Basketball Insiders has recently started a new series detailing the top free agents by position as a primer for the free agency period beginning on July 1.
As a short recap, or if you’re looking for more pre-research, we’ve got you covered. Drew Maresca grabbed the point guards, then Jordan Hicks hit up the shooting guards a day later. On Friday, Spencer Davies went into the available small forwards — which now brings us to this point.
Before getting into the actual free agents, here’s a look at what the salary cap numbers project to be. The NBA’s salary cap is expected to jump from $101 million to $109 million this offseason. Based on that, here are the projected numbers for max contracts:
$27,250,000 for players with 0-6 years of experience
$32,700,000 for players with 7-9 years of experience
$38,150,000 for players with 10+ years of experience
In addition, the mid-level exception for teams in the first year is expected to be $9,246,000, while the taxpayer MLE is expected to be $5,711,000 and the room MLE is expected to be $4,760,000.
If you want a full list of players in the pool, feel free to refer to this page for a list of all the notable free agents-to-be.
Kristaps Porzingis* – Dallas Mavericks – Last Year’s Salary: $5,697,054
Needless to say, this category both begins and ends with the Latvian unicorn, an insanely unique power forward that the Knicks had to ship off ahead of an oncoming trade demand. Although Porzingis himself has floated the idea of accepting the qualifying offer — a move that would make him unrestricted in 2020 — the Mavericks seem absolutely committed to keeping him around. Of course, Porzingis is currently in the latter-end stages of ACL recovery but the talents are undeniable. The last time he was healthy, the seven-footer was averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks on 39.5 percent from three-point range. So being paired with Luka Doncic for the next decade, that’s a seriously dangerous core.
As reported, the Dallas appears ready to offer Porzingis the full five-year max worth $158 million — and, more, that the generational talent will accept it.
Naturally, it is worth noting the active rape allegations against Porzingis — although quiet currently — but it will not impact his free agency at this point in time.
Where Does He Fit: Everywhere, but Dallas will keep him.
New Deal: We’ll say 5 years/$158 million with the Mavericks.
Near Max Guys
Julius Randle – New Orleans Pelicans – Last Year’s Salary: $8,641,000
In March, this writer looked hard at Randle’s career-year and discussing his impending major payday — at long last, it’s almost here. Randle was surplus in the offseason that brought LeBron James to Los Angeles, so, instead of signing a long-term deal, the power forward bet on himself in a big way. Randle averaged 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists on 52.4 percent from the floor in New Orleans, a team that openly struggled with Anthony Davis’ mid-season trade request. He’ll have no shortage of suitors this summer — although those with the available money that Randle commands will be chasing bigger fish — Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, etc. — during the opening week of free agency.
Where Does He Fit: The amount of teams that could use a bullish, high-scoring power forward is not a short one, although the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls are all reportedly interested in his services.
New Deal: The Knicks, after missing out on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, move to a Plan B that includes young, potential-laden players like Randle. In New York, Randle grabs a well-deserved 4-year/$72 million deal and joins forces with Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett. All things considered, it’s a nice fallback plan for the Knicks.
Above Mid-Level Guys
Nikola Mirotic – Milwaukee Bucks – Last Year’s Salary: $12,500,000
Although his numbers bounced a bit after joining the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks in February, Mirotic has put himself in the crosshairs of a big offseason. Prior to that deal, Mirotic was thriving with the Pelicans, just like Randle, to the tune of 16.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.7 three-pointers per game on 36.8 percent from deep. In today’s NBA, Mirotic is not a unicorn by any means, but the stretch four is a position that every legitimate contender will chase this summer.
At 28 years-old, the Montenegran will be looking for a juicy, long-term deal and the Bucks have plenty of other big free agent concerns on their plate — Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon in particular.
Given Giannis Antetokounmpo’s swift rise to MVP status, it would behoove the Bucks to keep surrounding him with elite shooters and Mirotic fits the bill. But with all that other business taking precedence, it wouldn’t be surprising to see another team in need of shooting attempt a scoop on the 6-foot-10 flamethrower.
Where Does He Fit: Again, everywhere, especially teams that can make up for his defensive deficiencies like the Bucks or the rumored Utah Jazz.
New Deal: Mirotic could receive offers in the range of $13 million according to Jordan Brenner of The Athletic. Again, we’ll need to wait and see on a number of other conclusions before Mirotic becomes a priority, but the Bucks should remain the favorites for a 3-year/$39 million contract.
Bobby Portis* – Washington Wizards – Last Year’s Salary: $2,494,346
Bobby Portis wants as much as $16 million per year, according to The Athletic’s Tony Jones and Fred Katz, but the market is still very murky for the young forward. For their efforts, the Wizards have tendered a qualifying offer to Portis, thus making him restricted this offseason, but they’re not expected to match a huge offer.
The 24-year-old averaged 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game between two teams in 2018-19, continuing his ascent up the positional ladder. As an added bonus, Portis has improved his three-point shot along the way too, even hitting on 1.7 three-pointers on an excellent 40.3 percent clip.
That type of consistent rise might be worth investing in for a team that strikes out big, but wants to add a piece with potential nonetheless.
Where Does He Fit: The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks all have interest in the rangy Portis, as reported by Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Additionally, the Knicks may increase their interest – a la Randle — should their Plan A goes sideways.
But if Favors moves on in Utah — or returns on a much, much smaller deal — Portis seems like an intriguing marriage, although his defense leaves much to be desired.
New Deal: Portis won’t quite reach his $16 million per year asking price, but the Mavericks will come close with a deal near 4 years/$52 million.
Derrick Favors** – Utah Jazz – Last Year’s Salary: $16,900,000
Favors, a long-time consummate piece for the steadily-growing Jazz, has a $17 million deal set for 2019-20 — but the Jazz have until July 6 to guarantee it. If not, Favors will become unrestricted — in fact, reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, he will field interested calls when free agency opens just in case. Favors, who turns 28 next month, averaged 11.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game and paired perfectly with Rudy Gobert, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Where Does He Fit: Favors is a high-percentage forward that rebounds well, so although he wouldn’t command another $16 million-plus deal, there will be a market with little question. The nine-year veteran is the type of defender that can help transform a unit without eating up offensive possessions either. He won’t drag defenders away from the hoop, but he’s excellent at shutting down the opposition at the rim — so expect many, many teams to kick the tires.
New Deal: If the Lakers opt for depth over star status with that new-found cap space, Favors would be a fantastic option for Los Angeles. With Anthony Davis’ injury history and LeBron James’ need to rest up more often, Favors provides no-nonsense defense and strong rebounding at a reduced cost. If he doesn’t stay with Utah, it’s feasible to see Favors to the Lakers on a 2-year/$24 million agreement.
Thaddeus Young – Indiana Pacers – Last Year’s Salary: $13,764,045
The perennially-underrated Young hits free agency as a will-be targeted piece for many on-the-edge franchises. It’s not difficult to see how Young, a strong scorer with range and a big-time motor, could find a home across most of the league. As a highly-regarded team player, Young averaged around 12 points and 6 rebounds over 81 games in back-to-back seasons for the upstart Pacers. But with Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner developing nicely, the need to bring Young back has certainly lessened with Indiana in search of a valuable point guard instead.
Young is not a standout at any one thing, but he’s averaged 10 or more points in every campaign since 2008 and has a nose for tough, clutch baskets — often just when the Pacers needed it the most. Favors is the better defender, so expect the former to grab a slightly bigger deal, but Young won’t be far behind.
Where Does He Fit: Need a locker room guy? Hello, Phoenix. Need to plug some holes? The Boston Celtics sure make sense there. Hell, if the Jazz end up waiving Favors and need a new plan, Young would thrive in Utah, too.
New Deal: For this exercise, Young does the trick for a suddenly-thin Boston frontcourt at 2 years/$22 million.
Jabari Parker – Washington Wizards – Last Year’s Salary: $20,0000
Even with the tough injuries Parker has suffered over the years, it’s hard to believe that we’re here with the talented 24-year-old. After signing a two-year deal worth a whopping $20 million per season with the Chicago Bulls last summer, Parker dipped in and out of the rotation before he was traded with Bobby Portis to Washington. Parker can undoubtedly score, but he’s far removed from the campaign in which he averaged 20 points and 6.2 rebounds per game back in 2016-17 — still, it may be a worthy endeavor. The Wizards declined their option on year two of that aforementioned deal, but there’s mutual interest to negotiate a new one, reportedly.
Where Does He Fit: Parker fits well on a roster like Washington, a place where the expectations are low and their playoff chances are stuck in fifth gear. They’ve got Bradley Beal, obviously, but beyond that, the Wizards don’t have any choice but to keep looking for solutions that do work. Parker’s not a shooter with consistent range yet, unfortunately, but teams like Cleveland, Miami, Minnesota, Memphis and Charlotte should all do their due diligence on the 6-foot-8 bucket-getter.
New Deal: Parker’s got a next-to-no chance of receiving the same financial amount from last summer — but the structure might be similar. Memphis takes the dive at a 2-year/$20 million agreement, plus that all-important team option for year two once again.
Mid-Level or Below Guys
Ed Davis – Brooklyn Nets – Last Year’s Salary: $4,449,000
Davis was a beacon of shining light in Brooklyn, often gobbling up rebound after rebound as the Nets surprised everybody. Although he wasn’t a starter and much of the highlight-reel plaudits went to Jarrett Allen, Davis was, as always, one of the most valuable players on the roster for Brooklyn. He outpaced Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as the Nets’ best defender by rating (102.2) and had 32 outings with 10 or more rebounds in just 17.9 minutes per contest. When Davis left the Trail Blazers as surplus last summer, Portland fans rioted. Wherever Davis goes, he’s well-loved.
And if he took a discount to play for Brooklyn last year, he’s probably won’t do it again, per Michael Scotto of The Athletic.
The most the Nets can offer, via Bird Rights, is around two years at a total of $11 million.
Where Does He Fit: Whew, the flexibility! If the Nets snuck a fast one past the NBA last summer, the secret is definitely out now: Ed Davis, without a doubt, makes your team better. He, too, should be an option for just about everybody — but the Lakers should be the first to make that call. The Clippers, Jazz, Pelicans, Celtics and more, the list goes on as most franchises could use a rebounder like Davis.
New Deal: After bouncing around the league for much of his nine-year career, Davis can settle in with the Nets. He continues to fill a very real need, but until Jarrett Allen gets bigger and stronger — as well as the recently-drafted Nic Claxton — the Nets will need somebody like Davis. If he likes the opportunity for consistent minutes on a likely playoff-bound team, Davis could take the 2-year/$11 million offer and stay put.
Marcus Morris – Boston Celtics – Last Year’s Salary: $5,375,000
The Morris-wrapped enigma has been tough to nail down as of late, but he was an essential piece of that deep Boston roster. Over the last two years, Morris has done well both as a starter and off the bench alongside Al Horford and company. Notably, Morris has made one-plus three-pointer per game in every season since 2012 but also made a career-best 1.9 on 37.5 percent last year. When the Celtics were going through their mid-season slump, Morris didn’t mince words in the locker room and was key in righting the ship — so what team wouldn’t love a veteran like that?
Where Does He Fit: Morris may be Mirotic-lite from three-point range, but he’s a much better defender. The 6-foot-9 forward can play in a featured role or thrive as an energy piece off the bench. The Lakers need shooting, while the Kings need some new veterans to steer the likes of Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles towards their respective next steps. With a nearly non-existent frontcourt, however, it might make sense for Morris to stick around in Boston too.
New Deal: Deep shooting and solid defense would be worth the mid-level exception/2-year partnership for the young and fast Sacramento Kings.
Taj Gibson – Minnesota Timberwolves – Last Year’s Salary: $14,000,000
DeMarre Carroll – Brooklyn Nets – Last Year’s Salary: $15,4000
Kevon Looney – Golden State Warriors – Last Year’s Salary: $1,512,601
Jordan Bell* – Golden State Warriors – Last Year’s Salary: $1,378,242
JaMychal Green – Los Angeles Clippers – Last Year’s Salary: $7,666,667
Zach Randolph – Sacramento Kings – Last Year’s Salary: $11, 692,308
Noah Vonleh – New York Knicks – Last Year’s Salary: $1,512,601
Kenneth Faried – Houston Rockets – Last Year’s Salary: $683,661
Mike Scott – Philadelphia 76ers – Last Year’s Salary: $4,320,500
Other Notable Free Agents
Frank Kaminsky – Charlotte Hornets – Last Year’s Salary: $3,627,842
Ryan Anderson** – Miami HEAT – Last Year’s Salary: $20,421,546
Daniel Theis* – Boston Celtics – Last Year’s Salary: $1,378,242
Luc Mbah a Moute – Free Agents – Last Year’s Salary: $4,320,500
Dante Cunningham – San Antonio Spurs – Last Year’s Salary: $2,487,000
Maxi Kleber* – Dallas Mavericks – Last Year’s Salary: $1,378,242
Richaun Holmes – Philadelphia 76ers – Last Year’s Salary: $1,6000,520
Dragan Bender – Phoenix Suns — Last Year’s Salary: $4,661,280
Marquese Chriss — Cleveland Cavaliers – Last Year’s Salary: $3,206,160
Markieff Morris – Oklahoma City Thunder — Last Year’s Salary: $427,288
Cheick Diallo — New Orleans Pelicans – Last Year’s Salary: $1,544,951
Georges Niang** – Utah Jazz – Last Year’s Salary: $1,512,601
Jonas Jerebko – Golden State Warriors – Last Year’s Salary: $1,512,601
Lance Thomas** – New York Knicks – Last Year’s Salary: $7,119,650
Michael Beasley – Free Agents – Last Year’s Salary: $3,500,000
Jeff Green – Boston Celtics – Last Year’s Salary: $1,512,601
Trey Lyles* – Denver Nuggets – Last Year’s Salary: $3,364,249
Anthony Tolliver – Minnesota Timberwolves – Last Year’s Salary: $5,750,000
Mike Muscala – Los Angeles Lakers – Last Year’s Salary: $5,000,000
Darrell Arthur – Denver Nuggets – Last Year’s Salary: $7,464,912
Jarell Martin* – Orland Magic – Last Year’s Salary: $2,416,222
Udonis Haslem – Miami Heat – Last Year’s Salary: $1,512,601
Sam Dekker – Washington Wizards – Last Year’s Salary: $2,760,095
Amir Johnson – Philadelphia 76ers – Last Year’s Salary: $1,512,601
Henry Ellenson**** – New York Knicks – Last Year’s Salary: $341,831
Quincy Acy – Free Agents – Last Year’s Salary: $85,458
Tyler Lydon – Denver Nuggets – Last Year’s Salary: $1,874,640
Chris Boucher** – Toronto Raptors – Last Year’s Salary: $457,418
Ivan Rabb** – Memphis Grizzlies – Last Year’s Salary: $1,378,242
Alize Johnson** – Indiana Pacers – Last Year’s Salary: $838,464
Duncan Robinson** – Miami Heat – Last Year’s Salary: $9,474
Ray Spalding – Phoenix Suns – Last Year’s Salary: $184,746
Isaiah Hartenstein** – Houston Rockets – Last Year’s Salary: $838,464
Yante Maten** – Miami Heat – Last Year’s Salary: $18,948
Gary Clark** – Houston Rockets – Last Year’s Salary: $596,873
*Qualifying Offer (If made and accepted, the player becomes a restricted free agent)
**Non-Guaranteed Contract (If the player is waived by his current team before the contract becomes fully guaranteed, he becomes an unrestricted free agent)
***Player Option (The player has the choice of whether to opt-in for another year with his current team or opt-out to become an unrestricted free agent)
****Team Option (The team has the choice of whether to pick up a player for another year or opt-out to have him become an unrestricted free agent)
Although this position isn’t as star-studded as the others, there are plenty of notable pieces worth adding. There are potential-laden youngsters and hard-working veterans to be hard — but most of these names won’t come off the board until the big shopping is done and dusted. Tomorrow, our series will wrap up just ahead of free agency opening, so be sure to stay tuned into Basketball Insiders.