One Instant Contributor Every NBA Team Could Acquire in Free Agency
The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat may be doing battle in the 2014 NBA Finals, but general managers across the NBA are already looking toward free agency as a chance to improve for the 2014-15 season.
In free agency, we're bound to see signings that will soon be forgotten. Not everybody who earns a contract will play significant minutes, but each team hopes to improve, which is something certain players can help with instantly upon their arrivals.
When looking at potential contributors for this piece, free agents with player options will not be considered. Unless they've declared their intentions to opt out, there's no telling whether or not they'll actually hit the open market.
A team's own free agents also won't be considered, although potential replacements are fair game.
Free agency can be unpredictable, but it's easy to see that every team has a need somewhere on its roster. Finding the right guy to fill the hole is the tough part, but there are certain players who could step into certain organizations and make a difference right away.
Atlanta Hawks: Luol Deng
2013-14 Stats: 16.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.9 APG, 15.22 PER
The Atlanta Hawks and Luol Deng coming together almost seems too good to be true. The team needs to add depth and star power on the perimeter, while the small forward needs a change of scenery after his stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Both teams would benefit tremendously from a deal this summer, and according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders, it's a relationship that could come to fruition via free agency.
According to Pincus, "A three- or four-year deal ($37.6-$51.2 million) starting at almost $12 million might be enough to sway Deng, who doesn't appear likely to re-sign with Cleveland regardless."
With Atlanta coming so close to advancing past Round 1 this postseason, a signing of Deng's caliber would do wonders for the team's chances in 2014-15. Combine that with the fact that Al Horford will be making his return, and you've got a ballclub ready to surpass those who are stuck rebuilding.
Boston Celtics: Gordon Hayward
2013-14 Stats: 16.2 PPG, 5.2 APG, 5.1 RPG, 16.22 PER
According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, the Boston Celtics had interest in Gordon Hayward at the 2014 trade deadline. Ultimately, the team wasn't willing to deal any of its picks, which has turned out to be a smart move.
Entering the offseason, Boston not only has picks in hand (including the sixth-overall selection), but it has a chance to land its guy in free agency. Hayward is a restricted free agent, and if the Utah Jazz think he's not worth the $10-plus million he's likely to receive, the 24-year-old could be Boston's for the taking.
The obvious storyline here involves the reunion of Hayward and Brad Stevens. The two found success together at Butler, and the hope would be that the pairing could be even better the second time around.
That said, this up-and-comer has a lot to offer regardless of who's roaming the sidelines, and his versatility would make him a great fit for the rebuilding Celtics.
Brooklyn Nets: Toure' Murry
2013-14 Stats: 2.7 PPG, 1.0 APG
Toure' Murry. It's not a name most casual fans are familiar with, but it's one the Brooklyn Nets are interested in this offseason.
According to ESPN New York’s Ian Begley, Murry is "on the radar of a handful of teams." One of those teams is the Nets, which makes sense considering the current depth of the backcourt.
If Shaun Livingston leaves this summer, that opens up a spot in the rotation. Murry proved his versatility by playing backup to Raymond Felton in 2013-14, but he showed the potential to take on a great role down the road.
The Knicks will have the opportunity to match offers if they extend a qualifying offer before June 29, so while the likelihood of bringing him in is slim, it's worth taking a shot if you're Mikhail Prokhorov. Brooklyn is strapped for cash at this juncture, making a shrewd signing the best route to modest improvement.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Lance Stephenson
2013-14 Stats: 13.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG 4.6 APG, 14.72 PER
A Lance Stephenson-to-Cleveland move would easily be one of the most-talked about signings of the 2014 free-agent period.
The Cavs, while procuring young talent left and right, have yet to find a combination of players that leads to success at a high level. Stephenson, while having a high ceiling and an elite defensive skill set, became known for his antics in the postseason rather than his actual play.
A few things would need to happen for Cleveland to target Stephenson. First and foremost, it would have to put aside the thought of LeBron James returning. The money simply wouldn't work, and after what we saw in the playoffs, it's likely that The King would have even more incentive to beat the Cavs—not join them.
Cleveland would also have to avoid Andrew Wiggins in the draft. It's possible that the Kansas standout transitions to the 3, but at this point, most draft sites have him as a 2.
A Stephenson signing for Cleveland would be controversial, but there's no denying he'd jump in and contribute right away. Dion Waiters would slide back into his natural sixth-man role, and the team would have its newest starting shooting guard from Day 1 of the 2014-15 season.
Charlotte Hornets: Rudy Gay
2013-14 Stats: 20.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 18.40 PER
When it comes to Rudy Gay, we're going to break our own rule about free agents with player options. As B/R's Jim Cavan put it: "[...] it behooves Gay to at least put his feelers out to the rest of the league, to gauge whether another team might be risky enough to sign him to a better deal than whatever extension the Kings could give him ahead of next summer."
Gay is the kind of player who is going to contribute right away regardless of where he signs. He's a phenomenal athlete who's proven he can be efficient on offense, and if the Charlotte Hornets are lucky, they'll convince him that a growing team in the East is where he needs to be.
Although it's going to take more than Gay to turn the former Bobcats into a contender (they still have to get through the Miami Heat, after all), a player of his stature will easily boost them in the right direction. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has shown potential to be a great glue guy, but in such a star-driven league, it's questionable as to whether or not the team can truly succeed with Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker leading the offense.
Gay won't come cheap for this franchise, but he could be money well spent. Charlotte was just 23rd in scoring this season, which is where this defensive-minded team must improve moving forward.
Chicago Bulls: Nikola Mirotic
2013-14 (EURO): 12.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 46.1 3PT%, 0.8 BPG
Nikola Mirotic won't get fans excited the same way someone of Carmelo Anthony's caliber will in the Windy City. That said, he's someone the team has a real chance of signing this summer, and he's someone who would come in and play an integral role right out of the gate.
With the Chicago Bulls seemingly ready to amnesty Carlos Boozer, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times, a Mirotic signing becomes more likely. Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders has broken down how the team could realistically acquire the big man, and how it could happen with a deal starting at $3.5 million per year.
If Boozer is indeed gone, whether via the amnesty clause or a trade, Taj Gibson appears to be the next in line at starting power forward. Mirotic, however, will challenge for the spot upon his arrival, giving the Bulls a win-win situation when it comes to both their starting lineup and their second unit.
Dallas Mavericks: Marcin Gortat
2013-14 Stats: 13.2 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 54.2 FG%, 17.66 PER
Marcin Gortat is taking the modest approach to free agency. "I'm hoping that at the end of the day I'm going to be able to pick the team where I will play," Gortat told TrueHoop's Kyle Weidie back in March.
"I hope there will be a team, let's put it this way first."
At this point, it can be assumed that Gortat will encounter plenty of suitors. The Dallas Mavericks will have money to spend depending on how they deal with Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, and they'd be wise to look the big man's way when the time comes.
A player of Gortat's skill set would find a spot immediately in Dallas' rotation. Samuel Dalembert is on the books for another year, but the team was just 21st in blocks, 19th in defensive points in the paint and 27th in opponent non-blocked two-point percentage this past season, according to TeamRankings.com.
The Washington Wizards won't let Gortat walk without a fight, but if he can be had for the right price, he'd be a solid complement to what Nowitzki continually brings to the table.
Denver Nuggets: Thabo Sefolosha
2013-14 Stats: 6.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 10.42 PER
In an ideal situation, the Denver Nuggets would bring in a superstar to finally give them a true, consistent No. 1 option. The problem is that they're strapped for cash.
Signing someone like Thabo Sefolosha, however, would do wonders for their defense, which allowed 106.5 points per game this past season.
According to Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman, Sefolosha is unsure about his future with the Oklahoma City Thunder. When talking about what will factor into his free-agent decision, Sefolosha said:
I like winning. I want to be in a good place with a chance to win something, and that’s definitely something that we have here. So definitely the system is a big part of it. You want to be happy and be able to play to your strengths. But at the same time, it’s going to be a lot of questions going on in the summer and (we’ll) see where it takes me.
While listening to the 30-year-old, it's clear that he's not ready to spurn OKC just yet. The problem is that his role diminished this past postseason, and he might value playing time a bit more heavily.
Finding minutes in Denver could also be difficult, seeing as the roster is one of the deepest in the NBA (when healthy). That said, if he can establish himself as something of a defensive star, he'll get on the staff's good side early, giving him time to shine in a run toward the playoffs.
Detroit Pistons: Greivis Vasquez
2013-14 Stats: 9.6 PPG, 4.1 APG, 38.9 3PT%, 14.20 PER
The Detroit Pistons would love to put all of their free-agent eggs into one basket. That basket could be Kyle Lowry, Eric Bledsoe or even Lance Stephenson, but a more realistic signing is Greivis Vasquez.
While Vasquez will be more attainable this offseason than the aforementioned free agents, he'd still be effective in Detroit's system. Whether he comes in and plays backup to Rodney Stuckey or eventually takes over the starting gig, he'd be a great player to boost perimeter shooting.
Because of Vasquez's 6'6" frame, he can be used at multiple positions. If the Pistons want to play small ball, they can use the 27-year-old interchangeably between the 1, 2 and even 3-spots.
Vasquez played well for the Toronto Raptors, and that theme would likely hold true in Detroit. Fans will be talking about Greg Monroe until his fate is eventually decided, but a quieter move like signing Vasquez would drastically help enhance the backcourt.
Golden State Warriors: Jerryd Bayless
2013-14 Stats: 9.3 PPG, 2.7 APG, 2.0 RPG, 35.8 3PT%, 12.04
Jerryd Bayless' career has taken him to many different places. In six years, he's played for the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics.
Don't forget that he was also drafted by the Indiana Pacers and instantly traded to Portland on draft night.
In just six seasons, Bayless has become something of a journeyman, and entering his seventh, he'll have the opportunity to sign a new deal somewhere else in free agency.
In a recent piece written by B/R's Jim Cavan, Bayless is looked at as someone who could take a pay cut to play for a contender. As Cavan put it, "Depending on how they choose to parse their slew of team options, the Warriors could have enough room to bring Bayless aboard for a healthy sum—perhaps something in the $3-$4 million range."
If Bayless is indeed willing to put winning ahead of cushioning his bank account, this is a match that makes sense. Bench play was a problem for Golden State in 2013-14, and bringing in a combo guard with Bayless' skills would take away part of that concern entering the new year.
Houston Rockets: Trevor Ariza
2013-14 Stats: 14.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 40.7 3PT%, 15.87 PER
Trevor Ariza won't be the biggest name you hear this summer when it comes to the Houston Rockets. According to the New York Post's Marc Berman the team has had interest in Carmelo Anthony, and according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the same can be said about Kevin Love.
None of this should be surprising from the organization that has recently signed Dwight Howard, traded for James Harden and had interest in Chris Bosh, but it could be a far more frugal acquisition that pays dividends in 2014-15.
The Rockets and Trevor Ariza have had one go-around before. In 2009-10, the forward played 72 games in Clutch City, and wouldn't you know it, it was easily the best season of his career up to that point.
Since that season, the small forward has yet to put together such a strong year—until 2013-14.
The important thing to note here is defense. Simply put: Houston is horrible at it, and Ariza would step in and provide the perimeter presence this team could use on both ends of the floor.
No, Ariza isn't Love or Anthony, but he's a solid player who could help Houston. The NBA is a star-driven league, but it's the role players who often make the difference.
Indiana Pacers: Channing Frye
2013-14 Stats: 11.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 37.0 3PT%, 13.26 PER
Channing Frye doesn't fit the traditional mold of a defensive-minded Indiana Pacer. That, however, shouldn't be a problem, as his ability to put the ball in the basket is what would help this organization.
In 2013-14, the Pacers were 29th in bench scoring, according to HoopsStats.com. The only team worse was the Portland Trail Blazers—a team that relied on Mo Williams to account for more than half of its second-unit points by himself.
If the Pacers were to add Frye, there would have to be a shift in the rotation. Luis Scola and Ian Mahinmi are both still on the roster, but neither can spread the floor the way Frye can.
Entering the offseason, Frye has a player option he could choose to exercise, and according to Paul Coro of AZSportsCentral.com, the big man plans to do just that. The problem for teams like Indiana is that he hopes to sign an extension with the Phoenix Suns, but a chance at a title could be enough to convince the 31-year-old to head east for the final stages of his career.
Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Andersen
2013-14 Stats: 6.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 19.4 MPG, 18.56 PER
As deep as the Los Angeles Clippers go, they still haven't found a way to bring in a solid rim protector to spell DeAndre Jordan.
Jordan's improvements this past season might make you think that finding that pieces is less necessary moving forward. However, with Ryan Hollins and Glen Davis as the bigs off the bench, it would behoove the team to find someone who can protect the paint when the starting 5 hits the pine.
If Chris Andersen can come in and do for L.A. what he's done for the Miami Heat, it will be a match made in basketball heaven. At 35, the center is seemingly past his prime, but he's coming off a season that saw him actually improve, as he played in 72 games—his most since the 2009-10 season.
If Los Angeles can pry Andersen away from the Heat, it would be a huge move for the franchise. This is a team that is ready to contend; it just needs to find the right guy in the middle.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kyle Lowry
2013-14 Stats: 17.9 PPG, 7.4 APG, 4.7 RPG, 38.0 3PT%, 20.20 PER
Getting Kyle Lowry to the Los Angeles Lakers won't be easy. The 28-year-old point guard is set to become one of the hottest commodities of the 2014 free-agent period, and he's already expressed a positive sentiment toward the Toronto Raptors.
"I love this place," he said, per The Canadian Press (h/t CBC Sports). "I love this situation. It's as simple as that."
But it's actually not that simple. Or at least it won't be when teams start throwing dollar signs and promises of a great future his way.
If the Lakers can win the Lowry lottery, the floor general would step in and be an instant go-to option. Point guard has been a position of inconsistency the past few years for L.A., but an acquisition of this magnitude would change that immediately.
Memphis Grizzlies: Isaiah Thomas
2013-14 Stats: 20.3 PPG, 6.3 APG, 2.9 RPG, 34.9 3PT%, 1.3 SPG, 20.54 PER
The Memphis Grizzlies need scoring. More specifically, they need shooting.
Enter Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas, the 60th-overall pick in the 2011 draft, is coming off of a career year. Nobody predicted he'd put up the numbers he did, but that's what happens when your team trades your starting point guard and gives you the keys to the offense.
Despite putting together such a solid campaign, Thomas has two things going against him in free agency: size and the point-guard market. At 5'9", 185 pounds, the floor general is undersized even for the game's smallest position. The other problem is that virtually nobody is looking for a starting point guard.
While Memphis is obviously happy with what Mike Conley brings to the table, it has an opening off the bench with Beno Udrih becoming a free agent. Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.com wrote back in March that a general manager in the Eastern Conference predicts Thomas will get "between $4-5 million," and if that's the case, Memphis could certainly afford to make him an offer.
Miami Heat: Danny Granger
2013-14 Stats: 8.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 33.6 3PT%
Where Danny Granger signs this offseason will have everything to do with what he envisions for the twilight of his career. Does he want to make as much money as possible? Are minutes going to be a priority?
Or will championship aspirations trump all, sending him to a place where a title could legitimately be on the horizon?
If Granger is willing to take a pay cut, he would find both minutes and a run at a championship with the Miami Heat. We know he's not going to start in South Beach, but a contract with Miami would allow him to transition into the final stage of his career, molding him into a Ray Allen- or Shane Battier-type role.
The Heat's 2014-15 roster is impossible to predict because of their current salary situation, but the thought is that there will be holes to fill even if the Big Three returns. Take that into consideration, and it's easy to see how Granger fits.
Milwaukee Bucks: Darren Collison
2013-14 Stats: 11.4 PPG, 3.7 APG, 2.4 RPG, 37.6 3PT%, 16.21 PER
Darren Collison has found a comfortable situation with the Los Angeles Clippers. The 26-year-old has thrived as Chris Paul's backup, and he's proven he can play with the first five, having started 35 games in 2013-14.
The question is whether or not he wants to remain behind Paul after so much success this past season.
With the Milwaukee Bucks, Collison would always be challenging for a starting spot. There's an obvious need at backup 1, but with Brandon Knight running the offense, it's safe to say Collison could conceivably force Larry Drew's hand when it comes to the rotation.
The Bucks will have money to spend this summer, and Collison will be seeking a payday. This is a relationship that may never come to fruition, but if it does, the Bucks would have no qualms making the guard an integral part of the franchise.
Minnesota Timberwolves: P.J. Tucker
2013-14 Stats: 9.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 38.7 3PT%, 1.4 SPG, 13.31 PER
Most people haven't given free agency a second thought this offseason when it comes to the Minnesota Timberwolves. All talks at this point involve Kevin Love, and rightfully so.
Putting the Love saga aside momentarily, the Wolves are in an interesting dilemma. They need to procure talent if they hope to make the playoffs in the West, yet they have virtually no money to spend.
Looking at the perimeter, a player like P.J. Tucker could be productive. He stepped up his game this past season for the Phoenix Suns, and his ability to shoot from behind the arc is something the Wolves could use, as they shot just 34.1 percent from three on the year.
The big question is: Will a move like this be enough to keep Love happy? That answer is likely a resounding 'no,' but it's at least a start.
New Orleans Pelicans: Greg Monroe
2013-14 Stats: 15.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 49.7 FG%, 18.16 PER
Greg Monroe has played both power forward and center throughout his career, but unfortunately, he's not as versatile as a two-way player. He's yet to prove he can be a solid defensive presence, making offense and potential his biggest selling points as a restricted free agent.
Luckily for the New Orleans Pelicans, they have an elite defender who is only getting better in Anthony Davis.
Pairing Monroe and Davis together would create one of the most formidable low-post tandems in the game. Unfortunately for New Orleans, landing its man will be a very difficult task.
According to Monroe's agent, per NBA.com's David Aldridge, the 23-year-old is anticipating a maximum contract, and he's expecting the Pistons to match any offer that is extended the big man's way. The Pelicans won't have anywhere near max money to spend this summer, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders, which makes a creative sign-and-trade the only option.
Courting the 23-year-old will be difficult, but if New Orleans can sell him on The Big Easy, he could agree to the aforementioned scenario. Where Monroe lands has yet to be seen, but if it happens to be with the Pelicans, he'll be able to establish his role immediately alongside one of the best young power forward in the game.
New York Knicks: Steve Blake
2013-14 Stats: 6.9 PPG, 5.6 APG, 2.9 RPG, 37.6 3PT%, 11.01 PER
Barring a shocking twist that sees Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani opt out of their respective contracts, the New York Knicks will be broke as it pertains to free-agent funds. Even if Carmelo Anthony leaves, they have essentially no money to spend, which is where Steve Blake's relationship with Phil Jackson comes into play.
Jackson won't be coaching anytime soon for the Knicks, but he is a former coach of Blake's. At 34 years old, you have to assume Blake is willing to take a pay cut, and while the Knicks aren't the definition of a contender, having Jackson on his side softens the blow of joining a middling organization.
From the Knicks' perspective, having Blake on board would be extremely beneficial. The team hasn't had much luck finding players who can contribute on both ends of the floor, and while Blake may not come across as a solid two-way player, his perimeter play on each end is what makes him a valuable free agent.
As Grantland's Bill Simmons stated, "[Raymond Felton] was the league’s worst starting point guard, by every conceivable calculation, and somehow became untradable even with a cheap contract." Blake could step in and provide production on both offense and defense, giving the Knicks an apparent upgrade for the 2014-15 season.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Shawn Marion
2013-14 Stats: 10.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 35.8 3PT%, 1.2 SPG, 13.78 PER
Back in May, ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon reported that there was "mutual interest" between Shawn Marion and the Dallas Mavericks.
Unfortunately for Mark Cuban's squad, there's a team about three hours north that offers a much better shot at winning a title in the near future.
The Oklahoma City Thunder could offer Marion a chance to win without taking away his importance on the roster. A pay cut would certainly be in order, but his defensive abilities and perimeter shooting would keep him in the rotation as long as he stayed healthy.
A Marion-to-OKC move could be what pushes the Thunder over the hump next season. The 36-year-old has enough left in the tank to be productive, and if Thabo Sefolosha leaves in free agency, the team will need another defensive presence to step in and have an impact right away.
Orlando Magic: Shaun Livingston
2013-14 Stats: 8.3 PPG, 3.2 APG, 3.2 RPG, 14.52 PER
Shaun Livingston has revitalized his career, and he's earned whatever payday is coming his way. While it's certainly possible the 28-year-old commands a contract that's too rich for the Orlando Magic's blood, the team would be remiss to ignore him altogether.
Point guard is a primary concern for Orlando this summer, and with the No. 4 pick, it's likely it looks at Dante Exum in the draft. If he is scooped up somewhere in the top three, Marcus Smart also becomes a possibility.
That said, with Victor Oladipo's ability to play multiple positions, there would certainly be a spot available in the backcourt for Livingston even with the selection of a rookie floor general. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has also pointed out that there's a realistic scenario that sees the team waive Jameer Nelson "before his $8 million salary becomes fully guaranteed in mid-July."
Regarding free agency, Robbins went on in his report to say, "After wading into the 'kiddie pool' last summer, the team will be more aggressive this July." He went on to say, "But it almost certainly won’t go after a maximum-salary free agent."
That sounds like the definition of a Livingston-type player, and if it is, both parties should benefit from a relationship.
Phoenix Suns: Pau Gasol
2013-14 Stats: 17.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 19.34 PER
According to B/R's Ric Bucher, the Phoenix Suns are one of the teams that have the most to gain in free agency. "The Phoenix Suns, on the cusp of making the playoffs, have cap room to go out and get a quality big man," Bucher told B/R's Adam Lefkoe.
"And if you added a Pau Gasol or a Marcin Gortat to their mix, you'd have to think that they are a solid playoff team, even in the top-heavy West."
Let's stick with that theme. Phoenix looked into trading for Gasol at the deadline, and adding him now would give fans a chance to see what he could do alongside a vastly improved Goran Dragic.
Gasol joining the Suns makes sense for the 33-year-old as well. Phoenix is ready to make a push, but it also has minutes to give, which is a rare, yet desirable combination for free agents.
Seeing Gasol in a new uniform will look strange at first, but if there's any team out there that makes sense, the Suns might be it. He'd step right in and take them to another level, as he'd add another dimension to the team's offense with his low-post skill set.
Philadelphia 76ers: Patty Mills
2013-14 Stats: 10.2 PPG, 1.8 APG, 42.5 3PT%, 18.80 PER
A team like the Philadelphia 76ers would be foolish to sit back and assume Patty Mills is untouchable just because they're rebuilding. The question here, of course, is whether or not the point guard would leave a dynasty for a team starting from scratch.
The sell, if you're Philadelphia, is all about the future. Contrary to past evidence, San Antonio will in fact take a step back someday soon. The Sixers, on the other hand, are building toward tomorrow and have plenty of young pieces to entice any non-superstar.
The other sell is about money. Philly has plenty of it, and if it isn't frugal in its approach, the San Antonio Spurs might not fork out the coin to keep its guard considering how good it's been at finding (creating?) great role players.
From a basketball perspective, it's easy to see how Mills would be a fit for Philadelphia right away as long as he's not set on becoming a starter. Tony Wroten filled in at times this past season at backup point, but according to 82games.com, most of his minutes were spent at the 2, leaving a spot for Mills to take.
Neither Wroten nor Michael Carter-Williams can be counted upon to hit from long range, giving Mills the perfect role to fill into without stunting the growth of M.C.W. Mills wouldn't be taking away responsibilities from the starting point; he'd be complementing a talented backcourt player with his ability to make shots from deep night in and night out.
Portland Trail Blazers: Spencer Hawes
2013-14 Stats: 13.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 41.6 3PT%, 15.77 PER
At the 2014 trade deadline, CSNNW's Chris Haynes discussed with B/R's Adam Lefkoe the possibility of the Portland Trail Blazers making a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. The target, according to Haynes, would have been Spencer Hawes, as the team had a glaring hole in the rotation behind Robin Lopez.
Portland never pulled off a deal to land the big man, but if it could do so in free agency, it would be a huge step in the right direction.
At this point, names such as Emeka Okafor and Jermaine O'Neal (if he doesn't retire) can be inserted here if you believe rim protection is the biggest concern. Scoring, however, is just as big a problem off the bench, as Portland's second unit averaged the lowest points per game by a long shot, per HoopsStats.com.
If Neil Olshey could somehow convince Hawes to take a pay cut—or get creative with a sign-and-trade situation—the center would instantly be a vital part of the rotation. The Blazers have nobody outside of Mo Williams who can score with consistency off the bench, and having Hawes on board would allow players like Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge to rest more than they did this past season.
Sacramento Kings: Kirk Hinrich
2013-14 Stats: 9.1 PPG, 3.9 APG, 2.6 RPG, 25.1 3PT%, 10.80 PER
The Sacramento Kings are going to try and re-sign Rudy Gay this summer. If they succeed, they'll have very little cash to spend in free agency.
With the possibility of losing Isaiah Thomas looming, going after someone like Kirk Hinrich makes sense. The veteran played most of his minutes at point guard this past year, per 82games.com, but he's proven he can slide in and out of both backcourt spots throughout his 11-year career.
Not only would Hinrich fill a potential positional need, but he'd help with two major deficiencies: shooting and perimeter defense. The former Kansas Jayhawk has been a reliable three-pointer shooter since his first season, and he's surprisingly disruptive on the other end considering his less-than-imposing stature.
San Antonio Spurs: Evan Turner
2013-14 Stats: 14.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 12.43 PER
Evan Turner believes he can ball. After getting traded to the Indiana Pacers, he understands that his value as a free agent has diminished, but he truly believes in his heart that he can still play basketball at the level he's supposed to as a former No. 2 pick.
According to Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star, Turner said after the 2013-14 season, "Clearly, you're judged on, like, your last game, the last couple of months then it probably wasn't ideal for me in regards to (the) contract but at the same time, I think it's known that I can play basketball and everything will work itself out."
Well, if there's any organization that can turn a role player into an integral part of a rotation, it's the San Antonio Spurs.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, San Antonio has had interest in Turner in the past. At the 2014 deadline, the team considered making a deal for the fourth-year player.
Bringing him in now will add an element of youth and athleticism that this group needs. The Spurs' championship window is (slowly) closing, and having as many assets as possible is a good thing moving forward.
Toronto Raptors: Eric Bledsoe
2013-14 Stats: 17.7 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.7 RPG, 35.7 3PT% 19.62 PER
Because we're not including any team's own free agents, Kyle Lowry is left out when it comes to the Toronto Raptors.
However, because we're not shying away from finding potential replacements, Eric Bledsoe is fair game.
If Lowry leaves Toronto (hypothetically speaking), Bledsoe would be an excellent replacement. The Raptors could end up with a lot of money to spend if it can't retain its free agents, and luckily for them, that's exactly what Bledsoe is looking for.
According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, NBA sources believe "it will take full max deal to control free agent Bledsoe." Toronto will need a point guard if Lowry leaves, and while max money is tough to shell out, Bledsoe could provide the type of return on investment necessary to compete in a top-heavy Eastern Conference.
Utah Jazz: Avery Bradley
2013-14 Stats: 14.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 39.5 3PT%, 12.80 PER
Avery Bradley is coming off a career year. He proved he can play both the 1 and the 2, but with shooting guard being his primary position, he'd be an excellent player alongside Trey Burke for the Utah Jazz.
Although Utah is hoping to bring back Gordon Hayward, having a contingency plan is always beneficial. Hayward is seeking a big-time payday, and there's always the chance he receives an offer Utah isn't willing to match.
Whether Hayward stays or goes, Bradley would be a solid player in the rotation. He's become known as a defensive specialist, which Utah could use, as it was just 18th in defensive scoring and 28th in three-point percentage allowed.
Washington Wizards: Chandler Parsons
2013-14 Stats: 16.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.0 APG, 37.0 3PT%, 15.90 PER
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Houston Rockets are planning on letting Chandler Parsons become a restricted free agent this summer. If this ends up being the case, the Washington Wizards should be on the prowl.
While Washington will have its hands full trying to retain Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza, there's no question that Parsons offers much higher upside. Letting the two walk was never considered the ideal scenario, but with money to spend, Parsons would boost the team's offense alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal.
As B/R's D.J. Foster points out, Parsons already has somewhat of a connection to the organization. "[Dan] Fegan practically runs Washington," Foster said of Parson's agent. "As he's the agent for John Wall, Nene, Martell Webster, Al Harrington and Drew Gooden."
Houston will have the ultimate say in the matter, as it can match any offer Parsons receives. But if there's one franchise that should take a shot, it's the up-and-coming Wizards, who are hungry to become contenders out East.
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