NBA Rumors: Predicting Landing Spots for Top Names on the Market

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2012

NBA Rumors: Predicting Landing Spots for Top Names on the Market

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    As the 2012-13 NBA training camp season begins in the coming week, the free-agent market is full of desperate guys looking to latch onto a team.

    Though most of these guys won't make contributions long-lasting enough to affect playoff races or even move the ratings needle, there are still some with recognizable name value without jobs.

    Whether holding out for more money or just simply playing at a shell of their former talent, these guys know that the clock is ticking and will likely jump on any satisfying offer.

    Who are these top guys and where are they headed? Here's a look at the top remaining free agents and a prediction on the final destination for each.

Tracy McGrady

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    Though all of the players on this list are big-named veterans, it is truly sobering to see someone like McGrady still searching for work.

    Once the NBA's best pure scorer, injuries have submarined the 33-year-old's career to the point that he's a shell of his former self. For reference, Kobe Bryant just turned 34 years old and is still widely regarded among the league's 10 best players.

    McGrady was once a better player than Bryant.

    Now, he's a guy desperately trying to hang on in the league after averaging a paltry 5.3 points per game in a full-season low of 16.1 minutes per game.

    He's been linked and worked out with seemingly every team looking for a veteran force, all of whom have gone in a different direction. Most recently and most notably, it was the New York Knicks who worked out McGrady only to quickly lose interest (via the New York Post's Marc Berman).

    With time running out, it's looking bleak for McGrady's job prospects. Nevertheless, there is one team that makes perfect sense: the San Antonio Spurs. 

    McGrady fills both a need and will almost certainly show enough flashes in the regular season to make him worth the veteran's minimum. 

    Team Prediction: San Antonio Spurs

Chris Andersen

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    While things aren't looking great for McGrady's job prospects, they are looking even worse for Andersen, who is unable to get a workout from teams.

    He's put out feelers with the New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves, but all have seemingly passed on even taking a look at the 34-year-old power forward.

    And, when factoring in basketball skill alone, that makes little sense. Even at his advancing age, Andersen is still the same shot-blocking force coming off the bench that he's always been. Sure, he's a step slower and a little less athletic, but considering we live in an NBA where teams keep giving Kwame Brown millions of dollars, it seems strange that Andersen is without work. 

    It may take until coaches see the dearth of big talent in camps, but it seems likely that the former Denver Nugget will get signed before the season starts.

    My landing spot prediction: the Heat. Though the team already grabbed Josh Harrellson to ostensibly fill its hole in the middle, he's not the type of player Miami needs. Andersen has been a better fit all along and look for the team to realize that either early in camp or right before the season begins. 

    Team Prediction: Miami Heat

Josh Howard

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    For a player who is on the bargain bin of the free-agent market, Howard has certainly garnered a ton of interest lately.

    As of late, the small forward has worked out with the Philadelphia 76ers and garnered interest from the Minnesota Timberwolves (via Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears) and New York Knicks (via ESPN New York's Ian Begley).

    On one hand, you have to feel happy for Howard, who has worked his behind off to get back from debilitating knee injuries. On the other, it seems curious that McGrady can't get work while teams are falling over themselves to sign Howard.

    Last season was the first he played in over 40 games since 2008-09, and he registered just a 10.55 PER with the Utah Jazz. 

    With many teams showing interest, it seems logical that Howard would play out his options and see which destination offers him the best opportunity. 

    In the end, look for Howard to stick with what's comfortable and head back to Utah next season. He would easily slip back into the rotation with teammates he's used to and not have to face unrealistic expectations.

    At this point in his career, familiarity should and will play a massive role. 

    Team Prediction: Utah Jazz

Mickael Pietrus

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    Another wing player with a history of injuries, Pietrus has his pick of a few options, according to CSNNW.com's Chris Haynes:

    According to a source close to the situation, suddenly, three NBA teams have shown major interest in the nine-year veteran and two of the teams seem very motivated to get a deal done.

    According to the same source, Pietrus also has a strong overseas option on the table that contains an escape clause. 

    Considering his struggles over the past couple of years, the 30-year-old should jump on one of those offers before they get pulled off the table.

    Pietrus shot under 40 percent for the second consecutive year and his 8.58 player efficiency rating with the Boston Celtics in 2010-11 ranked 320th in the league (out of 352 qualifiers).

    It has been reported that the swingman will likely pick a team in the Eastern Conference (via ESPN's Darren Wolfson). Nonetheless, I'm predicting the Minnesota Timberwolves. They have been interested in Pietrus the whole offseason and have kept dialogue going despite questionable responses from his camp.

    In the end, guys want to be wanted and the Timberwolves want Pietrus.

    Team Prediction: Minnesota Timberwolves

Kenyon Martin

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    Getting a job for the 2012-13 NBA season will not be a problem for Martin. He's garnered interest from just about every big-needy team on the market and is still a player worthy of a rotation spot on a playoff contender.

    However, getting a job for the 34-year-old's desired price has been the reason Martin is yet to don a new uniform.

    While most teams interested are only able to offer the veteran's minimum, the former No. 1 overall pick sees himself as worthy of something more. Considering Martin's storied career and status as a rare commodity, it's understandable that he'd be looking for a bigger payday.

    Whether he deserves anything more is another story. As a bench defensive stopper with the Los Angeles Clippers last season, Martin emerged as a veteran leader and source of toughness on a team that often needed it.

    Nonetheless, the 12-year veteran averaged career lows across the board and showed signs of decline.

    Look for Martin to realize big-money offers aren't coming and sign with a team that's been courting him the most all along: the New York Knicks. Though the team seems inexplicably focused on nabbing Rasheed Wallace (via the New York Post's Marc Berman), it's doubtful that the veteran bites. Multiple teams have looked to add Wallace over the past two seasons and have been rebuffed.

    Look for the Knicks to lose out on 'Sheed and ramp up their pursuit of Martin at the perfect time.

    Team Prediction: New York Knicks