NBA Free Agents 2013: Ideal Signing for Every Team This Summer
From season to season, every team in the league changes their roster in some way or another. Most of the time, these additions are done via free agency, signing a player who's projected to fit in with the organization's vision and basketball scheme.
Heading into the summer, each team has a list of players they wish to target that are also in their conceivable price range. On this list of ideal free agents each team should take a long, hard look at, price isn't as much of a factor as "basketball fit," based on their roster from the 2012-13 season.
The teams are ranked in alphabetical order.
Atlanta Hawks: Jose Calderon
The Atlanta Hawks are a team with oodles of cap space and only one All-Star caliber player guaranteed to be on board next season.
In other words, they're rebuilding. High impact signings that really matter, like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul most likely aren't happening, so the next best thing is signing a veteran point guard who distributes the ball, spreads the floor and plays basketball in an infectiously unselfish way.
Calderon would be a great fit with Atlanta even if they keep Jeff Teague, and he'd give quality minutes as either a backup or starter on a one or two-year deal.
Boston Celtics: Jarrett Jack
The last reliable backup point guard who played for the Boston Celtics might be Sam Cassell. Seriously. A 38-year-old Sam Cassell.
The Celtics have hopelessly searched for six straight seasons to find someone who could handle the ball whenever Rajon Rondo needed rest, but they've repeatedly struck out on several free agent signings and draft picks that went wrong (Gabe Pruitt, Stephon Marbury, Nate Robinson, Lester Hudson, etc.).
Jarrett Jack is coming off the best two-year stretch of his career, and would be a huge addition to a Celtics bench that's currently struggling to find playmakers and stable distribution. He has the ability to score that Boston desperately needs.
Jack is looking for a payday, but given his age next season (30), and the fact that he's most likely going to be coming off the bench, it's unlikely he strikes a long-term deal somewhere. If Paul Pierce retires (or is waived) and Kevin Garnett retires, the Celtics could be in a position to make Jack a meaningful offer.
Brooklyn Nets: Tony Allen
The Brooklyn Nets are locked into their current roster for the foreseeable future, which doesn't bode well for their chances at winning a championship anytime soon.
But that doesn't mean they can't make a few important tweaks here and there. Tony Allen is a defensive force who's talented enough to help shape the identity of a team. If the Nets are stuck with Gerald Wallace—a one-dimensional player who's impact on offense is dwindling by the day—they might as well embrace defense as a strength.
Allen would help with that.
Small ball lineups with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Tony Allen would be intimidating against anyone. And Allen would allow Williams to preserve his energy on offense.
It's not enough to put them over the top, but the Nets would definitely be a better team with Allen on board.
Brooklyn is heavily over the cap, but they could still offer Allen the taxpayer mid-level exception, and put him on a team that's fighting to find a winning situation.
Charlotte Bobcats: Paul Millsap
The Charlotte Bobcats are an atrocious basketball team that needs help in multiple areas. They rank in the bottom 10 for almost every major statistical category.
One thing they crave is a consistent player on both ends who can settle the team down in moments of crisis, and be reliable from night to night.
Paul Millsap, a borderline All-Star entering his prime, should be that figure. As a number one option for the first time in his career, Millsap could struggle at times, but given his age and stature around the league as a free agent in high demand, acquiring him would be a step in the right direction for a franchise that appears to have no clue where it's going.
His 21.8 PER in 2012 would've ranked ahead of Kyrie Irving, LaMarcus Aldridge, Deron Williams and Stephen Curry this year.
Chicago Bulls: O.J. Mayo
O.J. Mayo is a three-point shooting maestro who saw his percentage rise from 36.4 percent to 40.7 percent in the same amount of attempts from 2012 to 2013.
A bit of this could be due to his arrival on a team with brilliant offensive spacing, which lead to more open shots, but not all of it.
The Chicago Bulls are coming off a regular season in which they ranked 29th in both three-pointers made and three-pointers attempted, according to NBA.com/Stats. The return of Derrick Rose could help improve these rankings just a bit, but Mayo would give them the deep threat they need.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Josh Smith
The Cleveland Cavaliers aren't one player away from contending, but they might be one player away from qualifying for the playoffs in a putrid Eastern Conference.
Josh Smith is one of the five best free agents on this summer's market, and his impact on the offensive end would help ease the scoring pressure off Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
With Smith at either small or power forward, the Cavaliers could throw versatile units at their opponents, and his work on defense besides Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson would make this team one of basketball's most interesting.
Dallas Mavericks: Dwight Howard
Rebounding is a major concern for the Dallas Mavericks. (They finished this season ranked 28th in rebounding percentage, according to NBA.com/Stats.)
At the same time, they desperately need to add another player who's already established as an All-Star to pair with an aging Dirk Nowitzki.
Not that Nowitzki can't handle the responsibility, but if Dallas' expectations for next year are title contention, Howard is the only player aside from Chris Paul (not an answer on the glass) who's good enough to get them there.
Denver Nuggets: Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans is player whose future success will be entirely predicated on his jump shot. He can already get to the basket at will and hold his own on the defensive end.
But as a member of the Denver Nuggets, Evans might not have to worry about his jumper. George Karl is a head coach who puts his players in situations to thrive (Corey Brewer, JaVale McGee), and the hyper-athletic Evans would be a perfect fit running the floor in Denver's system.
They finished the season averaging the most fast break points per game in the league, and, according to NBA.com/Stats, Evans scored 26 percent of his points in fast break situations.
If the Nuggets let Timofey Mozgov walk and Andre Iguodala opts out, the Nuggets still wouldn't be in position to offer Evans a max contract, but they could still snag him on a deal slightly lower than the one DeMar DeRozan recently signed with the Toronto Raptors.
Detroit Pistons: Brandon Jennings
The Detroit Pistons still have Brandon Knight on a rookie contract, but he might already be regressing instead of improving.
Brandon Jennings will be more expensive, but he's a better player and still young enough (only 23 years old) to grow into the role of franchise point guard.
If Knight can't be dealt, playing him off the ball might be a do-able proposition, with a small backcourt that'd normally be susceptible on defense getting more than enough help from Detroit's monstrous front line.
Golden State Warriors: Andre Iguodala
The Golden State Warriors need to improve their perimeter defense, and adding a piece like Andre Iguodala would be a major upgrade.
This season they ranked dead last in the league in three-point attempts per 48 minutes, and having Iguodala smothering the ball and opposing guards away from it could bring that number down.
As an on-ball facilitator on the offensive end, Iguodala would also be great for a team that could be looking to play Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson off the ball even more next season.
Iguodala has a $16.1 million player option next season but he's expected to opt out, citing the need for long term security. Him signing with the Warriors depends on how much less he's willing to take per year, and what several players on Golden State choose to do (Brandon Rush, Andris Biedrins and Carl Landry all have player options coming up).
Houston Rockets: Shawn Marion
The Rockets will target every big name this summer to pair beside James Harden. Something tells me they won't find him on the free agency market, but instead in a semi-blockbuster trade.
Shawn Marion would be perfect in Houston because the team is in desperate need of two things: veteran leadership and a versatile defender not named Omer Asik. Marion could start at power forward in a perpetual small unit that would be able to switch on all pick-and-rolls defensively while continuing to run up and down the court on offense.
Marion has never needed plays called for him in order to succeed, and playing with the Rockets could add a few years to his Hall of Fame career.
Indiana Pacers: Monta Ellis
The Indiana Pacers have one major weakness keeping them from true title contention: non-existent offense coming from the second unit.
Monta Ellis is an extremely gifted yet one-dimensional guard, who, if willing to accept a somewhat muted role off the bench (like J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford, Lou Williams, etc.) could improve his reputation as an amasser of empty points.
A partnership with Ellis could be a mutually beneficial solution.
Los Angeles Clippers: Nikola Pekovic
The Los Angeles Clippers showed interest in acquiring Kevin Garnett before the trade deadline because they badly needed competent back line defense in the fourth quarter.
While an athletic marvel who should win the Slam Dunk contest next season, DeAndre Jordan hasn't been the answer (in 2010 minutes this season, only 149 of them came in the fourth quarter).
Nikola Pekovic isn't necessarily known for his defense (especially when compared to a dominant force like Garnett), but he's built like a cement wall, and an undeniable improvement over Jordan on both ends of the floor.
In post-up situations opponents shot just 39.2 percent against Pekovic, per Synergy Sports.
It's highly unlike the Clippers are able to afford a player who might sign a max contract this summer, but if Chris Paul signs elsewhere and the team looks to move DeAndre Jordan's lengthy contract for nearly nothing in return, Pekovic will certainly be on their radar.
Los Angeles Lakers: J.R. Smith
The Los Angeles Lakers will need to fill the gaping hole Kobe Bryant's Achilles injury created by severely upgrading their offensive production in the backcourt.
J.R. Smith may not be the perfect solution because he can be a bit inefficient at times (similar to Bryant), but he's a scorer who will undoubtedly add youth and an ability to create offense off the dribble, which is something the Lakers sorely need.
The 2013 Sixth Man of the Year winner was a scoring machine all season, but most of his damage was done in the fourth quarter. It's where most of his minutes came and when he was on the floor New York outscored opponents 11.7 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com/Stats.
Smith will make a ton of money after this season, and the Lakers aren't in a position to spend. But anything's possible. If Dwight Howard walks, Steve Nash retires, Pau Gasol is traded and/or Metta World Peace is amnestied, the Lakers would find themselves in a different financial situation.
Memphis Grizzlies: J.J. Redick
The Memphis Grizzlies have one of the best defenses in basketball, but they severely lack any real shooters on the perimeter who can spread the floor without the ball in their hands and improve the offense's spacing.
They made 4.7 three-pointers per game this season, which ranked dead last in the league.
J.J. Redick could solve that problem without compromising the team's stout defense. He's a reliable rotation player who makes 40 percent of his threes and nearly 90 percent of his free-throws (while attempting over two per game, which is surprising).
Miami Heat: Eric Maynor
What do the Miami Heat need? Nothing. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use an upgrade in certain areas.
Rebounding is certainly an issue, but the team has shown an ability to plug in whoever they need midway through the season with a last minute signing.
Elsewhere, Miami's weakest rotation player is backup point guard Norris Cole, and replacing him with Eric Maynor, one of the best backup point guards in basketball, wouldn't be a bad move.
Milwaukee Bucks: Chris Kaman
As one of the finer shooting big men in the NBA, Chris Kaman could fit in perfectly beside some less-gifted marksmen on Milwaukee's front line.
According to NBA.com/Stats, Kaman shot an astounding 52.1 percent this season on jumpers between 16 and 24 feet. That type of range could help Milwaukee stretch the floor when using lineups that feature either Larry Sanders or John Henson.
Minutes could be scarce for Kaman, but the depth he'd give the Bucks would be tremendous.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Manu Ginobili
If the Minnesota Timberwolves are completely committed to making the playoffs next season, they could use help from one of the best winners of his generation.
This is just about never going to happen, but if Manu Ginobili were ever to leave the San Antonio Spurs, this team would be as good a fit as any.
He'd play heavy minutes at shooting guard, spreading the floor and acting as a secondary ball-handler for Ricky Rubio whenever the two shared the court.
If Rick Adelman's system stays in place should he leave, Ginobili would fit in perfectly with all the off-ball cutting and need for timely passes.
New Orleans Pelicans: Darren Collison
The New Orleans Pelicans ended the season as the slowest team in basketball, per NBA.com/Stats. Bringing back former Hornet Darren Collison, a cheap, one-man fast break who can speed up the offense and get open looks for Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson in transition could prove beneficial in the short term.
They're rebuilding with a defense that's abysmal. But given their youth it's unlikely it improves in one season.
Collison could alter the other end of the court, which is still important for a team that holds no real expectations over the next couple years.
New York Knicks: Kevin Martin
In many ways, Kevin Martin was once an offensive genius.
The combination of his slender frame with a funky shooting motion doesn't scream "prolific scorer," but Martin made it work by seeking contact and becoming one of the best players in the league at getting to the free-throw line.
Those days for Martin are over. But he can still shoot the three ball as good as anyone (42.6 percent in his first year with the Oklahoma City Thunder).
The New York Knicks are a team that operates behind the three-point line and are more than capable of producing at least a dozen open looks from distance per game. As long as he isn't asked to get to the line six-eight times per game, Martin would fit in perfectly.
They won't have a lot of money to spend next season, but if Oklahoma City chooses to let Martin go, he might be willing to sign on with a contender for the taxpayer mid-level exception. New York can offer that.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Gerald Henderson
The Thunder need to upgrade at the shooting guard position by grabbing someone who can do more than spot up in the corner while still being able to defend his position.
Just because he isn't known as a three-point shooter today doesn't mean he can't become one. Henderson will enter his fifth season next year at the age of 26, but he's yet to attempt over 100 three-pointers in a season (this year he doubled his next highest output by shooting 100 exactly, and making 33 of them).
Oklahoma City ranked 12th in the league in percentage of field goal attempts that were three-pointers this season. Henderson could help this without compromising them in other areas.
Orlando Magic: Andrei Kirilenko
The Orlando Magic are a re-building team full of young players who don't yet know their limitations. They're full of holes, ending the regular season with the worst record in basketball.
Being that their offense and defense are both bottom five caliber, per NBA.com/Stats, the Magic might be interested in grabbing a player who can do a little bit of everything.
Kirilenko can shoot from distance, rebound in traffic, defend four positions at an above average level, recognize cutters and hit them in stride and cut away from the ball to get open for a teammate in need of help.
He wont turn Orlando's ship around (that's the job of a lottery pick), but he'll prevent it from crashing into a rocky shore.
Kirilenko has a player option next season worth $10.2 million, but he may be willing to opt out for his last long-term deal.
Philadelphia 76ers: Al Jefferson
This one is a no-brainer. The Philadelphia 76ers are in need of a reliable offensive center who can compliment Jrue Holiday's development by severely lessening his various offensive responsibilities.
Andrew Bynum was supposed to be that guy, but since re-signing him brings obvious risk for a franchise that was badly burned once, Al Jefferson is the next best solution.
His usage percentage of 25.3 percent last season with the Utah Jazz ranked just outside the NBA's top 20, and he knows how to be the first option on a playoff caliber team.
Phoenix Suns: Andrew Bynum
The Phoenix Suns are an awful basketball team, ranked 28th in point differential with the second worst offense in basketball this season.
No one player can solve their problems (though LeBron James would probably take them to the playoffs), but Andrew Bynum could serve as a hub for the offense and defense (which ranked 24th).
The franchise's training staff is an obvious perk, and there'd be no better benefit to having them on board than if Bynum can be repaired and ready to lead them back to the postseason.
Bynum might not demand a maximum contract given his health history, but the Suns could still offer him a sizable long-term offer. And if they move Marcin Gortat for something like a second round pick, even more cap space would be created.
Portland Trail Blazers: Sam Dalembert
After starting 6'9" J.J. Hickson at center all season, the Trail Blazers are a team that craves rim protection more than anything else.
According to NBA.com/Stats, Portland allowed the second most attempts in the league this season, with opponent's shooting 60.8 percent when they got there (eighth most accurate).
Sam Dalembert's career block percentage of 5.6 percent is second among all active players and 10th all-time. Even though he played in just 47 games this season and will be 32 years old next year, Dalembert is the best shot-blocking free agent out there, which is exactly what Portland needs.
Sacramento Kings: Chauncey Billups
The Sacramento Kings are in desperate need of leadership, and regardless of whether they move to Seattle or not, it's the primary quality they should be looking for in free agency.
In his 16 years of NBA basketball, Chauncey Billups has seen it all.
Can he still be productive for 30 minutes a game? Probably not, but his influence on the youngsters (Jimmer Fredette, Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas) this organization is cultivating for future success could pay off dividends down the line.
Billups most likely doesn't want to play with a rebuilding organization, but if the Kings are the only team willing to extend his career on a long-term contract (they can afford it), he might change his tune.
San Antonio Spurs: Mo Williams
The San Antonio Spurs are in the same boat as the Miami Heat in that they don't need to use free agency as a means for ascending to championship contention.
That being said, adding a veteran for depth couldn't hurt. Mo Williams just spent half a season starting for the Utah Jazz, putting up 13 points and six assists per game.
If he's willing to accept a lesser role within San Antonio's team-centric system, Williams would definitely serve as a positive addition to an already dominant roster.
Toronto Raptors: Tiago Splitter
The Toronto Raptors have more depth on the wing than they know what to do with. What they need is another big man to compliment the hopeful franchise star, Jonas Valanciunas.
Tiago Splitter would bring his seven-foot frame, relatively quality passing ability and San Antonio Spurs lineage to a Raptors team that's slowly digging itself out from a rut of extended poor play.
As a starter this season he averaged 27.2 minutes, 10.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
Little pressure would be on Splitter to step outside what he's capable of doing, and as a supplementary big man the benefit could be massive for a team that's main focus should be beefing up the frontline.
Utah Jazz: Jeff Teague
Jeff Teague isn't talented enough to be the best player on a playoff team, but he could definitely grow into the role of quality point guard who totally grasped his role on a contender (think Mike Conley Jr.), and in that situation he'd be worth every penny.
The Conley Jr. parallels for Teague could extend to his team's strategic context if he signs with the Utah Jazz, an organization that appears ready to build it's roster around two mammoth-sized bullies.
Teague, along with Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward would be one of the more interesting basketball teams of tomorrow; a playoff fixture for the next decade.
Washington Wizards: Kyle Korver
The Washington Wizards ended the year as the worst offense in basketball, but they "jumped" to 21st after the All-Star break. An entire season of John Wall and Bradley Beal should result in further improvement next year, but another shooter to help spread the floor couldn't hurt.
Kyle Korver finished this season as the second most accurate three-point shooter in the league, and he's just about guaranteed to make one a game.
His range could be used on just about any basketball team in the league, but in Washington he might find more minutes—and open looks—than anywhere else.