Once Durant, Horford, and Conley are signed… then what?
2016 is the Summer of Durant in the world of NBA free agency. And of course Al Horford and Mike Conley will get paid, and Hassan Whiteside will make money. Someone will even talk themselves into Dwight Howard at the max.
But there are others out there that may have slipped off the radar a bit, guys who can play key roles for contending teams. Guys who are about to get paid.
Zach Lowe already stole Cole Aldrich and Boban Marjanovic in his similar piece posted today, so I’ll leave them to him. Here are some other middle off the radar free agents that you should keep an eye on…
Jordan Clarkson (RFA)
It’s entirely possible that Clarkson might be the best point guard contract available in free agency. It’s also entirely possible he might not even be a starting point guard. Or available.
It’s a very weak PG fleet. The one star is Mike Conley and he’ll be 29 when the season starts and is coming off a series of foot injuries.
Clarkson just turned 24 and can play either guard position. He does a little bit of everything and, because of the Arenas provision, he’ll max out at a very reasonable 4-year deal around $60 million. He’s an interesting young player that a needy team should take a chance on.
Of course, the problem is that he’s restricted, and only a crazy team would not match a contract like that. A crazy team like… the Lakers?
Potential suitors — Sixers, Nets, Bulls, Kings
It’s possible Lin is the most available ready-made starting point guard. Woof. He’s on record as coveting a starting role, and he’s probably going to get a crazy contract in the $60-$75 million range because hooray cap jump!
Lin can run the pick and roll and he’ll energize the fan base and… yeah, he’s not the starting point guard for a contender. But for a team desperate to remain a pretender? Yeah maybe.
Potential suitors — Kings, Mavs, Bulls, Nets, Grizz
Even Fournier (RFA)
Fournier is my favorite guy on this list — he always fascinated me on the French national team and he finally figured out the NBA this year too, with 15ppg and 40% shooting from downtown. That went up to 18/3/3 after the All-Star break with a 5% boost in field goal percentage.
Fournier is a top 10 shooting guard, and it’s not entirely clear if Orlando realizes it. He should absolutely get the full max this summer especially with a couple of the teams that desperately need help at the 2.
Now that the Magic have sent Oladipo away, even with the Meeks trade, they should definitely match. But Fournier is the exact sort of player someone should gamble on with a huge offer on July 1 to test the waters.
Potential suitors — Knicks, Lakers, Nets, Sixers
Batum is the modern day Shane Battier, the glue guy that every contender would love to have. He’s an excellent three and a guy that could play as a Harrison Barnes style stretch four. He’s a great defender on the ball and can catch and shoot or create for others, averaging 15/6/6 this year unleashed for the Hornets. Batum is a winner and a huge difference maker when healthy.
Could he be the perfect fit with the Baby Wolves? Is he a (better) Barnes replacement? Might he want to play with French teammates Tony Parker and Boris Diaw in San Antonio? Lots of intriguing fits here if Batum decides to leave Charlotte.
Potential suitors — Wolves, Warriors, Wiz, Spurs
It’s only appropriate that Baze is deciding to wait until after July 4th for his free agency decision — no one in the NBA loves to Baze more on the holidays.
Secretly, this might be a great money decision too. Baze could be a (slightly) cheaper alternative to a team that misses out on the Durant sweepstakes. You could see a fit in OKC if Durant does leave, or he’s another excellent 3 and D glue guy that any team would love to have.
At 6'5 he’s too short to fill a Barnes role, much as a return to Golden State would be fun, but he’s a perfect fit for any team that needs a swing man that can defend three positions and shoot 41% from the corner 3.
Potential suitors — Clips, Grizz, Pacers, Magic, Wiz
Allen Crabbe (RFA)
Crabbe is going to be tough to pry away from Portland. He’s probably not yet worth a massive offer, but a lower offer likely means the Blazers match, even with decisions on Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard.
A smart team will make the right offer at the right time for a 24-year-old swing man that really came into his own last year. Crabbe is another 3 and D guy and has proven himself a very good shooter — 39% career from downtown even without taking a ton of corner shots. Crabbe is a great target for middle-market teams that can’t convince the big guns to come their way.
Potential suitors — Hawks, Grizz, Pacers
Every team is looking for a nice stretch 4 these days, and Ryan Anderson will be atop the list for most teams, but there’s only one of him and he’s likely to get something near or at the max level. Teletovic is a nice backup plan.
The Bosnian quietly had 181 threes this year — good for 14th in the league — despite playing only 21 minutes a game. And he shot 46% from the corner the last three years but didn’t get many attempts there. Used the right way on the right team, it’s entirely possible Teletovic could have a top ten 3-point shooting season all time.
Potential suitors — Raptors, Pels, Wolves, Blazers
Biyombo isn’t quite as under the radar anymore after his monster postseason (especially once Valanciunas was out injured). A year ago Biyombo was a bust that couldn’t get a long-term offer from the team that drafted him. Now he’s set to make $15-$20 million a year and anchor a defense for the next 4 years.
That all sounds like a bit much for a guy that averaged a career-high 5.5ppg this year. But Biyombo was a rebounding and defense tour de force for the Raptors in the Eastern playoffs. His per-minute rebounds would put him on pace for 13 boards a game as a starting center, and his hustle energized the entire defense and crowd.
Biyombo suddenly looks like a star. Could he be the smile at the center of the Lakers or Heat? Could Mutombo bring his finger wagging to Atlanta?
And for teams that miss out on Biyombo here and still need a similar rebounding and defending big, watch for Ian Mahinmi and Zaza Pachulia.
Potential suitors — Hawks, Heat, Lakers, Mavs, Rockets
Special thanks to Mr. Brandon Anderson for his contribution.
Writer and Consultant. Follow @wheatonbrando for sports, humor, pop culture, and life musings.
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