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July 14, 2009

Top 10 Free Agents

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 2:14 am

With my position-by-position breakdowns in the books, I wanted to go back and put together my comprehensive Top 10 list of the top available free agents regardless of positions. Some of this was hinted at in discussing the individual players, but to go on the record … .

1. Paul Millsap, Utah (signed offer sheet with Portland)
In discussing the possibility of signing Millsap to an offer sheet before the move was made official last Friday, Portland GM Kevin Pritchard told reporters, “I’m a big believer in that you get the best player. Nate (McMillan) is an unbelievable coach; he always figures out how to blend the talent together. If you can get the best player available, go get him.” In my opinion, Pritchard did just that. Signs now seem to point to the Jazz matching the offer, but if not the Blazers will get Millsap at an incredible bargain and he will become a tremendous trade chip next summer if Portland feels using him as a reserve is a waste of Millsap’s considerable ability.

2. David Lee, New York (restricted)
Millsap finally got some love from the Blazers while Lee remains the forgotten man of the NBA’s 2009 free agency. The other David Lee, Trevor Ariza‘s agent, has gotten more ink than this double-double machine. That could be to the Knicks’ lasting benefit.

3. Lamar Odom, L.A. Lakers (unrestricted)
The other prominent name very much still on the market. The Los Angeles Daily News reported today (or perhaps tomorrow–I’m not sure with the flow of information on the Internet) that the tone of talks between Odom and the Lakers has turned negative. In this case, the Lakers have a tremendous amount of leverage. Unless the Blazers show interest if Millsap’s offer sheet is matched, there simply isn’t a market out there for Odom at this point.

4. Ramon Sessions, Milwaukee (restricted)
A third victim of the market, Sessions has been left out in the cold because the teams with money to spend haven’t been looking for point guards. There’s still time for a team with its mid-level exception to spend–New York, perhaps?–to show interest.

5. Ron Artest, Houston (signed with L.A. Lakers)
I will say this–if nothing else, Artest joining the Lakers is the most interesting possible outcome. I’m fascinated to watch how this develops next season.

6. Andre Miller, Philadelphia (unrestricted)
7. Jason Kidd, Dallas (re-signed)

If Miller doesn’t end up getting the same kind of deal as Kidd (three years, $25 million) at three years younger, he’ll have to be very disappointed.

8. Trevor Ariza, L.A. Lakers (signed with Houston)

9. Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando (signed-and-traded to Toronto)

10. Shawn Marion, Toronto (signed-and-traded to Dallas)
I haven’t really discussed Marion’s move to the Mavericks, which took on a slightly different tone today when the Orlando Magic announced the decision to match Dallas’ offer sheet to Marcin Gortat. Without Gortat, the Mavericks are even more likely to finish games with a frontcourt of Josh Howard and Marion at forwards and Dirk Nowitzki in the middle, which is pretty tantalizing, at least at the offensive end. Going back to my Marion criteria, there’s no glaring negatives in terms of the fit for his game. Dallas plays at an average pace, will surely use him at power forward extensively though not exclusively and has fine passers who will find Marion when he’s moving without the ball in the half-court offense. Marion won’t be a 20-point-a-night scorer on a team with no shortage of offensive options, but he might be able to push his efficiency up past its Phoenix levels.

A correction. Multiple sharp readers noted the mistake I made in discussing Maurice Ager in the shooting guard list, writing that he had been drafted ahead of his Michigan State teammate Shannon Brown in 2006. Brown was in fact a first-round pick three spots ahead of Ager, so his superior NBA career should not come as a surprise (the gulf between them still should). I goofed because I was thinking of Daniel Gibson, who like Brown was taken by the Cavaliers in that draft and has in fact been a second-round success story. My apologies for the mistake.

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