NBA AM: The Playoff Free Agent Small Forwards
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Today lets take a look at some of the notable small forwards that have some level of opportunity for free agency, with this bunch having the more notable impact players.
Josh Smith – Unrestricted
Smith is going shopping in July and barring a max offer from the Hawks, he might be playing elsewhere next season. The Hawks tried desperately to trade him at the trade deadline, but found very few teams willing to part with real assets for him knowing that he’ll be considering everything this summer in free agency and would make no commitments to teams expressing interest. Smith is slated to earn more than $13 million this season, which is likely the right price range for Smith going forward. The question becomes who offers him that deal and if the number is roughly the same or does Atlanta’s ability to offer a fifth guaranteed year and slightly higher raises swing Smith into a new deal in Atlanta? The Hawks would have the option of a sign-and-trade deal and that’s something Hawks sources say they would be open to in order to return some value for Smith, but as the Hawks have structured things to get maximum cap space this summer, don’t expect them to take back garbage if they do decide to sign and trade Josh Smith.
Paul Pierce – $15,333,334 (Non-Guaranteed)
Only $5 million of Pierce’s final contract year is guaranteed, meaning the Celtics have a very interesting trade chip in and around the draft. Sources close to the process label the Pierce situation as complicated because the basketball move is to trade him or buy him out, but the emotional move as he is a Celtic Hall-of-Famer is to keep him until he retires. The Celtics did explore what Pierce’s trade value was at the trade deadline and did offer him to a few teams before pulling back and opting to make a run as constructed. With emotional leader Kevin Garnett hinting at retirement after this season, it seems likely Pierce is either traded or bought out, but again that’s the basketball move to make. It is unclear if ownership will let that happen.
Andre Iguodala – $16,154,750 (Early Termination)
It took a couple of months but Iguodala has finally found his niche with the Nuggets and according to all parties involved it seems that Iguodala is going to opt-out of his deal this summer to secure a more cap friendly long-term deal. Iguodala’s new deal won’t have an annual salary of $16 million, but he’ll likely trade $16 million guaranteed for a new three or four year deal worth $12 to $13 million per season. The Nuggets are up against it cash wise, so how Iguodala will structure his deal is going to matter. The Nuggets have been trying to structure things creatively to keep their core together, but with some $51.7 million in guaranteed contracts and a new deal for Iguodala in the future, things are going to get tight in Denver fairly quick.
Corey Brewer- Unrestricted – $3,243,000
The Nuggets have expressed interest in a new deal for Brewer, but as we covered above they have real cash issues to deal with. Brewer, according to sources, wants to remain in Denver and Denver wants to re-sign him so it is far more likely that they reach a deal than not. Brewer has not had a big payday, so he’ll have to consider other options, but with Denver holding his Bird rights and the ability to do a longer term deal they do have the advantage. Equally, Denver can re-sign Brewer and try to clean up their cap down the road before the trade deadline, so they do have options. The smart money says Brewer is back in Denver unless one of the teams with salary cap space gets silly with an offer Denver just can’t compete with.
Carlos Delfino – $3,000,000 (Non-Guaranteed)
The Rockets hold the cards on Delfino and given how well he’s played it’s hard to imagine they won’t keep him given his relatively cheap price tag. The one wrinkle for him is that the Rockets do plan to go after some of the big name free agents and cutting Delfino loose might be necessary to create more salary cap space. The Rockets structured a lot of their contracts to give themselves those kinds of options. The smart money says he remains in Houston, but if cutting him is the key to landing a major free agent like Dwight Howard or Josh Smith, the Rockets would have little choice but to cut him. Delfino’s non-guaranteed deal is also an attractive trade chip, so Houston has options with Delfino, all of which are in their control.
Chandler Parsons – $926,500 (Non-Guaranteed)
Parsons has a non-guaranteed deal so he has to be on this list, but the truth is at $926,000 Parson is arguably the most productive player dollar-for-dollar in the league. There is almost no scenario in which Chandler is released, the question becomes can Chandler be a trade chip that lands the Rockets the super star they want to put next to James Harden? The smart money says Chandler remains where he is for the duration of his career; he’s been that good for the Rockets, but if a team that’s losing a player in free agency puts Chandler as the price tag for a sign-and-trade, Houston would have to consider that especially if it returns the level of talent they are seeking to move up in the West. Barring the big fish, there is almost no way Chandler isn’t in Houston next season.
Lamar Odom – Unrestricted
Lamar Odom is hardly the player he was a few seasons ago when he was the NBA’s Sixth Man of The Year, that said he’s been a huge part of what the Clippers have done this year not only as a role player but as an emotional leader on the team. Sources close to the situation say they want Odom back next year, but it will have to be on a deal that makes more sense than the $8.2 million ending contract he is on now. Given how dramatically Odom has fallen off, it is unlikely anyone throws a bunch of money his way, so it is safe to say if the Clippers make a multi-year offer they’ll likely keep Odom where he is. The Clippers will have a lot of work to do this offseason in keeping the core together, so how much and for how long will play a big factor in whether Odom is back, but given how much he wants to remain in LA its seems likely they’ll reach a deal.
Matt Barnes – Unrestricted
Barnes was sort of a last minute addition, but he’s paid huge dividends for the Clippers second unit. He signed for the NBA minimum to be a Clipper, and if he’ll do something similar in the offseason he’ll likely remain in LA. Barnes, throughout his career, has had relatively cheap deals, so if the Clippers offer a little cash and a little security the smart money says they’ll re-sign him. He’ll likely be cheaper than anyone they could bring in to replace him especially with what he brings defensively and emotionally.
Metta World Peace – $7,727,280 (Early Termination)
World Peace could opt-out of his deal. Stranger things have happened, but given how much he loves being a Laker and given that he has control over the decision it is unlikely he’s leaving $7.7 million on the table. The Lakers still hold their one-time amnesty cut, so World Peace could be a casualty of economics, but given where the Lakers are headed with so many ending contracts they may be better served hanging on to him and trading him as an ending contract at the trade deadline or simply letting his contract fall off the books in 2014. World Peace has played surprisingly well for the Lakers this year, so when you factor in that Kobe Bryant may miss a big chunk of the season next year and that replacing World Peace in the lineup will be an additional costs, the smart money says he’s is back with the Lakers next season and is dealt at the deadline if there is a taker.
Devin Ebanks – $1,317,986 (Qualifying Offer)
The Lakers can restrict Ebanks’ free agent rights with a $1.3 million qualifying offer and in all honesty they may not find a better player for that money, but Ebanks has played almost no role for the Lakers this season. So is hanging on to him even a factor? The smart money says the Lakers simply move on. Last season they issued the offer and urged Ebanks to be patient as they tried to include him and a multi-year deal into the Dwight Howard trade, so in the interest of a few more dollars and the chance for more security Ebanks passed on other one-year offers. The Lakers could look to do the same with him this year, but given how lackluster he’s been is there any trade value left other than a cap place holder? Ebanks is an unrestricted free agent this summer, but is that really going to matter given how he’s played or will a fresh start with a new team be exactly what he needs to jump start his career?
Mike Dunleavy – Unrestricted – $3,750,000
Dunleavy has settled into a great role in Milwaukee and it’s hard to imagine both sides won’t try and reach a new deal. Dunleavy is scheduled to earn $3.7 million this year, which is actually a good value for what he’s brought as a sixth man for Milwaukee, and it’s also why a number of other suitors may try and pry him away because he might be a good low-dollar option for a team looking for solid reserve who can hit the three ball. Milwaukee will hold his rights so they can and likely will offer the most money, but if the Bucks have to start making financial decisions, Dunleavy could be a causality of that. But, with J.J. Redick possibly walking away and Monta Ellis having the same option, Dunleavy could find himself with a nice offer simply because the Bucks have to fill holes if others leave. Conversely, if both opt to stay under new deals the Bucks make not have money for Dunleavy and that could land him elsewhere.
Chris Copeland – $988,872 (Qualifying Offer)
The Knicks found a solid value player in Copeland and given that he’ll only cost them a $988,000 qualifying offer, it’s safe to assume they’ll issue that. The real question is will someone with cap room make it tough on the Knicks with a multi-year offer? The Knicks are very limited in what they can match on Copeland, as they’ll need as much of their salary cap exception money as possible to sign other players. Copeland could save everyone the headache and simply take the offer and remain in New York, but given where he was last year – playing in Germany – he’ll have to at least listen to offers.
If you are looking for the complete 2013 NBA Free Agent list, you can find it here.
If you are also looking for how your team is situated for next season in terms of salary cap commitments and roster space, you can find each team’s salary situation here.
We Want To Know:
The Coaching Update: While the Cleveland Cavaliers wasted no time in locking up Mike Brown as their next head coach, there are a few other coaching chairs that are open and some names are starting to be linked to them.
In Philadelphia, it’s looking like Mike Malone, a current Golden State Warriors assistant coach, could be the top guy for the 76ers, although it is being reported by Dei Lynam of Comcast SportsNet that Indiana Pacers’ assistant Brian Shaw is also high on the 76ers’ interview list. Mike Budenholzer and Michael Curry have also been linked to the 76ers job as well.
In Detroit, there has been talk that former Portland Trail Blazers’ head coach Nate McMillian was the front runner for the Pistons job, although Pistons sources say it is premature to call anyone a front runner as they have just started the process. Phoenix Suns’ interim head coach Lindsey Hunter is expected to interview for the job at some point in the next week.
In Charlotte, Alvin Gentry is being talked about as the favorite for the job, although sources in Charlotte caution that they will talk to several candidates before making a hire, but concede Gentry is exactly the kind of coach they are looking for.
There are a few coaches still coaching in the playoffs whose futures are extremely cloudy namely Larry Drew in Atlanta; it seems doubtful he’ll be brought back. P.J. Carlesimo in Brooklyn is in roughly the same spot.
Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins is in the final year of his deal and while Marc Gasol spent a lot of time crediting his emergence as an All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year to Hollins yesterday, Hollins’ future in Memphis is unclear mainly because he can opt to be elsewhere. Hollins has said repeatedly that he’s not worried about his contract and that he’d love to remain in Memphis, but the truth is with new ownership and management in place, Hollins very well could choose to walk away.
Hollins has been a vocal dissent with some of the roster decisions the Grizzlies have made this year and rarely stays on message when talking to the media. If Memphis gets bounced in the first round, things could get contentious for Hollins and the Grizzlies.
The NBA Draft is just around the corner, so HOOPSWORLD has everything you need to get ready. Want the Top 100 Players? They are right here. How about detailed Draft Prospect profiles? Got those rights here too. Need some NBA Mock Drafts? Bookmark the NBA Draft page. Who is going to have salary cap space? Check out the most detailed and hyper accurate NBA salary data anywhere. The offseason is right around the corner and HOOPSWORLD has you covered.
The Suns’ Future: To say Phoenix Suns’ owner Robert Sarver has had a rough go of it is an understatement. He overpaid for the franchise in 2004 and has seen the team go from perennial playoff contender to a laughing stock under his watch. Now to be fair, Sarver isn’t a victim here. He squeezed Bryan Colangelo out over money. He chased away Steve Kerr because of how he would spend money and he’s run through a small handful of coaches and executives not to mention uber star players, like Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash.
Earlier this week, the Suns parted ways with General Manager Lance Banks, just two seasons after poaching him away from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Word out of Phoenix yesterday is that interim head coach Lindsey Hunter has requested permission to talk with Detroit about their open coaching job, just weeks after league sources said he’d be named the Suns full-time head coach in the coming weeks.
Now it’s completely possible that Hunter’s agent is using Detroit to get the Suns off the dime on a deal, or it could be one more talented personality jumping ship in Phoenix.
League sources have openly questioned how much longer Sarver plans to own the team and that’s it is entirely possible that once the Sacramento Kings situation clears the NBA approval process that Sarver could put the Suns up for sale as early as this summer.
Given his tenure as owner, who could blame him especially if the Kings sale closes at or above the expected $525 million valuation. Sarver purchased the team in 2004 for a reported for $401 million. Forbes Magazine pegs the Suns’ current value at $474 million.
Industry insiders often dispute the accuracy of the Forbes data; however it’s rare that a team sells for below its Forbe’s valuation. Most sales occur above that figure.
The Kings situation is somewhat unique because of the portability of the franchise due to its lack of a lease agreement.
The Suns’ 30-year arena lease in Phoenix has roughly nine more years remaining, so it’s highly unlikely that the Suns are going anywhere, if and when Sarver decides to sell. But given the increased interest in owning an NBA franchise and that the Golden State Warriors sale in 2010 closed at $450 million and the Memphis Grizzlies sold for a reported $377 million, it’s safe to say Sarver and his investors could see a return on their $401 million. The question remains is he going to sell this summer, as some are suggesting?
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