Ah, free agency; the place where teams look desperately to find the one missing piece that might turn them into a title contender. This year’s class of free agents is especially impressive, as several quality players will be on the market. These 10 free agents will certainly be drawing in lots offers when July rolls around.
10. Gerald Henderson
When you’re stuck on the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, it can be hard to get yourself noticed, but Henderson has been secretly good for the last two seasons now and the rest of the league is finally starting to take notice. Henderson’s performance this season proved that he is capable of being a primary scorer, and several teams looking for a swingman who can put points n the board will be looking Henderson’s direction this summer.
In the 2011-12 season, Robinson was highly effective as the backup point guard for the Golden State Warriors, but since they were a poor team, he didn’t get a lot of press. Now that he’s taken his act to the major market of Chicago, all of the NBA knows how valuable he is. His 34-point performance in a playoff win against the Brooklyn Nets, in which he single-handedly carried the Bulls back from a 14-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation, was a fine demonstration of what Robinson is capable of when he is on his game. Robinson certainly has his flaws, but he brings enough to the table with his electrifying offense that he will likely draw interest from several teas this offseason. Anyone looking for a speedy guard to run the second unit would be wise to make a run at Robinson.
8. Jarrett Jack
Jack is backup point guard who could likely start for most of the teams in the league. This offseason, he’ll have a tough choice to make; continue to serve as the Golden State Warriors sixth man, coming off the bench for Stephen Curry, or head to another team, where he could likely earn a starting role. While Jack would probably love to start again, it would be tough to give up the situation he has in Golden State. He gets major minutes as a sixth man and he’s an integral part of one of the most entertaining teams in the league. The Warriors realize how essential he is to their efforts, so I would expect to see the do whatever is necessary to retain his services for the forseeable future.
7. Tony Allen
The Memphis Grizzlies have one of the scariest defenses in the NBA and Allen is a big reason why. His perimeter defense is unparalleled, as he is frequently able to intimidate some of the best guards in the game. The Grizzlies have established themselves as one of the tougher teams in the Western Conference and if they want to stay there, they’ll likely need to bring back Allen. It won’t be easy, however, because after everything he’s done the past three seasons, the rest of the league is now fully aware of what a defensive force Tony Allen and many teams will try to pry him from the Grizzlies.
6. Andrew Bynum
If we were going on talent alone, Bynum would be in the top three. After missing the entire season due to injuries and alienating the Philadelphia 76ers’ fan base in the process, Bynum’s stock has dropped considerably. The fact remains, however, that when Bynum, is healthy, he’s one of the best centers in the league. Based on potential alone, someone is likely to take a chance on Bynum. After everything that happened this season, Bynum’s price will have likely dropped considerably, meaning if they team who picks him can get him to actually, they’ll likely be getting a great deal.
In his first season with the Denver Nuggets, Iguodala hasn’t exactly blown minds, but he’s been quietly effective, bolstering one of the league’s weaker defenses, while occasionally putting a flashy dunk on the offensive end. Iguodala would be a quality pickup for teams looking for a strong defensive player who is capable of multiple positions. As the Nuggets look to establish themselves a yearly title threat, they will likely attempt to re-sign Iguodala. If another team is able to snatch him away, they’ll be getting an extremely dedicated player and an outstanding defensive presence.
4. J.R. Smith
Before this season–and even going into the first half of it–Smith was something of a mixed bag. Sure, he could light up the scoreboard one night, but he’d usually end up shooting his team out of the game the night after. With the New York Knicks this year, however, Smith vastly improved his game, putting together his best season as a pro and earning Sixth Man of the Year honors. Now, the Knicks will attempt to bring back Smith for the long term, but they may encounter some competition from other teams looking to bolster their lineup with a high-scoring 2-guard. If Smith can just stay out of trouble on Twitter, he has a very bright future.
Smith’s season really took off after the all-star break, when he averaged over 21 points per game.
3. Josh Smith
Considering how any times Smith’s name has come up in trade rumors, it’s almost hard to believe he’s still a member of the Atlanta Hawks. After being the subject of numerous trade rumors as the deadline approach, Smith wound up staying in Atlanta. This summer, he’ll hit the market and it’s likely that a ton of teams will be showing interest. Smith is not without his flaws–he takes way too many jumpers for one thing, but he’s also an excellent athlete and that’s why plenty of general managers would like to add him to their arsenal.
Dwight had an off-year by his standards, mostly due to his continuing struggles with his back injury. Still, he’s one of the best centers in the league and he has the talent to turn a franchise into a title contender. The Los Angeles Lakers will try their best to retain Howard, but after the ongoing misery that was the Lakers 2012-13 season, he might looking to head elsewhere, as the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks will inevitably be in the running. In spite of Howard’s struggles this year, he will still be an extremely hot commodity this summer.
1. Chris Paul
The best point guard in the NBA, CP3 is easily the most alluring free agent on the market this season. It looks as though he will return to the Los Angeles Clippers for the long-term, but until a deal is in place that can’t be known for sure. Many franchises would love to have Paul around and it would not be surprising if he received several offers this summer. If a team is capable of prying CP3 away from the Clippers, they will be scoring the ultimate prize of this year’s free-agent crop.