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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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