2013 NBA Free Agents: Most Crucial Re-Signing for Every Franchise This Offseason
One of the most effective ways to build a winner in today's NBA is to make sure you can afford to pay the stars you've already got. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to know that the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers need to do everything possible to re-sign Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, respectively.
But just as paying to keep talent is a good way to build a winner, one of the quickest ways to set your franchise back a few years is to blow a whole bunch of money to keep your own free agents when they're not worth it. Just ask the Golden State Warriors how that $62 million contract with Andris Biedrins is working out.
Every NBA offseason is fraught with tough decisions about whom (and how much) to pay, and this summer is going to be no different.
In some cases, contending teams will have to work out ways to keep their superstars. In others, bottom-feeding clubs will simply try avoid making their situations any worse.
Here are the most crucial free-agent decisions facing each NBA franchise this offseason.
*All salary and contract information courtesy of Hoopshype.com and Spotrac.com
*Statistics accurate through games played Nov. 25
Atlanta Hawks—Josh Smith
To re-sign Josh Smith or not to re-sign Josh Smith: that is the question.
The Atlanta Hawks are in terrific salary cap shape, with just $18 million committed to contracts for next season. If they don’t trade Smith this year to avoid the possibility that he’ll walk away for nothing next summer, they’ll have the option of re-signing him to what’s almost certain to be a max deal.
Smith has never proved he can be the best player on a contender, so you’d forgive the Hawks if they either deal him or let him walk. But he’s clearly the marquee free-agent on Atlanta’s roster.
Letting Smith leave does open up the intriguing possibility of signing a pair of available max-level players, so Atlanta will have to think long and hard about whether Smith is part of the franchise’s future plans.
Seeing as they already know how good they can be with Smith, the Hawks might want to find out what their ceiling is without him.
Boston Celtics—Chris Wilcox
Unless you consider Chris Wilcox to be a crucial re-signing this offseason—and you probably don’t—the Boston Celtics really don’t have any meaningful decisions to make in the re-up department this summer.
Boston made its big moves in the summer of 2012, bringing in Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and extending Jeff Green. With just about all of their cap space consumed, the Celtics are stuck with this roster (barring a trade) for the next couple of years.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Celtics are built to win in what could be Kevin Garnett's and Paul Pierce’s last hurrahs.
Chris Wilcox gives Boston a little added front-court depth, but his decidedly average output, combined with his injury history, hardly make him a “crucial” re-signing.
Brooklyn Nets—Andray Blatche
Talk about “capped out.”
The Brooklyn Nets are miles into the luxury tax already, with approximately $89 million on the books for next season. Normally, you’d think their massive tax penalty would prevent Brooklyn from re-signing a handful of its free agents this summer.
You’d be wrong for a couple of reasons.
First, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has made it pretty obvious that he’s got money to burn; a few million bucks in penalties doesn’t seem to bother him. Second, the Nets have tossed around (or taken on, in the case of Joe Johnson) so many long-term, big-money deals that they really don’t have anyone significant primed to hit the free agent market this summer. Everyone on the roster is pretty much locked up.
Except for Andray Blatche.
He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2013 after making less than a million bucks this year (not counting the $7 million the Washington Wizards are paying him not to play for them). Blatche is undeniably talented, and could command significantly more money than he’s presently making on the open market. But he's also a notorious headcase with a penchant for taking bad shots.
Spending to keep Blatche doesn’t make a lot of sense, but Prokhorov hasn’t exactly practiced discretion with his pocketbook to this point, so anything’s possible.
Charlotte Bobcats—Byron Mullens
Byron Mullens, who might be the most surprising player on the league's most surprising team, is due to play the 2013-14 season under a qualifying offer from the Charlotte Bobcats. If the Bobcats have designs on solidifying themselves as something more than a perennial Eastern Conference doormat, they could do worse than working out an extension this offseason with the suddenly productive Mullens.
To be clear, Mullens is under contract for the 2013-14 season, but if the Bobcats don't make him agree on a deal this summer, he could hit unrestricted free agency after next year. So the crucial decision for Charlotte will definitely be the one they make on Mullens after this season.
Mullens has put up averages of 13.8 points and 8.8 rebounds thus far, and aside from an inexplicably high volume of three-point shots (he's hitting under 30 percent on more than five attempts per game), he's been a solid producer for the surging Cats. Think of him as "Ryan Anderson Light."
Working out an extension for Mullens won't be a splashy move, but the Bobcats need to focus on getting the smaller decisions right if they want to continue their upward trend.
Chicago Bulls—Carlos Boozer
This feels like cheating, but the crucial free-agent re-signing the Chicago Bulls need to make this summer isn't a signing at all. They actually need to "un-sign" Carlos Boozer.
Chicago has yet to use its amnesty clause, and it feels more and more like Boozer is destined to be sent away (and still paid). The Bulls need the cap savings after giving Taj Gibson a new deal before the season started. Right now, they're less than $2 million under next year's projected luxury tax level, assuming they retain Richard Hamilton.
Cutting Boozer loose via the amnesty clause would save the Bulls more than $15 million next year. Of course, Chicago's ownership is notoriously cheap, so asking Jerry Reinsdorf and Co. to pay Boozer $15 million not to play might be a little unrealistic.
Still, if the Bulls hope to finally address their lack of wing scoring, the $15 million they'd suddenly have available if they amnestied Boozer would certainly help.
And for the record, the Bulls' unrestricted free agents this offseason will consist of Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and Nate Robinson. I defy you to term any of those guys "crucial" re-signings.
Cleveland Cavaliers—Daniel Gibson
Daniel Gibson, the man affectionately referred to as "Boobie," will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. For a Cleveland Cavaliers team that needs floor-spacing shooters and capable veterans to support Kyrie Irving, Gibson is a very useful player.
He's certainly not a superstar, but he can play both guard positions and opposing teams have to honor him on the perimeter. There aren't too many guys with career three-point percentages as good as Gibson's; his 41.5 percent mark is 13th all time and sixth among active NBA players.
Kyrie Irving is an elite penetrator and is developing as a pick-and-roll operator. Having a shooter like Gibson on the floor gives Irving maximum room to operate. Plus, when Irving is down with an injury—as is the case right now—Gibson can play spot minutes as the team's primary ball-handler.
Boobie made a little less than $5 million this season, but even if he commands a slight raise, the Cavs have only $28 million committed to player salaries next season. They can afford to overpay.
Gibson has played his whole career in Cleveland. Given the Cavs' need for his skill set and the bevy of open looks he should get from Irving, it seems like he's a safe bet to stick around.
Dallas Mavericks—Brandan Wright
Here's the deal: Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks are always thinking big. They went after last offseason's crop of marquee free agents and struck out on all of them. Instead, the Mavs settled for a consolation prize of good, but not great players on short-term deals.
Those deals put the Mavs in almost the same position this offseason. They'll have plenty of money and there are still a number of potential superstars available this summer for them to use it on. So the one thing Dallas won't do is overpay to keep the one-year stopgaps they have this season.
Say goodbye to Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, Troy Murphy and Vince Carter. Those guys won't be back—at least not for anything close to what they're currently making. Dallas can go ahead and toss a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Darren Collison, but don't expect an extension.
Since it's likely the Mavs will let most of their free agents walk in an effort to horde cap space for big names (Dwight Howard and Josh Smith, anyone?), the one move they should make is a small one.
Unrestricted free agent Brandan Wright, a productive 25-year-old big with elite length, has been a sneaky-good bench producer for the Mavs for a couple of seasons now. At a current salary of under $1 million, it makes sense for the Mavs to keep him around, if they can do so at a reasonable price. It'd be a small move, but it would allow the Mavs to try to go big in free agency again.
There's a sense of urgency to save money for a big splash in Dallas because, in keeping with our big-small theme, Dirk Nowitzki's title window is about as small as they get at this point.
Denver Nuggets—Corey Brewer
The Denver Nuggets don't figure to have much roster turnover this summer. Unless Andre Iguodala chooses not to exercise his $15 million player option, Denver will have only two unrestricted free agents this offsesason: Corey Brewer and Timofey Mozgov.
Mozgov is unfortunately best known for being the victim of one of Blake Griffin's nastiest dunks, but he's also a decent shot-blocker with good mobility for his size. Nonetheless, he's not the guy the Nuggets should worry about keeping around this offseason. With Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee locked up for at least the next three seasons, Mozgov is expendable.
Corey Brewer's the guy Denver should re-sign.
Brewer is limited offensively, but is an elite runner and fits perfectly in Denver's up-and-down style. His greatest asset is his ability to finish in transition, which works nicely for the Nuggets because they want as many transition opportunities as possible.
Brewer is still just 26 years old and the Nuggets can probably afford to pay him right around the $3.2 million he made this year. He's a good bet to stay in Denver.
Detroit Pistons—Jason Maxiell
Honestly, this is a by-default situation. Jason Maxiell is an undersized power forward with almost no offensive skills. His bounce and length land him on the occasional highlight reel with big blocks, but overall, he's frankly not a valuable player.
The Detroit Pistons' other unrestricted free agents (Corey Maggette and Will Bynum) are even less useful than Maxiell, so I guess he's the big winner here.
The Pistons are still stuck with the dead weight of Charlie Villanueva, but hey, at least they only have to pay Richard Hamilton, who plays for the Bulls for one more year.
With about $42 million on the books for 2013-14, it'd be understandable if the Pistons simply let Maxiell walk away, but of the players to pick from, he's technically their most important free agent.
At least the delightful weather, low crime rate and soaring property values in Detroit will attract other free agents...
Let's just move on.
Golden State Warriors—Jarrett Jack
The Golden State Warriors have one of the NBA's most unpredictable cap figures for the 2013-14 season. Four players (Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, Carl Landry and Brandon Rush) have player options for next year worth a total of $28 million. If everybody sticks around, the Dubs will be right at the luxury tax ceiling.
But if one of them decides to opt-out, the Warriors could have enough breathing room to re-sign backup point guard Jarrett Jack.
Jack has been a steadying influence in the locker room and a productive asset for the Warriors this year. His ability to play both guard positions allows Stephen Curry to ply his trade off the ball, which makes the best use of his elite shooting.
Jack is tough, smart and makes few mistakes. In other words, he's a perfect backup guard.
The Warriors need to do everything they possibly can to re-sign him.
Houston Rockets—Chandler Parsons
Believe it or not, the Houston Rockets' Chandler Parsons makes less than $1 million per year. If they want, the Rockets can keep it that way through the 2014-15 season.
Yep, it looks like Daryl Morey has done it again.
The Rockets slightly overpaid Parsons for his draft position. As a second rounder two years ago, the Rockets paid Parsons like a late first-round selection. Parsons got a few more bucks up front, along with a little stability, but the Rockets got an absolute steal in return. What's even more amazing is that Houston has team options for Parsons after this season and next.
So although Parsons—who's averaging 15.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 47 percent—can become a free agent after this season, the Rockets would be crazy to let that happen.
Houston will exercise its option at the earliest possible opportunity, which will once again make Parsons the most underpaid player in the NBA next season.
Indiana Pacers—David West
David West, an unrestricted free agent for the Indiana Pacers after this season, is one tough customer. But the Pacers don't have a tough decision when it comes to whether they should retain the services of the 32-year-old power forward.
West is a perfect complement to Roy Hibbert in the Pacers' front court. He's an exceptionally good jump-shooter from the mid-range area and works brilliantly in the pick-and-pop game. That gives Indiana's guards room to penetrate and Hibbert space to work down low.
West enjoyed one of his best seasons last year, and his game should age well, so there's no reason for the Pacers to worry about giving him a multi-year deal.
Besides that, Indiana is woefully thin at the 4, so they might be willing to overpay to keep him around.
It's not a coincidence that West has spent almost all of his career on winning teams. If the Pacers would like to continue being one of those, they'd do well to re-sign West this offseason.
Los Angeles Clippers—Chris Paul
Let's see here, it looks like Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes and Chauncey Billups are all unrestricted free agents this offseason. But something tells me the Los Angeles Clippers won't be all that focused on retaining that veteran trio.
That's because one Christopher Emmanuel Paul is set to hit the market this summer.
Basically, the Clippers' relevance as an NBA franchise began when Paul came over in the controversial preseason trade with the New Orleans Hornets a year ago. If Paul leaves Los Angeles, the brief renaissance the Clippers have been enjoying recently will leave right along with him.
Paul needs to be the Clips' first, second, third, and fourth priority this offseason. If he'd like to be paid in gold bricks delivered by helicopter, Donald Sterling had better get his pilot's license.
The Clippers are going to go as far as Paul can take them this season, but the run ends if he leaves town over the summer.
To review, the Clippers cannot let Chris Paul get away.
Los Angeles Lakers—Dwight Howard
The good news is that the Los Angeles Lakers' cap figure shrinks by about $22 million next season. Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark, Devin Ebanks, Darrius Morris, Darius Johnson-Odom and Robert Sacre are all set to come off the books.
The bad news is that the Lakers will still be about $3 million over the luxury tax and they'll have to find a way to re-sign their most crucial free agent: Dwight Howard.
Howard will absolutely command max money, and the Lakers would be fools not to give it to him. The tax hit will be ugly, but this Lakers' title window isn't getting any bigger. Only Steve Nash is under contract after next season, so the Lakers can basically start from scratch with Howard and Nash in 2014 if they want to.
Howard will surely be the biggest story in the league for the second offseason in a row, as teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets have quietly retained enough space to afford him.
If the Lakers want to give Kobe Bryant, who makes $30 million next year, a couple of more shots at a ring, they'll need to keep Howard around.
Memphis Grizzlies—Tony Allen
The Memphis Grizzlies might be the best team in the NBA right now, and a big reason for that is the way the roster (and especially the starting lineup) fits together perfectly.
Tony Allen is the Grizzlies' only unrestricted free agent this offseason, but even if there were other players who could potentially leave, Allen would remain a top priority for the Memphis front office. His toughness and defensive tenacity are critical to the Grizzlies' success. He handles the opposing team's best wing player every night, constantly frustrating the Kobe Bryants and Dwyane Wades of the world.
Look at the two teams that made last year's NBA Finals. The Miami Heat had Shane Battier, while the Oklahoma City Thunder had Thabo Sefolosha. Defensive specialists are a key piece to the championship puzzle.
The Grizzlies can't let theirs get away.
The Miami Heat actually don't have any players who'll become free agents this summer. James Jones and Ray Allen each have player options they're almost certain to exercise, but other than those two, this is a roster that isn't going to change much.
Sorry for the lack of drama, but this is a very stable Miami Heat team. They'll look pretty much the same until after the 2013-14 season when LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony can all opt out of their contracts.
All hell could break loose then, but things are going to be awfully quiet in South Beach until that happens.
Milwaukee Bucks—Brandon Jennings
Like a couple of the players already mentioned, Milwaukee Bucks' point guard Brandon Jennings won't be able to get away from his current team this offseason; he's playing next year under the Bucks' current qualifying offer. But if the Bucks want to avoid letting Jennings test unrestricted free agency in 2014, their best bet is to get him to agree to an extension this summer.
The jury is still out on whether Jennings can be the No. 1 option on a good team, and it's fair to ask if he'll ever be an efficient enough scorer to offset his poor defense. But with Monta Ellis likely to opt out of his contract after this season, the Bucks probably can't afford to lose the scoring that Jennings provides.
And for anyone who would argue that the Bucks need to make an effort to re-sign Ellis, consider the fact that he's never been a main option on a winning team. The Bucks should be happy to let Ellis walk; it'll allow them to focus on the younger, more promising Jennings.
Minnesota Timberwolves—Nikola Pekovic
The Minnesota Timberwolves will head into the offseason with very few decisions to make; all of their key pieces are under contract for next season. That means they'll have plenty of time to figure out how much they're willing to pay center Nikola Pekovic.
Pekovic emerged last year as a legitimate (and legitimately humongous) post presence. The 290-pound Montenegrin showed off a surprisingly polished offensive game for a player of his size, and he proved to be a solid rebounder and defender. This year, he's averaging 15.2 points and 6.5 rebounds on 50 percent shooting.
Overall, the Wolves are in good salary cap shape, with just $56 million committed to player contracts next year (if all player and team options are exercised). That means they'll have the ability to ink the 25-year-old Pekovic to a long-term deal. Failing that, they'll at least be able to make him a $6 million qualifying offer, which will preserve their ability to match any offer he receives after the 2013-14 season.
That should keep Pekovic happy, which is probably a good thing. He doesn't look like someone you'd want to anger.
New Orleans Hornets—Robin Lopez
New Orleans Hornets' center Robin Lopez has basically doubled his scoring and rebounding production from a year ago. That might have something to do with playing about twice as many minutes as he did last year, but hey, we're trying to look at the bright side for the beleaguered Hornets.
Lopez's contract isn't guaranteed after this season, with the Hornets possessing team options for 2013-14 and 2014-15. For the sake of Anthony Davis' development, they need to pick up Lopez's affordable $5 million option this summer.
Sure, Lopez is a very limited player. He doesn't score very efficiently for a player his size, and like his brother Brook, he doesn't rebound as well as you'd hope. But he is a big body, and that's exactly what the Hornets need in order to keep Davis from having to struggle against opposing centers.
$5 million is a small price to pay for a guy who'll take a little pressure off of your franchise cornerstone. It's not exciting, but the Hornets need to re-sign Lopez.
New York Knicks—Ronnie Brewer
The New York Knicks' No. 1 offseason priority should be finding a way to rid themselves of Amar'e Stoudemire. He doesn't fit into the way they're currently playing and his bloated salary basically prevents the Knicks from being a player in free agency.
But since it's going to be almost impossible to find a taker for $63 million worth of damaged goods, I guess the Knicks can focus on more achievable goals—like re-signing swing man Ronnie Brewer.
Brewer has a reputation as a good defender on the wing, and with the uncertainty surrounding the return of Iman Shumpert from a torn ACL, he's the only guy on the roster capable of playing the "stopper" role.
The smart teams are increasingly recognizing the value of defensive specialists, so it's possible that Brewer could command an open-market salary higher than his current $1 million deal. Because of his value to the Knicks' as a lockdown defender (and the overall scarcity of players like him), New York should do everything it can to retain his services.
Oklahoma City Thunder—Kevin Martin
The situation the Oklahoma City Thunder will find themselves in this summer is a lot like the one the Chicago Bulls are facing with Carlos Boozer. The smartest move the franchise could make might be using the amnesty clause to wipe Kendrick Perkins' contract off the books.
He is due to make about $8 million next year and $9 million the year after, but he has slipped defensively and the numbers clearly show that the Thunder are much worse when he's on the floor.
But since we're talking about re-signing free agents, Kevin Martin is the only relevant option worth discussing. Martin is a nice piece to have, but the Thunder really need a playmaker to fill out their second unit. Because Martin's a pure scorer, he doesn't exactly fit OKC's needs. So it seems unlikely the Thunder will break the bank to re-sign him this offseason.
Still, he's probably the closest thing the Thunder have to a "crucial" re-signing this summer.
Orlando Magic—J.J. Redick
Man, we're really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. The problem with picking out a crucial re-signing priority for the Orlando Magic is that there isn't a crucial player on the roster. Despite the utter lack of top-tier talent, the Magic will still be right up against the luxury tax next year. So their best move is probably to decline Gustavo Ayon's team option, pay their lottery pick and avoid taking on any more money.
Nonetheless, if forced to select the player they need to re-sign most, J.J. Redick is really the only option. Redick is a useful substitute because of his shooting and sound decision-making, but he's definitely not going to get the Magic to fork over a big offer. He'll make $6 million this year, but there's no way Orlando would be willing to retain him for anything close to that much.
Look, the Magic are a disaster. The best thing they can do is just wait out most of their awful contracts and start over in 2014. J.J. Redick doesn't factor into that plan, and only wins the "honor" here by default.
Philadelphia 76ers—Andrew Bynum
The Philadelphia 76ers are damned if they do re-sign Andrew Bynum and damned if they don't. Nobody's envious of the decision that front office is going to have to face this summer.
According to The Washington Post, Bynum is now out indefinitely, with no timetable set for his return. That means it's now possible that the 76ers will have to decide on what to do with Bynum without him ever playing a game for them.
On the one hand, a healthy Bynum might be the second-best center in the NBA (with apologies to Marc Gasol). The Sixers would look terrible if they simply let him walk (or limp) away without getting anything in return for the players they gave up to get him this past offseason.
On the other, Bynum has had an injury-riddled career and may simply never return to full strength. The only thing worse than letting him leave for nothing is keeping him for huge dollars and then getting nothing out of him.
It's tough to say what the 76ers should do, but the Bynum Decision is probably the most crucial one in the franchise's recent history.
Phoenix Suns—Luke Zeller
We're going outside of the box to find a crucial re-signing for the Phoenix Suns. Luke Zeller has played in four games for the Suns this year, and he's averaging 2.3 points and less than one rebound per contest. But here's the case for keeping him around this year and making him a qualifying offer at season's end.
Luke's brother, Cody Zeller, is likely to be a high lottery pick in this year's NBA draft when he comes out of Indiana University. Maybe the Suns can work out a deal whereby they endear themselves to Cody by a show of good faith toward his brother.
Maybe Cody will refuse to work out for other clubs during the run-up to the draft and the Suns can reach a handshake agreement to draft him wherever they pick.
Sounds completely ridiculous, right? Of course it is.
But not as ridiculous as trying to make the case that the Suns should even consider re-signing Wesley Johnson, Jermaine O'Neal or Sebastian Telfair, who are their only free agents this summer.
Portland Trail Blazers—J.J. Hickson
J.J. Hickson has turned out to be a very shrewd offseason signing for the Portland Trail Blazers. He's currently averaging a double-double with 10.6 points and 10.8 rebounds in just under 29 minutes per game as the Blazers' starting center.
He'll hit unrestricted free agency this summer, and the Blazers would be wise to make every effort to keep him around. Among Portland's other big men, only LaMarcus Aldridge has a proven track record, and rookie Meyers Leonard is still a long way from being an impact player.
Hickson will definitely garner interest from a number of teams if he keeps up his current level of production. Even if he doesn't, the market for athletic bigs who can rebound never really dries up. So he'll be in pretty high demand this summer.
It seems unlikely that the Blazers will be able to get him for less than the $4 million they're currently paying him on a one-year deal, but even if they have to stretch the budget, Hickson's worth keeping around.
Sacramento Kings—Anybody Not Named Tyreke Evans
The Sacramento Kings seem to be devoted to compiling the most selfish roster in league history. How else do you explain the conglomerate of gunners and total lack of defenders or team players on the current Kings roster?
Tyreke Evans, currently mired in a four-year statistical meltdown, is basically the poster boy for the kind of player winning teams don't want. He scores inefficiently, doesn't make his teammates better and could care less about defense. He's also got one more year on his rookie deal.
The best thing the Kings can do for the future of their franchise is not to work out a lengthy deal with Evans.
If the Kings are ever going to get their act together, they have to start by trimming players like Evans from their roster. They were smart enough to simply make a requisite qualifying offer to Evans for the final year of his rookie deal. Let's hope they also decline to even negotiate an extension with him this offseason.
San Antonio Spurs—Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili, the man we have to thank for popularizing the now-ubiquitous "Euro step," is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer after his contract with the San Antonio Spurs expires.
At 35, Ginobili's got plenty of miles on him and may be slowing down a little as the ankle and back injuries take their collective toll. But Tim Duncan is under contract for two more years after this one, so it seems apparent that the Spurs are intent on continuing their endless parade of deep playoff runs for a little while longer.
With that in mind, it makes sense to work out a deal to keep the NBA's best sixth man around until Timmy decides to hang up his sneakers.
The Spurs will have plenty of money to pay Manu, with Stephen Jackson's $10 million coming off the books after the season, so the only thing standing in the way of a a few more years with Ginobili is the threat of another team swooping in with a huge offer.
For the sake of continuity, let's hope the Spurs work something out with Ginobili. It'd be way too weird to see him in another uniform.
Toronto Raptors—Jose Calderon
The Toronto Raptors don't stand to lose much in the way of free agents this offseason. They've got just two potential players who could hit the market. But of those two, the Raps would certainly prefer to retain the services of Jose Calderon.
Calderon is grossly overpaid now, at a salary of over $10 million, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that he is a valuable player. He's always been a highly efficient shooter, as his career marks of 48 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc attest.
Plus, he is an extremely low-mistake player. The guy has averaged just 1.7 turnovers (against 7.2 assists) for his career.
With the reckless style of point guard Kyle Lowry constantly landing him on the bench with injuries, it would be a good idea for Toronto to re-sign the 31-year-old Calderon, if only as an insurance policy for Lowry's inevitable bumps and bruises.
Utah Jazz—Paul Millsap
The Utah Jazz have the enviable problem of having too many capable big men in their front court. Both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are playing out the last year of their respective contracts, and either one could be traded at any point.
With Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter looking like capable (and much less expensive) options on the front line, the Jazz are going to have to figure out what to do with their veteran bigs.
If Utah decides to keep just one of its soon-to-be free-agent big men around, they should probably opt for Millsap. Al Jefferson is a heck of a scorer, but he's not much of a defender and he's likely to command more money than Millsap on the open market (if his current pay rate, which is more than double that of Millsap, is any indication).
Besides that, the recent employment of Utah's ultra-big lineup, with Millsap at the small forward position, has proved to be an effective unit. If Millsap continues to develop his perimeter game, the Jazz could re-sign him with designs on including him in a starting lineup that features both Favors and Kanter.
That trio would easily be one of the league's grittiest, and grit has always played well in Utah. Look for the Jazz to find a way to keep Millsap this summer.
Washington Wizards—Martell Webster
You know the Washington Wizards are in rough shape when re-signing Martell Webster is a priority. Webster is averaging just 8.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, but he's the Wizards' only half-decent potential free agent.
To be honest, the Wizards should probably devote all of their attention to hoping that Trevor Ariza and his 24 percent three-point shooting don't return via an exercised player option, but that would probably just be wishful thinking.
Webster is nothing more than a bench scorer with slightly above-average skills from long distance, but on a Wizards team that looks ticketed for a high lottery pick, he's probably the best of an ugly group of options.
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