Every NBA Team's Biggest 2014 Free-Agent Sleeper Target
Once LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and the NBA's biggest free-agent dominoes fall, the rate of signings and agreements across the Association figures to ramp up considerably.
But beyond tier-two talents such as Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza and Lance Stephenson, clubs throughout the league will be looking to fill out their rosters with a deep class of role players.
For instance, players such as Jordan Hill and P.J. Tucker represent under-the-radar rotational talents who figure to be had at a relatively small cost compared to some of the summer's biggest signings.
And while they may not be considered game-changers, the moment contracts are signed, these sleepers can wind up playing crucial roles at a discount once the regular season gets underway.
What follows is a comprehensive look at a sleeper free-agent target for each team. However, when digesting this preview, consider that a given target can apply to more than one franchise, although there are no duplicate names mentioned here for the sake of expansive analysis.
As a hectic signing period gets underway, keep in mind that the targets listed are indicative of each team's positional and tactical needs.
Target: Nick Young
2013-14 Statistics: 17.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 16.0 PER
The Atlanta Hawks freed up ample cap space after trading Lou Williams and Lucas Nogueira to the Toronto Raptors in a deal that netted them John Salmons, who will reportedly be bought out upon arrival, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
And now that the Hawks have a hole to fill at shooting guard, it would be fascinating if they considered Nick Young for the vacancy.
Following a career year with the Los Angeles Lakers that saw Swaggy P score nearly 18 points per game while shooting 38.6 percent from three, Young has put himself in prime position to secure the long-term commitment that's eluded him of late.
NBA.com's David Aldridge has more on Young's potential fit with the Hawks:
That leaves Atlanta in need of a scorer, and there isn't anyone in free agency -- outside of Anthony and James -- who can put the ball in the basket better than Young.
Atlanta has almost $20 million in cap room, and designs of going after an impact free agent. The Hawks had similar hopes last summer, but never got Atlanta native Dwight Howard's attention long enough to be seriously considered.
So they got a great deal with Paul Millsap (two years, $18 million), and rolled the rest of their room over to this summer. They again want to be free agent players. But in case it doesn't work out, getting Young would be a good fallback plan.
Young would have plenty of space to score on the perimeter in Mike Budenholzer's pass-happy, perimeter-oriented offense, but his frustrating ball-dominant tendencies would need to be curbed in order to make the fit truly work.
Target: Jordan Hill
2013-14 Statistics: 9.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 0.9 blocks, 19.3 PER
While it remains to be seen whether the call was cursory in nature, there's no denying Hill would be a natural fit in the Celtics' frontcourt.
Although Brad Stevens' club finished last season ranked No. 7 overall in total offensive rebounds, they graded out among the league's worst on the defensive glass (No. 24 overall).
Considering Hill averaged a massive 12.8 rebounds per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.com, adding an energetic player of his caliber would be one way to mitigate the potential loss of Kris Humphries.
Target: Kirk Hinrich
2013-14 Statistics: 9.1 points, 3.9 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 10.8 PER
Now that the Brooklyn Nets have struck out on their supposed "priority No. 1" (per GM Billy King, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News) by allowing Shaun Livingston to depart for the Golden State Warriors, they need to address their backup point guard position in a major way.
But since the Nets are only able to offer incoming free agents the mini mid-level exception of three years and approximately $10 million or contracts at the veteran's minimum, King will need to start bargain shopping.
One name that comes to mind as a possible replacement for Livingston is Kirk Hinrich, who played the last two seasons under Tom Thibodeau's guidance in Chicago.
A hungry defender who posted the second-best defensive rating of his career last season (102), according to Basketball-Reference.com, Hinrich would help bring a similar attitude—albeit less versatility—to Livingston's on that end of the floor.
Target: P.J. Tucker
2013-14 Statistics: 9.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals
The Charlotte Hornets addressed one of their many perimeter holes by adding P.J. Hairston in the first round of the NBA draft, but they still have plenty of room to grow on the wing.
One way to accelerate that growth would be to target swingman P.J. Tucker, who emerged as a reliable three-and-D weapon for the Phoenix Suns last season.
A 38.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc whose defensive intensity will be valued in Steve Clifford's system (No. 5 in defensive efficiency last season), Tucker feels like a logical addition alongside an offensive liability like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
The key here will be making Tucker an offer that the Suns aren't in the business of matching, considering Phoenix went through the motions to formally make him a restricted free agent.
Target: Caron Butler
2013-14 Statistics: 10.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 12.2 PER
According to NBA.com's David Aldridge, the Chicago Bulls were one of four teams to reach out to Caron Butler's camp during the early hours of free agency.
And boy would that fit make sense.
As things stand, the Bulls are marching into the summer with their depth at small forward comprised of Mike Dunleavy and the non-guaranteed contract on Ronnie Brewer.
But with Carmelo Anthony the apple of Chicago's eye, any interest in Butler would logically need to be tabled until free agency's biggest dominoes fall.
However, should the Bulls possess a smidgen of cap room to work with once their priority signings are announced, inking Butler would be a sensible move for a club that's always needed additional depth on the wing.
Target: Channing Frye
2013-14 Statistics: 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 blocks, 13.2 PER
With Spencer Hawes testing the open market, the Cleveland Cavaliers should be on the prowl for capable stretch 4s this offseason.
And if Hawes is unobtainable, Channing Frye would arguably be an upgrade at that spot.
A 37 percent shooter from three last season with the Phoenix Suns, Frye is the sort of presence the Cavs are searching for to stretch the floor in David Blatt's new scheme.
Here's The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto with some more detail on Frye's potential fit in Cleveland:
General Manager David Griffin likes big men who can shoot. Griffin also was with the Suns when Frye was brought to Phoenix. The 6-foot-11 Frye averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and shot .432 from the field (.370 on 3-pointers).
Frye fires away from outside, 432-of-778 field goal attempts were 3-pointers. He is an unrestricted free agent, and has a relationship with Griffin.
With Hawes reportedly seeking $8 million per year, according to the Los Angeles Times' Brad Turner, Frye could function as a cheaper—and more sensible—alternative.
Target: Mo Williams
2013-14 Statistics: 9.7 points, 4.3 assists, 2.1 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 11.8 PER
Since the Dallas Mavericks shipped Jose Calderon out to the New York Knicks in a package that netted them Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton, Rick Carlisle and Co. have understandably joined the list of clubs interested in adding depth at point guard.
Sure, they acquired Felton, but what he has to offer a contending team is nominal at best.
And while Dallas would seem to be interested in a reunion with point guard Devin Harris, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, it wouldn't hurt to shore up the team's depth with another veteran acquisition.
According to Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling, floor general Mo Williams "has big interest" in joining the Mavericks, namely due to geographic factors.
But whatever his reasons may be, Williams would be an excellent fit in Carlisle's offense as a savvy manager of the team's second unit.
After all, he played that role with the Portland Trail Blazers last season quite well, shooting 36.9 percent from three while totaling an assist percentage of 26.7, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Target: Dante Cunningham
2013-14 Statistics: 6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 blocks, 12.6 PER
Facing felony domestic-assault charges, stemming from an incident in April, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Andy Greder, it remains to be seen how much interest (if any) Dante Cunningham garners in free agency.
But one thing's for certain: Cunningham could help the Denver Nuggets' porous defense, one that ranked 21st in efficiency last season, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Bleacher Report's D.J. Foster recently broke down exactly the sort of contributor Denver should be targeting to solve their biggest defensive woe:
While Timofey Mozgov proved to be capable last year of blocking shots, the Nuggets still lack a strong pick-and-roll defender. Kenneth Faried should be that guy, but his effort and decision-making defensively wanes. McGee is gifted, but he's prone to making errors on a regular basis. J.J. Hickson is a disaster on that end.
Having Afflalo defending on the perimeter should help, but the Nuggets are going to have issues stopping pick-and-roll action. That's mainly due to the size limitations and inability to switch with Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson, but also the effort and intelligence issues of their big men.
If Denver is in search of more polished pick-and-roll defenders, Denver could feasibly target Cunningham at a low cost and put his skill set to good use.
According to Synergy Sports (subscription required), Cunningham allowed just 0.65 points per possession to roll men, a mark that ranked sixth among all players last season.
Target: Ekpe Udoh
2013-14 Statistics: 3.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 1.0 blocks, 7.6 PER
Now that the Detroit Pistons have addressed their needs on the wing by agreeing to terms with Jodie Meeks and Cartier Martin, it's time to go bargain hunting for a backup big.
One intriguing name floating around is Ekpe Udoh, the No. 6 overall pick from the 2010 NBA draft whose role was terribly marginalized with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Udoh doesn't provide much flash, but his per-36-minute statistics indicate that he could function as a nice backup shot-blocker behind Andre Drummond.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Udoh averaged an even two blocks while hauling down 6.6 rebounds per 36 minutes last season. And given his limited exposure last year, 19.1 minutes a night, Udoh would figure to come at a discounted cost to the Pistons during the latter stages of free agency.
Golden State Warriors
Target: James Johnson
2013-14 Statistics: 7.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 blocks, 18.5 PER
After agreeing to terms with Shaun Livingston for the full mid-level exception, the Golden State Warriors will be facing a hard cap next season.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Livingston's signing means the Warriors will only be able to acquire players via contracts at the veteran's minimum and trades after using their bi-annual exception on Jermaine O'Neal last summer.
Fortunately, we've come up with a cheap alternative for the Warriors, one whose breakout 2013-14 season flew under the radar.
Now an unrestricted free agent, James Johnson turned heads in 52 appearances and four starts with the Memphis Grizzlies last season, most notably for his high-flying acrobatics and massive rejections.
A fierce defender capable of guarding multiple positions, thanks to his quickness and length, Johnson would be a tremendous addition for a Warriors team that's already shaping up to be one of the league's best defensive squads on the perimeter.
Target: Ed Davis
2013-14 Statistics: 5.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.7 blocks, 15.9 PER
After supposedly serving as the centerpiece of the Memphis Grizzlies' haul in the deal that sent Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors, Ed Davis floundered in Memphis due to marginalized roles under two head coaches.
Neither Lionel Hollins nor Dave Joerger looked to implement Davis into a regular rotational role, and his numbers suffered as a result.
But the Grizzlies' loss may be another franchise's gain.
Davis now hits the market as an unrestricted free agent, one who figures to be had at a relatively cheap price given his age and upside.
And as far as potential suitors go, the Houston Rockets could be a perfect match.
Davis needs to find a club that runs a heavy pick-and-roll scheme on offense, and Houston does just that.
Last season, Davis scored a staggering 1.26 points per possession as the roll man, according to Synergy Sports, which ranked sixth among all players.
For their part, the Rockets ranked No. 3 overall in roll-man scoring last season at 1.11 points per possession, per Synergy Sports.
Target: Brandon Rush
2013-14 Statistics: 2.1 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 4.1 PER
The Indiana Pacers' offseason will revolve around the unrestricted free agency of Lance Stephenson, but even if he does return, adding depth on the wing should be of paramount importance to Larry Bird and Frank Vogel.
One inexpensive way to do so would be to give former Pacer, Brandon Rush, a look after appearing in 38 games for the Utah Jazz last season.
NBA.com's David Aldridge has more on why a reunion would make sense for both parties:
He's still only 28, and -- unfortunately for him -- he hasn't played much the last couple of seasons, so he hasn't accumulated the wear and tear many of his peers have. But Larry Bird saw something in Rush to get him on Draft night in 2008 (it was the same night the Pacers got Roy Hibbert from Toronto) from Portland, which took Rush with the 13th pick overall.
Rush shot 45 percent on 3-pointers two seasons ago and hasn't lost that skill. And the Pacers, in the bottom half of 3-point shooting last season, need help in that area.
With Evan Turner and Rasual Butler hitting the open market, Indiana remains one of the more logical landing spots for Rush.
Los Angeles Clippers
Target: Josh McRoberts
2013-14 Statistics: 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 13.8 PER
The Los Angeles Clippers need frontcourt depth in the worst kind of way.
Entering free agency, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan comprise the Clippers' starting tandem up front. And behind them, there's virtually nothing.
Glen Davis and Ryan Hollins are both unrestricted free agents, leaving Doc Rivers' bunch with considerable holes behind their two studs.
One intriguing solution would be Josh McRoberts, who put his name on the map with an impressive showing against the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
In four postseason contests against LeBron James and Co., McRoberts averaged 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting 47.1 percent from three, while attempting four shots per game from beyond the arc.
And according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman, Los Angeles is one of the teams interested in McRoberts' versatile skill set. The interest presumably stems from the fact that L.A. only has the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions to work with, and McRoberts would seem to fit into that price range along with bigs like Kris Humphries.
Capable of stretching the floor and crashing the boards, the former Duke Blue Devil would be a sensible and cost-effective addition behind Griffin and Jordan.
Los Angeles Lakers
Target: Darren Collison
2013-14 Statistics: 11.4 points, 3.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 16.2 PER
The Los Angeles Lakers are locked and loaded with plenty of cap space, but this isn't a summer that figures to see general manager Mitch Kupchak and ownership spend needlessly.
L.A. needs to fill out close to an entire roster, but we're going to turn our attention to point guard, where the Lakers need a sure thing after rolling out a platoon consisting of Steve Nash, Kendall Marshall, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar.
One viable option who could operate as a stopgap at the point would be Darren Collison, who suited up for the Los Angeles Clippers last season.
A capable distributor, and sometimes electric scorer off the dribble, Collison possesses top-end speed that floor generals across the NBA envy.
After operating as the Indiana Pacers' starting point guard from 2010-2012, Collison has bounced around in backup roles with the Clippers and Dallas Mavericks.
However, his basic box-score averages combined with shooting percentages of 46.7 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from three last season indicate he could be a nice short-term solution while the team sketches out its long-term blueprint.
Target: Troy Daniels
2013-14 Statistics (Five games): 8.4 points, 1.0 assists, 0.8 rebounds, 16.0 PER
Troy Daniels wasted no time when it came to establishing himself as a cold-blooded three-point shooter.
In Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, the rookie calmly stepped up in the game's biggest spot and converted on a game-winning three against the Portland Trail Blazers, setting himself up for future prosperity in the process.
Now a free agent of the restricted variety, Daniels is drawing interest from several teams.
One of those clubs, according to RealGM's Shams Charania, is the Memphis Grizzlies.
And the fit would certainly make sense.
After attempting the league's fewest threes and posting a three-point field-goal percentage that ranked 19th last season, the Grizzlies are in need of capable floor-spacers.
Daniels not only fits the bill, but he also would presumably come at a very low cost given his limited experience and exposure.
Target: Jameer Nelson
2013-14 Statistics: 12.1 points, 7.0 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 13.9 PER
The Orlando Magic's all-time leader in assists, Jameer Nelson was officially waived on Monday, ending his 10-year run with the team that acquired him on draft day in 2004.
Now able to size up his options, Nelson feels like a natural fit with the Miami Heat, who figure to have limited room to operate under the salary cap should the rest of their key pieces fall back into place.
Bleacher Report's Jim Cavan analyzed just how Nelson would fit in down on South Beach:
Assuming the Big Three return, it’s likely the Heat will look to upgrade at the point guard position—at least until Napier can be relied upon to hold the reins. Enter Nelson, who would basically become Chalmers Mach 2—a guy expected to do little more than guard his position and hit the open jumper when called upon.
With Mario Chalmers officially an unrestricted free agent, Miami can now look to add a cheaper alternative at the 1, and Nelson certainly fits the bill.
A willing passer whose career assist average sits at 6.6, Nelson would represent the sort of veteran presence that Miami has craved at the point for years.
His ability to knock down threes and space the floor (37.4 percent for his career) would be a welcome sight, too, after Chalmers underwhelmed in spots this past postseason.
Target: Rodney Stuckey
2013-14 Statistics: 13.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 14.0 PER
The Milwaukee Bucks need off-the-dribble scoring in the worst kind of way after scoring the league's third-fewest points per game last season.
Under former head coach Larry Drew, the Bucks ranked No. 28 in two-point field-goal percentage, knocking down just 46.4 percent of their attempts inside the arc.
And with O.J. Mayo functioning as the team's lone option at the 2 for the time being, the Bucks need to bring a veteran scorer aboard in order to help level things out.
Enter Rodney Stuckey.
Although efficiency has never quite been his thing (a career PER of 15.3 indicates his average tendencies in that department), Stuckey shot 45.5 percent on two-point shots last season while getting to the free-throw line four times per game.
Those figures aren't staggering by any measure, but the Bucks need consistency any way they can get it. And considering the team's inability to lure big-name free agents, they may have to settle for a player of Stuckey's caliber.
Target: Ramon Sessions
2013-14 Statistics: 12.3 points, 4.1 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 16.0 PER
After striking out in their pursuit of Shaun Livingston, the Minnesota Timberwolves will need to set their sights on another backup point guard.
Fortunately, this year's class of floor generals is so deep that they won't be settling much should they pursue a name like Ramon Sessions.
Sessions may not be a particularly polished shooter (43.9 percent for his career), but he's an above-average penetrator who got to the free-throw line 6.1 times per game in 28 appearances with the Milwaukee Bucks last season.
And after being shopped from the Charlotte Bobcats to the Bucks, Sessions proved to be a capable contributor, particularly in the pick-and-roll.
According to Synergy Sports, Sessions generated 0.95 points per possession as a ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, good for 15th among all players.
With Minnesota looking for veteran stability behind Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea reportedly on the trade block, according to Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy, Sessions would be a nice under-the-radar get for Flip Saunders.
New Orleans Pelicans
Target: Steve Blake
2013-14 Statistics: 6.9 points, 5.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 11.0 PER
After the New Orleans Pelicans failed to extend a qualifying offer to point guard Brian Roberts, it opened up a hole on their depth chart behind Jrue Holiday.
One could argue that Austin Rivers deserves a shot at increased ball-handling duties, but the statistics indicate that he's better suited for the 2.
According to Synergy Sports (subscription required), Rivers managed just 0.76 points per possession as a ball-handler in the pick-and-roll. Conversely, he ranked among the league's best in spot-up shooting, producing 1.2 points per possession in a play type that accounted for 15.5 percent of his offense.
With those figures in mind, it would make sense for the Pelicans to pursue Steve Blake, a seasoned floor general with plus court vision.
During his 27-start stint with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, Blake churned out a career-high 7.6 assists a night and shot 39.7 percent from three.
Considering the Pelicans ranked 29th in threes attempted, Blake's long-range shooting capabilities would aid Monty Williams' second unit in a variety of ways.
New York Knicks
Target: Emeka Okafor
2013-14 Statistics: did not play (herniated disc in neck)
If the New York Knicks are going to address one positional need in free agency, it has to be center.
Let Bleacher Report's D.J. Foster explain why:
After trading Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin, the Knicks face the very real possibility of playing Andrea Bargnani and Amar'e Stoudemire alongside Dalembert in lots of lineups.
If that's realistic at the moment, the Knicks need to make sure it becomes nothing more than a fleeting nightmare.
Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani had the two worst defensive ratings among Knicks bigs last season, surrendering 110 points per 100 possessions each, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
One player whom the Knicks could conceivably make a run at would be former Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns big Emeka Okafor who didn't suit up last season after suffering a herniated disc in his neck.
The rationale is as follows: Okafor undoubtedly wants long-term contractual security. But since he's now forced to demonstrate he's capable of logging regular minutes again, he may be resigned to signing a one-year deal of the "prove-it" variety. If that's the case, he would be an option for the Knicks and their mini mid-level exception (roughly $3.3 million).
Oklahoma City Thunder
Target: Mike Miller
2013-14 Statistics: 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.3 steals, 12.5 PER
The Oklahoma City Thunder's bench was by no means offensively inept last season, but in order to take a step forward, the Thunder will need to add some reserve scoring punch this summer.
Given the broad criteria established, sharpshooter Mike Miller would feel like a sensible target for the Thunder, particularly after they finished last season as nothing more than an average three-point shooting team (No. 14 overall).
It's also worth noting that Miller has been one of the players Oklahoma City has talked to since the negotiating period opened on Tuesday, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
Target: Garrett Temple
2013-14 Statistics: 1.8 points, 1.0 assists, 0.9 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 7.8 PER
According to Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears, the Orlando Magic are among the teams interested in point guard Garrett Temple.
And it's not hard to connect the dots here.
After waiving Jameer Nelson and adding Louisiana-Lafayette's Elfrid Payton in the NBA draft, Orlando is in need of a veteran presence at point guard.
Evan Dunlap of the Orlando Pinstriped Post offers more insight on what Temple could offer and what it would potentially cost to acquire his services:
Temple will likely not command a salary above the league minimum. He could add experience, ballhandling, and defense to a Magic backcourt lacking in each of those facets since the team waived Jameer Nelson on Monday.
Targeting Temple won't excite the fanbase, but filling out the backcourt with stable, low-cost veterans remains a priority at this stage in the team's rebuild.
Target: Rasual Butler
2013-14 Statistics: 2.7 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 41.9 3P FG%, 12.2 PER
Ever since Sam Hinkie changed the course of the Philadelphia 76ers' future in the summer of 2013, the plan in free agency has revolved around cheap stopgap options.
The majority of those players last season were of the younger variety, as the team sought to acquire unproven scorers such as Tony Wroten and James Anderson to fill the necessary holes.
Now, with the roster a tad more complete, Hinkie should be looking for shooters to round out this year's depth chart.
And after they finished dead last in three-point field-goal percentage last season (31.2), the Sixers will undoubtedly be on the prowl for low-cost gunners capable of filling it up.
One such option would be former Indiana Pacers swingman Rasual Butler, who made a name for himself in the collegiate ranks at Philadelphia's La Salle University.
Butler doesn't possess the youthful exuberance that so many of the Sixers' middling bodies do, but at this stage in his career, it would behoove him to try and boost his stock in any way possible.
Displaying a deft touch from outside in extended minutes with the Sixers would allow Butler to play more than 15 minutes per game for the first time in his last two seasons, while simultaneously putting his name back on the map.
Target: Chris Andersen
Age: 35 (turns 36 on July 7)
2013-14 Statistics: 6.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0. assists, 1.3 blocks, 18.5 PER
Nearly everything about the Phoenix Suns' 2013-14 season was a pleasant surprise.
From presumed contenders for the league's top draft pick to jockeying for a playoff spot in a loaded Western Conference, Jeff Hornacek reinvented the Suns as one of the league's most entertaining nightly watches in a matter of months.
There was just one problem: Phoenix's interior defense left something to be desired, as Miles Plumlee received very little help in terms of rim protection.
Here's Bleacher Report's D.J. Foster with some added detail on those nagging issues:
The main issue was that, when opponents got the ball inside or hit the glass hard, Phoenix would have little choice but to foul and send opponents to the line at an alarming rate. The defensive principles are sound, but the Suns can't make the leap defensively until they have someone protecting the rim and altering shots without fouling.
Nabbing Chris Andersen would (temporarily) ease some of Phoenix's concerns around the rim, and his postseason pedigree would be a welcome addition to a young team largely devoid of playoff experience.
Portland Trail Blazers
Target: Spencer Hawes
2013-14 Statistics: 13.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 blocks, 15.7 PER
According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Portland Trail Blazers didn't waste any time when it came to meeting with free-agent center Spencer Hawes shortly after the negotiating window opened on Tuesday morning.
Given the team's need for a reliable backup big behind Robin Lopez, the interest makes plenty of sense.
But at the reported cost, Hawes' price may be too step for Portland.
According to the Los Angeles Times' Brad Turner, Hawes is seeking a deal that will pay him $8 million annually, which would represent a raise from the $6.5 million he made last season. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a major concern. But considering Portland only has the mid-level exception ($5.3 million) to work with, it's worth noting.
And while the request may seem terribly gaudy at first, it's easy to see why Hawes would feel he outperformed his previous contract.
Hawes was one of two players to average at least 13 points, eight rebounds and shoot better than 40 percent from three (minimum 100 attempts) last season, according to Basketball-Reference.com. The other was Carmelo Anthony.
That statistic isn't terribly indicative of Hawes' value on the open market, but it does highlight a skill set that few bigs in the NBA possess.
A seven-footer capable of stretching the floor will always hold value. The question that remains is whether Hawes and the Blazers can agree on mutually beneficial terms.
San Antonio Spurs
Target: Kent Bazemore
2013-14 Statistics: 6.0 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 steals, 11.2 PER
The San Antonio Spurs have very few holes to fill after hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy, but that doesn't mean they won't be in the market for pieces to upgrade the end of their bench.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina, the Spurs have already set up a meeting with Kent Bazemore on Tuesday, July 8.
While Bazemore's hardly a necessity for the world champs, his athleticism would be a bonus at the 2 behind the likes of Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Marco Belinelli.
Also a capable scorer, Bazemore thrived in 23 appearances (15 starts) with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, averaging 13.1 points on 45.1 percent shooting from the field and 37.1 percent shooting from three after being traded by the Golden State Warriors.
Target: Thabo Sefolosha
2013-14 Statistics: 6.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 10.4 PER
The Sacramento Kings have loaded up at shooting guard during the last two NBA drafts, selecting Kansas' Ben McLemore and Michigan's Nik Stauskas in the lottery.
But for all of the young assets they've added, the Kings continue to lack a dependable wing defender at the 2.
That is where Thabo Sefolosha comes in.
Let Bleacher Report's Sim Risso explain just how much the veteran three-and-D presence would help:
As a team, the Kings were even worse defending the three than they were shooting it, allowing opponents to make 38 percent of their three-point attempts, which came in 29th in the league. Sefolosha's perimeter defense would help fill a team deficiency there.
The 30-year-old is also a solid individual defender. According to 82games.com, he held opposing 2-guards to a player efficiency rating of 15.0 (15.0 is league average) and opposing small forwards to a PER of 10.7. That's just what the Kings could use.
After the Kings graded out as one of the league's 10 least efficient defenses last season, per Basketball-Reference.com, it's time for management to complement an emerging offense with capable and committed defenders.
Target: Vince Carter
2013-14 Statistics: 11.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 15.9 PER
There could be no more fitting ending to Vince Carter's tremendous career than to return to the place where it all began.
With the Toronto Raptors in need of a reliable backup behind Terrence Ross, Carter makes plenty of sense, particularly after he demonstrated an ability to knock down threes at a high clip last season.
A 39.4 percent shooter from deep during the 2013-14 campaign, Carter still remains a viable weapon in catch-and-shoot situations off the bench.
And with the Raptors' two starting wing spots solidified and Lou Williams aboard as a potential sixth-man option, the addition of Carter would give Toronto some really nice depth in the scoring column.
Target: Ryan Kelly
2013-14 Statistics: 8.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.8 blocks, 12.6 PER
Gordon Hayward's restricted free agency aside, the Utah Jazz don't figure to be targeting many big names over the summer.
But one smaller name who could help fortify Utah's depth at the 4 is restricted free agent Ryan Kelly, whom the Los Angeles Lakers extended a $1 million qualifying offer to shortly before the signing period opened, according to Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.
A stretch 4 who emerged as a steady role player for the injury-ravaged Lakers, Kelly's three-point shooting improved as the season wore on.
In fact, his conversion rate from beyond the arc jumped from 29.3 percent in January to 39.3 percent in February and 48.6 percent in March as the rookie gained his footing in Mike D'Antoni's offense.
Following a campaign that saw the Jazz finish 25th in offensive efficiency, per Basketball-Reference.com, adding a shooter of Kelly's caliber could give Quin Snyder some nice lineup flexibility moving forward.
Target: Trevor Booker
2013-14 Statistics: 6.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.6 blocks, 15.0 PER
As the Washington Wizards seek to keep last season's core in tact, forward Trevor Booker seems to be getting glossed over during the early stages of free agency.
And although the Wizards don't figure to have much wiggle room under the luxury-tax threshold should they emerge successful in their pursuit of Trevor Ariza (Marcin Gortat has already agreed to terms, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski), Booker's value to last year's team can't be stressed enough.
Energy personified, Booker operated well in his role as Nene's backup, crashing the boards with determination en route to a per-36-minute average of 8.8 rebounds a night, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Additionally, Booker displayed an ability to step out and knock down jumpers when open. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Booker hit on 44.2 percent of his looks between three and 10 feet and 45.7 percent of his attempts between 10 and 16 feet.
For a player whose height would ordinarily make him a tweener, Booker's done well to carve out a niche for himself.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise.