No Lockout this summer, Knicks fans! After the long, longer and longest summer for the NBA since 1998, fans have an actual summer of free agency to look forward to. With the flirting just getting started today and actual signings not happening until July 11th, let’s take a look at the top 10 restricted free agents on the market.
Keep in mind that the players on this list can sign offer sheets from other teams, but their original teams can match any offer.
1. Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana Pacers: It’s hard to see the Pacers letting go of their big man, especially coming off his best season in scoring (12.8), rebounding (8.8), blocks (2.0) and shooting (.497). Only 25 years old and coming off his first All-Star appearance, he still has room to improve.
2. Eric Gordon, SG, New Orleans Hornets: The most important player the Hornets received in last December’s Chris Paul trade, the 23 year old is arriving at a crossroad in his career. While viewed by many as an explosive player, especially after his breakout season in 2010-2011 that saw him average 22.3 points per game, Gordon played just nine games last season due to knee problems. Over the past three seasons, Gordon has missed 103 of a possible 230 games. Does another team take the risk and offer him a big offer sheet? Do the Hornets want to be saddled with a player with a long injury history? Only time will tell.
3. Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn Nets: It’s pretty simple for the seven footer from Stanford: he’ll either be back as the Nets’ starting center or he’ll be the main trade chipped used by Brooklyn to pry Dwight Howard away from the Orlando Magic. Lopez played just five games last season due numerous injuries to his right foot, but before that, he had been a model of consistency, playing in every single game his first three seasons. While there are concerns about his lack of rebounding (7.5 career average), he is a legit scoring big man, averaging at least 18 points per game since his second season and shooting over 50% in his career.
4. Jeremy Lin, PG, New York Knicks: LINSANITY!!!!! We all know the story. The Knicks have made it pretty clear they plan to match any offer for Lin. Don’t be surprised to hear rumors linking Lin to the Raptors, Suns and Nets, but at the end of the day, he’ll be running the Knicks’ offense for many years to come.
5. Ryan Anderson, PF, Orlando Magic: After upping his scoring average into double digits in 2010-2011, Anderson had a breakout season for the Magic last season. He averaged a career high 16.1 points, leading the NBA in three pointers made (166) and attempted (422). Anderson’s future with Orlando probably will not be determined until the Dwight Howard saga is resolved, but at the very least, he’ll be an attractive trade chip for the team.
6. Omer Asik C, Chicago Bulls: In just two years with the Bulls, Asik has earned a reputation as one of the league’s better low post defenders and rebounders. He finished 15th among all centers in rebounding rate and on a Bulls team already known for it’s defense, he helped Chicago give up almost 10 fewer points per 100 possessions when on the floor. He is the type of role player every championship team wants and needs.
7. Aaron Brooks, G, Phoenix Suns: Is he a point guard or is he a shooting guard? The numbers suggest he is a shooting guard (career 12.5 points, 3.6 assists), but at just 6’0”, it certainly is not the spot for Brooks. After a breakout season with the Rockets in 2009-2010 (career high 19.6 points), Brooks fell out of favor with Houston the following season and was traded to the Suns, where he saw his minutes and production drop. He spent last season in China, where he averaged 22.3 points and shot 41% from beyond the arc.
8. Landry Fields, G/F, New York Knicks: One year after being selected to the NBA’s All-Rookie first team despite being a second round selection, Fields was one of Knicks fans main punching bags this season. The swingman saw dips in his scoring and rebounding averages, but his drop in shooting percentages were the most drastic. After posting field goal, three point and free throw shooting percentages of .497-.393-.769 his rookie year, Fields saw those numbers drop to .460-.256-.562 last season.
9. J.J. Hickson, PF, Portland Trailblazers: Hickson began the lockout season on the Kings, caught in the logjam of big men with DeMarcus Cousins, Chuck Hayes and Jason Thompson, but ended the year with the Blazers. In 19 games with Portland, he averaged 15.1 points and 8.3 rebounds, showing signs of the promising player he can be, one which the Cleveland Cavaliers at one point refused to trade for Amar’e Stoudemire.
10. George Hill, SG, Indiana Pacers: In his first season with the Pacers, Hill saw his scoring average and shooting percentages go down. However, when the playoffs arrived, Hill upped his scoring by four points. He is a veteran of four playoff seasons with the Spurs and Pacers.
Coming up next: The Top 10 Unrestricted Free Agents.