Knowing that teams are banking on spending bank next summer, there are certain players that help make everything fall into place, and those players are guys with expiring contracts. Teams that want cap space trade for them, and teams that have them know that they can trade them for pieces to fill out their roster. While this list could include every 2010 free agent, I’m sticking with guys that are more valuable as contracts than on the court. Realizing this, here are the top 15 expiring contracts this season:
1. Larry Hughes ($13,655,268) – No brainer here. The Knicks will be glad to see all that money drop off the books next summer.
2. Bobby Simmons ($10,560,000) – After winning the the Most Improved Player award and earning that big contract, Simmons hasn’t lived up to the hype.
3. Mike Miller ($9,750,000) – I like Miller on the Wizards this season and feel that the expectations won’t be as great as they were in Minnesota last season.
4. Quentin Richardson ($9,352,500) – As I wrote yesterday, the League is playing hot potatoe with Q’s contract. I wonder how many more times he’s going to be traded this year.
5. Kenny Thomas ($8,553,125) – After being a valuable contributor in Houston/Philly, Thomas has done next to nothing in Sacramento for the past three seasons.
6. Mark Blount ($7,962,500) – If you look at the Heat roster, they’ll be excited to see Blount’s contract come off the books to throw some money toward’s keeping D-Wade happy.
7. Darko Milicic ($7,500,000) – Personally I think Darko is going to have a good year for the Knicks, but the main reason they brought him in was to see him go in a year.
8. Etan Thomas ($7,350,000) – Thomas is a solid veteran who will be great for the Thunder this year, and should allow them to free up some money to invest in Durant long-term.
9. Brian Cardinal ($6,750,000) – For a guy who has never averaged over 10 points per game, Cardinal will be lucky to land back on a squad once this deal is done.
10. Antonio Daniels ($6,600,000) – A former starter in this League, Daniels can still play. But he could be traded like Rasual Butler was to help the Hornets save some money.
11. Jerome James ($6,600,000) – It took the Knicks two years to try and find a taker for James, so I doubt the Bulls will have any luck.
12. Luke Ridnour ($6,500,000) – Ridnour is definitely an NBA point guard, who could even be the Bucks starter this year, but if Brandon Jennings steps up his game the Bucks will definitely try and find a playoff team in need of a backup PG.
13. Matt Harpring ($6,500,000) – If he can stay healthy, Harpring can still ball.
14. Mike James ($6,466,600) – If everyone remains healthy in Washington, I could see James being shipped out like Rafer Alston was last season.
15. Tony Battie ($6,292,000) – Battie definitely doesn’t fit into the long-term plans in New Jersey, so if a team is in need of a backup big come the playoffs, expect the Nets to make a move.
Honorable Mention: I had mention former All-Stars Tracy McGrady ($23,239,561) and Jermaine O’Neal ($22,995,000) on here, but didn’t have the heart to list them above.