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Six Key Free Agents in the Western Conference

David Yapkowitz looks at six key free agents out of the Western Conference this summer.

David Yapkowitz

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June is upon us, and that means that NBA Free Agency is just about one month away. There will be several key free agents this summer. Here’s a look at some of the top free agents in the Western Conference. There are some big names that are omitted from this list, however. Notably absent are Golden State Warriors teammates Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, and Los Angeles Clippers teammates Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

There is no real likely scenario in which those four players leave their current teams. Durant has a player opt out and Curry is in line for a max deal, but they both will almost assuredly remain with the Warriors. The Clippers’ situation is a bit more fluid, but expect both to remain in Los Angeles. Although Paul has been linked to the San Antonio Spurs in recent rumors, our own Steve Kyler, in a recent piece, explained the salary cap hurdles the Spurs would have to jump through to sign Paul. It’s not impossible, it’s just highly improbable.

With that said, there are still some players in the West that are available and can be difference makers in the right situation. They are as follows.

JJ Redick

While it’s pretty safe to say that both Griffin and Paul will be in Clipper uniforms next season, the same cannot be said for JJ Redick. The max extensions needed to retain Griffin and Paul might end up putting Redick out of the Clippers price range. Should he and the Clippers decide to part ways, there most likely will be a good number of suitors for his services.

At age 33, Redick remains an effective starter at shooting guard. He was the Clippers top three-point shooter this season at 42.9 percent and fourth leading scorer at 15 points per game. He is a respected veteran leader and an underrated defensive player. During his four years with the Clippers, he’s been one of their most dependable players.

Redick would be a great pickup for any team needing an additional boost to their backcourt. While he may be heading into the twilight years of his career, he is still producing at a high enough level to really help a team looking to make some noise in the playoffs.

Andre Iguodala

Just like with the Clippers’ dilemma, paying Curry and Durant might not leave enough money for the Warriors to re-sign Andre Iguodala. Since coming to the Warriors four years ago, Iguodala has seen his scoring drop to career lows, but his shooting percentages are way up and he’s reinvented himself as one of the NBA’s best sixth men. There’s no question he could still be starting for other teams, he just wouldn’t be enjoying the same team success he has in Oakland.

This season, Iguodala shot a career high 52.8 percent from the field, and his 36.2 percent from beyond the arc is his second best. He remains one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. He is also a respected veteran presence.

There hasn’t been much indication, if any at all, on what he may decide to in the summer. It’s likely that other teams will come calling with offers that Golden State won’t be able to match. He would be a boost to any team’s bench, and some may even offer him a starting position. If the Warriors go on to win the title this year, it might be hard to imagine him leaving such a good situation. It also might be hard to envision him turning down what could be the last major contract of his career.

Gordon Hayward

In his seventh year in the league, Gordon Hayward broke out this season. Named to the All-Star team for the first time, he averaged a career-high 21.9 points per game on 47.1 percent shooting from the field, good enough for second-best in his career.

At 26 years old, Hayward is entering the prime years of his career. He has been rumored to be one of the top targets for the Boston Celtics, who will have the cap space to offer him a max contract. Hayward would go a long way to helping the Celtics realize their goal of competing with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.

But if the Utah Jazz are hoping to build upon their success this season, retaining Hayward is a must. The Jazz have a nice young core in place and Hayward is a part of that. He’s young enough that when the Jazz are really ready to compete in the West, he can still be a major piece. It will likely come down to those two teams, and which situation he believes he has the best shot at winning.

Danilo Gallinari

The Denver Nuggets are in the midst of a youth movement, albeit one that almost got them into the playoffs. Danilo Gallinari has been one of the elder statesmen, so to speak, the past couple of seasons. He’s also been one of their most productive players who should have his share of suitors this summer.

Still rebounding from a knee injury that cost him the entire 2013-14 season, Gallinari turned in one of his most productive seasons to date. His 18.2 points per game is the second highest mark for his career. His 44.7 percent shooting from the field, and 38.9 percent from downtown are also the best since his rookie year. The 63 games he played in are the most he’s played since 2012-13.

Provided that he can continue to stay healthy and show no lingering effects from his injury, he is well suited to today’s NBA game. He can play both forward positions and can stretch the floor against opposing defenses. He is a capable starter and if he doesn’t remain in Denver, he’d be a great addition to a playoff team looking to add another impact guy.

Dewayne Dedmon

Each year there are a few players who are able to use their playoff success to parlay their way to a decent sized contract. Dewayne Dedmon is looking to be one of those players. Having played sparingly for the Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Orlando Magic the past few years, Dedmon finally found consistent playing time with the San Antonio Spurs this season.

He averaged career highs in points (5.1), rebounds (6.5), and field goal percentage (62.2 percent). Modest numbers, but his impact goes beyond stats. In San Antonio, he emerged as one of the better rim protectors in the league. Gregg Popovich entrusted him with the starting center spot in the playoffs, and he responded well.

He’s solidified himself as a legit starting big man who can anchor a team’s defense. There aren’t many of those around anymore. The Spurs would be wise to keep him, but they’ll most likely have to fight off other teams. In any case, he is definitely in line for a much bigger pay day, the first of his career.

Joe Ingles

Speaking of players whose playoff performance leads to a big pay day, Joe Ingles is currently number one on that list. Cut from the Clippers three years ago, Ingles toiled in relative obscurity since arriving in Utah, until this season and playoffs.

Ingles was one of the Jazz’ most dependable players and a key reason why they were able to knock off the Clippers in the playoffs. He was their top three-point threat at 44.1 percent. He is also a perfect fit for the modern game. He is able to play both forward spots and is a good enough defender to guard multiple positions.

With the Jazz needing to make some decisions on Hayward and starting point guard George Hill, it’s possible some other team sneaks in and throws Ingles an offer the Jazz might not be willing or able to match. He might be best as a spark off the bench, but in the right situation, he could be a starter. He’s definitely an impact guy and will help whoever he ends up with, whether it’s Utah or someone else.

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NBA

NBA Daily: Jaylen Hands Makes Good Showing at the NBA Combine

Jaylen Hands made a good showing at the NBA Combine by displaying his offensive skills and defensive intensity.

Jesse Blancarte

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UCLA has produced a few of the NBA’s top point guards over the last decade or so, including Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday. Jrue’s younger brother, Aaron Holiday, has declared for this year’s draft and is projected by several NBA insiders to be selected with a first-round pick (likely in the 20-30 range). But Aaron Holiday isn’t the only UCLA point guard who may end up taking his talents to the NBA this offseason. Jaylen Hands, who is still just 19 years old and finished his freshman season, has also entered his name into this year’s draft.

While Hands has entered his name into the draft and participated in the NBA Combine, he has not hired an agent, which preserves his ability to return to college (Hands has until June 11 to make a final decision). Considering Hands’ young age and raw skill set, he isn’t projected by many insiders to hear his name called on draft night. But he certainly helped his cause in the Combine, showcasing his offensive talents, the muscle he has added to his slight frame since the end of his freshman season and aggressiveness on defense.

Basketball Insiders spoke with Hands at the Combine about his development, going through the pre-draft process, competing against familiar faces and more.

“It’s crazy, it’s crazy because when we were younger, they said the exact thing: ‘You guys are going to see each other forever.’” Hands said when asked about competing against many of the same players over the years and now at the Combine. “And you don’t really believe what they’re saying. But now you go through high school, you’re a senior, All-Star activities and you go to the Combine, you see the same people. It’s crazy.”

Hands has a notable skill set but is a raw prospect that many believe would be better served spending another year in college. While Hands needs to continue filling out his frame, he did register decent measurements at the Combine in relation to a top guard prospect – Trae Young of Oklahoma. Hands weighed in at 1.2 lbs heavier than Young, and outmatched Young in height (with and without shoes), standing reach and wingspan. Ironically, Hands has the smallest hands of all players that participated in the Combine. While these measurements don’t mean that he is currently a comparable prospect to Young, they could address some concerns about his current physical profile and how it may ultimately translate to the NBA.

Hands proved himself to be a confident and aggressive player in his freshman season at UCLA – something that he believes has led to misconceptions about his game.

“I’m not a point guard,” Hands said when asked about what misconceptions people have about his game.

I wouldn’t say it’s common, like it’s the main thing. But I’ve heard that I shoot first or something like that. I just feel like I attack a lot. I think I attack a lot and I’m of size to being a [two guard], so I think some people get it misconstrued. I just think I’m attack first, set my teammates up, get what I get.”

Hands is clearly aware of the common perceptions and current shortcomings in his game, which is why he is working hard to improve his overall skill set and is testing the NBA waters to get feedback from teams.

“Before I came here, just being more steady working on my shot, making good reads out of the pick and roll, finishing.” Hands said when asked about what parts of his game he was working on before coming to the Combine.

Hands was asked to clarify what he believes is his best strength at this point. Hands didn’t hesitate and pointed toward his ability to make plays off the dribble.

“My best strength is getting in the paint. So I get in the paint and make plays,” Hands said.

Hands is also clearly aware of UCLA’s history of producing quality point guards and has a chance to one day develop into a quality guard at the NBA level. However, with Holiday heading to the NBA and no major competition for the starting point guard position at UCLA next season, it may benefit Hands to hold off on turning pro for at least another year.

Whether he stays at UCLA or commits to this year’s draft, there’s no doubt that Hands is going to keep pushing to develop into a quality NBA player.

“I want to be the best player I can in the league,” Hands said. “That’s my goal.”

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NBA Daily: 2018 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 5/22/18

The final 2018 NBA Draft order is set and Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler offers up his latest 60-pick NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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Lots of Draft Movement

With the draft order now set for the 2018 NBA Draft, there is some sense of how the draft might play out.

The buzz coming out of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago is that a number of picks could be had in trade include all three of the top selections. Word is the initial asking price is very high and more of an indication to the San Antonio Spurs that if they do want to part with disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard, they are open for business.

It’s also worth noting that there is a growing sense that both the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawk may be far higher on some of the domestic bigs in the draft more so than euro sensation Luka Dončić. Both teams are expected to take a long look at Dončić, so their views on him could change as we get closer to the draft, but for now, Dončić may go lower.

Here is the latest 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft, reflecting the final draft order and the latest buzz, rumors, and intel from in and around the NBA:

Dates To Know:

The NCAA requires all players wishing to maintain their college eligibility, without penalty, to withdraw from the NBA Draft by 11:59 pm on May 30. That is an NCAA mandated date, not related to anything involving the NBA, and that notice must be delivered in writing.

The NBA’s draft withdrawal date is June 11 by 5:00 pm ET. The NBA’s date allows a prospect to remain NBA draft eligible for future NBA drafts and is not related to any NCAA rule or date. There are ways for college players that did not accept benefits to return to college. However, they may be subject to NCAA penalties.

The 2018 NBA Draft is June 21.

The Pick Swaps:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections. This pick will convey.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the final NBA standings.

The Phoenix Suns were owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick would only convey if the Bucks pick landed between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the final NBA standings did not convey. The Suns will now receive the Bucks 2019 first-round pick assuming it falls between the fourth and 16th pick.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey to Atlanta based on the final NBA standings.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey based on the final NBA standings.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick was top-five protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick was lottery protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects – http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

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, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, @mike_yaffe, @MattJohnNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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NBA Daily: Shamet Comfortable With Steady Self Going Into Draft

With a natural feel for the game, Wichita State guard Landry Shamet has more than enough of a chance to carve his own path of success in the NBA.

Spencer Davies

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No matter what professional field a person wants to work in, there are multiple ways to show why they belong.

A positive attitude is everything, confidence goes a long way and honesty truly is the best policy.

Speaking with Wichita State product Landry Shamet this past week at the NBA Combine in Chicago, it’s clear that he has all three of those boxes checked off.

“It’s been great,” Shamet said of the event. “Just trying to absorb everything, soak everything up. It’s a big learning experience for sure. A lot of knowledge to be attained (at the Combine). With interviews and playing on the court, being coached by NBA guys, it’s been cool so far.”

During his three years with the Shockers, the 6-foot-4, 188-pound guard accomplished quite a few feats, but his junior season was arguably the most spectacular. Not only did Shamet lead his team in multiple ways, but he also topped out in four statistical categories in the American Athletic Conference—the school’s first year there after moving on from the Missouri Valley.

Shamet’s 166 assists (5.2 per game average) were the most in the AAC by far. In addition, his true shooting percentage (65.5) and three-point percentage (44.2) ranked number one among his peers.

From entering the program in 2015 to now, he feels that he’s grown dramatically as a player—but in what areas, specifically?

“I would say being a point guard honestly,” Shamet said. “I was recruited in as a two. But just kinda that leadership role, that accountability. Knowing that you’re gonna get a lot of scrutiny (after) a loss and you’re gonna be responsible for a win. Regardless of how the game goes, it’s your responsibility.”

Much of his development at Wichita State was courtesy of a hands-on approach with Gregg Marshall, one of the most revered head coaches in college basketball. Thanks to his guidance, Shamet feels ready, even in aspects outside of his offensive ability.

“On the defensive end, I feel comfortable with my positioning,” Shamet said. “Obviously, need to get better. You can always get better on the defensive end. That’s one thing I’ve been focusing on. Trying to get more athletic. Just be better defensively. He gave me the groundwork for sure. 100 percent.”

Shamet has kept in touch with Marshall throughout the entire pre-draft process. He was told to “smile and relax” in interviews and to be confident, which he’s certainly followed through with.

A similar message has come from Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, two former Shockers who have each made their mark at the professional level.

“Just be yourself, you know,” Shamet said of VanVleet’s pointers. “That’s really what it boils down to I think. He’s been great to have him in my corner—a guy like that who’s been through a lot of adversity on his way to the NBA, so I’m gonna listen to him 10 times out of 10.”

VanVleet’s career is already taking off with the Toronto Raptors as a part of their young and hungry bench. But with four more inches of height and a similar feel for the game, Shamet has more than enough of a chance to carve his own path of success in the NBA.

And it won’t require flash or making a daily highlight-reel to do so.

“I’d like to just say versatile,” Shamet said of his game. “Just try to stay solid. I don’t ever try to make spectacular plays all the time. Try to just do what I feel I can do—play multiple positions, both positions, on or off the ball. I’m comfortable at either spot, honestly. Whether it’s facilitating, scoring, whatever the case may be.

“I feel like I have a high IQ as well. Just a cerebral player. Not gonna ‘wow’ you with crossing people up and doing things that a lot of the guys in the limelight do all the time. But I feel like I’m a solid player. Pretty steady across the board.”

However, just because he rarely shows off on the court doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the ability to do it.

“I feel like I’m a little more athletic than I might get credit for,” Shamet said. “I think I’m a better athlete than I get credit for.”

Shamet is projected to go anywhere from the middle-to-late first round of the draft in June. Whoever lands the Kansas City native will be getting a tireless worker who does things the right way and is all about the team.

But for now, he’s soaking in everything he possibly can before that night comes.

“I don’t have all the answers,” Shamet candidly said. “I’m a 21-year-old kid, man I guess. So just trying to learn as much as I can, gain some knowledge, get good feedback—because at the end of the day, I’m not a perfect player. I know that.”

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