Looking At The Top Free Agents of 2014

By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com

The 2013 free-agency period is nearly complete, which means we’re now less than a year away from 2014′s open market, and I guess that means it’s time to get excited. Pop the bubbly and get ready for a mid-summer free-agency ranking!

(Note No. 1: The following ranking does not include the five players (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Amar’e Stoudemire) who have early termination options in their contracts. All of these players could become unrestricted free agents if they invoke the option before June 30th, 2014. None of these players have invoked the option yet, so to me they’re not upcoming free agents. Let’s move on.)

(Note No. 2: Teams with restricted free agents have until October 31 to agree to a contract extension. Many of the players on this list will be extended before the deadline and, thus, not free agents next summer. But none of these players has been extended yet, so to me they’re all still upcoming free agents. Let’s continue to move on.)

10. Andrew Bogut, Golden State Warriors

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 5.8 PPG (.451 FG%), 7.7 RPG, 1.7 BPG

The former first overall pick is still battling back from a devastating arm injury suffered in 2010 and lingering ankle and back issues. But he seemed to hit his stride at points for the Warriors last season as his elite defensive play makes him a valuable commodity. He was arguably the second-best center in the league before his injury in 2010 and the former All-NBA third team selection should have plenty of suitors next summer if he stays healthy.

9. Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Four

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 13.8 PPG (.426 FG%), 6.3 RPG, 3.0 APG

This may be the last season in Chicago for the Bulls’ defensive stopper. Deng played major minutes last season (38.7 per game) but the emergence of Jimmy Butler may cause his role to be reduced. The former Duke Blue Devil has seen his shooting percentages dip over the last two seasons and those will need to improve if the 28-year-old hopes for lucrative offers next summer. But even if they don’t, he should receive significant interest for his defensive ability alone.

8. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz (restricted)

San Antonio Spurs v Utah Jazz - Game Four

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 9.4 PPG (.482 FG%), 7.1 RPG, 1.7 BPG (in 23.2 minutes per game)

Favors spent his first 2 1/2 seasons in Utah stuck behind veteran big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. But this will no longer be a problem for Favors as both players left the Jazz during free agency. Increased playing time will benefit the third overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft as he has shown incredible skill during limited minutes. It seems likely the Jazz will do whatever it takes to retain their 22-year-old franchise building block.

7. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 13.7 PPG (.466 FG%), 8.6 RPG, 4.1 APG

The four-time All-Star has been limited by injuries and a tumultuous situation in Los Angeles over the past two seasons. He has talent, and at only 32 years old, he could still play a significant role on a championship contender. His recent dip in production could be attributed to an adjusted role in the Lakers’ offense which has moved him away from areas he’s historically been successful. If these problems can be fixed by coach Mike D’Antoni, then Gasol should see increased value next summer.

6. Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons (restricted)

Detroit Pistons vs Miami Heat

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 16.0 PPG (.486 FG%), 9.6 RPG, 3.5 APG

The 23-year-old Pistons’ big man has shown a lot of promise on offense but his below-average defense stunts his contract potential. His value also may be negatively affected by his likely reduced shots next season due to the Pistons’ high-volume free-agent additions of Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. But Monroe has clearly displayed immense potential during his first three seasons in Detroit and he will receive heavy interest during the 2014 free-agency period.  

5. Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks (restricted)

Milwaukee Bucks v Minnesota Timberwolves

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 9.8 PPG (.506 FG%), 9.5 RPG, 2.8 BPG (in 27.3 minutes per game)

The Bucks are reportedly close to a contract extension with Sanders, but if that deal somehow falls through then he would be one of the best free agents available. Last season was a breakout year for the 24-year-old center out of VCU and he showed elite defensive skills once he secured playing time. Sanders could become an All-Star in the next few seasons if he is able to control his fouls and temper.

4. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings (restricted)

Sacramento Kings  v Denver Nuggets

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 17.1 PPG (.465 FG%), 9.9 RPG, 2.7 APG

Most people want to believe in the potential of Cousins, but it’s hard when he expends such little effort on defense. New Kings coach Michael Malone believes he can reach the 22-year-old center. If he can, the Kings will have themselves an elite big man. The potential of Cousins makes it likely Sacramento will try to secure him with a new contract before free agency starts. However, the potential he never puts it together mentally may make it difficult for any team to offer him a max contract.

3. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 17.3 PPG (.471 FG%), 6.8 RPG, 2.5 APG

The Mavericks’ roster moves over the past three seasons make it easy to forget that Dallas won the championship in 2011. The Mavericks struggled last season as Nowitzki battled early-season injuries and the lack of talent on their roster proved to be a problem. But Nowitzki’s desire for another championship remains high and he may seek a title shot elsewhere should the Mavericks struggle again. He’d find plenty of suitors, too, because which championship contender wouldn’t want to add one of the best scorers in league history?

2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 27.3 PPG (.463 FG%), 6.0 APG, 5.6 RPG

Take a moment to imagine Bryant in any other jersey than the Lakers. Any other team. Maybe the Bulls. Or Jazz. Or Bobcats. It looks weird no matter which team you choose and it seems likely he’ll never leave the purple and gold. But if he did leave he’d cause chaos in the basketball universe and force us all to reconsider what life really means. None of this will matter, though, if he is unable to return from the Achilles tendon injury he suffered late last season.

1. Paul George, Indiana Pacers (restricted)

Indiana Pacers v Golden State Warriors

2012-13 Regular Season Stats: 17.4 PPG (.419 FG%), 7.6 RPG, 4.1 APG

The 23-year-old George fully embraced his new role as the lead man in Indiana last season and soon he will be rewarded with a giant new contract. It’s hard to think of any reason the Pacers would let the future of their franchise leave and they’ll probably lock him up before the October 31 deadline. But if he hits the open market (like Bryant), then we may experience a summer crazier than the one we just finished.

***

Honorable Mentions: Paul Pierce, Brooklyn Nets; Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns; Greivis Vasquez, Sacramento Kings (restricted); Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers; Ed Davis, Memphis Grizzlies (restricted); Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City Thunder; Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors; Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz (restricted); Ray Allen, Miami Heat; Vince Carter, Dallas Mavericks; Ben Gordon, Charlotte Bobcats; Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls; Ramon Sessions, Charlotte Bobcats

37 Comments

  1. John says:

    Gortat is much better and quicker than Bogut.

  2. Tyler says:

    isn’t Melo a free agent too?

  3. People who actually think the pacers are going to let Paul George leave for the Lakers are morons. HE IS RESTRICTED, Pacers will sign him back unless you are willing to give up all those young talented players you dont have he is a blue and gold guy for life I would bet. LOVES IT IN INDIANA. Also reminder that he was a clipper fan not a Laker fan but have fun being irrelevant!

  4. Jason says:

    This is for sure 2014 season Melo will be a laker plus 1more like cousins or monroe will be added, kobe and pau will stay and retire as a laker..Remember all this guys..

  5. Vince says:

    People keep comparing the Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant scenario. Please don’t forget that Pierce was TRADED, he didn’t have a choice. Kobe will be a free agent and if he leaves the Lakers it would be his own decision.

    • aaaaaa says:

      You’re right, but I’m pretty sure as much as he wanted to retire a Celtic (and us Celts fans wanted him to retire here) he probably wanted to win another championship before he retires. No disrespect and I wish him the best in Brooklyn.

  6. kazoomi says:

    way to school these folks mr.cool

  7. kazoomi says:

    we love 50 cent kidd kidd

  8. mal says:

    man what will all the hataz say if Kobe goes to Miami to win more rings?

  9. MR COOL says:

    Kobe already said he will not take a pay cut! He is greedy! He already stated he is there to make as much money as he can…and that is why he will not win another ring!! Thank God! Cuz he is not Michael Jordan!!! He never will be… Jordan won 3 left came back and won 3 more!! Kobe failed to do this task….Therefore Jordan will always be better!!!

  10. Pops says:

    Kobe & Pau will stay with Lakers, but they should pick up Deng to pump up their D

  11. dirk45 says:

    I cannot imagine Kobe wearing any other than purple and gold but I can even less imagine Dirk leaving Dallas. He’d rather retire than hunt a title elsewhere.

    And how can you add Carter to the honorable mentions and leave Shawn Marion out? He’ll definitely be able to help any team more than Carter, even if Carter’s playing level is tremendous given his age.

  12. Kobe-Lebron-Carmelo-Pau-Rondo@LA says:

    Of course Kobe and Pau will remain as a Laker and he will be joined by Carmelo and Rondo and ultimately….. Lebron……….
    LA’s 17th to 20th Championship is coming………..

  13. Anonymous says:

    I really hope Favors stays in Utah. He only played about 25 minutes per game, but with increased minutes, I think he can be great. Looking forward to a full season of Kanter and Favors.

  14. Sohial says:

    How did Paul make the nba all star team last year?… :/

  15. JohnFANofKOBEandLAKER says:

    KOBE will retire as a LAKER, plus TAKE P.GEORGE to LAKER he’ll be a good heir of the throne, then add some good big man like larry sander, imagine in 2k14 PG – NASH SG – BRYANT SF – P.GEORGE PF – GASOL(if the laker still sign him)
    C – L. SANDERS, CONTENDER AS SURE !

  16. Jimmy jazz says:

    Bogut and Golden State seem like a good fit, I hope he could play a few years there.

  17. J says:

    if bogut is not healthy next season Golden state should move on. if he is keep him.

    luol deng is a great all around player and very underrated, he’d fit well anywhere but I think he should stay.

    Favors should be 7 on this list cause he will have a breakout year in 2013-2014. leave Utah their not getting any better, their a lottery team. Favors should go to a team with and offensive big and play at PF (should have done that in 2013 with big Al) that would be great.

    Pau Gasol should lock up a multi year contract before he starts to sag off more.

    the pistons have a bright future and will be a great team. but I think Greg Monroe should be traded for a better defensive C

    Larry Sanders should go to OKC, either by free agent signing or trade for perkins and draft picks. then OKC (WITH MORE SCORING!) would be real title contenders with Sanders and Ibaka blocking 4-8 shots a game. BLOCK PARTY!

    Demarcus Cousins in my opinion should not get a max offer. only if he improves…a lot

    Dirk will stay

    Kobe will stay

    if the Pacers know what’s good for them they’ll make sure they keep Paul George

  18. Anonymous says:

    Cousins, Patterson and Bledsoe to the Lakers! A Wildcats Takeover!

  19. J says:

    what an article!!! awesome!!!

  20. Sonny says:

    if Kobe is willing to sacrifice his salary, maybe lakers can sign DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George. Kobe can help Paul become a great player and leader !!!!!

  21. Camgaroo says:

    He may be out of contract but Kobe will never the Lakers and they wont want to let him go. Even if his production is down his marketing value and leadership makes him a laker till he retires (with a 6th ring!)

    • tobeey says:

      no 6th ring for kobe imo

    • Bryantx says:

      Then why paul pierce left boston. He has been a celtic ever since. Im not saying he is the same calliber as bryant but they have the same story here. People thought he would never leave but then this off seasoan happened. I think anything is possible. He can leave or not. Just sayin.

  22. ZombieMixx says:

    Kobe will remain a Laker for LIFE.

  23. Luis says:

    “But if he did leave he’d cause chaos in the basketball universe and force us all to reconsider what life really means” LMAO

  24. Eric Chua says:

    Wow Kobe…BRYANT! :D He will be a Lakers forever! And follow me @Ericwantspeace on Twitter! :D

  25. cheaaa!! says:

    Kobe Bryant to Miami WAAAATTTT!!!! he can win atleast 3 more titles if lebron’s still there

  26. Lakers-Warriors-Suns. says:

    Lol. Am I the only person that thinks that Paul George looks like Usher?

  27. matthew mathis says:

    LET THE CAMPAIGNING START EARLY GRANGER AND DENG IN PURLPE AND GOLD. THAT WHEN KOBE WILL TAKE A PAY CUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. BigMike(From North Hill in Akron,Ohio) says:

    Kobe Bryant will retire a Laker.He will not sign with another team,unless its the Clippers. And then i’m thinking he will be so pissed that the Lakers didn’t give him the money he wanted that he would sign with the Clippers for the veteran salary as a slap in the face to the Lakers.Dirk won’t leave Dallas.And if he does,he won”t go far.He would probably then land in Houston or San Antonio.Forget about Paul George too,Pacers will match any and all offers!Could see Gasol finish his career as a backup /part time starter in Memphis with his brother or return for LESS money from Lakers .Demarcus Cousins will stay in Sacramento as well.Just as Favors will remain in Utah.Sanders also will remain with Milwaukee.Greg Monroe will stay in Detroit.Bogut and Deng both should stay with their current teams in Golden State and Chicago respectively,however anything is possible.

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      If Kobe wants to win another championship then he has to sign with another team, the Lakers are DONE! Kobe’s ego is trying to win a 6th ring which is in the way of the Lakers being able to re-build.

      That’s why KG and Pierce went to the Nets, in order to try and win another championship before they retire and also allowed Boston to rebuild with younger pieces around Rondo.

      The point is that Kobe should sign with a championship contending team for the last 2-3 years of his career if he wants to win that 6th ring, because the purple and gold era is OVER.
      OKC could use a 3rd option after Harden went to Houston, and Martin went to the Kings …Kobe, KD, Westbrook … ? ;)

    • Kobe will stay with LA and LA will grab free agents like melo, wade, lebron, or bosh….Gasol will stay in LA and win a couple more championships…Dirk will land in houston and will contend with the lakers to win championships with howard and harden…which ever one wins the west would win it all

      • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

        That’s the problem with Laker fans, you really believe that the Lakers still have a chance?
        Kobe will be 35 on Thursday and he is still recovering from an injury that has ended careers. Kobe doesn’t have time to build chemistry with new players. Kobe’s best chance was if D12 stayed in LA…

        You really think LeBron or Melo or anybody wants to go to LA? LA is a sinking ship .. If LeBron goes anywhere it’ll be back to Cleveland. Wade just openly stated that he wants to basically play for Miami for the rest of his career. And I doubt Melo will leave NY next summer because Amare’s contract will expire and open up their salary cap so they’ll be able to add some help for Melo. So that rumour of Melo-Kobe-LeBron teaming up in LA is NOT HAPPENING!

        Every Dynasty has to come to an end eventually, its sad when it happens, but it happens… Just ask Pierce, Allen, & KG.
        The best thing Kobe can do for his legacy and to be able to win that 6th ring is to go to a team like Chicago and have a real chance at a championship for the last 1-3 years of his career …

    • Ellz says:

      instead of typing a book just to keep saying the same thing, why didnt you just say everyone will stay with their team?
      smh… btw no way every oe of those players staywiht their team