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Ranking The Free Agents – Shooting Guards

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While all 30 teams will go to bed on June 30th dreaming of adding Gordon Hayward or Paul Millsap this summer, not every franchise will be able to sign a marquee free agent. That, ultimately, is where this year’s crop of shooting guards come into play. Even without an elite talent on the market, there are plenty of veterans at the position worth adding to a playoff-ready rotation.

Of course, the franchise’s assumed spending sprees hit a slight road bump last week as the NBA informed teams that the salary cap for the 2017-18 season is projected to be just $99 million. 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

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

At Basketball Insiders, our guides for free agency are separated into four tiers: Max Guys, Near Max Guys, Above Mid-Level Guys and Mid-Level or Below Guys. Sadly, this summer will not feature any elite members at the shooting guard position on the open market, so we’ll have to skip slightly ahead.

After that, we’ve ranked the top remaining players based on their age, previous salary and long-term potential for a new buyer in free agency.

Near Max Guys

(As a note, none of these players should reach too close to a maximum-level contract, but they’re set to out-earn the rest of their positional class by a favorable distance – so they get the spotlight here.) 

J.J. Redick – Los Angeles Clippers – Last Year’s Salary: $7,377,500

Now, Redick may not be the sexiest free agent available at shooting guard, but he’s definitely the most suited for a big-time role on a contender immediately. As an underrated defender and a superb locker room guy, it’s no surprise that former bottom-feeders like the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers have come sniffing around already.

Of course, that’s not why Redick may be worth spending a large chunk of the salary cap on. No, that’d be his shooting. Since joining the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013, Redick has averaged at least 15 points per game on 45 percent from the floor or better.

With Chris Paul already on his way to Houston and Blake Griffin hitting the free market as well, Redick likely won’t be far behind. The market will be strong for Redick and many predict he could command a contract within the $18-$20 million range he’s looking for. At that point, Redick will weigh his options: go to a contender or get paid  for one of the league’s best shooters, it’s a nice position to be in.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope* – Detroit Pistons – Last Year’s Salary: $3,678,319

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may be one of the NBA’s most mysterious youngsters available heading into free agency. While his athletic mobility and long-reaching wingspan have allowed Caldwell-Pope to become a tenacious defender for the Pistons, it’s his continued development as a spot-up shooter that will open up his market as a restricted free agent.

As of now, it appears as if Detroit is committed to Caldwell-Pope moving forward and will match almost any offer sheet they receive  yes, we’re looking at you, Brooklyn  so this may not matter in a few weeks’ time. Still, Caldwell-Pope won’t turn 25 years old until the All-Star break next season, so his potential as a shooter and defender are both worth locking down for the foreseeable future, even at a number close to his potential max at $25 million.

Dion Waiters – Miami HEAT – Last Year’s Salary: $2,898,000

In a season full of record-breaking performances, there were few players more entertaining than Dion Waiters. The enigmatic shooting guard is a basketballing gunner at its finest and Waiters was instrumental in Miami’s absurd recovery following their 11-30 start.

After taking a two-year deal with a player option following a down season in Oklahoma City during 2015-16, Waiters’ explosion for the HEAT has him poised for a huge payday as he jumps back into unrestricted free agency. While Waiters has already said that he’d he love to return to Miami, plenty of franchises should look to add the talented scorer at about $12-$15 million per year.

Will it be the Waiters and Whiteside show in Miami for years to come, or will another scoring-deficient franchise swoop in and steal the HEAT’s new sweet-shooting cult hero?

Jonathon Simmons* – San Antonio Spurs – Last Year’s Salary: $874,636

Just a few years removed from paying money for a D-League tryout, Jonathon Simmons was making huge plays and filling for Kawhi Leonard admirably in the conference finals. As a member of Gregg Popovich’s always-retooling-never-rebuilding rotation, Simmons often floated through spurts of relevancy during the 2016-17 season.

But then the playoffs happened.

Although Simmons averaged just 0.4 three-pointers per game in the regular season, he hit one or more in nine of his 13 playoff appearances. Given that, and his status as one of the league’s best perimeter defenders, Simmons is set to massively upgrade on his sub-million dollar contract in a big way this summer.

Simmons is a restricted free agent, so San Antonio will definitely look to keep him in Texas  but in their efforts to recruit an elite free agent for Leonard, they may have to part ways once the offer sheet surpasses the hometown discount territory. Nobody knows exactly what Simmons will command this summer, but expect it to fall in the $12-$15 million range as well.

Above Mid-Level Guys

Tim Hardaway Jr.* – Atlanta Hawks – Last Year’s Salary: $2,281,605

Tony Allen – Memphis Grizzlies – Last Year’s Salary: $5,505,618

Tyreke Evans – Sacramento Kings – Last Year’s Salary: $10,661,287

Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs – Last Year’s Salary: $14,000,000

Langston Galloway – Sacramento Kings – Last Year’s Salary: $5,200,000

Mid-Level or Below Guys

Kyle Korver – Cleveland Cavaliers – Last Year’s Salary: $5,239,437

Ben McLemore* – Sacramento Kings – Last Year’s Salary: $4,008,882

Shabazz Muhammad* – Minnesota Timberwolves – Last Year’s Salary: $3,046,299

Wayne Ellington** – Miami HEAT – Last Year’s Salary: $6,000,000

Vince Carter – Memphis Grizzlies – Last Year’s Salary: $4,264,057

Thabo Sefolosha – Atlanta Hawks – Last Year’s Salary: $3,850,000

Nick Young – Los Angeles Lakers – Last Year’s Salary: $5,443,918

Leandro Barbosa** – Phoenix Suns – Last Year’s Salary: $4,000,000

Arron Afflalo – Sacramento Kings – Last Year’s Salary: $12,500,000

Gerald Henderson** – Philadelphia 76ers – Last Year’s Salary: $9,000,000

Dante Cunningham – New Orleans Pelicans – Last Year’s Salary: $2,978,250

Ian Clark – Golden State Warriors – Last Year’s Salary: $980,431

Jason Terry – Milwaukee Bucks – Last Year’s Salary: $980,431

Rodney McGruder** – Miami HEAT – Last Year’s Salary: $543,471

Josh Richardson** – Miami HEAT – Last Year’s Salary: $874,636

Sean Kilpatrick** – Brooklyn Nets – Last Year’s Salary: $980,431

Chasson Randle** – New York Knicks – Last Year’s Salary: $143,860

Randy Foye – Brooklyn Nets – Last Year’s Salary: $2,500,000

Jodie Meeks – Orlando Magic – Last Year’s Salary: $6,540,000

Jordan McRae – Free Agents – Last Year’s Salary: $874,636

Michael Gbinije** – Detroit Pistons – Last Year’s Salary: $650,000

James Young – Boston Celtics – Last Year’s Salary: $1,825,250

Anthony Morrow – Chicago Bulls – Last Year’s Salary: $3,488,000

Marcus Thornton – Free Agent – Last Year’s Salary: $980,431

Sasha Vujacic – New York Knicks – 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)

Overall, the shooting guard position is definitely one of the weaker groups heading into free agency, but there are four clear frontrunners. Even if a team misses out on Redick, Caldwell-Pope, Waiters or Simmons, the remaining glut of veteran shooters should help most paper over the cracks for another season or two.

From future Hall of Famers to strong locker room leaders, this list has a little bit of everything. With no truly elite option on the table, expect the shooting guard signings to trickle down throughout free agency, and most of them should find new landing spots by the time training camp rolls around in the fall.

Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.

About Benny Nadeau

Benny Nadeau

Benny Nadeau is a Boston-based writer in his first year with Basketball Insiders. For the last five seasons, he covered the Brooklyn Nets for The Brooklyn Game.