With the NBA playoffs in full swing and multiple teams already eliminated, it’s time for another edition of our free agency stock watch series, where we examine the impending free agents whose stock is going up and down.
With six players’ cases to examine, let’s jump right into the action, shall we?
Stock up: Victor Oladipo (Miami)
How quickly things were able to change for Victor Oladipo, who found himself outside of the Miami Heat’s rotation early in the first round of the playoffs before becoming the hero of the decisive Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks, a 97-94 Heat victory.
Oladipo went off for 23 points, three assists and three steals in the victory while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three. He also had a crucial assist late in the contest with things getting tight that helped up the win – and the series – for Miami.
As far as Oladipo’s free agency is concerned, the most important thing is how springy Oladipo looked in the contest, as the former All-Star guard looked as athletic as he has in years.
If he remains in the playoff rotation for Miami going forward, will he be able to stay healthy and keep that up?
That could go a long way in deciding what his next contract might look like.
For the latest Victor Oladipo free agency rumors, click here.
Stock down: Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn)
This one doesn’t need much explanation, now does it?
After a magical Game 1 performance by Kyrie Irving against his former team – 39 points, six assists and four steals on 12-of-20 shooting – the enigmatic point guard’s play fell off of a cliff, with Irving averaging 15.3 points and 5.0 assists on 37.2 percent shooting (18.2 percent from three) in Games 2 through 4, all losses for the Brooklyn Nets.
What’s more, after seeing his Nets eliminated, Irving went so far as to basically declare himself a key Nets decision-maker alongside team owner Joseph Tsai and general manager Sean Marks while explaining how committed to the Brooklyn club he is.
Weird and yet a bit bold, but that’s Irving for you.
Either way, Irving is very likely to receive a max deal this offseason, as Brooklyn doesn’t really have a choice but to keep its All-Star point guard at above market value.
We’ll see if a more normal 2022-23 campaign as far as COVID-19 regulations will help the Nets stabilize and reach the lofty goals they have set for themselves.
For the latest Kyrie Irving free agency rumors, click here.
Stock up: Gary Payton II (Golden State)
After the best regular season of his career, Gary Payton II has followed that up with a strong postseason performance so far, averaging 6.8 points on 70.6 percent shooting (75.0 percent from three) to go with 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks in just 17.0 minutes of nightly action.
More importantly, Payton’s impact in just brief bursts of action has been quite noteworthy statistically, as the Golden State Warriors have been 13.5 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than when he’s on the bench, mostly thanks to the havoc he is able to create defensively.
Payton likely won’t command a huge contract this offseason, but he’ll almost undoubtedly land something worth more than the veteran league minimum he is currently on, as his defensive intensity is nearly unmatched among fellow point guards and his offense has improved enough that he can’t be completely ignored by opposing defenses.
For the latest Gary Payton II free agency rumors, click here.
Stock down: Bruce Brown (Brooklyn)
This one may come as a bit of a surprise, considering Bruce Brown had a 23-point performance in Game 2 and followed that up with a 26-point performance in Game 3, but in basketball, there’s more to the game than just flukish scoring performances, which is why we have Brown’s stock being down ahead of free agency.
For starters, those two offensive explosions came in large part thanks to the Boston Celtics’ defensive scheme keying in on stopping Irving and Kevin Durant while letting Brooklyn’s other guys, like Brown, shoot as much as they want.
Granted, Brown did make them pay twice, but the Celtics were probably more than happy to allow Brown to average 15.5 shot attempts over those two games at the expense of Durant or Irving getting better looks. It should be noted Brown was an overall minus-7 in those two games.
In addition, Brown’s other two outings saw him score five points and two points, respectively, in Games 1 and 4.
Plus, with Brown on the floor, Brooklyn was 10.0 points per 100 possessions worse than when he sat, proving that his high-scoring games were more harmful to the Nets than they were helpful.
Brown is a solid player overall, an energetic defender who can play some small-ball big man roles in certain schemes, but teams likely won’t be fooled into giving him a lucrative contract this summer by his Game 2 and 3 showings, either.
For the latest Bruce Brown free agency rumors, click here.
Stock up: PJ Tucker (Miami)
PJ Tucker has followed up the best offensive season of his career with even more scoring in the playoffs, averaging 9.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in the first round for the Heat while hitting 53.3 percent from beyond the arc.
We have known Tucker can hit open three-pointers, especially from the corners. But what was really impressive about the grizzled swingman is the fact that he was attacking mismatches against the Hawks, posting up on the likes of Trae Young and hitting short hook shots when the opportunities presented themselves.
Tucker has a player option for next season worth $7.4 million, but with his playoff performances so far (we haven’t even discussed his elite defense), there’s a good chance the 36-year-old opts out for a longer-term deal, perhaps at around the same annual average salary.
For the latest PJ Tucker free agency rumors, click here.
Stock down: JaMychal Green (Denver)
After a relatively mediocre regular season, JaMychal Green struggled even more in the playoffs, although facing a small-ball-focused opponent in Golden State probably had a lot do with that.
Green played just 13.8 minutes in the playoffs but didn’t do much to indicate he deserved more playing time, averaging 4.0 points and 2.4 rebounds while shooting 37.5 percent from the floor and 20.0 percent from three.
Numbers like that just won’t get it done, and it’s unfortunate they came at such a time for Green, with a chance at testing the free-agent market right around the corner.
Luckily for Green, he’s got a player option on his deal for next year worth $8.2 million, one he will almost certainly choose to not exercise in order to remain with the Nuggets, as there’s little chance anyone would offer him that much for a single year of service after his last 12 months of basketball.
For the latest JaMychal Green free agency rumors, click here.