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Breaking down NBA's top free agents in 2020: Few superstars, little cap space

NBA free agency is always wild and hectic.

This offseason, free agency -- which officially begins Friday at 6 p.m. ET -- is expected to be hectic and quick because of the short turnaround between the end of last season and the start of 2020-21. Free agency begins less than two weeks before training camps are scheduled to open on Dec. 1 and a month before the start of the regular season on Dec. 22.

“I can answer unequivocally that it’s going to be a chaotic week,” Orlando Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman told reporters on Monday. “And the reason that I can is because it already is. It’s crazy. We have three months of work to do in 10 days.”

One thing to keep in mind: This isn’t a free-agent class full of superstars, and few teams have salary cap space.

Here are the top free agents in 2020:

Unrestricted free agents

Fred VanVleet, Toronto 

VanVleet will likely become the most-coveted free agent because of his versatility and age. Though he will attract plenty of suitors, the Raptors and VanVleet are better off keeping their partnership intact. Both parties will benefit if VanVleet spends his prime years in Toronto because of his familiarity with the team’s system and the organization’s familiarity with his potential. 

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is one of the NBA's top free agents this year.

Goran Dragic, Miami 

As shown during this year’s NBA Finals, Dragic might face more injury concerns. But Miami appears invested in keeping Dragic because of his competitiveness and steady play. It should be able to keep him at a cap-friendly price. Where he went: Dragic did indeed return to Miami on a two-year, $37.4 million deal. 

Joe Harris, Brooklyn 

Harris should attract a lot of interest given he has become one of the NBA’s best shooters. There are not many teams, however, with cap space. So expect the Nets to be able to keep him. Where he went: Harris stayed put with the Nets, agreeing to a four-year, $75 million deal. 

Tristan Thompson, Cleveland  

Cleveland’s center-forward just completed a five-year, $82 million contract. He had a strong season in 2019-20 (12 points, 10.1 rebounds per game) while providing veteran leadership on a young team. At the right price, the Cavs have interest in bringing him back.

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Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers 

The Clippers may want to keep him since he won last season’s NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award with his pick-and-roll efficiency. But they may not want to keep him because of his poor shooting and defense. Expect the Clippers to either let him walk or package him in a sign-and-trade. Where he went: Harrell walked away from the Clippers but he didn't go far – he's agreed to a two-year deal with the Lakers

Carmelo Anthony, Portland  

Anthony has salvaged his career enough to prolong it. Portland surely wants him back. But is Melo still open to a team-friendly contract, or is he looking for more money?

Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City

Gallinari, 32, was the topic of trade talk during 2019-20 season, and Oklahoma City decided to keep him. Now, he can choose where he wants to play and will receive strong interest following a season in which he averaged 18.7 points and shot 40.5% on 3-pointers. He can definitely help a contender. Where he went: Gallinari plans to sign a three-year, $61.5 million contract with the Hawks. 

Marcus Morris, Los Angeles Clippers 

The Clippers gave up a first-round pick (No. 27) in the 2020 draft to acquire Morris at the February trade deadline and bolster their championship chances. Morris and his brother, Markieff, recently switched agents ahead of their free agency. He will provide a physical presence, some scoring and decent 3-point shooting. Where he went: Morris is staying with the Clippers on a four-year, $64 million deal.

Davis Bertans, Washington 

The Wizards declined overtures for Bertans at the trade deadline in February and would love to re-sign him. It will be interesting to see what other teams express interest and what they offer Bertans, who just completed a two-year, $14 million deal. He is one the league’s best 3-point shooters, and when gets in a rhythm, can knock down four or five 3s in a short time. Where he went: Bertans is sticking with Washington, agreeing to a new five-year, $80 million deal.   

Paul Millsap, Denver 

Nuggets executive Tim Connelly is on record saying he would love to see Millsap finish his career in a Denver uniform. But that will only happen if the price is right, and Millsap, 35, likes his future role with the team. The Nuggets have paid him $90 million over the past three seasons. That earned Denver some goodwill, so a hometown discount deal is possible.

Hassan Whiteside, Portland 

The center who was with Portland last season is coming off a four-year, $98.4 million contract. He could probably land another significant deal and would be more attractive to a team looking for a double-double big if he brings a more team-oriented approach. Whiteside averaged 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and shot 62.1% from the field for the Trail Blazers in 2019-20.

Christian Wood, Detroit 

Let’s look at what Wood, a 6-10 forward, did in the final 15 games of Detroit’s season: 22.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while shooting 56.2% from the field and 41% on 3-pointers. That got the attention of teams around the league.

Restricted free agents

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans 

Expect the Pelicans to immediately offer Ingram a max contract after he received the NBA’s most improved player award. While the Pelicans could surely just wait and match any offer sheet Ingram receives from other teams, they want to send a message that they view him as one of their franchise cornerstones, along with Zion Williamson.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento  

The Kings cleared cap space before the trade deadline in February partly so they could match any offer sheet Bogdanovic receives in the open market. Given his strong play in the NBA bubble, expect Bogdanovic to find plenty of suitors. But this is a tricky one. It was reported the Kings were planning to deal Bogdanovic to Milwaukee in a sign-and-trade, but that fell apart.

Player options

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers 

He has no plans to leave the Lakers. But Davis intends to opt out of his $28.7 million player option to secure a larger deal. It seems likely he will agree to a two-year deal with a player option on his third year so he and LeBron James would become free agents in the same summer.

Gordon Hayward, Boston  

Hayward had about 34 million reasons to pick up his player option. But he opted out so he can become a free agent. He has faced injuries and inconsistent play and maybe it's best for Hayward to get a change of scenery with another team.

Andre Drummond, Cleveland 

Drummond’s salary for 2020-21 is $28.7 million. At 6-10, 279 pounds and 27 years old, he remains a capable scorer and outstanding rebounder (17.7 points and 15.2 rebounds per game). It’s best for Drummond to start the season with Cleveland and see where it takes him, leading to free agency next summer.

Rajon Rondo,Los Angeles Lakers 

Rondo was a steady force for the Lakers in the postseason and will use that performance to seek a better deal than the $2.6 million he was scheduled to earn in 2020-21. He will have suitors, though.

Jerami Grant, Denver 

Denver would like to keep him, but he is looking for a raise into the $13 million range – about $4 million more than he was due to make in 2020-21. He is a versatile two-way player who knows his role. Where he went: Grant reached a three-year, $60 million deal with the Pistons.   

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Los Angeles Lakers 

The Lakers' wing is in the same situation as Rondo. He is looking for a better deal, and his performance in the playoffs puts him in position to sign a nice contract. Los Angeles could very well re-sign him, too.