As the NBA All Star break is behind us, it seems as though the biggest topic of conversation around the league is who will opt of their contract and explore free agency after this seaon. So many free agents able to taste the open market, and so many major-life decisions to be made. Last year, much of the hype surrounded around Dwight Howard who left Orlando for Houston, and this summer some of the top players will have similar opportunities.
Will LeBron stay in Miami? Maybe, if he gets South Beach another championship ring.
After scoring 62 points and breaking the New York Knicks' franchise for most points in a game, does Carmelo Anthony have it in him to give the Knicks another shot, or will he and wife, LaLa pack it up and head to LA or even Chicago? Only time will tell. In a few months we’ll know.
Of course, we couldn't fit everyone into our list; you won't find the likes of Paul Pierce, Trevor Ariza or Loul Deng. But, here are the 10 most-talked about free agents come this summer.
10 Lance Stephenson (Unrestricted) - $1,005,000 in 2013-14
Lance Stephenson will officially be done with his rookie contract at the end of this season, meaning he could potentially make big bucks when he signs this summer. The 23-year-old Brooklyn native was selected 40th overall during the 2010 NBA draft and has had his share of off-court drama. The once-troubled star has turned it around, averaging 14.1 ppg this season. He’s a viable free agent this summer and could demand anywhere between $7 and $10 million, that is if he keeps up his stats during the postseason. The boost would be a huge difference from what he made this season.
9 Kyle Lowry (Unrestricted) - $6,210,000 in 2013-14
Lowry has been an asset to the Raptors franchise this season, but his upcoming free agency haunts the team. Undeniably the best player on Toronto averaging 16.6 ppg, Lowry could go out like Rudy Gay by taking his talents somewhere else. Back in July 2010, he signed an offer sheet for an assumed $23,460,000 for 4 years which was matched by the Raptors keeping him in TO.
8 Tim Duncan (Player Option) - $10,361,446 in 2013-14
Whether or not to consider Tim Duncan a free agent is up for debate, because most think he will retire after this season as a San Antonio Spur. The 37-year-old has played in the NBA for the Spurs for 16 years. Back in the 1997 draft, he was selected as the No. 1 overall pick. Since then he has won 4 championships (1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007) and is a 3-time MVP (1999, 2003 and 2005.) If Duncan decides to stay the 2014-2015 season with the Spurs, he’ll bank $10,361,446 for that year.
7 Rudy Gay (Player Option) - $17,888,931 in 2013-14
6 Dwyane Wade (Early Termination Option) - $18,673,000
5 Chris Bosh (Early Termination Option) - $19,067,500 in 2013-14
The Big Three could finally split up if Bosh, Wade or LeBron decides to opt out of their contracts. According to reports, the Bulls, Mavericks and Lakers are all teams interested in Bosh. He is expected to opt of out his contract and explore the market, but who knows? Bosh seems to be comfortable in Miami and another championship ring would most definitely keep him interested in staying with the team. Should he stay with the Heat until 2015-2016, he’ll make $22,112,500 in the last year of his contract. Back in July 2010, he signed for $109,837,500, of course assuming that he’d stay for six years.
4 LeBron James (Early Termination Option) - $19,067,500 in 2013-14
3 Pau Gasol (Unrestricted) - $19,285,850 in 2013-14
2 Carmelo Anthony (Early Termination Optoion) - $21,288,275
When Carmelo Anthony left the Nuggets after being with the team for eight years to head to the Big Apple, it was one of the biggest trades in NBA history. The city of Denver thought Anthony had abandoned them. Now he’s back in a similar situation and will have to make a decision about whether or not he will stick it out with the Knicks, who are resting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, holding a record of 19-29. Rumors have swirled that Carmelo is considering heading out to LA to join the Clippers where he would play with Chris Paul.
1 Dirk Nowitzki (Unrestricted) - $22,721,381 in 2013-14
Dirk Nowitzki has been so busy reviving his NBA career that most people forget he’ll be a free agent at the end of this season. The 35-year-old is in the final year of his current contract with the Dallas Mavericks, which not only means that he’ll be testing the open market this summer, but Mavs owner Mark Cuban may be searching for the next big star.