Continuing our series, today we’ll classify the power forwards preparing to hit the free agent market
1. Kevin Love – Player Option:
Love has a player option for the 2015-16 season that would pay him $16.7 million. Because it makes the most fiscal sense to do so, regardless of whether he signs a long-term deal or not, it is very safe to assume he will opt out at the end of this season. At that point, Love basically has two options:
1.) Sign a contract that gives him an option to become a free agent again next summer – the most likely scenario would be a two-year deal with an opt-out clause after the first season (just as LeBron did last year and will likely do again this summer).
2.) Sign a long-term max contract (would be a five-year deal with Cleveland or a four-year deal with a team other than the Cavs).
The most likely outcome may be Love signing a two-year deal with the Cavaliers, spending one more season in Cleveland proving he is fully healthy, and then cashing in with a huge contract next summer.
2. LaMarcus Aldridge – Unrestricted:
Early on in the proceedings, most assumed Aldridge would re-sign with the Blazers this summer. However, there are now some rumblings that LaMarcus may be keenly interested in returning to his home state of Texas and joining either the Mavs or Spurs. Furthermore, might Aldridge make the same gamble as Kevin Love? If LaMarcus signed a max contract in 2016, here is what that deal would look like:
3. Draymond Green – Restricted:
Green has struggled a bit in the NBA Finals, but the big-picture reality remains: Draymond is the type of young, hungry, defensive-minded, versatile, unselfish, aggressive player that GM’s covet. And it’s not just intangibles that Green brings to the table. His all-around contributions would improve any roster. This past season he just missed becoming the second player in NBA history to tally at least 110 blocks, 110 steals and 110 three-pointers in the same season
4. Paul Millsap – Unrestricted:
Millsap had to settle last time he hit free agency. He ended up signing a two-year deal with Atlanta for just $19 million. Millsap was named an All-Star in each of his two seasons with the Hawks, and will be looking to cash in with a lucrative long-term deal this summer. However, is Atlanta willing to pony up to keep their core together (DeMarre Carroll is also a free agent this summer)?
5. Tristan Thompson – Restricted:
There was a lot of debate last summer when Thompson reportedly rejected a four-year, $52 million offer from Cleveland. Many pundits felt it was a foolish decision. Well, after Kevin Love was injured in the Cavs opening round series versus Boston, Thompson has been playing arguably the best basketball of his career. In the process, he is proving just how valuable he is to Cleveland. The league’s best offensive rebounder has boosted his stock considerably in the process.
6. Josh Smith – Unrestricted:
While Smith still uses his length and athleticism to contribute defensively, his offensive game is so inconsistent and inefficient that the net returns aren’t always positive. Consider this: In 2013-14, Smith was the only qualifying player in the NBA to shoot below 42 percent from the field and below 55 percent from the free-throw line. Then, last season, Smith did it again. And, again, he was the only player in this ignominious club. A team will inevitably take a chance on his upside, but how much will a prudent GM be willing to gamble?
7. David West – Player Option:
One of the most respected professionals in the sport, West’s significant contributions are not limited to what he does on the floor. West’s role as a mentor and team leader greatly increases his value and overall worth.
8. Thaddeus Young – Player Option:
Young doesn’t have any one particular skill that will bowl you over, but he contributes across the board. He’s been stuck playing for bad teams the last few seasons, which has depressed his value as he’s been forced into a larger role than he’d prefer. A player like Young excels when he can thrive as a complementary piece of a bigger puzzle (as he did with the Nets after coming to Brooklyn in the Kevin Garnett trade). A long, lengthy defender, Young can guard numerous positions, and also contribute on the offensive end of the floor as well. During the 2013-14 season, he became the first player in eight years to average at least 17 points, six rebounds and two steals over the course of a full NBA campaign.
9. Brandon Bass – Unrestricted:
Bass posted solid numbers again for the Celtics last season, averaging 10.6 points and 5 rebounds in just 23.5 minutes a night. He’s an underrated veteran.
10. Amir Johnson – Unrestricted:
He’s played 10 seasons in the NBA, but he still just 28 years old. We know what Johnson is at this stage of the game: A solid rotation player with some obvious limitations.
11. Jordan Hill – Team Option:
While he wasn’t quite as efficient this past season as he was in 2013-14, Hill posted career highs across the board in 2014-15, scoring 12 points and grabbing 7.9 rebounds per game.
12. Ed Davis – Player Option:
Davis slid through the cracks last summer and had to settle for a low-ball offer from the L.A. Lakers. After a decent season in L.A., he’ll be a free agent again this summer.
13. Carlos Boozer – Unrestricted:
Boozer is clearly nearing the end of a solid NBA career (he’ll celebrate his 34 birthday early next season), but he still averaged a very respectable 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in under 24 minutes per game last season.
14. Andrea Bargnani – Unrestricted:
He never lived up they hype as the No. 1 overall selection in Toronto. And Knicks fans booed him soundly, largely because Knicks management foolishly sacrificed a first-round pick to acquire him. However, outlandish expectations aside, Bargnani can be a decent and useful player if used properly and in moderation.
15. Andray Blatche – Unrestricted:
Blatche played overseas last season, but was a solid role player off Brooklyn’s bench in 2013-14. For his NBA career (9 seasons) he’s averaged 18.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per-36 minutes.
16. Amar’e Stoudemire – Unrestricted:
He’ll turn 33 next year, and he was a poor defender even when healthy and in his prime. However, he will always be able to provide efficient offense off the bench. Also, he’s a solid character guy. Nobody works harder to keep himself in shape and in the league.
17. Thomas Robinson – Unrestricted:
He’s played for four teams in three seasons. Can the former top-5 pick prove he isn’t a bust (the Kings selected him one spot ahead of Damian Lillard in the 2012 draft)?
18. Kevin Garnett – Unrestricted:
Does KG head back to Minny for one last season as a player/ mentor?
19. Luis Scola – Unrestricted:
The 35-year old has been incredibly durable during his eight NBA seasons. He’s played in 631 out of a possible 640 games (98.5%).
20. Tyler Hansbrough – Unrestricted:
Obviously limited on the offensive end, Hansbrough still finds a way to contribute by understanding and embracing his role as a rebounder, defender and screen-setter.
21. Jason Smith – Unrestricted:
Smith bounced back from knee surgery and showed he was 100% healthy this past season. He utilized his effective mid-range game to post respectable numbers for the Knicks.
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