Rockets News

NBA Free Agency: Top 5 Free Agent Small Forwards

By Tamberlyn Richardson
May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts during the second quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts during the second quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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The minute midnight struck on July 1st, NBA Free Agency 2016 was officially underway. The most coveted player began his recruitment meetings with all 30 teams anxiously awaiting his decision.

Given 21 teams can offer max contracts this year there will be obvious players besides Kevin Durant who’ll attract major attention from copious teams.  In an effort to help fans track who to keep an eye on SCS outlines the top 5 coveted players at each position for your perusal.

Next up the small forwards:

Obviously LeBron James would rank among the top two on the list, however given his proclamation he’ll return to Cleveland to defend their championship he’s been left off the list.

That said the prize of free agency remains the top ranked small forward:

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant  has 6 teams recruiting for his services including his home team the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’ll also visit the Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Celtics and Heat.

It's go time. #NBAFreeAgency pic.twitter.com/FtFTrPexvh

— FanSided (@FanSided) July 1, 2016

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 28.2

Rebounds: 8.2

Assists: 5.0

Steals: 1.0

3 Point Shooting: 38.7%

Field Goal Percent: 50.5%

The Rockets had hoped to land a meeting especially since James Harden is so close with Durant. Unfortunately their team didn’t make the short list, but they might not want to be too concerned.

Of the teams seeing Durant all except the Celtics and the Thunder would have to significantly alter their existing rosters just to clear enough cap space to sign him. That alone may offer the deterrent necessary for Durant to decline.

Although the Celtics might be a viable option, it’s uncertain if Durant would be willing to start all over. In essence he’d need to lure other players to make Boston relevant. Al Horford remains on the market and seems to be waiting for KD’s final decision as the Thunder are actively recruiting the big man to make OKC arguably a BIG 5; something the Association has never witnessed.

Though most pundits expect Durant to sign a 2-year deal with an opt out next summer there are a few who think Durant would rather wrap up his next 5 years this season. The problem with him doing that in Oklahoma City is his partner in crime Russell Westbrook will be a free agent in 2017.

Sources say Golden State's Durant pitch is scheduled to include Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Steve Kerr, Bob Myers, Joe Lacob

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2016

Sources: Clips to sell Durant on forming 'Big 4' – KD, CP3, Blake, DEAndre https://t.co/b9Ns6hQBo3

— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 30, 2016

Nic Batum

Nic Batum is a player I’ve long coveted to end up either on the Raptors or Rockets given his Swiss army knife capabilities. Jordan made no bones about wanting to bring him back and set out to make that his number one priority. So, it was no surprise he was among the first players locked down once free agency officially kicked off.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 14.9

Rebounds: 6.1

Assists: 5.8

Steals: 0.9

3 Point Shooting: 34.8%

Field Goal Percent: 42.6%

Nic #Batum & #Hornets reach 5yr/$120M deal. This is BIG as Batum was some1 highly touted by many other teams #NBAFreeAgency

— Tamberlyn's Tip-Off (@TTOTambz) July 1, 2016

Harrison Barnes

Imagine you are Harrison Barnes and you have to sit back to watch your entire team roll out the red carpet to replace you with Kevin Durant. And, on top of that you are being told to hold off signing with anyone else in case Durant doesn’t want to join the Warriors.

It has to be playing serious mind tricks with the youngster.

Smart GM’s should be forcing the Warriors hands right now knowing Durant won’t likely end up in Oakland, so offering a max contract would make GSW have to pay to keep him.

It’s not that far fetched to expect Barnes phone to be ringing off the hook as so many top tier players have already committed.  With only Ryan Anderson, Barnes and Pau Gasol left at the top Barnes is sure to get a lot of looks.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 11.7

Rebounds: 4.9

Assists: 1.8

Steals: 0.6

3 Point Shooting: 38.3%

Field Goal Percent: 46.6%

Chandler Parsons

Chandler Parsons is an interesting guy to put it mildly. He burst into the league and produced well for the Rockets and was seen as having the potential to become a star. He abandoned the Rockets heading to Dallas when they forced Houston’s hand in free agency.

For the past two seasons he’s missed copious games due to injury. Last summer he became embroiled in the summer’s free agency drama as he wined and dined DeAndre Jordan to lure him to Dallas. Everyone knows how that emoji battle ended.

And, so his exit from Dallas seems odd. Why be so adamant about bringing someone to Dallas when your plan is to bolt the very next season?

Of all the early agreements Parsons’ deal is taking a lot of hits for being way out of line given his injury history and his defensive short comings. In spite of that, Parsons should be sure to offer the much needed wing scoring the Grizzlies are in desperate need of.

Chandler Parsons has a strong advocate in Memphis in new Grizz assistant J.B. Bickerstaff. Word is Mike Conley wants him, too, IF he stays

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2016

Source on possibility of Chandler Parsons returning to Dallas: "No chance."

— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 30, 2016

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 11.7

Rebounds: 4.9

Assists: 1.8

Steals: 0.6

3 Point Shooting: 38.3%

Field Goal Percent: 46.6%

Luol Deng

More from Space City Scoop

Luol Deng

is another player who’ll have to wait to sign if he intends on returning to Miami. With Hassan Whiteside already taken care of he joins Dwyane Wade on the sidelines as Pat Riley pursues the pipe dream of nabbing Kevin Durant.

Also worrisome for the Heat and their unsigned free agents is the future of Chris Bosh which won’t be known until sometime in August.

Deng may find himself moving up teams boards as a valuable add given his 2-way capabilities. Since Deng can play either forward position, I still wonder if Tom Thibodeau will reach out to Deng in an effort to bring him in to help nurture the myriad of youngsters in Minnesota.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 12.3

Rebounds: 6.0

Assists: 1.9

Steals: 1.0

3 Point Shooting: 34.4%

Field Goal Percent: 45.5%

The next 5:

Not surprisingly there are several  small forwards still on the board as teams vying for Durant await his decision and others not in the recruitment hunt wait to see where he lands. The decision will affect all teams as they learn what they’ll need to do to their rosters in order to be competitive wherever he lands.

Evan Turner

Allen Crabbe

Jeff Green

Marvin Williams

Joe Johnson

While crafting this article 3 of the above list have moved on: Evan Turner will head to Portland, Jeff Green to the Magic and Joe Johnson heads West to join the Jazz.

SCS will update as free agency news develops. For now if you’re a fan who wants to follow free agency closely consider checking out my Free Agency Profiles for all 30 teams:

Next: Free Agency Profiles for all 30 Teams

And early free agent signings:

Next: First 12 hours of Free Agency

Along with articles covering the draft:

Next: Reviewing the top 30 Draft Picks

Next: SCS Editor Mock Draft

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