Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and 8 Free Agents Who Will Stay on Their Current Team
Sometimes it seems that the only constant in the NBA is change. With players constantly being dealt, cut or signing with new teams, fans get used to seeing their favorite players constantly switching rosters. However, every free agency period there are always a few players, for better or worse, who wind up staying put.
From grizzled veterans who have been with one team for their whole careers, to young players seen as franchise cornerstones, and even journeymen who finally find a long-term destination, this summer should see several big name players remaining with the team that they last suited up for in 2012.
Without further ado, here are ten free agents who will remain with their teams next season...
Over the past five seasons, Kevin Garnett has been the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics. His unbridled intensity and defensive prowess transformed Boston from a perennial doormat to a championship contender.
Garnett just finished the last year of his contract and is a major target in free agency with the dearth of quality big men in the league, not to mention his veteran experience and ability to make an impact on both ends of the floor.
While plenty of teams will be throwing offers at KG, in all likelihood, the 14-time All-Star and former MVP will most likely be suiting up in a Celtics jersey next season. Although Ray Allen will likely be gone, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce will still be with the team, and as long as that core is intact they are still a playoff team.
Garnett is undoubtedly at the tail end of his career, and it would make sense that he wants to stay in the same culture he has thrived in for the past half decade. Boston's identity is still based around Garnett, and his phenomenal play at the center position during last season's stretch run proved that the Celtics are an extremely dangerous team when he is playing well.
Brandon Bass is set to become a free-agent as well, meaning the team needs to secure as many big men as they can, and Garnett is easily one of the best forward/centers available in this year's fairly sparse free agent pool.
Boston has plenty of available cap room, and while they need to find long term frontcourt solutions to build around Rajon Rondo, expect to see Kevin Garnett in Celtic green at next season's tip off.
Since coming to San Antonio in 1997, Tim Duncan has brought the Spurs four championships, won a pair of MVP awards and been elected to 13 All-Star games. The Spurs were rolling again this season, winning 20 consecutive games before falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
Though there will be plenty of teams interested in acquiring the veteran power forward, there is simply no chance that he will be wearing any other jersey this fall. At 36-years-old and coming off of an extremely lucrative contract, Duncan will not be financially motivated, meaning that a team won't be able to steal him just by offering a big money contract.
Duncan has helped to build the Spurs into perennial contenders, as the team has qualified for the playoffs every year he's been aboard, and they have proved over the past two seasons that by changing their system they can continue to be dominant and still maximize the value of players like Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
The Spurs have plenty of young talent, but they need the veteran presence of Tim Duncan because of his ability to rise to the occasion in crucial games, his playoff experience and his ability to be a leader and mentor on and off the court.
Duncan himself has left no questions about where he will be playing next season. In a piece on Yahoo! Sports by Johnny Ludden, Duncan stated, "I'm not going anywhere...I'm here and I'm a Spur for life."
What more proof do you need?
The Trail Blazers just extended a qualifying offer to Nic Batum, giving them the option to match any contract offer tendered to the French swingman, and proving just how interested the team is in keeping him. Batum had a breakout season for the Blazers, being one of the team's few bright spots in an otherwise extremely bleak season.
Portland has their franchise forward in LaMarcus Aldridge, but Batum played very well last season, providing consistent three-point shooting and great perimeter defense thanks to his length, lateral quickness and athleticism.
According to CSNNW.com, the Spurs are enamored with Batum, and he could potentially earn offers of around $10 million per year. However, Portland has cleared plenty of cap space for this offseason and should be able to match any deal presented to Batum by another team.
Last season, Nicolas Batum came into his own as the team switched their style of play from a grind-it-out halfcourt brand, to a faster style that took advantage of the team's more athletic players. Batum's ability to score in transition and run the floor well made him a perfect fit for this new system, and if the team wants to be a playoff contender next year, they must keep him on the roster.
Batum has still not reached the ceiling of his potential and could grow into an All-Star player if he continues to improve. He averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in 2011-2012 while shooting 39.1 percent from distance, easily the best season of his pro career.
With a pair of lottery picks, a new GM in Neil Olshey and Aldridge still on the roster, Portland has a very bright future. However, the team must retain Nicolas Batum for the long haul, and fans should expect to see him in Blazer black next year.
After being traded at the deadline to Houston from Portland, Marcus Camby performed admirably as the Rockets' presence in the paint, nearly leading the team to a playoff berth. Now, Camby is an unrestricted free agent and will likely garner a number of offers because of his defensive abilities, as well as his elite rebounding.
In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Camby named the Rockets as his desired landing spot, saying, "This is where I want to be. So hopefully, we can make something work." Camby has bounced around during his time in the league and lives in Houston in the offseason, so his desire to spend his last few years with the Rockets makes plenty of sense.
Ever since Yao Ming retired, the Rockets have been desperately seeking an impact big man who can protect the basket. Last season Camby averaged 4.9 points, nine rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 blocks per game, proving that he still has plenty of quality basketball left to play.
Even if the team does end up trading for Dwight Howard, they will still need another big man on their roster to come off the bench and provide solid minutes. Though Camby is not a great offensive player, he can score when asked to and is one of the better passing centers in the NBA.
Houston has plenty of youth, and the team needs some experienced veterans that can push the team back into playoff contention. Camby, at age 38, will not be looking for major money but has said he wants to play four more years of professional basketball.
It's hard to ignore a free agent who fills such a critical need on your team, let alone one that has expressed a strong desire to remain with the team. Expect to see Camby back in Houston, possibly for several more years to come.
Last year's Most Improved Player, Ryan Anderson was the perfect stretch four for the Orlando Magic, feasting off of the open three-point looks provided to him by Dwight Howard. Averaging 16.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and shooting 39.3 percent from distance, Anderson has earned himself a hefty pay increase as a restricted free agent this offseason.
Despite plenty of teams looking for big men that can stretch the floor Anderson should, and will, remain a part of the Magic's roster. His disappointing postseason series (9.6 points and 4.6 boards) definitely hurt his free agent value, as it showed that he really needs a dynamic center to play off of.
Orlando has the ability to match any offer given to Anderson, and it would take an absurd offer for the team not to consider doing so. Anderson was easily the team's second best offensive option behind Howard, and most importantly was not merely content to stay on the perimeter.
Though he took plenty of threes, Anderson is unlike most finesse big men in that he was willing to play in the paint as well. He was an excellent offensive rebounder, averaging 3.7 per game, using his length and size to sneak inside after a shot went up. He gave multiple efforts to create easy scoring opportunities and gave Orlando another strong rebounder alongside Howard.
With all the turnover in the front office and the issues about whether Howard will be with the Magic next season, it makes sense that the team would want to keep any young, productive players on the roster in case they need to enter a rebuilding period. Anderson is still improving as an all-around player and has the potential to be even better next season.
Unless another team offers Ryan Anderson a near-max deal, expect to see him suiting up for Orlando next season.
After three solid seasons in the NBA, Roy Hibbert emerged as a dominant interior force for the Indiana Pacers this year, making his first All-Star team and leading the club to the second round of the playoffs. A 7'2" defensive force, Hibbert will certainly draw plenty of offers from teams around the league that need size, but even with all the money and names thrown around, expect him back in Indiana.
Hibbert, at only 25, can still improve tremendously. He has a developing post game and has gotten better at staying out of foul trouble and choosing when, and when not, to contest shots. As a restricted free agent, Indiana has the rights to match any offer made to him, and since he is definitely the cornerstone of the franchise's young, talented core, they will stop at nothing to keep him on the roster.
Though Paul George had a very good second season, Danny Granger is still a quality scorer and David West is a great veteran power forward, the team will only go as far as Hibbert can take them. He creates tremendous matchup problems because of his sheer size, is a very gifted rebounder, and has improved as a shot blocker (he averaged two per game last year).
In addition, few teams available have a more promising future than Indiana. The Pacers have plenty of cap space and their core of players intact are coming off of a very successful season. While there are several teams available that can offer Hibbert big deals and franchise player status, very few of them are already contenders like Indiana is.
In an NBA era where few teams have elite centers, Hibbert will demand a very hefty pay increase, but Indiana is in a perfect position to lock up the All-Star big man for years to come. Roy Hibbert will be back in a Pacers uniform, and expect to see the team make some noise next year.
Having played all 82 games each of his first three seasons in the league, few could have predicted such an injury plagued year for Brook Lopez, who played in only five contests for New Jersey due to a myriad of foot and ankle problems. However, there are few big men who can score like Lopez, meaning that plenty of teams will be calling about the restricted free agent center.
In his last fully healthy season, Lopez averaged 20.4 points, six rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Though he is far from the most physical five available, his ability to score both in the post and step outside and hit perimeter jump shots makes him an extremely valuable commodity.
He can lure opposing big men outside of the paint, opening up driving lanes for wing players, and also be a serious threat in pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop plays with his shooting. He is also a solid free throw shooter, meaning opponents simply cannot hack him whenever he touches the ball.
Scoring centers are extremely rare in today's NBA, especially ones that can score from more than 10-feet out, meaning there will be a lot of inquiries about Lopez's availability as long as he is fully healed. However, heading into such a tumultuous offseason due to Deron Williams' free agency and the team's move to Brooklyn, expect the Nets to lock up the 24-year-old early in the summer.
Lopez is the closest thing the Nets have to a second star behind Williams, and the point guard-center tandem proved to be fairly effective when the two played together. Even if he is only used as part of a future trade package, the Nets need Lopez on the team to convince Williams to stay. He obviously needs to be more aggressive on the glass and not be pushed around on the block, but a quality team could easily be built around a core of Lopez and Williams.
Brooklyn has enough cap room to retain Lopez, and barring a max-contract offer the team should do so. A healthy Brook Lopez is as good of an offensive threat as any, and the team needs to retain a recognizable face as they change locations.
Brook Lopez will be playing for Brooklyn next season, whether the team's other star will be is another question entirely.
Few players have been as heavily scrutinized during their time in the league as JaVale McGee. From running back on defense while his team was on offense, to blowing wide open dunks, no one expected McGee to live up to his enormous potential any time soon. But then he started to.
After being traded to the Denver Nuggets, McGee's level of play began to catch up to his physical and athletic abilities. He was scoring consistently in the post, using his hops and length to grab tough rebounds in traffic, and being a terrific help defender and shot blocker.
He averaged 8.6 points, 9.6 boards and three blocks per game in Denver's seven game first-round loss to the Lakers, and along the way played himself into some lucrative contract offers. Ultimately though, it will be the Nuggets that he signs with this summer.
Denver traded away Nene in order to free up cap room to bring in a young center who fit better with the team's run-and-gun, transition style of play. McGee can certainly fill that role, and along with stellar rookie Kenneth Faried, the team appears to already have their frontcourt of the future locked up.
McGee is the perfect big man for George Karl's system because he can run the floor extremely well, finish strong at the rim and also anchor the team's halfcourt defense. It would be foolish for the team to let him walk away when they can match any offer for him and he fits into the identity of the post-Carmelo Anthony Nuggets so well.
Teams like the Boston Celtics or Milwaukee Bucks that are desperate for young big men will undoubtedly throw enticing offers at McGee, but with the money Denver cleared in the Nene deal, they should stop at nothing to keep him in Nuggets blue. If the team thinks they have their center of the future then they simply cannot let him walk.
By trading Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to Washington for Rashard Lewis, the New Orleans Hornets have all but guaranteed that Eric Gordon will be back in a Hornets uniform next season. Matt Moore at NBCSports.com reports that the team is willing to give Gordon a max deal to keep him around for the long haul.
Though he was bit by the injury bug last season and only played in nine games, Gordon proved that he could be an impact player and one of the league's elite shooting guards. He averaged 20.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 assists for New Orleans while hitting several clutch shots and showing that he is someone the team can build around.
With the first and tenth overall picks in this year's draft, the team has assured themselves a shot at Anthony Davis, potentially a once in a generation power forward. The team has a new owner in Tom Benson, and their future is looking bright for the first time since Chris Paul was on the roster, so it makes sense that they would do anything possible to keep Gordon, who is only 23, as a part of their core.
The tandem of Gordon and Davis would make the Hornets an extremely attractive location for potential free agents, and the thought of playing on a team with such a gifted big man should certainly make New Orleans that much more appealing of a location for Gordon himself.
The central piece of the deal for Paul, New Orleans was willing to give up the perennial All-Star because of Gordon's tremendous talents and his still sky high potential. As long as he can stay healthy, Gordon can easily be a top five shooting guard next season.
With the exception of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and a few lesser stars, the two-guard spot is not one oozing with talent, so there will be several teams calling about Eric Gordon's availability, but he will stay in Nola when all is said and done.
While it was already clear that the salary cap conscious New York Knicks would do anything they could to keep their electrifying point guard around, the recent ruling that Lin would be granted Early Bird Rights should certainly provide some comfort to concerned Knick fans. New York now has the ability to exceed the salary cap limit to resign him, and because of his stellar offensive play, not to mention his huge marketing appeal, Lin will receive a solid, multi-year contract offer.
As a starter, Lin averaged 18.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists and a pair of steals while helping the team make the playoffs despite a season of controversy, injuries and behind-the-scenes drama. He gave the team a pure point guard who could score as well as facilitate, and a lethal pick-and-roll threat that was willing to attack the basket and push the tempo of their offense.
Though he turned the ball over entirely too much and was far from a great defender, there will be plenty of point guard hungry teams like the Portland Trail Blazers or Phoenix Suns that will be interested in making Lin their starter of the future, but the smart money is on him staying in the Big Apple.
He won't have the offensive freedom under Mike Woodson that he did during Mike D'Antoni's run, but the mix of Lin speeding games up and Carmelo's isolation scoring gave New York diverse scoring options. He had excellent chemistry with Amar'e Stoudemire, and even made Tyson Chandler a threat to score while rolling to the hoop.
The team won't throw a max contract his way, but they should be willing to offer Lin, who is coming off of knee surgery, a solid contract to keep him with the team. For Lin, the chance to be a definite starter, as well as the lucrative branding opportunities that such a major market present, will simply be too hard to ignore.
New York is the place where "Linsanity" first took hold, and it will continue to be the point guard's home for the foreseeable future.
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