NBA Sunday: Top Five Free Agent SGs
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Ranking the Top Five Free Agent Shooting Guards
Teams around the NBA have their sights set on the upcoming free agency period and are in the process of figuring out their options in terms of new additions this summer.
For teams in need of a two-guard, there are a few names on the market that should draw some serious interest when the free agency period commences this July.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at an offseason shopper’s guide to the top free agent shooting guards set to be available:
5. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs (Unrestricted)
2013 Salary: $14,107,492
Injury issues aside, the 35-year-old Ginobili still rates as one of the most lethal and explosive scorers in the NBA today. Despite a decreased role in San Antonio over the last few seasons, Ginobili still has the ability to take over games with solid outside shooting and a penchant for getting to the rim. However, it’s highly unlikely that the Spurs would let Ginobili go or that he would play anywhere else, but that doesn’t diminish his status as a top free agent two-guard.
4. Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City Thunder (Unrestricted)
2013 Salary: $12,439,675
A proven scorer over the course of his nine-year NBA career, Martin is likely to have plenty of potential suitors when free agency gets underway this summer. Even though Martin took a backseat and played a reserve role as sixth man for the Thunder this past year, he still averaged over 14 points per contest. Martin did a solid job of filling the gaping hole left by James Harden’s departure during the regular season but struggled to find consistency during the playoffs.
At 30 years old, Martin is who he is as an NBA player: a talented scorer adept at getting to the free throw line that struggles to provide much of an impact in other aspects on the court. Still, teams salivate over guards that can create their own shot and get to the basket at will, so expect Martin to get plenty of love this offseason.
3. J.J. Redick, Milwaukee Bucks (Unrestricted)
2013 Salary: $6,190,000
After a career-year across the board in 2013, which just happened to be a contract season for the 28-year-old, Redick is one of the top shooting guards on the market this summer. Redick averaged career-highs in points (14.1) and assists (3.8) per game over the course of the 2012-13 season, which should help his free agency stock dramatically.
Over the last few seasons, Redick played himself into a larger role with both the Orlando Magic and, most recently, the Bucks this past year. Already a proven three-point marksman as a career 39 percent shooter from behind the arc, look for Redick to get a similar contract offer to what he made this past year.
2. Gerald Henderson, Charlotte Bobcats (Restricted)
2013 Salary: $3,101,327
Qualifying Offer: $4,531,459
While Henderson may never be an All-Star in this league, the young swingman has come into his own over the last few years in Charlotte. However, tempering expectations is key. While the 25-year-old doesn’t possess superstar ability, Henderson does a little bit of everything well on an NBA floor.
This past season, Henderson averaged 15.5 points and 3.7 boards per contest for the lowly Bobcats while providing solid defense against the opponents’ best perimeter player. The most likely scenario is that Charlotte matches any reasonable offer Henderson gets, which should be at least the Mid-Level Exception.
1. Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings (Restricted)
2013 Salary: $5,251,825
Qualifying Offer: $6,927,157
Evans is one of the most intriguing players with the potential to switch teams this offseason. The former Kings starting point guard has found himself in a decreased role after playing without a defined position over the past few seasons in Sacramento. Still, at just 23 years old, Evans has plenty of room to grow and could thrive with a change of scenery and in the company of a team willing to give him a defined role.
Despite seeing his averages drop every season since posting career-highs in points (20.1), assists (5.8) and rebounds (5.3) per game his rookie season, expect Evans to get significant offers from teams around the NBA.
Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies (Unrestricted)
2013 Salary: $3.3 million
Leading the Grizzlies back to relevance over the past few seasons has been the grizzled vet Allen. Consistently one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, prospective contenders will be lining up to acquire the nine-year veteran this summer.
Randy Foye, Utah Jazz (Unrestricted)
2013 Salary: $2.5 million
Foye has been one of the top three-point shooters in the NBA over the last few years, culminating in shooting 41 percent from behind the arc and averaging a career-best 2.2 made threes per contest in 2013. Utah has plenty of decisions to make this offseason with seven free agents set to hit the market, but Foye should get plenty of attention, and a raise, when the free agency dust settles.
Gary Neal, San Antonio Spurs (Restricted)
2013 Salary: $854,389
Qualifying Offer: $1,116,099
Originally signed on as an undrafted free agent by the Spurs, Neal has played his way into a significant role with one of the best teams in the NBA. The lowest-paid player mentioned on this list, expect Neal to get a significant raise in free agency no matter where he lands.
Non-Guaranteed, Early Termination Option, Player Option and Team Option Notables:
J.R. Smith, New York Knicks (Player Option):
2013 Salary: $2,806,452
It’s highly unlikely that Smith is going to settle for the player option he’s set to make this season, which means the reigning Sixth Man of the Year will likely hit the free agent market. If so, Smith is arguably the top talent available on the market and will receive a lofty increase on the $2.8 million he made this past season.
Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks (ETO):
2013 Salary: $11 million
Option: $11 million
A lethal scorer throughout his eight-year NBA career, the question with Ellis has always been whether or not he has the ability to be the best player on a contending team. The jury’s still out on that, but either way Ellis will have a tough decision to make this summer. Will he leave a whopping $11 million on the table to test the market and secure a new long-term deal?
Ray Allen, Miami HEAT (Player Option):
2013 Salary: $3,090,000
With the way the HEAT rolled through the regular season, and the legitimate shot Miami has to go all the way again this year, it’s highly unlikely Allen decides to go elsewhere next season. Allen is arguably the top pure shooter of all time and will almost certainly be wearing a HEAT jersey again in 2014.
Jodie Meeks, Los Angeles Lakers (Team Option):
2013 Salary: $1.5 million
The Lakers reserve never quite got on track in his first season in Los Angeles, despite starting the majority of 2012 for the Philadelphia 76ers. L.A. doesn’t have much to work with cap-wise this offseason so, even though Meeks regressed this past season, it’s unlikely the Lakers exercise the option on a relatively cheap role player.
O.J. Mayo, Dallas Mavericks (Player Option):
2013 Salary: $4,020,000
After a blazing start to the 2012-13 NBA season, Mayo’s production dipped dramatically over the last few months but the 25-year-old guard is set to opt out after the season. If Mayo wants any more than the $4.2 million he could make with Dallas, expect the streaky guard to be playing elsewhere next season.
Déjà-Vu For the Indiana Pacers?
Following a dominant performance by LeBron James in Game 1 that capped an impressive Miami HEAT victory, the Indiana Pacers bounced back with a gritty Game 2 win. The Pacers made up for the demoralizing Game 1 defeat with solid execution in the final minutes of Game 2, sealing a win to a nail-biter of a contest to tie the series at 1-1.
Sound like a familiar plot line?
The events of the past week have been eerily similar to what transpired over the first two games of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals between these same two teams.
“It feels like déjà-vu a little bit,” Pacers point guard George Hill said after Indiana’s 97-93 victory in Game 2. “We were in the same situation last year where we gave away Game 1 and then came back and won Game 2 so I try to tell everybody, ‘Don’t focus on that. Put that in the past.’ We know each game means a lot and we can’t focus on Game 4 or 5, we’ve just got to focus on the next game. That’s what I tell my team, ‘Don’t worry about the series being 1-1, just worry about the series is 0-0 and we’ve got to win the next one.’”
Indiana rebounded in a massive way after blowing Game 1 on Wednesday, inducing some ferocious late-game defense on James in Game 2 that was severely lacking just two days before. Roy Hibbert was back on the floor in the closing minutes and quick hands by David West helped produce two turnovers by James in crunch time to seal the win.
“We’ve won one game,” Hibbert said. “A lot of us feel we should be up 2-0. … We’re a tough-it-out team and we learned from last year. We learned from Game 1. We’re a growing and evolving team.”
In what appears to be his NBA-superstar coming out party over the course of the 2013 postseason, Paul George led the way for Indiana once again in Game 2. George managed 22 points (9-16), six assists and one monster dunk over Chris Andersen at the end of the third quarter. This resulted in a slap of hands with LeBron at the close of the third and some subsequent postgame gushing from James.
“He’s really good,” James said of George. “He’s going to be a great one. His maturity and his game have definitely risen in just one year because of the opportunity Frank Vogel has given him. His teammates have a lot of confidence in him and he has confidence in himself. I love the competition. I try to step up to the challenge.”
Even George’s teammates couldn’t help but marvel at his immense growth in the short span of this season.
“It’s unbelievable,” Hill said. “The steps that he has taken so far to be the player that he is. We tell him that, no matter the situation, he has to go attack [James] back. Make him work on the defensive end to try to tire his legs on the offensive end. I think Paul’s done a great job of mixing up jump shots and attacking but we’re going to need him to continue to do that and step up like he did [Friday].”
With another year of experience under their belt and the bitter taste from losing three straight games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals still resonating, the Pacers look primed to give the HEAT all they can handle.
“We’re not going to back down,” Hibbert said. “They can be the champs but we’re coming for them.”
Game 3 between the Pacers and HEAT will be played tonight starting at 8:30 p.m. EST and can be seen nationally on TNT.