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Ranking The Free Agents – Shooting Guards

Benny Nadeau takes a look at the best available shooting guards this summer.

Ben Nadeau

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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.

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

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NBA Daily: Credit Ujiri And Raptors For Taking The Risk

Perhaps emboldened by OKC’s ability to retain Paul George, the Raptors are taking a gamble of their own.

Lang Greene

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In any given NBA season, at the most, there are only five legitimate title contenders in play. The rest of the league could be considered as either on the rise, middle of the pack or in the hunt for a lottery pick.

There are far too many teams around the league that are content with solely making the playoffs while not seriously contending for a title. This is why the Toronto Raptors organization along with team president Masai Ujiri should be given credit for taking the ultimate gamble in acquiring a top-five player, even one who could amount to a one-year rental.

The Raptors shipped four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan, center Jakob Poeltl and a protected first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and veteran wing Danny Green.

The move is the ultimate gamble for an organization that has turned itself into a perennial playoff presence with five consecutive postseason appearances and three straight 50-win campaigns. DeRozan, 28, was locked under contract the next three seasons and the organization could have theoretically decided to ride the DeRozan and fellow All-Star guard Kyle Lowry duo until the proverbial wheels fell off.

But instead, Ujiri unexpectedly shipped their star player, who wanted to be in Toronto long-term, to acquire Leonard who reportedly has his eyes dead set on joining one of the Los Angeles franchises once he hits free agency in 2019.

Think about this for a moment.

While Toronto has served as LeBron James’ playoff punching bag as of late, make no mistake, Raptors basketball is undoubtedly experiencing the peak of its golden era.

Sure, the team’s former stars such as Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh will likely go down in history considered better than DeRozan (and Lowry). But none of the aforementioned players led the franchise to a 50-win season while with the organization. None of those guys led the Raptors to a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. DeRozan was a vital cog in breaking new ground while with the team, defiantly re-signing with the Raptors despite overtures from his hometown Los Angeles Lakers in 2016.

Perhaps emboldened by the success the Oklahoma City Thunder recently had in taking a similar risk last summer, the Raptors took the gamble. The Thunder traded for All-Star forward Paul George, who also reportedly also had Los Angeles dreams, last summer, and were able to convince the wing to re-sign earlier this month to a long-term deal.

Toronto has never been a free agency hot spot and the aforementioned stars all forced their way out of town early in their careers. What if Leonard doesn’t buy the soup Ujiri is cooking? There are already some reports stating the forward has no desire to play with the Raptors at all.

Even if this is the case, Ujiri and company still have options. Leonard can still be dealt before next February’s trade deadline. Ujiri could theoretically create a bidding war between the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers for Leonard’s services with an attractive.

At the bare minimum, the Raptors are all-in this season for a championship run in an Eastern Conference no longer facing the talents of LeBron James. If things don’t work out, DeRozan’s $54 million owed after this season is off the books. Lowry will be owed $33 million in 2020 but could potentially be an attractive expiring contract. All of this to say, the Raptors are simultaneously preparing for a title run and bracing for a rebuild of their current roster.

Far too many teams become content with just making the playoffs and not rocking the boat. Ujiri took his shot to boost the Raptors up the league’s hierarchy. The ultimate risk. Much respect for taking it.

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NBA Daily: Quality Free Agents Still Available

Many quality free agents are still available nearly three weeks into free agency, writes James Blancarte.

James Blancarte

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With the NBA Summer League over and training camps a few months away, the NBA would normally be quiet this time of year. Apparently the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors didn’t get the memo as they agreed to a trade centered around Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan. Additionally, Carmelo Anthony has finally been traded to relieve the Oklahoma City Thunder from a tremendous tax burden.

As the dust settles from these trades, many free agents continue to wait in the wings. The list includes many talented players who will eventually make their way back onto an NBA team’s roster. Some will return to the team they played for last year, which is especially likely for restricted free agents (e.g., Marcus Smart). Some may, for a variety of reasons, not return to an NBA roster. Last year Rodney Stuckey sat the year out and used the time to improve his health in order to make a comeback this year. Former All-Star center Roy Hibbert just announced his retirement at age 31 after not being active last season.

The list of available restricted free agents has seriously dwindled now nearly three weeks into the free agency period. RFAs such as Marcus Smart (back to the Boston Celtics) and Jabari Parker (to the Chicago Bulls) have recently signed new contracts. These signings, among others, leaves Houston Rockets RFA center Clint Capela and Los Angeles Clippers RFA center Montrezl Harrell as two of the bigger names left on the board.

Available Restricted Free Agents:

Clint Capela

Clint Capela is coming off of his best and most efficient season averaging 13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks in 27.5 minutes a game (all career highs) and he is only 24 years old. Capela also spearheaded a defense that, when combined with James Harden’s offensive mastery, pushed the Golden State Warriors to the brink in the Western Conference Finals. Reports are that Capela has turned down an initial offer to re-sign for well below his max. While the clock ticks on the Rockets and Capela, Capela finds himself in what remains a punitive free agent market. The Sacramento Kings is the only other team capable of immediately signing Capela to a competitive contract to lure him away from the Rockets. To make matters worse, the Kings have been committed to stocking their roster with as many big men as possible making them a less-than-ideal suitor for Capela’s services.

Montrezl Harrell

Montrezl Harrell won’t generate as many headlines as the other RFAs that have been in the news lately but don’t sleep on him. In a season that never went according to plan for the Clippers, Harrell was one of the bright spots for the team. Harrell, acquired by the Clippers in the Chris Paul trade, showed tenacity on offense as he served as a strong offensive rebounder, floor runner and helped the Clippers weather a five-game stretch where center DeAndre Jordan was unavailable. Harrell played especially well in place of Jordan. However, working against Harrell is the Clipper’s roster crunch. The team has 18 players on the roster, not counting Harrell. If the Clippers do ultimately decide to bring back Harrell, the Clippers will have to make several moves to clear roster spots.

Rodney Hood

Cleveland Cavaliers RFA wing Rodney Hood also remains available. Utah Jazz fans can relate to the ups and downs of cheering for Hood who has flashes of brilliant play but remains inconsistent. Hood was acquired during last season to help bolster the Cavaliers’ championship run. However, Hood’s scoring, three-point shooting, overall statistics and minutes went down significantly due to his uneven play. While Hood is still a capable player, his time with the Cavaliers did not end well, which has impacted his stock around the league. It didn’t help Hood’s cause when he was benched in the postseason and he subsequently refused to enter the game when instructed to. The Kings, in need of help on the wing, could be a suitor for Hood’s services. However, Cleveland could match any such offer as the franchise continues to build a new team after the loss of LeBron James.

Available Unrestricted Free Agents:

Dwyane Wade

The group of remaining unrestricted free agents is a mixed bag. As mentioned above, there is at least a chance that one of these players may not even make a roster when the dust settles this offseason. Dwyane Wade has bounced around the league the last few years with stints with the Bulls, Cavaliers and a most recent return to the Miami HEAT under his belt. Wade remains capable of spurts of offense and is a fan favorite in Miami. The most obvious result here is a return to Miami. However, Wade himself commented regarding a potential return or possibly retirement.

“When I get back from China, I’ll focus on that [decision],” Wade said while in China. “The basketball will take care of itself. I’ll sit down and figure that out once I get back from this tour at some point.”

Michael Beasley

Michael Beasley remains unsigned despite a strong outing last season for the New York Knicks. Beasley started 30 of 74 games played. His numbers don’t jump off the boxscore: 13.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists in 22.3 minutes. However, these are some of the best numbers he’s put up in years and the most consistent he has played since 2012-13. The Knicks may likely move on from Beasley but he remains a viable scorer who could come off the bench and start in a pinch for many teams if the price is right.

Jamal Crawford and Nick Young

Jamal Crawford and Nick Young remain unsigned veterans who offer potential teams a scoring punch off the bench. Young has the benefit of showing that he contributed in spurts to the Warrior’s championship season while not becoming a distraction. Both are known for knocking down difficult outside shots but can be inefficient scorers and potential liabilities on defense.

Honorable Mentions

A few notable big men remain available as well. Phoenix Center Alex Len never became the elite big man the Suns had hoped for when they used the fifth pick in the 2013 draft to acquire him. However he remains a serviceable player. For his career, Len averages 7.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 19.9 minutes. He is somewhat mobile and could be a strong option for a team looking for a backup center. Centers Al Jefferson and Jahill Okafor can both score the basketball but have to directly combat the notion that they have become antiquated. The modern game calls for mobile centers that shoot reliably from the outside to stretch the floor, are efficient on offense, can guard the rim as well as being at least somewhat capale of covering ball handlers on switches. Okafar and Jefferson don’t fit that profile and will have to convince potential suitors that despite their meager contributions over the last few seasons that they can sufficiently adapt to the modern game and make a positive impact.

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NBA: Kawhi Leonard for DeMar DeRozan Makes Sense

In an unexpected move, DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard swapped teams, and it makes complete sense.

Dennis Chambers

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The Kawhi Leonard saga in San Antonio is finally over.

In the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, news broke via Twitter that Leonard was about to be shipped across the Canadian border to the Toronto Raptors for — get this — DeMar DeRozan.

Leonard, and his deteriorated relationship with the San Antonio Spurs, dominated the offseason headlines, and while reports constantly whizzed around about where the All-Star small forward would wind up — maybe Los Angeles, maybe Philadelphia, maybe Boston — his final destination is one that came completely out of left field (despite the current odds).

While many people viewed the situation with Leonard as a chance for San Antonio to start fresh and plan for the future, the Spurs appeared to have no interest in that avenue. The entirety of the deal, Leonard and Danny Green for DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a top-20 protected 2019 first-round pick displays a win-now outcome for each party.

After winning 59 games and obtaining the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors eventually were bounced by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a sweeping fashion. Dwane Casey, the 2017-18 Coach of the Year, was fired after not being able to extend the franchises’ best season to an NBA Finals appearance. It appeared, with LeBron moving West, that the Raptors were going to run it back one more time to see if they could finally break through to the game’s biggest stage.

On the other side, the Spurs were coming off of a season in which they won 47 games and were two games out of the Western Conference’s third seed — all of which they achieved without Leonard. In the waning years of Gregg Popovich’s career, it appeared his team was still talented enough, and system still effective enough, to make relevant noise in the playoffs without a superstar player.

At its core, this deal comes down to each team swapping their best player for the other’s. Leonard gets out of San Antonio, to a team whose core won 59 games in the East. DeRozan gets the benefit of fitting into a system with the best head coach in the league, on a very competitive roster.

Now, it remains to be seen how happy each player will be in their situations. Reports surfaced early Wednesday morning that both players were dissatisfied with the trade outcome. But, as we all know, winning cures everything.

On the Spurs’ front, it’s interesting how little they considered trade packages for future picks and quality role players. ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported San Antonio rebuffed offers from the Sixers and Celtics that were centered around future assets, in turn focusing their trade efforts on the likes of Ben Simmons, and the Celtics’ young core. Instead of landing a handful of assets or players that may not materialize until Popovich is gone, the Spurs reeled in a player who is a year removed from averaging 27 points per game. Oh, by the way, he’s also under contract for the next three seasons.

DeRozan keeps the Spurs relevant. Maybe he doesn’t help them beat the Golden State Warriors (in fact, he most certainly doesn’t), but he allows his new team the chance to win meaningful games in the postseason over the next three years.

From everything that’s been reported, there was no way Popovich was going to commit the final few years of his NBA life to a rebuild. With a man like that at the helm, and a star player like DeRozan under contract, who knows what other tricks San Antonio might have up its sleeve.

Up in Toronto, if the Raptors can convince Leonard to play this season, their core plus an upgrade on the wing might finally be enough to break through to the Finals. New head coach Nick Nurse suddenly has a player widely regarded as a top-five talent in the league on his roster to accompany a deep and talented core. Although, just like in San Antonio, Leonard might not add enough to the Raptors to dethrone the Warriors. However, he suddenly has a better supporting cast to try and give Golden State a run for its money.

Plus, given Toronto’s inability to get out of the East, a Finals appearance in its own right would be considered a success next season.

All around, maybe this wasn’t the deal we expected to get Leonard out of San Antonio, but digesting the move from all angles, it appears to be the most sensible.

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