Top Unrestricted Free Agents

We’ll see many stars from the NBA hit the free agent market this summer, some restricted, most unrestricted. Plenty of these players will wind up staying with their current teams, but there is a small chance for competing teams to step in and make things interesting. These players are not ranked in any order, but rather just on pure interest.

1. Marc Gasol: Memphis Grizzlies
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Given Gasol’s roots in Memphis, and the chemistry he has with Zach Randolph and Mike Conley, along with the rest of the team’s core, it seems unlikely that he would leave Memphis for another bigger market. However, Michael Wallace of ESPN.com has reported that the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, and New York Knicks are readying proposals to present to Gasol when free agency begins on July 1. However, when it’s all said and done, Gasol will likely be wearing a Grizzlies jersey when we tip off at the beginning of the 2015-16 season.
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2. Rajon Rondo: Los Angeles Lakers
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The Los Angeles Lakers should not sign Rajon Rondo. I repeat, the Lakers should not sign Rajon Rondo. But they are the Lakers, they are crazy, and desperate to become relevant once again, which is why they will offer Rondo the biggest contract compared to the rest of his market. Will it go wrong between Rondo and Kobe? I do believe so, but I do think in the end, Rondo ends up in a Lakers jersey.
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3. Kevin Love: Cleveland Cavaliers
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Kevin Love has said that he wants to end up with the Cavaliers when it’s all said and done after the NBA Finals and free agency. Obviously, the temptation to be a first option in either New York or Boston could appeal to Love, but he may want to win a championship, which is why he will likely end up with the Cavaliers.
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4. DeMarre Carrol: Detroit Pistons
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Detroit isn’t going to get Draymond Green, but Carrol might be the best consolation prize out there, who’ll bring much of the same versatility and toughness. The Pistons have said they are willing to pay him up to $15 million a year. Unless the Hawks really shake up the roster to accommodate another big contract, the Pistons seem like a more than plausible destination.
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5. LaMarcus Aldridge: San Antonio Spurs
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The San Antonio Spurs will find their Tim Duncan replacement this season in one of the best players in the league in LMA, With news breaking that Aldridge has put his Portland home for sale, it’s a foregone conclusion that he is all but gone from Portland. And quite frankly, the Spurs make the most sense. With Pop, Leonard, and Tony Parker, you know you will be competing for a Western Conference Finals almost every year. The Spurs are a plausible destination, and personally I think it will happen.
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6. DeAndre Jordan: Los Angeles Clippers
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There will be a number of teams in the running to sign Jordan. The three best teams for Jordan’s services are the Clippers, Bucks, and Celtics. All three are great options for Jordan to consider. The Clippers present the immediate ability to contend for championships, along with already built chemistry with his teammates. The Bucks offer one of the fastest rising teams in the league, who just need a defensive center to have one of the better young starting five’s. The Celtics have been very vocal about how much they adore Jordan and his skill set. For the Celtics, they have a huge hole at the five, and for them to take the next few steps to moving to championship contention they will need a defensive big. With all his options weighed, Jordan will return to the Clippers, for they can offer more money, established chemistry, and the immediate chance to contend for a title.
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7. Tim Duncan: San Antonio Spurs
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Is this even a question? Duncan is a Spur, and will not be going anywhere this summer. For the Spurs to pursue LaMarcus Aldridge, who has recently expressed wanting to play in Dallas over San Antonio, they would need Duncan to take yet another pay cut to accommodate Aldridge. Duncan, being the team player he is will probably agree to this, with the hopes of one more run at a Championship.
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8. Paul Millsap: Atlanta Hawks
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Although Atlanta will likely have to pick between Carroll and Millsap, Millsap is pretty good selection. Millsap brings the ability to stretch the floor, passing skills, and high basketball IQ. Millsap is a great leader as well. For the Hawks, they will need consistency next year to continue to compete in the east, which has a number of young talented teams coming up. Although Carroll might offer higher upside at these two player’s point in their careers, Millsap has a proven game, which the Hawks can count on, where Carroll is a mystery, as to if he can keep performing at the same level he did this past season.
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9. Greg Monroe: New York Knicks
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This decision is more than likely the most likely to happen of all the players changing teams. Monroe and the Knicks have both expressed interest in playing for each other. This addition makes sense for both sides as it gives the Knicks, who selecting at the fourth spot in the draft, will be likely out of the running for Okafor or Towns, so Monroe will give them a big they desperately need. Monroe is also a good, young player for another piece in the Knicks rebuilding process.
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10. Tyson Chandler: Dallas Mavericks
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When you possibly have one last season with Dirk you need to capitalize. Chandler is not as elite as he once was, but with that he will come at a much cheaper price for the Mavericks he can use his services. With Aldridge saying that Mavericks are his preferred destination in Texas, the Mavericks will need to keep all their key role players around to be able to give themselves a chance to compete in the crowded western conference.
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11. Josh Smith: Houston Rockets
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Josh Smith has the ability to leave Houston and receive a bigger payday, but his success, and ability to make runs at championships will likely keep him in Houston. Everyone knows of Rondo’s and Smith’s friendship and desire to play together, so with both players free agents the Rockets could look to add both players. Rondo could use a one year prove it deal with the Rockets to secure a bigger contract next season, as his value right now is as low as it has ever been. Smith, Rondo, Harden, and Howard gives the Rockets plenty of playoff experience and skill to compete with the Warriors, Clippers, Spurs, and Thunder for who is the best in the west next season.
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12. Wesley Matthews: Portland Trailblazers
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Wesley Matthews would be an interesting player for a team like the Chicago Bulls, but with their lack of cap flexibility, only the Milwaukee Bucks have a lot of cap room and need at shooting guard for playoff teams. Matthew would be a great addition for a young, talented group of players in Milwaukee, but they just are not a huge free agent destination, and with Portland being able to offer him more money, Matthews will be staying in Portland.
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13. Louis Williams: Charlotte Hornets
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The Hornets need a guard capable of scoring. When Kemba Walker got hurt, the Hornets offense completely fell apart. The Hornets tried to use Mo Williams, but that experiment did not pay off. Although Williams is a sixth man, he will allow for the Hornets not to worry when Walker steps off the court, Williams will come in and be a nice spark plug for the second unit’s offense. Toronto will be looking to keep Williams, who helped make their offense electric, but the Hornets in dire need of shooting will likely overpay for Williams.
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14. Kosta Koufos: Boston Celtics
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While most Celtic fans will be disappointed to not see DeAndre Jordan going to their team in this article, Koufos is a good addition for the team, at a fraction of the price. Koufos is a great defensive center, which is what Boston needs. Selecting in the mid-teens and late first round leaves the Celtics out of the running to draft an elite rim protector, unless Upshaw falls to them with their second pick. With Koufos on the team, the Celtics could look to add some more scoring wings in the draft, because as you saw in the playoffs, it was pitiful to watch this team try to create offense.
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15. Omer Asik: Milwaukee Bucks
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When talking about DeAndre Jordan, the Bucks are a rumored dark horse for his services, I just feel he will be staying in Los Angeles. Asik is a great defensive center, and a solid rebounder. The Bucks, in their series against Chicago, were killed on the glass, and struggled without a legitimate rim protector. Asik should not cost a lot this off season, and with a rising squad, Asik can give great leadership and help make a already scary defense, even more stiff.
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16. Robin Lopez: Portland Trailblazers
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Lopez is a great role player for the Trailblazers, who is very under appreciated by casual basketball fans. If the Trailblazers lose in the sweepstakes for Aldridge, retaining Lopez will help keep the majority of the team together, and when a bunch of stars come into free agency next off season, the Trailblazers will be very appealing, offering a good supporting cast, and a star point guard in Damian Lillard.
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17. Manu Ginobili: San Antonio Spurs
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As stated with Tim Duncan, is this even a question? When you play your whole career with a team, your final season(s) are usually with that one team. Ginobili is no exception. Ginobili will likely need to take a pay cut to add more talent and depth to the roster to make another run at a championship next season.
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18. J.J. Barea: Indiana Pacers
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The Pacers should be back in contention for the best of the east next season with the return of a healthy Paul George. The Pacers will need to add some more depth to their squad to compete with the Bulls and Cavaliers, who both possess great depth. Barea is a good back-up point guard capable of leading your second unit. Barea is also a good scorer, with great ability to stretch the floor. With the addition of another good role player to lead their second unit confidently, the Pacers should be in contention for a top seed next season.
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19. Danny Green: Memphis Grizzlies
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The Grizzlies and shooters are always linked. The Grizzlies have tried so many different wing players over the past few seasons with none of them being the right fit. Green is a bit different from the past few guys, as he is younger, has greater upside, and fits well in the Grizzlies system. With the Spurs needing to cut ties with some role players in other to pursue Aldridge, and resign their entire core, minus Parker, Green might be lost to a rival.
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20. Andrea Bargnani: Phoenix Suns
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Although Bargnani has stated he wants to play for a contender, I do not feel their will be mutual interest. Bargnani might have to settle for a playoff contending team, who need a big man who can stretch the floor. Bargnani, in Phoenix would not be expected to play defense, just come off the bench and try to spark the second unit. For the Suns, this does not need to be a long term deal. Best case scenario, this is a one year deal, low salary for the Suns, and for Bargnani he hopefully has a good season, so next off season he can try to get a bigger deal for a better contender.
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By: Ashvin Muddappa and Mac Crowe
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