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Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

Ranking the best free agents in the NBA, including some who could fit in Utah (27 items)

By , For the Deseret News

June 30, 2014

The NBA draft is in the rearview mirror, but the fun is just beginning for basketball fans because free-agency is just days away. This year's crop of free agents is as strong as it has been in a long time, thanks in large part to a few stars who used their early termination options on their contracts. In fact, this free-agent class has so much talent at the top that where they sign could change the complexion of the NBA for the next five years or longer.

With free agency beginning Tuesday, here is a look at the top available free agents, including a handful of players who would fit in well with the Jazz.

1 of 27. Honorable mention: Evan Turner, small forward, unrestricted

After a breakout season in 2012-13, Turner was primed to have another big year with the 76ers in 2013-14. The solid all-around player started off the season that way, but Philadelphia really struggled as a team and Turner was traded at the deadline. Although he landed on a much more successful team, Indiana wasn't a great fit for Turner. In 27 games for the Pacers, he averaged 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in more than 21 minutes a night.

2 of 27. Honorable mention: Shaun Livingston, point guard, unrestricted

After years of floating around the league, Livingston finally found a home with the Nets. He stepped into the starting lineup and helped to turn the season around for Brooklyn with his all-around play. In 2013-14, Livingston averaged 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 26 minutes a game.

3 of 27. 25. Avery Bradley, shooting guard, unrestricted

Bradley is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league and a much improved scoring threat. With the departures of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as well as the injury to Rajon Rondo, Bradley took more of a lead role with the Celtics and had the best year of his career. In 2013-14, he averaged 14.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals in almost 31 minutes a game.

4 of 27. 24. Vince Carter, small forward, unrestricted

Carter is in the twilight of his career but can still produce at a high level. He is long past his days as a No. 1 option or even a starter, but is a big-time contributor off the bench. Carter can stretch the floor with his shooting range and still is fairly effective off the bounce when his defender closes out too aggressively. In 2013-14, Carter averaged 11.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in about 24 minutes a game.

5 of 27. 23. Shawn Marion, small forward, unrestricted

Marion has been in the league for 15 years, but he still has plenty left in the tank. At 36, his best years are behind him, but he can still provide depth and veteran leadership for a playoff-bound team. In 2013-14, Marion averaged 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals in nearly 32 minutes a night.

1. Utah Man Sir am I
Spanish Fork, UT,
June 30, 2014

I would love to see Marcin Gortat in a Jazz uniform.

2. H8 Red
Centerville, UT,
June 30, 2014

What no Jimmer? ha ha. He's not in the top 27 but I think he could be a valuable asset to a team that needs a shooter to spread the floor.

3. Heidi T.
Farmington, UT,
June 30, 2014

I would love to see Jimmer with the Jazz and, yes, he would be an asset shooter.

4. 79Ute
Orange County, CA,
June 30, 2014

On getting LeBron James:

ESPN reported that LeBron wants a max contract and Utah is one of seven teams with the money to give it to him.

"So you're telling me there's a chance?"

5. Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA,
July 1, 2014

I think Jimmer will have a choice between Europe and the NBA. In Europe he's likely to make more money, play more minutes, and be more appreciated than the NBA. He can still play a role on a team like Chicago and maybe win some games for the Bulls. Don't expect major minutes however. It would be interesting to see which way he goes.