Top 50 NBA Free Agents Of 2016

The NBA’s free agent period is about to get underway, and it should be a fascinating month of July. With the salary cap expected to rise at least $24MM, from $70MM to $94MM, teams around the NBA will have more money than ever to spend on available players, and there will likely be some sticker shock on some of the deals signed this summer.

While the free agent recruiting period begins on July 1st at 12:01am eastern time, teams aren’t permitted to finalize any signings until the July moratorium lifts on July 7th at 12:01am. During the next six days, however, we can count on teams and players reaching tentative agreements — as last year’s DeAndre Jordan saga taught us though, those agreements are hardly set in stone.

With free agency set to begin, be sure to check out our full list of 2016 free agents, and use our 2016 free agent tracker to keep tabs on the latest contract agreements.

Here’s our breakdown of the top 50 NBA free agents on the market this summer:

  1. Kevin Durant, SF: Durant will hardly be the only free agent to get a maximum-salary contract this offseason, but he’s the one player everyone can agree deserves one. The Thunder still appear to be the favorites to retain the former MVP, but the Warriors, Clippers, Spurs, Celtics, and Heat will all get a chance to make pitches.
  2. LeBron James, SF: Technically a free agent, LeBron doesn’t intend to leave Cleveland, so the frenzy his availability has stirred up in past years isn’t present this time around. Still, it will be interesting to see what sort of deal James and the Cavs work out — the team only holds his Early Bird rights, but Early Bird deals require a minimum of two years with no opt-outs. So if LeBron wants to re-up again in a year, he’ll probably have to do a Non-Bird deal, limiting his raise.
  3. Al Horford, C: Horford has a meeting scheduled with the Rockets, whose interest is believed to be serious, and he’ll reportedly receive interest from the Lakers, Rockets, Magic, Pistons, Wizards, Celtics, Heat, Nets, and Thunder too. Still, if the Hawks are willing to include a fifth year on their maximum-salary offer, it’s hard to imagine the veteran big man leaving Atlanta.
  4. Andre Drummond, C (restricted): The Pistons didn’t extend Drummond last fall, which gives the team more flexibility in free agency this summer. But there’s no reason to believe they won’t quickly work out a new deal now. Even if Drummond wanted to explore the market, which appears unlikely, Detroit can match any offer sheet, and figures to do so.
  5. Hassan Whiteside, C: After playing on one of the most team-friendly deals in the NBA over the last couple seasons, Whiteside is poised to cash in, and may do so with the Mavericks, who have made him a top priority in free agency. The Lakers and Rockets were reportedly mulling major pushes for Whiteside, but it sounds like his decision may come down to Dallas, Miami, and Portland.
  6. Mike Conley, PG: The Mavericks are prioritizing Conley, having set up a meeting with him for July 1st. The Rockets, Pelicans, Nets, and Lakers could also be in the mix, though Dallas appears to be the biggest threat to Memphis. If the Grizzlies are willing to go up to five years for Conley, a return to Memphis could be in the cards for this year’s top free agent point guard.
  7. DeMar DeRozan, SG: The Raptors are the strong frontrunners for DeRozan, who doesn’t plan on meeting with any other teams if he can quickly reach an agreement with Toronto. If DeRozan does want to explore the market a little, the Heat, Mavericks, Sixers, and Lakers are among the teams that could be lurking.
  8. Nicolas Batum, SF: Three-and-D wings will be popular in free agency this offseason, and Batum looks like the best of the bunch, which should put him in line for a max deal or something very close to it. The Hornets and Mavericks are currently scheduled to have face-to-face sit-downs with Batum, who will also talk to the Knicks, Lakers, and Wizards over the phone.
  9. Dwyane Wade, SG: Wade’s camp, apparently not thrilled by preliminary talks with the Heat, have reportedly put out word that the veteran guard is open to other teams, including the Spurs and Mavericks. That appears to be a leverage play though, similar to the one Wade made last year. The odds are still in favor of a return to Miami.
  10. Bradley Beal, SG (restricted): As is the case with Drummond and the Pistons, the Wizards appear set to either match any offer for Beal, or simply give him the max themselves. Injuries are a concern for Beal, who has never played a full season, but he just turned 23 years old this week, and is a very talented scorer when healthy, making him too valuable an asset for Washington to let go.
  11. Chandler Parsons, SF: Like Beal, Parsons has a troublesome injury history. Despite undergoing multiple surgical procedures on his knee though, Parsons has received clearance to resume basketball activities and multiple orthopedic specialists have expressed optimism that his knee trouble won’t derail or jeopardize his career. A return to the Mavs looks increasingly unlikely, but the Lakers, Grizzlies, and Trail Blazers reportedly have meetings lined up with the veteran forward, who is seeking a max deal.
  12. Harrison Barnes, SF (restricted): Barnes was a no-show during some crucial playoff moments, but it doesn’t sound like it will have a significant impact on his market — a max contract is still in play. The Sixers are said to have serious interest in Barnes, and Philadelphia will need to spend this summer to reach the salary floor, so that looks like a good match. The Warriors haven’t ruled out bringing back Barnes, but their pursuit of Durant and some other top free agents has made it clear they’re exploring other options first.
  13. Kent Bazemore, SF: After losing a three-and-D specialist last summer in DeMarre Carroll, the Hawks risk losing another one this time around, and Bazemore could very well match or exceed Carroll’s four-year, $58MM contract. He’ll certainly have no shortage of suitors, with the Bucks, Grizzlies, Magic, Nets, Pelicans, and Rockets among the clubs that could challenge Atlanta. Bazmore may not make a quick decision though — a Thursday report suggested he may not start taking meetings until after July 4th.
  14. Evan Fournier, SG (restricted): The fact that the Magic have been linked to so many shooting guard targets in free agency has raised some eyebrows, but it still sounds like the team wants to bring Fournier back, particularly after moving Victor Oladipo. If Fournier seeks out an offer sheet, the Sixers are one team his agent figures to call, but the 23-year-old wants to stay in Orlando and isn’t sure if he has any meetings on tap.
  15. Dirk Nowitzki, PF: Unlike most of the other free agents in our top 20, Nowitzki probably isn’t headed toward a massive payday. He’ll likely just re-up with the Mavericks on a modest multiyear deal, with the intention of finishing his career in Dallas. Still, the Warriors will give him a call to see whether there’s even a slim chance he wants a change of scenery, and other teams could follow suit.
  16. Dwight Howard, C: Howard is on the wrong side of 30 and is coming off an up-and-down stint in Houston, so it makes sense that teams are said to be balking at a maximum-salary contract for the eight-time All-Star. The Hawks and Celtics have set up meetings with Howard, and the Bucks, Trail Blazers, Hornets, Knicks, and Rockets are among the other clubs believed to have some level interest in the big man. Most of those clubs have multiple targets at center, however, and it’s not clear whether Howard will be a top priority for many of them.
  17. Ryan Anderson, PF: Big men with a reliable outside shot will be hot commodities this July, and Anderson’s career .377 3PT% and his ability to score 15-20 points per game will make him attractive to many teams. The Nets, Rockets, Jazz, Lakers, Grizzlies, Kings, and Wizards are expected to be among Anderson’s suitors.
  18. Joakim Noah, C: Noah will reportedly consider at least three teams in free agency, but the Knicks are the strong favorites to land him and reunite him with Derrick Rose. At least one report suggested that Noah’s new contract could start at around $18MM, despite the fact that he’s coming off shoulder surgery.
  19. Pau Gasol, PF/C: Like Noah, Gasol isn’t expected to return to the Bulls. It will be interesting to see whether Pau prioritizes a high-paying contract or the opportunity to join a contending team. It’s possible he’ll be able to do both, but some contenders may not have the flexibility to offer him much more than mid-level-exception-type money. The Warriors, Spurs, and Knicks are expected to have interest, along with the Trail Blazers and Timberwolves.
  20. Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG (restricted): Clarkson has talked repeatedly about wanting to remain with the Lakers, and he could probably do the team a favor by negotiating directly with Los Angeles, rather than looking for an offer sheet. Because he’s subject to the Gilbert Arenas provision, Clarkson could sign an offer sheet with another team that’s heavily backloaded in years three and four. The Lakers likely wouldn’t have a problem matching such an offer, but they may prefer an annual salary that’s more evenly dispersed, given how much cap room they have available now.

Here are the rest of our top 50 free agents for 2016:

  1. Rajon Rondo, PG
  2. Bismack Biyombo, C
  3. Marvin Williams, SF/PF
  4. Al Jefferson, PF/C
  5. Courtney Lee, SG
  6. Allen Crabbe, SG (restricted)
  7. Luol Deng, SF
  8. Festus Ezeli, C (restricted)
  9. Jeremy Lin, PG
  10. Dion Waiters, SG (restricted)
  11. Evan Turner, SG/SF
  12. Jared Sullinger, PF (restricted)
  13. Deron Williams, PG
  14. Jared Dudley, SG
  15. Zaza Pachulia, C
  16. J.R. Smith, SG
  17. Matthew Dellavedova, PG/SG (restricted)
  18. Tyler Johnson, PG/SG (restricted)
  19. Eric Gordon, SG
  20. Arron Afflalo, SG
  21. Solomon Hill, SF
  22. David West, PF
  23. Jamal Crawford, SG
  24. Terrence Jones, PF
  25. Timofey Mozgov, C
  26. Mirza Teletovic, PF
  27. Brandon Jennings, PG
  28. Ian Mahinmi, C
  29. Jeff Green, SF/PF
  30. Meyers Leonard, C (restricted)

Ten players who didn’t quite make the cut, but who deserve an honorable mention:

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