2015 Free Agent Power Rankings

2015 Free Agent Power Rankings

The Finals start Thursday, and free agency begins in less than a month, so the time is right for another check on how the NBA’s top 2015 free agents stack up. There’s a strong chance that everyone in the top 10 will sign maximum salary deals this summer, the last before projected leaps in the salary cap will make max contracts even more lucrative. Regardless, one Cavalier has widened his lead for the No. 1 spot, while another is on a slide:

  1. LeBron James (player option) — Absent Kevin Love and a hobbled Kyrie Irving, the Cavs stormed through the Eastern Conference on their way to the finals thanks in large measure to LeBron’s tour de force. If there was any doubt that he’s still the best player in the game, and this year’s best potential free agent, there is none now, just as there’s no doubt that he’ll re-sign with Cleveland. Last ranking: No. 1
  2. Kawhi Leonard (restricted) — A year ago, the performance that Leonard put on in the Finals, when he scored at least 20 points in consecutive games for just the second time in his career, seemed like an outlier. Now, having averaged 20.3 points per contest over San Antonio’s seven-game series loss to the Clippers, the Defensive Player of the Year has evolved into a two-way beast for opponents. None of them will be getting their hands on him this summer, as the Spurs seem poised to re-sign him for the max once they’re done pursuing the next two guys on this list. Last ranking: No. 3
  3. LaMarcus Aldridge — The power forward will likely have the capacity to dictate the offseason for several teams, as he seems a safer bet to change locations this summer than anyone in the top six of this ranking. It doesn’t appear as though he wants to hold up the affairs of half the league with a lingering decision-making process, having said that he’ll probably make a fairly swift choice. The Spurs, Mavs, Knicks, Lakers, Celtics and, of course, the Blazers are among those apparently hoping he chooses them. Last ranking: No. 4
  4. Marc Gasol — Gasol’s most recent public comments included lines that seem like optimistic signs for both the Grizzlies and the Spurs, whom the Grizzlies reportedly fear most as a suitor for the 30-year-old. Still, San Antonio will first go after Aldridge, as Portland’s big man is viewed as more obtainable than Gasol, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The Mavs, Knicks and Lakers are apparently ready to test the notion that Gasol’s ties to Memphis are just too strong for him to leave. Last ranking: No. 5
  5. Kevin Love (player option) — Love again said this past weekend that he plans to be back in Cleveland, just as he told Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group in January that he planned to opt in. Rumors persisted, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports said a month ago that the Cavs had legitimate fear that he’ll leave. Still, that was before Cleveland marched to the Finals without him, opening questions about his value to the Cavs and others. Last ranking: No. 2
  6. Jimmy Butler (restricted) — Derrick Rose took more shots than he did, but Butler averaged more points than his teammate did in the playoffs, further indication of the transformation of the former No. 30 overall pick into the focal point for the Bulls. He was also an All-Defensive Second Team selection, so it seems the Bulls won’t change course from their plan to give the max to their restricted free agent. Last ranking: No. 6
  7. Greg Monroe — Monroe doesn’t rebound like DeAndre Jordan, the next man on this list, and he doesn’t have Jordan’s playoff experience. Monroe does have a polished offensive game and shoots 75% from the line, and that, along with improved defense, gives him the nod. Last ranking: No. 7
  8. DeAndre Jordan — The Clippers center might not be as valuable as Monroe, but it’s clear that even a player with his sharply limited offensive range will be sought after. Doc Rivers indicated that he’ll offer Jordan the max to stay with the Clippers, though the Mavs appear to be a serious threat. Regardless, it appears that once Aldridge decides what he’s going to do, Monroe and Jordan will have a ton of sway over the market. Last ranking: No. 8
  9. Draymond Green (restricted) — Nearly unlimited defensive versatility plus averages of 14.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in the playoffs leave little doubt why Green’s retention will be a priority for the Warriors. Golden State’s brass has given every indication that they intend to match all offers for him, according to Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group. Last ranking: No. 10
  10. Goran Dragic (player option) — The point guard would reportedly be less likely to re-sign with Miami if the Heat don’t retain Dwyane Wade, but it’s otherwise seemed as though the Heat are well out in front to keep the player for whom they relinquished two first-round picks at the deadline. The Lakers, Knicks, Pelicans, Kings and Bucks are other teams expected to make a go at Dragic to see if he’ll change his mind, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote recently. Last ranking: No. 9

As we’ve done a couple times when we’ve delivered previous versions of these rankings, we’ll show the next 10 most powerful free agents:

Check this list for a full register of 2015 NBA free agents.

2015 Free Agent Power Rankings

The regular season is almost over, and for some players, that means this week is the last opportunity to hit the court before they hit free agency. For most of the top free agents, the playoffs loom, and the postseason offers a chance to make a profound impression, whether positive or negative. Before that happens, here’s where the top members of the 2015 free agent class stand:

  1. LeBron James (player option) — James is on the verge of completing his first back-to-back seasons without winning the MVP since 2006/07 and 2007/08, but many still consider him the league’s best player. No shortage of teams will be hoping against hope that he’ll listen to their pitches if he opts out, as he’s reportedly likely to do, but it’s almost certain those teams will end up disappointed, and that he’ll return to the Cavs on another two-year max deal that gives him the most money and flexibility possible.  Last ranking: No. 1
  2. Kevin Love (player option) — There’s a strong chance that five straight seasons of averaging a double-double won’t become six for Love, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group points out, but even as Love’s stats continue to tumble as the season wears on, the issue appears more like one of context than declining talent. The former All-Star power forward has seemed like a poor fit with Cleveland, but Love told Haynes in January that he plans to opt in. Even if he doesn’t, and even if the Cavs wouldn’t want to pay him the max, a point some executives around the league have apparently questioned, it would be surprising if there weren’t multiple other max offers on the table. Last ranking: No. 2
  3. Kawhi Leonard (restricted) — Leonard’s monster stretch run has vaulted the Spurs from seventh place in the Western Conference into a chance for the second seed, and it’s catapulted him from seventh to third in these rankings. Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News wrote in early March that there was little that could happen this spring that would change the value of the max or near-max deal Leonard would receive this summer, but if Leonard wasn’t a max player then, he is now. The Celtics, and presumably others, are expected to propose offer sheets for the Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but the Spurs would be poised to matchLast ranking: No. 7
  4. LaMarcus Aldridge — It’s a tough call between Aldridge and Gasol, and for most teams, it would probably come down to which would be the better fit. We’ll give the nod to Aldridge, who bumped his production back up in March after a dip in February as he continues to play with a thumb injury that was to keep him out six to eight weeks. The power forward spoke recently of the darker days that marked his relationship with the Trail Blazers in the past, but he still seems likely to re-sign, as he said this past summer that he intends to do. Last ranking: No. 4
  5. Marc Gasol — Neither Gasol nor the Grizzlies are playing as well as they did earlier in the season, but that probably won’t change the dynamics at play. The 30-year-old is still averaging a career high 17.3 points this season, one in which he’s shifted some of his attention from defense to offense. The SpursKnicks and others will surely give chase, but Gasol’s longstanding connection to Memphis still looms largeLast ranking: No. 3
  6. Jimmy Butler (restricted) — Injury has helped stall Butler’s rise up this list, but he’s back in the lineup, and a strong playoff run could help him climb another few spots. The Bulls reportedly plan a max offer, and while other teams may test whether Chicago follows through, the consequences of losing Butler would likely be too devastating for the capped-out Bulls to let him slip away. Last ranking: No. 5
  7. Greg Monroe — A move to the Knicks is far from preordained, the big man insists, but while the Pistons would like him back and agent David Falk says it remains a possibility, Monroe still seems unlikely to re-sign with Detroit, as I wrote when I examined his free agent stock. He’s only played 11 games since the start of March because of injury, but he did plenty to enhance his value this year. Last ranking: No. 6
  8. DeAndre Jordan — Jordan makes it clear that he’s a major fan of Doc Rivers even when the big man has spoken of his enthusiasm for his free agency ahead. Jordan has become an elite rebounder under Rivers, and even though he has staunchly limited offensive range, he knows his boundaries and is poised to lead the NBA in field goal percentage for a third straight year. Last ranking: No. 9
  9. Goran Dragic (player option) — The point guard has dropped hints that he envisions a future with the Heat, and while the Lakers still seem like a possibility, Miami appears to have an edge. Dragic has regressed after a breakout season last year, and his numbers with the Heat are similar to what they were in the crowded Phoenix backcourt this season before the trade. Few teams lack quality point guards, but those that do seem intent on acquiring one, as the Heat proved when they gave up two first-round picks to deal for him. Given that investment, it would seem the Heat will spend whatever is necessary to retain him. Last ranking: No. 8
  10. Draymond Green (restricted) — A legitimate chance exists that Green will enter free agency as the Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year and an NBA champion. Even if he misses out on all three, it will still have been an impressive 2014/15 for the versatile 25-year-old whose insertion into the Warriors starting lineup helped lift the team to the league’s best regular season record. Golden State appears ready to match any offer sheet, and while there’s seemingly mutual interest between Green and the Pistons, the Warriors control the process. The question is whether Green ends up with the max, and Hoops Rumors readers believe he will. Last ranking: unranked

Dropped out: Rajon Rondo (Last month: No. 10)

Earlier in the season, we looked at the next 10 free agents who would be on this list, and we’ll do so again this time. The names here again demonstrate the depth of this year’s free agent class, assuming most of the players with options hit the market:

2015 Free Agent Power Rankings

Most among the top tier of soon-to-be free agents have faltered since we last checked on them in late January, though there have been a few exceptions, most notably at the top, where LeBron James is back to dominance. The general sluggish play through the season’s dog days has resulted in little movement in the latest edition Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings, but a few names have nonetheless risen and fallen. The trade deadline is weeks in the past and free agency is becoming a greater focus around the league, so here’s how the top of the market stands:

  1. LeBron James (player option): James is reportedly headed for another two-year max deal with a player option on the second season, giving him the greatest possible income and leverage once more. There have been hints that it’s not a 100% certainty he’ll sign that deal with the Cavs, but it’s still probably a 99.9% chance. Last ranking: No. 1
  2. Kevin Love (player option): Love is also likely to remain with Cleveland and has said he plans to opt in. The Celtics are nonetheless seemingly making it their top priority to test his resolve about that. Love’s numbers continue to drop, as he averaged only 15.9 points and 9.7 rebounds in February, but the Cavs are winning and he’s still only 26. Last ranking: No. 2
  3. Marc Gasol: He’s notched just 16.0 PPG since a 20.2 PPG December, but Big Spain’s greatest contributions have long been on the defensive end, and he remains the fulcrum of a Grizzlies team that’s second in the Western Conference. Were he not already 30 years old he’d probably be a rung higher than Love. Last ranking: No. 3
  4. LaMarcus Aldridge: Executives surely admire Aldridge’s willingness to play through a torn thumb ligament, assuming they don’t fear that there will be long-term damage. Speaking of fear, the Blazers are reportedly “very, very scared” he’ll leave, but despite his willingness to play along with New York media asking him about the Knicks at the All-Star Game, Aldridge pledged last summer to remain in Portland. Last ranking: No. 5
  5. Jimmy Butler (restricted): There will be no playing through a left elbow injury that’s liable to cost the emerging star as much as six weeks, but even before that, there were signs the league’s leader in minutes per game was breaking down. He averaged 21.7 PPG before New Year’s Day and 18.3 since, knocking him back a peg in our rankings. Still, it seems likely he’ll still receive that max offer the Bulls have apparently been planning. Last ranking: No. 4
  6. Greg Monroe: The big man has bucked the trend of marquee soon-to-be free agents tailing off, having averaged 16.6 PPG and 11.9 RPG a game since the Pistons let go of Josh Smith, compared to just 14.7 and 8.8 RPG prior. Agent David Falk downplays the idea that Monroe’s thinking in regard to free agency has changed much during the season, but the big man will “absolutely” consider re-signing with the Pistons, Falk contends, a prospect that’s long seemed remote. Stan Van Gundy hopes it’ll happen, but the Celtics and Sixers appear to be among the teams who’ll try to ensure it doesn’t. Last ranking: No. 7
  7. Kawhi Leonard (restricted): February was Leonard’s worst month for PPG and RPG as he put up 13.5 PPG and 6.1 RPG, not exactly intriguing numbers, perhaps in part because of a torn ligament in his right hand, and there appears a decent chance it’ll require surgery at season’s end. Meanwhile, the Spurs have languished in seventh place in the Western Conference. Still, San Antonio probably won’t be dissuaded from paying him the max or a comparable salary. Last ranking: No. 6
  8. Goran Dragic (player option): The past month and change has been a whirlwind for the Third Team All-NBA guard from last season, as he had a contentious parting with the Suns and is reportedly still high on the Lakers even though he’s expressed fondness for his new home in Miami. It looks like Miami is the front-runner to re-sign him on a five-year max offer, but the situation remains fluid. Last ranking: No. 10
  9. DeAndre Jordan: The Clippers have sorely needed Jordan as a top-flight inside presence since Blake Griffin went out with a staph infection in his elbow a month ago, and he’s responded with a whopping 18.8 RPG in the time that Griffn has missed. Perhaps most importantly for his value, he’s averaged 14.2 PPG, which would be a career-high, on just 7.3 field goal attempts per contest in Griffin’s absence. Last ranking: No. 9
  10. Rajon Rondo: Perhaps no other marquee free agent’s stock has taken as much of a hit as Rondo’s has in the past month or so as he’s continued to struggle to fit in with the Mavs. Doubt is creeping in about his worthiness as a maximum-salary player, and while he downplayed his public tiff with coach Rick Carlisle and remains open to re-signing in Dallas, the market for him seems tough to predict. Last ranking: No. 7

Al Jefferson continues to top the honorable mentions whom I ran down last time, but Draymond Green‘s rise continues, and he’ll certainly be among the top 20, if not top 15, most sought-after free agents this summer. Check out how the rankings have ebbed and flowed since the beginning of the season right here.

2015 Free Agent Power Rankings

We’re in the midst of a wild trading season so far in the NBA, with 11 deals having gone down in a five-week span, and it all sets the stage for a deep crop of players who can hit free agency this summer. The names listed under “honorable mention” below show just how much talent is poised to become available, and the top 10 in the latest Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings are a star-studded bunch. Here’s where they stand as teams cross the midpoint of their 82-game schedules:

  1. LeBron James (player option): It looks like James won’t rule out a second free agent departure from Cleveland. It’s still seems highly unlikely that the Akron native would leave, even though the possibility that he might gives him no shortage of leverage as the Cavs scramble to reassert themselves as championship contenders.  Last month: No. 1
  2. Kevin Love (player option): The Jeff Schwartz client pulled a surprise when he told Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group last week that he intends to opt in for next season. He has plenty of financial incentive to go back on that, even amid statistical declines this season. In any case, the 26-year-old’s relative youth gives him a slight edge on the next player on the list. Last month: No. 2
  3. Marc Gasol: The 7’1″ center who’s just a few days shy of his 30th birthday isn’t playing defense at the level he had last season, but his leap in offensive production and the Grizzlies’ position near the top of the Western Conference standings have cast him as a hot commodity. Still, the more the Grizzlies win, the less likely it seems that Gasol would cut his longstanding ties to Memphis. Last month: No. 3
  4. Jimmy Butler (restricted): The Bulls reportedly could have had Butler for between $12.5MM and $13MM a year if they had signed him to an extension in October, shortly before the initial Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings had him outside the top 10. Clearly, the Bulls weren’t the only ones who erred, but they’re ready to pay the price and are apparently planning a maximum-salary offer that’s projected to start at around $15.5MM a year. We, too, have amended our outlook on Butler, who continues his ascent. Last month: No. 5
  5. LaMarcus Aldridge: It’s not Aldridge’s fault that he’s slipped one spot in the rankings. The Arn Tellem client is averaging a career-high 23.5 points per game for a Trail Blazers team that’s second only to the Warriors in the Western Conference. The 29-year-old has even added a three-point threat to his attack, as he’s nailing an impressive 48.7% on 1.1 attempts per game. Last month: No. 4
  6. Kawhi Leonard (restricted): A hand injury has cost Leonard time, but when he’s played this season, he’s continued the year-over-year improvement that’s marked the career of the reigning Finals MVP. He’s averaging career highs in points, assists, rebounds and steals per game, and he won’t turn 24 until June. Last month: No. 6
  7. Greg Monroe: The subtraction of Josh Smith has done wonders for the Pistons, and Monroe has been among the beneficiaries. He averaged 16.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in 10 contests this month entering today. The Lakers have reportedly called the Pistons about trading for him, but the David Falk client apparently has no interest in waiving his de facto no trade clause this season, as doing so would cost him his Bird rights.  Last month: No. 9
  8. Rajon Rondo: The point guard’s outside shot has looked better since the trade that took him to the Mavs, though his scoring average for the season remains in the single digits. He also admitted that his effort on defense slipped prior to the trade, but the Mavs appear willing to bet that he’ll remain engaged, as it doesn’t look like Rondo is going to be making another move this summer. Last month: No. 7
  9. DeAndre Jordan: Defense isn’t an issue for Jordan, and neither is rebounding, as he’s on pace to lead the league in rebounds per game for a second straight year, but the Greg Lawrence client wants to improve on offense. His 71.5% field goal percentage is the NBA’s best, but the 26-year-old has a single-digit scoring average and takes 91.2% of his shots from 3 feet and in, according to Basketball-ReferenceLast month: Unranked
  10. Goran Dragic (player option): The Rockets have been trying to trade for the point guard this season, as Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick of USA Today reported, and Dragic won’t rule out signing with any team, having praised the Lakers and Knicks when given opportunities to do so this season. Still, the 28-year-old, who plans to turn down his $7.5MM player option for next season, reportedly intends to give the Suns the first crack at him. Last month: No. 10

Dropped out: Al Jefferson (Last month: No. 8)

Honorable mention: Al Jefferson (player option), Dwyane Wade (player option), Roy Hibbert (player option), Tristan Thompson (restricted), Brook Lopez (player option), Reggie Jackson (restricted), Paul Millsap, Monta Ellis (player option), Luol Deng (player option), Omer Asik.

2015 Free Agent Power Rankings

Most NBA teams have played between 20 and 22 games so far this season, so we’ve hit the quarter pole of this year’s 82-game trek. It’s also been precisely a month since the inaugural edition of the Hoops Rumors 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings, so the time is right for an update. There’s been a bit of shuffling in the order, and the newest name on the list made no subtle impression to earn his way on it. Let’s break down this month’s rankings:

  1. LeBron James (player option) — The four-time MVP isn’t leaving Cleveland again, lest he be permanently cast in the villain’s role that fit him so poorly during his early days in Miami. But, his ability to hit the market and put pressure on the Cavs to continue to surround him with a roster capable of competing for championships defines “free agent power” and casts him at the top figure in this ranking. Last month: No. 1
  2. Kevin Love (player option) — The 26-year-old’s numbers are down, predictably, as more talented teammates than he’s ever had surround him in Cleveland, but he’s still an otherworldly talent. Love continues to insist that he has no plans of leaving the Cavs, though he said he’s talked in passing with Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony about playing together someday. He also called the Knicks “a great franchise to be a part of”, and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote this month that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Love would end up on the Lakers next season. Last month: No. 2
  3. Marc Gasol — Re-signing Gasol is job one for the Grizzlies, according to GM Chris Wallace, and central to the team’s ability to do that will be the strength of its commitment to winning, Gasol says. That makes team’s 17-4 start an even more auspicious sign than it otherwise would be, and Gasol’s been a major catalyst, having upped his scoring average to 19.5 points per game, nearly five points better than his career high. All that success has the Knicks pessimistic about their chances to lure him to New York. Last month: No. 4
  4. LaMarcus Aldridge — New York reporters failed in their attempts to coax free agency chatter out of another logical Knicks target when the Blazers were in town recently, and while Knicks faithful may cling to the idea that Aldridge didn’t rule out leaving Portland, that seems a long shot. The Arn Tellem client said this past offseason that he intends to sign a new five-year deal with Portland this coming summer, and he spoke this month of his comfort with Portland and the Blazers. Last month: No. 3
  5. Jimmy Butler (restricted) — No soon-to-be free agent has lifted his stock during the first quarter of the NBA season as much as Butler has. The most significant flaws in his game last season were on offense , but he’s suddenly become Chicago’s leading scorer at 21.7 PPG, 8.6 PPG better than last year’s career high. Several executives around the league believe that the Happy Walters client will command the maximum salary if he keeps this up, though the Bulls seem poised to match any offers he receives. Last month: Unranked
  6. Kawhi Leonard (restricted) — The Spurs also appear ready to pounce should Leonard draw a maximum-salary offer sheet. The Brian Elfus client’s game is expanding again this year, as he’s seeing double-digit shot attempts per night for the first time, helping him to a career-best 14.8 PPG. He’s also putting up his best per-game marks in assists, rebounds and steals. Last month: No. 6
  7. Rajon Rondo — The ninth-year veteran has always struggled with his shot, but Rondo’s shooting percentage is down from every range outside of three feet from the basket, according to Basketball-Reference. He’s also scoring fewer than 10 points per game for the first time since he was a rookie. Still, Rondo is again leading the league in assists per game, and there appears to be mutual interest between Rondo and the Lakers, though Boston remains No. 1 on his list. A move to L.A. doesn’t appear the most likely outcome at this point, however, as the Celtics continue to value Rondo highly. Last month: No. 5
  8. Al Jefferson (player option) — The Hornets are off to a dreadful start, and much of the blame has fallen at the feet of Lance Stephenson, the team’s latest marquee free agent acquisition. But Jefferson’s numbers are down, and particularly his rebounding, as he’s grabbing just 7.8 boards per night after pulling down 10.8 RPG last year. The memory of his franchise-changing season last year will linger for quite some time, but with his 30th birthday looming next month, there’s cause for concern. Last month: No. 7
  9. Greg Monroe — It’s even uglier in Detroit than it’s been in Charlotte so far this season, but Monroe has soldiered on, with most of his per-36-minute marks holding steady even as he sees slightly fewer minutes in a crowded Pistons frontcourt. He’ll have a chance to be an unquestioned starter elsewhere next season, and the Hawks and Knicks are ready to pursue him. He’s also playfully spoken of playing with Celtics forward Jeff Green, though it’d be tough for him to land with Boston if Rondo is still there, and Atlanta would be an odd fit unless soon-to-be free agent Paul Millsap doesn’t re-sign. Last month: No. 9
  10. Goran Dragic (player option) — It’s no shock that Dragic hasn’t produced quite the way he did last season, and not just because 2013/14 was a career year. The backcourt logjam in Phoenix has reduced Dragic’s minutes and taken away some of his shot attempts, and his efficiency during his time on the floor, as measured by his PER, has returned to the level he displayed in 2012/13. Eric Bledsoe was injured much of last season and Isaiah Thomas was in Sacramento, so Dragic had free reign. The Suns will face pressure to convince him that sacrificing that to work for the greater collective is truly the choice he should make come July. Last month: No. 8

Dropped out: DeAndre Jordan (Last month: No. 10)

2015 Free Agent Power Rankings

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Marc GasolHints 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

  1. Jimmy Butler
  2. Dwyane Wade
  3. Roy Hibbert
  4. Paul Millsap
  5. Brook Lopez
  6. Rudy Gay
  7. Tristan Thompson
  8. Luol Deng
  9. Omer Asik
  10. 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!