After a summer of rebuilding and trying to put a team together, there are a few teams out there that are clearly looking at next summer as the chance to remake their lineup. Yes, we’re looking at you, Dallas. But you are not alone.
So, who are next summer’s big potential free agents? Here is the short list, the highlights, the guys everyone will be going after. IF you want a complete list, including guys with options for next year (player or team) and restricted free agents, Hoopsworld can help you out.
Chris Paul: The Clippers are doing everything in their power to keep him, to the point that CAA seems to run this team at points. They brought back Chauncey Billups for him, they have taken the young core and turned it into Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe with veterans like Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill. The “grow with the youth” plan is out. The smart money is that Paul re-signs with the Clippers. But he could look around the West, see the Lakers and Thunder, and decide the Clippers are not where he can win. And remember, Donald Sterling still owns his team so the potential for him to screw it up exists.
Dwight Howard: He has to be on the list as an unrestricted FA, but there is little or no chance the Lakers do not re-sign him. He will want that. After his public relations disaster the past year, he doesn’t want to start the free agency public process up again.
James Harden: We have discussed this at length — the Thunder want to keep him but they are not getting a discount. Someone will give him a max offer and Oklahoma City will have to venture into the tax realm to keep him.
Andrew Bynum: He most likely re-signs with Philadelphia unless things go wrong this season. But he is unrestricted.
Manu Ginobili: He’s an unrestricted free agent, but it’s hard to imagine him leaving the Spurs. Or them letting him. Length of the deal will be the question here.
Josh Smith: The Hawks forward is unrestricted and if he is the No. 2 guy on a team that team could be very, very good. Danny Ferry could be shopping him as a rental at the trade deadline, he seems to be shopping everyone.
Stephen Curry: He will be a restricted free agent and how in demand he will be will depend on how his ankle holds up this season. But if it does teams could make a run at him and the Warriors would have an expensive choice whether to match or nor.
Paul Millsap: Underrated and unrestricted, he is going to get paid next summer by someone who wants boards and strong play inside.
Al Jefferson: He is unrestricted as well, Utah could lose their front line. Or, they could r-sign him and Millsap.
DeMar DeRozan: He will be a restricted free agent in Toronto, they can match. He’s athletic and can play, but how much would you pay for him?
David West: One of the best pick-and-pop bigs in the game, a solid strong player if you have a good point guard to work off him. The Pacers will try to keep him but he is unrestricted.
Kevin Martin: He’s unrestricted if you want a gunner who can get to the line.
Ty Lawson: Restricted free agent, Denver will want to keep him but he could get offers.
Darren Collison: He’s a restricted free agent but with Dallas in rebuild mode and going after guys like Chris Paul he might be had with a nice offer.