Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

Dwight Howard, Lakers, 34, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2019
Skepticism was rampant when the Lakers brought Howard back. That included the team’s front office, who gave him a non-guaranteed veteran’s minimum deal. Instead of quickly wearing out his welcome, Howard has been wearing out second-unit centers. In the last three games, Howard has averaged 14 PPG and 15 RPG. Injuries limited Howard to nine games with Washington last season but the future Hall-of-Famer has proven he can accept a bench role and still have a major impact on a contending team. He’ll get significantly more than the veteran’s minimum this summer.

Nemanja Bjelica, Kings, 31, PF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $20.5MM deal in 2018
When Bjelica gets rolling, he can be an offensive force. Orlando learned that lesson on Monday when he erupted for 34 points. He’s also had 27- and 30-point games for the Kings this season. Bjelica started regularly for Sacramento last season but he’s turned it up a notch in his second season there, averaging career highs in points (12.2 PPG), rebounds (6.6 RPG) and assists (2.5 APG) while making 43.4% of his long-range attempts. The Kings can retain Bjelica’s services by guaranteeing his $7.15MM salary prior to free agency. He’s making that an easy decision.

Maurice Harkless, Clippers, 26, SF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $42MM deal in 2016
Being the fifth option on the court, especially on a team loaded with scorers like the Clippers, can be tough for many players to accept. Harkless embraces that role, which is why he’s a steady presence in the rotation. He’s averaging 5.5 PPG while playing 22.8 MPG due to his limited opportunities. Harkless’ defensive rating has jumped this season, why is why Doc Rivers keeps calling his number. Harkless is making $11MM this season prior to unrestricted free agency. He’ll have to take a pay cut this summer but he’ll find a second-unit job in the open market.

Dario Saric, Suns, 25, PF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $10.75MM deal in 2016
Saric’s NBA career has gone south after a promising second season in Philadelphia in which he averaged 14.7 PPG and 6.7 RPG while making 39.3% of his 3-pointers. Saric was included in the Jimmy Butler deal with Minnesota last season and was later sent to Phoenix in a draft-night trade. His playing time has fallen substantially this month, including a couple of games in which he barely left the bench. Phoenix can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $4.79MM qualifying offer. It’s likely the Suns will seek an upgrade at power foward and allow Saric to move on.

Alec Burks, Warriors, 28, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.32MM deal in 2019
Burks scored 25 points in an overtime loss to the Nuggets on Thursday after shooting 27.7% from the field and 29.2% from 3-point range in his previous five games. He’s averaging 15.9 PPG but that’s mainly a product of opportunity on a bad team. He’s taking a career-high 12.4 shots per game, including 4.5 from long range. On the flip side, Burks settled for a veteran’s minimum contract last season. He’s done enough to get a better offer as a second-unit scorer, though he’s not going to make $10MM-plus as he did the previous three seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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26 thoughts on “Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Pacific Division

    • 22Leo

      Opting out is obviously the smartest thing for him to do financially. He will then likely re-sign with the Lakers almost immediately. He was very open about wanting to be a Laker before they traded for him. Anyone who thinks he is likely to leave is kidding themselves.

        • 22Leo

          I, too, love lobster bisque. I met this lawyer, we went to dinner. I had the lobster bisque. Yada, yada, yada…I never called her again.

      • arc89

        He also wants the max contract. lakers offered him a extension which he refused to sign. So now the lakers will have most of their money tied up in 2 players. Enjoy this season because next season they will have barely any money to retain any bench player.

          • 22Leo

            Two max contracts does not hamstring a franchise. See pretty much every competitive team in the league as examples.

            • arc89

              It will cut down on bench spending a whole lot. AD will be getting a super max 35% contract. With leBron above $39 million and add in Geen’s $15 that will be about $93 million of the roster now add in Pope, Kuzma, Bradley and Mcgeee. you will be over $110 million. Rest of the bench will be filler guys.

            • 22Leo

              The extension offer from the Lakers was simply a formality. If you think the Lakers did not plan on giving Davis the most money possible as a free agent and have not planned for it, you are kidding yourself. It is simply naive to think they only have this season to enjoy being a championship-caliber team.

          • arc89

            Nothing is guaranteed that Davis resigns with the Lakers. Not even he has said he will resign. lakers need to win it all this year because if they fail Davis may leave. Its going to be a tough road for them with 4 other WC teams that has the same chance of winning this year.

          • arc89

            Nothing is guaranteed that Davis resigns with the Lakers. Not even he has said he will resign. lakers need to win it all this year because if they fail Davis may leave. Its going to be a tough road for them with 4 other WC teams that has the same chance of winning this year.

  1. 22Leo

    I didn’t think Howard would provide much for the Lakers when they signed him, but he has been awesome for them coming off the bench so far. He has proven to be a great addition and a pleasure to watch. He also looks like he is having a lot of fun with the team.

  2. x%sure

    Burks from 3-point went 8of12 67%, then 9for24 29%, then 4of9 44%. Season total, 37%. Cut the slant Garuder, he’s a streak shooter, and on a good team he would likely play more when he’s hotter, less when he’s not, raising his efficiency. Per 36′, 6r, 4a, 1s, and doesn’t rely on the system. Has his best PER at 28 yo. Time to put some weight on his shoulders.

    • arc89

      Burks could be taken for a 2nd round pick. GSW would trade him if they were offered anything of value. Looks like so far nobody has made a offer worth taking. They can’t take any extra payroll in a trade so it would need to be salary relief or a 2nd round pick.

      • macdaddy96

        The Warriors need the bodies for now. They’re already playing with a 14 man roster because of the tax. In a few weeks they’ll get rid of a few players so they’ll be able to sign Bowman and Chriss to guaranteed contracts.

  3. Jeff Zanghi

    I’m not sure Saric really counts as “down” I mean yeah he hasn’t played as well as he has in the past – but given that he’s only making $2.5M this year while still averaging almost 10PPG to me means he’ll probably earn more next year on the open market. I also think that if put back in the right position/system he could again be a more effective player. He’s still pretty young and hasn’t totally bottomed out or anything – so I see him getting more $ than he’s making now on a new team and hopefully for him – putting up a bit better numbers in the right situation.

  4. Jeff Zanghi

    I guess as an addendum to my previous post — technically his “stock” is “down” if that’s the criteria. But I just also think there’s a qualifier that maybe he’s not being utilized in a way that’s allowing him to raise his “stock” which is why he is where he’s at at the moment.

    • Curtisrowe

      Howard is a lock for the Hall of Fame. 14th most rebounds all time, 15th in career blocks, 68th in career points, and he aint done.

    • kevin

      He 100% will be a HOFer 3 years after retiring. He had a stretch of 8 straight All-Star games while averaging roughly 20 pts, 13.5 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 1.2 steals. He also became the first player to ever win 3 DPOY awards in a row during that dominant stretch.

      People tend to forget how good Dwight was in Orlando..

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