Previewing the 25 Biggest Names on the 2013 NBA Free-Agency Market

Brendan BowersContributor IIFebruary 28, 2013

Previewing the 25 Biggest Names on the 2013 NBA Free-Agency Market

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    In previewing the 25 biggest names on the 2013 NBA free-agency market, each player is ranked according to the impact he's capable of making next season. 

    This list includes both restricted and unrestricted free agents, noting all other mitigating factors like player options and early termination.

    The 2012-13 contract is also listed for unrestricted free agents, as is the qualifying offer for those restricted players, in order to provide some indication of what the market could be for each.

    In the cases of those players headlining this free-agency class, like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, however, those dollars are insignificant because they will ultimately be max-players wherever they land.

    The full list of all players eligible for free agency can be found at ESPN.com.

No. 25: J.J. Hickson, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $4,000,000

    J.J. Hickson has resurrected a career that saw him unceremoniously discharged from the Sacramento Kings last season.

    Starting at center for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2012-13, Hickson has averaged a double-double at 13.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per night.

    In doing so, he's played his way back into a multi-year NBA contract which I'd expect he signs later on this summer, once free agency begins.  

No. 24: Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $12,939,675 

    Kevin Martin has filled the void left by James Harden's departure in Oklahoma City much better than people seem to credit him for this season. 

    On 45.7 percent shooting from the floor, Martin has anchored the Thunder bench by averaging 14.8 points in 28.9 minutes per night. 

    He is also shooting a career-high 43.5 percent from three-point territory. At 30 years old this season, Martin's next multi-year contract could be his last.

    While that contract would be for the dollars Martin earned in the last one, the NBA veteran, who has averaged 18 points in nine NBA seasons, will have interest as an unrestricted free agent this summer. 

No. 23: Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks

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    Free Agent Type: Restricted

    Qualifying Offer: $3,469,556

    Jeff Teague has done enough this season to believe the Atlanta Hawks would match any reasonable offer the restricted free agent receives this summer. 

    Scoring 14.5 points per game to go along with 7.2 assists, the 24-year-old guard figures to be a piece the Hawks can build around moving forward. 

    His scoring and assist averages have improved in each of his four seasons, and this year Teague is shooting career-highs of 37.6 percent and 87.9 percent from the three-point and free-throw line respectively. 

No. 22: Jose Calderon, Detroit Pistons

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $11,046,591

    While we might look back in astonishment at the type of money Jose Calderon has earned over the last few seasons, he will still be met with significant interest as an unrestricted free agent this summer. 

    The 11.4 points and 7.4 assists he averaged for both the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons this year won't be met with the same type of dollars he made this season, but there will be teams inquiring about his services. 

    From what we've seen so far, it could be in the Pistons' best interest to keep Calderon in Detroit next season if they can do so at a reasonable number.  

No. 21: Ray Allen, Miami Heat

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    Free Agency Type: Unrestricted (P)

    Player Option: $3,229,050

    Ray Allen will be able to spot up and knock down shots from the three-point line well into his 50s.

    While the 37-year-old guard won't play long in the league, he certainly has another season's worth of three-balls to fire, and I'd expect he spends 2013-14 campaign as a member of the Miami Heat again.

    This season, Allen is averaging 11 points per game while shooting 42.7 percent from long range for the Eastern Conference's best team through Wednesday. 

No. 20: Mo Williams, Utah Jazz

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $8,500,000

    Mo Williams has now spent the majority of the 2012-13 season on the injury list. Not exactly the ideal way for an NBA player to spend his contract year.

    In the 24 games he has played this year, he's averaging 12.9 points per game—his lowest scoring output since 2007.

    When healthy, however, the 30-year-old point guard still adds value to an NBA roster.

    If not as a starter in 2013-14, Williams could certainly be among the top two or three backups in the league at his position if he's pursued in free agency to fill that role.

No. 19: Shawn Marion, Dallas Mavericks

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted (ETO)

    2012-13 Salary: $9,316,796

    Shawn Marion is 34 years old and in his 14th season this year. While he has seen better days on the NBA hardwood, Marion is still a serviceable NBA starter at worst for most teams.

    In a starting role with the Dallas Mavericks this season, Marion is averaging a respectable 11.5 points and eight rebounds on a nightly basis.

    Those numbers would look much better if Dallas were winning, but the disappointing season can't necessarily be blamed on Marion. 

No. 18: Carl Landry, Golden State Warriors

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    Player Option: $4,000,000

    Carl Landry has been the most underrated reason for the Golden State Warriors' push toward the playoffs this season. 

    Averaging 11.6 points and 6.5 rebounds in 24.8 minutes off the Warriors bench this season, Landry has been effective on both ends of the floor.

    At 29 years old, playing for a team expected to win next season as well, Landry's decision whether to activate his player option will be an interesting one to follow.

    If he turns it down, there would certainly be teams interested in adding the toughness Landry provides to an NBA interior. To what extent those teams would be willing to pay for that, however, remains to be seen.  

No. 17: Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted (P)

    Player Option: $10,219,420

    Andrei Kirilenko has made a consistently productive return to the NBA this season.

    He has averaged 13.1 points and six rebounds per night in all but nine of the Timberwolves' games this season, and most nights you wonder just how bad Minnesota might look without him.

    Despite the production, however, I highly doubt the 32-year-old forward has outperformed his $10.2 million player option for 2013-14 and expect him to be in Minnesota again next year for that reason. 

No. 16: J.J. Redick, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $6,000,000

    J.J. Redick was the most highly sought-after trade piece to eventually be moved at the deadline this year.

    As a result of a deal with the Orlando Magic, Redick—an unrestricted free agent in 2013—will conclude this year's campaign as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks.

    The 28-year-old shooting guard is averaging a career-best 15.1 points per night this season, however, and may not be in Milwaukee much past this summer.

No. 15: J.R. Smith, New York Knicks

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted (P)

    2012-13 Salary: $2,932,742

    Averaging 16.1 points and 4.9 rebounds off the New York Knicks' bench in 2012-13, J.R. Smith has exceeded all expectations this season.

    More specifically, his play has exceeded the NBA value of the $2.9 million player option he currently holds for 2013-14.

    But while Smith's inconsistencies may give teams a moment of pause before investing heavily in the 27-year-old shooting guard this summer, he will receive substantial interest should he decide to decline his option.

    I'd advise Smith to check his options at this point in his career, despite the productive fit this Knicks team has appeared to be for him under the direction of Mike Woodson. 

No. 14: Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Free Agent Type: Restricted

    2012-13 Salary: $6,046,500

    In a season flush with disappointing injuries for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the emergence of Nikola Pekovic has been more than encouraging. 

    The 27-year old center is averaging 16 points and nine rebounds during his third NBA campaign, while shooting 50.8 percent from the field. 

    If the Timberwolves—led by a healthy Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio—intend to make that push towards the playoffs most expected this season in 2013-14, it would be in their best interest to bring back Pekovic for another season.

    As he is a restricted free agent this summer, there expects to be a fair share of competition for Pekovic's services from around the NBA.

No. 13: Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted (P)

    Player Option: $11,000,000

    Monta Ellis is an 18.4 point-per-game scorer who won't turn 28 years old until October. 

    His field-goal percentage, however, has declined in every season since 2007-08, when he shot an uberly-efficient 53.1 percent from the floor.

    After shooting a career-worst 40.1 percent this season for the Milwaukee Bucks, Ellis would most likely be best-served picking up his player option for $11 million next year. I would be certainly surprised at this point, at least, if he didn't. 

No. 12: O.J. Mayo, Dallas Mavericks

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted (P)

    Player Option: $4,200,900

    O.J. Mayo opened the 2012-13 season on a scorching pace, averaging 20.9 points during the month of November. 

    At 17.4 points and 4.3 assists per game in total through Wednesday, Mayo has come back down to earth some since—but only slightly.

    The 45.8 percent Mayo is shooting from the field overall on the season is a career high, and so is the 40.3 percent clip he's shot from three-point range.

    While he could end up back with the Dallas Mavericks again next season, it does not appear likely that Mayo would pick up a player option paying him only $4.2 million.

    I'd expect the work he's put in this season could generate a more lucrative payday if Mayo eventually does decide to test the free-agent waters. 

No. 11: Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings

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    Free Agency Type: Restricted

    Qualifying Offer: $6,927,157

    From a statistical standpoint, Tyreke Evans has regressed each season since averaging 20.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists as a rookie in 2009-10.

    Playing each of those seasons as a member of the Sacramento Kings, however, certainly comes with its own set of unique challenges.

    Despite rumors of relocation swirling around the team all year, Evans is averaging 15.6 points on a career-high 47.4 percent from the floor.

    I've always wondered what he could do in an environment more conducive than Sacramento appears to be for a young NBA player, and maybe we'll have the chance to find out after Evans hits the market as a restricted free agent this summer.

No. 10: Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted (ETO)

    Player Option: $15,904,750

    Andre Iguodala has played well enough this season to be considered the prize acquisition in the trade that originally sent Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers this summer. 

    The 29-year-old shooting guard is averaging 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists for a Denver Nuggets team that is as deep as it is talented.

    As expected, Iguodala has also brought a defensive toughness to the Nuggets' perimeter on that end of the floor as well and has his new team seeded fifth in the Western Conference though Wednesday.

    For as good as he's been, however, the biggest shock of this year's free-agency period would be the idea that Iguodala eventually turns down the option he currently has for nearly $16 million in 2013-14.

No. 9: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $14,107,492

    Manu Ginobili will not play for the $14 million salary he's earning in 2012-13 next season, but teams could do much worse than bringing the perennial star off their bench in 2013-14.

    In a reserve role for the San Antonio Spurs this year, Ginobili is averaging 12.3 points and 4.3 assists to go along with 3.7 rebounds.

    Injuries have forced him to miss 13 games through Wednesday, but Ginobili is back, having played in the last five straight for the Spurs, and appears healthy enough to aid his team's efforts again this postseason.

    The type of run he makes in the playoffs could go a long way to dictating the level of interest Ginobili generates in free agency. Despite that, though, I find it difficult to imagine Ginobili playing anywhere but San Antonio for the duration of his NBA career.

No. 8: Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Free Agent Type: Restricted

    Qualifying Offer: $4,330,469

    If Brandon Jennings hadn't exploded for 55 points in the seventh game of his NBA career, expectations for what he should be in year four may have been more reasonable.

    While he has not emerged as one of the league's handful of elite point guards, Jennings is still easily an above-average NBA player.

    This season, he's averaging 18.5 points and 6.1 assists for the Milwaukee Bucks and has managed to coexist alongside Monta Ellis from an offensive standpoint since Ellis' arrival last season.

    He leaves a lot to be desired on the defensive end of the floor, and could stand to improve his 40.1 field-goal percentage, but Jennings will receive significant attention this summer as a restricted free agent.   

No. 7: Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $7,200,000

    Earning less than $8 million this season, Paul Millsap has been producing like an NBA version of a bargain at 15.1 points and 7.3 rebound per game.

    Next year's price tag, however, will escalate quickly for whichever team decides to lock Millsap up moving forward.

    The 28-year-old could generate interest that exceeds $10 million annually this summer in free agency. In Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, it would seem the Jazz have two young and economically efficient reasons not to invest that type of money in Millsap.

    In saying as much, however, we could also assume the Jazz would've been better served to trade Millsap for anything rather than let him simply walk in free agency this summer.

    So maybe that's not their intention.

No. 6: David West, Indiana Pacers

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $10,000,000

    David West has been a major difference-maker on both ends of the floor this season for the Indiana Pacers. 

    While helping to anchor one of the league's top defenses, West is averaging 17.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. His Pacers, despite the injury to Danny Granger earlier this season, currently own the second-best record in the Eastern Conference largely in part to West's efforts. 

    At 32 years old, heading into his 11th NBA season next year, West's age may prevent him from generating the multi-year contract his numbers this year might warrant.

    Wherever he does land, though, West appears to have at least a couple more NBA seasons like this one still left in the tank.
     

No. 5: Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $15,000,000

    There seemed to be a significant chance that Al Jefferson could be traded at the deadline this season, along with teammate Paul Millsap.

    Despite a hefty contract that comes off the books this summer, Jefferson wasn't moved and is playing out the year with the Utah Jazz.

    On the season, Big Al is averaging 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. He doesn't necessarily pride himself on the defensive end of the floor, but Jefferson will cash in this summer based on what he can do.

    Heading into this 10th NBA season in 2013-14, the 28-year-old Jefferson has averaged 16.4 points and 9.0 rebounds for his career.

    I'm not sure if it will be Utah, but someone will offer Jefferson a contract a lot closer to a max deal than some people think before this free-agency period concludes.  

No. 4: Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $16,473,002

    I wouldn't necessarily be thrilled if my team invested significant dollars in order to attain the services of Andrew Bynum next season. 

    He has battled injuries throughout his career and missed every game thus far during the 2012-13 campaign for the Philadelphia 76ers. 

    At the same time, however, Bynum is still a true, 7'0", 25-year-old center who averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds last season as an All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers. 

    Which is why it is difficult to rank Bynum any lower than fourth on this list. Even with the legitimate health concerns moving forward. 

No. 3: Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $13,200,000

    Despite widespread speculation leading up to the 2013 trade deadline, Danny Ferry and the Hawks decided to keep Josh Smith in Atlanta for the duration of the 2012-13 season.

    Smith later told NBA.com's Sekou Smith that Atlanta "will be on his list" of possible destinations when the unrestricted free agent decides his future this summer.

    In games played through Wednesday, Smith is averaging 17.4 points per game this season on 46.1 percent shooting from the field.

    J-Smoove is also collecting 8.7 rebounds while dishing out 4.6 assists for the team who owns the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

No. 2: Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $19,261,200

    For as disappointing Dwight Howard's debut with the Los Angeles Lakers has been this season, he is still on track to earn the maximum salary allowed by the league he plays in next season.

    Howard, who doesn't turn 28 until next December, is currently averaging 16.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in a down year.

    His rebounding total leads the NBA, and there is still not a center in the league as physically dominant as Howard is.

    In the end, I think he re-signs with the Lakers. But if history is any indication for Howard, that decision-making process could get pretty interesting.

No. 1: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Free Agent Type: Unrestricted

    2012-13 Salary: $17,779,457

    Chris Paul is the NBA's premier point guard and prize of the 2013 free-agent class.

    He is a max-contract player who is capable of single-handedly changing the course of whichever organization he chooses to sign with this summer.

    Paul currently leads the NBA with 2.49 steals per game, while also ranking second in assists at 9.5. It would appear likely he'll re-sign with the Clippers and continue his career in Los Angeles.

    In suggesting as much, however, I suppose that decision may not ultimately be made until CP3 is able to find out just how far his team is able to advance this postseason.