NBA Sunday: Top Five Free Agent SFs
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Ranking the Top-5 Free Agent Small Forwards.
And then there were three.
With just three teams remaining in the hunt for a possible NBA Finals crown, the rest of the NBA continues to gear up with their collective eyes on the 2013 offseason. Although it may be the weakest position in terms of overall talent in free agency, small forward still has a few key pieces that could be the difference between a team being a pretender or contender next season.
That being said, let’s take a look at the top free agent small forwards heading in the summer of 2013:
5. DeMarre Carroll, Utah Jazz (Unrestricted)
2013 Salary: $885,120
A versatile player that can likely be had on the (relatively) cheap this summer, Carroll represents an intriguing option for teams looking for depth at the wing position heading into next year. Carroll averaged a modest six points and 2.8 rebounds per contest this past season but is widely recognized as a quality perimeter defender with a high motor. In limited minutes this past season for Utah, Carroll still managed to find a way to make a difference at a crowded three-position. The 6-foot-8 swingman is still just 26-years old, likely has room to grow and will certainly bring up those qualities in meetings with prospective squads this summer.
4. Chase Budinger, Minnesota Timberwolves (Unrestricted)
2013 Salary: $885,120
Another player that can likely be had on the cheap this summer, Budinger represents a solid player that can do all of the dirty work for a prospective team. His numbers aren’t going to jump out to anyone, but Budinger has the length and motor to give opposing teams fits on both ends of the court.
Budinger shot a career-worst 32.1 percent from behind the arc this past season after setting a career-high the year before at over 40 percent with the Houston Rockets. Still, the 25-year old has proven to be a reliable shooter from 3-point range over the course of his brief career and will likely receive his fair share of interest this summer.
3. Mike Dunleavy, Milwaukee Bucks (Unrestricted)
2013 Salary: $3,750,000
The veteran forward has made his mark in the NBA as a proven scorer over the course of his 10-year career and is showing no signs of slowing down. A starter for much of his career, Dunleavy sports a career 11.9 point per game average to go along with 4.5 rebounds per contest.
While most likely destined to provide depth for a contending squad, teams around the NBA covet a veteran that can drain an open perimeter shot. Obviously Dunleavy, much like every other player in this top-5, isn’t going to carry the load for a prospective team. However, a veteran marksman like Dunleavy could be a key piece on a team needing a bit of scoring punch off of the bench.
2. Matt Barnes, Los Angeles Clippers (Restricted)
2013 Salary: $854,398
Never afraid to stir things up on the court, Barnes had one of his most productive seasons this past year on arguably the best reserve core in basketball. Barnes averaged a career-high 10.3 points per contest on a Clippers squad that featured the highest scoring bench in the NBA.
The 10-year veteran has made a living providing toughness and stout perimeter defense for prospective playoff squads and that will be his pitch to potential landing spots this summer. His game is best suited to be a contributor on a postseason hopeful so, if the Clippers balk, expect Barnes to be on the short list of likely contenders needing help at small forward this summer.
1. Corey Brewer, Denver Nuggets (Unrestricted)
2013 Salary: $3,243,000
An NBA Champion with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, Brewer has grown into a solid NBA player since playing limited minutes over the course of the Mavs title run. Brewer was the top reserve scorer for a Nuggets team that finished as the top scoring squad in the NBA for 2013.
The 27-year old has improved his game each season since entering the league in 2007 and has developed into a key contributor on a perennial playoff team in Denver. Brewer is the cream of the crop in a weak free agency class for small forwards but teams aren’t going to be sleeping on the talented former lottery pick this offseason.
Non-Guaranteed, Early Termination Option, Player Option and Team Option Notables:
Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets (ETO):
2013 Salary: $14,968,250
Iguodala is as solid of an all-around player as there is the NBA but there’s about zero chance he leaves over $16 million on the table to test the market. The former All-Star was a key contributor for the Nuggets this past season but teams won’t come close to sniffing the vast amount he’s owed next season.
Shawn Marion, Dallas Mavericks (ETO):
2013 Salary: $8,646,364
Still a top-notch defender capable of guarding positions one-through-four on the court, Marion isn’t likely to leave Dallas this offseason. If Marion opts out, it will be because he has a new deal in place with Dallas where he gets more years (think two-to-three) with about $3 million more guaranteed. This will help with the Mavs’ plans of acquiring a top-notch free agent or two this summer by giving Dallas more flexibility under the luxury tax threshold.
Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics (Non-Guaranteed):
2013 Salary: $16,790,345
The former NBA Champion is set to make a nice payday next season, although Boston does have the option to let Pierce go should they see fit. It may be time to declare the Kevin Garnett-Pierce era over in Boston and letting the franchise-leader in scoring go would be the first step. If that’s the case, expect plenty of teams to be suitors for the career 21.8 point per game scoring this July.
Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets (Non-Guaranteed):
2013 Salary: $888,250
In the Rockets pursuit of Dwight Howard this summer, Parsons’ release could be a gut-wrenching decision for a Houston team eager to create enough room to dish out a max contract. Working in both sides favor is that Parsons is owed less than $1 million next year, which is a steal for a player of his caliber.
Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando Magic (Non-Guaranteed):
2013 Salary: $11,815,850
2014: $12 million
The rebuilding Magic will almost assuredly exercise this option on Turkoglu as the team continues to strive to feature a young, talented and cheap roster heading into the future. Don’t expect the 12-year vet to get anywhere near what he made on the market this past year, as a vet minimum would be a quality deal for Turkoglu at this point in his career.
Pivotal Game 7 Brewing in Eastern Conference Finals
Despite another epic performance from LeBron James, the Indiana Pacers are on the verge of shocking the world if they can pull out a Game 7 victory over the Miami HEAT. Paul George came up huge once again, leading the Pacers with 28 points while Roy Hibbert scored 24 and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Pacers outrebounded Miami 53-33 for the contest and pulled away in the third quarter with a decisive 29-15 spurt.
“Total domination by the Pacers in the third,” James told USA Today Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt. “They made a lot of shots. We didn’t get too many stops. And we missed a lot of really, really easy shots. D-Wade had a chippy in transition. ‘Rio had a chippy in transition where he bobbled a turnover on a 3-on-1 break. [Chris Bosh] had a couple looks. They pushed it up.”
Indiana seemingly did their best HEAT impression in the pivotal third, matching Miami’s epic Game Five third quarter run nearly stride for stride in Game Six.
“In Game 5, they came out and seized control of the game in the third quarter. And I felt like we could do the same thing,” Indiana head coach Frank Vogel said. “(Before the game) I wrote, ‘Be encouraged.’ There’s a lot to be encouraged about in this series. That was my message to our guys. … Just tighten the screws and do what we do, and we’ll be tough to beat.”
The Pacers held the HEAT to a postseason-low 77 points – matching Miami’s season-low point total for any contest this season. What makes Indiana so dangerous is their ferocious defense, which finished the year ranked second in the league in points allowed per contest (90.7). While Miami clearly holds the talent advantage in this series, Indiana’s penchant for making the HEAT work for every basket offensively is the reason this series is going seven.
The only problem is that Miami, one of the best home teams all season long, has lost just twice on their home floor this postseason – which is where this series will come to a head Monday night. The good news is that Indiana, with a 97-93 victory in Game 2, is responsible for one of those losses.
One thing is for sure: NBA fans are set to enjoy an epic Game 7 tomorrow night.