July 1 is right around the corner and for the NBA that means one thing: Free agency is about to begin.
It is a time where NBA reporters are constantly breaking the latest news and signings, while fans of the game stick to Twitter to follow these updates minute by minute. If you are not following Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports! or Chris Broussard of ESPN, you may want to start. They will not disappoint.
The 2013 class is rich in depth and you can expect teams to continue overpay. Players like Josh Smith and Monta Ellis will be seeking max contracts and most likely some team will pay them that type of money, as ludicrous as it may seem. The class is divided into three tiers, highlighted by the first tier with Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
The second tier has a lot of players in their prime looking to get these max contracts. Smith, Ellis, Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, Andrew Bynum and Paul Millsap highlight that group. The last tier is full of players who can bring tremendous value to a contender and may be the missing piece on a championship team. Brandon Jennings (restricted), Manu Ginobili, Nikola Pekovic (restricted), Jarrett Jack and J.J. Hickson are the players who can cash in as well.
Here are five potential signings that need to happen.
5. Al Jefferson signs with the Atlanta Hawks.
If the Hawks strike out on Howard and Paul, you can expect them to make a move for Jefferson. Jefferson is a strong player inside and he can consistently score with his back to the basket.
It could be Al and Al in the Hawks frontcourt, as Al Horford could slide back to his more natural position as a power forward. That 1-2 punch in the frontcourt would be among the best in the league and could enable the Hawks to be one of the more efficient scoring teams in the league.
4. Andre Iguodala re-signs with the Denver Nuggets
If “Iggy” is smart, he would re-up with the Nuggets. He’s a premier wing defender who excels on the fast break and the Nuggets are one of the most exciting fast-break teams in the league. Plus he has excellent players in their prime, like point guard Ty Lawson and forward Danillo Gallinari, to play with.
3. Josh Smith signs with the Houston Rockets
It is well known that Houston is hot for Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, but their consolation prize is Smith. The Rockets will desperately need help at power forward once they trade former first-round pick Thomas Robinson. They need a player who can attack and score down low, which is where Smith would be an ideal fit.
They may end up overpaying him something close to a max contract, but Smith paired with star shooting guard James Harden, point guard Jeremy Lin, center Omir Asik and small forward Chandler Parsons is a very strong starting five. Lin or Harden running the fast break or pick and roll with Smith could be tantalizing for the rest of the league.
2. Chris Paul re-signs with the Los Angeles Clippers
There is no way around this. It is a star-driven league and the players have the most leverage in terms of negotiation. The fact is that if Chris Paul wants Doc Rivers as his head coach and Kevin Garnett, the Clippers will not say no to the Boston Celtics.
The Clippers will not just sit back and watch their franchise player walk out the door, and there is no way they trade him. If and when the trade goes through, as latest reported by Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, the Clippers will immediately go from a team getting bounced out of the playoffs in the first round to a Western Conference contender.
1. Dwight Howard re-signs with the Los Angeles Lakers
The appeal of Los Angeles and an extra $30 million dollars will be too hard for Howard to walk away from. It is just that simple. He can ride it out one more season with Kobe Bryant and Co., contend for a championship and then become the franchise player for the Lakers to build around as they transition from the Kobe Bryant era.
I’m sure the Buss family will do more than enough to convince Howard Los Angeles is the place to be for the best big man in the game. Lastly, Kobe Bryant plans on making a big pitch to Howard to get him to stay and this is something that cannot be ignored. When the Black Mamba is selling you on a franchise in which he won five championships for, that is not something you close the door on.