Earlier we highlighted the top 10 restricted free agents in the NBA this summer. Here are our top 10 unrestricted players.
1. Deron Williams, PG, Brooklyn Nets: The star of this summer’s free agency. One of the league’s top five point guards. William’s situation is simple: He will either resign with the Nets or go play in his hometown of Dallas with the Mavs.
2. Tim Duncan, PF, San Antonio Spurs: Regarded by many as the greatest power forward in NBA history, Duncan has also made his intentions known, calling himself a “Spur for life.”
3. Steve Nash, PG, Phoenix Suns: The two time MVP will have many suitors. He has said he is open to resigning with the Suns, but at this point in his career, you’d have to think he wants a chance at a ring and he just won’t get that chance in Phoenix. The Raptors have put an all out effort to sign Nash, ready to offer him at least $12 million annually. Nash has a relationship with Raptors executive Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors want to play the run and gun style Nash prefers. But again, the Raptors are not close to contending. Rumors have sprung up today of possible sign and trade scenarios that could bring Nash to the Knicks and he will be meeting with them at some point today. Also watch out for the Mavs, who could turn their attentions to Nash if they miss out on Deron Williams.
4. Goran Dragic, PG, Houston Rockets: The Jeremy Lin of the Western Conference. After an injury sidelined starting PG Kyle Lowry in March, Dragic stepped in the starting lineup and took off. After averaging 7.5 points and 3.4 assists in the season’s first 40 games, Dragic started the last 26 games and upped his numbers to 18.2 points and 8.3 assists per game while shooting 49% from the floor. He should receive some offers around $8-9 million, which shows us just how valuable maintaing the early bird-rights of Jeremy Lin was.
5. Jameer Nelson, PG, Orlando Magic: Nelson has not been the same player since his breakout season of 2008-2009. His FG% has gone down every season since and he hasn’t come close to matching the 16 points per game he averaged that season. However, he is a veteran of six postseasons and could help in a reserve role for a contending squad. He has said he would like to return to Orlando, but first on the Magic’s to do list is taking care of the Dwight Howard saga – which Nelson wants no part of.
6. O.J. Mayo, SG, Memphis Grizzlies: After being a starter his first two seasons, Mayo has been coming off the bench the last two for Memphis and hasn’t seemed to adjust. He’s shot just 41% from the floor the last two seasons after shooting 44% and 46% his first two seasons. However, that hasn’t detracted suitors, especially the Boston Celtics who plan on going after Mayo hard to replace a much older Ray Allen.
7. Chauncey Billups, PG, Los Angeles Clippers: Billups was enjoying an easy transition to SG playing alongside Chris Paul when an ACL injury derailed his season. The Clippers stumbled for a while after Billups’ injury and it would seem he should return there.
8. Ersan Ilyasova, PF, Milwaukee Bucks: Ilyasova came out of nowhere last year to put up averages of 16.1 points and 9.1 rebounds after the All-Star break. He might have priced himself out of Milwaukee, as the Bucks have filled the cabinet with forwards Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and John Henson.
9. Jamal Crawford, SG, Portland Trailblazers: Crawford saw his scoring average dip for a third straight season and shot under 40% from the floor for the first time since the 2004-2005 season. He made it clear he didn’t enjoy his time in Portland and that could’ve contributed to the bad season. Crawford has shown the ability to be a scoring force and should be in high demand.
10. Andre Miller, PG, Denver Nuggets: The closest thing the NBA has to an Iron Man. He’s missed just six games his entire career. Last season marked the first time Miller has averaged less than 10 points per game but he continued to be a playmaker, averaging almost seven assists in less than 30 minutes played per game. He’s never been known as an outside scoring threat but he would be a great addition to a contending team.