Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
And you thought the previous six were going to be looking to snag some major cash.
As is the case every offseason, there will be an abundance of players looking for max-level deals. That doesn't mean they'll get them, but they're going to try.
Will their persistence pay off?
Pre-slaughterous CBA, I would have said yes. But now, it's a coin toss. And even that might be a stretch.
Andrew Bynum (UFA): Eight months ago I would have said Bynum wouldn't have had to "search" for a max deal. The Philadelphia 76ers would have just laid one out in front of him.
Nearly an entire season's worth of missed games later (and counting) I'm not so sure Bynum will land that genre of a pact. As an All-Star seven-footer, there will undoubtedly be a market for him (Sixers included) but how do you invest tens of millions of dollars in a guy who hasn't played this side of the lockout?
You can't...I think.
Monta Ellis (UFA): Ellis has a player option for $11 million, but my Magic 8 ball says he's going to opt out. He's averaging over 18 points a game this season, but he's shooting just 40.3 percent from the floor and 23.5 percent from deep.
Sadly, that 23.5 percent clip isn't even a career-low.
It seems that while the rest of us know Ellis is better off attacking the rim, he's dead set on shooting contested jumpers. I have no doubt in my mind he'll look for a max-caliber deal, but I have some serious doubt as to whether he'll find an unwitting franchise willing to give him one.
Brandon Jennings (RFA): I won't say Jennings isn't worth a max extension, but it is implied. Jennings is taking home just over $3 million this season, a number that is going to drastically increase.
Do I think he should command the $10-12 million Stephen Curry and Ty Lawson did? As one of the most erratic shooters in the game, I sure hope not.
That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see his annual salary almost triple heading into next season.
Nikola Pekovic (RFA): Pek is having a monster year for the Minnesota Timberwolves and someone is going to Nicolas Batum or Roy Hibbert him accordingly.
Like the Blazers and Indiana Pacers did with their prized assets, the Timberwolves will have the opportunity to match any offer Pekovic receives.
But will they? Minny has never been one to spend big money. Giving Kevin Love an extension was like pulling teeth, and I'm not sure the Timberwovles are prepared to max out Pekovic if they weren't keen on doing the same for Love.
That said, I think he'll get as much as he can from somewhere, I just don't know where. Plan B for the Sixers if they opt to pass on Bynum, perhaps? Just thinking aloud here.