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15 minutes ago, TheTrue7 said:

Call me crazy but ain't no way he's leaving.. bud traded a first rounder for him.. think we can pretty much count Dennis, THJ, Sap and HOWARD being back.. 

I hope so because I haven't looked at player contracts but this man needs to be an integral part of this roster. Man I wish there was a way to get out of bazemore contract. :rant:

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Ranking the Top 10 Free-Agent Targets of the 2017 NBA Offseason


Adam Fromal

Bleacher Report | March 16, 2017


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After NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hands the Larry O'Brien Trophy to the 2017 champions, the entire focus of the sport shifts—first to the draft, then to the free-agency pools, which will suck in millions and millions of dollars.

Over $1.8 billion was spent in just over a day last year. This offseason shouldn't be any different, and the players you'll find here will be doing much of the earning.

Though players nearly guaranteed to remain with their current teams aren't included, the 10 men who populate this countdown should serve as the summer's top targets. Many of their 2016-17 organizations will attempt to retain their services, but they'll have to stave off offers from plenty of other franchises. For various reasons, each will be highly coveted.

Do note that we're not just ranking them based on their current level of play or their expected performance next season. What matters most is the intrigue they'll draw on the open market, as it pertains to what's to come over the course of their entire yet-to-be-signed deals.

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Dewayne Dedmon, San Antonio Spurs (Player Option)

The San Antonio Spurs center should be considered a lock to opt out of his $3 million deal in pursuit of a bigger and longer contract, but he's not enough of a known commodity to register here. Though he's served as a tremendous defensive presence and consistent rim-roller during his fourth NBA season, there's always the concern that no one other than Gregg Popovich could squeeze this type of production from his 7'0" frame.

George Hill, Utah Jazz (Unrestricted)

Though there are exceptions to the rule (one of them will show up far later in these rankings), point guards in their 30s don't tend to provide too much production. George Hill will celebrate his 31st birthday in May, which will make each and every franchise question whether he can remain an obvious positive for the duration of a four-year contract.

Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors (Unrestricted)

Despite his longstanding reputation, Serge Ibaka hasn't been too impactful in 2016-17, regardless of whether he's suited up for the Orlando Magic or Toronto Raptors. ESPN.com's real plus/minus has him at 0.91, which ranks him No. 24 among power forwards alone, sandwiched between Luc Mbah a Moute and Channing Frye. NBA Math shows that he's played exactly at the league average, leaving him outside the top 140 slots, regardless of position.

Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs (Unrestricted)

He's excelled in his rotation role for the San Antonio Spurs, shooting 44.5 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from downtown while often functioning as an efficient, albeit low-volume, distributor. But talented as this 28-year-old guard may be, can he really rank in the top 10 when he's playing a career-high 21.9 minutes per game and thriving in the system he's become so intimately familiar with over the course of the last six years?

Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets (Restricted)

A uniquely talented center, Mason Plumlee has become one of the league's most underrated players at his position. His playmaking skills and athleticism around the basket make him an intriguing top-end backup or low-end starter, but his lack of untapped potential pushes him to the honorable mentions. Of all those listed here, he has the best chance of playing like a top-10 free agent, but upside will reign supreme in the lowest ranked spot.

Players Who Aren't Going Anywhere

Whether due to loyalty, a franchise's overwhelming desire to retain them or the unlikelihood of turning down an option, these players are technically able to become free agents but, for all intents and purposes, can't serve as legitimate targets:

10. JaMychal Green, Memphis Grizzlies (Restricted)

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Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Position: PF

Age: 26

2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 9.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.5 blocks

Those per-game stats might not blow you away, but JaMychal Green's versatility should.

He's meant so much to the Memphis Grizzlies, due to his ability to switch onto virtually any assignment and fill a number of different offensive roles without ever demanding the ball. His newfound stretchiness adds to the malleability, making him an even more intriguing target on the 2017 market.

No matter how high the price tag rises, the Grizzlies should match any offer sheet he signs without hesitation. They have reason to be that confident in his future as the frontcourt centerpiece when Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol can no longer carry such heavy loads. And even if he never becomes a go-to offensive player, his defense alone is valuable.

"He has kind of that Draymond Green versatility," head coach David Fizdale marveled in December, per Peter Edmiston of the Commercial Appeal. "Maybe not off the dribble yet. But from every other aspect, I like what he brings to the table."

JaMychal Green doesn't live up to that lofty comparison, but it's not hard to see why an optimist might think as much. His willingness (and ability) to do the little things gives him value that stretches beyond the box-score numbers, and he's still growing into his game.

9. Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets (Player Option)

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Bart Young/Getty Images
Position: SF/PF

Age: 28

2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.2 blocks

In the right role, Danilo Gallinari can still look like a star.

Using him as a No. 1 option isn't ideal, because he can fall victim to excessive defensive attention and seemingly lose interest. But if he's deployed as a secondary scorer, free to knock down spot-up jumpers, create his own looks off the bounce and thrive by getting to the basket and drawing contact, he retains plenty of value.

Even this year, while the Italian forward has been hampered by injuries and struggled to adjust to a new role alongside other ball-dominant players, he's produced a free-throw rate (0.525) that trails only nine qualified scorers. It's down significantly from last season's mark (0.617), but he's behind only three non-centers: James Harden, Jimmy Butler and Andrew Harrison, who rarely takes shots for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Maybe Gallinari's defense will decline with age. Perhaps he'll be relied upon less frequently for his scoring ability and asked to thrive in different areas.

But whether he stays with the Denver Nuggets or opts out of his deal with the intent of leaving the Mile High City, his ability to draw whistles and put up points without using too many possessions ensures his worth.

8. Nerlens Noel, Dallas Mavericks (Restricted)

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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Position: PF/C

Age: 22

2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 9.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks

Since Nerlens Noel joined the Dallas Mavericks after a midseason trade freed him from the clutches of the Philadelphia 76ers, he's averaged 10.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while shooting 61 percent from the field. And his impact has gone well beyond his box-score figures.

"Even Salah [Mejri] caught a lob last night, so it's been good for us with the spreading of the floor," Devin Harris told Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegramabout the mentality changes ushered in by his new teammate.

"Ideally that kind of sets a free place to run, and I think we're starting to see the benefits of having roll guys and shooters on the back side. I think it's going to open up our shooters a little bit more. When we have a roll presence like that, where guys have to react to it, you'll see Dirk [Nowitzki] start to get a little bit more shots."

It's that scheme-altering athleticism that will make the Kentucky product one of the NBA's most intriguing restricted free agents. Even if he never develops a floor-spacing mid-range jumper, his willingness to finish plays around the hoop, rebound with aplomb and expend most of his energy on defense make him an asset in any organization.

Plus, Noel won't celebrate his 23rd birthday until the playoff push is close to ending. Despite his injury history, he has a long time before he reaches his athletic prime, giving him plenty of opportunities to continue working on the weak aspects of his game. 

7. Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans (Unrestricted)

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Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Position: PG

Age: 26

2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 15.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.6 blocks

The New Orleans Pelicans have been an entirely different team with Jrue Holiday on the floor.

When he sits, they've been outscored by 5.1 points per 100 possessions, but the net rating rises into the green (0.4) while he's on the floor. His on-ball defensive intensity and ability to create offense as either a scorer or distributor consistently allow for that type of impact, and it remains true even when he's playing without Anthony Davis.

Per nbawowy.com, the Pelicans have produced a 0.0 net rating with Holiday and no unibrowed big on the court next to him—a solid result given the underwhelming nature of the supporting cast.

In terms of pure talent, Holiday should rise above the next two players in this countdown. But we're analyzing these men as free-agent targets, and his injury history has to be taken into consideration.

During the 2016-17 campaign, turf toe is the only significant malady to hamper the floor general. But throughout the three seasons prior, he averaged just 46.3 appearances, held back by a never-ending stream of misfortune.

Teams can't bet on full seasons from Holiday, which depresses his overall value as an offseason target.

6. Jeff Teague, Indiana Pacers (Unrestricted)

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Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Position: PG

Age: 28

2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 15.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.4 blocks

If Jeff Teague's first season for the Indiana Pacers has proved anything, it's that he wasn't merely a product of head coach Mike Budenholzer's system with the Atlanta Hawks.

The Pacers run an entirely different scheme, but this veteran guard has still shown he can serve as a primary and efficient distributor while playing up-tempo basketball and running in transition. His vision is just that good, and he doesn't hesitate to squeeze the ball into tight spaces when situations demand doing so.

Teague's shooting might not look so strong away from Atlanta, but he's made up for the three-point decline by attacking the basket more, where he can show off his floater and get to the stripe frequently.

However, age has to be a concern.

Teague will be just one year removed from the dreaded 30th birthday when he signs a new contract, and point guards don't always tend to age well. That's especially true of speedy players who rely on their wheels to create passing lanes and scoring opportunities.

He should have a few more years of play that leave him on the outskirts of All-Star consideration, but whoever buys into his recent success will have to deal with the risk of a substantial decline on the back end of his new contract.

5. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons (Restricted)

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Brian Sevald/Getty Images
Position: SG

Age: 24

2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 14.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.2 blocks

"It's [Kentavious] Caldwell-Pope, though, who is way more valuable to Detroit's cause than them [Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson] or anyone else, according to NBA Math's Total Points AddedDan Favale wrote for Bleacher Report, calling the Georgia product the team's new alpha dog.

"He's assuming the toughest defensive assignments, shooting 37.3 percent from three-point range and orchestrating more pick-and-rolls than any non-point guard on the roster—all while leading the Pistons in total minutes."

Favale added that Caldwell-Pope functioning as the alpha dog doesn't mean he's the No. 1 option. Those two roles don't have to enjoy perfect overlap, because players such as this shooting guard can become their squad's most valuable commodity by doing all the little things well and accepting any role into which they're thrust.

Caldwell-Pope's overall shooting numbers aren't great, but they are when you look only at his spot-up work and ability to score while driving toward the hoop. His defensive metrics don't earn him any All-Defense consideration, but his malleability and willingness to take on tough assignments are invaluable to head coach Stan Van Gundy's schemes.

Statistically, it may not always seem like this 24-year-old should be a max-contract candidate. But he's become exactly that, potentially pricing himself out of Detroit's future unless it chooses to build more exclusively around him.

4. Otto Porter Jr., Washington Wizards (Restricted)

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Ned Dishman/Getty Images
Position: SF

Age: 23

2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 14.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.5 blocks

Do you want Otto Porter Jr. to serve as your team's best player? Absolutely not.

But in an era that sees the league's top role players signing ginormous contracts, he should receive legitimate consideration for a max deal. So long as Porter is surrounded by the right type of players—the Washington Wizards have found a perfect formula with his joining John Wall and Bradley Beal—he can thrive as a versatile defender, weak-side rebounder and spot-up stud.

It's that last part that has lent Porter the most value in 2016-17. In fact, you could make an argument that no one has been better at filling that particular role, though the easy counter involves pointing to the accuracy of Wall's set-up passes, making life easier for his small forward.

According to NBA.com's SportVU data, 149 different players have suited up in at least 40 contests and had spot-ups comprise at least 20 percent of their possessions. Of them, no one has scored more efficiently than Porter, who's dropping 1.42 points per possession—0.06 more than C.J. Miles and everyone else.

If that was all he did, he'd be valuable.

It just so happens that it's not.

3. Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks (Player Option)

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Rocky Widner/Getty Images
Position: PF

Age: 32

2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 18.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks

On the right team, Otto Porter Jr. might be a more useful addition than Paul Millsap, crazy as that may seem while the power forward is coming off All-Star appearances in each of the last four seasons. By the end of Millsap's next contract, the extra value he provides on the front end might not negate the inevitable decline on the back.

But we're operating in a vacuum here, and Millsap's versatility gives him the slight edge. He can play anywhere, filling any role. Whether he's using his devastating pump fake and bursting to the hoop, spacing out the court, serving as a secondary facilitator or dominating on the defensive end, he knows how to impact his troops in positive fashion, regardless of the teammates surrounding him.

Plus, while Millsap is already on the wrong side of 30, his game age well.

He won't be able to stave off Father Time forever. We won't see many ferocious dunks in coming seasons, and his defensive abilities will likely regress as he loses even the tiniest modicum of lateral quickness. But the skill with which he operates should make him one of those stars who continues to perform at the highest level well after their athletic primes.

Millsap likely knows this. And that's why he'll opt out of his contract with the Atlanta Hawks and seek one last lengthy deal before any age-related hesitations escalate.

2. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers (Early Termination Option)

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Joe Murphy/Getty Images
Position: PF

Age: 28

2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 21.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks

Don't fret about Blake Griffin's injury history.

Even if the 28-year-old might miss a handful of games (or more) each year, he's good enough to pick up the slack when healthy. Despite sitting out of 20 contests in 2016-17, he's still become one of just 12 players to add at least 80 points on offense and save 40 on defense, per NBA Math's TPA metric.

Plus, the Los Angeles Clippers are so much better when he's on the floor.

His on/off differential might not be as substantial as what's been posted by Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, but the team's net rating still improves by 9.4 points per 100 possessions while he's on the floor. Thanks to improved defensive awareness, a solid mid-range shot, strong (albeit awkward) post moves and tremendous distributing ability, LAC can do so much more whenever he's playing.

At this stage of his career, Griffin might not be considered a bona fide superstar. His injuries and the inability to steer the Clippers deep into the playoffs have washed away much of the luster that surrounded the rim-rattling dunks he so often threw down early in his professional tenure.

But when he plays, Griffin still impacts the game like a true star.

Position: PG

Age: 31

2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 9.3 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.1 blocks

The complete list of point guards to make an All-Star roster during or after their age-32 season isn't a lengthy one. Throughout all of NBA history, only Tiny Archibald, Chauncey Billups, Dave Bing, Sam Cassell, Larry Costello, Bob Cousy, Jason Kidd, Slater Martin, **** McGuire, Earl Monroe, Steve Nash, Gary Payton, John Stockton, Jerry West and Lenny Wilkens have accomplished the feat.

That's only 15 men, though the list can swell to 16 or 17 if you consider Allen Iverson or Bobby Wanzer a true 1-guard.

Chris Paul is fighting against history as he attempts to maintain his current level while moving further from his athletic prime. But if anyone can do so, it's the NBA's resident point god, who keeps playing incredible basketball as the years stack up. Though age will be a concern when Paul is signing his next deal, it can't force him to vacate this top spot.

Even during his age-31 campaign, Paul ranks 12th in NBA Math's TPA—he'd be higher still if he hadn't suffered any injuries, since his score was accumulated while missing 21 games. Only LeBron James comes close to matching his RPM on ESPN.com.

Paul is just a master of the game, capable of impacting the proceedings with his hard-nosed defense or his offensive acumen. Whether he's picking and choosing his shots wisely or racking up dimes without ever turning the ball over, his ability to contribute positively while eschewing mistakes is quite literally unmatched.

Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.

Unless otherwise indicated, all stats from Basketball Reference, NBA.com or NBA Math and accurate heading into games Wednesday, March 15.

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29 minutes ago, TheTrue7 said:

If the shots aren't falling.. when was the last fg made?

This team has always been way too dependent on long range shooting since the Bud era began

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3 minutes ago, blkbigdog35 said:

Yep, that damm 3rd quarter. 13 points is ridiculous

2 fgs the entire quarter I think.. 

TEAM loss tonight.. but I still feel like the East is more open this year.. no one really playing lights out lately.. 

cleveland having a pretty bad month.. Boston having ups and downs, as is Washington.. Toronto got spanned tonight.. parity is nice

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1 minute ago, TheTrue7 said:

2 fgs the entire quarter I think.. 

TEAM loss tonight.. but I still feel like the East is more open this year.. no one really playing lights out lately.. 

cleveland having a pretty bad month.. Boston having ups and downs, as is Washington.. Toronto got spanned tonight.. parity is nice

Yep, but I'm not making the April thread :lol:

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