November 17, 2020, 6:39 pm
If you’re an NBA GM most things revolve around whether you’re buying low and selling high. Within that general goal they do what they think is best for their franchise at a given point in time and the 30 competing agendas all play out in concert. Some of the decisions are deliberated for years and some decisions are knee-jerk reactions to a development in the marketplace. Some of the GMs are good and some are quite terrible and that’s before you get to the owners! It’s all great fun and opposite the NBA Draft, fortunes are changing in these next few days.
What this list attempts to do is give GMs (or fans at home) a cheat sheet for the big event. They can target players based on overall value and the efficiency of those dollars spent, or they can look who the best players are right now and deprioritize the efficiency of how they spend. They can also spring for a HoopBall FantasyPass if they want a leg up on the competition. This list has been the home of big-time plays such as Joe Ingles in 2017, Joe Harris and Fred VanVleet in 2018, and last year Richaun Holmes was the big win we had seen coming for way too many years. This year Jerami Grant is my top Cash-to-Value rank followed by De’Anthony Melton and if you’re looking for some sleeper grabs that would be Wenyen Gabriel and Brad Wanamaker. It’s a thin year so Joe Harris himself is pretty high up in the Cash-to-Value ranks yet again! Alright, now we’re talking about the ranks so let’s actually get to the ranks.
The concept is this — you’re looking to get the best players at the cheapest costs. If you do that effectively, you have more money to spend elsewhere.
These ranks lean into that pretty strongly. However, you can’t win in the NBA without getting above average and elite players. The key is spending up to get the right players and for the purpose of these rankings, players that move the needle in that way will skew north of a pure cash-to-value rank.
VETERANS VS. UPSIDE
These ranks will give older veterans that can still contribute a bit more value than a pure cash-to-value rank might represent. Teams aren’t lining up to sign them and deals may vary, but in terms of winning it all a quality old vet that’s willing to play at or close to the minimum represents a better play than some younger upside guys.
If you just want to know who the best players are you can sort by the overall rank column. This rank will include some elements of upside, which is unavoidable when assessing overall free agency value. However, short-term production and win-now scenarios are going to show up in the overall ranks. For example, Gordon Hayward is not going to do well in the Cash-to-Value ranks, but in terms of overall rank he’ll have higher marks.
POSITIONAL GROUPINGS AND APPROACH
I did something new this year and went with four different groupings. Ballhandlers and Small Guards, Wings, Interior Wings and Bigs. I’d like to think I’m the first to say something as stupid or smart as ‘Interior Wings,’ but that’s my way of noticing increased importance of rangy 6’8″ to 6’10” players being asked to defend 2-4 or 3-5 (well or not is another story). They’ve become much more important as teams employ five-out looks, and elite ballhandlers and offensive initiators have grown in size and versatility. As has been the case with the league at large, they’re firing away from deep.
In previous years I was a bit more granular in the groupings, and maybe it’s the way the NBA is trending but I felt like four groups was enough. Ballhandlers are legitimate point guards at any size and small guards typically have enough offensive skill to warrant overlooking their defensive liabilities to some degree. Wings are either asked to be outstanding shooters or they’re being asked to lock the perimeter down, or both. They’re valued in their ability to switch and otherwise facilitate offense. Bigs are the muscle you need to control the paint and shooting is a bonus.
Sometimes we’ll split these guys out into their own category but this year there are only two — with Elites being loosely defined as players you don’t have any questions about on the contract side. This year that’s Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram. Davis is well known so there’s no need to spill ink here but Ingram’s jump last season was rare and special. The shooting percentages exemplified a player that had the light bulb go on as everything started to click and he still has more upside beyond what we saw. Where it goes from here for him isn’t set in stone, but there isn’t any question that you match any offer for the restricted free agent. The only question is whether you bother to put in an offer if you’re an opposing team.
A QUICK WORD ON THIS FREE AGENT CLASS
There aren’t a lot of players who you’d place in a tier beneath the Elites — players who are going to get massive deals but there’s still a ceiling on what one should pay. Beneath those tiers there are a number of big overpay opportunities since money has to be spent, and then there are a substantial amount of value plays to target. There is not a lot of separation in broad swaths of these ranks. So yes, it is definitely a year to pinch pennies and go for value plays. With the pandemic looming, it’s entirely possible we see a bear market too.
BALLHANDLERS AND SMALL GUARDS
Fred VanVleet headlines this group and in a lot of years he is probably more of a value play. Though some of the shine came off in the playoffs, he actually did more to prove his floor than anything else as he still had a bunch of incredible moments. Any way one slices it he’s a legit starting point guard in the NBA that has proven himself deep in the playoffs. So for that he gets the top rank even though the cash-to-value isn’t in the universe of highly ranked players from past lists. Jordan Clarkson has slid under the radar after being borderline dominant at times in the playoffs, but still his tier doesn’t have a lot of separation and it gets thin real fast.
I have Brad Wanamaker high because of his play not just in the playoffs but throughout the year, but when he’s my No. 6-7 ranked player in such a large group that’s saying something about the class. Now that Kris Dunn didn’t get a qualifying offer he becomes a lot more tempting since teams don’t have to overshoot any marks, and the stink of Chicago rejection might cheapen up the price.
Bogdan Bogdanovic was in the news on Monday night for being sent to Milwaukee in a sign-and-trade deal, and he will be the biggest overpay in this group, but it’s not going to kneecap the Bucks or anything like that. Shouts to the Sacramento Kings for getting out of their own way there and getting Donte DiVincenzo in the process — who is incrementally better than Bogdanovic at a fraction of the price and has way more upside. We’ll see what the final contract numbers are there for Milwaukee, who needs to keep their star player happy and has made moves in the last 24 hours to do so.
$/V OVR Name Cost Tm Age Exp Type Notes 1 1 VanVleet, Fred $$$$ TOR 26 4yrs Years UFA VanVleet's flaws got exposed during the playoffs, but over two years he has proven his ability to compete at the highest levels. It's not great money but in a week free agent class as a needle-moving PG this young (26), he's the top play on the board whether we're talking Cash-to-Value or Overall. 2 3 Clarkson, Jordan $$$ UTA 28 6yrs Years UFA Clarkson was flat-out good in the playoffs. Say what you want about the rest of his game, but he's peaking and has a little 'you can't stop me' going 3 2 Dragic, Goran $$$ MIA 34 12yrs Years UFA Miami could easily pay to keep the band together and they win in that scenario, locking down a key cog at probably a fair price. If Dragic somehow spins elsewhere, the rating might not be as good. 4 8 Connaughton, Pat $$ MIL 27 5yrs Years UFA Connaughton has just enough athleticism and skill combo to climb high up these ranks. Getting buried in MIL only helps the cost of acquistion here. 5 4 Rivers, Austin $$/$$$ HOU 28 8yrs Years UFA* Rivers wants out of Houston and teams know he can be a low-end starter who is in his prime. At his price that's good math. 6 7 Dunn, Kris $$ CHI 26 4yrs Years RFA Dunn being a high pick with plenty of hype will keep the price high, aided of course by solid defensive play. That Chicago was so bad organizationally gives some hope that he can be developed to tap into some of that upside. He certainly has the physical game to make him worth a look. 7 6 Wanamaker, Brad $/$$ BOS 31 2yrs Years RFA Wanamaker got some big playoff minutes and deserved them. Any team needing a low-end starter can get that right now for cheap. 8 10 Augustin, D.J. $/$$ ORL 33 12yrs Years UFA No mysteries here - if you need a backup to not screw things up then DJA is worth a look. 9 18 Bembry, DeAndre' $/$$ ATL 26 4yrs Years RFA Bembry needs to unlock another skill or two but the jury is out on whether his current skills are worth investing in the wait. But at 26 he still gives you a shot at some amount of upside for a very low price -- if you're a small or mid-market team that needs to hit on some low-end plays as part of the long game then Bembry becomes a better target. 10 5 Bogdanovic, Bogdan $$$/$$$$ SAC 28 3yrs Years RFA Bogi can flat out ball when the going is good but the deficiencies are tough and especially at the numbers he's been linked to. He can't get separation on his own, he's not a great finisher, has to settle for long twos, can't really defend and whether it's injuries or age is only getting less athletic. 11 9 Burks, Alec $/$$ PHI 29 9yrs Years UFA Burks staying healthy through a good season definitely qualifies as a win and it makes him a nice target for bench depth. That said, the money has a better chance of being 'bad' than 'good' 12 11 Ferrell, Yogi $ SAC 27 4yrs Years UFA Ferrell got buried by incompetent coaching and management in Sacramento. There's good value here for a quality scorer off the bench. 13 12 Napier, Shabazz $/$$ WAS 29 6yrs Years UFA Napier had a shot in WAS to take a step forward and it didn't quite happen, but he's still positioned himself well as a low-end pickup in FA 14 13 Teague, Jeff $/$$ ATL 32 11yrs Years UFA Teague might have let go of the rope. The *only* thing going for him is that he also profiles as a player who could let the rope go and actually go back and pick it up 15 15 Mudiay, Emmanuel $/$$ UTA 24 5yrs Years UFA At 24 years old and coming off a quietly solid year, albeit in a very low-end backup job for a loaded Jazz team, there's some upside here with hopes he can find a lane and grow in it. 16 19 Chiozza, Chris $ BKN 25 2yrs Years RFA^ Chiozza had some nice moments in the bubble and the upside is limited here, but teams could do worse than targeting a 25-year old point guard making his first noise. 17 17 Carter, Jevon $ PHX 25 2yrs Years RFA Carter had some nice bubble games and when you're trolling at the bottom of free agency these are the players you want to kick the tires on 18 14 Rondo, Rajon $/$$ LAL 34 14yrs Years UFA* Rondo took some best-case circumstances and parlayed high-variance and overall average play into more Playoff Rondo chatter. He can wreck a team quickly so buyer beware. 19 20 Trier, Allonzo $ NYK 24 2yrs Years UFA Trier having good moments in dysfunctional New York makes me bump him up the board a bit. Teams struggling to get open should give him a look. 20 23 Forbes, Bryn $ SAS 27 4yrs Years UFA Forbes didn't look good at all last year but having logged some 'good' SA minutes in the past he's worth kicking the tires on 21 16 Waiters, Dion $ LAL 29 8yrs Years UFA After you adjust for Dion being Dion, there's still a player that can give you a quality 20 mpg and there's value in that. 22 22 Moore, E'Twaun $ NOP 31 9yrs Years UFA Moore's disappearance had an air of management choice behind it and you wonder if there's a bounceback awaiting in a better situation. 23 21 Jackson, Reggie $$ LAC 30 9yrs Years UFA Jackson can still score but how long is the question. Everything else is underwater and there are better, more affordable targets 24 24 Burke, Trey $ DAL 27 5yrs Years UFA Burke almost got going as a backup sparkplug but as has been the case in his career he couldn't keep it going. He's an underdog bet to become a consistent backup that sticks around. b 25 28 Carter-Williams, Michael $ ORL 29 7yrs Years UFA Carter-Williams has leveled out as a useful defender that stays out of the way for the most part on offense. There's still use for him in the NBA as a result. 26 30 Turner, Evan $ MIN 32 10yrs Years UFA Turner might be washed but if not and he can stay in shape his relative size and facilitating skills can work on star-heavy teams. 27 31 Crawford, Jamal $ BKN 40 20yrs Years UFA This is purely a locker room play but the difference between JC and other locker room plays is he can still go out and score 10 points in a quarter for you. 28 26 Jackson, Frank $ NOP 22 2yrs Years RFA A good combination of youth and skills to put an early chip down on. That said, he'll need to get stronger and faster to be anything but a low-end NBA backup. 29 25 Johnson, Tyler $ BKN 27 6yrs Years UFA Johnson's injuries and deficiencies have piled up but at 27 years old he's still worth a look as a 10th to 12th man. 30 29 Valentine, Denzel $ CHI 27 3yrs Years RFA Valentine got $4.7M in a QO from the Bulls so anybody charging in is going to be overpaying. With health questions and mediocre returns at best in his short career, it's a prove-it year. 31 27 Mason, Frank $ MIL 26 3yrs Years RFA^ Mason hasn't had great NBA situations so far so he probably deserves one more evaluation to see if he can be a consisent backup-PG. 32 32 Galloway, Langston $ DET 29 6yrs Years UFA Galloway has been around long enough to not get in the way as your team's third string point guard. 33 33 Payton II, Gary $ WAS 28 4yrs Years UFA Payton makes just enough noise on defense to be worth a look for a team's last roster spot. 34 34 Knight, Brandon $ DET 29 8yrs Years UFA Knight probably has 500 good minutes to give a team this year. 35 35 Daniels, Troy $ DEN 29 7yrs Years UFA Can shoot, will stick around in the league for a while. $/V OVR Name Cost Tm Age Exp Type Notes
De’Anthony Melton is not a secret anymore but he’s still not a known commodity. This is a player who has potential to be a top-tier defender in the backcourt and can do a little bit of everything on offense. He’s my top Cash-to-Value rank in this group and he’s precisely the type of player smart GMs put the highest bid on, whatever they think that may be.
Joe Harris is back after topping these ranks a few years back but the separation between he and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Malik Beasley isn’t a lot. And Sterling Brown is wedged in there as an extreme value play, and as you go down the rankings there are several low-end options for a variety of needs that can work out. Gordon Hayward is the only real risk of a massive overpay and I have a hard time thinking there’s a team that can pull him off his $34 million option, but recent reports on Tuesday morning suggest there are a number of teams interested in doing just that.
$/Value Overall Name Cost TEam Age Exp Status Notes 1 4 Melton, De'Anthony $$ MEM 22 2yrs Years RFA Melton could be mid-level starter special and even if he's not he brings the defense to keep the floor on a deal nice and high. He's not a secret anymore but there's still plenty of margin to be had. 2 3 Harris, Joe $$$ BKN 29 6yrs Years UFA Years after gracing the tops of these boards, Harris is now an average value but still high on the Cash-to-Value ranks because it's a weak class. 3 2 Caldwell-Pope, Kentavious $$$ LAL 27 7yrs Years UFA* KCP went big in the playoffs and that alone will make this a $$$ deal. Capable, proven, but not needle-moving. A target role player for a championship squad. 4 8 Brown, Sterling $/$$ MIL 25 3yrs Years RFA Buried in MIL, with flashes of high-end play, getting an early bid in on a 25-year old who may have been hidden from sight is often a good strategy 5 5 Beasley, Malik $$$ MIN 24 4yrs Years RFA Beasley hasn't had a great offseason off the court and Minny isn't letting him go, but nevertheless he's ranked as if he's on the open market here. Solid young player ready for a bigger role, teams could do a lot worse making a medium-sized play, maybe even capitalizing on some of that offcourt value-depressant. 6 7 Holiday, Justin $$ IND 31 7yrs Years UFA Holiday has proven he can handle 25 mpg, but the glut of low-end starter depth at wing means suitors should be careful not to overpay 7 6 Bazemore, Kent $$ SAC 31 8yrs Years UFA Bazemore probably has one or two more good years in him. When deployed correctly he has low-end starter skills and can fit in on a good team. 8 12 Hernangomez, Juancho $$ MIN 25 4yrs Years RFA Like teammate Beasley, he's not going anywhere unless a team gets wild for the RFA. He can play but there's no reason to push Minnesota too hard on a deal. 9 1 Hayward, Gordon -/$$$/$$$$ BOS 30 10yrs Years UFA* Opting out of a $34.2M option would be something else but a team giving four years at $20M AAV might bend his ear. It's not going to be a good deal. 10 10 Temple, Garrett $ BKN 34 10yrs Years UFA** Temple competed against Dame Lillard in the bubble and by virtue of that sentence he's worth a look as a player, not just as the locker room leader he's guaranteed to be. At 34 years old expectations need to be scaled back as far as full-season play. 11 13 Harkless, Maurice $/$$ NYK 27 8yrs Years UFA Harkless is only 27 years old, though injury wise he might be knocking on 30. Another quality back-of-the-roster wing for any team to give a look. 12 14 Robinson III, Glenn $ PHI 26 6yrs Years UFA Robinson isn't dead money and at 26 years old, despite his injury issues, is the kind of player you hope to have space to take a flier on with your last roster spot. 13 9 Bradley, Avery $$ LAL 30 10yrs Years UFA* Bradley is overrated in many respects, but for a contender he could prove useful in the playoffs. Too much name value to make the deal 'good money' 14 11 Matthews, Wesley $ MIL 34 11yrs Years UFA* Matthews is on his last rung and is likely to be overvalued as a vet addition. 15 19 McRae, Jordan $ DET 29 4yrs Years UFA McRae was able to get on the radar in WAS and at 29 years old he's peaking. Is it enough to be a substantial bench producer? The best we can say is that at least he's not dead money. 16 15 Bacon, Dwayne $$ CHA 25 3yrs Years RFA Bacon has been given all the opportunity in the world to step into bigger things but hasn't done it. He might have a higher cost as a result, so while it makes sense to hope that the 25-year old can turn it around, there are better bets to make with a team's money. 17 17 Crabbe, Allen $ MIN 28 7yrs Years UFA A lot like Jeff Teague, it's possible he mentally checked out for the year. Teams' only play here is that this is the explanation and Crabbe can handle the turnaround part on his end. 18 18 Jackson, Josh $ MEM 23 3yrs Years UFA If you squint there's a path that Josh Jackson can take to be a somewhat impactful player in the league. It's probably as a scrappy utility guy, which would require a cerebral approach we haven't seen, but if it happened it could be compelling. All at a bottom barrel, last-chance-in-the-NBA price. 19 16 Hood, Rodney $$ POR 28 6yrs Years UFA* Hood declined his option at the time of publication so this deal so I probably bump him down below 20 if I had time to re-sort this list (I don't, B150 awaits). 20 20 Iwundu, Wes $ ORL 26 3yrs Years RFA Got a lot of minutes last season and wasn't able to truly stand out. You'd like to see more out of a 26 year old player when given the opportunity. 21 21 Hill, Solomon $ MIA 29 7yrs Years UFA Hill can still get in there and muck it up but teams can do better than targeting a 29-year old with so many deficiencies. 22 23 Dotson, Damyean $ NYK 26 3yrs Years RFA Dotson had some decent moments in New York and the hope if you're optimistic is that he was somehow held back there. Not a lot to grab on to here, still. 23 27 Guy, Kyle $ SAC 23 1yr Years RFA^ Guy had some nice moments in Sacramento and he hasn't totally fallen apart, which is a big win for somebody taken deep in the second round. He's the kind of player that the Kings cut that goes on to do things for another squad. 24 24 Harrison, Shaquille $ CHI 27 3yrs Years RFA Harrison is a fearless gunner and there is always a home for that in the NBA as long as he can keep breaking defenses down. He's obviously not a player that teams should be falling all over themselves to acquire. 25 22 Hezonja, Mario $ POR 25 5yrs Years UFA* Has a $2M option that he might have to pick up if the league has seen enough. He has skills and athleticism in bursts but the lack of basketball IQ is just too much to overcome. 26 25 Williams, Kenrich $ NOP 26 2yrs Years RFA Williams was useful in injury mop-up duty at times over the past few years, but there hasn't been enough consistency or upside for him to be anything but a end-of-the-roster guy. 27 26 Thornwell, Sindarius $ NOP 26 3yrs Years UFA Thornwell had some hype coming out of college for his versatility but he's mostly faded into the background at every stop. It's last-chance time for him this season. 28 28 Carroll, DeMarre $ HOU 34 11yrs Years UFA Carroll is probably washed at this point. 29 29 Korver, Kyle $ MIL 39 17yrs Years UFA Korver shouldn't be getting anything but emergency minutes at this stage of his career. 30 30 Lee, Courtney $ DAL 35 12yrs Years UFA Lee is probably washed, which makes the people who recall his almost alley-oop in the Finals feel old 31 31 Nwaba, David $ HOU 27 4yrs Years UFA** So many injuries. Had some promise and now teams just need to see it before they believe it. 32 32 Bone, Jordan $ DET 23 1yr Years RFA^ Bone, a back-end-of-the-roster guy, has a chance to get into the mix if Detroit stays bereft of talent. Teams have no reason to angle and pick him off. 33 33 Belinelli, Marco $ SAS 34 13yrs Years UFA If you love pump fakes Marco is your dude. $/Value Overall Name Cost TEam Age Exp Status Notes
There is a lot going on with this group. At the top, we’ve been winning on the Jerami Grant predictions since he was in Philly. His athleticism has truly been special but what he has done to refine his game is why he tops this group and is the best non-Elite pickup of this free agency. We saw that in the playoffs as he played a central role in the Nuggets staving off defeat. He functioned as a primary offensive weapon at times for stretches, too, which was a sight to see as Jamal Murray went nuclear and Nikola Jokic was running the show. He went head up with star players defensively and did as well as one could expect to do.
Overall, there was a rhythm to his game that showed wisdom and maturity, so basically we’re talking about a very versatile player with high-end athleticism that contributes on both sides of the floor. But because he was an afterthought for the first half of his career he’s going to come at an extreme discount. If your GM isn’t getting ready to plunder you better have some All Stars at his position because otherwise it’s malpractice.
We’re just getting warmed up here … Next up .. Wenyen Gabriel! I cover the Kings so this will kill a bunch of readers but he’s a very nice prospect that now has enough NBA film under his belt to project with some certainty. At worst he’s somebody you can bring in to match up with some of the elite ballhandling bigs in the association. He played against Anthony Davis and held up, relatively speaking, and on offense his game is both versatile and unrefined. Physically he is a bit of an enigma, with borderline elite athleticism that gets downgraded because he’s thin and hasn’t quite figured out how to get the most out of his body yet. At 23 years old he has a real chance at adding weight and enjoying 2-4 years of being in that elite athletic class. All of this conversation should be completely overshadowed by the fact that he’s going to come dirt cheap so he’s your No. 2 from this group in the Cash-to-Value ranks.
Christian Wood may actually be the biggest name from this group because of the numbers he predictably put up throughout last season. He has major issues defensively and hasn’t been the ‘winning plays’ guy to date, which based on some of the contract numbers you hear positions him as a big overpay risk. Then comes a ton of players bunched together with some big names like Danilo Gallinari and Paul Millsap, who are overpay guys and Millsap is probably washed, with a number of low-cost options that teams should target instead.
$/Value Overall Name Cost TEam Age Exp Status Notes 1 1 Grant, Jerami $$$/$$$$ DEN 26 6yrs Years UFA* If Grant had a blue chip name the conversation would be a whole lot different. Especially for teams that don't have natural free agent gravity for whatever reason, outbidding other teams in this lower tier of high-end player market is a great use of funds. Barring injury it would be shocking to see him not perform up to the cost of this deal. And at 26 years old he's still on the upswing. 2 9 Gabriel, Wenyen $/$$ POR 23 1yr Years RFA Gabriel has some limitations and rough edges, but at his size with his length he has big upside if he can gain some weight and keep tightening up his game. The going rate on somebody who does that is much, much higher than what he will cost for an aggressive team looking for an upside play for low stakes. 3 5 Wood, Christian $$$ DET 25 4yrs Years UFA We cashed in last year in fantasy leagues, and now real GMs have to figure out whether it's time to buy high. For a guy that's not truly committed to defense and may end up average at best on that side, this feels ripe for an overpay. 4 6 Jones Jr., Derrick $$/$$$ MIA 23 4yrs Years UFA Whereas Christian Wood brings his lanky skill-set to the offensive end, Jones has been forged in the Miami DNA for a few years, focusing on threes and the top of their various zones. He's not a defensive stopper by any means but he gives you ways to shut a lot of actions down and he's going to keep improving on the defensive end. At 23 years old, he profiles as a player to take a chance on for relatively low money. 5 7 Craig, Torrey $/$$ DEN 30 3yrs Years RFA Craig is starting to slow down a bit but at his peak he was an upper echolon defensive presence with some mild versatility. Getting the next two years at a cheap price is a nice way to fill out the 8-10 slots on a team's roster. 6 3 Crowder, Jae $$$ MIA 30 8yrs Years UFA Bound to be overpaid, Crowder's athletic profile won't fall off a cliff but it's asking a lot for a 30-year-old with plenty of deficiencies to keep up as a brand name role player. 7 4 Anthony, Carmelo $/$$ POR 36 17yrs Years UFA Melo thinning out gave him a shot at being useful again and props to him for doing it. It seems somewhat likely he can do it again, too. You could do worse with your veteran signing. 8 2 Gallinari, Danilo $$$/$$$$ OKC 32 11yrs Years UFA Gallinari has enough numbers and name value to be a real overpay candidate in free agency as NY rumors have already kicked up. Hard to see any deal in the high-end of the $$$ range being good money. 9 10 Giles III, Harry $/$$ SAC 22 2yrs Years UFA Mismanaged in Sacto, Giles is an eclectic player as one can find. But there's enough intrigue with the skills package for some team to rescue him from Sacramento. 10 12 Williams, Marvin $ MIL 34 15yrs Years UFA Marvin can stand in the corner and hit threes another year or two and at a bargain rate. Good locker room guy. 11 13 Millsap, Paul $/$$/$$$ DEN 35 14yrs Years UFA Millsap might just get overpaid again. He's very close to being all the way washed and would be best in a vet minimum type deal with a contender where he can gear up to be moderately useful in the playoffs. 12 15 Sampson, JaKarr $ IND 27 5yrs Years UFA Sampson is in his prime and has enough athleticism to keep teams interested, though he needs to continue adding skills to stay in NBA rotations. Still, these kinds of athletic late-bloomers are the players you want to take a chance on. 13 16 Hollis-Jefferson, Rondae $ TOR 25 5yrs Years UFA RHJ's development has hit a brick wall for a few years and there's some last chance appeal for a team that can afford to take a shot in the dark. 14 17 Clark, Gary $ ORL 26 2yrs Years RFA The only appeal to adding Clark is that you're not going to make a mistake on an overpay. He's not dead in the water as a useful No. 9 to 11 guy. 15 11 Portis, Bobby $/$$ NYK 25 5yrs Years UFA** Extra name value keeps Portis weighed down on this list, but there's something to be said for the amount of minutes he's logged at 25 years old. Perhaps outside of NY somebody can optimize his game. 16 18 Caboclo, Bruno $ HOU 25 6yrs Years UFA We'll set the two years from two years joke aside on the mantle and give it a rest. The team with the player development staff to make a difference here is the only team that should be getting overly interested. 17 8 Green, Jeff $/$$ HOU 34 12yrs Years UFA There's just enough mileage left here to be an emergency rotation guy on a minimum deal for a contending team 18 14 Ennis III, James $ ORL 30 6yrs Years UFA* Ennis has a $2M option he probably hangs on to for a team with more available minutes than most 19 19 Kidd-Gilchrist, Michael $ DAL 27 8yrs Years UFA Injuries sapped the defensive edge that MKG once had and the only way this turns around is if getting healthy allows him to tap into some of that previously high-end defensive play 20 20 Anderson, Justin $ BKN 27 5yrs Years UFA A broken jumper and inability to turn some of the athleticism into lockdown defensive play have relegated Anderson to being on his way out of the NBA pretty soon. Not sure anybody is changing that equation. 21 21 Chandler, Wilson $ BKN 33 12yrs Years UFA Chandler is washed 22 22 Dudley, Jared $ LAL 35 13yrs Years UFA Dudley is acid washed jeans washed. $/Value Overall Name Cost TEam Age Exp Status Notes
This group is rough because the high-end isn’t great — Davis Bertans (who I like) tops the list and that’s not moving the needle for a lot of teams. Dwight Howard makes the list because he was actually a live wire during the playoffs and there’s no reason he can’t do it again next season. Andre Drummond is banging around there if a team thinks he’s the answer at center and that’s got overpay written all over it. Montrezl Harrell might have been a victim of weird bubble circumstances but he looked like a liability in the playoffs — and he’s also a big overpay candidate after winning his 6MOY award. Behind them are a number of serviceable low-end options.
$/Value Overall Name Cost TEam Age Exp Status Notes 1 1 Bertans, Davis $$$ WAS 28 4yrs Years UFA It's going to feel like an overpay but the shooting ability and underrated play in other facets will justify anything but a $$$$ deal. 17 2 Drummond, Andre -/$$$$ CLE 27 8yrs Years UFA* Likely to pick up his $28M option but I decided to rank him as a FA anyway 4 3 Howard, Dwight $/$$ LAL 35 16yrs Years UFA Dwight is Dwight but his heel turn in the playoffs was some of the best ball I've ever seen out of the guy. Sure, the early ORL years were on another level, but this was a player doing anything he could to win, engaged at a level that I haven't seen in a long while. He can move the needle the same way he did this season again next season. 6 4 Harrell, Montrezl $$$ LAC 26 5yrs Years UFA Harrell could easily be a big overpay guy after a long time on top of the underated lists. He looked downright unplayable at times for the Clippers in the playoffs, which was very much out of character. But against high-end talent he just couldn't summon the strength to not get killed on defense. Some of that was his late start in the bubble, but a lot of it was being top-heavy now that the young legs are gone. He's going to keep scoring in this next deal but how much you get elsewhere at his likely cost is the big question. 8 5 Plumlee, Mason $$/$$$ DEN 30 7yrs Years UFA Plumlee has more mileage than it might seem but any buyers will know what they're getting. Can fit in as a low MPG starter if necessary and won't be a glaring hole in your second unit. 19 6 Whiteside, Hassan $$/$$$ POR 31 8yrs Years UFA Whiteside cranking it up in a contract year is very on brand, but the league has gotten wise to the stat/actual defense disparity. That said, he played well to a degree in the playoffs and he's a legitimate option for 20-25 mpg for a lot of teams, so there are a few ways teams can get overexcited about a deal. He'll be one of the more interesting FAs to track this year. 10 7 Saric, Dario $/$$ PHX 26 4yrs Years RFA Saric didn't wilt last season and that's where we're at with assessing him. It's not as if he's been terrible, but mostly invisible. Somebody might be able to pry away a nice value with a semi-poisonous deal. 11 8 Noel, Nerlens $$ OKC 26 6yrs Years UFA Noel kept from nosediving after his previous free agency tumults and put down good film in OKC. Whoever snags him has spent good money for 20 solid backup minutes in the paint. 7 9 Ibaka, Serge $$/$$$ TOR 31 11yrs Years UFA Too much name value for a deal to be good unless he goes all-in for a chip. He can still dial it up with some versatility, but the overall package is going to be average at best. 3 10 Poeltl, Jakob $$ SAS 25 4yrs Years RFA Poeltl is quietly racking up the SA corporate knowledge, playing behind a big name in LMA and holding his own in the paint. Any team needing 20-26 mpg of solid center play should be dialing this up. 5 11 Len, Alex $/$$ SAC 27 7yrs Years UFA Len really had a nice run with the Kings, leaning into his strengths and minimizing his flaws. There's a decent chance he could be a useful 24 mpg player on a good team and that's a better outlook than his price will suggest. 13 12 Morris Sr., Marcus $$ LAC 31 9yrs Years UFA Morris is an overpay candidate after getting the keys in NY (haha), and also because he's put down decent film in Boston not too long ago. Also, the goonish act is actually a thing teams want. Backup center minutes are his only real future and teams can do better. 9 13 Baynes, Aron $/$$ PHX 34 8yrs Years UFA Baynes went ballistic to start the season and then injuries and the return of DeAndre Ayton ghosted him. At 34 the concern would be that he can't bring the same athleticism and that's his game. If everybody reduces expectations, he can be a solid backup big in a playoff setting. 28 14 Lopez, Robin $/$$ MIL 32 12yrs Years UFA* Lopez is going to cost a little more because of name value and rep around the league, but for a team that needs a situational big they know exactly what they're getting. 12 15 Favors, Derrick $$ NOP 29 10yrs Years UFA Favors probably has a tiny bit of overpay built into his next deal based on name value, but then again a soft market might actually keep him affordable. No secrets here - he has a lot of mileage and is a backup level player. 15 16 Kanter, Enes $$/$$$ BOS 28 9yrs Years UFA* $5M option 18 17 Thompson, Tristan $$/$$$ CLE 29 9yrs Years UFA Thompson has been cursed by the Kardashians and no I'm not joking. It's possible he sees the low-end of a $$$ deal but maybe the league has caught on. Declining athleticism at 29 years old is an easy 'sell.' 2 18 Boucher, Chris $/$$ TOR 27 3yrs Years RFA Boucher has all sorts of rough edges but the versatility and freakish athleticism at times are too much to pass up in a low cost deal. 14 19 Green, JaMychal -/$$ LAC 30 6yrs Years UFA* $5M option 22 20 McGee, JaVale $/$$ LAL 32 12yrs Years UFA* $4.2M option 25 21 Zizic, Ante $/$$ CLE 23 3yrs Years UFA Zizic at 23 years old has good experience for a young unheralded big and that's exactly the type of low-cost backup big you want. 23 22 Cauley-Stein, Willie $/$$ DAL 27 5yrs Years UFA* $2.2M option 16 23 Leonard, Meyers $/$$ MIA 28 8yrs Years UFA Leonard has a marketable skill as a matchup big and he'll probably be paid for something more than that. Unless you're putting the finishing touches on a very good roster, teams should look elsewhere. 20 24 Morris, Markieff $/$$ LAL 31 9yrs Years UFA Markieff played better than his brother Marcus in the playoffs when folks have been asking for a few years if he's washed. He's also the better of the two Morris to target this offseason. 35 25 Hernangomez, Willy $ CHA 26 4yrs Years UFA Hernangomez might have a future in a perfect fit situation, but it's hard to even define what that would be. I'd be looking for more upside in my end-of-roster play. 36 26 Vonleh, Noah $ DEN 25 6yrs Years UFA Vonleh might stick in a 11th man role for a while. At 25 years old he can handle the physicality but offers no real proficiency to demand anything but spot minutes 21 27 Bender, Dragan $ GSW 22 3yrs Years UFA Bender is still just 22 years old and has actually improved throughout this post-hype part of his young career. So he's not dead money and teams trying to fill out the end of their roster could do way worse. 24 28 Cousins, DeMarcus $ --- 30 10yrs Years UFA Cousins has so much working against him it's hard to bet on a return to NBA action, let alone get excited about signing him. This can change if we start to see film and news reports that suggest he's ready to rock, but at his size with his injuries and his history it's a tough road. 34 29 Okafor, Jahlil $ NOP 25 5yrs Years UFA Okafor has one more chance to show he can be a 15-20 mpg backup in this league. 26 30 Labissiere, Skal $ ATL 24 4yrs Years RFA Skal has had so many chances to prove himself and hasn't been able to do it, so it's on him to unlock whatever potential. But there have been glimpses of a unique, athletic and versatile package that you'd hope to hit the lottery with when aquiring him. He needs a strong developmental staff and veteran roster to really make it work. 27 31 Jones, Damian $ ATL 25 4yrs Years RFA Jones deserves an NBA roster slot and he's entering his prime so there are worse ways to spend money, but he needs to both progress and also add to his game, which speaks to the chance he can't stay above the cut line. 29 32 Tolliver, Anthony $ MEM 35 12yrs Years UFA Tolliver's only real value at this point is in the locker room, though AT's old man shooting game does travel. 30 33 Maker, Thon $ DET 23 4yrs Years RFA Maker hasn't been able to make it happen and that's not likely to change unless he adds another element to his game. Strength, skill, awareness -- he needs something to go with the long limbs and semi-versatile package. 40 34 Muscala, Mike $ OKC 29 7yrs Years UFA* $2.3M option 38 35 Kaminsky, Frank $ PHX 27 5yrs Years UFA** $5M team option 39 36 Henson, John $ DET 30 8yrs Years UFA Henson is probably washed and it wouldn't be surprising to see him struggle to find or keep an NBA home this season. 31 37 Biyombo, Bismack $ CHA 28 9yrs Years UFA Biyombo has more to give than a lot of the aging bigs on this list but once the defense goes he's all the way unplayble 32 38 Ojeleye, Semi $ BOS 26 3yrs Years RFA** Ojeleye needs to get his weight in check and we'll learn a lot by whether BOS retains him. 33 39 Fall, Tacko $ BOS 25 1yr Years RFA^ Fall is worth seeing out as a continuation bet if you're BOS or some other team, but not at the expense of other smarter plays 37 40 Diallo, Cheick $ PHX 24 4yrs Years UFA** $1.8M team option $/Value Overall Name Cost TEam Age Exp Status Notes