Attempting to predict what will happen during any NBA offseason is never an easy task. Depending on what decisions are made with team or player contract options, certain teams could have enough cap space to offer maximum deals to superstars or be left with spare change to fill out the roster after bringing back the majority of their core. The 2013 offseason will be no different and with a high caliber of free agents seemingly on the market, a number of teams will be making a concerted effort to shed salary and make an offer for a star.
Without the benefit of knowing the exact details of how much each team will have or what certain players will command on their next salary, here is a look at one free agent that could help each team in the league. This list assumes that the teams that potentially could have cap space will use it. To make things a little more interesting we will only list each free agent once.
The drama in L.A. could make Dwight Howard a free agent option for the Hawks.
Photo Credit: Bridget Samuels, Flickr.com
Atlanta Hawks: Dwight Howard
The Hawks are set up to be big free agency players in the off-season. They have their own free agent situations to deal with in Jeff Teague and Josh Smith, but will realistically be in play to land one of the high end free agents.
Dwight Howard is an Atlanta native and is having a nightmare season in Los Angeles. If he decides to bolt the Lakers, the Hawks would be one of the few teams he would consider and he could form the best front court in the league with former All-Star big man Al Horford.
Boston Celtics: Sam Dalembert
If the Celtics retain the majority of their current squad, including the return of All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, they will only be looking at making minor free agent additions. With Larry Sanders taking over the center position in Milwaukee, Sam Dalembert has found himself on the outs and could look to join a contender after years earning big money on lottery teams.
If he came cheap, the Celtics could use Dalembert’s size, rebounding and shot-blocking ability off the bench to spell Kevin Garnett throughout the season.
Brooklyn Nets: Jason Maxiell
The Nets are currently paying Kris Humphries $12 million a season to sit on the bench out of the rotation while they start minimum-contract veteran Reggie Evans. In order to upgrade their power forward position, the Nets could target Jason Maxiell, who looks likely to leave Detroit now that Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe seemingly have the frontcourt positions locked up long term. Maxiell could replicate Evans’ rebounding, but also add a strong inside finisher to the Nets’ starting unit.
Charlotte Bobcats: Brandon Wright
It is important for the Bobcats not to go out and overpay veteran free agents with their cap space. They are still in the early phases of a rebuild and will get another high pick to work with in the draft. Brandon Wright is a long, athletic front court player still with a great deal of potential. In a thin Charlotte frontcourt he could conceivably earn a starting role and with a significant minute increase could prove to be a valuable, long-term contributor to the team.
Chicago Bulls: Timofey Mozgov
Last offseason, the Bulls were forced to let go of backup center Omer Asik. Asik and fellow bench frontcourt player Taj Gibson had given Chicago an exceptional defensive line up off the bench and Asik’s presence has been missed when All-Star big man Joakim Noah is off the floor.
Timofey Mozgov may not be the player Asik is, but under coach Tom Thibodeau, he could develop his defense and could become a valuable role player in a similar role as Asik had filled for the team in the past.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Al-Farouq Aminu
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in an excellent position going forward. With a young superstar in Kyrie Irving, a team full of developing lottery talent and cap space to spare, things are looking great for a team that has struggled since the departure of LeBron James.
Al-Farouq Aminu is a long, versatile defensive wing player with the athletic ability to play both forward positions. Still with a great deal of untapped potential and filling a position of need for the young Cavs, they could lock him up long term to continue developing with the rest of their young studs.
Brandon Jennings appears to be on his way out of Milwaukee.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr.com
Dallas Mavericks: Brandon Jennings
The Mavericks retained their cap flexibility from last season so they can again attempt to sign a star to pair with big man Dirk Nowitzki. While they will no doubt make a play at the likes of Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, Dallas would be well served to finally make a commitment to some talented youngsters to take them into the next phase of the franchise.
Brandon Jennings is an explosive, scoring point guard with a developing playmaking game and the attitude to be a star. It would take commitment from Jennings and the coaches for him to reach his potential but Dallas may be the right fit for him to take his game to the next level.
Denver Nuggets: Gerald Henderson
The Nuggets are a deep, high-paced team and are seemingly set at every position. One obvious issue they have is a lack of shooting and someone coming off the bench who can create their own shot. Gerald Henderson has the ability to do both and is athletic enough to fit right in to the Nuggets’ high octane offense.
After a disappointing season in Charlotte, both Henderson and the Nuggets could benefit from letting the young free agent shooting guard utilise his offensive game off the Denver bench.
Detroit Pistons: O.J. Mayo
The Detroit Pistons are set in the front court with Greg Monroe and rookie Andre Drummond. The imposing big-man tandem is at the core of the Pistons’ future plans along with combo guard Brandon Knight.
After a disappointing stretch in Memphis, O.J. Mayo has had an excellent season in Dallas showing he is capable of being an efficient, productive scorer with the ability to run the offense. Along with Knight in the backcourt, Mayo would open the floor up for the talented front court and get ample opportunities to score for himself.
Golden State Warriors: Zaza Pachulia
Despite being without their new starting center, Andrew Bogut, for the majority of the season, the Warriors have proven to be a legitimate playoff-caliber team even in the tough Western Conference. In place of Bogut, the Warriors have started rookie big man Festus Ezeli, but could really use a tried-and-tested veteran free agent to fill in off the bench or start when Bogut is unavailable.
Zaza Pachulia is an experienced playoff performer who would provide the Warriors with a bruising inside presence when Bogut is off the floor.
Houston Rockets: Paul Millsap
Despite having almost an entirely new team from the previous season, the Rockets have played themselves into a likely playoff appearance this season. With cap space to burn and a number of key positions already locked up long term, the search for a front court partner for Omer Asik will take priority.
Paul Millsap is seemingly a perfect fit alongside the rest of the Rockets’ current starting core. His ability to score from inside, spread the floor with his jump shot and contribute on the glass would be a superb addition to an already improving team.
Indiana Pacers: Devin Harris
The Indiana Pacers are one of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference this season and with a young core at the heart of their team it seems they are poised for many years of deep playoff runs. With team chemistry at an all-time high and many positions locked up long term, in an effort to boost the bench they could target point guard Devin Harris.
Harris is a speedy, pass first point guard who would fit well with a team that starts combo guard George Hill at the point. Harris would thrive dishing to the athletic swingmen and sizable front court in Indiana and the players would benefit from having a quick, distributing point guard such as Harris coming off the bench.
One of the league’s best defenders, Tony Allen would be a huge free agent addition for a playoff team.
Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule
Los Angeles Clippers: Tony Allen
The Los Angeles Clippers are now going all out to become a championship contender. This season’a playoffs may well determine what areas the team needs improvement, but one certainty is that any playoff team would love to add arguably the league’s best perimeter defender in Tony Allen to their ranks.
With Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill potentially in their last season, minutes could open up in the Clippers rotation and Allen is a proven lock down playoff performer. With the likes of Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook, James Harden, Kobe Bryant and more out West, having the tenacious defense of Allen on an already-imposing squad could push them over the top.
Los Angeles Lakers: Dorell Wright
The Lakers will have a number of issues to address at the end of the season and with limited money, few of them will come from free agency. One addition that could provide huge benefit without costing a great deal would be swingman Dorell Wright.
Wright brings three things that the Lakers desperately need, athleticism, outside shooting and perimeter defense. Wright could easily become a big-minute role player for the team with Metta World Peace slowing down and the amount of attention the rest of the star studded roster commands offensively.
Memphis Grizzlies: Corey Maggette
Since they traded away high-scoring swingman Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies now lack a player on their wings that can consistently create their own shot. While Tayshaun Prince is a valuable veteran addition to the team, adding another experienced campaigner in Corey Maggette could be a cheap, under the radar move for the Grizzlies in the off-season.
Maggette has the ability to get into the lane and draw contact, resulting in a great deal of free throw attempts. His additional scoring punch and experience could be a welcome addition to a Memphis team trying to improve their playoff chances in the west.
Miami Heat: Greg Oden
The defending champions and this season’s favorites, the Miami Heat will be unlikely to make many moves in the offseason to shake up their successful core. One move that is low risk and potentially has an extremely high reward would be to take a chance on oft-injured, former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden.
Oden, who has battled to see any consistent court time throughout his career due to ongoing knee and leg injuries is sitting out the 2012-13 season, but has been speaking to teams about a return in 2013-14. An exceptionally talented defensive center, Oden would be a force for any team if he could manage to stay on the court. The Heat could easily take the risk on Oden with a spare roster spot in the hope he could return and provide a meaningful contribution in the playoffs.
Milwaukee Bucks: Mo Williams
The Bucks will have a number of decisions to make with all of their current back court players being potential free agents at season’s end. It seems as though the team will try to keep Monta Ellis and new addition J.J. Redick which would pave the way for an experienced point guard to fill out the rotation.
Mo Williams has the ability to control the offense and distribute, or play off the ball as a shooter if required which would serve him perfectly in a three-man Bucks back court. With Utah in full rebuilding mode after this season, Williams will likely look to move somewhere he can still play a considerable role, but also compete for the playoffs. Williams would be returning for a second stint in Milwaukee; he played there from 2004-05 through 2007-08, averaging 14.1 points and 5.7 assists before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Jodie Meeks
The Timberwolves have had a nightmare season in 2012-13, but their roster gives reason to think they can be a successful team in the future. The team is in desperate need of consistent outside scoring from their wing players and while free agency offers little in the way of All-Star swingman talent, Jodie Meeks could provide a cheap, consistent scoring threat from the outside.
Meeks sees limited action due to primarily backing up Kobe Bryant in L.A. but the opportunity of more minutes could see him become a reliable, consistent scorer.
New Orleans Hornets: Al Jefferson
After landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft and selecting Anthony Davis, one would think the soon-to-be Pelicans would be rebuilding and not looking to add expensive veterans to their lineup. However, with the likes of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson locked up long term in New Orleans, the team could look to improve sooner rather than later with the addition of a consistent low post scoring threat in Al Jefferson.
Jefferson’s game would mesh perfectly with the long, lean, defensive-oriented Davis, while freeing up space for the talented scorer Gordon to produce from the outside.
New York Knicks: Matt Barnes
The Knicks will not be big spenders in the offseason, but with the big market and what fans hope will be a deep playoff run they will be an attractive location for role-playing free agents. Matt Barnes has seen his fair share of playoff action in his career and is not afraid to do the dirty work to help his team win.
The defensive-oriented swingman would be a big addition to a New York squad who has to contain the likes of LeBron James in the playoffs. With his ability to defend the opposition’s best player, spread the floor and knock down the 3, Barnes would be the perfect addition to a team looking to improve their playoff chances such as the Knicks.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Anthony Morrow
The Oklahoma City Thunder, with their superstar core locked up long term, will continue to search for the right mix of role players to land the team its first championship. Anthony Morrow has had a quiet, disappointing season, but there is still no doubt that he is one of the league’s purest long-range shooters.
With the attention that Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant draw from opposing defences, Morrow could find himself getting consistent, open looks and could become a valuable role player for the Thunder.
Orlando Magic: Rodrigue Beaubois
Since trading Dwight Howard to the Lakers, the Orlando Magic have done an outstanding job amassing young, talented prospects to rebuild the team. With the development of their current players as well as incoming draft picks, the Magic have little need to make any significant changes.
Rodrigue Beaubois would be a low-risk, potentially high-reward signing in a position of need for Orlando. Beaubois had been viewed as an untradeable, potential cornerstone player in Dallas but has faltered since an impressive rookie season. With a change of scenery and an opportunity to shine alongside other young players, Beaubois could finally start to realize some of the potential the Mavericks’ staff saw in him.
Philadelphia 76ers: Kevin Martin
The 76ers will have a big decision to make with Andrew Bynum in free agency and may have to do so without seeing him step on the court for them even once this season. If the team retains Bynum, then they will be in need of shooters to surround the big man and support All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday.
Kevin Martin has proven throughout his career to be a consistent, versatile scorer and has knock down shooting ability from outside the three point arc. Still young enough to develop alongside the teams two new stars, Martin would be the consistent shooting threat that the 76ers have lacked for some time.
Josh Smith is one of the big-name free agents that could be on the move in 2013. Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule
Pheonix Suns: Josh Smith
The Phoenix Suns are stuck in NBA no-man’s land, too good to get a top pick yet not talented enough to make the playoffs. The team needs an injection of star talent and Josh Smith may be the perfect candidate. Smith’s mix of all-star-level production, highlight reel finishes and marketability would be a tremendous addition to a Suns team currently lacking an identity.
He would form a formidable front line alongside center Marcin Gortat and would benefit a great deal from the playmaking of point guard Goran Dragic. Smith still has room to improve in his game and the Suns’ up tempo style could be the answer to Smith finally making the jump to his first All-Star appearance.
Portland Trail Blazers: Nikola Pekovic
After years of devastating injuries and with a rookie point guard at the helm, it appeared that this season would be one of rebuilding for the Portland Trail Blazers. Instead, Damian Lillard has taken the league by storm, playing his way to an almost certain Rookie of the Year Award and the Blazers are still fighting for the Western Conference playoffs.
With All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge, Lillard and versatile swing man Nicolas Batum, the Blazers have the makings of a dangerous playoff team if they can add another big contributor. Nikola Pekovic has had a break out year in Minnesota this season and his addition could thrust the Trail Blazers to the upper echelon of the western conference.
His low-post scoring and rebounding abilities alongside Aldridge would form one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league and if they could add some productive bench players to their squad, the Blazers could again be one of the west’s strongest teams sooner than most fans expected,
Sacramento Kings: David West
The Sacramento Kings’ culture has come into question and with many of their young players not playing up to their potential, the team is in need of a change. David West took his tough-minded, professional attitude to Indiana and the team has not looked back. His influence on the court and in the locker room has helped bring out the best in the Pacers’ talented youngsters and the Kings could be well served paying to bring in a player such as West to become the team’s leader.
Big man DeMarcus Cousins has all the talent in the world but is desperate need of a mentor to bring out the best of his abilities and avoid the dramas he has repeatedly dealt with throughout his young career. West would be the ideal candidate to play alongside Cousins on the court, while teaching him how to conduct himself off it.
San Antonio Spurs: Wes Johnson
The San Antonio Spurs continue to do an excellent job retooling their roster around their stars. With the team now running primarily through All-Star point guard Tony Parker, the Spurs would benefit from the addition of some young, athletic pieces as they continue to prepare for life after legend Tim Duncan retires.
Wes Johnson has widely been regarded as a bust since his top five selection in the draft, but has shown flashes of his potential this season in Phoenix. Johnson could be a low risk, potentially high reward signing for the Spurs who could allow him to learn and develop alongside some of the league’s most professional and respected players.
Toronto Raptors: Earl Clark
Earl Clark was given an unexpected opportunity in Los Angeles this season and is now firmly entrenched as the Lakers’ starting power forward this season. With the star power on the Laker roster, it is unlikely the team will be able to match any decent offer for the young forward and the Raptors could benefit from bringing him on board.
A long, athletic forward with long-range shooting ability and a solid worker on the boards, Clark would be an ideal fit alongside the new Raptors and especially pairing with center Jonas Valanciunas. With the continued attempts to move Andrea Bargnani, Clark would offer a more reliable and lower maintenance piece to replace him in the line-up.
Utah Jazz: Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans has disappointed since he burst onto the scene in his rookie year. Struggles with finding his ideal position, lack of development and concerns over the culture in Sacramento have attributed to his disappointing career thus far. With the Jazz seemingly ready for a full rebuild around their young front court stars in Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward, Evans could find the ideal fit for his unique skill set.
His ability to handle the ball, get into the lane and create for teammates would seemingly mesh well with the existing young talent in Utah and the change of scenery could do wonders for Evans’ career.
After an impressive season with the Trail Blazers, J.J. Hickson will be a coveted free agent. (Photo by Dan Fornal/Flickr.com)
Washington Wizards: J.J. Hickson
The Wizards have found their backcourt of the future with John Wall and rookie Bradley Beal showing flashes they could be a force in the future. Washington will now turn its attention to acquiring young, talented frontcourt players to take over from the current veterans manning the positions and allow them to grow with their guards.
J.J. Hickson is one of the league’s best rebounders and is an excellent finisher around the rim. His athletic abilities would be showcased alongside a quick, talented passer like Wall and would no doubt result in countless highlight reel finishes for the Wizards as he runs the floor.