The One Player Each NBA Fanbase Hopes Doesn't Return Next Season
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Positivity is hard to come by for many fanbases across the NBA, and as a result negative attitudes are developed towards underwhelming players or those whose financial situations are hard on their preferred franchise.
With player movement set to kick into high gear in just over a month, front offices across the league will debate which current players—if any—they should bring back next season.
An important point of order: the majority of the players referenced in this slideshow are either restricted or unrestricted free agents this summer, thus making them more likely candidates to not return.
However, there are a few exceptions for players who could conceivably be traded.
Atlanta Hawks: Johan Petro
An unrestricted free agent this summer, the Atlanta Hawks would be wise to part ways with Johan Petro.
Not only was Petro statistically insignificant in 31 games last season, but he voiced displeasure with his role, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“It’s been awful,” Petro said before the Hawks lost to the Nuggets Monday [March 4]. “It’s just tough to be in that position. That’s the business."
“I’ve been in the situation before when I had to fight my way back to a rotation but I always found my way back to a rotation. Now, it’s still not there. It’s a little tough. I just have to do what I have to do every time my name is called.”
Looking to reshape their front line, the Hawks will be able to free up cap space and relieve themselves of a player who's grown unhappy with the franchise by not pursuing Petro this summer.
Boston Celtics: Chris Wilcox
Chris Wilcox is the only notable Boston Celtic hitting free agency this summer, so we have to pick on him here.
Jared Sullinger will be returning from injury next season, and after averaging 9.8 points, eight rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game in the D-Leauge, it's time the Celtics called up Syracuse product Fab Melo to the big club for a full-time reserve gig.
Wilcox only played 13.6 minutes per game in 61 appearances last season, pulling down two rebounds and blocking 0.5 shots per game.
At this point, it feels almost certain that Melo could duplicate those numbers and give the C's a youthful jolt off the bench.
Brooklyn Nets: Kris Humphries
In an ideal world, Gerald Wallace and the Brooklyn Nets would head for a mutual split this summer, but given the three years and more than $30 million that remain on Crash's contract, that's not a realistic outlook.
Instead, Nets fans should hope the team finds a way to rid themselves of Kris Humphries.
It may have been difficult for the Nets to move Humphries last season, but now that his contract only has one year remaining, the expiring nature of the deal could intrigue a few teams in need of a gritty rebounder.
According to NBA.com's stats database, the Nets were three points worse per 100 possessions offensively and 4.2 points worse defensively when Humphries was on the floor last season.
With Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche (assuming he re-ups) a capable tandem at power forward, Humphries would appear to be the odd man out.
Charlotte Bobcats: Ben Gordon
Charlotte Bobcats fans can hold out hope, but at this time it appears as if Ben Gordon will likely return for one final season.
According to Rick Bonnell on Twitter, it's highly likely Gordon will return, and his salary has everything to do with it.
Gordon has a player option worth $13.2 million for next season, which is a hefty sum for the Bobcats to play an aging shooting guard who averaged 11.2 points per game on 40.8 percent shooting last season.
It would be glorious for Charlotte if Gordon chooses to opt out of his deal at the last minute, as he would give the Bobcats financial flexibility to continue their lengthy rebuilding process.
Chicago Bulls: Nate Robinson
The Chicago Bulls shouldn't be fooled by Nate Robinson's superb postseason performance.
Despite torching the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat to the tune of 16.3 points and 4.4 assists per game in the playoffs, the Bulls are set at point guard and don't need to shell out to keep Robinson in the fold.
Derrick Rose is set to return at full strength next season while Kirk Hinrich has one year remaining on his contract.
Robinson's postseason efforts will undoubtedly earn him some generous offers on the open market, and the Bulls would be wise not to match them.
Robinson's care-free offensive ways are a joy to watch when his shots are falling, but his faulty decision-making won't be missed should the Bulls let him walk.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Marreese Speights
Bob Finnan of the News-Herald reported back in April that the Cleveland Cavaliers are crossing their fingers hoping that Marreese Speights opts out of his contract this summer.
Fans should be doing the same.
The Cavaliers will have a stacked frontcourt upon Anderson Varejao's return, and if they choose to take Kentucky's Nerlens Noel with the No. 1 overall pick in next months' draft, there will be absolutely no room for Speights.
With Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller in the fold, the Cavs don't need Speights to linger and complain about a presumably limited role.
Dallas Mavericks: Chris Kaman
There are two reasons Dallas Mavericks fans don't want to see Chris Kaman back in North Texas next season.
For one, he cost the Mavs $8 million last season. For a center who produced just 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, that's a hefty price tag.
Second, and most importantly, Kaman's return would likely signal that the Mavericks missed out on a number of big-name free agent centers set to hit the open market this summer.
Al Jefferson, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum are all intriguing options for the free-spending Mavs, and they would be wise to lock up impending free agent Brandan Wright as the franchise's long-term backup at center.
Denver Nuggets: Timofey Mozgov
Timofey Mozgov wants starters' minutes. With the Denver Nuggets, his wishes are unlikely to be tended to.
Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, Wilson Chandler and Kosta Koufos comprise one of the league's deepest frontcourts, and while Mozgov is more than serviceable, he's less talented than each of the men slotted above him on the depth chart.
Although it's been reported (via CSN Northwest) that the Nuggets will tender a qualifying offer to Mozgov, that by no means ensures that Denver will match incoming offers.
The Nuggets have more pressing needs than a reserve center, so letting Mozgov walk would be a move that appeases both parties.
Detroit Pistons: Corey Maggette
The obvious choice here would have been Charlie Villanueva, but he was quick to exercise his player option for next season (via The Detroit News).
By process of elimination, Corey Maggette earns the dubious distinction of player fans least want to see in a Detroit Pistons uniform next season.
Maggette appeared in just 18 games during his first season in Detroit, and was miserable from an offensive standpoint in the few appearances he did make.
Shooting a career-worst 35.5 percent from the field en route to 5.3 points per game, Maggette struggled to mesh with a young team that experienced frequent growing pains.
While he still has some game left, Maggette would be better served signing a veteran minimum deal with a contender where he can take on a minor reserve role.
Golden State Warriors: Richard Jefferson
Chalk this one up as a long shot. Soon to be 33 years old, Richard Jefferson has no business declining a player option worth roughly $11 million for next season.
However, the Warriors' other impending free agents have either already opted in to their deals (Andris Biedrins) or are players the Dubs and their fans would be happy to welcome back (Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack).
Jefferson has been a non-factor for the Warriors for the last year-and-a-half, and managed to play just 10.1 minutes per game last season.
Making loads of dough with a marginal role in Mark Jackson's rotation, it would be a minor miracle if Jefferson chose to opt out of his deal and cut the Warriors a break.
Houston Rockets: Francisco Garcia
Francisco Garcia averaged 10.7 points per game on 45.9 percent shooting in the Houston Rockets' first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but that may not save his roster spot.
While fans adore Garcia's pure stroke from distance, his player option for next season is worth $6.4 million.
In fact, it's already been reported that the Rockets won't be picking up Garcia's option (per CSN Houston's Howard Chen).
At $6.4 million, Garcia simply isn't worth it.
Instead, the Rockets could use that cap space to make a run at a max contract-caliber player and evolve into one of the Western Conference's elite.
Indiana Pacers: D.J. Augustin
One point of emphasis for the Indiana Pacers this offseason should be shoring up the backup point guard spot.
D.J. Augustin was a stopgap solution for the 2012-13 season, and hardly inspired confidence that he can lead the Pacers' second unit.
Augustin averaged 4.7 points per game on 35 percent shooting in 76 games this season, and although his scoring average and shooting average have improved incrementally in the postseason, he's simply not capable enough defensively for a team coached by Frank Vogel.
A team that wins with defense first, the Pacers would be wise to let Augustin walk and pursue a more well-rounded reserve point guard in the months ahead.
Los Angeles Clippers: Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom appeared in all 82 games in his return to the Los Angeles Clippers, but his production was so underwhelming that there's no conceivable way the Clips can justify bringing him back for anything more than a low-cost, low-risk deal.
Back with the Clippers, Odom averaged four points and 5.9 rebounds per game, but shot a miserable 39.9 percent from the field and 20 percent from three.
Odom has been in a funk ever since he was dealt by the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Clippers can't risk paying him knowing that the 6'10'' forward is capable of imploding at a moment's notice.
Los Angeles Lakers: Antawn Jamison
Antawn Jamison wasn't a bad offensive fit with the Los Angeles Lakers, but his lack of defensive prowess was a major detriment in his first—and perhaps only—season out in Hollywood.
While Jamison has never been known as a capable defender, his lack of foot speed and lackluster effort were one of several concerns that permeated the Lakers' locker room this season.
The 6'8'' swingman did post respectable offensive numbers (9.4 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting), but the Lakers could find a better player to sign to a veteran minimum contract on this summer.
In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, it's looking unlikely that Jamison will make a return to the Lakers after a disappointing 2012-13 campaign.
Memphis Grizzlies: Jerryd Bayless
Jerryd Bayless didn't have a particularly efficient postseason, but he was able to average 9.3 points per game over 15 playoff games. With a performance that boosted his value, Bayless is now reportedly (via USA Today) likely to opt out of his deal:
Guard Jerryd Bayless, who averaged 8.7 points off the bench, has a player option for next season at $2.9 million and is probably a good bet to test the free agent market. And given the Grizzlies' perpetual shooting struggles – they were 32.2% from the 3-point line in the playoffs – they will undoubtedly be searching for help in that area via free agency.
With Bayless looking like he'll command more money than the Grizzlies are willing to pay, it would be in Memphis' best interest to let the 24-year-old pursue other opportunities.
The Grizzlies have been hesitant to exceed their financial boundaries in the past, and with a big decision regarding Zach Randolph looming, letting Bayless go is a move fans can get behind.
Miami Heat: Mike Miller
Mike Miller still has two years remaining on his contract with the Miami Heat, but with stricter salary cap penalties looming, the 33-year-old could be a casualty of the amnesty clause this summer.
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel has the details:
I would love to see Mike stay, for his locker-room presence and his playing possibilities. But for all he has done recently, the reality is that 80 percent of the time the tax meter is rolling on Mike's contract without any payoff on the court. Another reality is that everything Mike has done, and been asked to do, likely could be accomplished by a minimum-salary veteran, sort of as Rashard Lewis has done this season. Yes, Mike and LeBron are close, but LeBron also appreciates the luxury-tax implications on the overall roster. Then again, there will be time before the July amnesty window for the Heat to possibly work a Miller trade for lower-cost alternative.
Miller still has the tools to be a solid contributor when called upon, but the fact that he's due more than $12 million over the next two seasons trumps his value on the floor and in the locker room.
As Winderman mentions, the Heat need salary cap relief, and they should be able to find someone of a similar age and skill set who can provide the same services at a much cheaper price.
Milwaukee Bucks: Samuel Dalembert
The Milwaukee Bucks are set when it comes to lengthy big men. Not only do they have the up-and-coming Larry Sanders, but John Henson and Ekpe Udoh are both superb rotational bigs who possess diverse skill sets.
They also have floor spacer Ersan Ilyasova in the fold, which makes Samuel Dalembert the odd man out in the frontcourt.
Dalembert saw his minutes drop to 16.3 from 22.2 a year prior in Houston, and averaged the fewest rebounds of his career (5.9 per game) since his rookie season.
With no certain role waiting for him back in Milwaukee, Dalembert and fans alike would be happy with an amicable divorce.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Nikola Pekovic (Salary Dependent)
Nikola Pekovic is an evolving talent, one whom the Minnesota Timberwolves would undoubtedly like to keep in town this summer.
However, Pekovic's breakout 2012-13 campaign (16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game) has made him much more attractive to teams in need of a strong, offensively-gifted center.
While he can use his brute strength to overpower you, Pekovic's game is multidimensional. His finesse on the offensive end is a beautiful thing to watch, and it's what makes him one of the prized restricted free agents available this summer.
The Timberwolves will be able to match any offer made to Pekovic, but the fear is that offers could exceed the $10 million per year range.
If that's the case, it wouldn't exactly be logical for the Timberwolves to keep Pekovic in tow. Minnesota has some money to spend this summer, but they need to focus on adding perimeter scorers.
Should interested teams not throw big money at Pekovic, he'll be well worth keeping. But, if he exceeds the team's price range, they shouldn't bog themselves down with a pricey long-term salary.
New Orleans Pelicans: Xavier Henry
Selected at No. 12 overall in the 2010 NBA draft, Xavier Henry has not met the expectations normally associated with a lottery pick.
Some good news for Pelicans fans who have tired of Henry's act is that New Orleans chose not to pick up his fourth-year option (via New Orleans Times-Picayune) at the beginning of last season, which means the team is a step closer towards not retaining him.
In his second season in New Orleans, Henry's scoring average dropped to a career-worst 3.9 points per game, but did shoot a career-best 41 percent from the field.
Considering 41 percent is the best Henry's shot from the field in three seasons, there's no reason to throw money at a player whose shot is still in need of significant work.
New York Knicks: Marcus Camby
The New York Knicks are in a tough spot. They traded the majority of their young assets to acquire Carmelo Anthony in February of 2011, and were forced to fill out their roster with aging veterans this past season.
Marcus Camby was one of those veterans, but unlike Kurt Thomas and Kenyon Martin, Camby's contract is good for another two years at more than $7 million.
With the Knicks in need of cap space, ridding themselves of Camby would be an ideal move to go out and acquire a young big to bolster the team's frontcourt depth.
Unfortunately for New York, the only way to ease Camby's cap hit at this point would be to renegotiate his salary, and that feels like a request Camby wouldn't be particularly fond of.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Derek Fisher
Soon to be 39 years old, there's no reason Derek Fisher should be a part of the Oklahoma City Thunder's rotation at point guard next season.
Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson are soon to be one of the league's best one-two punches at the point, and Fisher doesn't provide the Thunder with any skills of redeemable value at this point in his career.
Sure, Fisher knocked down a few big treys for the Thunder, but he's a defensive liability and incapable of creating off the bounce.
Letting Fisher walk will allow Jackson more room to grow behind Westbrook, and will free up a roster spot for the Thunder to add a more logistically appropriate piece.
Orlando Magic: Hedo Turkoglu
Considering the only other unrestricted free agent the Orlando Magic currently possess is Beno Udrih, this one's a no-brainer.
With the Magic in the midst of a youth movement, Turkoglu doesn't fit the mold of what Orlando is looking for in a swingman.
Moe Harkless is beaming with potential, and it's imperative that Jacque Vaughn lets the 20-year-old grow in his second year with the club.
It's been established in the past that Turkoglu isn't likely to return (via Orlando Magic's official website) to Orlando for the 2013 campaign, which is great news for fans of the up-and-coming Magic.
Philadelphia 76ers: Kwame Brown
Chalk this one up as extremely idealistic. The odds Kwame Brown turns down his player option for $3 million for next season can be described as slim to none.
Brown was brought on by Doug Collins last summer to bolster the Sixers' frontcourt, but was unable to wedge his way into a rotation that consisted of Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes up front.
In fact, Brown fell so out of favor with Collins that he only appeared in 22 games last season, averaging 1.9 points and 3.4 rebounds in limited action.
A strong defensive body, Brown can be valuable in a minute role, but there's no way a team will offer him anything close to the $3 million he's slated to make next season.
Phoenix Suns: Michael Beasley
Michael Beasley doesn't fit the bill of a restricted or unrestricted free agent, but how pleasant a sight it would be for Phoenix Suns fans to see him shipped out of town.
Beasley has two years and $13.2 million remaining on his current deal, numbers that aren't particularly attractive to potential buyers.
Another reason Beasley may be hard to trade is that he's proven to be wildly inconsistent offensively (40.5 percent shooting from the field in 2012-13), and is a train wreck defensively.
It's a long shot, but Beasley's departure would enable the Suns to groom some younger pieces who still possess bits of potential.
Portland Trail Blazers: Luke Babbitt
Despite receiving one highly questionable vote for Sixth Man of the Year, Portland Trail Blazers fans are crossing their fingers that the team's front office lets Luke Babbitt walk this summer.
Babbitt shot an appalling 36.8 percent from the field last season, averaging 3.9 points per game in the process. Not exactly award worthy numbers, right?
With a number of low-priced wings set to hit free agency this summer, the Blazers would be better served cutting ties with Babbitt and pursuing a more attractive option.
A few names that come to mind right away: Dorell Wright, Anthony Morrow and Martell Webster.
Sacramento Kings: Toney Douglas
The Sacramento Kings' most notable free agent is Tyreke Evans (restricted), but the team's overhauled front office (via USA Today) would be wise to retain Evans and transform him into the team's full-time small forward.
One of the Kings' more minor free agents-to-be is Toney Douglas, who was a part of the trade that sent Thomas Robinson to the Houston Rockets.
Douglas competed for playing time in a crowded backcourt with the Kings, playing 17.1 minutes per game with Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton ahead of him on the depth chart.
At this point, Douglas unnecessarily clutters the Kings' confusing backcourt picture, so the Kings would be wise not to match any offers the restricted free agent receives this summer.
San Antonio Spurs: DeJuan Blair
It's not that San Antonio Spurs fans don't appreciate what DeJuan Blair has to offer, it's that they recognize he deserves a chance to compete for a larger role with another franchise after four years in Texas.
On the Finals-bound Spurs, Blair has played the fewest minutes of his career (14 per game during the regular season and 6.6 per game during the playoffs), subsequently averaging career-lows in points and rebounds per game.
The Spurs' frontcourt doesn't have room for Blair at the moment, although circumstances could change should Tiago Splitter bolt this summer.
Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani
Toronto Raptors fans want Andrea Bargnani gone. The good news: management has expressed a similar sentiment.
According to the Toronto Sun, former general manager Bryan Colangelo was interested in dealing Bargnani, but acknowledges that it's now up to the next GM to make that call:
“I still would say there’s value in Andrea as a player. I get the fact that a change of scenery is probably best for all sides. I’ve publicly acknowledged that but, again, the new guy is going to have to decide how to handle it and there are a few options. You can obviously move down different paths with Andrea now."
Although the Raptors dealt Ed Davis in the trade that netted them Rudy Gay, they can still roll with Amir Johnson at power forward after an encouraging close to the season.
After the All-Star break, Johnson averaged 10.6 points per game on 55.4 percent shooting and hauled in 8.3 rebounds per game.
With Bargnani desperately needing a new opportunity, the best course of action would be to deal the Italian and give Johnson a chance to improve.
Utah Jazz: Marvin Williams
In the context of the 2005 NBA draft, Marvin Williams has been a bust. Selected No. 2 overall by the Atlanta Hawks, Williams was chosen over Chris Paul and Deron Williams, and has been an average player at the professional level for eight years now.
The Utah Jazz, who are primed to have massive amounts of cap room this summer, could free up even more space if Williams declines his $7.5 million player option.
While it's hard to envision a player of Williams' caliber turning down that much guaranteed money, he's coming off of a season in which he played the fewest minutes (23.7 per game) and averaged the fewest points (7.2 per game) of his career .
Declining his player option would be a tough pill to swallow, but it also means that Williams would be free to search for a new employer—one who could be willing to hand him a sizable role.
Washington Wizards: Trevor Ariza
The Washington Wizards are a young franchise on the upswing.
Seeing Trevor Ariza decline his player option worth $7.7 million for next season would be addition by subtraction, and here's why.
Not only would Ariza's departure mean shedding salary, but it would free up some room for the Wizards to re-sign sharpshooter Martell Webster, who would come much cheaper than $7.7 million per year.
Webster led the Wizards in three-point shooting last season, converting on 42.2 percent of his looks from beyond the arc. The 26-year-old also led the Wizards with a true shooting percentage of 60.1, and can stretch the floor unlike the wiry Ariza.