The 2013 NBA free-agent class is an exciting one, with several electrifying players set to hit the open market. Several of the biggest names, though, are highly likely not to find a new destination, because sticking with their current teams is their best shot at a championship.
As the postseason continues to wind down, speculation and rumors will continue to emerge. However, there shouldn't be much suspense regarding the following trio of impact players.
Let's take a look at some of the best available unrestricted free agents who will generate significant interest, yet should remain in their current NBA uniforms.
Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers
A stunning development occurred this past season—the Clippers established themselves as the best pro basketball team in the City of Angels, bettering the preeminent Lakers.
It didn't translate to playoff success, unfortunately, which led to the team parting ways with head coach Vinny Del Negro. That was in spite of a franchise-record 56 wins during the regular season.
CBS Sports' Ken Berger cited sources that indicated Paul's discontent with Del Negro was a significant factor in the Clippers' brass giving him the pink slip:
Ken Berger @KBergNBA
Among the biggest reasons the Clippers let Vinny Del Negro go today, sources say: Chris Paul was not a fan.2013-5-21 19:42:01
Reportedly giving a player that type of organizational pull is a testament to how much the Clippers value Paul. In an effort to keep him, no less than a max contract will be offered to the superstar point guard, and he'll capitalize—and also likely choose his next coach.
Paul is surrounded by marquee talent, and forms a lethal combination with power forward Blake Griffin and a solid rotation with DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe—though he may leave this offseason.
As long as the Clips supply Paul with a legitimate starting 2-guard, there is no reason that he should flee town.
Kevin Martin, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder
After trading away dynamic sixth man James Harden, who became a premier star with the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City needed a shot in the arm on offense. Martin provided that off the bench this season, netting 14 points per contest.
With a previous salary of nearly $12.5 million (h/t USA Today), it's improbable that Martin's play will warrant that type of payday on the open market.
Martin is in a wonderful situation as a member of this Thunder squad, with cornerstones Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook still blossoming and realizing their sky-high potentials.
Royce Young of CBS Sports reported what Martin had to say recently about his future:
Royce Young @royceyoung
Kevin Martin: "This is a place I'd love to be ... I'm going to have some options out there so I'm going to see how the process plays out."2013-5-16 19:09:27
It appears that Martin's best fit is in OKC, despite the fact that he could start elsewhere given his incredible shooting prowess. Walking away from this situation for more money might produce better career numbers, but no place presents a better opportunity for an NBA title.
Martin has said that chasing money at this point in his career won't be a factor, which only enhances the case that he'll remain with the Thunder.
David West, PF, Indiana Pacers
ESPN's Marc Stein reports "whispers are already swirling" that the Clippers are interested in acquiring West this offseason, which would give their frontcourt a necessary boost.
It makes sense, since the two thrived together as members of the New Orleans Hornets. Especially if Paul can help lure Byron Scott, their former head coach, to Los Angeles, things could become really interesting.
Stein also notes how much West loves his situation in Indiana, too, and how LA would have to offer him a mid-level exception, as opposed to the larger sum the Pacers could muster.
Advancing to the Eastern Conference finals also helps the Pacers' cause in retaining the crafty 32-year-old post player, because it's a sign of tangible improvement.
The Pacers' official Twitter page highlighted a recent comment made by West, which makes it sound as though he definitely wants to stick around the organization:
Indiana Pacers @Pacers
"This is the most together group I’ve been part of...We don’t have ‘I’ guys, we have a bunch of ‘we’ guys.” @D_West30 http://t.co/4nQYDAvrQK2013-5-19 04:19:11
Head coach Frank Vogel has instilled a defensive identity into his squad, and it's paying significant dividends.
From an offensive standpoint, though, few in the league are more devastating at operating off the pick-and-roll than West. His combination of size and athleticism at the 4 position creates significant matchup problems.
West is the only particularly high-priced free agent that GM Kevin Prtichard has to focus on, and he should reward the All-Star power forward with a lucrative multi-year deal.