NBA free agency: Ranking the top 15 available players
It’s a bad time to be an NBA free agent if your initials aren’t LBJ (LeBron James) or PG (Paul George), because just six clubs have cap space. The Post breaks down the top 15 free agents, discounting Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, locks to stay put with Golden State and Houston, respectively:
LeBron James, SF
He has a place in Los Angeles, so his family clearly loves the West Coast, which is vital. If he can’t get Kahwi Leonard or Paul George to go with him, some sources believe Cleveland is the strongest option after drafting point guard Collin Sexton and with new belief in general manager Koby Altman. Another one-year deal and he could be free for David Fizdale and the Knicks in 2019.
Paul George, SF
He can go for the most money and stay in Oklahoma City, where the chemistry wasn’t right, or he can have all the pressure of a Lakers union with James. It sounds like he wants to make it work with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony — a losing decision.
DeAndre Jordan, C
The old-school center who averaged 15.4 rebounds last season and reportedly opted out Friday night could finally come back to Dallas after his original deal was scuttled — if the rebuilding Clippers can manage a sign-and-trade. Still an impact giant even if he can’t hit a jumper or free throw.
DeMarcus Cousins, C
The enigma is a super-talented menace on offense, but New Orleans got better after he hurt his Achilles, allowing Anthony Davis more room. Dallas wants a big man and he could go here if Jordan doesn’t come.
Clint Capela, C
He’s the prototype of the new big-man defender with his crazy length and quickness in switching on pick-and-rolls. In fact, despite his limited offensive game, there’s talk of Capela getting a max offer, which would make the Rockets pass.
Aaron Gordon, SF
Meet Knicks GM Scott Perry’s finest draft pick in Orlando. Gordon, the best actor in “Uncle Drew’’ as the prima donna Rucker League jerk, reportedly is ready to accept a max offer from the Pacers that the Magic may not match.
Marcus Smart, SG
The thinness of this free-agent class is exemplified by Smart’s wishes for a $12 million-to-$15 million-per-year deal despite his inability to make a 3-pointer. He’s a career 36 percent shooter from the field, but a gritty, defensive-minded role player on a title contender such as the Celtics.
J.J. Redick, SG
If the 76ers aren’t getting James, they must re-sign the 3-point machine who lives in DUMBO, even if they overpay. Redick’s presence helped the Sixers go from laughingstock to playoffs.
Julius Randle, SF/PF
After Randle destroyed the Staples Center rims against the Knicks, brass decided they needed to add more athleticism. Randle will be back in La La Land if James doesn’t come, but Lakers can match any offer.
Derrick Favors, PF
Old-school power forward is expected to re-sign with Jazz for a sizeable deal. It’s not as if top free agents are clamoring to live in Utah.
Isaiah Thomas, PG
From the bottom to the top back to the bottom for hip-plagued, pint-sized guard who may not have more than the $8.6 million midlevel exception awaiting. The Suns do have cap space and he thrived there once.
Jabari Parker, SF
Two ACL tears have made the Bucks leery, though they can match any offer. Parker’s healthy, smooth return in midseason after a 12-month absence — he added a 3-point shot — should give Knicks fans hope for Kristaps Porzingis. He’d be a great fit for Knicks if they had room like interested parties Sacramento and Phoenix.
Jusuf Nurkic, C
The European big had a great season in Portland two years ago, but calmed down this past year, leaving it in doubt if the Blazers re-sign him. He’d look good with Knicks, too, if he was willing to take a one-year flier.
Trevor Ariza, SF
Isiah Thomas’ best draft pick (43rd in 2004), Ariza is the athletic glue in Houston and his rise as a decent 3-pointer shooter gives Enes Kanter hope.
Tyreke Evans, PG/SG
He’s a true-blue scorer, with backcourt size and a new 3-point stroke. Somehow he’s never been on a lot of winners — four playoff games total in nine seasons.
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