Ranking the NBA’s best upcoming free agents

25. Lou Williams, Toronto Raptors (Unrestricted)

Lou Williams can be one of the best sixth men in the league for stretches, but there’s a surplus of his type, and he has injury history.

 

24. Rodney Stuckey, Indiana Pacers (Unrestricted)

Stuckey’s a quiet contender for Sixth Man of the Year candidacy with the surging Pacers, and could jump up this list soon. But what he’s doing now isn’t representative of the rest of his career.

 

23. Brandon Knight, Phoenix Suns (Restricted)

Knight’s on the third team of his young career. He was a near All-Star with Milwaukee before being traded, and he has obvious talent. But teams don’t seem to be clamoring for him.

 

22. Reggie Jackson, Detroit Pistons (Restricted)

The Pistons seem ready to lock Jackson up this summer… but why? He’s been a black hole for both Detroit and the Oklahoma City Thunder this year.

 

21. Kostas Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies (Unrestricted)

Koufos is one of the most reliable backup big men in the game, and could likely start elsewhere. Will he flee Memphis — which is loaded down low, with or without him — for more money?

 

20. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs (Unrestricted)

Bat-grabbing Manu is a Hall of Famer, but he’s at the end of his road and is worth far more to the Spurs than he is to anyone else.

 

19. Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets (Restricted)

In a point-guard-driven league, having a defender like Beverley (who can agitate any of them) is of underrated value.

 

18. Rajon Rondo, Dallas Mavericks (Unrestricted)

Rondo’s sad decline seems to be about both his sinking health and circumstances beyond his control. The NBA is a pace-and-space league with little room left for plodding, ball-dominant, half-court eccentrics like Rajon anymore.

 

17. Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs (Unrestricted)

Green is one of the best “three-and-D” guards around. But how much of his career does he owe to Gregg Popovich’s system?

 

16. Amir Johnson, Toronto Raptors (Unrestricted)

A power forward who’s elite at all the invisible big man tasks imaginable, Johnson could fetch a surprisingly high price tag in July.

 

15. Tyson Chandler, Dallas Mavericks (Unrestricted)

Tyson’s still one of the best defensive centers around. But how much does he have left?

 

14. Omer Asik, New Orleans Pelicans (Unrestricted)

Omer got what he wanted with a starting gig in New Orleans. Will he stick around to keep building chemistry with Anthony Davis?

 

13. Wesley Matthews, Portland Trail Blazers (Unrestricted)

The outstanding Matthews would be much higher on this list, if not for his recent tragic injury, and he could sink down it depending on how well he recovers.

 

12. Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors (Restricted)

Green is a polarizing, swaggering utility man who could fit anywhere. But Golden State is likely to match any offer he receives.

 

11. DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks (Unrestricted)

Aside from Kawhi Leonard, there may be no one better at guarding LeBron James than Carroll, whom the Hawks will probably retain.

10. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers (Unrestricted)

Jordan’s dominant second half has him climbing up this rankology very rapidly. He’s making All-Stars look bad these days.

 

9. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks (Restricted)

Middleton is young, versatile, efficient, and has an invisible personality. Any rebuilding team should be after him, but Milwaukee will probably lock him down and not let them get too close.

 

8. Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks (Unrestricted)

The Hawks’ success has a lot to do with having two great modern big men. Both Al Horford and Millsap can play like wings or post you up all night long. Like Carroll, Millsap is unlikely to leave Georgia.

 

7. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls (Restricted)

The Bulls’ breakout star has one concerning section on his resume — Tom Thibodeau’s crazy minute totals. Aside from that, he’s one of the best shooting guards around, and Chicago should recognize that with a healthy offer.

 

6. Goran Dragic, Miami Heat (Unrestricted)

Dragic is happy to be in Miami, but still plans to test the waters this summer. He’ll get more than one maximum offer sheet.

 

5. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs (Restricted)

Leonard is part of the Spurs’ quiet, dominant compound, through and through. Or is he? The young torch-carrier of the San Antonio dynasty will reveal his fate soon enough.

 

4. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers (Unrestricted)

The Blazers have done a lot to keep Aldridge happy, and he seems content to keep fighting for titles alongside Damian Lillard. But don’t be surprised if he has a flattering dinner or two, with other teams interested in his amazing game.

 

3. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs (Unrestricted)

Duncan is high on this list as a mere honorary formality. He’ll be a free agent this summer, sure, but he’s either retiring or re-signing with the Spurs.

 

2. Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers (Unrestricted)

Kevin Love can’t like being a third wheel in Ohio. He’s good enough to have offenses built around him, and he may go somewhere else this offseason, to experience just that.

 

1. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies (Unrestricted)

Perhaps the best center in the game, Gasol is good enough to be the No. 1 piece for a championship squad. He loves Memphis and probably won’t leave, but the league will surely try to reverse that inevitability.

 

Notes:

Restricted Free Agency means the player’s team can match any salary pitched to him by another team, and retain him.

Unrestricted Free Agency means the player can go wherever he chooses.

 

There is only one free agent player on this list who has a player option for next season — Kevin Love — because players rarely turn down their options.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

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