• Michael Ryan

NBA Offseason 2018: Top 25 Unrestricted Free Agents

Photo Courtesy: IBI Times

Ranking the top 25 unrestricted free agents to hit the open market this offseason.

1. LeBron James - F, Cleveland Cavaliers

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

2. Kevin Durant - F, Golden State Warriors

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

3. Paul George - F, Oklahoma City Thunder

George will hit free agency for the first time in his career. All the talk was that once George hit free agency, he was 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 a disappointing season for the Thunder.

4. Chris Paul - G, Houston Rockets

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 him.

5. Demarcus Cousin - C, New Orleans Pelicans

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 Anthony Davis but it’s unclear whether Cousins would want to head back to New Orleans. 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, Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks are the three most likely teams to toss Cousins a full max.

6. DeAndre Jordan - C, los Angeles Clippers

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 and Kings may be bidders for Jordan.

7. Tyreke Evans - G, Memphis Grizzlies

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 the fourth pick in the draft to dump Chandler Parson’s salary) which means Evans will be suiting up for a new squad. The New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, and Utah Jazz will all inquire about Evans' services.

8. Derrick Favors - F, Utah Jazz

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 Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Mavericks may target Favors as a second-tier player while others are big name shopping.

9. Trevor Ariza - F, Houston Rockets

Ariza is a prototypical “3 and D” wing. Rumors are he is targeting $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 - G, Denver Nuggets

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

Photo Courtesy: Boston Sports Journal

11. Isaiah Thomas - G, Los Angeles Lakers

Tough to say there wasn’t a player who decreased his value more in year than Thomas. 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 last year’s breakout season with the Boston Celtics.

12. J.J Reddick - G, Philadelphia 76ers

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 - G, Los Angeles Clippers

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 - G, New Orleans Pelicans

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 - C, New York Knicks

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. He struggles defensively but is one of the better rebounding and scoring bigs in the league. A role where Kanter can play about 20-25 minutes per game would be best suited for him and his team in order to get his maximum value.

16. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - G, Los Angeles Lakers

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 - G, Miami Heat 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 - Los Angeles Clippers

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 - C, Los Angeles Lakers

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

Photo Courtesy: Heat Zone

20. Wayne Ellington - G, Miami Heat

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 - F/C, Boston Celtics

Monroe played for three teams last year but can still rebound the basketball and score in the low post. Monroe can be an addition 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 - F, Houston Rockets

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 - F, San Antonio Spurs

Gay had a nice bounce back 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 - G, Los Angeles Clippers

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. Ersan Ilyasova - F, Philadelphia 76ers

Ilyasova can still help contenders as a stretch four coming off the bench. A career 36.6% shooter from three and an improved rebounder, Ilyasova should find plenty of suitors from the NBA’s elite teams. A mid-level exception contract will be perfect for a good team to use on Ilyasova to help fortify their bench.

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