NBA Free Agency: Top 10 Free Agents Available July 1, Predictions, Analysis, Preview For Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, More

 @GP_IBTimes
on June 30 2013 4:12 PM
Chris Paul Clippers
Chris Paul has averaged at least nine assists per game in each of the past six years. Reuters

At 12:01 a.m. it will be July 1, and the free-for-all of NBA free agency will begin.

The biggest players figure to be the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, and Dallas Mavericks. All have cap space and a desire to return to the forefront of their respective conferences.

The biggest names continue to be Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Josh Smith, but several key players could fly under the radar and be just as important to teams hoping to make the playoffs.

There is lots of front court talent on the market, and size has typically been favored in free agency in years past. 

Checkout our list below of the ten best available free agents. Teams cannot officially sign a player until July 10.

1. Chris Paul, PG

L.A. Clippers fans may be able to breath a sigh of relief, as ESPN LA reported Sunday that Paul will re-sign and stay in L.A. The report stated Paul’s reps told other teams to not even bother.

They technically still can since Paul can’t sign any new deal until July 10, but with word coming out now just before teams are allowed to contact him legally.

Prediction: If the report is to be believed he’s staying L.A.

2. Dwight Howard, C

The 27-year-old center has proven to be wishy-washy in his choices plenty of times before. He told Orlando he wanted to be traded and then later opted-in for the final year of his contract. Then he reportedly asked for another trade.

Several reports have indicated Houston his is top choice, with Dallas, Atlanta, and the L.A. Lakers in the running. Houston has the first crack, and L.A. has requested they go last, as reported by ESPN. Even with his indecisive nature, Howard is still the best young center in the league and any team would welcome him.

Prediction: It’ll come down to L.A. and Houston. The Lakers can offer the most money, but Houston has better young talent in James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons. Look for Houston to swipe him away.

3. Josh Smith, F

Defensively, Smith can take on both guard positions and either forward. He still has the athleticism and moves around the basket that make him one of the most versatile forwards in the game.

Atlanta has tried to move him several times over the last few years, and reportedly don’t see him as a max-level player. He wants out as well.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported five or six teams are interested, including Detroit. Houston and Dallas are also possible teams according to CBS Sports.

Prediction: Houston could work if they can’t land Howard. Detroit won’t be ready to contend for another few years. Dallas could be an interesting spot. Look for the Mavericks to nab Smith.

4. Andre Iguodala, G/F

Like Smith, Iguodala can defend multiple positions and can finish a fast break better than most top wing players.

His scoring and assist numbers have dipped slightly over the past three seasons, but Iguodala has also had to defer to younger players in Philadelphia and Denver. He can’t be a team’s first scoring option, but he could be a solid second or third.

Prediction: New Orleans wants to team Iguodala up with former Sixer teammate Jrue Holiday, according to Yahoo!Sports. Detroit is also an option, but Denver is probably out due to all their front office and coaching changes.

5. David West, PF

West wasn’t getting the long term offers he wanted two years ago, but he took a chance and signed with Indiana for two years and $20 million.

His solid run in the playoffs could land him some extra money, and maybe a third-year player option, but teams may be hesitant considering his 10 years in the league.

Prediction: He was integral in the Pacers near upset of Miami in the Eastern Conference finals, and they should come to some resolution both sides can be happy with.

6. Brandon Jennings, PG

The second best point guard available may also stay with this current team. He’s in a different boat than Paul, since Jennings is a restricted free agent. Milwaukee, as reported by the Journal-Sentinel, are intent on keeping Jennings.

After four years in the league Jennings has never shot better than 41 percent from the floor during the regular season. He’s limited offensively, but can penetrate and dish as well as the other top flight floor leaders in the league.

Prediction: Some team will make Jennings a huge deal, and Milwaukee will be forced to match. 

7. Al Jefferson, C

For what he lacks in defensive skills, Jefferson makes up for it on the offensive end. In nine seasons he has career averages of 16.4 points and nine rebounds a game.

He’s far from his double-double days in Minnesota and Boston, but Jefferson could still help a veteran club contending for a title right now.

Prediction: Jefferson could be a fall back for all the teams chasing Howard. Dallas and Atlanta make the most sense, but with both trying to keep their books clean for 2014 they won’t offer him lucrative, long-term deal.

8. Tyreke Evans, G/F

If any player could use a change of scenery its Evans. Since winning the 2010 Rookie of the Year his numbers have steadily declined. He’s been switched at both guard positions and to small forward throughout his career, and some consistency might do Evans some good.

Sacramento made him a qualifying offer, seemingly to test out his market value, according to CBS Sports. The Kings can still match any offer, but may have their limits considering his decline.

Prediction: Depending on what Smith or Iguodala go for, some team might offer him a huge deal. But Evans might just sign the qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next year.

9. Paul Millsap, F

It’s strange not many teams have been tied to Millsap, who is essentially just as offensively gifted as West and Jefferson, minus the previous knee and injury problems.

He’ll want a long term deal, and his agents will be quick to point out that Utah’s youth movement cut into his minutes. Otherwise he would have been just as productive as his breakout season of 2010-11.

Utah last matched his offer sheet in 2010, but probably won’t equal another deal from a team that can give him more playing time.

Prediction: Atlanta could be a nice fit. Especially with Al Horford as a running mate.

  1. 10. Nikola Pekovic, C
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Pekovic should get some huge offers considering his 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds a game this year. Minnesota will do their best to keep him in tandem with forward Kevin Love.

Prediction: The T-Wolves extended Pekovic a qualifying offer, and should match any other offer he receives.

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