Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. 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:
DeMar DeRozan, Spurs, 31, SG/SF (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $139MM deal in 2016
DeRozan threw in a clunker in San Antonio’s play-in game against Memphis, shooting 5-for-21 from the field. The master of the mid-range game now enters unrestricted free agency in a league that craves 3-point shooters at the wing.
DeRozan does more than just knock down 18-footers. He’s got a knack for drawing fouls and this season he averaged a career-high 6.9 assists. What will that package of skills draw on the open market? We’ll find out if DeRozan doesn’t reach an extension agreement with San Antonio. The Spurs have an exclusive window to reach a new deal with DeRozan before free agency begins at the start of August.
Lonzo Ball, Pelicans, 23, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $33.5MM deal in 2017
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram said glowing things about Ball in their post-season press conferences. Ball said he would “love” to remain in New Orleans. Now, the proverbial ball is in the front office’s court.
Will the Pelicans extend a $14.36MM qualifying offer to Ball to make him a restricted free agent? If so, will they match any offer sheet? Should the Pelicans do so, they’re basically telling everyone they believe the trio of Williamson, Ingram and Ball is a championship-caliber core. That’s a pretty big leap of faith, considering the Pelicans went 31-41 this season with each of them playing at least 55 games. But Ball’s going to get paid this summer, one way or another.
Josh Richardson, Mavericks, 27, SF/SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $42MM deal in 2018
Richardson was acquired from the Sixers in a draft-night deal to upgrade their perimeter defense. According to the numbers, Richardson hasn’t made much of an impact in that area. He ranked 22nd among shooting guards on ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus ratings. Richardson’s offensive rating was even lower after averaging 12.1 PPG on 42.7% shooting (33% on threes) despite playing with a premier play-maker.
Richardson holds an $11.6MM option on his contract for next season. Perhaps he’ll seek for a multi-year deal on the open market but it may be prudent for him to take the guaranteed money and test the waters next summer.
Kelly Olynyk, Rockets, 30, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $50MM deal in 2017
Anyone want a stretch four who averages 19 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 4.1 APG and 1.4 SPG? Those are the stats Olynyk posted in a 27-game stint with the tanking Rockets. Those numbers can be taken with a grain of salt – Olynyk didn’t suddenly turn into an All-Star level talent at 30 years old. He did show that he can still be a highly productive rotation player. For obvious reasons, Olynyk enjoyed his stint in Houston and that will factor into his decision as he heads into unrestricted free agency. If nothing else, he gained more leverage over the past two months.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.