With the 2014 NBA Free Agency period set to begin on July 1st, its time to look at the Best 10 available Free Agents this year. Now, very important – Tim Duncan, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh have all been left off this list. Duncan and Gay have both taken their player options, Randolph re-signed with Memphis for two years, there’s no realistic way Dirk leaves Dallas, and its becoming more and more evident that the Big Three have no intention of leaving Miami, its been reported that the three of them are divvying up the Heat’s payroll amongst themselves, and only the three of them know if they will leave enough for Pat Riley to pursue a fourth eight figure contract. With that, here are the best available this season, and keep in mind how weak the Guard position is this year, and how top-heavy this class is in general:

melo 1. Carmelo Anthony, F, NYK- We start with this year’s big question — Where does Melo land? Last season was a microcosm of his career in a way, it was one of the better statistical seasons of his recent career, he was arguably the best player on the New York Knicks, who saw no one else have a note worthy season. While nobody doubts that Melo is easily one of the three best pure scorers in the game, there will always be question as to whether he is a true superstar. While there is always the possibility he chooses the Knicks out of his desire to prove that is his a superstar a team (and Phil Jackson) can build a winner around, he could always choose to go to Houston, Chicago, or even the Miami Heat, if he’s not interested in building a winner, and just try to win now. PREDICTION– This might sound crazy, but he’s going back to the KNICKS, and he’s doing it at a lesser salary to allow Phil to attempt to add more to a team that has a ton of needs.

 

lowry 2. Kyle Lowry, PG, Tor- This is how weak the guard class is- The top point guard was oft- injured or erratic the majority of his career until he had a breakout season and playoffs for a team that almost traded him to the Knicks at the deadline. But Lowry is interesting because he could, quite possibly join the Big Three in Miami if they decide to add a fourth piece, and are unwilling to overexposed Norris Cole and rookie Shabazz Napier to extended minutes. while various reports state a sign- and- trade to the Heat is forthcoming, the Raptors could resign him, or another team weak at the point could pursue. PREDICTION- After a great playoff run, TORONTO will pony up to keep Lowry next to rising studs Terrance Ross and DeMar DeRozan for the foreseeable future.

 

bledsoe 3. Eric Bledsoe, G, Pho (Restricted)- Bledsoe show the star-studded potential he is capable of in his first season averaging over 30 minutes a game, with over 17 points, 5.5 assists, and shooting over 47% from the field, all career highs. He also suffered the second major knee injury of his young career, costing him 39 games last season, and possibly millions this season, when combined with the fact that the Phoenix Suns can match any offer he receives. PREDICTION- As much as the SUNS taking Tyler Ennis confuses the backcourt situation with Goran Dragic still in the fold, Bledsoe realistically can’t go anywhere unless some team offers him max money and the Suns rightfully refuse to match. He could be an All Star in the right situation, but the durability concerns will scare teams off this year.

 

pau 4. Pau Gasol, F/C, LAL- Free of Evil Mike D’Antoni and possibly healthy once more, Gasol will sign his next contract with the sole purpose of wanting another Championship and prove the naysayers who think he’s done wrong. He could still pull off an eight figure- per- year deal, even at his age of 34, or he could decide he just wants to win and take a lesser deal with the Knicks, the Lakers, or the Heat if the Big Three decide they don’t need another point guard. Imagine Gasol filling the middle and allowing James, Wade and Bosh to do what they do best. PREDICTION- I’m tempted to say Knicks here simply because he is in Phil Jackson’s imfamous “Circle”, but I have no faith in his ability to trade Amare Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani. Kobe Bryant will beg the LAKERS to take him back, and Pau could actually be the one to take less money to help them get another piece.

 

marcin 5. Marcin Gortat, C, Was- One of the few true Centers left, the Polish Hammer, may have earned a max payday, after his playoff run with the Washington Wizards, who have stated they will do everything in their power to keep him in the middle for rising stars John Wall and Bradley Beal for years to come. But Gortat should be in high demand, as someone who plays solid defense and can score with needed. His age (30) may keep him from that max contract, but he’s the center every coach wishes he had. PREDICTION– This is my swerve prediction– The MIAMI Three decide to roll with Cole and Napier at the point and bring in a stopper up the middle for $10 mil a season (probably over four years). The Heat got beat badly by the more physical Spurs, and bring in the Hammer to re-establish an interior that can no longer rely on Udonis Haslem and the Birdman.

 

parsons 6. Chandler Parsons, SF, Hou (Restricted)- The Rockets made a huge mistake not picking up his option, and instead allowing him to become a restricted free agent, as someone will offer a max contract to a 26- year with a good shooting touch who keeps getting better (with Minnesota and Dallas among the rumored suitors). There’s also the possibility he his involved in a sign and trade if the Rockets have a chance at a Melo/LeBron type, and he could command a salary around $8-10 million. PREDICTION- With the Big Three staying in Miami, and the belief that Melo will trust in the Zen Master, unless the Timberwolves fall in love with a package for Kevin Love, Parsons stays with the ROCKETS, for now.

 

 

deng 7. Luol Deng, SF, Cle- At age 29, having taken a beating year- in and year- out, and coming off a disappointing showing in Cleveland, Deng has missed his opportunity for a max contract, but there’s always a place for a gritty leader who can shoot out of the three spot. PREDICTION- With Shawn Marion and Vince Carter on their way out, DALLAS, with Mark Cuban dying to put someone next to Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler to help Dirk get back to the top, land Deng after they inevitably miss out on the other big names of the class.

 

 

lance8. Lance Stephenson, SG, Ind- At 24, Lance had his breakout last season due to the injury and eventual departure of Danny Granger, and he proved a capable scorer, who is also able to defend every position on the court except center. The problem is, as he showed in the Playoffs against LeBron and the Heat, he could also be a budding loose cannon, and that will likely scare off potential suitors from offering him major money. PREDICTION– He fits the PACERS system well, and having spent his whole career in Indiana, Larry Bird and co. keep him at a reasonable price.

 

 

gord 9. Gordon Heyward, G/F, Uta (Restricted)- Negotiations with the Utah Jazz continue to stall for Heyward, as they are unwilling to give him the max contract he wants. Rightfully so, as he hasn’t developed into the scorer Utah wanted him to, and while he has many different skills- passing, rebounding, high motor; he doesn’t excel at any particular one of them. He’s a role player and a locker- room leader, and while Utah has the right to match offers, which team would believe he is worth over paying? PREDICTION– It might not be for the max, but the TIMBERWOLVES strike me as a team that could use another wing, and if they do trade Love for the rumored Klay Thompson package, Heyward would not only be a quality add, but probably necessary to sell it to the fan base. Houston could also swoop in if they miss out on big names and don’t match a Parsons offer.

 

monrhawes 10. Spencer Hawes, F/C, Cle/ Greg Monroe, F/C, Det (Restricted)- The only other quality men in the middle, with Hawes being more of a pure Center than Monroe. Monroe became unnecessary in Detroit with the Andre Drummond Era underway and the signing of Josh Smith last year, but at age 24, he can still develop into an All- Star, while Hawes greatly increased his stock after a strong showing with the Cavaliers. The problem is both suffer on the defensive side, and Hawes will scare people off due to his past inefficiencies and vague resemblance to Channing Frye- an erratic stretch five who struggles to do much else. Monroe would be a consideration for the Miami Three if he was more of a true center. PREDICTION– Hawes stays will the CAVS once they realize LeBron isn’t coming back and Spencer realizes nobody will pay for him, while Greg Monroe replaces Gortat in WASHINGTON, who would have cash and a hole in the middle.

Guards set to make bank due to a weak Guard crop- Patty Mills, SA; Isaiah Thomas, Sac (R); Grevis Vazquez, Tor (R).
Other frontcourt FAs of note- Danny Granger, Phi; Paul Pierce, BKN; Josh McRoberts, Cha

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