Where will some of the unrestricted free agents go this offseason?

1-Carmelo Anthony.Melo

I think he’s as good as gone, I doubt he wants to stick around and rebuild in Gotham. He wants to be wined, dined and woo’ed like Dwight Howard was last summer. I think the Chicago Bulls will win his services because they clearly lacked a go-to-scorer in their playoff series against the Washington Wizards, losing in five games.

Having a player like Melo would have been a much needed boost against a team like the Wizards and he gives them a prolific scorer who can put up 25ppg, something they desperately need with Rose being out of action most of the time the last few seasons. Chicago averaged just 90 points per game, worst among the 16 teams that qualified for the postseason. Taj Gibson was their leading scorer at 18.2ppg, followed by Jimmy Butler at 13.6 and Mike Dunleavy at 13.

2-Pau Gasol.

Gasol has worn out his welcome in Los Angeles and in all honesty, might be better served leaving and starting over somewhere else. Gasol has battled injuries the last few seasons and isn’t the player he used to be (20ppg and 10 rebounds per game), but he is still capable of posting 16-17ppg and 9rpg. He is a versatile player who can score, pass and rebound and would fit in with them seamlessly.

My selection will come as a surprise to most, but I think he signs with the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats surprised a lot of people this season when they made the playoffs and they did it with Josh McRoberts starting at power forward. I think Gasol gets paid 10-12 million per season (they have the cap space to pay him that) and goes to a team that has serious playoff aspirations next season.

A frontcourt of Jefferson at center, Gasol at power forward and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at small forward is quite impressive. Especially, at the power positions with Gasol and Jefferson, Gasol is a good enough passer to kick the ball out when he gets double teamed. Jefferson will benefit from having a better offensive threat at PF, and they’ll have an impressive trio in Jefferson, Walker and Gasol.

3-Dirk Nowitzki.Dirk

He is getting older, but he’s still a clutch player and can step up when needed, like he did in game six against the Spurs with his 22 point performance (on 11-of-17 shooting). He’s never been a great rebounder, but he’s the classic textbook definition of a stretch four, a power forward who can step out to the perimeter and hit the wide open 3-pointer. There’s very little doubt he will re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks.

4-Paul Pierce.Paul Pierce

Pierce is gone after this season and the perfect destination for him is the Los Angeles Clippers. Pierce is very familiar with coach Doc Rivers and PP has more left in the tank than fellow teammate Kevin Garnett who needs to hang it up. Pierce isn’t the same player who used to score 20-plus ppg on the Boston, but he has shown in this postseason he can still score with clutch shots and timely defense. He isn’t the lockdown defender he used to be, but he’s an upgrade over Jared Dudley, Danny Granger, and Hedo Turkoglu, the players LA has been forced to use at SF. He’d be a solid fit on a team that needs a small forward to score 13-14ppg, play some defense and provide some leadership.

5-Kyle Lowry.

Lowry showed he is a point guard that can run a team and has had a solid postseason (19.8ppg, 5apg, and 4.7rpg through six games as of Friday evening) to lead the Raptors after their early season trade of Rudy Gay when most pundits had them tanking to get a higher draft pick in the lottery and land native son Andrew Wiggins. As much as the signs point to him leaving, I think the Toronto Raptors re-sign him. They had an amazing run after the trade of Gay and the Atlantic is very winnable again next season with the Knicks, 76ers and Celtics all in rebuild mode, the Brooklyn Nets are their only real competition.

6-Luol Deng.

Deng was traded to the Cavs and bombed miserably (averaging 14.3ppg, 5.1rpg and 2.5apg after averaging 19ppg, 6.9rpg and 3.7apg with Chicago), but in the right situation he could be a nice asset at the SF position. I think the Dallas Mavericks will sign him and he’ll replace free agent Shawn Marion. Dallas needs another player to fit in with Dirk (virtual certainty he re-signs with them), and Ellis. They need a 3rd option to go to on offense, the 3rd leading scorer was sixth man Vince Carter.

7-Lance Stephenson.

He’s an excellent young player who has shown major growth this season (he averaged 13.8ppg, 7.2rpg, and 4.6apg after averaging 8.8ppg, 3.9rpg and 2.9apg in 20120-2013) and would have been a little higher on this list, except for his two skirmishes with two different team-mates. He has a hot temper and will need to go to a team that has a veteran influence and can mentor him.

I think he’ll sign with the Los Angeles Lakers when LA strikes out on the Eric Bledsoe poison pill contract. Stephenson is a good enough passer to start next to Kobe Bryant in the same backcourt and Bryant has the personality and temperament to mentor the youngster.

8-Trevor Ariza.

Ariza revived his career this season (14.4ppg, 6.2rpg, 2.5apg, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 45.6% and 40.7% on 3-pointers) and was a factor in the Wizards making the playoffs and beating the Bulls in five games. Ariza stepped up his game in the postseason (15.6ppg, 8.6rpg, 2.2apg and 1.2spg) and was a huge reason Chicago averaged just 90ppg. Ariza’s man-to-man defense and help defense is excellent and he’ll be re-signed by the Wizards. I think they’ll keep Marcin Gortat and Ariza and proceed with their core players.

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Big time sports fan of the Lakers, Raiders, Angels and Dodgers. From 1990-1995, I worked at the Glendale News-Press and I had a blast. I covered mainly high school sporting events and Glendale Community College athletic events, but also attended Dodgers, Raiders, and Rams games. I also write for Joel Huerto (former co-writer and editor at the GNP) at onemanfastbreak.net. I watch a lot of sports on TV (basketball, football, usually just postseason MLB) and UFC.

11 Comments

  1. Very good! I agree with Deng going to Dallas. He would be a perfect fit in their offense.

    I thought Ariza was SEVERLY undervalued in Washington. I’m not sure if Washington will find him expendable or not. Kind of a toughie.

    I think that as long as Mitch Kupchak is the GM, that Pau will always have a place on the team. Call me crazy, but this whole deal with Paul on the block all the time seemed more like L.A. putting out feelers and trying to get a steal like they did trading for Gasol. They’ve been trying to move Gasol for a few years now and the “right offer hasn’t come through”. Could be true…or it could be Kuppy doesn’t want to part with him. There may be more to it, that’s all I’m saying. Great stuff DJ!

  2. Nice article; I enjoyed reading this one. I agree with several of your opinions, like Melo to The Bulls and Dirk, Lowry and Ariza all resigning with their current teams.

    I think Pau winds up in San Antonio, though. Duncan is almost certainly retiring after this year allegedly and SA will have a huge need at PF, plus the necessary cap space. Also I believe Paul Pierce will resign in Brooklyn although the Clippers seem logical if he bails.

    The last two are just hunches but I think Stephenson will go to the Knicks and Deng to the Suns. NY will need something, someone to be a “star” after Melo’s seemingly inevitable departure and you just know Lance loves the bright lights and probably would love returning to NY. And Deng seems to fit Phoenix’s style of offense and the Suns should have money available even if they re-sign Bledsoe.

    Good stuff; I love articles that ponder possible destinations for free agents and rookies and such. Hope to see more like this in the future.

  3. Melo’s gone, David. He’s not sticking around NY to rebuild. He’s going to head to some team that has a shot at the playoffs, he’s not getting any younger. And the Bulls are the perfect landing spot for him.

  4. The thing with Kobe and Lance on the Lakers is that it’s a boom or bust thing. Yes, Kobe could keep the kid in line. Or he could hate the kid’s guts by midseason. You’ll find no bigger Lance supporter than myself but that combination on the same team frightens me.

    As a Lakers fan I pray that they don’t sign Lance. Love the kid, but I don’t share the same optimism that you do about Kobe taking him under his wing.

  5. Kobe? Wing?

    This is from the same guy that said Jordan would be a good mentor.

    If I was Lance I would sooner trust Kobe with my wife in a layover at the Denver Airport than with my basketball career

  6. You’re right I did say Jordan would be a good mentor. I’d listen to my boss (Jordan). I wouldn’t listen to my asshole coworker (Kobe). A difference.

    As far as the wife crack: LOL. I’ll give you that.

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