NBA's Best Expiring Contracts After 2012-2013 Season
The buzz during 2012 NBA free agency currently surrounds the whereabouts of Deron Williams and Steve Nash. Plenty of teams around the NBA have been linked to those two star point guards in an effort to improve their roster moving forward, but other teams have slunk into the shadows, conceivably in an effort to make a big splash during the 2013 offseason.
A hoard of NBA stars and solid players are now entering the final years of their current contracts and will be in the same position as Nash and Williams are a year from now.
Here's a list of the biggest-name NBA players who will be free agents after next season when their contracts expire.
Note: This list will look to avoid talented, young NBA players (Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Ricky Rubio, Kenneth Faried, etc.) who have team options after next season because their respective teams are all but guaranteed to exercise those team options or extend those players to multi-year deals.
30. Sam Dalembert, C, Milwaukee Bucks
Sam Dalembert is by no means an elite NBA center, but his career averages of 8.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game are better than most.
After the trade that sent Dalembert from the Houston Rockets over to the Milwaukee Bucks, the 6'11" Haitian will be trying to fill the role Andrew Bogut held in Milwaukee for so long.
Dalembert has one more year left on his current deal and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.
He likely won't be one of the most sought-after free agents, as he'll be 32 years old by next summer, but he'll certainly get a look from teams hoping to add size.
29. Devin Harris, PG, Atlanta Hawks
After new Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry shipped Joe Johnson to Brooklyn in order to rid Atlanta of his grisly contract, Ferry made a similar move to shed cap space, moving Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for point guard Devin Harris.
Harris is entering the final year of his current contract, which is likely what made him so appealing to Ferry and the Hawks at this juncture.
The former fifth overall pick has had a hard time gaining traction in the NBA to this point. His best years came in Dallas before he was used as the main piece in the Jason Kidd trade.
It appears unlikely that the Hawks will keep him past next season, so for teams interested, the 2013 offseason will be their chance.
28. David West, PF, Indiana Pacers
It's safe to say that David West's best years are now behind him.
West put up extremely impressive numbers while a member of the New Orleans Hornets, but that's likely due to the fact that he had Chris Paul (the best point guard in the game) as his teammate.
West recorded 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in his final year in New Orleans before watching his stats dip to 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in his first year up north in Indiana.
West will be 33 years old by the start of the 2013-2014 season, so his age doesn't work in his favor.
With that said, there will still be suitors knocking at his door, but his production in his contract year will likely decide the contract he gets next summer.
27. Tony Allen, SG, Memphis Grizzlies
If you're looking for a guard with offensive prowess next summer, continue the slideshow. However, Tony Allen more than makes up for his offensive shortcomings with his defensive abilities.
Allen is one the best perimeter defenders in the NBA today. He's gained a reputation as a defensive stopper who will be coveted by numerous contending teams next summer.
It will be interesting to see whether the Grizzlies want to keep Allen moving forward or hand over shooting guard duties to O.J. Mayo full-time after next season (if he re-signs this offseason).
26. Jarrett Jack, PG, New Orleans Hornets
It certainly appears as if Jarrett Jack's time in a Hornets uniform is drawing to a close.
Jack had a solid year last season for the Hornets as one of the veteran leaders on a young Hornets squad. Jack took over the starting point guard role from Chris Paul (no easy task) and played admirably, averaging 15.6 points and 6.3 assists per game.
Entering the final year of his contract, Jack will likely be asked to mentor rookie guard Austin Rivers, conceivably in an effort to help Rivers develop as a point guard alongside Eric Gordon (if the Hornets match the offer the Phoenix Suns made for the restricted free agent).
25. Dorell Wright, SF, Golden State Warriors
Following a disappointing year last season, Dorell Wright enters the final year of his contract next season.
Unfortunately for Wright, he may have already lost his starting job in Golden State to first-round draft choice Harrison Barnes.
If Wright has any hopes of impressing would-be suitors, he'll need to return to his 2010 form. However, that will be extremely difficult with Barnes developing into a young rotation.
With that said, Wright can defend and spread the floor with his outside shooting (when it's not slumping).
24. Jeff Teague, PG, Atlanta Hawks
Type: Restricted ($3.5 million qualifying offer)
During his first and second years in the NBA, Jeff Teague didn't notch consistent minutes and only started 10 games over that two-year span.
Last season, Teague started all 66 regular-season games with the Atlanta Hawks, but didn't exactly put up great numbers.
In 33.1 minutes per game, Teague averaged 12.6 points, 4.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. Considering that Teague was the Hawks' unquestioned starting point guard, it's frustrating that he didn't run with the opportunity to put up bigger numbers.
Nevertheless, Teague was utilized in a system dominated by isolation offense via Joe Johnson and Al Horford. It will be interesting to see what numbers Teague puts up next season in his contract year, especially now that Johnson will no longer be there to dominate the offensive flow.
23. Rodrigue Beaubois, G, Dallas Mavericks
Type: Restricted ($3.3 million qualifying offer)
Rodrigue Beaubois has shown flashes of being a great player with the Dallas Mavericks in the early going of his career.
It seems likely that the Mavs will want to bring Beaubois back after next season, considering he represents all the youth on the roster (excluding 2012 draft picks).
Beaubois will probably garner a lot of suitors next summer, but ultimately, the Mavs have the final say over the restricted free agent.
Since it seems likely that Jason Terry will leave Dallas for the Boston Celtics, Beaubois may have the opportunity to put up big numbers in his contract year.
22. Darren Collison, PG, Indiana Pacers
Type: Restricted ($3.3 million qualifying offer)
Darren Collison is one of many talented, young point guards on this list set to be restricted free agents next summer.
The former UCLA Bruin has put up solid numbers during his first three NBA seasons, but last season was a disappointment.
Collison averaged 10.3 points and 4.8 assists per game last season (both career lows).
If Collison plans on earning a big contract next summer, he'll need to return to his former self.
21. Taj Gibson, PF, Chicago Bulls
Type: Restricted ($3.2 million qualifying offer)
Where Marcin Gortat gained notoriety as the best backup center in basketball years ago with the Orlando Magic, I think Taj Gibson has the title of best backup power forward in basketball behind Carlos Boozer on the Chicago Bulls.
There's a chance that the Bulls could choose to use the amnesty clause on Boozer moving forward to avoid luxury tax issues. If they choose to do so, Gibson will likely take over as the new starter.
As it stands, Gibson is a talented role player on a very good team. When his contract runs out after next season, there will be plenty of teams looking for his services.
Even though he'll be a restricted free agent, the Bulls will have a difficult time keeping him around if they don't take somebody's contract off the books soon.
20. Kevin Martin, SG, Houston Rockets
The sharpshooting Kevin Martin will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
Martin has played for the Sacramento Kings and the Houston Rockets and been an effective scorer in both situations.
Although Martin doesn't provide much other than scoring the ball, there are plenty of teams in the NBA who need a player who can score 20 points or more on any given night.
It appears unlikely that Martin is in the Rockets' future plans, so expect him to be changing uniforms next summer unless he gets traded beforehand.
19. Lamar Odom, SF, Los Angeles Clippers
On top of coming off the worst statistical season of his career (6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game) and getting traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, Lamar Odom will also enter the final year of his contract back in his comfort city of Los Angeles.
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Clippers work out a contract extension to keep Odom in town, but he'll have to prove that he can still play at a high level (something he didn't do all last year in Dallas) to garner another big contract before his retirement.
18. Nikola Pekovic, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
After a breakout year last season in which the 26-year-old center notched 13.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, Nikola Pekovic will look to improve upon that output as the Minnesota Timberwolves' starting center next season.
Pekovic is built like a Sequoia tree, but is surprisingly athletic for his size.
He has an impressive low-post game and even recorded a 30-point, 12-rebound effort last season.
In a league where game-changing centers have becoming an increasing rarity, look for Pekovic to find himself a hefty contract next summer.
17. Paul Millsap, PF, Utah Jazz
Despite being buried on the Utah Jazz's depth chart throughout his career behind Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap has carved a nice niche in the NBA as an extremely productive player when given the minutes.
Millsap is entering the final year of his contract this season and could end up being a huge pickup for a team next summer.
Millsap averaged a career-high 8.8 rebounds this past season.
16. Jose Calderon, PG, Toronto Raptors
Jose Calderon's present in the NBA is already a question mark, so it seems redundant to talk about his future.
Calderon's time in a Raptors uniform could end sooner rather than later, considering that the Spaniard may be amnestied by Toronto, according to Rotoworld.
Calderon has had trouble staying healthy throughout his NBA career, but his 8.8 assists per game last season ranked him fourth in the league in that category.
Calderon is a well-established floor general in the NBA, so many teams will look to add his services, whether that's next summer or sooner.
15. DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, Toronto Raptors
Type: Restricted ($4.5 million qualifying offer)
The hyper-athletic young swingman, DeMar DeRozan, will become a restricted free agent after next season.
DeRozan will turn just 23 years old in August, so he's one of the youngest players set to hit the market next summer.
He averaged 16.7 points and 3.3 rebounds last year for the Toronto Raptors.
Since the Raptors recently lost out on the Steve Nash sweepstakes, look for them to do anything possible to sign DeRozan to an extension before he hits the market.
14. Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets
Type: Restricted ($3.6 million qualifying offer)
The former 18th overall pick in the draft, Ty Lawson was the third point guard taken just by the Minnesota Timberwolves (behind Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio).
To this point, it can be argued that although Lawson was picked behind those two other point guards, he's had the most productive career of the three. Granted, Rubio has only spent one injury-troubled year in the NBA, but even so, Lawson has been impressive.
Lawson will be a restricted free agent in 2013. Although I'd bet that Denver would like to keep him, he could find a contract elsewhere that the Nuggets could choose not to match.
13. Tyreke Evans, G, Sacramento Kings
Type: Restricted ($6.9 million qualifying offer)
After a stellar rookie year in which he averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game, Tyreke Evans has regressed in all three of those categories since then.
Evans takes a lot of ill-advised shots, which could have led to his dip in scoring production.
There are also concerns about whether Evans fits better as a point guard or shooting guard at the NBA level.
He's proven in the past that he can score in bunches, so he'll be one of the more sought-after free agents in 2013.
Whether or not the Kings choose to bring back the restricted free agent, however, seems to be a mystery at this point.
12. Serge Ibaka, PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Type: Restricted ($3.2 million qualifying offer)
Although Serge Ibaka is set to be a restricted free agent after next season, the chances he's able to stay in OKC seem remote.
Ibaka's 3.7 blocks per game a season ago were good for tops in the league. He's one of the NBA's top young talents, and with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook already under contract with Oklahoma City, it seems Ibaka would have to take a pay cut to stick around.
If he chooses money over the chance to play with a potential dynasty, don't be surprised if Ibaka switches teams next summer.
11. Al Jefferson, PF/C, Utah Jazz
In my opinion, Al Jefferson is one of the most underrated and unappreciated players in the NBA today. Although he is no longer the dominant player he was on those bad Minnesota Timberwolves teams, he's still a great player who can fill up the stat sheet.
After eight NBA seasons, Jefferson has only made it to the postseason once (resulting in a sweep to the San Antonio Spurs last season).
I wouldn't be shocked to see Jefferson leave money on the table next summer in order to join a contender after playing for so many lackluster teams.
10. Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Type: Restricted ($3.8 million qualifying offer)
Jrue Holiday has asserted himself as one of the top 15 point guards in the NBA today, but he still needs to find more consistency. On numerous occasions throughout the year, Holiday would follow a solid performance with a poor one, which is something he needs to correct.
CBS Sports is reporting that Holiday is currently seeking a max contract, but I'm not sure the Sixers will be too keen to oblige him at this juncture.
If Holiday plays out next season without signing an extension, he'll be a restricted free agent.
Ultimately, the Sixers have the final say no matter what, but Holiday would help himself by saving a career year for his contract year.
9. Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors
Type: Restricted ($5.3 million qualifying offer)
Stephen Curry is, without question, one of the best shooters in the NBA today.
However, he has struggled to stay healthy due to ankle issues, and we're not yet sure if he fits better as a point guard or shooting guard (a la Tyreke Evans).
If Golden State has plans of parting ways with Curry following next season, it'd be better off trading the young star to get value in return.
If the Warriors plan on keeping him past next season, they ultimately have the final say, as he'll be a restricted free agent.
8. Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee Bucks
Type: Restricted ($4.3 million qualifying offer)
Brandon Jennings is one of the best score-first point guards in the game today.
Although he has a reputation for having an erratic play style, Jennings only recorded 2.2 turnovers per game a season ago (one of the lowest totals for a guy who handles the ball as often as Jennings).
I'd be surprised if Jennings wasn't offered a max contract somewhere next summer, so the Milwaukee Bucks need to start planning if they want to match that.
If not, they would be smart to trade Jennings so they don't lose him for nothing in return.
7. Manu Ginobili, SG, San Antonio Spurs
As is the case with guys like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, I simply can't see Manu Ginobili changing uniforms, even if he is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Ginobili will be 35 years old later this summer, but again, he's spent his entire career in San Antonio, so I can't see him going elsewhere.
With that said, stranger things have happened in the NBA.
6. Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers
According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the Los Angeles Clippers and Blake Griffin have agreed to a five-year, $95 million extension. As a result, Griffin will not be a free agent next summer.
Type: Restricted ($9.4 million qualifying offer)
Blake Griffin is the face of Lob City, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Los Angeles Clippers offer him a contract extension before he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.
As a restricted free agent, I doubt the Clips would let Griffin get away anyway, but it's worth noting that he's entering the final year of his current contract.
Also note that the Clippers are planning to sign Griffin to an extension on July 11.
5. Josh Smith, SF/PF, Atlanta Hawks
Josh Smith has been associated with trade rumors for a long time now, so if he gets traded, I'd expect him to be signed to an extension with his new team.
However, if he remains in a Hawks uniform or if the team that trades for him decides not to extend his contract for whatever reason, he'll be entering the final year of his current deal.
If Smith makes it to next summer without signing a new deal, he'll be one of the most talked-about free agents of next year's class.
4. James Harden, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Type: Restricted ($7.6 million qualifying offer)
The Oklahoma City Thunder will have some big decisions to make next summer.
In addition to the shot-blocking big man Serge Ibaka, the man with the most famous beard in the NBA, James Harden, will also be a restricted free agent next summer.
Logically speaking, the Thunder will only be able to sign one of those two guys to keep alongside Durant and Westbrook moving forward (unless they choose to take less money).
Should the Thunder focus on bringing back Harden or Ibaka? A tough decision indeed.
3. Andrew Bynum, C, Los Angeles Lakers
Andrew Bynum had a tremendous breakout year last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, but teams around the NBA will still be apprehensive about signing him given his injury-prone past.
If Bynum can put up similar numbers next season while staying healthy again, he'll do wonders for his worth on the open market.
When healthy, Bynum is one of the top centers in the game today (probably the second-best center in the NBA behind Dwight Howard).
Bynum will likely get offered a max contract if he can prove to people around the league that he can stay consistently healthy.
There's no guarantee he'll be back with the Lakers, considering he will not be a restricted free agent.
Look for the Lakers to try and sign him to an extension soon if he isn't traded this summer.
2. Dwight Howard, C, Orlando Magic
You don't need me to tell you about the trade rumors surrounding Dwight Howard at the moment.
Although some teams (like the Houston Rockets) wouldn't require Howard to sign an extension right away after a trade, other teams won't pull the trigger on a deal unless they get a promise from Howard saying he'll sign on long-term.
There's still a good possibility that Howard will find the right landing spot and sign an extension, but if he doesn't, he'll be a free agent next summer with the freedom to sign anywhere with money.
1. Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers
Along with Dwight Howard (should Howard make it to next summer without signing an extension), Chris Paul will be one of the most sought-after and talked-about free agents next summer.
Paul seems to be happy with his current situation in Los Angeles, turning around a seemingly hexed Clippers franchise, but there's always a chance that he could sign elsewhere.
It's unclear whether or not Paul plans to sign an extension with the Clippers this season or wait to test free agency after his contract year.
However, if he decides to test free agency, we can be sure that the talk surrounding the star point guard will dominate next year's offseason.
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