Although no one is signing a deal until July 1, the end of the regular season also signaled the end of days for many players in the League. While no one knows for sure whether or not they’ll re-sign with their team just yet, it’s time for these players (and NBA GMs) to start thinking towards the future. With that in mind, here are the top 10 free agents from non-playoff teams.
1. Chris Bosh (player option)
He hasn’t opted out of his deal just yet, but that’s just a formality. Chris Bosh is as good as gone. I do think that Toronto (even just to placate their fans) will make a play to re-sign him, but he’ll eventually end up as the cornerstone of another franchise for the next six to seven years. Of all the guys on this list, he’s the only max-contract guy.
2. David Lee (unrestricted)
After Bosh, the best available big man is David Lee. While he’s not a max-contract player, Lee will demand a $50 million-plus deal, and should be heavily courted. As an All-Star this year, Lee was an absolute beast. Remember that 37 point, 20 rebound and 10 assist effort? I’m pretty sure even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar does. I can’t think of many teams that wouldn’t want to make a play for the five-year NBA vet.
3. Rudy Gay (restricted)
Just like Lee, Rudy Gay is not a max-contract player, but will demand a $50 million-plus deal. I give Lee the slight edge in the best available because of his All-Star season, but Gay is right there. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley has said that they’re going sign him, which may scare some other teams away. What it also could do is bid up his value.
4. Luis Scola (restricted)
With doubts around Yao Ming‘s future, the Rockets really can’t afford to lose Luis Scola. Plus, the tandem that he’s formed with Aaron Brooks this season has been one of the best in the League. The one downside to Scola is that he’s about to turn 30 later this month, but teams shouldn’t let that deter them from making a play. Even if the Rockets say they’ll match any offer that’s made.
5. Anthony Morrow (restricted)
At only 24-years-old, undrafted Anthony Morrow could be the next Gilbert Arenas to come out of Golden State. I’m not saying he’s going to get big-time money, but in his only two years in the League, he’s proven to be a big-time scorer. Last night on Twitter, Morrow said that the Warriors were one of the closest teams he’s ever been on, so if Golden State can foot the bill, I know he’d love to stay. But expect some other young teams (or teams looking to get young) to take a stab.
6. Ronnie Brewer (restricted)
I truly believe that had Ronnie Brewer not gotten hurt, the Grizzlies would have made the playoffs. While we won’t be able to tell, hopefully Memphis feels that way going into next season. Certainly their top priority is re-signing Gay, but brining back Brewer should be up there as well. This guy is a starter in this League.
7. Al Harrington (unrestricted)
Even though he’s already been in the League for 12 years, Al Harrington is only 30 years old. And while it’s been a fire sale going on in New York, Harrington showed that he can still be a contributor on an NBA team. What if San Antonio had him instead of Richard Jefferson? What if he landed on a team like the Nuggets and could come off the bench? While I don’t see Harrington making big money this summer, he might be ready to enter “get right mode.” And can do just that.
8. Will Bynum (restricted)
Although the Pistons were a debacle this season, Will Bynum proved that he’s an NBA guard. And while some guys are just a flash in a pan, signing Bynum would be more like catching lightning in a bottle.
9. Steve Blake (restricted)
This year’s NBA Draft is definitely short on point guards, so teams in search of one should definitely be calling Steve Blake. With Baron Davis and Eric Gordon, the Clippers really don’t need Blake, and Los Angeles is known for being stingy with their dollars. Some NBA team is going to swoop in and steal him this summer.
10. Shaun Livingston (unrestricted)
I might be the biggest Shaun Livingston fan left around. And I still believe that he can be a legit NBA talent for the next decade. At only 24 years old, it was promising to see Livingston back in action this year for the Wizards, starting 18 of 24 games. If Livingston is smart, he’ll live in the gym this summer, showing NBA GMs that he’s here to stay.
What do you think? Where do you see these guys landing? Would you sign them to your team?
Follow Aron on Twitter at @the_real_aron.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.