Like the NFL is currently experiencing, the NBA free agency period is up in the air with a league lockout looming. When teams are able to sign free agents, there are several veteran small forwards like Tayshaun Prince, Shane Battier, and Grant Hill who will hit the open market and can bring their experience to help a team try and make a run at the NBA title. Here are my 2011 free agent small forward rankings.
By: David Kay
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, $17 million
Possible Destinations: DET, BOS, ORL, UTAH, LAC
2. Wilson Chandler, Nuggets (RFA)
Entering the final year of his deal, Chandler is due for a raise from the $3.1 million that his qualifying offer 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: 5-years, $35 million
Possible Destinations: DEN, CLE, WAS, CHA, LAC
3. Caron Butler, Mavs (UFA)
Butler’s value really took a hit this 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 this summer. Dallas has a few free agents on the wing and will probably try to bring Butler and can afford to pay him more than any other tem. 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, CLE, ORL, LAC, NO
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 this off-season.
Predicted Contract: 3-years, $17 million
Possible Destinations: MEM SA, BOS, ORL, UTAH, LAC
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, DAL
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: 4-years, $16 million
Possible Destinations: UTAH, SA, WAS, MEM, ORL, TOR
7. C.J. Miles, Jazz (TO)
With a very reasonable $3.7 million team option for the 2011-2012 season, expect Miles to be back with the Jazz next season especially since Utah is thin on the wing and Kirilenko could have played his final game in Utah.
Predicted Contract: Jazz pick up team option
Possible Destinations: UTAH
UPDATE: Jazz pick up team option on Miles.
8. Thaddeus Young, 76ers (RFA)
I am not sure Young has done enough to warrant a major raise and long-term extension, but 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 (PO)
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: 4-years, $20 million
Possible Destinations: MIA, PHX, LAC, SA, LAL, TOR, CLE, CHA, WAS
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: 3-years, $12 million
Possible Destinations: IND, BOS, TOR, CLE, CHA, WAS, LAC, PHX
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), Luc Mbah a Moute (RFA), Dominic McGuire (UFA), Jamario Moon (UFA), Steve Novak (UFA), Vladimir Radmonovic (UFA), Peja Stojakovic (UFA), DeJuan Summers (UFA), Al Thornton (UFA), Damien Wilkins (UFA), Reggie Williams (RFA), Shawne Williams (UFA), Julian Wright (UFA)
CHECK OUT MY 2011 NBA FREE AGENT POINT GUARD RANKINGS.
CHECK OUT MY 2011 NBA FREE AGENT SHOOTING GUARD RANKINGS.
CHECK OUT MY 2011 NBA FREE AGENT POWER FORWARDS RANKINGS.
CHECK OUT MY 2011 NBA FREE AGENT CENTER RANKINGS
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.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.