imagine teams lining up for the services of an athletic big man capable of shouldering his share of the offensive load with extreme efficiency, note that he shot 61.5 percent from the floor last season. Turning 29 in September, if he can stay healthy — a reasonable “if” — he brings a rare combination of size and offensive abilities.