With NBA free agency starting July 1, a look at the top 10 players expected to become unrestricted free agents and their likelihood of changing teams.
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10. Paul Millsap, PF, Atlanta Hawks
No one knows how to properly assess Millsap's jack-of-all-trades skillset, which makes his value a topic for debate with casual fans. Just how good is he? Even though Millsap's game lacks the aesthetic appeal that other star big men have, he's the perfect play-making 4 in the modern NBA. He can shoot, drive and pass from the perimeter, while still possessing the ability to bang inside. The Hawks got Millsap on a bargain deal (two years, $19 million) two summers ago, but don't expect him to take any discounts this offseason.
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9. Goran Dragic, PG, Miami Heat
Dragic was the flavor of the month during the 2013-14 season, but he fell victim to the Suns' three-point-guard experiment last fall. Dragic needed a change of scenery badly and landed an ideal fit with Miami at the trade deadline. In South Beach, Dragic returned to form despite playing with another ball-dominant backcourt mate in Dwyane Wade. Although he probably won't ever replicate his numbers with the Suns, Dragic is the top point guard in free agency and will have plenty of suitors — including the Heat, who are the favorites to re-sign him — offering max money.
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8. Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn Nets
UPDATE: Lopez and the Nets are finalizing a three-year, $60 million deal, Yahoo/FOX Sports 1 insider Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Many forget that Lopez is only a couple of seasons removed from being considered arguably the best low-post scorer in the game. No center has a softer touch from 18 feet and in, especially in the low to mid post. Injuries have become the primary concern with Lopez and have to be taken into account with any potential long-term deal. He will never rebound or defend the way 7-footers are supposed to, but Lopez is still a 20-and-8 threat every night, and that can make a difference for the right team.
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7. Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat
At 33, Wade is still a top-20 player on a per-possession basis. The problem is his durability continues to diminish, making him a lock to miss 20-plus games a season for the rest of his career. He's still an elite scorer and shot creator, but he no longer possesses the freakish athleticism that compensated for his poor shooting. The Heat will try to re-sign Wade at a discount, which conflicts with Wade's reported wishes of signing a max deal (like Kobe Bryant) and makes for arguably the most interesting free-agent story line this summer.
6. Tim Duncan, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs
When he's at his best, Duncan is as good as almost anyone on this list. His throwback playoff performance against the Clippers proved he’s still a dominant force on both ends of the floor, even though he's almost 40. Of course, Duncan can’t reach his apex as often as he used to, which, combined with his need for rest and limited minutes, limits his on-court value. Though he's expected to re-sign with the Spurs at a discount, Duncan would still command a max or near-max contract on the open market.
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5. DeAndre Jordan, C, Los Angeles Clippers
Jordan emerged as the game's premier interior force last season, further developing his ability to finish off pick-and-rolls and protect the rim. The only thing holding him back from stardom is his atrocious free-throw shooting, and the way Hack-a-Jordan can halt the momentum of his team's offense. The liability is somewhat overstated, but it's still an issue — one that any team hoping to sign Jordan will have to accept. Though the Clippers are the favorites to keep him, Dallas is reportedly a big threat to steal him — Jordan is a Texas native — and in dire need of a young star.
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4. Kevin Love, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Oh, how the perception of Love has changed. Last summer, pundits were scoffing at the Warriors’ refusal to include Klay Thompson in a blockbuster deal for Love, a universally acclaimed top-10 player. Yet after a lukewarm season with the Cavs that ended in the team making the Finals as he missed most of the playoffs with a shoulder injury, Love's stock couldn’t be lower. Every team with cap space will line up for his services because he's that good, but his best option might be to rehab his image in Cleveland, even as a No. 3 option.
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3. LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland Trail Blazers
Aldridge is the star most likely to leave his current team, which makes him the proverbial prize of the 2015 offseason. Though he's shown he likely can't be the go-to guy on a contender, Aldridge seems like the perfect candidate to join another team as an elite second banana and put it over the top (similar to Pau Gasol’s role with the then-champion Lakers). All signs point to his being fed up with Portland, and San Antonio has been mentioned as a top destination.
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2. Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies
Gasol is a two-way monster and the most complete center in the league — he simply has no weaknesses. Sure, his numbers (17.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg) could be better. But they have more to do with the Grizzlies' slow pace and Gasol's selfless style of play than a lack of talent or ability. Gasol will probably stay in Memphis because he went to high school there and loves his teammates; however, if he heads elsewhere (the Spurs make sense on paper), he'll dramatically shift the landscape of the league.
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1. LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
James is the cream of the free agency crop (for the third time in six years). It’s unlikely LeBron bolts Cleveland again — imagine the PR nightmare — but he’s technically a free agent and merits the top spot on this and any other list. The best player in the world might have only one or two prime years left, so it's vital that the Cavaliers maximize the talent around James, beginning with their moves this summer. As long as James is around, though, the Cavs will be legitimate contenders, which is all you can ask for from a free agent.