NBA AM: The Next Tier Of NBA Free Agents
The Would-Be Free Agents: There are going to be a several top shelf free agents in July, and teams will clamor to get after them. But after the dust settles on the likes of Deron Williams and Steve Nash there are a few guys headlining the next tier of players that could matter a little more, mainly because they are obtainable at a lower dollar value.
Here are some of the guys to consider:
Kirk Hinrich, Atlanta Hawks – $8.0 million – Unrestricted
PPG – 6.6 APG – 2.8 RPG – 2.1 PER – 8.83
Kirk likely isn’t a starter anymore, but he is still capable of starting in a pinch. However when it comes to savvy on the ball defense; tough and gritty leadership and the ability to hit big shots, Kirk still has it.
Kirk is not going to be overly expensive, and while the Hawks may try and retain him at a lower price. It’s far more likely that Kirk Hinrich is wearing another jersey next season. With a price tag likely in the $5 million per range, for what Kirk is as a player, he could be a great value especially for a veteran team looking for a solid backup.
D.J. Augustin, Charlotte Bobcats – $3.2 million – Restricted
PPG – 10.9 APG – 6.2 RPG – 2.3 PER – 14.42
D.J is a bit underrated, mainly because he is on a terrible Bobcat team. You can spin that two ways. If DJ was so good, why are the Cats so bad? Or is it that D.J.’s talents go underutilized because the Bobcats are trying for the lottery?
D.J. is likely going to be a restricted free agent, but given how frequently the Bobcats have shopped him in trade, the odds that Charlotte is matching a hefty offer for D.J. are pretty slim.
You are not likely getting D.J. Augustin for peanuts, but a real offer in the $6 million per year range may have the Bobcats thinking twice, especially if the deal is frontloaded or incentive heavy.
O.J. Mayo, Memphis Grizzlies – $5.6 million – Restricted
PPG – 12.5 APG – 2.5 RPG – 3.3 PER – 14.73
The Memphis Grizzlies have tried to trade O.J. Mayo more than a few times, not because they don’t like or value O.J, they just know with $62 million in salary commitments next season that keeping O.J. long-term is going to be tough.
If the Grizz could do a new deal with O.J. at or around the salary number he is at today (roughly $6 million) they’d do a new deal today. But with O.J.’s asking price expected to be much higher that’s where Memphis starts to blink.
A deal that starts in the $8 to $9 million range will likely have the Grizzlies blinking. The question is will anyone offer that?
O.J. has scored in double figures 38 times this season and scored above .500 from the field 17 times.
O.J. is far from an All-Star, but he has proven that he can be a high volume scorer if given the opportunity. The question is what’s the number that makes Memphis blink?
Nick Young, L.A. Clippers – $3.7 million – Unrestricted
PPG – 15.2 APG – 1.0 RPG – 2.3 PER – 13.30
Nick hasn’t exactly ‘owned’ it in LA with the Clippers. He has not played bad either. As an unrestricted free agent this summer Nick is going to have his choice of situations without having to worry about offers being matched.
Nick is a very capable scorer; he has scored in double figures 42 times this season including 14 games with 20 or more points and a 35 point outing versus the Trail Blazers in February.
Nick’s maturity and professionalism are often questioned, but so far in LA he has been a solid contributor and a deep playoff run with the Clippers could really help his value.
With an expected price tag in the $6 million per year range, that might be a bit more than the LA Clippers can afford as Nick gave up his Bird Rights to be traded to the Clips.
Unless Nick agrees to a deal using the Mid-Level exception or basing a deal off his ending $3.7 million deal staying with the Clippers seems like a long shot.
Louis Williams, Philadelphia 76ers – $5.2 million – Early Termination
PPG – 15.3 APG – 3.5 RPG – 2.3 PER – 20.25
Assuming Lou opts out of his deal, he could be one of the top players on most teams’ free agent board. He is a phenomenal player that’s underpaid based on his in-game performance and if he opts out, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The 76ers have $55 million in salary commitments next year so Williams could opt-out simply to demand a new deal from the 76ers. Philly will have room under the luxury tax to pay him, however that $55 million is owed to seven players, so the 76ers will have to make some choices.
The new 76ers owners have hinted that the team may opt to amnesty Elton Brand to create cap room to go after a would-be free agent, so there is that consider.
Dropping Brand’s $18 million opens up plenty of room for a new deal for Lou, but as an unrestricted free agent he’ll have his choice of situations.
The Lou Williams situation is worth watching because he could be one of the best free agent acquisitions in the class especially if the major guys like Deron Williams and Steve Nash come off the board.
Courtney Lee, Houston Rockets – $2.2 million – Restricted
PPG – 11.0 APG – 1.5 RPG – 2.6 PER – 12.97
Shhh. The Houston Rockets really don’t want you to notice that C-Lee is killing it when he plays big minutes.
Courtney is averaging almost 40% from NBA three (.393) and he is scoring solid double figures in more games than not. Courtney is a solid perimeter defender and his offense has really improved over the last month and half.
The truth of it is that Houston will likely match almost any reasonable offer on Courtney Lee, so landing him in free agency may be tough to manage unless someone offers a silly frontloaded contract.
The Rockets have just $40.8 million in salary commitments, which includes the non-guaranteed $6.6 million owed to Samuel Dalembert. His deal has a $1.5 million buyout so the Rockets are looking at ton of flexibility.
With the emergence of Courtney as a starting-caliber player, it might be more likely that Houston re-signs Courtney and trades veteran Kevin Martin, however with Martin continually hobbled with injury is there really a big market for his ending $12.4 million contract?
Carl Landry, New Orleans Hornets – $8.5 million – Unrestricted
PPG – 12.3 RPG – 4.9 BLKPG – .4 PER – 16.95
When healthy Carl Landry is a monster. The problem is Landry hasn’t been healthy very much this year. Carl has missed 25 games this year after missing six last season.
Carl has never played in all 82 games in his five NBA seasons.
The Hornets have just $36 million in salary commitments so doing a new deal with Carl is more than possible under the cap.
Carl will be an unrestricted free agent so he’ll have his choice of situations. When healthy Carl is a monster, the question is how much is he really worth on the open market, especially in a draft year featuring more forwards than you can shake a stick at.
Chris Kaman, New Orleans Hornets – $12.7 million – Unrestricted
PPG – 13.2 RPG – 8.0 BLKPG – 1.6 PER – 15.53
Chris Kaman isn’t the next Shaquille O’Neal, but he is an extremely serviceable starting center and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in July.
While teams like Portland and Houston have eyes for Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez, both are restricted free agents and their home teams can match whatever they are offered. Kaman as an unrestricted free agent can go where he wants.
The Hornets have talked about a contract extension with Kaman, but it seems more likely than not that Chris is going to go shopping and as one of the top unrestricted centers he could be had for a lot less than it’s going to take to pry a Roy Hibbert out of Indiana.
Kaman likely isn’t going to fetch the $12.5 million he was owed before the trade kicker he received this year, but a deal in the $10 to $11 million range is likely and there are a number of teams that could make that figure work.
Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers – $4.1 million – Unrestricted
PPG – 9.3 RPG – 7.6 BLKPG – 1.3 PER – 17.38
Like Kaman, Hawes is going to be in demand because he is unrestricted and can choose his next situation. Philly will have the ability to re-sign him using his Bird rights and with the possibility of the team using their amnesty provision on Elton Brand, Hawes may be Philly’s player to lose.
Philly can offer a fifth year which other teams cannot, so the question is who sets the price?
Hawes was owed $4.1 million this season, given the way he’s played when healthy he’s likely going to command significantly more in July.
Teams can talk contract extensions and new deals with their own players without restriction.
Players on non-rookie deals such as Chris Kaman could reach an extension agreement up until June 30th. On July 1st players become free agents and can begin talking with other teams, however new deals cannot be signed until July 11th.
Looking for all the 2012 NBA Free Agents? Click here to check out the 2012 NBA Free Agent List.
Can’t Help It: The last few days in Orlando have been a chaotic mess. Damage control has been the buzz word of the weekend as the Magic try and put the goo back in the goose and quell the firestorm head coach Stan Van Gundy unleashed on Thursday when he revealed that he knew his star player wanted him fired.
As we covered on Friday, the story being painted isn’t exactly what happened.
But what’s coming out of Orlando since Thursday is starting to clear the air a little and illustrate what’s really going on.
Magic president Otis Smith flatly denied that Magic star Dwight Howard ever asked him to remove Stan Van Gundy.
“He never asked me; I didn’t have that knowledge,” Smith said.
Van Gundy said Thursday he knew Howard, the Magic’s franchise player, had asked that he be fired. Smith said both parties were to blame for the public dispute.
“If he did ask he’s wrong, and for Stan to address it in public, that is wrong,” Smith said. — ESPN’s Lisa Salters
What’s real here is that Howard has not been talking much with Otis Smith and that Howard has been interfacing almost exclusively with Magic CEO Alex Martins.
Smith has been removed from the process with Howard.
Sources close to the process said that Magic director of player development Adonal Foyle ran the teams’ trade deadline, interfacing with other teams on the Magic’s behalf.
Otis Smith’s contract gives him right of approval on all transactions, so he was in the loop on what was possible but his role in day to day has been radically scaled back.
ESPN’s Marc Stein hinted at Foyle’s new role this weekend, however according to sources it’s larger than a grooming role.
Something else to track here, though, is the future of general manager Otis Smith. Sources close to the situation tell ESPN.com that Howard’s recently retired backup, Adonal Foyle, is held in the highest regard by Magic officials and is being groomed for a future role of front-office prominence.
But it’s not immediately clear, like a lot of things happening in the Magic Kingdom these days, whether that would come at Smith’s expense. – Marc Stein ESPN .com
Sources close to this situation say that it won’t be just Stan Van Gundy who is gone when the Magic’s season ends; it will also be Otis Smith as well.
The Magic currently sit at 33-23 on the season which puts them in 6th place in the East. The magic play host to the Detroit Pistons tonight in Orlando and are a half game behind Indiana for the third seed.
The Pacers host the Toronto Raptors tonight, so the odds of the standings changing today look slim.
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