Front-Office Insider: Ranking the top free-agent power forwards

Bobby Marks
The Vertical

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, ranks the top power forwards in this offseason’s free-agent class.

Previously: Point guards | Shooting guards | Small forwards

THE BEST

1. Paul Millsap (player option)
Age in free agency: 32

Insider info
Millsap is expected to opt out of his $21.4 million player option for next season.

He is still one of the top power forwards in the league, has appeared in four straight All-Star games and has never averaged more than 35 minutes.

How the Hawks have managed Millsap’s minutes should prolong his career, but injuries this past season raise some concerns. He missed 11 games because of a combination of hip and knee problems.

2. Blake Griffin (early termination option)
Age in free agency:
28

Insider info
Like teammate Chris Paul, Griffin has an early termination option for next season.

Paul is likely to opt out, but Griffin’s latest injury may make his decision difficult. His agent, Sam Goldfeder, will explore the free-agent market regarding a home with the Clippers or a team with room should Griffin walk away from $21.4 million next season.

Before the 2015-16 season, Griffin had produced five straight All-Star seasons and was deemed an elite power forward in the league.

Griffin is still a special talent when he is on the court, but the past three seasons have been marred by injuries, including an ugly incident with a Clippers staffer. Most recently, a right toe injury knocked him from the playoffs as the Clippers were eliminated in the first round.

Because of their cap situation, the Clippers will not have the space to replace Griffin if he were to leave in free agency.

Blake Griffin is slated to earn $21.4 million next season but has an early termination option. (AP)

3. Serge Ibaka
Age in free agency:
27

Insider info
Along with DeMar DeRozan, Ibaka helped keep Toronto afloat when Kyle Lowry was sidelined with a wrist injury.

His stats are nearly the same as they were in Orlando through the first four months of the season, but he has had an impact at both ends of the court.

The Raptors’ ability to go small has often given Ibaka an advantage at center.

He’s not the elite defender he was in his Oklahoma City days, but his basketball IQ makes up for his defensive deficiencies.

Though Bird rights allow the Raptors to exceed the salary cap to re-sign him, Toronto will be pressed against the luxury tax with Lowry expected to opt out of his contract and the free agency of P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson.

4. Dirk Nowitzki (team option)
Age in free agency:
39

Insider info
Nowitzki likely will be a member of the Mavericks if he wants to play next season, but at what salary?

Dallas has a $25 million team option on the future Hall of Famer that could impact the team’s flexibility this offseason.

5. Rudy Gay (player option)
Age in free agency:
30

Insider info
Recovering from season-ending Achilles’ tendon surgery, Gay has until June 10 to opt out of his $14.2 million contract or remain with the Kings for another season.

If Gay does opt out, expect his agent, Roger Montgomery, to find a landing spot for him by early July.

Gay is more of a hybrid power forward at this stage of his career. Teams will need to rely on their medical and training staffs when it comes to plotting a recovery timetable for Gay.

Brooklyn, Chicago, Orlando and Philadelphia would have cap space to sign him if he opts out.

6. Danilo Gallinari (player option)
Age in free agency:
28

Insider info
Gallinari’s option is worth $16.1 million for next season.

Gallinari is more of a hybrid four at this stage of his career after battling various knee and back injuries during his eight-year career. He has only played more than 70 games twice (2009-10 and 2012-13).

His injury history should have teams doing their homework if they wish to sign Gallinari to a long-term contract.

7. Zach Randolph
Age in free agency:
35

Insider info
Randolph has embraced coming off the bench for Memphis and can start if needed, but at this stage of his career he is best suited to anchor a second unit.

Randolph and restricted free agent JaMychal Green have leverage because Memphis does not have the cap space to replace both players if they leave.

The Grizzlies have $92 million in committed salaries before addressing Randolph and Green.

With the majority of teams having the $8.4 million full mid-level exception this summer, Memphis will need to pay more than that if they wish to keep Randolph.

The Thunder may not be able to afford Taj Gibson. (AP)

8. Taj Gibson
Age in free agency:
32

Insider info
Gibson is an effective veteran who could be caught in a financial crunch this offseason in Oklahoma City.

Bringing back Gibson and restricted free agent Andre Roberson could see Oklahoma City’s payroll top the $122 million luxury tax threshold.

Though his playing time and numbers have dipped since being acquired by Chicago at the deadline, Gibson has been a quality veteran for the Thunder who knows his role and can either start or come off the bench.

Expect the starting salary for Gibson to fall in the $9 million-$11 million range.

9. JaMychal Green (restricted)
Age in free agency:
27

Insider info
The Grizzlies will be pressed against or over the luxury tax if they elect to keep key free agents Green, Randolph and Tony Allen.

Green is a tough, hard-nosed player who earned the starting job in his third year with Memphis.

10. James Johnson
Age in free agency:
30

Insider info
Johnson is a candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award and could get All-Defensive Team honors this season.

He played for four teams the previous seven seasons, but found his footing after signing with the Heat in July.

His size and strength allows him to guard multiple positions and create mismatches on the offensive end.

The maximum Miami can offer Johnson is $4.8 million or it can use cap space to sign him.

11. Nikola Mirotic (restricted)
Age in free agency:
26

Insider info
With a role and consistent minutes, Mirotic was one of the Bulls’ best players the last six weeks of the season.

For three straight seasons, Mirotic’s productivity has picked up in March and he kept it going.

Mirotic has shown he’s capable of being one of the top stretch power forwards in the league, and now Bulls management will need to decide if the last six weeks were fool’s gold or if Mirotic can keep producing with a greater price tag.

12. Kelly Olynyk (restricted)
Age in free agency:
26

Insider info
With Boston likely to explore the free-agent market while leaving Olynyk’s $7.7 million cap hold, finding the right contract value for Olynyk will be a challenge.

A career backup in his four seasons with the Celtics, Olynyk’s production this season has mirrored that of his rookie year. He’s consistent without much sizzle but hasn’t necessarily made great strides.

Although Olynyk is in a deep power forward pool of free agents, the 7-footer’s ability to stretch the floor should have teams with cap space ready to make an offer sheet if Boston lets his free agency drag out.

THE REST

Other free-agent power forwards (in order by team)

• Mike Muscala, Atlanta
• Ersan Ilyasova, Atlanta
• Jonas Jerebko, Boston
• Christian Wood, Charlotte
• Joffrey Lauvergne, Chicago (restricted)
• Derrick Williams, Cleveland
• David West, Golden State
• Lavoy Allen, Indiana (team option)
• Marreese Speights, LA Clippers (player option)
• Brandon Bass, LA Clippers
• Thomas Robinson, LA Lakers
• Luke Babbitt, Miami
• Josh McRoberts, Miami (player option)
• Udonis Haslem, Miami
• Adreian Payne, Minnesota
• Michael Beasley, Milwaukee
• Spencer Hawes, Milwaukee (player option)
• Dante Cunningham, New Orleans (player option)
• Donatas Motiejunas, New Orleans
• Jeff Green, Orlando
• Damjan Rudez, Orlando (restricted)
• Nick Collison, Oklahoma City
• David Lee, San Antonio (player option)
• Patrick Patterson, Toronto

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