Ryan Knaus

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Free Agent Frenzy: SFs and PFs

Monday, June 30, 2014

Free Agent Frenzy: Part 2 examines SFs and PFs entering unrestricted free agency on Tuesday. Click here for Part 1, which dealt with PGs and SGs. Don't read too much into the descending order of players, which moves roughly from most to least important. Where possible I've noted which teams are rumored to have interest in which players, while filling in contextual details and occasionally providing a season outlook.


If I don't mention teams who are interested in a player, it's because I either don't know or won't give credence to specific rumors. This list is still changing as players and teams make last-minute decisions prior to July 1 -- I'll update it as appropriate, but it will never be 100 percent comprehensive.


One final thought...almost every single free agent, restricted or unrestricted, says that they'd like to return to the team they're leaving. Such boiler-plate comments burnish a player's image, even while raising the perceived bar for other teams hoping to acquire them, and there is no downside. Although I make note of (too many) players saying such things, I'd warn against taking them very seriously.


You can follow me on Twitter @Knaus_RW


Unrestricted Small Forwards


LeBron James - The prevailing notion is that LeBron will re-sign with the Heat, and that script won't change unless the Big 3 begin scheduling meetings with other franchises. Every team in the league covets LBJ, including the Clippers, Suns, Mavericks, Bulls, Lakers and Rockets, and you can find constant updates on his free agency at his Rotoworld player page. His reasonable desire for a max contract isn't expected to prohibit the Heat from keeping their Big 3 while still building a deep enough core to regain their championship footing. UPDATE: LeBron signed a two-year deal with the Cavaliers worth approximately $42.2 million. The second year is a player option.


Carmelo Anthony - Melo may well return with the Knicks next season, but he's already scheduled meetings with the Bulls (Tuesday) and the Rockets and Mavericks (Wednesday). The Lakers may also get into the mix at some point, and Melo said that he hopes to make a decision by the second week of July. UPDATE: Melo signed a five-year deal with the Knicks worth around $123 million. 

Luol Deng - Deng's season ended on a down note in Cleveland, as he was limited by an Achilles injury and Kyrie Irving's ball-dominant style. He is healthy and will play with Great Britain this summer, and is expected to command between $10-12 million annually as a free agent. The Hawks are eager to sign him and the Mavericks have expressed interest, while the Cavs appear lukewarm on a reunion -- the feeling is surely mutual. UPDATE: Deng agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the Heat.


Trevor Ariza - Ariza fills a sweet spot as a free agent. He won't command a sky-high salary, he's healthy and in his prime at age 28, and he's a versatile defender who also made 2.3 triples while shooting 40.7 percent beyond the arc in 2013-14. He racked up third-round fantasy value last year and is poised to do so again this season as a default starting SF -- plenty of teams are already expressing interest, including the Wizards (who are on his 'short list'), Lakers, Mavericks, Rockets, Clippers, Cavaliers, Raptors and Suns. He's unlikely to sign a deal until LeBron and Carmelo are under contract. UPDATE: Ariza signed with the Rockets on a four-year deal worth $32 million.

Paul Pierce - Pierce will take a big pay cut from the $15.3 million he earned last season, and he said after the Nets' playoff defeat that he hopes to play for one or two more years "at most." He stayed healthy last season and can still be a deadly option in the right situation, but he'll be 37 years old in October and no matter where he signs fantasy owners shouldn't consider drafting him until after the middle rounds. UPDATE: Pierce signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Wizards.


Shawn Marion - The Matrix intends to retire after two more seasons in the NBA, and he said that his goal in free agency is to sign wherever he feels he'll have "the best chance to win another championship." His defense was an integral part of the Mavs' success last year, and he snuck into the top-75 for nine-cat fantasy value, but his pursuit of a championship-caliber team may result in a diminished role for the 14-year veteran. The Bulls have been mentioned as a possible destination, and the Heat might also be a good fit if they keep their core intact and Marion is willing to sign for a minimal annual salary.


Ryan Kelly - The Lakers' second-round pick thrived as a rookie, taking advantage of an injury-riddled roster to average 22 minutes per game with 25 starts at small forward to his credit. As I wrote in a blurb early on Monday morning, "Kelly ... averaged 8.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.1 blocks in 25 minutes per game after the All-Star break as a rookie. He also made 0.9 threes per game, but it's his defensive stats which are truly eye-catching from a fantasy perspective." The Lakers' finances are wide open this summer and they're in a perfect position to retain him, so his value depends upon which coach they hire and how their roster shapes up. UPDATE: Kelly and the Lakers are finalizing a two-year deal.


Al-Farouq Aminu - The Pelicans tried and tried again to mold Aminu into a starting-caliber SF, but it didn't work out for coach Monty Williams. ''His focus and mentality has to be focused on [rebounding and defense] as opposed to scoring and things ... that look sexy," Williams said during the season. Athleticism and a penchant for rebounding will only carry Aminu so far in the NBA, and he's unlikely to recover substantial fantasy value next year. UPDATE: The Mavericks have expressed interest in Aminu.


Marvin Williams - The Jazz are reportedly eager to re-sign Marvin, presumably as much for his off-court mentorship as his on-court production, but he's also drawing "significant interest" from championship contenders. The Heat, for example, may look to sign him with one of their salary-cap exceptions. UPDATE: Williams agreed to a two-year, $14 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets.


Caron Butler - After falling to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, Butler is assuredly looking to sign with whichever team will give him the best odds of winning a championship. The Heat reportedly approached him after he'd already committed to the Thunder last summer, so if Miami keeps their Big 3 it wouldn't be surprising for Butler to sign on at the veteran's minimum. UPDATE: Butler agreed to a two-year, $9 million deal with the Pistons.


Kent Bazemore - The Lakers didn't give Bazemore a qualifying offer to make him a restricted FA, but he may re-sign anyway. He also expects the Suns to chase him, according to Yahoo! Sports. If he manages to earn a starting role (e.g. if the Suns sign him but lose P.J. Tucker), Bazemore should be a solid fantasy contributor -- on a per-36-minute basis last season, he notched 15.9 points, 1.7 threes, 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. UPDATE: Bazemore signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Hawks.


Danny Granger - Granger declined his $1.3 million player option to seek a bigger payday and/or a longer contract. He's unlikely to return with L.A. and at this point he's nothing more than a risky 3-point specialist (he barely cracked the top-250 for eight-cat value last year, on a per-game basis). UPDATE: Granger agreed to a two-year, $4.2 million deal with the Heat, giving them a veteran sharp-shooter to bring off the bench.


Richard Jefferson - RJ earned a whopping $11.1 million last season but his deal finally comes off the books on July 1. He's done an admirable job expanding his shooting range, prolonging his career by shooting at least 40 percent from deep in three of the past four seasons, but that's the extent of his negligible fantasy appeal. UPDATE: Jefferson and the Mavericks agreed to a one-year deal at the veteran's minimum.


Michael Beasley - Beasley failed to ingratiate himself with the Heat last season, irking LeBron James and others with his perpetually poor work ethic, but his sheer talent and impressive physical skills should earn him a short-term contract somewhere.


James Jones - Jones has quietly spent *the past six seasons with the Heat after being drafted in the second round in 2003 by Indiana, but even lobbying from LeBron James failed to earn him a bigger role under coach Erik Spoelstra. The 33-year-old will fill a niche role as a 3-point shooter wherever he signs. UPDATE: Jones agreed to a one-year deal with the Cavaliers.


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Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.
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