The thing to remember, though, is that is Ben Gordon provides 13 million reasons for an NBA team who are pushing the salary cap ceiling to trade for him. Especially when the cap space Gordon will provide following next season will provide flexibility for teams to sign players in what could turn out to be the greatest free agent class ever. With Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki becoming unrestricted free agents, along with a slew of over all-star and tier 3 caliber players, it will already go down as one of the greats. But if Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, or Ama're Stoudemire use their early termination option, it will become legendary.
That means, this offseason, expiring contracts become more valuable than maybe ever in NBA history as a hole. There are at least 12 teams who are in good position to try and land a block buster free agent, and the Bobcats are no exception. However, teams like the Bobcats are also in position to make moves right now. Teams with valuable expirings, like Ben Gordon's, can make some franchise changing moves right now, without having to rely on signing one of the huge name free agents next offseason.
So I present to you my first article in a three article series as a 2014/2015 free agent primer, and how the Bobcats fit in. As the title suggests, I'm going to rank next year's expiring contracts in terms of value. Of course, value is hard to judge. Typically with expiring contracts the caliber of the player is mostly irrelevant. That said, there still can be some value to teams in acquiring a player on his final year. (ala Dwight Howard).
In order to qualify, players must be on the last year of their contract (Ramon Session), on a player option that is more than they'd likely make on the free market (Ben Gordon), or a having a team option for 2015/2016 that teams aren't likely to use (Anderson Varejao), and make a minimum of 5 million.
Without further ado, here are my top expiring contract rankings for next season. Normally, when discussing expirings, a player's salary is all that matters, however when the salaries are similar, I went with best player.
1) Pau Gasol - 19 million
2) Paul Pierce - 15.3 million
3) Danny Granger - 14 million
4) Andrew Bogut - 14.2 million
5) Luol Deng - 14.3 million
6) Ben Gordon - 13.2 million
7) Andrei Kirilenko - 10.2 million
8) Kris Humprhies - 12 million
9) Hidayet Turkoglu - 12 million
10) Anderson Varejao - 9.1 million
11) Shawn Marion - 9.3 million
12) Jameer Nelson - 8.6 million
13) Richard Jefferson - 11 million
14) Andris Beidrins - 9 million
15) Caron Butler - 8 million
16) Marcin Gortat - 7.7 million
17) Charlie Villanueva 8.5 million
18) Spencer Hawes - 6.5 million
19) Ramon Sessions - 5 million
20) Marvin Williams 7.5 million
21) Kobe Bryant - 30.5 million So there you have it, Ben Gordon is the 6th ranked expiring contract. However, when you consider that Danny Granger and Paul Pierce aren't going anywhere, and Luol Deng is going to get an extension, he's really the third best expiring. You'll notice Kobe Bryant at 21. That's because a) there's only a .001% chance the Lakers would consider moving him without his wish, and there are basically zero teams in a position to take on 30.5 million in salary next season.