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Ranking The Free Agents – Power Forwards

Spencer Davies kicks off Basketball Insiders’ free agent series by looking at the best available power forwards.

Spencer Davies



With the NBA Draft come and gone, the 2017 off-season is officially in full swing. As the July moratorium period approaches fast, our team at Basketball Insiders will take a position-by-position look at what players are available in this year’s free agent pool. We’ll be starting off with power forwards.

Last week, the NBA informed teams that the salary cap for the 2017-18 season is projected to be $99 million, slightly lower than what it was projected to be for much of last season. Based on this, maximum salaries are expected to amount to the following:

$25,250,000 for players with 0-6 years of experience

$30,300,000 for players with 7-9 years of experience

$35,350,000 for players with 10 or more years of experience

Aside from the maximum values, the mid-level exception for teams in year one is set at $8,406,000.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best players available at the four spot. All free agents are unrestricted unless denoted otherwise.

Max Guys

Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers – Last Year’s Salary: $20,140,839

After coming up short in another year yet again with the Clippers, Griffin exercised the early termination option in his contract to test the market as an unrestricted free agent. Since then, the 28-year-old has received interest from multiple teams.

According to reports, the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Miami Heat will make a run at adding Griffin to their respective rosters. While the intrigue is very real, the Clippers are the ones who have the advantage, as they can pay him the most out of any team.

Owner Steve Ballmer will likely open up the checkbook since the organization has made its feelings known on how much it values Griffin as both a player and a person. Let’s not forget that he enjoys his life in Hollywood, either.

Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks – Last Year’s Salary: $20,072,033

With a rebuild about to begin in Atlanta, there’s not much of a chance that Millsap will stick around. At 32 years old, the four-time All-Star isn’t getting any younger and probably would entertain a change of scenery, as well as a nice payday. The Hawks are already balking at the idea of offering a max contract to the seasoned veteran, so a sign-and-trade could be what happens after all is said and done.

Regardless of age, Millsap has proved his worth as one of the most consistent players in the game today. He can score, occasionally step out and hit some threes, lock up with solid defense and snatch up those rebounds.

Thus far, the reported teams that will pursue Millsap are the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, and Sacramento Kings.

Near Max Guys

Serge Ibaka – Toronto Raptors – Last Year’s Salary: $12,250,000

The 2016-17 season was full of ups and downs for Ibaka. The Orlando Magic just didn’t seem to be the right fit, but when he was traded to the Raptors things started looking up. He could end up right back with them on a new contract pending on what happens with their other free agents.

Ibaka still has plenty left in the tank, but it may be risky to overpay for him with his history of injuries. Still, there are plenty of teams out there desperate for a rim protector and a stretch four who can shoot decent from deep.

Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks – Last Year’s Salary: $25,000,000

As the team first person that he is, Nowitzki will take less money so that the Mavericks can add some more free agent talent to the roster.

Dallas recently declined his $25 million team option but will re-negotiate a new two-year deal to bring back the organization’s beloved franchise player.

Above Mid-Level Guys

Zach Randolph – Memphis Grizzlies – Last Year’s Salary: $10,361,445

James Johnson – Miami Heat – Last Year’s Salary: $4,000,000

Taj Gibson – Oklahoma City Thunder – Last Year’s Salary: $8,950,000

Ersan Ilyasova – Atlanta Hawks – Last Year’s Salary: $8,400,000

Patrick Patterson – Toronto Raptors – Last Year’s Salary: $6,050,000

Nikola Mirotic* – Chicago Bulls – Last Year’s Salary: $5,782,450

Marreese Speights – Los Angeles Clippers – Last Year’s Salary: $1,403,611

JaMychal Green* – Memphis Grizzlies – Last Year’s Salary: $980,431

Mid-Level or Below Guys

Willie Reed – Miami Heat – Last Year’s Salary: $1,015,696

David Lee – San Antonio Spurs – Last Year’s Salary: $1,551,659

David West – Golden State Warriors – Last Year’s Salary: $980,431

Amir Johnson – Boston Celtics – Last Year’s Salary: $12,000,000

Boris Diaw** – Utah Jazz – Last Year’s Salary: $7,000,000

Terrence Jones – Milwaukee Bucks – Last Year’s Salary: $1,287,418

Jared Sullinger – Toronto Raptors – Last Year’s Salary: $5,628,000

Jonas Jerebko – Boston Celtics – Last Year’s Salary: $5,000,000

Kris Humphries – Atlanta Hawks – Last Year’s Salary: $4,000,000

Mike Scott – Atlanta Hawks – Last Year’s Salary: $3,333,334

Luis Scola – Brooklyn Nets – Last Year’s Salary: $5,000,000

Kevin Seraphin** – Indiana Pacers – Last Year’s Salary: $1,800,000

Quincy Acy** – Brooklyn Nets – Last Year’s Salary: $1,790,092

Alan Williams* – Phoenix Suns – Last Year’s Salary: $874,636

Donatas Motiejunas – New Orleans Pelicans – Last Year’s Salary: $576,724

Maurice Ndour** – New York Knicks – Last Year’s Salary: $543,471

Nick Collison – Oklahoma City Thunder – Last Year’s Salary: $3,750,000

Brandon Bass – Los Angeles Clippers – Last Year’s Salary: $980,431

Lavoy Allen – Indiana Pacers – Last Year’s Salary: $4,000,000

James Michael McAdoo – Golden State Warriors – Last Year’s Salary: $980,431

*Qualifying Offer (If made, player becomes restricted free agent)
**Non-Guaranteed Contract (If player is waived by current team before contract becomes fully guaranteed, becomes unrestricted free agent)

This year’s crop of free-agent power forwards isn’t the most impactful, but there are plenty of players in the mid to above mid-level areas who can bring forth production for teams seeking help off the bench.

It’s a good collection of veterans and hungry young talent looking to prove their worth to teams that will give them a chance, and for those with money to spend, it may not be a bad gamble to do so.

Spencer Davies is an NBA writer based in Cleveland in his first year with Basketball Insiders. Covering the league and the Cavaliers for the past two seasons, his bylines have appeared on Bleacher Report, FOX Sports and HoopsHype.


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PODCAST: Lonzo’s Shot, How To Cut Luol Deng and More

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Basketball Insiders publisher Steve Kyler and Senior NBA writer and salary cap guru Eric Pincus talk about Lonzo Ball and the unreasonable expectations some have had about his rookie campaign, what the Lakers could do with Luol Deng, teams that have cap exceptions and could likely use them, which teams are for real and more.

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Johnson Is Leading By Example In Philadelphia

Amir Johnson may not be a star player, but his impact on the locker room is a constant in Philadelphia.

Dennis Chambers



After every home win, the Philadelphia 76ers have a miniature liberty bell in their locker room that gets rung by a selected player, usually the who had the biggest impact on the game.

On Monday night, Amir Johnson got to the ring the bell after the Sixers beat the Utah Jazz 107-86 to secure their ninth win of the season. Johnson turned in his best performance since joining Philadelphia this offseason, with eight points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in 21 minutes of playing time as Joel Embiid’s substitute.

Up until about 45 minutes before the 7 p.m. tipoff, Embiid’s status was unclear due to knee soreness. Johnson would’ve been tasked with the starting role had his teammate been unable to perform. Instead, he fulfilled his backup role to perfection, which has been the status quo for Johnson so far this season.

When the Sixers signed Johnson to a one-year $11 million deal in July, it was for the purpose of shaping a young roster with some veteran leadership. Management wanted to ensure there would be a professional in the locker room to help navigate the likes of Embiid and Ben Simmons through a full NBA season, with hopes of making it to the playoffs.

“When we looked to build our roster and sort of identify people we started talking about Amir Johnson,” Brett Brown said. “And Bryan was way more familiar with Amir — this is to Bryan’s credit — than I was, because of his Toronto background. And I started digging in and calling his teammates. I’ve been in the league for a long time, so you follow him, and you speak to people like Evan Turner. You know, tell me about Amir when you were in Boston and so on.”

While Brown was doing his research on Johnson, he came across an impressive level of continuity when it came to how others viewed the center.

“It’s amazing to a man how consistent the reviews were,” Brown said of Johnson. “People skills, work his butt off, could handle swinging a towel or coming in and making a difference. He’s a good person and he’s a pro. To be able to bring him in the game and now worry about is he happy, is he fresh, is he in shape, does he need 10 shots? It isn’t ever on my mind with Amir.”

The Sixers’ head coach seems honest in his assessment, and Johnson’s fluctuating level of productivity and use reflects that. Prior to his big night against Utah, Johnson logged a combined 21 minutes over the team’s previous four games — including two DNP’s, both coming against the Golden State Warriors.

Still, just barely over a month into this new season, the Sixers are trying to iron out the kinks in their lineup. With injuries to Richaun Holmes, Markelle Fultz, Jerryd Bayless and Justin Anderson over the course of the season so far, finding a set group of guys and defining their roles has been a tricky situation to maneuver.

Last season, Johnson started 77 games for the Boston Celtics during their campaign that ran all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. His one start in 14 games this season, with a cut in minutes per game, is a far cry from the level of use Johnson experienced just one year ago. But coming into this season, that was known. Johnson’s role would be to help guide his junior counterparts and chip in where he could.

So far, the deal is paying dividends on both ends.

“It’s huge for us,” Simmons said. “Having a guy come off the bench and play a role like that. As a vet, he’s one of the leaders. He comes in, plays hard, doesn’t ask for more minutes or anything like that. He’s a great player.”

In a game that featured the absence of Jazz star center Rudy Gobert, Johnson was able to make his presence more prevalent during his reserve minutes. Along with his four blocks, Johnson had a game-high 15 contested two-point shots. As a team, Utah shot just 35.3 percent from the field.

Backing up a superstar in the making in Embiid, Johnson has limited time to let it be known that he’s still around. That situation is magnified on nights that Holmes is seeing extended run as well. But in his 13th season in the league, Johnson knows a thing or two about finding ways to be effective and efficient.

“Finding my way on the floor, knowing the amount of time I have, just finding ways I can help my teammates,” Johnson said. “I watch a lot of film. Just for me to find open spots, set screens, and the biggest part that I can help this team out, is just play defense and grabbing rebounds.”

On the nights where Johnson doesn’t get his number called — a la games against the Warriors and other small-ball teams — the veteran just continues to do what he was brought in to do in the first place, lead by example.

“Just sticking to my routine,” Johnson said. “Being mentally prepared, getting my teammates ready, just being a professional, doing all kind of things to prepare for a game.”

After being around the come up in Boston, Johnson knows there are bigger things at stake for the Sixers than a few minutes here and there on the court. To him, winning is the only thing that matters.

“When you don’t play and you win, man it’s like and that’s all that matters,” Johnson said. “We’re here to try and do one goal, and that’s win games and make the playoffs, and go from there on.”

Whether he’s on the bench waving a towel, or on the court making a play, Johnson will continue to lead a young group of talented players by example, hopefully culminating in a trip to the playoffs.

“He is a legitimate pro, on and off the court,” Brown said. “He’s a wonderful teammate.”

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NBA PM: Marcus Morris’ Return Bolsters The Celtics

With the Boston Celtics riding high with a league-best 16-game win streak, the return of forward Marcus Morris has provided a lift.

Buddy Grizzard



Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge made a huge personnel gamble this summer that changed four starters from a roster that reached the Eastern Conference Finals. One of the less-heralded among the new starters — forward Marcus Morris, who arrived from the Pistons in a surprise trade for starting shooting guard Avery Bradley — has proven to be a key component in Boston’s early success.

After missing the first eight games of the season due to lingering knee soreness, Morris has scored in double figures in six of nine appearances. Following Saturday’s win over the Hawks in Atlanta — the 15th of the current 16-game win streak — Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Morris’ contributions have been vital, even as Stevens continues to monitor his minutes.

“We need Marcus quite a bit,” said Stevens. “We’re still managing his minutes appropriately as he comes back. Hopefully, that continues to be more and more and more.”

Morris was plus-18 against the Hawks, 10 points better than any other starter, despite being the only starter with single-digit shot attempts. Stevens added that Morris’ offense has been a boost despite few plays being run for him.

“He brings us scoring, he brings us defense [and] he brings us toughness,” said Stevens. “I think we really need his scoring, like his ability to shoot the ball both off broken plays and off movement.”

Morris’ emergence as an offensive threat was noted in the offseason by an Eastern Conference forward in an anonymously-sourced piece on underrated players by HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy.

“I think Marcus Morris is really underrated,” the forward told Kennedy. “He can play multiple positions and he went from being a role player to someone who scores the ball really well. When other players have made that leap, they got more attention. Take Chandler Parsons, for example. When Chandler made big strides, he got a ton of attention and a huge contract. Marcus hasn’t gotten the recognition or the payday that he deserves.”

While some questioned the wisdom of trading Bradley, a starter for a team that had a lot of success and remained on the rise, Celtics center Al Horford — the sole remaining starter from last season — said he was looking forward to playing with Morris once the trade was announced.

“He’s one of the guys that really excited me once we got him this offseason, just because of everything he’s going to be able to bring,” said Horford. “I don’t think he’s at his best yet. He’s doing okay. But he’s just going to keep getting better. So that’s a good thing for us.”

With the knee injury that lingered after the start of the season, Horford said the team is still getting accustomed to the diverse set of tools Morris brings to the court.

“Marcus is great,” said Horford. “Defensively, his presence is felt. On offense I think he’s finally starting to get into a rhythm. He’s getting more comfortable [and] we’re getting more comfortable with him. It’s a matter of time.”

While Stevens and Horford both feel that we haven’t seen Morris at his best, his return to action was timely as it bolstered the lineup during the current win streak. Horford, who was part of a 19-game win streak for the Hawks during the 2014-15 season, was asked how Boston is approaching its current prosperity. Horford said that, like his former Hawks team, the Celtics are avoiding the subject in the locker room.

“We’re not honestly really talking about it much,” said Horford. “That winning streak here was pretty special. We were playing at a high level. We didn’t talk about it here either and we’re taking that type of approach. We’re just playing and enjoying the game out there.”

With Boston carrying the current streak into a Wednesday visit to Miami, Ainge’s surprising trade for Marcus Morris is looking more and more prescient. If his best is yet to come, as his coach and teammates maintain, the recognition that has elluded Morris could be just around the corner.

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