Connect with us


Ranking The Free Agents – Small Forwards

Spencer Davies looks into the trio of superstar small forwards and the rest of the free agent class of wings for the upcoming summer.

Spencer Davies



Basketball Insiders continues its free agency series with its third installment.

If you haven’t seen it yet, we’ve already discussed the point guards and the shooting guards to nail down the best available backcourt players. Now, we’ll switch gears to the frontcourt.

There is a ton of attention on the small forward class this summer for obvious reasons—a trio of superstars headlines a crop filled with proven talent on the wing.

Before we get to the top guys, let’s lay out the numbers. This upcoming season, the NBA’s salary cap is projected to jump from $99 million to $101 million. With this information, we can estimate the value of maximum contracts in the following tiers:

$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

In addition, the mid-level exception for teams in the first year is expected to be $8,406,000.

Without further ado, let’s get into who’s available:

Max Guys

LeBron James** – Cleveland Cavaliers – Last Year’s Salary: $33,285,709

The burning question on everyone’s minds and the hottest storyline of the NBA offseason—where will LeBron go? Unfortunately, we don’t have that information as of yet. James may not either. The rumors of where The King will take his talents are running rampant all across the basketball world at this point.

Los Angeles seems to be the hot spot most national pundits are pointing to, while the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets are supposedly in the mix to court him to push their respective franchises to the next level as well. Of course, ruling out the Cleveland Cavaliers is the easy thing to do for many considering what’s taken place with the organization since the 2017 NBA Finals—but it may be unwise to count out James’ home state in the running.

Without speculating ties to his son’s high school destinations or what analysts are saying, the options for LeBron are not easy. There are routes he can take that will give him a great chance to lead something great, but who’s to say it leads to the dethroning of the Golden State Warriors with what they’ve built?

Will forming a hypothetical tandem with Paul George in Hollywood get the job done? If he can get to H-Town, is constructing a big three of James Harden, Chris Paul and himself the right move? Surely signing with the Sixers to guide young upstarts like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid would be intriguing.

His hometown franchise has little leeway with their financial situation, but they do have a few assets to work with. Whether it’s drafting a promising rookie with their draft selection next week or dealing the eighth pick in a package for somebody else, you never know what can happen in this league.

The truth of the matter is we don’t know what James is going to do, and we probably won’t for weeks. As far as his decision goes, we can say this—the Cavaliers can pay him the most money (five years, $205 million) while others can offer four years and $152 million.

Another way things could shake out is for James to unexpectedly opt-in into his player option ($35,607,968) to either give it another go in Cleveland or have the franchise work out a deal to move the four-time MVP, granted he waves his no-trade clause. That could be a win-win for both parties at this point, but it’s highly unlikely he’d choose to go that route and give up leverage.

Speaking specifically to what he did on the court, it was an unbelievable season for James. Just go down the list of accomplishments—82 games for the first time as a pro, career-high 9.1 assists per game and tied a career-high with 8.6 rebounds per game. And that’s only naming a few of the accolades he racked up.

The onus on the 33-year-old to take the unsteady Cavaliers to the biggest stage for the fourth straight year with a completely new roster was extremely stressful, but he did it and passed with flying colors. Now with Year 15 in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for the next step.

The summer of LeBron is underway. Buckle up.

Kevin Durant** – Golden State Warriors – Last Year’s Salary: $25,000,000

Still often criticized for joining the Warriors a couple of summers ago, Kevin Durant’s decision to team up with the boys in the Bay Area has certainly paid off. Between back-to-back championship titles and two NBA Finals MVP awards to show for it, the 29-year-old is on top of the world right now.

With that said, he technically has a choice of whether to opt-in his player option for $26,250,000 or to demand a maximum contract from Golden State. The obvious answer for most superstars these days is to get paid, and that’s probably what KD will elect to do.

During their championship celebration, Warriors general manager Bob Myers did a bit of razzing when it came to his comments about giving Durant “whatever deal he wants,” but he’ll have earned every penny.

Despite an up-and-down postseason before another sensational showing in June, it was a fantastic year for Durant as a whole. Expect the All-Star forward to be back as a part of the deadly core four at Oracle Arena when all is said and done.

Paul George** – Oklahoma City Thunder – Last Year’s Salary: $20,703,384

Aside from the LeBron free agency hype, there have been a ton of eyes glued to Paul George’s situation. Sam Presti and company took a chance in the summer of 2017 with a blockbuster deal that landed the All-Star forward in Oklahoma City to create a brand new big three with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.

It turned out to be pretty risky, however, as things didn’t quite pan out as planned. It was a season full of ups and downs. Roles weren’t really defined on the offensive end and, overall, there were inconsistencies with usage and no true flow. Because of that and the upcoming offseason lurking over the last few years, many believe that George could be headed elsewhere.

The rumblings seem to indicate that PG-13 would like to travel west and play for the Los Angeles Lakers in his home state of California. As mentioned before, the thought of James teaming up with him comes to mind with that. Other teams reportedly in the mix for him are the Rockets and Sixers.

Just like the two others we talked about above, George could always go with his player option of $20,703,384 to give it one more go with the Thunder. He could even opt-out and look for a maximum deal from them as well if that’s what he prefers. All we know is whatever decision he makes, it will have a huge impact on the summer for his fellow free agent class.

Above Mid-Level Guys

Tyreke Evans – Memphis Grizzlies – Last Year’s Salary: $3,290,000

It seems like forever ago, but let’s not forget about the renaissance of Tyreke Evans with the Memphis Grizzlies this past year. Even as a part of a downtrodden team in the basement of the Western Conference, the talented forward looked as spritely as he did during his rookie season in the league.

He sat out a lot of the second half, but that was likely more of mutual understanding between him and the organization regarding his upcoming free agency status. Coming off a 19-5-5 season, Evans showed that he has his best playing days ahead of him at 28 years old.

Carmelo Anthony*** – Oklahoma City Thunder – Last Year’s Salary: $26,243,760

There’s no reason for Carmelo Anthony to use his early termination option this summer. It was a difficult shooting year and a poor season defensively for the veteran forward, so it’s unlikely that he’ll make more than his $27,928,140 million salary in 2018-19. If things go south in Oklahoma City, they’ll have a difficult contract on their hands to part ways with.

For the Thunder’s sake, they’ll have to bank on the former All-Star to get back to his old ways.

Wilson Chandler** – Denver Nuggets – Last Year’s Salary: $12,016,854

Rodney Hood* – Cleveland Cavaliers – Last Year’s Salary: $2,386,864

Kyle Anderson* – San Antonio Spurs – Last Year’s Salary: $2,151,704

Trevor Ariza – Houston Rockets – Last Year’s Salary: $7,420,912

Mid-Level or Below Guys

Rudy Gay** – San Antonio Spurs – Last Year’s Salary: $8,406,000

Gerald Green – Houston Rockets – Last Year’s Salary: $872,854

Glenn Robinson III – Indiana Pacers – Last Year’s Salary: $1,524,305

Jeff Green – Cleveland Cavaliers – Last Year’s Salary: $1,471,382

Doug McDermott* – Dallas Mavericks – Last Year’s Salary: $3,294,994

Omri Casspi – Golden State Warriors – Last Year’s Salary: $1,471,382

Joe Johnson – Houston Rockets – Last Year’s Salary: $473,835

Richard Jefferson – Denver Nuggets – Last Year’s Salary: $1,454,756

Pat Connaughton* – Portland Trail Blazers – Last Year’s Salary: $1,471,382

Corey Brewer – Oklahoma City Thunder – Last Year’s Salary: $340,829

Damion Lee* – Atlanta Hawks – Last Year’s Salary: $46,080

Shabazz Muhammad – Milwaukee Bucks – Last Year’s Salary: $324,203

Luke Babbitt – Miami HEAT– Last Year’s Salary: $1,471,382

Quincy Pondexter – Chicago Bulls – Last Year’s Salary: $3,853,931

Bruno Caboclo* – Sacramento Kings – Last Year’s Salary: $2,451,225

Nicolas Brussino – Atlanta Hawks – Last Year’s Salary: $1,312,611

Jarell Eddie – Chicago Bulls – Last Year’s Salary: $83,129

Brandon Rush – Portland Trail Blazers – Last Year’s Salary: $83,129

*Qualifying Offer (If made, player becomes restricted free agent)
**Player Option (The player has the choice of whether to opt-in for another year with his current team or opt-out to become an unrestricted free agent)
***Early Termination Option (The player has the choice to end a signed contract if he desires to enter free agency)

The 2018 free agent class of small forwards is pretty top-heavy with plenty of promise. There will be a lot of teams that are in on bolstering their rosters with capable wings and, in some cases, franchise-changing ones.

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.


Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


NBA Daily: Justin Bibbs Gets First NBA Opportunity In L.A.

Justin Bibbs spoke to Basketball Insiders about joining an NBA team after going undrafted, playing in the G League, his developing skill set and more.

David Yapkowitz



One of the best moments in the life of an aspiring pro basketball player is to receive the news that an NBA team wants to sign them.

For Justin Bibbs, that dream became a reality of his when the Los Angeles Clippers called him up to the team on a 10-day contract last week. The former Virginia Tech guard went undrafted last summer and was spending his first professional season in the G League with Maine Red Claws, the affiliate of the Boston Celtics.

This past Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets was actually his first day being around the team as they had immediately assigned him to the Agua Caliente Clippers after signing him.

“To be honest, I still don’t have words for it. It’s kind of indescribable,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “I always wanted to be on this level, but now that I’m here I just trying to take in every second of it, just relax and let God do his thing.”

Bibbs had a decent showing with the Celtics in summer league, leading to him being added to their training camp roster. He was ultimately cut and joined the Maine Red Claws as an affiliate player. Each NBA team is allowed to assign up to four players to their G League affiliate, players who were in training camp and are guaranteed a G League roster spot.

Affiliate players, however, are still considered ‘free agents’ in that they can sign with any NBA team. Bibbs played in 44 games with the Red Claws and averaged 11.8 points per game, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

At Virginia Tech, he was a knockdown outside shooter (42.4 percent) and a strong defender. He has good size for a guard at 6-foot-5 and 225-pounds. It’s those qualities that he’s hoping to bring to the Clippers should he get the chance on the court.

“I always bring energy defensively and I just play my game. On offense, I bring shooting,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “But it’s whatever the coach tells me to do and basically just playing the right way.”

Although Bibbs has reached his goal of the NBA, he’s in a different situation than the rest of his Clippers teammates. They’re all secured with guaranteed contracts. Bibbs has ten days to prove himself to team brass, ten days to show he’s worth keeping around a bit longer.

“I’m happy that my play has been rewarded, that the organization believed in me enough to give me a 10-day. Its motivation for me to keep going,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “I was called down from the G League team, and I’m just trying to get all the sets and plays and stuff, trying to make that adjustment. But it’s definitely a blessing.”

He’s played in three games for the Agua Caliente Clippers so far, logging 27.1 minutes per game off the bench. He’s put up 9.7 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting from the field, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists during that stretch.

He’s yet to log any minutes for the Clippers, but he’s just thrilled to be a part of an NBA organization. Despite being undrafted, he always knew that he’d get to this level at some point.

“Yeah I did, for sure I did. I didn’t know when or how, but I always thought I would be here,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “I had no idea what team, but being out in LA, I’ll take that as a blessing. But yeah I thought I would be here for sure.”

For players like Bibbs who are on 10-day contracts, nothing is guaranteed. But he’s soaking up the entire experience as long as he can. Whether the Clippers decide to retain him a little bit longer, or he moves on to another opportunity, he just wants to be able to play his game.

“My overall goal is just to actually play my game my way and not be restricted,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “Kind of just play freely and right now that’s what I’ve shown, that’s what got me here. I’m just taking in the whole process, just taking it all in and getting the experience and knowledge.”

Continue Reading

Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 3/19/19

With the field of teams set for the 2019 NCAA March Madness tournament, things should get noisy over the next few weeks on the NBA Draft front. Steve Kyler offers up another 60-pick Mock Draft before all the zaniness begins.

Steve Kyler



Let the Madness begin.

The basketball world will shift its attention to college basketball’s biggest stage over the next few weeks, especially this weekend’s opening round of 64.

While the tournament doesn’t necessarily make or break a player’s draft stock, this will be the first time some notable draft prospects will face elite talent and, more importantly, the pressure of the big stage. You can check out march madness predictions 2019 here.

Expect things in the draft world to start to percolate, not just because of the magnitude of the games, but also because a lot of NBA scouts will be in the same places, which is where the draft chatter originates.

Equally, a lot of NBA teams will watch games together in the conference rooms this week, so more group discussion on players will happen inside NBA teams’ front offices, and that could lead to new preference information flowing into the NBA Draft information bubble.

Here is this week’s 60-Pick Mock Draft, based on NBA games played through 3/18/19:

Here are the first-round picks that are owed and how those picks landed where they are.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyle Korver trade in 2017, which is top-10 protected. But based on the standings, it will not be conveyed.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the Memphis Grizzlies first-round pick as a result of the three-team Jeff Green trade in 2015; the pick is top-eight protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Dallas Mavericks first-round pick as a result of the Luka Dončić – Trae Young swap on draft night in 2018. The pick is top-five protected and, based on the standings, would convey.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the more favorable of either the Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers first-round picks as part of the Markelle Fultz pre-draft trade in 2017. Based on the current standings, the Kings pick is the more favorable and would convey to Boston.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the LA Clippers first-round pick as a result of the Deyonta Davis draft day trade with Memphis in 2016. The Grizzlies got the pick in their Jeff Green/Lance Stephenson deal at the deadline in 2016. The pick is lottery protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are to receive the Houston Rockets first-round pick as a result of the three-team deadline deal that sent out Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss.

The Brooklyn Nets are to receive the Denver Nuggets first-round pick as a result of the Kenneth Faried – Darrell Arthur trade in July 2018. The pick is top-12 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The San Antonio Spurs are to receive the Toronto Raptors first-round pick as a result of the Kawhi Leonard – DeMar DeRozan trade in July 2018. The pick is top-20 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are to receive the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as a result of the Eric Bledsoe trade in 2017. The pick has top 3 and 17-30 protections, designed to yield a lottery-level pick to Phoenix. Based on the current standings this pick would not convey. If the debt is not settled this year, the pick in 2020 would be top-7 protected.

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @TommyBeer, @jblancartenba, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @MattJohnNBA, @DrewMaresca, @JordanHicksNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

Continue Reading


NBA Daily: Fixing The Cleveland Cavaliers

Spencer Davies starts Basketball Insiders’ “Fixing” series with the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers.

Spencer Davies



Can you believe that the NBA regular season is less than a month away from concluding? It’s March 18, and teams are gearing up for the final stretch run before the playoffs get here. Thus far, there have been three teams to solidify their spots—the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers—while the rest of the league looks to jockey for postseason positioning.

On the flipside, there are four organizations that have begun to look towards the future with their immediate futures already decided, and 10 more will join them in the coming weeks as they become eliminated from playoff contention.

Basketball Insiders is bringing back its annual “Fixing” series to provide a blueprint of how to get each of those teams back on the right track moving forward. We’ll get things started with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

What Is Working

In the second half of the season, the Cavaliers are 5-7. Yes, that is two games under .500 and should not be something to celebrate—but it’s how they are playing that deserves praise. Aside from a couple of clunkers against the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic, they’ve been a resilient young group that has clearly matured under the direction of head coach Larry Drew.

The return of Kevin Love coinciding with Cleveland playing its best basketball all year is not a matter of happenstance, either. As detailed a couple of weeks ago, his impact on Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman has made both inexperienced players significantly better. As the team’s “go-to guy” as Drew likes to put it, everybody can play through a legitimate All-Star in a number of ways—feeding him on the block, finding him on the perimeter or even allowing him to dribble drive and create for others.

The Cavaliers are quite excited about the determination of their guys, specifically Sexton and Osman. It’d be foolish to base the projection of a rookie’s career off playing alongside multiple two-way and 10-day contract players, and some did when Sexton had his fair share of struggles. The same could be said for Osman, who’s really turned up the playmaking and shooting as of late. It takes talent and consistency to be in the NBA, which is a lesson they’re learning every night. And the optimism should go beyond just those three, too. There are a number of players who could be a part of the team’s core in the future.

Experiencing perhaps his best season as a pro, Larry Nance Jr. is becoming a vocal leader on and off the floor. Ante Zizic has taken his opportunity as a starter and run with it, averaging nearly 12 points and eight rebounds in 20 of such situations. Drew has constantly praised David Nwaba’s efforts when he’s needed a guy to step up and defend opponents’ top players, even when out of position. Jordan Clarkson thrives as the sixth man and Matthew Dellavedova is the perfect mentor and floor general off the bench.

What Needs To Change

Now comes the harsh part—Cleveland has been a horrific defensive team for a number of years. They’ve ranked among the worst in basketball for the past three years, and that includes the last two seasons they had with LeBron James. It begs the question: Is it scheme or is it personnel? In the case of the Cavaliers, the answer is probably a little bit of both.

There is often confusion with the coverage calls. Blown assignments, miscommunication and difficulty with the pick-and-roll can best describe the mess that is on the floor. There isn’t as much finger pointing as there was at the beginning stages of the season, but it’s paramount that the team drastically improves in this area. Considering the number of injuries, inexperience and lack of continuity that they’ve had this year, it should get better.

While shot selection has gotten better throughout the season, the Cavaliers have to move the basketball better on a consistent basis. Again, Sexton and Osman felt that they had to carry the load in the absence of Love as the primary scoring options—and Tristan Thompson’s injuries didn’t help—so there was a lot of hero ball going on. At least in the last month, these totals have gotten higher.

Cleveland may take the cake in scoring droughts as well, which leads to other teams taking games over. A scenario we’ve seen all too much this season: Cavaliers take the ball down the floor, pass it maybe once or twice and don’t find the open man, which leads to a rebound and numbers for the opposing team that almost capitalizes in every instance. Stagnancy is a killer for the wine and gold, which is a group that needs to play in a transition-heavy, free-flowing type of game to succeed.

Focus Area: The Draft

Currently owning the third-worst record in the association, the Cavaliers would have the same 14 percent odds to land the first overall pick in the NBA Draft as the two teams behind them, the Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks. If the standings locked, Cleveland would be guaranteed a top-seven selection—although the percentages indicate they’d have a good chance to land in the top four and likely drop no further than sixth. They also are going to convey a draft pick in the mid-to-late 20s from the Houston Rockets via the Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss trade.

There is no singular focus area with the Cavaliers. They could use any talent they can get to add to this developing core and set the tone for the future. Obviously, the buzz surrounding Duke superstar Zion Williamson is real. If you were to pigeonhole him as just a dunker or a highlight reel, you’d be completely mistaken. Though needing to work on a reliable jump shot, the 18-year-old phenom is loaded with an incredibly versatile skill set at his age and a build that is tailor-made for the NBA. Positionless basketball is the future, and Williamson fits the bill.

If Cleveland lands another first overall pick, they’d be foolish to pass up on such a potential franchise changer. Just imagine the speedy Young Bull and bulldozing Williamson on a fastbreak opportunity with Love just waiting on the elbow. That’s quite a triple threat.

Say the Cavaliers end up second, third or fourth—this writer would jump at the opportunity to add Temetrius Morant, a man whom the basketball world knows simply as “Ja.” Set to be a top-five pick in the upcoming draft, the 19-year-old point guard is an absolute blast to watch play the game. He scores the basketball at will. He distributes at a high rate and shares the wealth with his teammates. He excels in transition. Morant lacks some size and will likely need to put on some weight, but forming a tandem with Sexton—who’s found a real groove playing off the ball—could work out famously.

Willamson’s teammates at Duke—RJ Barrett and Cameron Reddish—also have plenty of intrigue about them at those spots. If Cleveland gets put in the worst case scenario, talented wings like De’Andre Hunter and Keldon Johnson might be the way to go.

However, regarding the Rockets’ pick, there might be some diamonds in the rough. Here’s a list of names that could be attractive depending on the draft results: Bol Bol, Jontay Porter, Kevin Porter, Tre Jones, Matisse Thybulle, Luguentz Dort, Ashton Hagans.

Focus Area: Free Agency

With nearly its entire roster returning in 2019-20, Cleveland will not be much of a player in the free agency period. Nik Stauskas and Chriss have expiring contracts and Channing Frye is retiring.

General manager Koby Altman is going to be active in finding a trade partner for J.R. Smith, whose $15.68 million contract fully guarantees on June 30. If the Cavaliers can do so before that day, the team that traded for him can waive him and will only be on the hook for $3.87 million. It seems as if draft night—June 20—would be the most logical time to try this. If Altman is successful in moving Smith, the organization will have opened a roster spot.

Considering the team has been more than pleased with Nwaba’s contributions when healthy, it’s probable that he’ll be tendered a qualifying offer. If he is, then the 26-year-old guard would become a restricted free agent, meaning Cleveland could match any offer he’d receive. If Nwaba doesn’t get any bites, then it’s plausible he’d accept the $1.89 million one-year offer to stay.

Altman did yeoman’s work this year as a front office executive. He took what was a horrific financial situation loaded with unhappy veterans and turned it into something much more manageable, all while bringing in future assets and players on flexible deals. We don’t know whether those additions—Dellavedova, Knight and John Henson—are going to be a part of the future or used in potential trades down the line. The same could be said of Thompson and Clarkson, who also are going to be on the last years of their respective deals.

Other than the potential two rookies, there probably won’t be too many new faces around the Cavaliers in the summertime. It might change as we get into the 2019-20 campaign, but that’s down the road. Don’t expect a lot of change roster-wise going into the new league year.

Of course, coaching wise is a completely different story. The prevailing thought is that Cleveland is going to want a first-year head coach to grow and develop alongside their core players. Reports indicate the front office might prefer a person who has previous connections to the franchise in some capacity.

There are two assistants on other teams who have been the head coach of the Canton Charge—Denver’s Jordi Fernandez and Utah’s Alex Jensen—that could make sense. Toronto Raptors assistant and former player Adrian Griffin is a potentially appealing name as well, per Chris Fedor of

If Larry Drew decides he doesn’t want to stick around, finding the right person to lead this Cavaliers team into the next era is going to be crucial.

The “second first” year without LeBron didn’t go as planned. Firing Tyronn Lue six games into the season didn’t make matters easy, nor did Love going down with a toe injury to miss two-thirds of the season. Yet through the bad times, this Cleveland bunch has refused to mail it in and has earned a deal of respect from its competition.

They’re embracing the role of playing spoiler as the year winds down. It’s all about meaningful minutes for these guys, and until the clock hits zero on April 9 at Quicken Loans Arena, the work on the floor won’t be done.

Continue Reading

NBA Team Salaries


Insiders On Twitter

NBA On Twitter

Trending Now