A thrilling first round of the playoffs has vaulted Kyle Lowry into the latest edition of the Hoops Rumors 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, even though his Raptors fell just short in their series against the Nets. Miami’s trio of stars are the only ones on this top 10 list whose teams remain alive in the playoffs, so a late charge from others might be enough to knock one of these names off for next time. Here’s a look at how the top free agents stand two weeks into the playoffs.
- LeBron James (early termination option) — Heat owner Micky Arison recently pegged the team’s chances of keeping the team’s big three together at 100%, as he spoke on 790 The Ticket (transcription via Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post). Arison also said that while he hopes it won’t be a challenge to retain them, he suggested it could be. In any case, it’s yet another strong indication that the top free agent won’t be changing teams.
- Carmelo Anthony (early termination option) — ‘Melo and Knicks president Phil Jackson finally chatted last week about the star forward’s free agency, but Anthony has meetings with other teams in mind. The Bulls are squarely in the mix, and the recent bump in the salary cap projection for next season has given the Bulls more confidence that they can pull off the coup.
- Chris Bosh (early termination option) — Arison’s comments apply to Bosh, too. The 30-year-old averaged his fewest minutes and points since his rookie season, but he showed no signs of any decline in the first round against the Bobcats, putting up numbers similar to his production during last year’s playoff run.
- Eric Bledsoe (restricted free agent) — The Suns plan to match any offer for Bledsoe, though they’d prefer to come to an agreement before other teams can start courting him in July.
- Greg Monroe (restricted free agent) — Marc Stein of ESPN.com this weekend identified the Hawks as a potential suitor. It’s unclear how high the Pistons would go to retain him, since Detroit is still without a replacement for longtime front office chief Joe Dumars.
- Gordon Hayward (restricted free agent) — Hayward offered no promises as Utah’s season came to a close, but he likes Salt Lake City and the Jazz have the power to match offers. His hot March shooting left him in April, and his field goal percentage has declined in each season since he was a rookie.
- Dwyane Wade (early termination option) — His fate has much to do with James and Bosh, though it would be hardest to envision Wade leaving Miami if the Heat’s other two stars pull off a surprise and leave. The 32-year-old is on the downside, but 6’4″ guards who can average 19.0 points, 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds for a championship contender, as Wade did this season, are rare gems.
- Kyle Lowry — There’s no telling how high he could have eventually climbed in these rankings if Paul Pierce‘s hand hadn’t been in the way of his would-be game winner on Sunday. The Andy Miller client was an all-around force in the seven-game series against the Nets, averaging 21.1 points per game.
- Zach Randolph (player option) — Z-Bo’s suspension for Game 7 of the Grizzlies’ first-round loss was questionable enough that it probably won’t even come up in negotiations on a new deal this summer, should he turn down his player option, worth more than $16.9MM. Randolph was his usual self on the scoreboard and on the glass against the Thunder, but his 13.8 PER in that series is troubling.
- Luol Deng — The small forward’s time in Cleveland didn’t do much for his stock, and sitting at home while other soon-to-be free agents are in the playoffs isn’t helping, either. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is apparently upset that former GM Chris Grant gave up future draft picks to acquire Deng, and the Lakers and Suns are among the teams interested in signing him this summer, so Deng doesn’t appear long for Ohio.
Lance Stephenson, who was seventh in the first edition of these rankings and 10th last time, has fallen out as the Pacers struggled just to get by the eighth-seeded Hawks in the first round. Still, Indiana remains alive, and Stephenson has the opportunity to climb back into our top 10. Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Rudy Gay, Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza are other difficult omissions.
Note: I’m not listing players under team control for 2014/15, like Tony Parker, who has a partially guaranteed contract.