2011 NBA Free Agent Small Forward Rankings

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tayshaun prince free agent

With the NBA Lockout coming to an end, we now know that teams can start signing free agents on December 9th.  Like the NFL experienced once their lockout ended, there will be a frenzy period for teams to fill out rosters with the season tipping off on Christmas.

With the new labor agreement, there are some changes to NBA free agency.  A player can only receive a four-year maximum deal (five-year deal if they re-sign with their current team) and beginning in the 2013-14 season, teams will start receiving a harsher luxury tax penalty if they exceed the salary cap.  Teams will now only have three days to match an offer sheet for one of their restricted free agents.  Also, some names will be added to free agency after teams decide which players will be released under the one-time amnesty clause option.

With the salary cap expected to be around $58 million, half of the teams will under that number and have room to sign free agents.  Check out the bottom of the page to see which teams have space and how much.

Here is a look at the top free agent power forwards, where they might sign, and what kind of payday they will receive.

1. Tayshaun Prince, SF, Pistons (UFA)
I think it is time for Prince to move on with his career.  Detroit is not heading in the right direction and Prince probably wants to be back on a contender.  I would imagine he would be a highly-sought after player due to his ability to mesh well and play his role.  However, Detroit can pay him more than any other team if they want to bring him back.

Predicted Contract: 3-years, $15 million
Possible Destinations: DET, SA, BOS, ORL, UTAH, LAC

2. Wilson Chandler, SF, Nuggets (RFA)
Chandler signed a contract to play in China during the lockout and may not be let out of his deal until March.  When he is allowed back in the NBA, Chandler is due for a raise from the $3.1 million that the final year of his deal is worth.  If Denver is not willing to sign him to an extension, I would expect other teams to throw an offer sheet his way.  Since Chandler was one of the key pieces in the ‘Melo deal, the Nuggets would be foolish to let him walk without getting anything in return.  However, if the price is too rich, Chandler could find a new home.

Predicted Contract: 4 years, $30 million
Possible Destinations: DEN, CLE, WAS, CHA, LAC, NJ, TOR

3. Caron Butler, Mavs (UFA)
Butler’s value really took a hit last season due to a knee injury that cost him the final 53 games of the year.  It will be interesting to see how that affects his worth.  Dallas has a few free agents on the wing and will probably try to bring Butler back and can afford to pay him more than any other team.  If not, there should still be some teams knocking on Butler’s door especially if he is willing to take the mid-level.

Predicted Contract: 3-years, $15 million
Possible Destinations: DAL, ORL, LAC, DEN, NJ

4. Shane Battier, Grizzlies (UFA)
You can never undervalue the importance of experience, leadership, and winning.  That is what Battier still brings to the table outside of his ability to defend and knock down open threes.  He filled in admirably for the injured Rudy Gay in Memphis and I would expect Memphis to try and re-sign Battier in a key reserve role.  Several other playoff teams will be seeking out Battier with their mid-level exception so I expect him to be a hot commodity.

Predicted Contract: 3-years, $17 million
Possible Destinations: MEM, BOS, ORL, UTAH, LAC, DAL

5. Grant Hill, Suns (UFA)
Hill has revived his career and despite being 38 years old, is continuing to play at a high level.  He has transformed into one of the better all-around defenders in the league and his experience and team attitude should make him attractive to all playoff contenders.  The Suns should want to bring Hill back but he could very easily move on in hopes of finally landing a ring.

Predicted Contract: 2 years, $5 million
Possible Destinations: MIA, NY, PHX, BOS

6. Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz (UFA)
Kirilenko once again struggled to stay healthy and with Gordon Hayward emerging late in the season, the Jazz could be ready to bid adieu to AK47.  He is only 30 years old though and still brings great versatility to the forward position meaning there will be other teams vying for his services.  One thing is for sure; he will make no where near the almost $18 million he made this past season.

Predicted Contract: 3 years, $15 million
Possible Destinations: UTAH, MEM, ORL, TOR, LAC

7. Shawne Williams, Knicks (UFA)
After being out of the league for a year, Williams has a resurrection of his career last season in the Big Apple.  How much of that was as a result of playing on a thin team that loved to run though?  Regardless, Williams has peaked the interest of other NBA clubs and should be sought after by teams looking for some size and athleticism on the wing.

Predicted Contract: 4 years, $16 million
Possible Destinations: NY, MIA, CHI, NJ, DET, CLE

8. Thaddeus Young, 76ers (RFA)
I am not sure Young has done enough to warrant a major raise and long-term extension from the 76ers or any other team.  However, he is only 22 years old so his room for growth is still plentiful.

Predicted Contract: Plays out rookie contract
Possible Destinations: PHI

9. James Jones, Heat (UFA)
Jones re-signed with Miami for the league minimum last off-season and will probably want a significant pay raise coming off a year in which he was one of the most efficient three-point shooters in the league.  A lot of teams could use an outside threat like Jones coming off their bench and he should come at a fairly reasonable rate.

Predicted Contract: 3-years, $12 million
Possible Destinations: MIA, PHX, LAC, LAL, TOR, CLE

10. Mike Dunleavy, Pacers (UFA)
Injuries continue to hamper Dunleavy’s effectiveness on the floor despite averaging a solid 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds per game this past season.  He is likely nothing more than a valuable role player but should see interest from several playoff caliber teams.  I would expect him to a hefty pay cut from the $10.5 million he made last season.

Predicted Contract: 2 years, $6 million
Possible Destinations: IND, BOS, TOR, LAC, PHX, LAL, DET

Other Free Agent Small Forwards:
Kelenna Azubuike (UFA), Derrick Brown (RFA), Rodney Carney (UFA), Earl Clark (UFA), Maurice Evans (UFA), Gary Forbes (RFA), Josh Howard (UFA), Dominic McGuire (UFA), Jamario Moon (UFA), Steve Novak (UFA), Vladimir Radmonovic (UFA), Peja Stojakovic (UFA), DeJuan Summers (RFA), Al Thornton (UFA), Damien Wilkins (UFA), Reggie Williams (RFA), Julian Wright (UFA)

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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