While Carmelo Anthony and the Miami Heat's Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (who each have early termination options) headline the NBA free-agent class of 2014, there are a plethora of role players sure to cash in this summer.
With the NBA playoffs spanning two months, a handful of dynamic role players will have an opportunity to showcase themselves this postseason and build off of strong regular-season performances.
Here, I'll highlight a trio of second-unit stars who are likely to capitalize on free agency come July.
Patty Mills, PG, San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter Patty Mills is coming off his best regular season as a pro and is earning significant minutes for the defending Western Conference champions in the 2014 NBA playoffs.
Mills offered some insight into how he's been able to raise his game over the past year, via the San Antonio Express-News' Jeff McDonald:
Patty Mills, on what improved to get him into MIP discussion: "Understanding, more of a mind game than anything else."— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) April 23, 2014
As a result of his improvement and the increased playing time, Mills, who will become an unrestricted free agent at season's end, can expect to see a few intriguing offers this summer.
The Australian point guard appeared in a career-high 81 games for the Spurs this past season, averaging 10.2 points on 46.4 percent shooting from the field and 42.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc in roughly 19 minutes per game.
Mills knocked in 135 threes during the regular season, which is more than he made in his first four NBA seasons combined.
The 25-year-old is struggling from downtown through the first four games of the playoffs, going just two of 12 but has been successful when driving inside the arc, shooting five of nine on two-point field-goals this postseason.
If Mills can rediscover his rhythm from long range and continue to play a key role on San Antonio's second unit this spring, there's a good chance he'll wind up signing somewhere else for more money this coming offseason, similar to former teammate Gary Neal a year ago.
Greivis Vasquez, PG, Toronto Raptors
Greivis Vasquez has bounced around the league an awful lot since being drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2010. Since then, the Venezuelan floor general has played for four different teams in four seasons.
But despite Vasquez's journeyman label and decreased numbers this past season after being shipped to Toronto, his performance on the postseason stage is sure to provide a payday this offseason, as highlighted by the Toronto Sun's Ryan Wolstat:
Greivis Vasquez has been stunningly good for Raptors through two games. Helpful, since Ross has been stunningly bad.— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) April 23, 2014
The 27-year-old, who will become a restricted free agent this summer, is averaging 11.3 points and 7.8 assists per game off the bench for the Raptors through four playoff games and could potentially showcase himself against the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat if Toronto can win two more games and reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
In addition to his impressive playoff production, Vasquez was an improved three-point shooter this past season, connecting on a career-best 39 percent of his long-range shots.
It's possible that Toronto could keep Vasquez with the right offer, but you can bet teams in need of a spark off the bench will be giving the veteran point guard a serious look come July.
Trevor Booker, PF, Washington Wizards
If the Washington Wizards can make a deep playoff run this spring, fourth-year power forward and soon-to-be restricted free agent Trevor Booker could capitalize come summer time.
The 26-year-old started 45 regular-season games for the Wizards this past season and finished with averages of 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in under 22 minutes per game. But now, Booker is getting the chance to showcase his skill set and energy to a national audience in the playoffs.
Booker is averaging just 5.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game through five playoff games against the Chicago Bulls but has played a significant role in the Wizards' success, providing tremendous energy and effort off the bench and blocking three shots in his first-ever playoff start in Game 4, as noted by The Washington Post's Michael Lee:
Trevor Booker is going Dikembe Mutombo on CHI drives to the hoop. No, no, no, no, no.... #wizards— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) April 27, 2014
Booker was also huge in Washington's Game 2 overtime win in Chicago, scoring nine points on 3-of-4 shooting and pulling down eight rebounds in the come-from-behind win. Afterward, Wizards head coach Randy Wittman was pleased by what he saw, via Lee:
He was battling with [Taj] Gibson, you know, down on the boards. That was basically what it boiled down to – rebounding. I thought he defended him in the post, fought him in the post, and he came up with a big block down the stretch there. It was just his grittiness, his toughness that he gave us, and that was what I enjoyed.
It remains to be seen how Booker would fare in a different role on a different team, but the confidence gained from playing crucial minutes in the playoffs will be huge for the former Clemson star moving forward, and his performance on the boards and on defense over the course of Washington's playoff run could potentially lead to an inflated long-term deal.
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