NBA AM: Looking At The Free Agent Tiers

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Looking At The Free Agent Tiers

While July 1 is still a bit down the road, it’s never too early to start looking at the free agent class, especially with so much money heading into the NBA free agent market this summer.

Recently on Twitter, I assembled something of a tier list of the top free agents, not just in terms of their current ability but in terms of how coveted they may be in July.

In total there are 270 players who logged time in the NBA this season that will have the chance to hit free agency in July. Some of those players hold team friendly option years, so they may not hit the market, but the bulk of the names on these lists likely are available to field offers come midnight on July 1.

So here is the top tier, listed in no particular order, including their current team and their salary last season.

The Top Tier

Rajon Rondo  Sacramento Kings  $9,500,000
Mike Conley  Memphis Grizzlies  $9,388,426
Jordan Clarkson  Los Angeles Lakers  $845,059
Dwyane Wade  Miami Heat  $20,000,000
Evan Fournier  Orlando Magic  $2,288,205
Kent Bazemore  Atlanta Hawks  $2,000,000
Kevin Durant  Oklahoma City Thunder  $20,158,622
DeMar DeRozan  Toronto Raptors  $10,150,000
Bradley Beal  Washington Wizards  $5,694,674
LeBron James  Cleveland Cavaliers  $22,970,500
Harrison Barnes  Golden State Warriors  $3,873,398
Chandler Parsons  Dallas Mavericks  $15,361,500
Nicolas Batum  Charlotte Hornets  $13,125,306
Al Horford  Atlanta Hawks  $12,000,000
Dirk Nowitzki  Dallas Mavericks  $8,333,334
Bismack Biyombo  Toronto Raptors  $2,814,000
Andre Drummond  Detroit Pistons  $3,272,091
Dwight Howard  Houston Rockets  $22,359,364
Hassan Whiteside  Miami Heat  $981,348

Here is the next tier, also listed in no particular order, including their current team and their salary last season.

The Second Tier

Deron Williams  Dallas Mavericks  $5,378,974
Ty Lawson  Indiana Pacers  $211,744
Mario Chalmers  Free Agents  $4,300,000
Norris Cole  New Orleans Pelicans  $3,036,928
Jarrett Jack  Brooklyn Nets  $6,300,000
Jeremy Lin  Charlotte Hornets  $2,139,000
D.J. Augustin  Denver Nuggets  $3,000,000
Brandon Jennings  Orlando Magic  $8,344,497
Austin Rivers  Los Angeles Clippers  $3,110,796
Mo Williams  Cleveland Cavaliers  $2,100,000
Shaun Livingston  Golden State Warriors  $5,543,725
Matt Dellavedova  Cleveland Cavaliers  $1,147,276
Seth Curry  Sacramento Kings  $947,276
Courtney Lee  Charlotte Hornets  $5,675,000
Gerald Henderson  Portland Trail Blazers  $6,000,000
Dion Waiters  Oklahoma City Thunder  $5,138,430
Jerryd Bayless  Milwaukee Bucks  $3,000,000
Wayne Ellington  Brooklyn Nets  $1,500,000
Lance Stephenson  Memphis Grizzlies  $9,000,000
Jamal Crawford  Los Angeles Clippers  $5,675,000
Eric Gordon  New Orleans Pelicans  $15,514,031
J.R. Smith  Cleveland Cavaliers  $5,000,000
Arron Afflalo  New York Knicks  $8,000,000
Jared Dudley  Washington Wizards  $4,375,000
Evan Turner  Boston Celtics  $3,425,510
Allen Crabbe  Portland Trail Blazers  $947,276
Joe Johnson  Miami Heat  $261,894
Jeff Green  Los Angeles Clippers  $9,300,000
Luol Deng  Miami Heat  $10,151,612
Maurice Harkless  Portland Trail Blazers  $2,894,059
Marvin Williams  Charlotte Hornets  $7,000,000
Jared Sullinger  Boston Celtics  $2,269,260
Jon Leuer  Phoenix Suns  $1,035,000
David Lee  Dallas Mavericks  $2,085,671
Terrence Jones  Houston Rockets  $2,489,530
Pau Gasol  Chicago Bulls  $7,448,760
Ersan Ilyasova  Orlando Magic  $7,900,000
Derrick Williams  New York Knicks  $4,400,000
Ryan Anderson  New Orleans Pelicans  $8,500,000
Zaza Pachulia  Dallas Mavericks  $5,200,000
Joakim Noah  Chicago Bulls  $13,400,000
Timofey Mozgov  Cleveland Cavaliers  $4,950,000
Marreese Speights  Golden State Warriors  $3,815,000
Festus Ezeli  Golden State Warriors  $2,008,748
Jordan Hill  Indiana Pacers  $4,000,000
Al Jefferson  Charlotte Hornets  $13,500,000

The third tier was a little lengthy and included a lot of players that were on ten-day deals. You can find the complete 2016 NBA Free Agent list here.

The Celtics’ Plan

While most NBA executives tend to bury their heads in the proverbial sand during the offseason, Celtics President and General Manager Danny Ainge continues to be one of the more visible and vocal executives in basketball.

Ainge sat down with WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Sunday night and revealed some of his thoughts on the draft and his team’s pending free agency windfall.

“I’m excited about the No. 3 pick,” Ainge said. “I would have been excited that night if you had told me before the night started that’s the pick we were getting. For a minute, I let my mind drift to getting the one or two. It certainly doesn’t have the same cachet in trade conversations of trying to get better quicker, so it sets that back or we would have to give up more than the No. 1 or 2 overall pick. But there are good players if we end up using that pick. We’re excited about the potential players.”

Most insiders believe that after LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram come off the board, the options for the Celtics could be wide ranging including international big man Dragan Bender.

“I can’t talk about any players in particular, but a player that is going to take time to develop or a player who may not come to the NBA for a year or two, if we feel he’s the best player we have to take him. We can’t let a player slip by us just because it doesn’t fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see someone exciting,” he said. “We have to pick the best player under any circumstance. There are too many examples of really good players that fans haven’t been excited about. When Kristaps Porzingis was drafted by New York, fans were booing all over the place and we didn’t understand. When I was in Phoenix and we drafted Steve Nash, we were booed.

“You can’t base your decisions on what the public thinks and what other people think you should do. You just really have to use your experience, your work and eyes, and we communicate all the time the best road for us to go,” said Ainge.

The Celtics have a solid core of players, but Ainge understands being middle of the East isn’t good enough and that everyone involved wants to see significant improvement.

“Right now, we’re trying to become a better team as fast as we can without selling out. We want to become a more significant team this upcoming year, and at the same time we want to build something that is sustainable for a long period of time,” Ainge said.

“Ownership would like to see something happen faster and I know my coaches and players want to see something faster. I’ve been in their positions and I get it, I want to see something faster too. But I have to protect us from doing something irrational, from doing something that gets us a little bit better. If it’s something that gets us to being a true championship contender faster, we’re all for it. As long as it’s a sustainable formula and not a one-year quick hit, sacrificing future assets,” he said. “Everything depends on how much money a player wants, how many assets you have to give up to get that person. There are a lot of what ifs, and that’s what we’ll be doing the next six weeks, trying to figure out what’s available to us. The things we like to do we still have to find partners for, which is very challenging.”

The Celtics are one of 24 NBA teams that will have ample free agent money to spend, and while having cap space is normally a good thing, this year there may be too much money available to make smart deals.

“There is a lot of money out there because of the new TV contract that is kicking it. It’s going to be challenge and is sort of a new territory for the NBA. I think two-thirds of the league can offer at least one max contract, which has never happened before. We’re a team that can offer two max contracts, but there aren’t that many max contract players on the market. The competition is going to be fierce,” said Ainge.

“We have plans that we would like to do and that we’ll do everything we can to try and do, but there are no guarantees in any of that. It’s my job to pull the brakes back and make sure we don’t do something stupid that will hurt our team in the long run.”

The Celtics are one of the teams angling for a free agent meeting with Thunder star Kevin Durant and Grizzlies guard Mike Conley. Neither are expected to move from where they are, but the Celtics are hoping that another run through the draft, their current roster and the means to build around incoming free agents might be appealing enough for Boston to not only get a meeting, but win out a free agent frenzy.

The Celtics were one of the team linked to Atlanta’s Al Horford at the trade deadline and there is a belief that if Durant and Conley come off the board, the Celtics may have interest in Houston’s Dwight Howard.

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