We continued to look at the best available free agents on Tuesday by breaking down this summer’s crop of shooting guards but now we turn our focus to the small forward position.
This summer’s group of free agent small forwards is very top heavy with a pair of players that will clearly make a team better.
Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith are both tremendous athletes who each offer a variety of skills. Iguodala is a great two-way player while Smith is 6-foot-10 with the ability to lead the break.
Neither of these players should be given a max deal but it will be interesting to see how teams spend their money this summer as some may overpay certain players because they have money to burn.
A second tier consists of Andrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche but after that things begin to get a little murky although there are players who will contribute to most rosters.
1. Andre Iguodala (Early Termination Option), Denver Nuggets
While it was often said last season that the Denver Nuggets had no stars, Iguodala is among the NBA’s best two-way players but his all-around game doesn’t lend itself to celebrity. An appearance on last summer’s gold-medal winning Olympic team should be enough to ensure his place among the top 30 players in the NBA and he will likely be rewarded with a max contract this summer. Who knows if the offseason turmoil in Denver may force him to consider looking for greener pastures?
Potential Suitors: Denver, Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas.
2. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
Hawks general manager Danny Ferry remains mum on his team’s offseason plans. One of the few teams that can sign a pair of top-tier free agents, it remains unclear whether the Hawks are interested in getting into a bidding war for Smith. If they aren’t willing to spend money on Smith, there will be plenty of other teams that might. Smith has cut down on his long-range attempts over the past couple of seasons which has made him a better all-around player and because of his incredible athleticism he can do a lot for a player his size.
Potential Suitors: Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix.
3. Andrei Kirilenko (Player Option), Minnesota Timberwolves
An inability to stay healthy for an entire season has long plagued Kirilenko but he remains a strong multi-skilled threat when he is able to stay on the floor. It remains to be seen whether he opts out of his current deal but the odds seem likely. The Timberwolves were rocked by injuries last season and may look to head in a different direction under new management this summer.
Potential Suitors: Minnesota, Atlanta, Dallas.
4. Andray Blatche, Brooklyn Nets
As good as Blatche can be, he is still a headache to be around and after he was amnestied from his last big contract for being out of shape, it would be hard to see a team committing too much cap space to add him to their roster.
Potential Suitors: Brooklyn, L.A. Clippers, Dallas.
5. Matt Barnes, Los Angeles Clippers
While he is getting long in the tooth, Barnes is still a capable role player who can chip in on a solid team. The problem in Los Angeles was that they had several players who offered the same options and former coach Vinny Del Negro never seemed to settle on a rotation. Grant Hill is now retired and the team seems ready to move Caron Butler so maybe a return to the Clippers makes sense for Barnes.
6. Metta World Peace (Early Termination Option), Los Angeles Lakers
It seems very unlikely that World Peace will opt out of the final year of his current deal which will earn him over $7.5 million next season but he may look to sign a new long-term deal for less money. If he doesn’t opt out, there is also the possibility that the Lakers could use the amnesty clause on him as they are way over the cap. After a subpar season two years ago, he bounced back nicely during the last campaign and his willingness to do the dirty work could get him an offer.
Potential Suitors: L.A. Lakers, Brooklyn, L.A. Clippers, Dallas.
7. Mike Dunleavy, Milwaukee Bucks
You know what you are getting when you add Dunleavy to your roster. A capable scorer who will pick up a few rebounds per game but who is probably best in a secondary role. Seems like a decent value if you can pick him up cheap enough as he can play the two or the three.
Potential Suitors: Milwaukee, Minnesota, Phoenix.
8. Earl Clark, Los Angeles Lakers
He played reasonably well last season as an energy guy off the bench for the Lakers and was a capable emergency starter for a team beset by injuries. He may still develop into a solid player but at the moment, Clark is best suited to coming off the bench. Will his 36 starts for the Lakers earn him a more permanent deal somewhere or is he destined to become a journeyman?
Potential Suitors: L.A. Lakers, Sacramento.
9. Alan Anderson, Toronto Raptors
Anderson’s shooting numbers fell drastically in his second season in Toronto. Occasionally he would come off the bench and light things up but those nights were few and far between. Still he is a solid veteran who plays solid defence and could help someone as a role player. He’s a favourite of Raptors coach Dwane Casey so it would not be out of left field to see him return.
Potential Suitors: Toronto, Detroit, Sacramento.
10. Dorell Wright, Philadelphia 76ers
In limited minutes for Philadelphia last season, Wright managed to put up decent numbers (Averages: 22.6 minutes, 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds 1.9 assists). While those are nice numbers, the fact that he had an above-average Player Efficiency Rating should get the advanced stats crowd excited about picking him up on the cheap.
Potential Suitors: Philadelphia, L.A. Clippers, Oklahoma City.
Others: Al-Farouq Aminu, New Orleans Pelicans, Trevor Ariza, Washington Wizards, Ronnie Brewer, Omri Casspi (Restricted), Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chris Copeland (Restricted), New York Knicks, Francisco Garcia, Houston Rockets, Wesley Johnson, Phoenix Suns, Corey Maggette, Detroit Pistons, Tracy McGrady, San Antonio Spurs, Sam Young, Indiana Pacers.