BOSTON – The NBA playoffs have a way of bringing out the best in some players. This comes in handy when those players are just a few months from becoming free agents.

We’ll take a look at five players whose play in the postseason will likely put a few more dollars in their pocket this summer.


Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

Contract status this summer: Restricted free agent

Postseason numbers: 17.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists per game.

Summary: The season-ending injury to Jabari Parker paved the way for Middleton to get more minutes. And to his credit, Middleton has made the most of his increased role. Middleton has great size (6-foot-7) for a shooting guard, a nice touch from 3-point range as well as a solid mid-range jumper. He will most likely re-sign with the Bucks this summer.


Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers

Contract status this summer: Restricted free agent

Postseason numbers: 7.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 0.7 blocks per game; 64.3 percent from the field.

Summary: Cleveland’s Big Three, at least in their first round series with the Boston Celtics, was LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson – not Love. His numbers don’t even begin to show how big an impact he made on the Cavs’ first-round series. Whenever Cleveland needed a big rebound, Thompson was the guy getting it. Through the first three games, it was Thompson who logged more minutes than Love. And with Love ruled out for Cleveland’s second-round series with a left shoulder injury, opportunities for Thompson will only increase.



Jae Crowder, Boston Celtics

Contract status this summer: Restricted free agent

Postseason numbers: 10.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 51.7 percent from the field.

Summary: Crowder was arguably Boston’s most consistent player as they came up on the short end of a four-game sweep at the hands of Cleveland. In addition to his offense, Crowder also showcased the versatility that he brings defensively. This was apparent in how he did a lot of good things against the toughest cover in the East, LeBron James. Both Crowder and the Celtics received good news when his left knee injury in Game 4 was determined to be a left ACL sprain which will heal in plenty of time for him to fully participate in training camp.


Josh Smith, Houston Rockets

Contract status this summer: Unrestricted Free agent

Postseason numbers: 16.8 points, 4.3 assists, 1.0 blocks per game.

Summary: Few players have revived their career in the postseason more than Smith. He was a solid performer for the Rockets during the regular season after the Detroit Pistons waived him. And Smith has been even better in the playoffs, a major reason why the Rockets have the potential to go deeper into the postseason than most anticipated. He’s well past the days of near-max contracts, but the way he has played in the postseason should warrant a deal in the mid-level exception neighborhood.


Austin Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers

Contract status this summer: Unrestricted Free agent

Postseason numbers: 8.3 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists per game; 53.8 percent from the field.

Summary: The Los Angeles Clippers have home court advantage back in their best-of-seven series with San Antonio, and Rivers’ play is a big reason. In Game 4 he had 16 points in the Clippers win to tie the series at two games apiece. Rivers has improved his scoring from one playoff game to the next, doing a much better job of finding his spots offensively while holding his own as a defender. The Clippers will surely look to re-sign him, and it won’t be because his dad Doc Rivers is the coach/GM. He is leaving little doubt that his role on the team is about his play, and not his pops.