Tony Parker, PG, San Antonio Spurs
: Parker has become one of the top point guards in the NBA over his eight year NBA career, winning three NBA titles and being named the Finals MVP in 2007. Unless he comes to terms on a contract extension with the Spurs the three time NBA All-Star will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2011 and will without a doubt be among the hottest commodities around. Parker posted career highs in both points (22 per game) and assists (6.9) last season while shooting .506 from the field. The French-born Parker will be just 29 when he hits the market and will be looking to cash in with a huge payday as he enters the second half of what seems to be a hall of fame career.
Tim Duncan, PF/C, San Antonio Spurs
: Duncan holds an Early Termination Option on the final year of the two-year, $40M contract extension he signed back in 2007. The two-time NBA MVP will be 35 at the time and will likely find it difficult to get an offer in the ballpark of the approximately $21M he is due from the Spurs and seems destined to spend his entire career in San Antonio. Things can certainly change, however, and Duncan would certainly have a great deal of value on the free agent market.
Yao Ming, C, Houston Rocket
s: The one blessing that could come to the Rockets from the injury troubles that have plagued Yao throughout his NBA career is the fact that the seven-time All-Star is now unlikely to opt out of his contract (Yao has a player option for 2010-11) after this season, ensuring the team that Yao will be with the Rockets through the 2010-11 season. Yao has proven himself to be one of the top centers in the NBA when he is healthy and will turn thirty shortly before the end of the summer of '11. The injury-plagued Yao will likely be looking to secure the final big payday in what has been a terrific NBA career.
Pau Gasol, C, Los Angeles Lakers
: Gasol will head into the summer of 2011 as an unrestricted free agent looking to cash in on one last huge contract as a 31-year old. Gasol has established himself as one of the premier big men in the NBA after two phenomenal seasons as Kobe Bryant's sidekick in Los Angeles and was named third team All-NBA after the Lakers' championship season in 2009. As things stand right now, Gasol will be the best post player available in '11 (considering Yao's health concerns) and stands to cash in big if he can stay healthy and maintain the high level of play that has made him a two-time NBA All-Star.
Caron Butler, G/F, Washington Wizards
: Butler has developed into one of the game's top swingmen since being named first team All-Rookie back in 2003. The two-time NBA All-Star has improved his scoring average every year since 2004 but has missed an average of 19 games over the past three seasons. Despite his health concerns Butler's all-around game and overall productivity during his seven year career will make the unrestricted free agent a ton of money as the former Connecticut star enters the twilight of his career.
David West, PF, New Orleans Hornets
: West has a player option worth just north of $7.5M for the 2011-12 season and considering his growth as a player since coming to the NBA, West will likely decline the option and become a free agent in 2011. An All-Star in each of the last two seasons, West has seen his scoring go up every year he has been in the NBA. Few big men shoot the ball from the mid-range as well as West and with a game founded more on fundamentals than athleticism, West could conceivably play well into his thirties.
Josh Howard, F, Dallas Mavericks
: The Mavericks hold a team option worth just shy of $12M for the 2010-11 season which the team will likely pick up, making Howard, the former Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, an unrestricted free agent in the summer of '11. Howard has become one of the best two-way players in the NBA, wreaking havoc on both ends of the court. The 2007 NBA All-Star has quietly evolved from a role player into a vital piece of a contending team in Dallas. Despite a couple controversies away from the basketball floor, Howard will go into the summer of 2011 as one of the most sought after players on the market.
The Next Tier:
Jason Richardson, SG, Phoenix Suns
: Richardson became one of the game's elite scorers during his seven seasons in Golden State and Charlotte but saw his numbers drop significantly after being traded to Phoenix after 14 games last season. Richardson has two years left on a deal that will carry him into his thirties. Richardson has become a solid three-point shooter during his time in the NBA, a skill which could keep him in the league as his freakish athletic ability declines.
Richard Jefferson, F, San Antonio Spurs
: Jefferson holds an ETO on the final year of his contract, worth over $15M, which expires in 2011. Assuming the small forward doesn't exercise the ETO, Jefferson will be one of the free agent prizes in two years. Jefferson, who helped the New Jersey Nets reach the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003, is an explosive scorer who figures to be in high demand come 2011.
Tayshaun Prince, F, Detroit Pistons
: Prince has blossomed into one of the NBA's best two way players over the course of his career and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2011. The 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist is a match-up nightmare on the offensive end of the floor and has been named to the NBA's All-Defensive Second Team four times in his NBA career while helping the Pistons to six straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances and the 2004 NBA title.
John Salmons, SG, Chicago Bulls
: Salmons holds an ETO on the final year of his contract which is set to expire in 2011. If the burgeoning star continues his growth into a two way threat he could very likely terminate the final year and approximately $6M left on his deal and become a free agent in 2010. If not, Salmons will be a highly sought after player in the summer of 2011. In his first year as a full-time starter last season Salmons averaged a career high 18.3 points per game while helping the Bulls back to the playoffs after a one year absence.
Andrei Kirilenko, F, Utah Jazz
: Kirilenko is a do it all player who led the Jazz in 12 statistical categories in the 2002-03 season. The three-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection is one of the most versatile players in the NBA and his ability to stuff a stat line will make Kirilenko a valuable piece in the free agent market two years from now.
Kenyon Martin, F, Denver Nuggets
: Martin was a key player in the Nets run to back-to-back NBA Finals early this decade but injuries have slowed the two-time NBA All-Star in recent years. Martin has developed into one of the best defensive big men in the NBA, however, and capable big men are tough to come by, making the first overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft pick a commodity.
The Best of the Rest: T.J. Ford, PG, Pacers, Troy Murphy, PF, Pacers, Mike Dunleavy, F, Pacers, Nick Collison, F, Thunder, Samuel Dalembert, C, Sixers, Michael Redd, SG, Bucks.