Top five NBA free agents on the move
Top five NBA free agents on the move
BOSTON -- Free agency officially begins in less than 48 hours, with most of the top names expected to re-up with their current team.
However there are a few highly regarded players available this summer who in all likelihood will be playing in a different zip code beginning this fall.
That’s a good thing for the Boston Celtics who are expected to be among the more active teams on the free agent market.
They have the means to pay top dollar for just about any free agent out there.
Boston presents an opportunity for a young up-and-comer to play in a major market as well as be part of a franchise that’s on the rise.
But just like the competition in games can be difficult, the same rule applies to free agency where the challenges of securing a player are just as trying.
This is especially true for the Boston Celtics, a franchise that has enjoyed tremendous success through the years but consistently fails at landing the top free agents.
Boston has a chance to change that trend this summer.
But to do so, they need convince some players – good players – that Boston is where they need to be.
Here’s a look at the top five free agents-to-be that should be looking to pack up and move on elsewhere next season.
5. Omer Asik, C, New Orleans
2014-2015 stats: 7.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, shot 51.4 percent from the field.
Summary: Asik is among the NBA’s better rim protectors despite having a somewhat limited role throughout most of his career. In Chicago is where he really made a name for himself as an interior defender while playing with Joakim Noah. While playing for Houston and New Orleans afterwards, Asik was still a solid defender but didn’t seem to have as big an impact on the game as we saw – or thought we saw – in Chicago.
Asik will likely change teams because . . . he has proven himself to be a strong contributor in the NBA, averaging a double-double in 2013 with the Rockets in what turned out to be his only season as a full-time starter. Having played behind Dwight Howard in Houston and to some degree behind Anthony Davis in New Orleans, Asik would love to find a situation that would afford him more playing time.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge, F, Portland
2014-2015 stats: 23.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, shot career-high 35.2 percent on 3s.
Summary: Aldridge is Portland’s all-time leader in rebounds and ranks second in scoring, but the Blazers have been a middle-of-the-road franchise having gotten past the first round of the playoffs just once since he was drafted. A nine-year veteran, he has played 35 minutes or more in all but his rookie season. And while his ability to score from the perimeter has often led to him being labeled a finesse player, Aldridge showed some tremendous toughness last season. In January he tore the radial collateral ligament in his left thumb that was supposed to keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks. Instead, he wound up missing two games and opted to not have surgery to repair it at the time. He went on to become a starter for the Western Conference All-Star team, and was named to the all-NBA second team.
Aldridge is likely to leave because . . . Portland has failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs in every season Aldridge has been there. He’s statistically one of the greatest players to ever don a Blazers jersey, but he hasn’t been able to lead this team to anything more than just a playoff appearance. He’s eager to play with a team that’ll provide him a better shot at a deep playoff run.
3. Tobias Harris, SF, Orlando
2014-2015 stats: 17.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, shot career-high 36.4 percent on 3s
Summary: Harris is one of the best scoring wing players on the free agent market. Although he’s viewed as a shooter, Harris has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and create shots for himself. He would be a nice fit for a team that’s looking for a lead scorer. But the downside to his game is defense. He has shown noticeable improvement since he came into the league, but he still has plenty of room to get better.
Harris is likely to leave because . . . Orlando’s interest in him is fleeting, at best. One of the reasons they drafted Mario Hezonja in last week’s NBA draft was due in part because they did not expect Harris to return. Because of age, talent and upside, he will land what will likely be a near-max deal which is more than the Magic are willing to pay.
2. Greg Monroe, C/PF, Detroit
2014-2015 stats: 15.9 points, career-high 10.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists per game.
Summary: Monroe is one of the more versatile big men in the NBA. He has the ability to put a lot of stress on a team’s defense due to his ability to score in the post as well as effectively pass out of it for assists. Throw in the fact that he has averaged at least nine-plus rebounds per game every year since his rookie season and you can see why he believes he should be paid a max or near-max salary. The problem for Monroe is that while his numbers are great, there are questions as to whether those numbers make a significant enough impact on winning games to justify a near-max or max salary. Regardless, Monroe will be one of the higher-paid players from this free agent class.
Monroe is likely to leave because . . . things became really uncomfortable for all involved near the end. There were very few nights when a Monroe-Andre Drummond tandem worked well. And it was clear early on that of the two, they would let Monroe go first. Head coach/GM Stan Van Gundy has already said publicly that it did not look good for Monroe to be back in the fold. That, along with Detroit trading for Milwaukee power forward Ersan Ilyasova, pretty much killed any legit chance that Monroe would return.
1. Rajon Rondo, PG, Dallas
2014-2015 stats: 8.3 points, 10.8 assists, 7.5 rebounds (22 games with Boston); 9.3 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds (46 games with Dallas).
Summary: It’s hard to imagine any free agent-to-be whose stock plummeted as hard as Rondo’s did this past season. He struggled during his 22 games with Boston, and didn’t look any better when he was traded to Dallas which seemed like an ideal landing spot. It got ugly real quick and ultimately ended with the Mavericks sending him away during the postseason.
Rondo is likely to leave because . . . the Mavericks don’t want him back and from Rondo’s side of things, he wouldn’t want to return. This is a basketball marriage that didn’t work. If there was such a thing as a basketball annulment, both sides would finally have something they could unite on and support. Rondo did not have a good season by anyone’s estimation, but there’s still enough talent and curiosity about him that will make some team pay big bucks for him to play for them. However, the number of playoff-ready suitors will be limited to non-existent.