FanPost

2017 Free Agency - What's the Point Guard Market?

There's been a lot of debate about whether George Hill will stay with the Jazz or move on. Now that we know there won't be an extension, and that Hill's agent thinks he can get a full max, it's time to start looking at Hill's free agent market. I'm still of the opinion that Hill will legitimately consider re-signing with the Jazz. Not everyone agrees, so let's look at all the teams that could use Hill, and who could be available for the Jazz if Hill leaves.

Which teams need a starting point guard?

This has to be the first question. Hill is definitely a starter in the league, and won't consider moving to a team that won't start him. Here's where all 30 teams stand in terms of point guards:

Team Starter Backup 3rd string
Atlanta Hawks Dennis Schroder Malcolm Delaney Jose Calderon*
Boston Celtics Isaiah Thomas Marcus Smart Terry Rozier
Brooklyn Nets Jeremy Lin Isaiah Whitehead Spencer Dinwiddie
Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker Ramon Sessions# Brian Roberts
Chicago Bulls Rajon Rondo Jerian Grant Michael Carter-Williams^
Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving Deron Williams* Kay Felder
Dallas Mavericks Seth Curry Devin Harris Yogi Ferrell#
Denver Nuggets Emmanuel Mudiay Jameer Nelson -
Detroit Pistons Reggie Jackson Ish Smith Beno Udrih*
Golden State Warriors Steph Curry* Shaun Livingston* -
Houston Rockets Patrick Beverley Lou Williams -
Indiana Pacers Jeff Teague* Aaron Brooks* Rodney Stuckey#
LA Clippers Chris Paul# Raymond Felton* -
Los Angeles Lakers D'Angelo Russell Tyler Ennis* -
Memphis Grizzlies Mike Conley Toney Douglas Wade Baldwin
Miami Heat Goran Dragic Tyler Johnson -
Milwaukee Bucks Malcolm Brogdon Matthew Dellavadova -
Minnesota Timberwolves Ricky Rubio Kris Dunn Tyus Jones
New Orleans Pelicans Jrue Holiday* Tim Frazier -
New York Knicks Derrick Rose* Chasson Randle Ron Baker^
Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook Semaj Christon -
Orlando Magic Elfrid Payton DJ Augustin CJ Watson
Philadelphia 76ers Jarryd Bayless TJ McConnell Sergio Rodriguez*
Phoenix Suns Eric Bledsoe Brandon Knight Tyler Ulis
Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard Shabazz Napier -
Sacramento Kings Darren Collison* Ty Lawson* -
San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker Patty Mills* Dejounte Murray
Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry# Delon Wright Fred VanVleet
Utah Jazz George Hill* Dante Exum Raul Neto
Washington Wizards John Wall Brandon Jennings* Trey Burke
*Unrestricted ^Restricted #Option

There are a lot of good point guards in the league right now. I count about ten teams that have an established point that's under contract next season and isn't worth upgrading through free agency. That leaves twenty teams that will need to either re-sign their current point guard, or could be looking to upgrade. I'm going to assume that Steph Curry, Kyle Lowry, and Chris Paul are all going to stay on their respective teams, which leaves 17 teams that could potentially use Hill.

Here's that list, along with how much cap space each of those teams will have, sorted by cap space:

Team Starter Backup 3rd string cap room
Philadelphia 76ers Jarryd Bayless TJ McConnell Sergio Rodriguez* 52,610,180
Phoenix Suns Eric Bledsoe Brandon Knight Tyler Ulis 32,055,861
Brooklyn Nets Jeremy Lin Isaiah Whitehead Spencer Dinwiddie 28,632,012
Denver Nuggets Emmanuel Mudiay Jameer Nelson - 27,263,022
Sacramento Kings Darren Collison* Ty Lawson* - 26,067,789
New York Knicks Derrick Rose* Chasson Randle Ron Baker^ 23,397,156
Minnesota Timberwolves Ricky Rubio Kris Dunn Tyus Jones 22,901,777
Chicago Bulls Rajon Rondo Jerian Grant Michael Carter-Williams^ 22,704,588
Indiana Pacers Jeff Teague* Aaron Brooks* Rodney Stuckey# 21,480,213
Los Angeles Lakers D'Angelo Russell Tyler Ennis* - 19,158,726
Orlando Magic Elfrid Payton DJ Augustin CJ Watson 16,908,842
New Orleans Pelicans Jrue Holiday* Tim Frazier - 12,897,824
Utah Jazz George Hill* Dante Exum Raul Neto 11,447,421
Dallas Mavericks Seth Curry Devin Harris Yogi Ferrell# 9,111,705
San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker Patty Mills* Dejounte Murray 7,066,430
Detroit Pistons Reggie Jackson Ish Smith Beno Udrih* -1,423,474
Milwaukee Bucks Malcolm Brogdon Matthew Dellavadova - -4,449,509
*Unrestricted ^Restricted #Option

Now, these cap numbers aren't final, they're actually the minimum amount of cap space for each team. That means a team like the Bucks, which will start the offseason over the cap, could actually be about $20M under the cap if Greg Monroe and Spencer Hawes both exercise their player options. Some of these teams will also have bigger needs than point guard. Phoenix will need its cap space to keep Alex Len, Minnesota needs to upgrade its front court bench, and Indiana will probably look to keep Teague.

If we drop the teams that can't get enough cap space, or already have a decent point guard so they'll be using their cap room elsewhere, the list becomes more manageable.

Team Starter Backup 3rd string cap room
Philadelphia 76ers Jarryd Bayless TJ McConnell Sergio Rodriguez* 52,610,180
Brooklyn Nets Jeremy Lin Isaiah Whitehead Spencer Dinwiddie 28,632,012
Denver Nuggets Emmanuel Mudiay Jameer Nelson - 27,263,022
Sacramento Kings Darren Collison* Ty Lawson* - 26,067,789
New York Knicks Derrick Rose* Chasson Randle Ron Baker^ 23,397,156
Chicago Bulls Rajon Rondo Jerian Grant Michael Carter-Williams^ 22,704,588
Orlando Magic Elfrid Payton DJ Augustin CJ Watson 16,908,842
New Orleans Pelicans Jrue Holiday* Tim Frazier - 12,897,824
Utah Jazz George Hill* Dante Exum Raul Neto 11,447,421
Milwaukee Bucks Malcolm Brogdon Matthew Dellavadova - -4,449,509
*Unrestricted ^Restricted #Option

So ten teams will have both the space and the need to find a point guard. Some of these teams, like the Kings and the Sixers, will probably find a point guard through the draft, especially since the top of the draft is guard heavy. Others, like the Nets, will have to go through free agency because they don't have a draft pick or any tradeable assets.

Having gone through all of that, here are the teams that I think will most likely try to get George Hill in free agency:

Utah Jazz

When Hill's been healthy, the Jazz have thrived. When Hill sits, the Jazz have struggled. At the same time, the Jazz have Dante Exum waiting, and every indication is that the front office still believes in him. That's a tough line to walk. If the Jazz want immediate success, the Hill may be the best option, but if they're looking more long term, then developing Exum as the starter could be the better choice. I still think the Jazz will try and convince Hill to return, but they're going to focus on a short term contract, which Hill will only take if other offers dry up.

New York Knicks

The Knicks are stuck in one of the worst possible places. They have an aging star who's losing efficiency every year, takes up a lot of cap space, and has a no trade clause in his contract. That means the Knicks have a choice to make. They can tank for a few seasons until Melo comes off the books, or they can try to make a playoff run. Given the fact that they specifically brought in an older roster with Noah, Rose, and Lee, it looks like they were trying to win. Bringing in a better guard, like Hill, could put them in position to make the playoffs.

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have two major needs. They need better power forward play, which could come from Portis or Mirotic (if they keep him) gaining a bit more experience and putting in a solid offseason. They also need a point guard. They currently have 5 on the roster, many on rookie deals, but all of them have a below average PER, WS/48, and BPM. They'll have the cap space to offer a big contract to someone, if they strike out on a forward like Millsap or Ibaka, they'll focus on getting a point.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are set at almost every position except for point guard. Some of that is because they use Giannis as a point forward, but their struggles this year make me think that they'll want to upgrade. Brogdon's been okay, but nothing special. Dellavadova's been awful. The key here is that Monroe will need to opt out. If he stays, then the Bucks are stuck and will have to roll with the team they have. If he goes, then point guard is the most obvious position of need.

So, if Hill leaves, who could the Jazz get?

This may be the biggest question for most people. I know that a lot of people figure that when Hill declined the extension that he'd be moving on. If he does leave, then the Jazz will have a hole at the point guard position. Exum is the most likely candidate to start, but Neto hasn't been consistent enough to show he's ready to play the primary backup. What the Jazz will really need is an established backup that's capable of starting if Exum or Neto really struggle next year. The Jazz have struggled this year to defend quicker guards, so that ability may be a priority, but I actually think 3pt shooting will be the goal. Exum and Neto are both capable defenders, but neither of them are great at spreading the floor.

Free Agents

There are a few free agent guards that the Jazz could target. Each have pros and cons.

Jrue Holiday - This is the target if the Jazz don't think Exum has what it takes to be a starter. Holiday will be turning 27 this summer, so he's right in his prime. He's a solid to good defender and shoots 37% from three. He's much more of a drive and kick guard than Hill, and his assist numbers reflect that. The downside is that he'll be looking for a 4 year contract worth big money. He's had some durability issues and has only played in more than 70 games 3 times in his 8 year career. The Pelicans have his Bird rights, so they can re-sign him if they want to build around Davis, Cousins, and Holiday. That said, he and Hill are probably the two best point guards that could be on the move.

Darren Collison - Collison's bounced around the league, and will be 30 by next season. He's been great from three this season, shooting 42%. Other than his shooting, though, he's about average. He's a capable starter, but not a good one, mostly because he's weak defensively. This will be his last chance at getting a big payday, but he's not at the same level as guys like Hill or Holiday, and he doesn't have the name recognition of Rose or Deron Williams. If the Jazz are looking for a budget guard that could either start or come off the bench, he might be a good choice. My guess, however, is that he'll take the biggest paycheck he's offered, and will likely be going to Philly or Brooklyn.

Patty Mills - Mills is due for a big raise this offseason, but he won't be looking for the same amount of money that the big name players will get. The Spurs will have the inside track on signing him, and he may take a discount to stay. Tony Parker still has one year left on his deal, and signing Mills now gives them a good replacement for when Parker retires. Mills plays good defense and is a career 40% shooter from three. The biggest knock on him is that he's never been a regular starter. If he's looking for that opportunity, then the Jazz may not be the best option. If he's willing to start or come off the bench based on need, then the Jazz may be able to get him for significantly less than $20M per year.

Deron Williams - This is the name that's been bounced around a lot recently. Williams is an old guard, he'll be turning 33 this summer, so this could be his last contract. He's had injury issues, and is nowhere near the player he was before he was traded away from the Jazz. He's never been a great outside shooter, but he's good enough (35% from three). His defense has slipped, but it's still passable in short stretches. At this point, his biggest strength is his court vision. He's still an excellent passer and almost always makes the right decision with the ball. He's definitely a backup at this point in his career, but he's okay with that. He loves Utah, so that's a plus, but if there's any leftover animosity between him and Hayward (I don't think there is, but it's a possibility), that could be a deal breaker.

Trades

If the Jazz don't target a free agent point guard, they may be able to trade for one. There are several that could be on the market this summer, and the Jazz have the assets to put together a good package.

Eric Bledsoe (2 years, $29.5M left on his contract) - Bledsoe is a defensive first point, who isn't a great shooter, and has a history of injuries. That said, he's still an excellent option if the front office thinks Exum is still two years away. Phoenix is a mess, they have 5 guys who can play point guard on the roster, they'll have a top 5 pick in a point guard heavy draft, and they've already shut down Bledsoe for the season so that Ulis can get more experience. They're probably willing to trade just about anybody but Booker, Bender, and Chriss. They'll have a bunch of cap space too, so they'll be able to take on bigger salaries.

Ricky Rubio (2 years, $29M) - Rubio is an excellent defender with an absolutely broken shot, but good things happen when he's on the court because he arguably has the best court vision among point guards in their prime. Despite only being 27, he's a little old to be part of Minnesota's core, and with Kris Dunn waiting, Rubio could be moved. If the Jazz are really looking for defense, then Rubio is a great target. The problem would come on the offensive end, where none of the point guards would be able to space the floor. With LaVine out for about a year, the Wolves will probably be looking for wing depth. Burks and picks could be enough here.

Delon Wright (2 years, $4.1M) - Wright hasn't played much this year (he's spent most of the season in the D-League). Because of that, it's hard to tell how he'll play at the NBA level, but he's showing a lot of promise. I'm not sure that Toronto would be willing to give him up since he's on a rookie contract, but Lowry's going to cost them a max contract and they'll need to shed some salary soon if they want to stay under the tax. Bringing in someone like Delon would show that the front office has full faith in Exum and are ready for him to become the full time starter.

***

So this turned out to be a lot longer than I expected, but it was interesting for me to look at. I honestly have no idea what the Jazz will do this summer. The nice thing is that it looks like the Jazz will have plenty of options for point guards.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.