The 2014 NBA off-season is fully underway now that the draft has come and gone. Like every off-season, free agency has the attention of coaches, executives, and fans all around the league. This off-season is headlined by many major possible free agents. Some of which have already made their decision to stay put, like Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay. Then there are the stars like Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony who have decided to opt out of their contracts already and test the waters of free agency. With other stars like Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Lance Stephenson and Eric Bledsole still deciding whether or not to stick around, teams all around the league are clearing cap space as quickly as possible and getting ready to pursue the big names on the market.
Most teams and fans want to land that big name player and shell out $15million or more a season for him. The only problem with that is you risk gutting your bench just to create the money to sign him. There are plenty of free agents out there that can help make any team a contender right away for half the price. With that being said, let’s take a look at this year’s best free agents that are flying under the radar.
- Kyle Lowry PG 6’0” 205 lbs
2013-14 Stats: 17.9 PPG 7.4 APG 4.7 RPG 1.5 SPG PER: 20.20
Last season the Toronto Raptors were the NBA’s biggest surprise. They went from a bottom feeder in the East to the number three seed for the East in the playoffs. All this occurring with a mid-season trade of one of their better players, Rudy Gay. Much of the credit for the team’s success can be given to Kyle Lowry. He doesn’t have the recognition of some of the league’s other star point guards, but don’t let that fool you. He is one of the toughest around. He brings a leadership quality to a team as well as the ability to score and dish the ball to his teammates. He is also a strong defender and has great rebounding ability for a player his height. He has openly said that he would like to “play for a championship” which you can assume means he is looking to leave Toronto. Reports say that the Lakers are going to make a push to sign Lowry among other free agents. A team with the cap space of the Lakers could give Lowry that championship caliber team he wants since the Lakers plan on making many big moves this off-season.
- Greg Monroe PF 6’11” 255 lbs
2013-14 Stats: 15.2 PPG 9.3 RPG 2.1 APG 0.6 BPG PER: 18.16
As far as big men on the market go, Greg Monroe is one that isn’t exactly a household name. He had a solid year in Detroit last season, and at only 24 years old he has many good years ahead. He doesn’t have an exciting game, but he’s consistently one of the best power forwards in the league. Any team looking for a reliable low post scorer and rebounder should consider him. It was rumored that the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in signing him. However, after drafting Julius Randle with the 7th overall pick it can be assumed that Randle is the Lakers big man of the future. The Pistons also expressed interest in re-signing Monroe, but with Andre Drummond being the big man of their future and the massive (and awful) contract of Josh Smith taking up much of their money it doesn’t look like the Pistons can afford to keep him around. Look for them to work out a trade involving Monroe before letting him walk away.
- Chandler Parsons SF 6’9” 227 lbs
2013-14 Stats: 16.6 PPG 4.0 APG 5.5 RPG 1.2 SPG PER: 15.90
The Houston Rockets have a tough choice to make this offseason. It is well known that they are in the process of clearing cap space in order to sign a big name free agent like Carmelo Anthony or Lebron James. This was made evident when they shipped center Omer Ask to New Orleans for next to nothing. If they want to clear enough space to get a big name this off-season they must do two more things: trade Jeremy Lin and his crazy contract and let go of Chandler Parsons. Parsons would improve any team immediately. He is a dangerous outside shooter with nice size for the small forward position. He brings a great all-around game to his team. He is also a solid perimeter defender and would make any team’s defense stronger. Reports say that the Rockets will allow Parsons to become a restricted free agent. Houston will still have the chance to match any other teams offer, but if they are trying to free up money this seems unlikely. Teams like Dallas and Minnesota have showed interest in signing Parsons and would outbid Houston. There have also been rumors of Houston packaging Parsons with Jeremy Lin to try and make a trade more appealing to teams.
- Gordon Hayward SG/SF 6’8” 220 lbs
2013-2014 Stats: 16.2 PPG 5.2 APG 5.1 RPG 1.4 SPG PER: 16.22
The Utah Jazz are currently in the process of rebuilding. They have seen great production from Gordon Hayward and the two are currently in the middle of negotiating an extension. However, the Jazz drafted small forward Rodney Hood with the 23rd pick. Many looked at this as a possible replacement for Hayward, possibly signaling that Utah is prepared to let him go. Much like Chandler Parsons, Hayward brings size and shooting to a team’s perimeter. He is good passer and rebounder as well as a solid defender. He will help make a team better right away. Many think that if Utah can’t lock him up, Hayward will be on his way to Boston. This move does make the most sense considering Boston’s coach, Brad Stevens, was Hayward’s coach at Butler. The two saw great success together at the college level, reaching the NCAA championship game for two straight seasons. Boston could sure use a player like Gordon Hayward on the roster. It would make them better along with giving Brad Stevens a familiar face on the roster.
- Isaiah Thomas PG 5’9” 185 lbs
2013-14 Stats: 20.3 PPG 6.3 APG 2.9 RPG 1.3 SPG PER: 20.54
When it comes to hardworking point guards there is no one better in the NBA than Isaiah Thomas. The guy was the last pick in his draft class and hasn’t let that stop him. What’s even more impressive is that he is only 5’9” and is still a very good player for the Sacramento Kings. Thomas was just happy to be part of the league three years ago. Now he is getting ready to sign his second contract and make millions. Executives have said that due to his lack of size and defensive abilities, he should look to only make around $5 million. That is a steal considering how effective Thomas was last season. The Kings have extended an offer sheet to Thomas in hopes of keeping the young point guard. It has also been rumored that the Orlando Magic are interested in signing him. Whichever team signs Thomas is guaranteed one of the hardest workers in the league. – Ben Bundy ¤