10 Impending NBA Free Agents Who Have Had a Postive Playoffs
It's amazing how one or two games under playoff lights can determine whether an athlete will be rich, super rich, or über rich when he hits the open market.
Based on just the past few days you'd think that Kyle Korver was the one getting the max deal this summer and Joe Johnson was the one who might be lucky to get a mid-level offer.
While that example is a bit of an exaggeration, there are plenty of where an athlete has parlayed a playoff performance into the type of contract that could be the difference between having to become a high school coach after retiring from the NBA or getting to live off of interest.
How else would you explain Jerome James getting a five year, $29 million contract from the Knicks in the summer of 2005?
James averaged 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in the playoffs after averaging just 4.9 ppg and 3 rpg during the regular season.
With so many teams having varying amounts of available cap space this summer, it's worth taking a look at some of this year's playoff performers and trying to determine which ones have increased their value the most.
Here are 10 guys (in no particular order) who might want to call their real estate agents and have them start looking for some ocean-front properties:
Tony Allen, Boston Celtics
Boston's other Allen quickly went from being the guy who finally had an expiring contract to one who Celtics fans now see as indispensable. Allen has done an admirable job guarding LeBron James and has even given them a boost on offense.
If the Celtics do decide to let Ray Allen leave via free agency then they might be hard-pressed to find a better replacement than Tony Allen, considering his familiarity with the team and the fact that he finally looks healthy again.
He's 28-years-old and has played 887 and 889 minutes over the last two seasons compared to the 1,262 and 978 he accumulated during his first two seasons in the league.
The Celtics could re-sign both Tony Allen and Nate Robinson with their Bird Rights for less than it would take to retain Ray Allen. By doing so, they would still be able to use their mid-level exemption to sign another piece.
John Salmons, Milwaukee Bucks
Salmons has been a good luck charm the last two seasons. After a mid-season trade from Sacramento to Chicago last season he helped to propel the Bulls into the playoffs.
This season the Bulls traded him in a salary dump to the Milwaukee Bucks and Salmons helped the Bucks make the playoffs and take the Atlanta Hawks to a deciding seventh game.
Salmons has an early termination option on a contract that would pay him $5.8 million next season. It would be in his best interest to opt out of the deal or sign an extension with the Bucks instead of waiting until next summer when the league's next collective bargaining agreement could cost him millions.
Salmons averaged 20 ppg for the Bucks during the regular season and an impressive 17 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game in the seven game series with the Hawks.
Channing Frye, Phoenix Suns
Frye was one of the last free agents from last summer to get a contract. After starting 73 games in his first two seasons with the Knicks, Frye was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Zach Randolph deal.
Frye averaged 17 minutes per game his first season in Portland after averaging 24 and 26 minutes with New York. The following season in Portland his minutes decreased to 11 minutes per game.
So Frye's hometown Suns came calling and offered him a two-year contract for $4 million with the second year being a player option.
With a clean slate, Frye's production went back up to his pre-Portland days. He also added another dimension to his game—the three-point shot. After making 20 total three-pointers through his first four seasons in the league, Frye made 179 this season. More importantly he made them at a remarkable 44 percent clip.
Not bad for a center.
While it's probable that Frye would like to stay in Phoenix he also understands that his value may never be higher than it is right now. For a guy that's never made more than $3.16 million in a season he's sure to at least listen to what other teams might offer.
J.J. Redick, Orlando Magic
Through J.J. Redick's first three seasons in the NBA he scored a total of 774 points. This season Redick scored 788. More importantly, Redick shed his reputation as a pretty-boy and a whiner and has proved that he belongs in the NBA.
Over the Magic's final 24 games of the season, Redick scored in double-figures 15 times, including eight games in which he scored at least 14 points—and he came off the bench in all 24 games.
Redick is a restricted free agent this year. He has finally found a home in Orlando but if another team comes along offering the chance for Redick to start, then the competitor in him will probably rush to jump ship.
The Magic already have the league's sixth-highest payroll. After matching an offer for Marcin Gortat last summer and signing Brandon Bass there's a chance that the Magic might not be able to match an offer sheet for Redick.
Compare Redick with his college rival Adam Morrison. While Redick might have at least 10 teams interested in his services Morrison will be lucky to get a training camp invite and the veteran's minimum.
Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers
Just three weeks ago most people in L.A. were assuming that Fisher was going to retire at the conclusion of this season. Now it's hard to believe that Fisher has been the Lakers' third-most consistent player in the playoffs.
Statistically this was Fisher's worst season as a starter: 7.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, and 38 percent shooting, including 35 percent from downtown.
Through the first 10 games of these playoffs, Fisher—who turns 36 in August—is averaging close to 11 points and three assists per game and is shooting 45 percent, as well as 42 percent on three-pointers.
Fisher is making a little bit more than $5 million in the final year of the contract he signed with the Lakers after the Jazz granted him his release so he could find the best care for his daughter's eye cancer.
All of a sudden it looks as if there are a number of teams who could sign Fisher. Think about it. There are more great young point guards in the NBA right now than at anytime I can remember. Fisher would be a great backup and mentor for someone like Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley, or even likely first pick in the draft John Wall.
Amar'e Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
I know. I know. Stoudemire was already a max player. So while this might not seem like breaking news what Stoudemire has done these playoffs is prove to the Phoenix Suns that they have to do everything they can to retain his services.
Unless he were to be signed-and-traded this summer, the maximum that Stoudemire could have received from a team other than the Suns would have been for one fewer year and about $30 million less than what the Suns could give him.
Over the past few seasons Suns fans have waived goodbye to favorites like Joe Johnson, Kurt Thomas, Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, and James Jones for financial reasons.
Last year the Suns missed the playoffs after Stoudemire suffered an eye injury. But now Suns fans are back to supporting the team in droves and the loss of Stoudemire might turn them off for a while.
Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
It's hard to believe that someone making close to $20 million this season could increase his value. And while the 34-year-old Allen hasn't increased his value based on his current contract he has definitely has based on what it looked like he was primed to make after the past season.
That's because Allen posted his second-worst 3-point field goal percentage of his career. A 40 percent career 3-point shooter, Allen saw his average dip down to 36 percent (compared to 41 percent last season). His scoring average dipped down to 16.3 ppg compared to his career average of 20.5 ppg despite only playing one fewer minute per game.
So far in these playoffs, Allen is averaging 17.6 points per game and a remarkable 42 percent from behind the 3-point arc—47 percent overall.
While it appeared all season long that Allen might get a one-year deal there's now a chance that he could receive a two-year or even a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $10 million per year.
Wesley Matthews, Utah Jazz
How many undrafted rookies have not only guarded one of the league's all-time greatest players in the second round of the playoffs, but managed to earn the respect of said player in the process?
That's what Matthews was able to accomplish against the Lakers in the Western Conference Semis. While Matthews didn't necessarily hold Bryant in check, he did work his tail off in trying to slow him down.
Matthews is a restricted free agent this summer. The Jazz will surely try to retain him but nobody would be surprised if he received offers from other teams.
He averaged 9.4 ppg and shot 48 percent from the field in the playoffs, fantastic numbers for a guy that was passed up on by every other team in the league.
Matt Barnes, Orlando Magic
Much has been made about the job that Vince Carter has done for the Magic through Orlando's two playoff sweeps. And while Carter has changed the make-up of the Magic, he doesn't deserve nearly as much credit as journeyman Matt Barnes who has given the Magic a toughness that the team sorely lacked in last year's Finals matchup with the Lakers.
Barnes' contributions aren't going to be seen in numbers. His 8.8 ppg and 5.5 rpg are nothing to brag about. But he regularly guards the opponents' best perimeter players and won't back down from anyone.
Barnes, like Frye, was one of the last free agents to sign a contract with a team last summer. But even Frye's two-year, $4 million contract was better than the two-year, $3.2 million contract Barnes got from Orlando.
Just like Frye, the second year of Barnes' deal is a player option. Barnes is 30-years-old and has yet to amass $10 million in career earnings. As a result, the Magic might have to choose between keeping Barnes or keeping Redick.
If that's the case then I'd sooner bet on them keeping Barnes—especially if the Magic find themselves back in the NBA Finals.
Kyle Korver, Utah Jazz
Korver already had a reputation as one of the league's best outside shooters but this season he averaged a remarkable 54 percent from downtown.
But what Korver might be remembered for most this season was the shooting clinic he put on in the Jazz's Game Three loss to the Lakers in which he made 9-of-10 shots—including 5-for-5 on 3-pointers.
There will always be teams looking for good outside shooters. Teams like the Los Angeles Clippers who are always near the bottom of the league in shooting could definitely use someone like Korver to help clear the paint for center Chris Kaman and power forward Blake Griffin.
Korver made slightly more than $5 million this season. If the Jazz plan to re-sign Carlos Boozer they might have to wave goodbye to Korver. Korver has stated a desire to stay in Utah but I wouldn't bet on that happening unless he was willing to take a pay cut.
Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns
There are three players left in the league from the 1994 NBA Draft—Jason Kidd, Juwan Howard, and Grant Hill. To give you an idea of how old those three guys are, the 24th pick in the draft that year was Monty Williams—the Trail Blazers' assistant who has been interviewing for head coaching jobs.
Hill is currently in the first year of a two-year, $6.3 million extension he signed with the Suns last summer. The second year of his deal calls for a player option and Hill has already indicated that he has no plans for opting out.
But that doesn't change the fact that Hill has increased his value during these playoffs with solid play on both ends of the court. His averages through the Suns' first two rounds: 9.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, and 2.3 apg. Not bad for someone who many suspected would be out of the league by now.
It's hard to believe that he's only played in 32 career playoff games. Compare that to Kobe Bryant who has played 185 despite being drafted two years later.
Joey Graham, Denver Nuggets
Honorable Mention has to go to Joey Graham, who proved something in the Nuggets' Game Six loss to the Jazz.
Graham scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds in a game that had many asking why interim coach Adrian Dantley hadn't played him more in the series.