For every 9,000 or so articles about where LeBron James may or may not be heading this summer, there’s an article about “the other guys”. Excluding players who are under team option, here are the best 16 free agents for NBA teams to target this summer.
16. Trevor Ariza
At age 32, Trevor Ariza has been in the league 14 seasons now. Assuming he still has some years left in the tank, free agent suitors know exactly what they are getting. Ariza is a solid three-and-D guy who shoots somewhere between 35 and 40 percent from deep while grabbing 1.5 to 2.0 steals a game.
15. Milos Teodosic
The 31-year old Serbian proved that he can play at the NBA level after spending his first NBA season with the Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 9.5 points and 4.6 assists while shooting 38% from deep in just 25 minutes per game. He has a player option for the 2018-19 season, so if he doesn’t choose to stay with the Clippers to finish his contract, than some team could swoop in and pick up a nice player with far more professional experience than his one year in Los Angeles.
14. Carmelo Anthony
At the beginning of the 2016-17 season, Carmelo was upset with SLAM Magazine when they ranked him the 15th best player in the NBA. Well, sorry Melo, it’s less than two years later and you’re lucky to crack the top 15 in the free agency class. Carmelo had his worst season shooting the ball going just 40.4 % from the field. However, he can still be useful as a scorer off the bench, the problem is that he most likely won’t embrace that type of role.
13. Will Barton
If you haven’t kept up with the Denver Nuggets, then you’re missing out on a fun basketball team. With Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris headlining the next generation of Nuggets basketball. Will Barton will most likely be forgotten about. Since joining the Nuggets in the 2014-15 season, Barton has steadily improved this game. He finished the 2017-18 season with career highs in points (15.7), assists, (4.1), and field goal percentage (.452), and three point field goal percentage (37.0).
12. J.J. Redick
Remember back when people were calling JJ Redick a bust early in his career? Me neither, because social media more or less didn’t exist (it did, but not the way it is now). It took JJ until his fifth season just to crack double digit figures scoring per game. Redick has steadily improved throughout his 12 seasons leading to a career high 17.1 points per game with the Sixers this year. I doubt anybody will want to give him $23 million again like the Sixers did this season, but he’ll surely find a city somewhere to bury threes in.
11. Brook Lopez
No longer on a terrible Nets team, Brook Lopez settled into a more complementary role with the Lakers. He may be the worst rebounding seven-footer I’ve ever seen, but the guy still has some skills. While struggling with rebounding, he can still get over a block per game, and has extended his range outside the arc over the last two years. His lack of minutes played with the Lakers, along with his lack of ego, may help one lucky team get him at a bargain price.
10. Rudy Gay
I don’t know what to say about Rudy Gay. The guy has proven he’s a good to very good NBA player, but where ever he plays, the team he’s on just isn’t relevant. He left Memphis before Gasol and Conley peaked. He left Toronto before Toronto started to perennially contend, Sacramento…blah, and then he goes to San Antonio, where they run into the Warriors in round 1. He’s never been to a conference finals, and hasn’t been past the first round of the playoffs since the 2010-11 season. Apparently (based on where he’s played) Rudy doesn’t like the big markets, so expect him to stay in San Antonio or go somewhere like Orlando, Milwaukee, or Portland.
9. Enes Kanter
As a New York Knicks fan, I loved what I saw in Kanter this season. Everytime I looked at his stats it seemed like he was matching his points and rebounds; 20 and 20, 18 and 18, 14 and 14. Kanter brings passion, energy, and a solid post game to the table. It seems like he’s been around forever, but going into his 9th season, he’s only 26 years old. Please stay in New York Enes! We need someone to keep LeBron in his place when he starts playing that bottle flip game. Not in our house Enes!
8. Rajon Rondo
Written off as a problem child, Rondo is still one of the best pure passers in the game. If someone ever could have taught this guy a jump shot, he would’ve been a lot closer to a Chris Paul type of talent. Still, paired with the right players, Rondo can be very valuable as he showed in the first two rounds of the playoffs this past season. If he were to switch teams again this season, it would be his sixth team in five seasons. If he’s willing to take a modest contract, I think he’s found a home in New Orleans with two superstar big men in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
7. Isaiah Thomas
Ranking IT was tough. Is he the IT from Boston or the IT we saw in Cleveland and LA? That may all depend on where he decides to sign. Thomas had a very poor year overall, but started to show signs of his former self during the second half of the season with the Lakers. With the possibility of LeBron or Paul George coming to Los Angeles, Thomas may be on the move yet again.
6. Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley is too good of a player to be getting bounced around the way he is. For whatever reason, he could see his fourth team in under a two-year period if he decides to move on from the Clippers. Bradley is one of the best two-way players in the game. He can shoot nearly 40% from beyond-the-arc, and lock up players at the one, two, or three spot. Despite having surgery to end his 2017-18 season, someone will pony up to sign Bradley.
5. DeAndre Jordan
Here we go again with DJ and the free agency talk. Jordan famously backed out of a verbal agreement to sign with the Dallas Mavericks in 2015, and unbelievably, the Mavs are still interested. Whoever winds up with Jordan will get one of the best rebounders and defenders in the game. He’s even improved his free throw percentage to 58 after being below 50 percent for most of his career, making him less of a liability late in games where teams would occasionally employ the hack-a-DeAndre strategy.
4. Paul George
The all-star forward has been swirling in rumors of heading to his hometown (Los Angeles) with LeBron. The question is whether or not George believes he can get anywhere with Russell Westbrook as his teammate. No matter what, it appears that PG will be teaming up with somebody better than himself for the 2018-19 season.
3. Chris Paul
The final three players are all expected to stay where they played last season. Despite that, who knows what will happen next season. Paul says he would turn down a max-contract offer to stay in Houston, but until you have the real opportunity to sign the dotted line for $40 million a year…sometimes money talks…
2. DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins was extremely motivated watching his team wipe the floor with the Blazers in the first round than (sort of) compete with the Warriors in round 2, so he’ll most likely sign a deal to stay in New Orleans. With Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Rajon Rondo by his side, this Pelicans team will continue to improve over the next four to five years.
1. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is coming off of back to back titles and Finals MVPs in his first two years with Golden State. He’s already expressed his interest to stay in the Bay Area and GM Bob Myers in a direct quote said he would give Durant “whatever he wants.” Durant will have the opportunity to sign a long-term deal that could be worth in the $150-$250 million range, and possibly more. Yup…it’s pretty good to be Kevin Durant right now.