How many players will get max contracts in free agency? Over-under: 13

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How many players will sign max contracts this summer?

Here are the 23 players, in order, I think have the best chance:

1. Kevin Durant

2. Andre Drummond

3. Bradley Beal

4. Hassan Whiteside

5. Nicolas Batum

6. Mike Conley

7. Harrison Barnes

8. Al Horford

9. DeMar DeRozan

10. Chandler Parsons

11. LeBron James

12. Evan Fournier

13. Kent Bazemore

14. Allen Crabbe

15. Jeremy Lin

16. Bismack Biyombo

18. Courtney Lee

19. Marvin Williams

20. Ryan Anderson

21. Rajon Rondo

22. Dwight Howard

23. J.R. Smith

Thoughts:

  • How many players will get 2016-17 max salaries (so contract length doesn’t matter)? I’ll set the over/under at 13.
  • Max salaries are determined by years of service with three tiers: 0-6, 7-9, 10+. So, Evan Fournier’s max is lower than Dwyane Wade’s. That makes a big difference.
  • Some players might get max offers and take less for one reason or another. That’s the trickiest part to predict.
  • It’s a good year to be a wing. As teams play smaller, they need more of shooting guards and small forwards — and there’s a shortage of good ones available.
  • Few teams need point guards, but there are even fewer starting-caliber point guards on the market. The top free agents at that position, even below Mike Conley, might come close to naming their price. The decline in talent is steep.
  • It’s harder to command big money as a big, because teams need fewer if just is playing at a time, and it’s a deep free-agent class at center.
  • LeBron can get a max salary if he wants. He might prefer the leverage a one-year deal creates, and that won’t be for the max with the Cavaliers.
  • J.R. Smith shares an agent, Rich Paul, with LeBron. The Cavs have no way to replace Smith with comparable talent if he walks. Good luck navigating that minefield, Cleveland.