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

Bobby Marks
The Vertical
Kevin Durant has a player option for next season that’s worth $27.7 million. (AP)

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

Previously: Point guards | Shooting guards

THE BEST

1. Kevin Durant (player option)
Age in free agency: 28

Insider info
Durant’s decision to opt in or become a free agent will have a lasting impact on how the Warriors shape their roster.

Durant, potentially the top free agent this summer, has three options:

• Opt in to his $27.7 million contract, allowing Golden State to possibly retain Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala.

• Opt out of his $27.7 million contract and sign a one-year contract using non-Bird rights. The maximum salary allowed would be $31.8 million, close to $4 million short of a max contract. Signing a one-year contract would still give the Warriors flexibility to retain Livingston and Iguodala.

• Sign a new contract starting at $35.7 million but at the expense of the Warriors’ key role players.

If Durant were to sign a new contract, Golden State could have $10 million in cap space (if its own free agents were renounced) along with the room mid-level and minimum exceptions to fill seven roster spots.

2. Gordon Hayward (player option)
Age in free agency: 27

Insider info
The first-time All-Star is having a career year after leading the Jazz to their first playoff appearance since 2012.

Hayward could be eligible for the designated veteran player extension if he were to earn All-NBA honors and opt in to his $16.7 million 2017-18 player option.

The new CBA rule states that a player entering his eighth or ninth year and who meets the criteria would be extension-eligible. Hayward, in his seventh season, would not be eligible for the DVPE if he opts out and still earns All-NBA honors.

3. Otto Porter (restricted)
Age in free agency: 24

Insider info
Porter could be part of a new “Big Three” in Washington.

Outside of Durant and Hayward, Porter is the top wing on the free-agent market.

With playing time and development, Porter has improved in each of his four seasons in the NBA.

Porter is a restricted free agent that will likely get a salary starting at $25.5 million from either Washington or a team with an offer sheet.

The Wizards, with no cap flexibility, can ill afford to lose Porter and will likely match any offer sheet.

Porter is represented by David Falk, who is not afraid to advise his clients to sign the one-year qualifying offer if talks break down, which is what happened between Greg Monroe and the Pistons in 2014.

The Warriors may not be able to afford Andre Iguodala if they have to give Durant a new deal. (AP)

4. Andre Iguodala
Age in free agency: 33

Insider info
If Durant opts out of his contract, Iguodala’s future in Golden State will be in doubt.

Because Golden State will need to use cap space to sign Durant, Iguodala’s $16.7 million free-agent cap hold is valuable in creating room.

Still one of the top sixth men in the league, Iguodala’s best role going forward would be to continue coming off the bench.

5. Andre Roberson (restricted)
Age in free agency: 25

Insider info
Roberson is one of the top defenders in this free-agent class.

He knows his role and fits coach Billy Donovan’s style of play.

Still a work in progress on the offensive end, Roberson would benefit from being surrounded by offensively skilled players.

The potential luxury tax in Oklahoma City could have an impact on negotiations with the Thunder.

6. Bojan Bogdanovic (restricted)
Age in free agency: 28

Insider info
Playing with two All-Star-caliber guards in John Wall and Bradley Beal, Bogdanovic has found the perfect fit with Washington.

Acquired by the Wizards at the trade deadline, Bogdanovic has averaged 12.7 points per game and shot a career-high 39.1 percent from 3-point range. He also solidified the Wizards’ bench, which at one time ranked at the bottom of the league.

More of a shot-maker and less of a creator, the oldest restricted free agent in this year’s class has more of an impact when he’s playing with high-quality guards.

7. Joe Ingles (restricted)
Age in free agency: 29

Insider info
Ingles has developed into one the top 3-point specialists coming off the bench.

He has cultivated a role in Utah, but his style of play and ability to guard multiple positions should translate to a new team if he signs elsewhere.

Utah will have the ability to match any offer sheet, but with a potentially high payroll because of the free agency of Gordon Hayward and George Hill, Ingles could become expendable.

8. Kyle Korver
Age in free agency: 36

Insider info
Is Kyle Korver a short-term rental or part of the future for a Cleveland team that once again will be in the luxury tax next season?

Korver is still one of the premier shooters in the NBA and has found a role coming off the bench since being acquired in January.

However, age and durability should concern teams about a long-term contract.

After missing only two games in 2015-16, Korver has missed 12 this season.

Korver and his agent, Jeff Schwartz, should have leverage when it comes to contract talks with Cleveland.

The Cavaliers, a repeater tax team, will only have the $5.2 million room mid-level exception to replace Korver if he leaves in free agency.

9. P.J. Tucker
Age in free agency: 32

Insider info
Since being acquired at the deadline, Tucker has given Toronto a defensive-minded presence that the roster lacked.

With the ability to play multiple positions, the impact Tucker has goes beyond the box score. He has full Bird rights with the Raptors, who are allowed to go over the salary cap to bring him back.

10. Robert Covington (team option)
Age in free agency: 26

Insider info
Don’t expect Philadelphia to decline Covington’s $1.6 million team option, which would make him a free agent.

Covington has developed into a solid defender for the 76ers and is extension eligible for a deal that starts at $9.2 million in 2017-18.

THE REST

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

• Thabo Sefolosha, Atlanta
• Gerald Green, Boston
• James Jones, Cleveland
• Matt Barnes, Golden State
• Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, LA Clippers (player option)
• Metta World Peace, LA Lakers
• Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota (restricted)
• Jerami Grant, Oklahoma City (team option)
• Tyreke Evans, Sacramento

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