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Two weeks ago I wrote a piece detailing the top 15 free agents remaining. The article was based on the premise of hope. Hope that the Celtics could possibly investigate a sign-and-trade for one of the bigger names, or at the very least hope that they could bring in some of the names further down on the list on smaller deals.

That hope has evaporated for several reasons. Number one, after the Celtics trade with the Nets became official, it became clear that the team would be dealing with a hard cap of $75.7M, a number that they are already approaching (latest estimation of the Celtics payroll is $72.5M with one roster spot open). The team is also desperate to shed money, not add it, in order to get below the $71.7M luxury tax and avoid repeater penalties.

The other reason that hope has all but expired on the Celtics making a move is that most of the good free agents are gone. Ten of the 15 players listed the last time we did this have signed, making it slim pickings for the Celtics as well as the rest of the NBA. One of the guys who signed was Nate Robinson, who ranked #13 on the last ranking and signed a 2 year, $4M deal today with the Denver Nuggets, his sixth team since 2010. Also dropping off the list: #3 Monta Ellis (Mavs), #4 Andrew Bynum (Cavs), #5 Jeff Teague (Hawks), #6 Andrei Kirilenko (Nets), #9 Corey Brewer (Timberwolves), #10 Chris Kaman (Lakers), #11 Marreese Speights (Warriors), #12 Tyler Hansbrough (Raptors) and #14 D.J. Augustin (Raptors). So with that in mind, here is the re-shaped list of the top 15 remaining free agents. Only this time we'll just talk about the player themselves, as it's unlikely that the Celtics make a move for any of these guys.

15. Kenyon Martin, Knicks - Oh K-Mart, what could have been? After being passed over by the Celtics, Martin signed with the Knicks in February and made a big impact. After contributing 7.2 PPG and 5.3 RPG in just 23.9 MPG for New York last season, Martin should be able to find himself another NBA job this season. Although he's now entering his 14th season, the 35 year old former #1 overall pick has a niché as an above average rebounder and all-around tough guy that should interest teams. At the top of that list, the Knicks, who are reportedly interested.

14. Dejuan Blair, Spurs - Blair could not have picked a worse time for a down season, as the four year veteran had his worst season for the Western Conference champs last year. Despite that, Blair is drawing interest from the Wizards, and his penchant for being a beast on the glass (5.8 RPG in just 18.9 MPG, career offensive rebounding percentage of 13.9%), mixed with his relative youth (only 24 years old) should net him a job coming off someones bench.

13. Sebastian Telfair, Raptors - If you had told me in 2007 that Sebastian Telfair would still be in the league in 2013, I may not have believed you. However, Seabass has carved out a career as an above average defensive guard who can give you 15-20 decent minutes a night off the bench. He hasn't played more than 20 minutes per night since 2008-09, but Telfair has received interest from several teams, including the Nets. Telfair has yet to appear in a playoff game in his nine year career.

12. Leandro Barbosa, Wizards - The Brazilian Blur is coming off an ACL injury, but once healthy should immediately find a job coming off someone's bench. Last season for the Celtics Barbosa averaged 5.2 points in just 12 minutes per game, showing that he can still fill it up when given the chance. Considering the fact he's only 30 years old, he should have no problem recovering from his injury and securing a job. Even if it takes him until Christmas or so.

11. Timofey Mozgov, Nuggets - Mozgov is a little different than some of the other names on this list, as  teams are interested in him not for what he's done (admittedly very little), but for what he's capable of. A true seven footer, Mozgov was buried last season in Denver, but in his limited playing time has always produced (his per 36 minutes numbers for his career: 11.6 points/9.3 boards/1.9 blocks). The Kings have shown interest in taking a shot on the Russian big man, who at 27 years old is still an intriguing project.

10. Austin DayeGrizzlies - Another player who is on this list based more on potential than his impact to this point, the fourth year big man out of Gonzaga has several of the tools necessary to be a solid power forward in the NBA. He's big (6'11"), and can shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor (career 36% from three point range), yet hasn't stuck in either of his first two stops (Detroit/Memphis). The Knicks worked him out last week, and Daye must know that this upcoming season is his last, best shot to make an NBA impact.

9. Lamar Odom, Clippers - Lamar Odom is a walking example of just how far a player can fall overnight. After averaging 14/9/3 for the Lakers in 2010-11, Odom appeared to have plenty left in the tank at age 31. However, two lost seasons with the Mavericks and Clippers have caused his stock to plummet. The Clips are reportedly interested in retaining him, but Odom has a lot of work to do if he wants to resurrect his career back to anything like what he had with the Lakers.

8. Antawn Jamison, Lakers - Has anyone else ever averaged 19 PPG for 15 seasons and made less of an impact than Jamison? Think about it. He's 39th all-time in scoring and 60th all-time in rebounds, yet is he even going to get a tiny bit of Hall of Fame consideration? I don't think so. But that's a discussion for 2020, for now Jamison is still a viable big man option off the bench, and the Clippers are interested (although that was before the team signed Byron Mullens. Seems unlikely that they'd have room for both).

7. Brandan Wright, Mavericks - Wright is somehow entering his 7th NBA season at the age of 25, and is coming off his best year as a pro, putting up 8.5 PPG ,4.1 RPG and 1.2 BPG for the Mavericks last season. That production, and his ability to play multiple positions seems to be paying off for Wright, who's currently talking with Dallas about a deal that will pay him close to $4M a season.

6. Gary Neal, SpursNeal is coming off a breakout performance in the NBA Finals, and has drawn interest from a number of teams, including the Pistons. He's a natural shooting guard but a little undersized at 6'4", and can play point if necessary. At age 28 and coming off such a stellar playoffs, Neal is reportedly looking for a multi-year deal, and has talked with both the Pistons and Nets.

5. Gerald Henderson, Bobcats - Once thought to be a lock to return to Charlotte, talks between the Bobcats and the former Blue Devil have slowed to the point where the team is now discussing sign-and-trade possibilities for the 25 year old. Henderson has broken out over the past two seasons, topping 15 PPG in both, and is reportedly looking for $5+ million per season. It remains to be seen if another team will step up and not only reach that monetary commitment, but also give up the pieces necessary to make a deal work with MJ and company. 

4. Mo Williams, JazzWilliams is reportedly looking for a starting gig, but as the off-season marches on he may have to eventually back off of that. Despite the lack of interest to this point, Williams earns his spot on this list with consistent production (8 straight years above 12 PPG, 5 seasons of 5+ APG), and elite shooting from deep (career 39% from three). He's been injured over the past four seasons (missing an average of 22 games per year), but if healthy he should be able to find a significant role somewhere.

3. Greg Oden, FAIt speaks volumes of Oden's talent level that he ranks number three on this updated list despite the fact that he hasn't played this decade. But when you think about his price tag (short tern deal with limited guaranteed cash),  potential, and position (how many dominant centers are there in the NBA?), it's no wonder that teams are lining up to work him out. It's extremely disappointing to me that the C's don't appear to be on his short list, as Oden has reportedly narrowed his list down to the Heat, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs and Mavericks. It will be interesting to see if Oden can become the first player in NBA history to overcome three microfracture surgeries. Right now it appears that several clubs are willing to bet that he will. 

2. Brandon JenningsBucks - The summer continues to march on without Jennings and the Bucks agreeing on a deal, seemingly leaving the door open for another team to swoop in and acquire him in a sign-and-trade. In the first installment of this list I had Jennings number one, but after analyzing it further, he is more suited to be below Pekovic. While no one can doubt his immense talents, his inefficiency (39.9% shooting last season) is tough to overlook. As of now it wouldn't be surprising if Jennings took his $4.5M qualifying offer and played one more season in Milwaukee before hitting unrestricted free agency. 

1. Nikola PekovicTimberwolves - Pekovic is the best free agent remaining on the market, coming off of a season in which he averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 boards per game during his age 27 season. However, the Wolves are well aware of Pek's break out season and appear ready to give him $12 million per season. Yet, for some reason Pekovic still has not signed the deal, despite the fact that it has reportedly been on the table for over two weeks. Despite that, look for Pekovic to sign with Minnesota sooner rather than later. After all, the Wolves have the right to match any deal, so why wouldn't the two sides just get it over with and start to look forward to next season?

Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13

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Ranking the top 15 remaining free agents, and who the Celtics have a shot at

Michael Dyer 7/22/2013 07:23:00 PM Edit
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