Tough choices. Those are what define the 2015 Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings amid a stacked class of potential free agents. Greg Monroe was fifth on last year’s final Free Agent Power Rankings, but the number of players in front of him has doubled this year.
Next summer is a long time from now, and nearly a full season of NBA action will do much to determine the fates of the 10 players whose names appear on this list, as well as those who just missed the cut. Still, front offices in the league are already at work beginning for the next offseason, and Hoops Rumors is following suit.
Keep in mind that this list includes both restricted and unrestricted free agents, as well as potential free agents who possess player options, like the two men atop our rankings. It doesn’t include guys under team control for 2015/16, which encompasses players who have partially or non-guaranteed salaries or team options.
- LeBron James (player option) — The four-time MVP has made it clear on multiple occasions that he has no intention of leaving Cleveland again, and he’d run straight into a maelstrom of disdain if he were to go back on those pronouncements. Still, his ability to hit free agency again next summer makes the Cavs a “little uncomfortable,” according to one report, and even if he doesn’t want to leave, he’s still empowered to make the team bend to his will. When it comes to “power” in these Power Rankings, no one holds more of it than King James.
- Kevin Love (player option) — Love’s position on this list serves to reinforce the idea of LeBron’s sway. Love only warmed to the idea of Cleveland after James returned there, and it would be a natural assumption that if LeBron left, Love would follow. Still, even as a report indicates that the Lakers remain in Love’s thoughts, Love has otherwise signaled his intention to remain in Cleveland long-term.
- LaMarcus Aldridge — As with LeBron, Aldridge has said time and again that he fully intends to remain in Portland. The Mavs will make him prove that next summer, and they surely won’t be alone. After all, it was only 18 months ago that Aldridge’s days with the Blazers seemed numbered as he grew frustrated with the franchise’s downward spiral, one that has since turned around.
- Marc Gasol — Hints have connected him to the Knicks, but the slick-passing center has strong ties to Memphis, where he went to high school and where he’s flourished as a pro. The success of the Grizzlies this season could prove crucial. If Memphis starts to show its age and drops out of contention, Gasol will have to think long and hard about his future.
- Rajon Rondo — It’s odd to see the man who’s kicked up so many trade rumors in the past year down near the midpoint of this list, but that’s where the point guard sits until he can prove that he’s fully healthy after the torn ACL he suffered nearly two years ago. That same concern has seemed to hold up some of the trade talk as front offices around the league want to know exactly what they would be getting. Still, the Lakers, in clear need of a point guard, seem poised to go after him next summer.
- Kawhi Leonard (restricted) — The Spurs prioritized flexibility for next summer over a maximum-salary extension for the reigning Finals MVP, but they’re already signaling that they’ll match any offer Leonard receives in restricted free agency. The threat of the match might have the effect of scaring off would-be suitors, as was the case with Eric Bledsoe this past summer. Still, it didn’t keep Gordon Hayward from a max deal and Chandler Parsons from a near-max deal of his own.
- Al Jefferson (player option) — He transformed the Charlotte franchise from a laughingstock to a playoff team soon after he arrived, taking his own stock up a notch in so doing. Jefferson, who turns 30 in January, might see this summer as the perfect opportunity to cash in if he can duplicate last season’s performance, and surely the Hornets will do whatever they can to keep him.
- Goran Dragic (player option) — Like Jefferson, Dragic is coming off a career year. The Rockets and Lakers have already been linked to the versatile guard who apparently plans to opt out. Still, the Suns have their sights set on keeping their talented Bledsoe-Dragic backcourt together, and Phoenix’s signing of Zoran Dragic this year was no insignificant hint.
- Greg Monroe — Monroe took the discount of signing a nearly $5.48MM qualifying offer this past offseason as a mechanism to reach unrestricted free agency in the summer ahead. The David Falk client won’t come cheaply this time around, and while the rhetoric from this past summer seemed to suggest that he’s not long for Detroit, neither Monroe nor the team believe that’s necessary the case.
- DeAndre Jordan — The arrival of Doc Rivers did wonders for Jordan last season, the first campaign in which he averaged double figures in points. It was also the first time he grabbed more than 10 rebounds per game, and his 13.6 RPG led the league. He’ll be a 27-year-old veteran of seven seasons next July, a tantalizing mix of 6’11” size and still-budding potential.
Given the depth of this class, we’ll run down the next 10, just for fun. It’s a group that includes its own share of heavy hitters.
- Jimmy Butler
- Dwyane Wade
- Roy Hibbert
- Paul Millsap
- Brook Lopez
- Rudy Gay
- Tristan Thompson
- Luol Deng
- Omer Asik
- David West
We’ll continue to update this list periodically from now until next July, when free agency begins anew, so check back to see how the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings evolve. Until then, feel free to debate our choices in the comments section!