2014 Free Agent Power Rankings

March 3 2014 at 12:30pm CDT By Chuck Myron

With the trade deadline and buyouts behind us, our focus at Hoops Rumors will shift to the summer ahead. There’s an intriguing list of players who could become free agents in the offseason, and we’ll be ranking the top 10 on a regular basis from now until free agency begins in July. Here’s the initial installment of the Hoops Rumors 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings:

  1. LeBron James — The four-time MVP is keeping mum on whether he’ll enter free agency at all, never mind where he’d sign if he hits the market. Many around the league speculate that the Heat have the inside track to retain him, with the Cavs looming as a possibility, but no one knows for sure. What is clear is that no other player would be as sought after on the market as James would be, even if he comes up empty in his quests for a third straight MVP and a third consecutive title.
  2. Carmelo Anthony — Last year’s scoring champ has insisted throughout the season that he’ll exercise his early termination option to hit free agency in the summer. He said at the All-Star break that he’d like to return to the Knicks next season, as long with the team’s plan for the future meets with his approval. The qualifier on that statement has led to game-by-game fret among New York writers as the Knicks continue to plummet in the standings. There are hints that the Knicks may be the only team willing to offer a maximum-salary contract, and while I suspect another max-salary suitor will emerge at some point, ‘Melo still has plenty of financial incentive to remain in New York.
  3. Chris Bosh — The third man in on the Heat’s trio of stars has surpassed Dwyane Wade and many others as he’s helped the Heat win back-to-back titles. He’s taking more three-pointers than ever this season, and making 37.3%, furthering his value as an all-around offensive weapon. The athleticism that allows him to jump out to double-team guards on pick-and-rolls and quickly scramble back to the paint helps state his case as the ultimate small-ball center. He has a $20.59MM early termination option.
  4. Eric Bledsoe — The Suns intend to match any offer for the soon-to-be restricted free agent point guard, so he’ll probably stay put. The Lakers are apparently thinking of overpaying to make a run at him anyway, so a maximum-salary contract is in play for the 24-year-old.
  5. Greg Monroe — The Pistons big man is a restricted free agent with a much greater chance of changing teams than Bledsoe has. Agent David Falk has a knack for finding maximum-salary bidders for borderline max-salary players, and with a handful of suitors already lining up, expect a robust market for the former seventh overall pick.
  6. Luol Deng — The 28-year-old was traded in January and nearly flipped again at the trade deadline, but he’s by no means unwanted. The durable two-way weapon isn’t a superstar, but he could be the missing piece for a team chasing a championship. He won’t come cheaply, since agent Herb Rudoy is reportedly seeking annual salaries north of $13.5MM.
  7. Lance Stephenson — There appears to be plenty of mutual interest in a new deal with the Pacers, but luxury tax concerns and multiple teams already eyeing the former second-round draft steal could make it tough. He was vastly improved last season, and this year’s averages of 14.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists, all career highs, are demonstrative of an all-around menace.
  8. Gordon Hayward — The Celtics considered reuniting the former Butler star with college coach Brad Stevens at the trade deadline, but in the aftermath of that report, it appears the Jazz are as high on the swingman as they’ve ever been. Hayward’s game isn’t flashy, but he’ll be just 24 this summer, so they may have to pay dearly to match an offer for him in restricted free agency.
  9. Dwyane Wade — There’s been more talk about Wade’s knees than his game the past two seasons, but the 32-year-old still plays like a star, averaging just a hair under 20 points, five rebounds and five assists a game. He’s not a maximum-salary player anymore, but he’s still worth yearly pay well into eight-figure territory. The question is how much longer he’ll be that valuable. His decision about whether to exercise his early termination option, and what to do if he does so, will likely be tied to what teammates James and Bosh decide to do.
  10. Zach Randolph — Another still-productive 32-year-old has expressed his affection for Memphis multiple times, and the Grizzlies reciprocate those feelings. Trade rumors this season nonetheless left the power forward with a sour taste in his mouth, and he’s undecided about a player option worth more than $16.9MM.

These rankings will no doubt change throughout the next few months as players state their cases in the waning weeks of the regular season and the playoffs. Guys with a chance to crack the top 10 later on include Dirk Nowitzki, Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and Evan Turner. I’m not listing players under team control for 2014/15, like Tony Parker, who has a partially guaranteed contract.

40 thoughts on “2014 Free Agent Power Rankings

  1. Chris Bosh at 3 is way too generous. Bosh is turning into a Dirk Nowitzki like player without consistent 3-Pointing Shooting. He doesn’t rebound anymore, he doesn’t block shots or steal the ball. All he does is shoot for a high percentage. He’s a great complimentary player, but I don’t think he’s at the levels of the other top seven and D-Wade anymore.

    1. Bosh is 6″11. He can score from the post, shooting from mid range,
      shooting the 3, taking guys off the dribble, gets to the free throw
      line. He is a very good passer. Defensively, he has arguably been our
      best defender this season, guarding the 2-5 spots at times, guarding the
      pick and roll really well and covering a lot of ground, getting in
      passing lanes, good rotations, protects the rim…People forget that
      Chris Bosh is a REALLY good player. The Heat just dont run plays for him b/c of the way the team is built, and he isnt there to shoot the ball all the time. When it comes to rebounding, the Heat’s system works against him, as we use a team rebounding effort. A lot of the times, he is boxing out to allow others to grab the rebound. His rebounding percentage in rebounding opportunities is still high (in the 70%+ range). He is every bit the player he previously was, and I would say he is better than he was.

      1. I agree. I think Bosh knew he was going to be underrated when he finished the contract he signed in 2010, and he’s been OK with it, which speaks very highly of him.


        1. I was a big fan of his when he was in Toronto, but being able to see him play every night for these past 4 seasons, and getting a chance to see how he is off the court, has been an absolute pleasure. The way he carries himself is just amazing, and it definitely has lead me to respect him more as a person and player. A lot of people also dont know just how smart he is too.

    2. I think that’s a fair criticism, but I think GMs like him for what he can do defensively as much as what he can do on offense, if not more so. He’s not a shot-blocker, but he’s as athletic a big man as you’re going to get. And I think the lack of rebounding has as much to do with the system they play in Miami as anything else. LeBron grabs a lot of boards, so Bosh doesn’t really have to. I think a lot of teams would see Bosh as a stretch four rather than the small-ball center he’s playing in Miami. And I think 37.3% from long-range is a pretty good number. He’s not going to be Nowitzki, but even if he’s not quite as consistent as Dirk is from long range, that’s still a pretty good player.


    3. I think a lot of Bosh has done has been obscured by James and Wade. He’s had to take a complementary role, but I think you’d see a lot more from him if he were on a different team. So much of what Bosh brings to the table is on the defensive end. I think GMs are as intrigued by what he can do there as they are with his offensive game. I think 37.3% is a pretty good three-point percentage for a center, or even a stretch four. If he’s a slightly less consistent Dirk Nowitzki, he’s still quite valuable.


  2. Wow. The guy who wrote this list must have something against d wade. His ranking is egregious. He is at LEAST the 2nd best player on this list and honestly I don’t even think Lbj is better than him. D Wade just plays a different role on this team. When LBJ sat out against the bulls, who have been playing great basketball for a long stretch now, D Wade went off and the Heat won comfortably something they don’t do against the Bulls usually even when Lebron plays. If Lebron were to miss a significant amount of time, I’d expect D Wade’s numbers to go back to his pre-Lebron numbers. Moreover, I think the Heat would come out of the East regardless if Lbj were to miss the postseason. I am not as confident that Lbj and Bosh could do that. To say D Wade (shooting a career high field goal % this year) isn’t a max player is poor judgment in my opinion. I’m guessing that the writer is just one of those Lbj homers who is tired about hearing people like Skip Bayless say that Wade is the true batman of the Heat, but that should not effect the objectivity of this list. Calling Melo better than Wade, which I think is ridiculous is one thing but Gordon Hayward? Eric Bledsoe? Luol Deng??? Cmon man. That just ain’t right.

    1. I’m the guy who wrote this, ha! And I don’t have anything against Wade. I just think you’d have a tough time convincing GMs in the league that he’s more worthy of a long-term, high-dollar deal than the guys ahead of him on the list. I think you could make a case that he’ll wind up with a more lucrative deal than a few of the guys right above him, but I certainly don’t think he’ll see more money than the top three guys. I think he’d be higher on the list if everyone signed one-year contracts. But a four or five-year deal for Wade, which would put him at 36 or 37 in the final season, is a tough gamble with his knees already in decline.


      1. I’ll agree that Wade may not be worth max money the last year of the deal, but until then I fully expect him to maintain his maximum salary level play. Moreover, even if he slips at the end of the contract he will still probably be better than any of the players ranked 4 and below on your list. Honestly, I think every team in the Eastern Conference (if able to) should offer Wade and Bosh max deals, so that A) it at least forces Miami into a tough situation financially or B) they break up the big three. As much as the media tries to portray the Heat as being where they are because of just Lebron, in actuality, it has everything to do with the Big 3. No other team in the league has 3 stars like this. No team in the East can hope to realistically challenge them like this, so their best option may be to break them up. Furthermore, for teams with already one star such as the Wizards, Cavs and the Bulls or two such as Portland, it makes even more sense. Not only do you break up the Big 3 if you sign Bosh or Wade, you also gain a star in the process and become true contenders. In truth, any team with cap space should offer Wade a max contract. He’s that good of a player.

          1. Well, it’s refreshing to hear there are some people still high on Wade, because most of the rhetoric I hear and read suggests he’s already lost it, which isn’t the case. I don’t have quite as optimistic a take as you do, but if we all agreed, these rankings wouldn’t be nearly as fun!


    2. I would have to agree with a lot of what you are saying…I’m not necessarily going as far to say that Lebron is trash, which is sort of what you insinuated, but the Wade argument is something I’ve been saying for a couple of years now. Discounting all of the things he can do offensively, Wade is also an elite defender that doesnt get any credit for it.

      1. I don’t think Lebron is trash lol. He is just overrated. I think he is the 6th best player in the NBA. Funny thing is that me and my friends were making a top 10 best players in the NBA list the other day and I wasn’t alone in my thinking. All of us had Wade in our top 5. People either ranked Lbj 1 or in my range. I don’t think he would have ever won a ring without joining Wade and Bosh. I don’t think you can prove anything individually on a team as stacked as that. I hope he leaves, so that he can truly prove himself. Plus, I miss watching D Wade as the #1 option. I think he still has another ring or two left in him, if Bosh stays and LBJ leaves.

        1. so…Lebron’s having a pretty nice night right now…half the team’s points through 3 quarters and the only reason he doesnt have more is that Birdman was called for basket interference a couple of times on shots he would have made

    3. A 32 year old with bum knees who will be entering his 12th season after this summer is not the 2nd best player on this list. 4th, maybe.

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  4. I’m going to throw Charlotte out there as an outside darkhorse for Melo. Al
    Jefferson is having a great year going totally unnoticed, MKG is showing that he is the defender everyone thought he could be, they have a couple of other pieces and a lot of cap room. They could add him and go out and find shooters to put around them. Their defense has been really good this year. They just need some shooting which Melo would provide them (they’re one of the worst 3 point shooting teams in the NBA), and to have an inside outside combo of Al Jefferson and Melo would be pretty good. I think Michael Jordan is going to try to make a big splash heading into the year where they will be back as the Charlotte Hornets.

    1. I think a significant free agent at some point is going to sign with Charlotte almost entirely because of the Jordan factor. I can’t see ‘Melo in Charlotte, but I think they will eventually land someone we don’t expect. That’s just a hunch, though.


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  6. My list would go


    As a Cavs fan I don’t see what you see in Deng, I mean he’s a solid glue guy but nothing special

    1. The Cavs are a completely different environment from what Deng’s used to, so he’s had an adjustment period. I can certainly understand your perspective on him as a Cavs fan, but I think most GMs will judge him primarily on the yeoman’s work he did with the Bulls all those years.


      1. True but even in Chicago he was a glue guy, not someone you build your team around, and when it comes to free agency teams will always prefer the younger guys

  7. I know Dirks old and not going to leave the Mavs but COME ON!!!!

    21ppg 50%/40%/90% Top 10 in PER

    Strong shooting and no turn overs wont go away as he ages, that should at least get him ahead of half these guys.

    1. He was probably my toughest omission, but it’d be tough to sign someone who’ll be 36 this summer to a lucrative, long-term deal. Declines can be precipitous. Look what happened to Dirk’s buddy Steve Nash with the Lakers.


  8. If the Celtics pick and Parker is still on the board then draft Parker, make sure Rondo is back and sign Monroe. If Parker isnt left but Embiid is then draft Embiid and sign Hayward. If the plan is dealing Rondo and not selecting Ennis, Smart or Exum then Bledsoe could be a fit for the C’s. Also if Bradley was dealt Stephenson and Bledsoe could both be fits in Boston.

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