The 2013 NBA trade deadline was quiet, but that only means this summer won't be. Because the premier free agents to be remained with their respective teams, the interest in acquiring their services this summer will be high.
With names like Josh Smith, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul headlining the free-agent class, the 2013 crop will be well worth keeping an eye on. It's one of the better crops in recent years. While there is no LeBron James headlining the group, Howard and Paul are still franchise players, and Smith is a guy who could change a team's fortunes.
Where will Josh Smith sign?
Alex Kennedy said Atlanta Hawks' forward Josh Smith, like most players, will take the best contract available. Kennedy said the Hawks sought to trade Smith, but found no offers suitable for the defensive standout. This summer, Kennedy said, the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and the Hawks will pursue him.
Smith offers a lot of value as a game-changing defensive player, and while his shot selection may be questionable at times, his upside is too much for teams to pass on. He's just 27 years of age, and that means he's about to start entering his prime. GMs will seek to acquire a talent like Smith who has been on the brink of being an All-Star for most of his NBA career.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns were interested at the trade deadline.
Kennedy said Smith was interested in Milwaukee but only if he could play with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
Phoenix was offering Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat and draft picks for Smith. As to why Hawks GM Danny Ferry didn't choose to settle for that offer is unclear. Does he feel he can re-sign Smith?
What will happen with Dwight Howard?
Kennedy said Dwight Howard doesn't find the situations in Atlanta, Dallas or Houston to his liking, and says ultimately what may keep Howard in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform is that they can offer him the most money since they have his Bird rights. Kennedy said "the Lakers are the team to watch, and they should be able to keep him."
Kennedy further cited that in 2014 the Lakers have a lot of contracts expiring so they can restructure their rebuilding efforts around Howard. Howard's first choice last season was to be traded to Brooklyn, but he ultimately doesn't feel the Nets could make any kind of run at obtaining his services.
Will Chris Paul Stay in Los Angeles?
Chris Paul has experienced success the last two seasons playing for the L.A. Clippers. The Clippers were a Chauncey Billups injury away from contending in the postseason last year, and they're even better this year.
That makes Paul likely to stay in "Lob City." Kennedy said "he has what he wants, and there's not a better situation out there for trying to compete."
Paul is a legitimate MVP candidate this season, and will likely feel his best chance to win a title is to continue playing with Blake Griffin. Paul and Griffin pair well together, and are both All-Star talents. Paul is arguably the best point guard in the NBA, and Griffin is one of the better—and perhaps most exciting—power forwards.
The Clips have something good going. CP3 will be wise to realize that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, and that his best chance to win a title is likely by staying put.
Which Power Forwards Will the Houston Rockets Pursue?
Kennedy said there are definitely legs to the idea of Paul Millsap going to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets are a power forward away from being true contenders, and Kennedy feels that Thomas Robinson isn't really ready to compete right away. Kevin McHale and Daryl Morey both have been very impressed by Donatas Motiejunas, as well.
It's not that the Rockets don't have talent at the 4-spot, but mostly that Robinson and Motiejunas may not be ready to be a starting power forward in the NBA. Kennedy said a player who will draw more interest this year and could be a nice fit with Kevin McHale's team is David West.
Kennedy said the Pacers will seek to re-sign West and that he's a huge part of what they're trying to do in Indianapolis, but the contracts of Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and George Hill will come into play. Regardless of whether West stays with the Pacers, the sentiment among NBA GMs is that there will be a lot more interest in him as a free agent.
Can the Milwaukee Bucks Re-sign J.J. Redick?
The Milwaukee Bucks made a strong play for J.J. Redick at the trade deadline, and Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan ultimately felt their offer was the best available.
As to whether Bucks GM John Hammond feels he can retain Redick's services is less clear. Kennedy said it's going to be tough for the Bucks to keep Redick, and further cites that Monta Ellis' free agency will play a large role as well.
Redick has been coming off the bench for the Bucks since the trade. Redick has long been desiring a bigger role and a starting job on a contending team. If a team offers him that and good money, he's likely to jump on it.
What Will Become of Andrew Bynum?
Andrew Bynum is a curious case. He hasn't played a game in the 2012-13 NBA season, but prior to this season he had to be considered the second best center in the NBA. The max-contract question is whether Bynum can ever return to being an elite center.
Kennedy feels some team will gamble and take the risk that he can be that player again, and hope that it pays off.
76ers CEO and co-owner Adam Aron told CSNPhilly's John Gonzalez that Andrew Bynum is considering season-ending surgery. That casts a serious doubt on his ability to play basketball. As recently as just a few weeks ago, Bynum said he was still feeling pain just walking around. He also badly injured his knee during rehab while bowling.
Bynum's inability to even perform normal, casual tasks casts doubt on his abilities to play basketball. If he can't handle bowling, how will he ever handle the rigors of playing basketball? True, his recovery from the injury was not complete, but his carelessness towards his knee's recovery has to be concerning.
If he can't bend his knees and turn to throw a bowling ball down an alley, how is he going to handle pivoting, turning his knee, landing after jumps—all the strain that is required to play an NBA game?
And yet, despite all of these problems and issues; despite the fact Bynum hasn't played a game yet, teams are going to be willing to gamble on him. That truly speaks to how badly teams want franchise-changing big men.