Ranking the top unrestricted free agents to hit the open market

1. LeBron James

The NBA’s best player and the best player of this generation will have another opportunity to leave Cleveland for greener pastures. The Lakers and Rockets are the two likely favorites if LeBron decides to leave.

2. Kevin Durant

Durant has already decided to opt of his player option but has no plans on leaving the Warriors. After coming off back to back Finals MVP’s and having took a $10 million pay cut last season, Durant is going to sign for the full max this offseason.

3. Paul George

Paul George will hit free agency for the first time in his career. All the talk was that once George hit free agency, going back home to Los Angeles. Those rumors have sort of died down a bit after George decided to have surgery on his knee. People around the league wouldn’t be surprised if he headed back to Oklahoma City for one more year despite the disappointing season.

4. Chris Paul

Almost a 0% chance Paul leaves Houston especially after coming one game shy from the NBA Finals. Only question is how many years and how much money the Rockets want to give Paul.

5. Demarcus Cousins

Cousins is going to be a big question mark coming off that torn achilles tendon he suffered late last season. The Pelicans would love to bring him back to pair with Davis but it’s unclear if Cousins would want to head back to New Orleans or head elsewhere. It wouldn’t be surprising to see teams be hesitant giving Cousins a full max. Still, he’s the most dominant center on the market. The Lakers, Bulls, and Mavericks are the three most likely teams to toss Cousins a full max. A surprise darkhorse? The Brooklyn Nets.

6. Deandre Jordan

Jordan is another guy with a player option who is likely to opt out in search of a larger pay day. The Clippers may let Jordan leave if he opts out as they look to go with a rebuild and try to adjust their roster differently. Jordan will still have great value as a rim protector and ability to finish around the rim with high efficiency. The Mavericks, Nets, and Kings may be high bidders for Jordan.

7. Tyreke Evans

Evans is coming off a terrific season in Memphis averaging 19.4 ppg, 5.1, rbg and 5.2 apg. Those are All-Star level numbers. The Grizzlies don’t have the necessary cap space to bring him back (unless they trade down from 4 to dump Chandler Parsons salary) which means Evans will be suiting for a new squad. The Knicks, 76ers, Pacers, and Jazz will all inquire about Evans services.

8. Derrick Favors

Favors is a traditional 4 so his market value will be interesting to monitor. Favors had a bounce back season a year ago after a couple of injury riddled seasons. Still only 26 years old, Favors may be the guy to sign with an up and coming team as a veteran presence but still able to grow with them in the future. Teams like the Suns, Hawks, Kings and Mavericks may target Favors as a second tier player while others are big name shopping.

9. Trevor Ariza

Ariza is a prototypical 3 and D wing. Rumors are he is targeting a $50-$60 million in free agency (good luck getting that) and should have a good amount of bidders for his services. Ariza fits what most teams want in role player

10. Will Barton

Barton has been one of the better 6th man players in the league in each of the past two seasons. Barton is almost a hidden gem on the free agent market. Barton is a 6’6 forward who can handle the ball, distribute, score, defend, and rebound. It’s time for Barton to get paid.

11. Isaiah Thomas

Tough to say there wasn’t a player who decreased his value more in year than Thomas did last year. Still recovering from the hip injury, Thomas was traded after just 15 games with the Cavaliers to the Lakers. It isn’t likely Thomas will receive the contract he originally thought he’d get after his breakout year with the Celtics.

12. J.J Reddick

A lights out shooter coming off a career year in Philadelphia. It’s likely Reddick heads back to the 76ers on a contract with more years but with less money per year.

13. Avery Bradley

Still one of the better 3 and D players in the league. It was almost a forgotten season for Bradley last year but should still have suitors on the free agent market and could still help a contending team.

14. Rajon Rondo

Rondo played really well for the Pelicans last season especially down the stretch and was instrumental in the Pelicans winning a playoff series. Still one of the top floor generals in the league, a point guard needy team will still seek his services. The expectation is Rondo will be heading back to New Orleans.

15. Enes Kanter

Kanter had a solid first season with the Knicks and it’s likely he’ll opt into his $18.6 million salary for next year. Kanter struggles defensively but is one of the better rebounding and scoring bigs in the league. A role in which Kanter can play about 20-225 minutes per game would be best suited for him and his team in order to get his maximum value.

16. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Caldwell-Pope had a solid season for the Lakers a year ago and did a nice job of building his value up despite the off court issues. Caldwell-Pope will be a second tier target guy for a 3 and D type player.

17. Dwyane Wade

A former superstar that’s struggling to keep up with father time. Although, Wade was effective in his return to the Miami Heat last season. It’s a near lock he’ll be back with the Heat again this upcoming year.

18. Austin Rivers

Rivers has a player option and it’s unknown which way he’s leaning. If he intends to opt out, it would be hard to see him leaving the Clippers and playing for his father. Expect Rivers to remain in Los Angeles.

19. Brook Lopez

Still offensively skilled despite his limited defensive skills and rebounding ability. His improved 3 point shot should help Lopez latch onto a contender as a bench big.

20. Wayne Ellington

A marksman three point shooter, Ellington should have no trouble finding a job next season. It’ll be interesting to see if he takes less money to be role player on a contending team or take more money to be on a bad team. Either way, his 39.2% shooting clip from three will carry over to whatever team he ends up on.

21. Greg Monroe

Monroe played for three teams last year but can still rebound the basketball and score in the low post. Monroe can be add for a cheap one year contract if a team is willing to take a flyer on him. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a starting position.

22. Luc Mbah a Moute

Mbah a Moute has value as a player who can hit the open three and has ability to defend multiple positions at a high level. Mbah a Moute has played a valuable role for playoff contenders such as the Clippers and the Rockets and is likely to join another playoff team if he doesn’t come back to the Rockets for another year.

23. Rudy Gay

Gay had a nice bounce year for the Spurs and showed he can be healthy despite his injury plagued past. Gay will have value coming off the bench to a contender with his ability to score the ball and make offense out of nothing.

24. Milos Teodosic

Teodosic has a player option with the Clippers but it might be wise to opt out and test the free agent market. The serbian guard was thought as the best point guard in Europe to never play in the NBA until his debut last year. A flashy passer with great court vision, Teodosic has the ability to run most offenses in the league.

25. Jeremy Lin

Injuries have ruined Lin’s chance at stardom but he still has the ability to be a fill in starter and high level bench player for most teams. Lin likely won’t get anything more than a one year deal in free agency. He’ll get a “prove it” type deal as he attempts to build back up his value.

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