The (second) greatest free-agency class ever - CBSSports.com
Originally Posted by EOB StaffWant to know how ridiculous the summer of 2010 was? If/when the 2011-2012 season is canceled, then whenever the lockout is settled, you'll have two years of free agents crammed into one signing period. You could have five likely Hall-of-Famers in it. You'd have mega-stars, great role players, talent coming out the seams at every position... and it still wouldn't be as good as the 2010 summer of free agency because of the top five guys that year. That's a bit insane.
But as Ken Berger breaks down the potential effects on the top market of guys in what would be an insane class, we need to look at what exactly this class would look like, and how it would break down. With that, we give you the 2011 and 2012 combined free agency rankings, broken down by position, just so you can dream about who your team would angle to fill what position.
1. Derrick Rose (RFA)
The only way Derrick Rose is not a Chicago Bull for the next 10 years is if the NBA gives up on trying to reach a deal with the current players and uses scabs forever. The 2011 MVP is the perfect building block asset and the Bulls will have every ability to retain him with a mini-max contract once his rookie deal is complete. One of the greatest shames of the lockout is that the only basketball we've seen Rose play over the last six months came inside a bullring during an adidas commercial.
2. Deron Williams (ETO)
The Besiktas baller represents the wildest wild card in free agency. Williams took a fearless, proactive approach to the lockout, heading to Turkey almost immediately and, once there, writing diary entries in which he made it clear he wasn't necessarily committed to the New Jersey Nets for the long haul. The new CBA will likely give the Nets plenty of incumbent advantages to keeping Williams but if he decides to bounce he will have no shortage of suitors as one of the league's elite floor generals.
3. Chris Paul (ETO)
To this point, Paul has done an extraordinary job swallowing his frustration with what has been a disastrous few years for the New Orleans Hornets franchise. Paul's close friends happen to be a who's who of the NBA's elite players, and no doubt he's feeling some "grass is greener on the other side" jealousy when sizing up the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks. As with Williams and the Nets, New Orleans will be poised to do everything in its power to keep Paul, but those efforts might not matter.
4. Russell Westbrook (RFA)
The superstar pairing with Kevin Durant isn't absolutely perfect but it's a far better one-two punch than anyone in the Western Conference -- besides the Lakers -- can muster. The Thunder will give Westbrook the Durant treatment, offering him a mini-max contract as soon as legally possible. Every indication is that he would accept it so that he can get back to work building a potential dynasty.
5. Steve Nash (UFA)
Nash will be 38 years old when free agency hits, having endured 2+ years of trade rumors. While his best days are behind him, he will be a tantalizing target on the open market, as he would be highly motivated to take a subsidized salary to step in as the calm captain on a ready-made contender. Just about everyone wants to see Nash retire with a ring; even though he's not the most talented player on this list, his choice of destination could wind up being the biggest postseason game-changer.
6. Chauncey Billups (UFA)
Should the 2011-2012 season get cancelled, Billups, who is set to make$14.2 million this year, would be missing out on the payday of his career. He'll be 35 next summer; while still productive, he might be best off signing with a veteran team where he can serve as a steady hand third guard.
7. Jameer Nelson (ETO)
Nelson is a solid starting point guard but his future in Orlando is likely tied to that of Dwight Howard. If Howard goes, it will be time to slash and burn the roster and start over; paying above-average money to retain Nelson probably wouldn't be worth it.
8. Raymond Felton (UFA)
The Blazers lack a capable, proven back-up point guard so Felton, who was acquired in a 2011 draft day trade with Denver, is sitting pretty. Portland will be highly motivated to pay to retain his services even if he never puts on a Blazers jersey during the 2011-2012 season because of the lockout.
9. Andre Miller (UFA)
Miller finds himself in much the same situation as Billups, in that he will be 36 years old when free agency hits, he's still productive but he will no longer command big dollar offers on the free agency market. It's quite possible the rebuilding Nuggets move to retain his veteran hand as George Karl appreciates the subtleties in Miller's game, but serving as a role player so that he can make the first real playoff run of his lengthy career is always a possibility.
10. George Hill (RFA)
The Pacers traded for Hill on draft day and will have plenty of cap space to retain his services. It would be nice if Indiana is able to see how he fits with their other young pieces before committing to him, but he's shown what he can do with the San Antonio Spurs and shouldn't cost an arm and a leg.
11. Kirk Hinrich (UFA)
On the books for $8 million in 2011-2012, the oft-injured Hinrich can look forward to a large pay cut next summer. With Jeff Teague set to take the reins in Atlanta he could very well be looking for his fourth team since 2009-2010.
12. DJ Augustin (RFA)
The Bobcats are in full-blown blow-it-up rebuilding mode and drafted their presumed new face of the franchise, Kemba Walker, in June. Charlotte should have money to pay him; his future will be a matter of determining whether the two pint-sized points are redundant.
13. Jason Kidd (UFA)
Kidd will be 39 next summer but, if the 2011 playoffs were any indication, he will play until he's 55. His basketball intelligence, leadership in the halfcourt and defensive prowess mean he will be able to select from multiple attractive options, although he'll be taking a major pay cut from his $9.6 million salary in 2011-2012 in the process.
14. Aaron Brooks (RFA)
If Nash leaves Phoenix, as many suspect, Brooks will be in line for a solid offer from the Suns as long as he has proven to the decision-makers that he can keep his emotions in check.
15. Jose Barea (UFA)
A prime target to get overpaid with someone's mid-level during a weak 2011 free agency crop, Barea could be a big loser of the lockout in that future MLE offers will likely be smaller and he will face stiff competition for free agency dollars in 2012.
1. Eric Gordon (RFA)
How does "Eric Gordon, scoring champion" sound? Because it's not all that far from being a realistic possibility. With him playing alongside Blake Griffin who gets most of the defensive attention, Gordon has become one of the game's top inside-out guards. He can hit from deep, mid-range or use his solid frame to get to the rim. He's probably not a max player, but he's definitely top scorer material and those type of players tend to get paid.
2. Ray Allen (UFA)
So he's 36 years old. But he also just put up maybe his most efficient season ever, hitting 44 percent from 3-point range. When you're a specialist like Allen, you can continue your craft for a long time. And as long as he can make a 3 better than anyone else in basketball, he's going to have a lot of value.
3. Jamal Crawford (UFA)
Want a guard that's willing to shoot, score and shoot some more? Want to pay him a lot to do just that? Then Jamal Crawford is your guy.
4. Jason Terry (UFA)
The Jet elevated himself to a high level last postseason. He's instant offense no matter where you have him. The fact he's 34 is a bit of a concern though.
5. Arron Afflalo (RFA)
A defensive stopper that shoots around 40 percent from 3? Afflalo might turn into the top dollar-for-dollar free agent in the entire class.
6. Jason Richardson (UFA)
He may be past his prime a bit, but Richardson still has his athleticism and can still make an open 3. He's not go-to scorer material, but he certainly is worthy of being a quality supplemental scorer.
7. O.J. Mayo (RFA)
A talent never fully realized, Mayo could be a big time scorer if afforded the opportunity. He has a ton of ability, but he's never really found that role that could allow him to let loose. I don't know that he'd ever be an extremely efficient scorer, but he has value in the market because he can shoot and score. Those two things always are worth a decent payday.
8. J.R. Smith (UFA)
What did I say about Jamal Crawford? Apply pretty much all of that again here, but add in the disclaimer, "Might be a headcase" to it. Who's interested?
9. Lou Williams (ETO)
Before battling an injury with Williams, the 76ers were a pretty dangerous team. There's a reason: He's a high quality scorer. He's a combo guard that scores at an efficient rate. Daryl Morey just started drooling.
10. Jodie Meeks (RFA)
Did you know Meeks shot 40 percent from 3 last season? Did you know he was, per minute, one of the best scorers in the league? Put him in the right situation and you might be looking at Sixth Man of the Year potential.
11. Marcus Thornton (RFA)
That instant offense stuff? Yeah, right here.
12. Landry Fields (RFA)
There's just no way the Knicks would let a promising young player slip away right? Right?
13. Courtney Lee (RFA)
It's always seemed like Lee has missed out on being better than he is. He started to become something in Orlando, but then was moved to New Jersey and then was moved again to Houston. He's had difficulty finding a stable situation which sometimes, is all a player like him needs.
14. Shannon Brown (UFA)
I'm not exactly sure what makes Shannon Brown a good player other than he jumps high, but he's had a quality role on one of the West's best teams the past few years. That means something.
15. Mike Dunleavy (UFA)
Everyone loves a shooter. Especially when he's 6-9 and plays shooting guard.
1. Gerald Wallace (ETO)
"Crash" would be 30 when this free agency period would hypothetically start, but his combination of toughness, stat-stuffing, and defensive prowess would still make him the top guy at this position. His injury history is deceptively good, with long-term issues resulting from freak accidents, injuries like a collapsed lung thanks to Andrew Bynum and a concussion thanks to Wallace's aggressiveness won't be issues as he gets older.
2. Nicolas Batum (RFA)
The Blazers have turned down mighty attractive offers for Batum over the past two season, so you have to expect him to return to Portland, especially if Wallace hits the open market. A do-it-all wing with perimeter range and tremendous athleticism, Batum would be just 23 in this signing period with amazing potential. If teams want to front-load a contract offer, this is the guy to use it on.
3. Danilo Gallinari (RFA)
Another talented athletic forward with range. Gallinari has the potential to be a legitimate scoring star in this league and has the body to defend to go with it, if he winds up in the right place. Gallinari would be 23 as well, and just like Batum, would be worth the front-loaded offer to try and steal him from Denver.
4. Wilson Chandler (RFA)
Good thing the Nuggets have all that cap space in this scenario, they'd need it to keep their guys. Chandler is expected to hit the open market when he returns from China, and at just 25, he's a guy who could make "the leap" and surprise everyone. Chandler could be a steal based on value in this free agency class.
5. Tayshaun Prince (UFA)
32 years old and with fading athleticism, Prince isn't going to make a huge payday, not after how his tenure in Detroit has likely ended. But for a veteran team needing a wing defender with range (hello, Miami), Prince has tremendous value. Short-term contract with big impact recommended.
6. Jonas Jerebko (RFA)
Hard worker, tough as nails, coming off an injury, which is a downside. Just 25 and does all the things you want a roleplayer to do. Jerebko is a steal if he can be had in RFA.
7. Michael Beasley (RFA)
You can break the bank on Beasley to hope he matures and puts all his skills together to become a star. You can bank on him becoming coachable and being a franchise leader. Or you can stay away like the plague and write him off as a gunner with poor off-court decision making. Your choice, really.
8. Caron Butler (UFA)
Like Prince, Butler would be 32 in this period, having not played in an NBA game since last winter after his knee injury. Butler's back to full strength and playing in the charity games. But his overall value was of question last year and even moreso after the injury. With another year on him, he's still worth the money as a veteran player to help try and win a title, but couldn't be given a starter's investment.
9. Chase Budinger (RFA)
Tall, and can shoot. Still has upside coming off rookie deal and won't break the bank. A value addition with little downside for what he is.
10. Andrei Kirilenko (UFA)
Never lived up to his last massive contract, and will be 31 for this signing. But Kirilenko can give quality minutes at a range of positions and needs, and can likely be had for good value as a trackback from his last deal.
11. Sam Young (RFA)
How many rookies are 27 coming off their rookie deals? Young has started to mold into a great defender under Tony Allen's tutelage in Memphis and can work as a reserve small forward.
12. Grant Hill (UFA)
Depends, can you get the Phoenix training staff to accompany the soon-to-be 40-year-old in this instance?
13. Shane Battier (UFA)
Losing this year would crush Battier's final contract value with him being 34 when he'd sign. Still worth it for experience and defense, but only on a limited deal.
14. Mikael Pietrus (UFA)
Bizarre that he spent all that time under SVG and still lacks the defensive chops teams need him to have. Would be 30 for the beginning of this contract.
15. Tracy McGrady (UFA)
Too many injuries, too much age. McGrady had a nice season last year with Detroit, but with another year on the knees things get dicier.
1. Kevin Love (RFA)
It's hard to know exactly why people try and underrate what Kevin Love did last season. Maybe it's because some see it as a fluke season. Maybe it's because some think because his team was so bad it inflated his stats. But here's the thing: You can't ignored 20.2 ppg and 15.2 rpg. You can't ignore a power forward shooting almost 42 percent from 3. And you can't ignore the fact he's just 23. There are a ton of names in this free agent class and while Love doesn't have major starpower to him, he's going to get paid in a big way by someone.
2. Kevin Garnett (UFA)
Nevermind that he's played almost 1,200 games during 16 seasons. Nevermind that he's 35 and suffered a major knee injury two years ago. He's still Kevin Garnett. And he's still a major impact player. Is he the automatic 20-10 machine he once was? Not at all, but he's still a great leader, communicator and defensive stopper. Plus, he's got name recognition which is sometimes the best thing a guy can have.
3. David West (UFA)
Players recover from knee injuries, but that first season back there's always some hesitation. And that's what West is going through right now. He suffered a major injury last season and is going to have to get paid before he plays. Meaning someone's got to trust some doctors and give him a shot.
4. Thaddeus Young (RFA)
There's a question every GM will have to ask about Young: Is he starting material? And that will likely be what his future payday and team hinges on. He was great as a role player off the bench in Philly last season but is he ready to carry the load as a starter at the 4 for 82 games? Or is he just a niche 4? The Sixers definitely don't want him to slip away though, that's for sure.
5. Jeff Green (RFA)
Someone will go hard after Jeff Green. Why? Because he's a really good basketball player. He's 6-9, has outside touch, is athletic and is a good passer. One problem: No one has any idea where to play him. Green is so caught between small forward and power forward that he might not ever produce how he was expected. But that's not going to stop someone from taking a chance on him.
6. J.J. Hickson (RFA)
It really felt like the Cavs let something potentially special go for very little when Hickson was dealt to the Kings. Because he's young, raw and fairly gifted. His game needs some tuning and he's not likely to blossom into a star or anything, but he'll be a productive big for a long time.
7. Kris Humphries (UFA)
Big guys that produce double-doubles have a lot of value. He's already stated pretty clearly that he wants to stay in New Jersey (or Brooklyn), but like I said, teams pay for 10-and-10.
8. Glen Davis (UFA)
Did you know Big Baby is just 25 years old? Not to say he has a ton of ceiling above him still, but he certainly has a number of years of solid production ahead of him.
9. Carl Landry (UFA)
Typically, physical defenders don't carry a ton of value in the market. But Landry is a bruiser and someone that can step out execute a pick-and-pop. Not the best power forward out there, but he's potentially starting material or a nice bench piece.
10. Kenyon Martin (UFA) There's still a little left in the tank for Martin. Early on he dominated opponents with strength and athleticism. While most of that has left him, he's still a formidable presence in the paint and certainly still has his intimidation skills.
11. Brandon Bass (ETO) Bass was chronically underutilized for most of last season in Orlando, but when he saw opportunity, he produced well. Big guys with smooth jumpers always have and always will have value.
12. Antawn Jamison (UFA) He's old at 35, but he still had a fairly productive season for an abysmal Cleveland team last year.
13. Boris Diaw (UFA) For Diaw, it's all about what type of shape he's in. If he's ready to go, he's an impact 4.
14. Darrell Arthur (RFA) Quietly, Arthur has started to find himself a bit as a backup to Zach Randolph. Long, athletic and equipped with a mid-range game add up to a quality player.
15. Ryan Anderson (RFA) Not everyone loves a finesse stretch 4, but Anderson has serious touch from the perimeter.
1. Dwight Howard (UFA)
Howard will probably be the most sought-after commodity on the market, even with Chris Paul and Deron Williams out there. Defensive Player of the Year, MVP candidate, huge personality and big ticket-draw. Howard is the diamond of this class.
2. Tim Duncan (ETO)
Yes, we're labeling him a center here. Let's save the debate for another day. Imagine Duncan in another uniform. Weird, isn't it? Yeah, us too.
3. Marc Gasol (RFA)
Gasol's not going to score 40 for you, but he's going to do everything else. Defend on the perimeter, in the post, on the weakside, and in space. Work in the pinch-post, pass out of the block, score from mid-range and the post. Gasol does it all and does it with a tougher approach than the elder-Gasol.
4. Brook Lopez (RFA)
The Nets may actually let Lopez go free in pursuit of Howard, and if he hits the market, he'll draw big suitors. Lopez' biggest restriction is rebounding, which he's become pitiful at. But he can score out of the post and in the pick and roll. He's young, smart, coachable, and can still improve.
5. Nene (UFA)
The biggest free agent of 2011 could still be shopping for that final contract in this scenario. Nene should only be acquired by a team looking to contend now, as he'll be turning 30 next September. But for explosiveness and toughness inside, you can't go wrong with the Brazillian Baby.
6. Andrew Bynum (UFA)
If, and that's a big if, if Bynum is healthy, he could be the second best option on this list at center. If he's not, if he continues to struggle with his knees, the Lakers will be faced with a big decision. But at his age and with those freakish arms of his, someone will want him, and pay him handsomely. The most likely scenario is Bynum is tabbed as the successor to Kobe's franchise player throne in L.A. with Jim Buss in charge.
7. Tyson Chandler (UFA)
Chandler's value will be significantly diminished with another year lost, but on the plus side, the last memory of him in GMs minds will be him hoisting the trophy. He'll stick at the top here.
8. Roy Hibbert (RFA)
Hibbert's not that tough. He lacks scoring ability in the post. He has a lot of question marks. But he's tall. And that matters in the NBA. With his youth, he's still a better option than others.
9. DeAndre Jordan (RFA)
Jordan was a rail when he came into the league, but he's bulked out and now is flat-out beastly. You'd expect the Clippers to keep him, it's the only thing that makes sense. Which means they'll probably figure out a way to lose the rebounding partner Blake Griffin needs.
10. JaVale McGee (RFA)
Crazy? Little bit. But McGee has incredible length and too much talent to slide any further.
11. Marcus Camby (UFA)
Zombie Marcus Camby is slowly ambling towards your low-post block.
12. Omer Asik (RFA)
The Bulls phenom could be top five on this list if he improves on his first season. But AsiIk's value is heightened by Thibodeau's defense. Missing a year, he won't have the same kind of pull he'd have with a bigger role.
13. Chuck Hayes (UFA)
No one knows how he does it, but Hayes continues to excel despite his size deficiency.
14. Chris Kaman (UFA)
You realize Kaman was a near-All-Star two years ago? Kaman will be 30 at this point, and he could be a steal. He could also be the kind of free agent that gets overpaid. You know, why we're missing a season.
15. Spencer Hawes (UFA)
Ha ha ha, just kidding.