Last summer, many of the top shooting guards on the market signed contracts for the mid-level exception or at least for a salary in that neighborhood. Jamal Crawford, Louis Williams, Nick Young, O.J. Mayo, Ray Allen, Courtney Lee, and Jason Terry were among the two guards that landed deals worth between $3-6MM annually, while only Eric Gordon and his four-year max contract exceeded that $6MM threshold.
This year's class of shooting guards probably doesn't include a maximum-salary player like Gordon, but it does feature plenty of players seemingly capable of earning multiyear pacts worth more than $6MM annually. Let's check out a few of the key names set to hit the shooting guard market this summer.
Unrestricted free agents
A number of this year's notable unrestricted shooting guards have expressed a desire to return to their current teams, and not just in the generic way you'd expect from every player. Kevin Martin seems to geniunely want to find a way to return to the Thunder if they can afford him, the Bucks acquired J.J. Redick in hopes of locking him up long-term, Martell Webster and the Wizards have mutual interest in a reunion, and it's hard to imagine Manu Ginobili playing anywhere but San Antonio.
That doesn't mean we should expect every unrestricted free agent to simply be back with his current club. There will be rival suitors pursuing Martin and Redick, putting pressure on the Thunder and Bucks, and it may also be a challenge for the Grizzlies to bring back Tony Allen, given the team's reluctance to approach tax territory. I'd also expect guys like Marco Belinelli and Nick Young to change addresses, with Randy Foye and Wesley Johnson among the other unrestricted SGs who could be on the move.
Restricted free agents
After four years in the NBA, Tyreke Evans still doesn't really have a set-in-stone position, but if we consider him a two guard, he probably ranks atop this year's restricted options. Evans' free agent case will be interesting, considering all the factors in play — Evans' PPG and MPG rates in 2012/13 were career-lows, but he became a more efficient player, setting a career-high in FG% and 3PT%. If the Kings have a new ownership group and basketball operations team in place, we'll have to see if Evans is part of their plans going forward.
The rest of the restricted shooting guards may not inspire many bidding wars, but Gerald Henderson is a solid piece coming off a career-best season, and Wayne Ellington could be a valuable off-the-bench shooter for a playoff team. Gary Neal also appears to be in line for a raise, though like Ginobili, it seems unlikely that the Spurs would let him get away.
Team and player options
Here's where things get interesting. Monta Ellis, O.J. Mayo, and J.R. Smith all seem like good bets to opt out of the final year of their respective contracts, and I'd expect at least two of them to be playing for new teams next season. Given how Smith has excelled in New York, I can see him re-signing with the Knicks, but it won't be an easy decision if another suitor presents a lucrative offer than New York can't match.
Ben Gordon (player option) and Lance Stephenson (non-guaranteed deal) almost certainly aren't going anywhere, barring trades, and I think Ray Allen will likely be inclined to exercise his player option to remain with the NBA's best team, but there are a few other interesting cases here.
Shannon Brown's role was reduced by the Suns in the second half of the season, so it would be a surprise if the team guaranteed his contract for next season. Richard Hamilton and his partially-guaranteed contract may be a cap casualty in Chicago, while Jodie Meeks' inexpensive team option may end up being too pricey for the Lakers if they want to reduce their tax bill as much as possible.
Others to keep an eye on: Terrence Williams, who has played a few postseason minutes for the Celtics and could have his 2013/14 contract guaranteed; Willie Green, who has fallen out of the Clippers' rotation in the playoffs; and Brandon Roy, whose contract is believed to be non-guaranteed and whose knee problems have jeopardized his playing career once again.
Free agent market for point guards