Top 15 NBA Free Agents: Complete Predictions for How Much Money Each Will Make
I can't be the only one getting the Christmas feeling with the free agency period start to begin on December 9.
With word already coming in that Tracy McGrady has signed with the Atlanta Hawks and that Chuck Hayes may just join the Sacramento Kings, we're getting geared up for what is sure to be another electric offseason. This one won't carry as much significance as last year's, but it'll be just as important as teams look to fill in holes and gaps that a number of these free agent role players could address.
What this also means is that a lot of money is set to be thrown around, as a great number of teams will make a push to the top free agents. Affordable, big name players like Nene Hilario and David West are set to the free agent market, and because they're affordable, a great number of teams are set to make a push for these two, as well as a number of other free agents, and possibly sign them to lucrative deals.
There won't be any $100 million contracts, but there sure will be a number above the $40 million mark, as role players are set to reaffirm the theory that NBA role players are grossly overpaid for their specialty services. With DeAndre Jordan set to receive a deal that's going to make him $8 million every year for the next five seasons, it's obvious that we haven't learned anything from the lockout.
The offseason is about to begin, and we have the top 15 free agents and what they're set to make, so cheat ahead and give a look at where your favorite free agents are headed and how much they'll be making.
15. Rodney Stuckey
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Despite this year's free agency class not possessing too many All-Stars, the Detroit Pistons combo guard Rodney Stuckey has yet to receive any attention from a potential suitor.
Stuckey is a restricted free agent this offseason and will be going into the fifth year of his NBA career after spending his first four with the Pistons. He's certainly not making it on any All-Star teams, but he's been relatively solid for his career and is coming off of another impressive season where he averaged 16 points, five assists and three boards per.
In the prediction piece I created yesterday, I expected Stuckey to become a Phoenix Sun due to the vacancy left behind by Aaron Brooks upon his entrapment in China until March. With so few teams being rumored to have interest in Stuckey as of yet, we have reason to believe that he might not be getting too large of a pay day in the near future.
Prediction: Signs with Phoenix Suns for $20 million over four years.
Five million per season sounds about right for a player of Stuckey's caliber, as he still has the talent to cause some damage in the paint and from the mid-range.
Stuckey might even get a starting job at shooting guard thanks to the vacancy left behind by Vince Carter when he was waived.
14. Shane Battier
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One of the NBA's top perimeter defenders, Shane Battier hasn't let his age affect him in any way as he continues to produce effectively on both sides of the ball.
At 33 years old, Battier could be coming near the end of his NBA career, but he has yet to show any signs of retiring in the near future, as he's still regarded as one of the most feared defenders in the league. He relies heavily on his quick feet and strength as well as excellent timing when he unleashes his famed defense of sticking his hand right in between the shooters arms during their shot.
On offense, Battier hasn't always been the greatest producer considering that he's averaged double-digit points only three times in a career that's spanned a decade. The 14 points per game that he averaged in his rookie season was a mark that has never been broken and most likely never will be.
A number of suitors have emerged in pursuit of Battier, with one in particular striking his interest.
Prediction: Signs with Miami Heat for $18 million over four years
Battier won't make as much as he would with a team that's not over the salary cap, but the Heat do offer significant minutes off the bench, working with the league's top players and possibly being a part of a championship team.
Shane only has a few years left to make it to the Finals, and in a career where he hasn't even seen the Conference Finals, the chances are likely that he would like to know the feeling.
13. Tayshaun Prince
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One of the league's most consistent players that's averaged between 13 and 15 points per game for the past seven seasons, Detroit Pistons small forward Tayshaun Prince may see himself on the move after spending the past few years on a squad that had no direction or ambition for winning.
Prince may have won a championship in 2004 and played on some of the greatest defensive teams in the NBA history, but the past few years with the team have been abominable, as his teammates would rather stage boycotts of their coach rather than go out and win games.
The chances of Prince staying are unlikely, with the team set to go in a new direction that involves building around its young players, which means he'll be up for grabs.
Aside from being a consistent offensive threat can drive and hit the mid-range, Prince is a terrific defender that can use his lengthy arms to keep his defender in front of him while also using his speed and strength to ensure that the chances of beating him off the dribble are highly unlikely.
Prediction: Signs with New Jersey Nets for $25 million over four years
Prince made $11 million last season in the final year of his contract and will not be making over $10 million per for the rest of his career.
Instead, Prince will be joining Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets and will be set to be make a little more than $6 million per year while playing on a squad that could be making even bigger moves in the coming weeks.
12. Andrei Kirilenko
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Andrei Kirilenko is no longer an $18 million man, and he didn't deserve to be one in the first place, either.
Since leading the league in blocks per with over three per game in 2005 and then receiving a lucrative deal that was worth around $80 million, Kirilenko has been one of the league's greatest disappointment in terms of living up to a contract of that magnitude. AK-47 has never matched the numbers he had in '05 and hasn't averaged two blocks per since 2007.
Most recently, he averaged 12 points, five rebounds and three assists per as the Utah Jazz starting small forward, a position that he recently took back after spending the majority of the past two seasons coming off the bench.
Kirilenko certainly didn't live up to that contract, but it doesn't mean he's still not a quality player. He's still one of the league's top athletes and can still throw down with the best as well as defend anyone ranging from shooting guards to centers because of how multi-dimensional he is in regards to the strength, length and speed he possesses.
A number of teams have pursued Kirilenko, but the chances are likely that he doesn't even make a return to the NBA after the lockout.
Prediction: Stays in Russia
With the Jazz likely to start Gordon Hayward at small forward and Kirilenko enjoying his time in his native Russia due to the lockout, he might just never make a return after making his money and leaving his mark on the NBA.
If he actually does come back to the NBA, expect the New Jersey Nets to make a pursuit after him rather than Tayshaun Prince.
11. Jason Richardson
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One of the league's top perimeter threats for the past decade, Jason Richardson is going to prove to be a terrific back-up plan for teams that don't get their hands on Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler or Arron Afflalo.
It's bewildering how Richardson has received little press despite being an unrestricted free agent. The Orlando Magic have said that they'd like to keep him around, but the fact that they're also interested in a sign and trade with the Atlanta Hawks in order to bring in Crawford should raise some suspicion of just how much they do value Richardson's impact with the team.
Richardson played 55 games with the Magic after being traded from the Phoenix Suns and fit in very well with a team that sees the majority of their points come from beyond the arc. Jason averaged 14 points per while converting on two three-pointers per game at a 38 percent clip, which is the fourth consecutive season that he has shot better than 38 percent.
He's a career 37 percent shooter from deep and may just be the top perimeter threat on the market. Many will argue that it's Crawford, but compare the two and their percentages and makes over their careers, and you'll see that J-Rich is just as quality a three-point shooter.
Prediction: Signs with Chicago Bulls for $20 million over four years
The Bulls have shown their interest in Richardson, and he will become their starting shooting guard for next year to form one of the more dynamic back courts in the league between himself and reigning MVP Derrick Rose.
He might not make as much as he would with another team, but a starting job playing alongside the MVP and being on a championship caliber team isn't an offer that most players would pass up.
10. Jeff Green
An underrated power forward that's coming off of a confusing season with the Boston Celtics, Jeff Green hasn't received too much attention from suitors outside of Boston.
Green is an unorthodox power forward that prefers to spend his time outside of the paint and near the perimeter for his offense. He's a solid post threat that can score on the inside from time to time, but it's his mid-range jumper and the range that allows him to shoot three-pointers that teams will look out for, as he has averaged as much as 17 points per game.
He spent the first three and a half years of his career with Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder before being sent to Boston near the end of last year in a deal that sent Kendrick Perkins to OKC. The deal was met with resistance by the Celtics fanbase, but this was a move made for the long run due to the impending retirements of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
It's also a coincidence to note that Green was taken fifth by the Boston Celtics in the 2007 NBA draft before being traded to the Thunder in return for Ray Allen.
Prediction: Re-signs with Boston Celtics for $40 million over five years
The Celtics are attempting to make this team as young as possible before their Big Three eventually begins to succumb to retirement, which means that re-signing Green is a necessity.
The team doesn't have too many young threats outside of Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis, and that means a big pay day for Green, who will be utilized by the Celtics for the next five years and as a starter as soon as Garnett begins to not produce as solidly as before.
9. Thaddeus Young
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A restricted free agent that hasn't received too much interest outside of his current team in the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets, forward Thaddeus Young will probably be on the road back to Philly, as the team is prepared to match any offer that the Nuggets or any team possibly throws at him.
Young has been a terrific multi-dimensional threat on both sides of the ball, as he can play at small and power forward at an effective rate thanks in part to his athleticism. He possesses the speed to keep up with small forwards and the strength to keep up with power forwards, which makes him a gifted and talented player that you don't see up for grabs every day.
Thaddeus spent last season as the team's sixth man and as a back-up to Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala. Off the pine, Young averaged 13 points and five boards per while also converting on a career-high 54 percent from the field overall.
The Sixers have mostly been utilizing him as a power forward, but Young's true position is at the three, and he may just get more chances to play at the position if the team can trade Iguodala, start Evan Turner and then have Young play as a back-up to the developing number two pick.
Prediction: Re-signs with Philadelphia for $45 million over five years
Philadelphia's main asset is the strength of their bench, and they're not going to let one of their biggest assets walk, so expect the team to sign Young to a lucrative deal that may be a little too much than what they should offer.
Either way, the Sixers get their power forward back for the prime of his career while still coming off the bench and supporting one of the deepest teams in the NBA.
8. DeAndre Jordan
With Chris Kaman on the mend for the third time in four seasons, it was up to DeAndre Jordan to fill in the major gap that was left behind in Kaman's wake once again.
After last year, there will no longer be a need for Kaman's services, as Jordan earned himself a starting position on one of the league's most athletic and up-and-coming teams in the Los Angeles Clippers. Averaging seven points, seven boards and two blocks per, Jordan didn't show much of an offensive prowess, but he did show that he was completely capable of catching and finishing and cutting to the rim for easy dunks.
His defense and athleticism were the major highlights of his game that he put on display last year, as he showcased unbelievable hops when going up for his throw downs, as well as utilizing it for his shot blocking, which allowed him to send back a career-high two blocks per.
Jordan will be entering his fourth year next season and at 23 years old and will be an incredible asset to any team that signs the restricted free agent.
Prediction: Re-signs with the Clippers for $40 million over five years.
It's just too bad that the Clippers already got dibs on Jordan, and the likelihood of anyone matching that offer is slim when considering that there are plenty of other centers to contend for.
The Clippers have already given that offer to Jordan, and we should expect the two to reach an agreement on December 9 when the signing period begins.
7. Arron Afflalo
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After proving himself with the Denver Nuggets over the past two years which followed up with two years with the Detroit Pistons, where he barely got on the floor for extended minutes, shooting guard Arron Afflalo now sees himself as one of the NBA's most coveted free agents.
So how exactly did Afflalo go from receiving 17 minutes per in 2009 with the Pistons to 34 minutes per with the Nuggets in 2011? What happened was that he actually got a chance to prove himself, and he didn't let the Nuggets or himself down. He was given the start upon his introduction to the team in the 2009-'10 season and would perform admirably by averaging nine points and three boards per.
The next year would be Afflalo's breakout season, as he'd average 13 points, four rebounds and three assists per while strengthening his three-point percentage once again by averaging over 40 percent for the third consecutive seasons.
Aside from his strengths from beyond the arc and his ability to drive, Afflalo is most coveted for his ability to play defense against any shooting guard in the NBA. Despite just turning 26 years old, Afflalo has already emerged as one of the NBA's better perimeter defenders thanks in part to his quick feet as well as a strong upper body that allows him to deter his assignment from driving.
Prediction: Re-signs with Denver Nuggets for $46 million over five years
The Denver Nuggets have plenty of money to match any offer that a team gives to Afflalo, and the team isn't prepared to let go of one of their few bright spots, especially when Nene Hilario could be set to leave.
With the team re-signing Afflalo, it'll also be time for the Nuggets to begin building up their team around the few stars they have left.
6. Caron Butler
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He might be 31 years old and coming off of a devastating injury that only allowed him to play in 29 games, yet Caron Butler now finds himself as one of the NBA's most coveted shooting guards/small forwards.
Butler was in the middle of a career season in his first year with the Dallas Mavericks before suffering an injury in early January that kept him out the rest of the regular and post season.
The team's starting small forward, Butler averaged 15 points, four rebounds and two assists per while shooting a career-high 43 percent from deep, which is interesting considering that he had been a 30 percent career three-point shooter.
Caron's not attracting suitors because of his three-point shooting, though teams like him because of how multi-dimensional of a player he is on both sides of the ball, as he can play the one through three at an effective rate. He's completely capable of playing the role of offensive facilitator, but also has no trouble in playing off the ball as well as beating people off the dribble.
With the ability to hit from the mid-range and drive as well as being able to keep up with any guard or small forward in the NBA, Butler is set to receive a lucrative deal from the lucky team that gains his services over the next few weeks.
Prediction: Signs with Los Angeles Clippers for $55 million over four years
The Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as front runners for Butler's services, and it just may be the Clippers' offer of a starting small forward position as well as playing alongside two of the greatest young stars in the league that should convince him to join the squad.
The Clippers have money to spend, and they're looking to make a big splash this offseason. Butler should be the one they sign as they look to fill in a huge vacancy at small forward and bolster a front court that would feature himself, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
5. Tyson Chandler
It's a disappointing sight to see Tyson Chandler potentially leave Dallas, especially after the defensive intensity that he provided the Mavericks in their championship run, which was heavily praised by Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki for his efforts, as he claims that he's, "...never played with a center that's as athletic and as quick and able to cover that much ground and play with his energy."
Chandler has emerged as a front-runner on a number of teams' radars after word came in that there's a high chance of him not returning to the team that he had just won a championship with. With the team possibly looking towards signing Deron Williams next year, a player like Chandler is expendable, as the team will most likely look towards having Brendan Haywood as their starter next year.
Tyson is one of the smartest post players in the league, and it shows on both sides of the ball as he has a great understanding of when to cut to the basket to receive alley-oops and on defense, when he uses his athleticism to deter opponents from shooting. The one block per game he's averaged for his career is supported by the fact that he doesn't get shot blocks because most of his assignments would rather just pass out of a shot before testing Chandler.
With Chandler set to leave, a number of teams are ready to offer a starting position and a lot of money in return to signing the 29-year-old.
Prediction: Signs with Houston Rockets for $45 million over four years
He's a center; you can't possibly think that he won't be grossly overpaid.
At 29 years old, Chandler has the most upside of just about every free agent on the market and still possesses the athleticism and the defensive awareness to remain relevant for at least the next four seasons.
Chandler's defense is tremendous and being paired up with point guard Kyle Lowry is going to mean a lot of alley-oops coming Tyson's way as he helps to fill in the extremely huge need for a big man to command the paint.
4. Jamal Craword
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One of the most sought after and coveted free agents this summer, Atlanta Hawks sixth man Jamal Crawford has a number of potential suitors that are waiting to give a pitch to the sharp shooter and hopefully make him into their next starting shooting guard.
Crawford may be on the way out of the Atlanta Hawks organization after two years due to the amount of money they could potentially spend. With $120 million wrapped up in Joe Johnson, signing Crawford is going to be a difficult scenario for the Hawks, as they hope to keep their sixth man and make another postseason run that hopefully goes further than the second round.
Jamal may have averaged only 35 percent from beyond the arc for his career, but it's his ability to get hot and then proceed not to miss a shot until the next game is what teams are clamoring for. Crawford is the only player in NBA history to score 50 points on three different teams, and it comes as a result of him getting hot from beyond the arc and shooting at such a high caliber that no defense can stop it.
He's the last player you want to see get hot from beyond the arc, and that's why 29 other teams are going to attempt to make a run at Crawford so that they can avoid from having him get got against their own team.
Prediction: Signs with Atlanta Hawks for $70 million over five years, then gets traded to the Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic are looking for any way to keep Dwight Howard in Orlando, and if that means trading for Jamal Crawford, so be it.
This idea has been tossed around, and it just may follow through, with the Magic being desperate enough to sign just about any player to keep Howard satisfied in Orlando. Not to mention that Crawford fits in very well with a team that likes to shoot three-pointers and not play defense.
3. David West
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Spending the first eight years of his career with the New Orleans Hornets, signing David West is going to be the first step for the organization when it comes to re-signing Chris Paul when he become a free agent next year.
West may be the one of the keys to keeping Paul satisfied in New Orleans, as the team hopes to do all they can to keep the All-Star with the team. By keeping CP3, the Hornets continue to remain relevant, continue to make the postseason and keep their team in New Orleans after talks regarding a possible move to a different city.
They may not have to worry about that if they can keep West with the Hornets.
West has been one of the NBA's most consistent offensive threats, and he can attribute that to his mid-range jumper that always seems to fall. He's dominated from 15 to 20 feet, and Chris Paul has led him to become an All-Star thanks to CP3 attracting attention from defenders, which allows West to get open and knock down his jump shots.
David's coming off of another solid season with the Hornets, where he averaged 19 points and eight rebounds per and is set to be heavily pursued by a number of teams that are attempting to fill in a need at starting power forward.
Prediction: Re-signs with New Orleans Hornets for $70 million over five years
This is going to be a huge acquisition for the Hornets, as they don't want to lose out on a possible key to keeping Paul in New Orleans.
Not only does the team have the advantage of possibly attracting Paul back to New Orleans thanks to his teammate since 2005 returning, but the team also gets back a tremendous mid-range threat that can stretch the floor, as well as play solid defense inside and outside of the paint.
2. Marc Gasol
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It's going to be awfully difficult to pry Marc Gasol away from the Memphis Grizzlies, especially with the team claiming that they're prepared to match any offer that another team is set to give to Gasol.
As a restricted free agent, the Grizzlies are allowed to match any offer that another team offers Gasol, and that means he's not going anywhere since he proved to be one of the teams most significant assets during last years historic postseason run when he averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks per in the teams two series against the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Gasol only averaged 12 points and nine boards per in the regular season, but it was his postseason that really raised eyebrows in Memphis. The team that's now being regarded as a legitimate championship threat saw Gasol put on a clinic against the likes of Tim Duncan, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins with a myriad of post moves and a solid mid-range game.
His defense was just as impressive, as he sent back two shots per game and utilized his wide frame to deter opponents from getting a clear view of the rim.
Gasol is an asset that the team doesn't want to lose, and they're going make perfectly sure by signing him to possibly the biggest contract you'll see this offseason.
Prediction: Re-signs with Memphis Grizzlies for $85 million over five years
As I stated before, this will be the biggest contract of the year due to the Memphis Grizzlies having the advantage of being able to give Gasol a five-year contract as opposed to the standard four years.
Gasol is too much of an asset to lose following his postseason performance and as rare as centers who can score are, the Grizzlies don't plan on letting this one loose.
1. Nene Hilario
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The most coveted player that this year's free agency period has to offer, the Denver Nuggets' Nene Hilario is set to leave Denver and should be on the move within the next two weeks to a number of teams that are set offer him a lucrative deal that may even be more than the $11 million he made last season.
At 6'11", 260 pounds, Hilario is a load to handle, and it shows in his offensive skill set, which allowed him to lead the league in shooting percentage at 62 percent. He's got the foot work to utilize in the post, and he can also use his size to post up and power into the paint against any type of player that attempts to deter him. Nene is one of the NBA's top centers in terms of offense and is going to be a huge asset for any team that decides to shell out the cash to sign him.
Hilario impressed vastly last season as he took over the reins on a Denver Nuggets squad that was distraught after losing its two true leaders in Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Nene led the team to 50 wins and a postseason appearance while averaging 15 points and eight boards per, finishing .2 points per game shot of his career high.
With Denver no longer looking like an option, teams are going to be clamoring for the services of Nene as they look to possibly find their next power forward/center.
Prediction: Signs with New Jersey Nets for $70 million over four years
It turns out that striking out in the 2010 offseason class was the best thing to happen to the Nets. They now have excess funds left over to sign the top free agents this year, and they're going to make the biggest splash of the offseason by signing Nene to a huge deal.
Not only will they sign him, but they'll move him to power forward. Coach George Karl claims that is his true position, and that's only more good news for Denver as they attempt to re-sign Deron Williams while also possibly attracting Dwight Howard next off season.