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2015 NBA Free Agents By Tiers

A thorough breakdown of the potential free agents for this upcoming summer.

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A number of teams may have serious spending power this summer including the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic.

As many as 22 teams may have $10 million or more to spend, but some would rather keep their own than face the prospect of losing a star.

The salary cap may climb to roughly $67 million for the 2015-16 season.  Player options and free agent decisions will determine how rich or shallow the free agent pool will be — and which teams have room to go shopping.

The following is a list of prospective NBA free agents, by tier:

Top of the List

LeBron James (player option) – Cleveland Cavaliers – It would be shocking for James to leave Cleveland after his impassioned return home.

The two-time NBA champion has an option at $21.6 million for next season.  If he does opt out, it might be to sign another two-year deal, with yet another player option.

The salary cap is expected to jump significantly in 2016; James may want to add one conditional year to his contract, as insurance for serious injury.

If James flipped the script and was truly looking for a new home, any and every team would be interested.

All-Stars

Marc Gasol – Memphis Grizzlies – Gasol was voted in for the first time as an All-Star starter.  The center will be eligible for a salary starting in the $18 million range.

Re-signing with the Grizzlies seems likely, although free agency can be full of surprises.

LaMarcus Aldridge – Portland Trail Blazers – There was a time where Aldridge wanted out of Portland, but point guard Damian Lillard has quickly developed into a great partner for the veteran power forward.  Similar to Gasol, Aldridge is eligible for roughly $18 million in the first year of his new deal — and seems likely to re-sign.

Jimmy Butler (restricted) – Chicago Bulls – The Bulls have the advantage with Butler, in that they can match any other team’s offer.  Expect Butler to get a max salary starting above $15 million a year.  If another team signs the first-time All-Star to an offer sheet, it’s hard to imagine the Bulls letting him leave at any price.

Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks are suddenly the best team in basketball, winning 18 straight.  Millsap is currently paid an economical $9.5 million but could be looking at a jump, as he’s eligible for that same $18 million starting salary this summer.  How much will the Hawks pay to keep this squad together?

Dwyane Wade (player option) – Miami HEAT – Wade is in the All-Star tier by reputation, and while he’s still a tremendous player, the three-time NBA champion may not be as desirous in free agency because of age (33-years old) and injury history.

Wade doesn’t seem likely to opt out of his remaining season at $16.1 million.

Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs – It’s either going to be retirement or more time in San Antonio for the veteran All-Star.

Kevin Love, a Tier to Himself

Kevin Love (player option) – Cleveland Cavaliers – Love has struggled to blend in with Kyrie Irving and James in Cleveland, but there’s still plenty of time for the power forward to prove his worth when he makes his playoff debut.

Love can opt out of his final season at $16.7 million, to make in the $18 million range.  If he does, a number of teams would love to have him as a top-two scoring option, instead of third on the Cavaliers.

Almost All-Stars

DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers – While his offense is based on lobs and put-backs, Jordan is one of the league’s top rebounders and shot blockers.  He’s looking at a bump up from his current salary of $11.4 million, perhaps as high as a max deal starting in the $18 million range.

Al Jefferson (player option) – Charlotte Hornets – Last season was the best of Jefferson’s career.  Injuries have slowed him down this year, which may or may not sway him to opt into his final year of his deal at $13.5 million.  Jefferson may find a payday this summer, should he choose to hit free agency.

Goran Dragic (player option) – Phoenix Suns – Dragic will certainly opt out of his final year at $7.5 million.  Will a team offer him a max salary near $18 million?  That might be high, but he’ll likely be able to get closer to the $12-14 million range.  Does he want to stay with the Suns, given the crowded backcourt with Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas?

Monta Ellis (player option) – Dallas Mavericks – Ellis is a bargain at $8.7 million for next season.  Opting out to seek a bigger deal seems inevitable, although a return to Dallas could be his fate.

Greg Monroe, on a Tier of His Own Too

Greg Monroe – Detroit Pistons – Monroe is a rarity, a player who took the Pistons’ qualifying offer and will avoid restricted free agency altogether.  Monroe will hit the market as a 25-year-old, following what has been a breakthrough season for him, especially after the departure of Josh Smith.

A maximum salary for Monroe should start in the $15 million range.

Former All-Stars

Rajon Rondo – Dallas Mavericks – Rondo and the Mavericks are still trying to feel each other out after the midseason trade that brought the 28-year-old point guard to Dallas.

Currently making $12.9 million, will Rondo find a suitor willing to pay closer to the maximum of $18 million?  How much will the Mavericks pay?

Roy Hibbert (player option) – Indiana Pacers – Hibbert can leave $15.5 million on the table to leave the Pacers.  While his offense and rebounding can be inconsistent, Hibbert is one of the tallest players in the league and a major defensive presence.  Expect the 28-year-old to opt out to explore free agency, although a return to Indiana may be in the cards.

Luol Deng (player option) – Miami HEAT – Deng can leave $10.2 million on the table to hit free agency, and might.  While he isn’t a superstar, Deng is still a versatile player and capable third option.

Tyson Chandler – Dallas Mavericks – Back with the Mavericks after some time in New York with the Knicks, Chandler has resurged, pulling down 12 rebounds a game while shooting 67 percent from the field.

Now 32-years-old, Dallas is really the right place for the veteran center, but for how much?

He’s currently in the final year of his deal at $14.8 million.

Brook Lopez (player option) – Brooklyn Nets – Lopez is one of the better scoring centers in the league, when healthy.  Alas, health has eluded him through much of his career.  The Nets are looking to trade Lopez before the deadline, which may or may not impact whether he opts into his final year at $16.7 million.

Health concerns make a price range for Lopez difficult to ascertain, but he may want to play another year on his existing contract before hitting the market.

David West (player option) – Indiana Pacers – Like Wade above, West isn’t quite in his prime any more but is still an impactful player.  His option to stay with the Pacers is $12.6 million.

Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs – Like Duncan, retirement or Spurs for Ginobili.

Restricted Free Agents

Tobias Harris (restricted) – Orlando Magic – Harris is atop the restricted list because he may be the most likely to sign an offer sheet with another team — putting on the onus on the Magic to match.  Harris’ salary may near $15 million in the first year, and while that’d be overpaying, that’s the nature of restricted free agency.

Kawhi Leonard (restricted) – San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs will keep Leonard at a $15 million starting salary.  He’s the future of the franchise, post-Duncan.

Draymond Green (restricted) – Golden State Warriors – Is there a team in the league who couldn’t use a Draymond Green?  The Warriors have to keep him, but would they do so at a maximum salary in the $15 million range?  They may have to.

Brandon Knight (restricted) – Milwaukee Bucks – Knight was in the All-Star conversation.  The Bucks have climbed from the worst team in the league last season to an above .500 playoff team in the Eastern Conference.  Knight may be too valuable for the Bucks to let him go.

Reggie Jackson (restricted) – Oklahoma City Thunder – The Thunder can’t afford to overpay Jackson to be a sub behind Russell Westbrook, which is why the young point guard may be traded before the deadline.  Jackson is probably an $8 million a season player based on potential (not track record), but restricted free agency can quickly lead to overpayment in the $12 million range.

Patrick Beverley (restricted) – Houston Rockets – Beverley may be one of the toughest point-guard defenders.  While he’s not as much of a force offensively, he’ll earn a nice contract this summer.

Tristan Thompson (restricted) – Cleveland Cavaliers – Thompson has one primary NBA skill, rebounding — which he does exceptionally well.  He’ll earn a nice paycheck, very possibly with the Cavaliers.

Enes Kanter (restricted) – Utah Jazz – Guessing the market for Kanter is tricky. He’s shown serious flashes and will cash in either in Utah or elsewhere on a rich offer sheet.

Strong Performers

Danny Green – San Antonio Spurs – Green is a crucial part of the Spurs’ core.  How crucial will be decided in free agency this summer.

Wesley Mathews – Portland Trail Blazers – Matthews is a prolific three-point shooter who likes to play defense.  Currently at $7.2 million, Matthews’ new deal will start over $8 million.

Arron Afflalo (player option) – Denver Nuggets – A solid two-way player, Afflalo will opt out of his $7.5 million salary for a multi-year deal.

Robin Lopez – Portland Trail Blazers – Lopez has been a strong fit next to Aldridge and is currently earning $6.1 million.  He’ll get a bump up in his next contract.

Jeff Green (player option) – Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies and Green have the rest of the season to feel each other out.  Regardless of fit, Green may opt out of his $9.2 million final season to land a longer-team deal.

Omer Asik – New Orleans Pelicans – Asik can’t score, but he can rebound.

Thaddeus Young (early termination option) – Minnesota Timberwolves – Young seems a lock to hit free agency, despite his $10 million salary next season.  Even if he takes a slight pay-cut in the first year, locking in a multi-year deal may make sense.

Amir Johnson – Toronto Raptors – A solid starter on one of the best teams in the East, Johnson should get a nice contract this summer.

Others

Kosta Koufos – Memphis Grizzlies

Josh Smith, Corey Brewer ($4.9 million player option) – Houston Rockets

Gerald Green, Brandan Wright – Phoenix Suns

Jordan Hill ($9 million team option), Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, Ed Davis ($1.1 million player option), Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington – Los Angeles Lakers

DeMarre Carroll. Pero Antic (restricted) – Atlanta Hawks

K.J. McDaniels (restricted) – Philadelphia 76ers

Lou Williams – Toronto Raptors

Marco Belinelli, Cory Joseph (restricted) – San Antonio Spurs

Joe Ingles (restricted) – Utah Jazz

Norris Cole (restricted) – Miami HEAT

Mirza Teletovic (restricted) – Brooklyn Nets

Derrick Williams (restricted) – Sacramento Kings

Andre Miller, Rasual Butler, Kevin Seraphin – Washington Wizards

Tayshaun Prince, Marcus Thornton, Brandon Bass – Boston Celtics

Gerald Henderson ($6 million player option), Gary Neal, Bismack Biyombo (restricted) – Charlotte Hornets

Mike Dunleavy, Aaron Brooks – Chicago Bulls

Matt Dellavedova (restricted), Iman Shumpert (restricted) – Cleveland Cavaliers

Khris Middleton (restricted) – Milwaukee Bucks

Mo Williams – Minnesota Timberwolves

Alexis Ajinca – New Orleans Pelicans

Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani – New York Knicks

The list of available players is longer than the above, including some sleepers who will undoubtedly make an impact during the 2015-16 season.

Free agency starts on July 1.

Eric Pincus is a Senior Writer for Basketball Insiders, with a focus on the business side of the game.

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