Notable NBA Free Agents for the 2014 Offseason
16) Paul Pierce (Nets, SF, Unrestricted)
One day this future Hall of Famer will lose his edge on the court. That day isn't here yet. Pierce remains a cold-blooded scorer even if at this point in his career he's doing so over fewer minutes per game. The coaching situation puts a return to Brooklyn in some doubt, but he'll land somewhere where another ring is possible.
15) Trevor Ariza (Wizards, SF, Unrestricted)
Some seem surprised that Ariza's name is frequently mentioned as a player notable teams like the Heat and Lakers are reportedly targeting. Don't be. On top of being one of the game's best wing defenders, the 6-foot-8 forward has dramatically improved his 3-point shot. This is why the Wizards reportedly want him back, especially with Martell Webster's back injury. Will the Southern California kid who has tasted NBA championships before stay is the question.
14) Pau Gasol (Lakers, PF, Unrestricted)
Sure, the older Gasol put up strong numbers this past season, but is he truly a top-3 threat for a title contender? Offensively, he remains a potent threat on the low or high block thanks to his array of scoring moves. The Lakers are still in play, but Gasol's mental state might need to change addresses.
13) Gordon Hayward (Jazz, SG, Restricted)
Lots to like with this 6-foot-8 forward, who went for 16-5-5 last year in Utah. Others will make a run at the former Butler star, but it's hard imagining the Jazz letting him leave seeing as Hayward is a major piece of their rebuilding efforts.
12) Marcin Gortat (Wizards, C, Unrestricted)
The top free agent center is also Washington's top priority this summer. There's Gortat's positive and hulking presence on both ends of the court. There is also the lack of available 5-man options this summer should he sign elsewhere. Nobody in town wants to imagine the scenario where he does.
11) Dwyane Wade (Heat, SG, Unrestricted)
The strongest indicator that Miami's "Big 3" will stick in South Beach came when Wade opted out of the final seasons of his contract that would have paid him $41 million. Anybody who watched the NBA finals knows he's lost more than a step. In other words, Wade can't command a similar deal on the open market and he didn't opt out for charity.
10) Lance Stephenson (Pacers, SG, Unrestricted)
The competitive wing guard's antics proved so polarizing during the Eastern Conference finals that even LeBron James haters might have felt a twinge of sympathy. When his head is clear and his shots are falling, Stephenson is a triple-double threat. When a screw comes loose, he can bring a team down with him. The cap-strapped Pacers have almost no choice but to bring "Born Ready" back, but it just takes one other team to offer major money because of a belief that they can straighten Stephenson out.
9) Luol Deng (Cavaliers, SF, Unrestricted)
Not a player who can carry a team, but Deng's presence could push several teams up a rung thanks to his experience, offensive versatility and defensive skills. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Atlanta Hawks could make a play with their newly acquired cap space. The Miami Heat and Houston Rockets might jump in the mix once the top tier FA options are off the board. Best bet to get overpaid when teams that missed on James and Anthony still have money to spend.
8) Eric Bledsoe (Suns, PG, Restricted)
Don't bet on Phoenix letting John Wall's former teammate escape, though the Suns did draft another point guard (Syracuse's Tyler Ennis) in round one. Playing alongside Goran Dragic, the lightning fast Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals. The Suns might make a play at free agents LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, but it would be a stunner if they let their prominent free agent bolt.
7) Chandler Parsons (Rockets, SF, Restricted)
The sharp shooting forward is something of a pawn in Houston's off-season agenda. By not picking up the option on Parsons' contract, the Rockets take the chance another team might make an offer almost impossible to match. There is lots to love about a stat-stuffing forward who makes shooting look so easy.
6) Kyle Lowry (Raptors, PG, Unrestricted)
One of the leading candidates to turn Miami's "Big 3" into a foursome following his dynamic season with the Raptors. Whether Miami can afford him is something else, but the fact that the four-time defending Eastern Conference champions reportedly are interested speaks highly of Lowry's overall game. After a run to the playoffs, Toronto will do what is necessary to keep their leader north of the border.
5) Greg Monroe (Pistons, PF, Restricted)
Detroit hasn't figured a way how to unload Josh Smith which means Monroe's camp must figure out to extricate their guy from a brutal on-court situation. The low post threat is a tremendous passer and sports a high hoops IQ. There is simply no room to roam with Smith and Andre Drummond also in the Pistons frontcourt. If David Falk can find another team to make Monroe a fat contract offer, Detroit might have no choice but to pass or seek a sign-and-trade.
4) Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks, PF, Unrestricted)
Not much to see here other than how many dollars are coming Dirk's way. Nowitzki has already talked about recruiting others on this list to join him in Dallas. The return of Tyson Chandler from the Knicks boosts the frontcourt, but the Mavs must find more help to give the organization a shot at NBA title number two.
3) Carmelo Anthony (Knicks, SF, Unrestricted)
Melo is the one high-profile free agent we know will be taking meetings with several teams and doing so immediately after free agency begins. Recent reports suggest the he is struggling with the idea of leaving New York, as in the city. If it's all about getting a ring, then it's high-time the high-scorer says adios to the Big Apple. The sooner Anthony makes a decision, the sooner the teams left hanging can target others on this list.
2) Chris Bosh (Heat, PF, Unrestricted)
Bosh seems very content with the South Beach life, which perhaps explains why it took him longer to opt out of his contract than Wade and James. He's an easy target to knock because he's not LeBron, but Bosh's defense, rebounding and scoring is vital for Miami's plans. Perhaps the biggest concern here involves whether the Heat are open to stop using their 6-foot-11 big man as a glorified wing guard.
1) LeBron James (Heat, SF, Unrestricted)
This is LeBron's world and we're all just along for the ride. Not surprisingly, the four-time league MVP opted out of his contract the Heat. It shouldn't shock anyone if he stays in Miami. Then again, we've all been stunned by some of LeBron's previous decisions and reports that he wants a max contract flies in the face of cap flexibility. All we know for sure is that we'll be watching his every move and reading between every line. Whether it's love, hate or somewhere in between, it's clear we're very interested in all things LeBron.