The season is winding down, but turning our attention a couple months forward to the offseason, there are still trickles of chatter regarding the status of Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and the fate of a few of the lesser free agents.
The Philadelphia 76ers will find themselves in a perplexing situation after plugging through this season without their franchise center Andrew Bynum, and the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs must make decisions on the fate of Jose Calderon and Tiago Splitter, respectively.
Evan Turner has continued to make strides as a player, and the 2012-13 NBA season marks the first of Turner's three-year career that he has seen starter's minutes. Turner has seen his playing time increase from 26 minutes per game last season to 35.6 this year, and he's averaging career highs in scoring (13.3 points per game) and rebounding (6.3 rebounds).
Turner has played himself into a contract extension, but it's unclear as to what kind of money he'll command. His qualifying offer is for $8.7 million, and the 76ers are pretty certain to extend that offer so that they can match any offers from other teams.
Philadelphia extended Jrue Holiday to the tune of four years and $44 million, and as to whether they can afford to offer that kind of money to Turner isn't really clear. Tom Moore of Philly Burbs wrote that Turner likely would not be interested in a reasonable extension for four years and $30 million.
But how much will teams throw at a player whose PER is under 12?
Jason Kidd will approach the rest of his career on a year-by-year basis, and the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer may yet play out the final two years of his contract and last until age 42. He's extended his career by moving to the 2-guard spot, and Kidd's ability to spot up and consistently knock down the open three should render him an effective rotation player through the next two seasons.
The real matter will not be whether Kidd can get it done with his waning athleticism, but whether or not his body can withstand the rigors of playing two more years of professional sports.
Kidd is still seeing 27 minutes per game and could see a further reduction in his playing time next season. Kidd's minutes have decreased each year since 2009-10 when he played 36 minutes per night. However, according to ESPN New York's Ian Begley, coach Mike Woodson isn't worried:
FWIW, Woodson said Jason Kidd can "absolutely" play two more years. Kidd has said he'd approach it year by year. #Knicks
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 23, 2013
Woodson also told the New York Post:
J-Kidd knows the game just like a coach. To have him just in the locker room and to have him on the court, you can hear him always, even if he's on the bench. He looks at different things on the court I wouldn't yell out, I know a lot of guys around the league wouldn't yell out. It helps out tremendously.
Ultimately, Kidd could become a 15-18 minute per night player whose best values are what Woodson said they are: coaching. That's just the natural progression for one of the game's best point guards.
Even in a rebuilding effort, it usually makes sense to keep a veteran or two around to mentor the younger players. That appears to be the role of Jose Calderon with the Detroit Pistons. Despite speculation that the acquisition of Calderon was nothing more than a cap-clearing move by Joe Dumars, Calderon has come to figure significantly into the development of sophomore point guard Brandon Knight.
Joe Dumars told Keith Langlois of NBA.com that it's "different" with a younger team that is trying to build, but if "a guy can still make a decision based on the environment, based on the culture, based on the surroundings, the way an organization goes about its business....we can still do those things great."
Dumars believes the Pistons offer Calderon a good place to spend his career. Although Calderon is too old to be part of Detroit's long-term plans, Dumars has now made it clear he sees a place for him in the Pistons' current picture.
Tiago Splitter has increased his production every season in his three-year NBA career, and this year the Brazilian center is averaging 10.5 points per game and 6.2 rebounds. He's become an effective rotation player for the Spurs, and he's started 48 games this season.
Splitter is currently on a $3.94 million contract that expires at season's end, and according to Project Spurs, he said he'll look at all his available options:
I spoke to my agent that I wanted to take a break, and not think about it during the season, and wait for the end of the season to see what are my options, what's best for me. But surely, I am very well here in San Antonio. I will look at all of my options.
There's sure to be no shortage of teams after a 6'11" big man whose mobility alone renders him a far more effective defender than most, and Splitter is still just 28 years old. He's entering his prime, and he's due for a modest increase in pay, but how much will teams offer Splitter?
Splitter's PER of 20.5 last season and 18.8 this year indicates his impact on the court could potentially be far greater than most realize, but it will be interesting to see how Splitter thrives outside of Gregg Popovich's system and without his tutelage.
Ian Begley of ESPN New York tweeted that Kenyon Martin has expressed his desire to remain a New York Knick past this season.
Martin has started six of his 11 games with the Knicks and is seeing 23 minutes per game at age 35. He heads up a Knicks' front line that features Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby, which helps make the Knicks the oldest roster in NBA history.
Martin is averaging 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season. He still clearly offers value as a rotation big, and because he's unlikely to command anything more than the veteran's minimum, re-signing the Cincinnati product should be a no-brainer for New York.