It’s that time of year again. To the armchair GMs like myself, this is one of the best weeks of the year. I was originally going to call this “Should I Stay or Should I Go”, but due to a limited salary, I felt a lawsuit from “The Clash” could get pricy. So here is my take on where this year’s relevant free agents will go, and where they SHOULD go. You’re welcome, NBA GM’s.
Part 1 From Atlanta to LA
Miami Players Hanging On To A Title Team
I’m just going to knock these out in bulk due to the relevance of how many old guys the Heat have, and where they need to go. Let’s be honest; Miami needs to clean some of the crud out of the cracks and focus on some younger rebuilding points for post-Lebron, Wade, and Bosh.
Ray Allen, SG (P)
Where he should go: Retirement
Where he probably will go: Accepted Option to Miami
Chris Andersen, PF
Where he should go: Away from South Beach
Where he probably will go: Away from South Beach (restraining order and all)
This one was a little more on the comical end, due to it being “Birdman” who should’ve named himself “Big Bird”. Unlikely, but I could definitely see a big, dramatic falling out between Andersen and the Heat, crazy ex-girfriend/Left Eye style. In all reality, I see the Heat (once again) re-signing old man Andersen. It’s a good thing the guy can play basketball, because McDonald’s would be weary to hire Andersen, had he turned out to be a normal Joe.
Mario Chalmers, PG (T)
Where he should go: Miami
Where he probably will go: Miami
The only legitimate offer Miami should consider is re-signing Chalmers. I personally, need to see more consistency from Norris Cole before I dump Chalmers for him. He’s exactly what the Heat need. Don’t believe me? Watch basketball sometime. Next question.
Juwan Howard, PF
Where he should go: Retirement
Where he probably will go: Retirement
I honestly believe the last standing member of the Fab Five will ride off into the sunset now, like he should’ve three years ago.
James Jones, PF (P)
Where he should go: Retirement
Where he probably will go: Accept Option
Rashard Lewis, PF (P)
Where he should go: Retirement
Where he probably will go: Accept Option (see the trend?)
Where he should go: Orlando
Where he probably will go: Milwaukee
From one bubble team to a rebuilder seems to contradict what I said before, but in all reality, I don’t think any other team will take a chance on Jennings UNLESS they guarantee a makeover. Let’s face it; Brandon Jennings needs an attitude makeover and a veteran to tell him to shut up and play. Rest assured, it will also take a lot for Jennings to get pried away from Milwaukee. Orlando would make a nice fit as an aide to Jameer Nelson, coming off his best year yet. Still, not likely for Brandon to switch zip codes. Sorry, bud. Maybe next year.
DJ: His Milwaukee teammates don’t like him and I doubt they’ll match a crazy offer. Not to mention, they don’t view him as a max player. Chris Paul has opted to stay in Los Angeles…so I expect Mark Cuban and Dallas to make a huge offer to Jennings. He wants to go to a bigger city since he’s from Los Angeles.
I think he’ll end up in Dallas. Especially, since Milwaukee acquired Nate Wolters. Starting a PG from a smaller school (South Dakota State) might sound crazy, but I think they might do it in order to guarantee they are in the running next year when Andrew Wiggins is available in the draft. Wiggins is supposed to be the next LeBron James and he’s a huge reason a lot of teams (Phildelphia when they traded Jrue Holiday to NO for Nerleans Noel and a draft pick) are trying to get in the Wiggins Sweepstakes.
Monta Ellis, SG, Milwaukee Bucks (P)
Where he should go: Oklahoma City
Where he probably will go: Milwaukee
Call me crazy, but I think if OKC decided to part ways with Kevin Martin, Monta Ellis might be an excellent choice to replace him/departed James Harden at the two spot. This would add another scorer Kevin was, and wouldn’t really interrupt the flow of things much. How things will really go; Monta will probably decline his option to get more money, and then Milwaukee will make some outlandish trade to try and persuade Monta and Brandon Jennings to stay (much like Brooklyn did last year with Joe Johnson). And the rest of the league will go on about their day. The end.
DJ: Atlanta. They will strike out on CP and most likely, Dwight Howard. They have close to 30 million to spend and they have to.
Ellis would give them a player capable of scoring 23-25 points per game and averaging 6 assists per game, helping rookie Dennis Schroeder adjust to the NBA. They could start the duo in the same backcourt and Ellis and Jennings both took turns running the offense in Milwaukee last year.
OKC can’t afford what Ellis will demand in free agency. It’s why they traded James Harden and will most likely watch Kevin Martin leave in free agency.
J.J. Redick, SG, Milwaukee Bucks
Where he should go: Miami or LA
Where he probably will go: Wide Open
This one is a little tougher. JJ is a plug and play kind of role player and is probably willing to play with anyone. He’s shown enough over the years for a good team to snag him. Needless to say, JJ deserves his shot to win a title. I mean, if Luke Walton or Steve Blake can hang on in LA for as long as they have…there is NO reason why JJ should get a “seats taken” remark from some of the contenders like LA, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, or Chicago. This is one player you can see playing almost anywhere. Whoever gets him should hold onto him as long as he can keep shooting the ball.
DJ: Utah or Detroit.
Detroit has big men galore, but they need a shooter like Redick to space the floor with his ability to hit an outside shot. He’d be a better option than OJ Mayo and Tyreke Evans, 2 players Detroit has met with already.
Detroit is also reportedly interested in Josh Smith also. Which is a bit shocking since they already have Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, but they’d probably keep Drummond on the bench.
It’s possible they could add both Redick and Smith since they have about 25 million to spend. And they would be a vastly improved team. However, if they do….Jose Calderon will be history.
Utah would be a smart choice if they want to add a shooter. He reminds me a little of a former Utah player, Jeff Hornacek. However, they have Gordon Hayward and he needs playing time to develop at SG. And
Where he should go: Minnesota
Where he probably will go: Minnesota
I’m putting this player on poison pill watch. He only makes five million dollars a year right now, and is probably set to make more should Minnesota keep him until next season. It would be a travesty if Minnesota didn’t match an offer for him from a low-level cellar squad. It all comes down to this; how much does Minnesota REALLY love Nikola? This will determine where he ends up this year. Until then, I see him returning to the Twin Cities for another season.
Where he should go: Brooklyn or New York
Where he probably will go: New York
Suffice it to say, J.R. belongs in the Big Apple. I really think the Knicks are happy with him and would welcome him back for another year. He’s getting too old to be starting fresh with a new squad. Having said that, J.R. could look to move out of Melo’s shadow. With Brooklyn actively looking for a new home for Marshon Brooks, Smith could easily move across town and step in to aide a Brooklyn squad on the cusp of being a solid mid-round playoff contender. The only problem; now that the Nets have acquired Paul Pierce and KG, Smith’s salary and spot on the roster have diminished greatly, propelling him to keep on at Madison Square Garden. Stranger things have happened, but I foresee Smith staying put…or at least close enough to call staying put.
Where he should go: Charlotte
Where he probably will go: Oklahoma City
With the Bobcats picking Cody Zeller in the draft, it might be smart for them to add some veteran status this week to a club with less collective experience than their median age. With that said, Oklahoma City might put up a fight to keep Martin in OKC. He wasn’t exactly terrible this year, and seemed to kind of fall into place after James Harden was traded. If OKC drops the ball on this, Charlotte might want to look into a babysitter for the “fountain of youth” going on in Charlotte.
Where he should go: Philadelphia
Where he probably will go: Philadelphia
The days of Andrew getting a max deal/being listed as a top center are probably over (for now). However, his days of playing in the NBA don’t seem to be over just yet. It’s no secret that Philly loves their basketball. Bynum being traded to Philly was something that honestly could’ve revived a team in need of a superstar. Bynum seems like a match made in heaven for Philly. The only hurdle is Drew staying healthy. It remains to be seen if Philly will re-sign Bynum, but honestly, should seriously consider the upside before calling a rap after one season.
DJ: I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he re-signs with Bynum for 1 year and 10-12 million or if he walks to the Cavs.
The Cavs are way under the cap and could afford to bring him in on a 1 year deal. Irving and Bynum would be a nice duo and if they could stay healthy….they’d be a lock for the playoffs.
Where he should go: Oklahoma City or Dallas
Where he probably will go: Chicago
J.J. Hickson did everything right this time; he had a great season in a contract year. I foresee Hickson being heavily sought after by some major players. If OKC decides necessary, a sign-and trade deal could be made for Portland to add some meat in the paint and absorb Perkins’ bloated contract in exchange for the young big man. Dallas could also take a similar approach, or sign him outright for a hefty deal as a “Plan-B” to fail to sign Howard. With that said its known Chicago is trying to get over the dip they are in. Dealing an aging Boozer away to make room for Hickson could certainly be more than a thought.
Tyreke Evans, SG, Sacramento Kings
Where he should go: Minnesota
Where he probably will go: Phoenix or Utah
It seems like Tyreke has been a in the middle of a whirlwind of drama since…he got off the plane. As none of this will go unnoticed with other teams, it is imperative to give credit to Evans. If I was on the Kings squad with the drama the last few years, (including the unnecessary acquisition/over saturation of guards) I would probably feel the same way. Having said that, a rebuilding team (like Phoenix) isn’t ideal for Evans, but might be in the best interest of different clubs to at least inquire. He’s not a max-level talent just yet, but could be with a little development and TLC. Minnesota is in the middle of trying to acquire Marshon Brooks from Brooklyn. Tyreke could be a better fit in a potential deadly lineup, and could bring more to the table. The only question is if Tyreke could possibly take a cut in pay in order to go to a rising squad rather than go to a low-level “habitat for humility” type franchise? Minnesota might not have the cap space to fulfill his salary desires, but certainly could entertain the idea of signing him. A (healthy) Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans, (healthy) Derrick Williams, (healthy) Kevin Love, AND a (don’t you notice a pattern of health) Nikola Pekovic could spell trouble for other west teams. It’s worth a shot, at least. After all, what is the worst thing Tyreke could say?
This one should be easy. Barring any crazy moves unparalleled to this universe, the Spurs should follow suit and keep their guys around. That said, SAS will match an offer for Gary Neal (with a poison pill risk at low to moderate) and re-signing DeJuan Blair, Boris Diaw (P), Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills (P), and Tiago Splitter shouldn’t be a problem for them. Welcome back to the NBA Finals, San Antonio.
DJ: Portland is very interested in Splitter and willing to offer him close to 8 million. But, the Spurs are also interested in free agent Andrei Kirilenko since he opted out of his 10 million contract with the Wolves.
Ginobili is done. I expect him to retire and Blair is most likely gone as well.
Al Jefferson, PF, Utah Jazz
Where he should go: Utah or Denver
Where he probably will go: Utah
Call me crazy, but this one might actually stay in Utah. Utah seems to covet him, and have talked extensively about making him a priority this off-season. The only deal; can they sign him AND Milsap to better deals? If not, then I vote Jefferson the one to stay. Upon departure, Denver could be a reasonable destination. Denver needs more size to compete at a higher level. Plus, Jefferson and McGee in the paint could be toxic for most teams. Either destination just seems to…fit for Big Al. Look for the Jazz to re-sign, though.
Paul Millsap, SF, Utah Jazz
Where he should go: Utah
Where he probably will go: Utah, wide open
To be honest, I don’t really see Utah letting Millsap get very far. I think they are going to find some way to keep him around with a nice mid-level deal. If he signs this, he will likely retire in Utah. If not, I don’t foresee Millsap being picked up as a starter for an elite team. Emphasis on the starting role. If Millsap accepts the same money but smaller role to go ring fishing, then let the games begin. Otherwise, my crystall ball (dim as it may be) sees Millsap staying in Utah.
Where he should go: Dallas, Boston, Miami, or Oklahoma City
Where he probably will go: Washington or Detroit
It has been a long fall for Trevor Ariza, going from one of the best defenders out west…to the pit of the league in D.C.. If I were Trevor, I need to get back to an elite team. It won’t be a starting role, but he can come in and average 15-20 minutes a night doing what these teams strives for the most; winning. Listed are teams that are prideful of their D. Ariza could end up signing on with one of those teams and live out the rest of his days on the top of the defensive world. What will really happen; Trevor declines his option to get more money, and re-signs with Washington, possibly a Detroit team trying to rebuild their defensive reputation. (Sigh).
Leandro Barbosa, SF, Washington Wizards
Where he should go: Wide open
Where he probably will go: Washington
Realistically, Leandro could return to a solid team with the mentality that his starting days are pretty much over. Much like Trevor Ariza and other fine players on this list, if Leandro could average a nice pay stub for a role position, the possible destinations are endless. It all depends on what kind of role he wants. If he wants to be a starter for a cellar team, then Washington is where he shall be. Otherwise, any team could take a shot at him and probably call it a win, due to his limited expectations and small salary usage. After all, it seems like just yesterday Leandro was yucking it up in the desert with a group of All-Stars.
Emeka Okafor, PF, Washington Wizards (ETO)
Where he should go: Dallas, Boston, or Oklahoma City
Where he probably will go: Washington or Toronto
The sun is getting to be a noon height on the career of Emeka Okafor. After showing off such a defensive power at UConn, Okafor hasn’t really lived up to what some thought he would be in the NBA. To contenders, he is a solid 6th man or role player. To a cellar dweller, he is the head honcho in the paint. The good news; the waves of normality shifted a few years ago when Dallas agreed to a sign and trade deal for injury-prone Tyson Chandler. Critics thought he was past it. Fans thought he was too risky for that kind of money. Dallas needed to do something. So in June of 2011, who was it that was laughing? The bad news; Okafor is a little weaker and a wee bit smaller than Chandler. Does he have it in him? I think so. Will it happen? Only in June of 2014 will we know for sure. Where he should go is a mid-tier team ready to rebound from a great loss. Should Dallas miss out on D-12 (thank goodness), Boston loses KG, or OKC decide to switch up gears and dump Kendrick Perkins, Okafor might find himself in a prime position to make something….out of nothing. But the sun is getting high in the sky for Emeka. He’s got to make a move now.
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