3 Potential Destinations for Each of the Top 10 2013 NBA Free Agents

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistMay 28, 2013

3 Potential Destinations for Each of the Top 10 2013 NBA Free Agents

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    While all 30 teams in the Association would love to have a shot at each of the top 10 2013 NBA free agents, the reality is that only a select few organizations stand any shot of landing one. 

    Some free agents have laundry lists of suitors—Dwight Howard, for example—but not every one of them is so heavily involved in the rumor mill. That said, each of the top 10, save David West, has at least three legitimate potential destinations. 

    I've picked out the three likeliest for each of them, but it's important to remember two things as you peruse the next 10 slides. 

    First, these aren't the full lists of potential destinations; just the three most likely ones. 

    Second, the destinations are listed in alphabetical order, not in increasing or decreasing order of likelihood. 

    With that firmly in mind, where do you see the top 10 free agents going? How many of them will change uniforms going into the 2013-14 season? 

    We'll have to wait until the summer to find out, but it's never to early to start making some educated guesses. 

10. Monta Ellis

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    Last Team: Milwaukee Bucks

    Age: 27

    Position: SG

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 0.4 blocks, 2.1 steals, 16.30 PER

    Type of Free Agency: Player option

    Potential Destination No. 1: Dallas Mavericks

    This is purely speculation, but if the Dallas Mavericks strike out in their inevitable pursuit of the big names, they could be left hoping to land Monta Ellis. After all, the talented 2-guard would fill the scoring void left by O.J. Mayo, assuming the incumbent declines his player option. 

    Someone has to complement Dirk Nowitzi's scoring ability, and Ellis loves to put up points—and shots—more than anything else. 

    Potential Destination No. 2: Milwaukee Bucks

    There are two ways that Ellis could remain with the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Either he exercises his $11 million player option, acknowledging that it's more than he'll make elsewhere, or he declines it and eventually comes crawling back after an ill-fated free-agency experiment. At some point during June, there's a strong chance that he decides it isn't worth testing the waters. 

    Potential Destination No. 3: Sacramento Kings

    Buried in Ken Berger's story about Ellis and Larry Sanders confronting each other was a tiny nugget that the Sacramento Kings' potential owners were interested in the point guard. 

    Well, the potential has become the reality, and the group led by Vivek Ranadive is now in charge.

    Could the rumored Ellis scouting become a reality?

9. Brandon Jennings

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    Last Team: Milwaukee Bucks

    Age: 23

    Position: PG

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 0.1 blocks, 1.6 steals, 16.20 PER

    Type of Free Agency: Restricted

    Potential Destination No. 1: Dallas Mavericks

    Maybe there's just something about the Dallas Mavericks picking up the Milwaukee Bucks' free agents. 

    Regardless, the Mavs would be a great fit for this sometimes disgruntled floor general for many of the same reasons that Monta Ellis would work there. Brandon Jennings is also a score-first backcourt player, and the Mavericks have the money and positional void conducive to them showing interest.

    Potential Destination No. 2: Milwaukee Bucks

    Ultimately, Jennings is a restricted free agent, and the Bucks control his fate. While he'd like you to believe he has leverage, Milwaukee is still in charge.

    The most likely scenario during the offseason involves Jennings deciding he wants to go elsewhere, signing an offer sheet and then unhappily waiting as Milwaukee decides to bring him back for another season. Basically, he'll be Eric Gordon 2.0 with the Bucks playing the part of the New Orleans Hornets and some other squad acting like the Phoenix Suns.  

    Potential Destination No. 3: Utah Jazz

    The Utah Jazz are going to be big players during the 2013 offseason, especially if they choose not to re-sign either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap. With a lot of young players ready to shine and a noticeable hole at point guard, they present a logical fit for Jennings. 

    If he went to Salt Lake City, he could immediately step in as the featured player. Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter all have potential down the road, but Jennings is the guy most ready to play the go-to role from Day 1. 

8. Paul Millsap

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    Last Team: Utah Jazz

    Age: 28

    Position: PF

     2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.3 steals, 19.89 PER

    Type of Free Agency: Unrestricted

    Potential Destination No. 1: Atlanta Hawks

    Danny Ferry and the Atlanta Hawks are after some bigger targets than Paul Millsap, but he's not a bad Plan B. Not at all. 

    The energy-filled big man would create a monumentally undersized frontcourt when paired up with Al Horford, but that wouldn't hold Atlanta back against too many teams in the Eastern Conference. The Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets might pose some problems, but that's nothing that can't be overcome. 

    Potential Destination No. 2: Houston Rockets

    The Houston Rockets are also looking for an established power forward who can help push them over the top, but this time, they can try to get him from the Western Conference.

    I'd recommend reading the entire piece, but here's the summary quote from Roy Burton's article on bringing Millsap to the Rockets:

    On the other hand, Millsap is a solid, low-risk, high-reward investment who would fit in well with the pieces already in place in Houston. Millsap may not bring the glamour and glitz that comes with signing a superstar like Howard, but he doesn't bring the drama, either. 

    Potential Destination No. 3: Utah Jazz

    The Utah Jazz have a lot of money to play with, and there's still a chance that they bring back Millsap. 

    Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are clearly the frontcourt players of the future in Salt Lake City, but they're anything but established. Kanter in particular could use some more seasoning, which opens the door for a Millsap-Favors frontcourt pairing in 2013-14. 

7. Al Jefferson

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    Last Team: Utah Jazz

    Age: 28

    Position: C

     2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.0 steals, 20.99 PER

    Type of Free Agency: Unrestricted

    Potential Destination No. 1: Atlanta Hawks

    If the Atlanta Hawks are set on adding a former member of the Utah Jazz to their roster, Al Jefferson would be an even more appealing option than Paul Millsap. 

    After all, he'd do away with any worries about size, as he could continue lining up at center while Al Horford slides over to his more natural spot at power forward. 

    Plus, there's something magical about two frontcourt members sharing the same first name. Imagine the confusion of other teams!

    Potential Destination No. 2: Dallas Mavericks

    Elton Brand, Chris Kaman and Brandan Wright are all unrestricted free agents, so the Dallas Mavericks are currently without the services of a true center. Dirk Nowitzki is tall enough to play the 5, but he's not physical enough. 

    If Mark Cuban can't convince Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum to come play for his Mavs, Al Jefferson is the next-best target. 

    Potential Destination No. 3: Utah Jazz

    Just as was the case with Millsap, Jefferson could return to the Utah Jazz one more time. It's highly unlikely that both frontcourt members will be retained, but it's not at all improbable that one is brought back. 

    Again, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors aren't both ready for the starting lineup, and keeping Jefferson would allow one to take on a less prominent role. 

    I wouldn't bet on this happening, but I also wouldn't rule out the possibility. 

6. David West

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    Last Team: Indiana Pacers

    Age: 32

    Position: PF

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.0 steals, 20.15 PER

    Type of Free Agency: Unrestricted

    Potential Destination No. 1: Indiana Pacers

    This is easily the most logical situation for David West because the Indiana Pacers have enjoyed so much success since he signed there two offseasons ago. 

    The power forward is an incredibly important piece in Frank Vogel's puzzle on both ends of the court. He knows it, and he thrives with that knowledge in the back of his mind. Whether it's his tenacious defense or the unrelenting physicality of his offense, West is well-aware of just how valuable he is to the Pacers. 

    Potential Destination No. 2: Los Angeles Clippers

    Here's the relevant quote from ESPN's Marc Stein

    Indy will certainly have the ability to pay West more to convince its locker-room sage to stay, given that the Clips would presumably have to structure an offer with the $5.15 million midlevel exception available to nontax teams. But you have to figure that the former Hornet -- who rose to All-Star prominence playing alongside CP3 -- is going to want to hear the details of a proposal pitching a reunion with his old point guard ... as long as Paul himself, of course, decides to stay. If Paul re-signs with the Clips as most league insiders continue to expect, L.A. will be seeking to add the final piece or two to cement itself as a contender with some staying power. 

    The Clippers, with West and Paul on board, would certainly be strong contenders in the Western Conference. 

    Potential Destination No. 3: None

    West has the ability to be paid by a contender, so why would he go elsewhere?

    Other than the Los Angeles Clippers, no viable alternative to the Pacers exists. 

5. Andre Iguodala

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    Last Team: Denver Nuggets

    Age: 29

    Position: SG/SF

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.7 steals, 15.27 PER

    Type of Free Agency: Early termination option

    Potential Destination No. 1: Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Cleveland Cavaliers have just over $32 million committed for the 2013-14 campaign, and they're missing a top-tier small forward. I'll let you do the math. 

    It would likely take a lot of convincing to get Andre Iguodala onto an up-and-coming squad rather than an established contender, but his defense and well-rounded offensive game would fit in nicely alongside Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. 

    Potential Destination No. 2: Dallas Mavericks

    I'm sorry if it seems like the Dallas Mavericks are popping up on every slide, but the Mavs have a lot of holes to fill, a good bit of money to spend (assuming Shawn Marion and O.J. Mayo don't return) and Mark Cuban in the front office. 

    Cuban will inevitably pursue the big names, and Iguodala is most assuredly a big name.

    He might not bring the scoring prowess of some other targets, but his game is most certainly valuable. Dallas' owner, very much a burgeoning student of the game, is sure to recognize that. 

    Potential Destination No. 3: Denver Nuggets

    There's always a chance that Andre Iguodala chooses not to use his early termination option and stays put, spending another year in a Denver Nuggets uniform. 

    It's not hard to see that happening, especially because Denver is in such great shape for the future. Had Danilo Gallinari stayed healthy, the Nuggets could still be taking part in the postseason. 

    At least we know Ty Lawson wants him to return. 

4. Josh Smith

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    Last Team: Atlanta Hawks

    Age: 27

    Position: PF

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 steals, 17.82 PER

    Type of Free Agency: Unrestricted

    Potential Destination No. 1: Atlanta Hawks

    There seems to be some sort of tacit agreement not to mention the possibility of Josh Smith staying with the Atlanta Hawks, but since there's no explicit rule about it, I may as well bring it up. 

    Atlanta, believe it or not, can still retain Smith.

    And given the number of times fans have expected him to be shipped away without success (see every trading deadline ever), it wouldn't be all that shocking for them to see Smoove jacking up long two-pointers for Atlanta in 2013-14. 

    Potential Destination No. 2: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Smith is at his best when playing power forward, but he's still more than capable of lining up at the 3. 

    The Cleveland Cavaliers need a 3, and they'd love an infusion of offense from that spot. Playing Smith, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao would create an interesting clog at the center of half-court sets, but Smoove could definitely do more good than bad in a Cleveland uniform. 

    The Cavs have the money necessary to sign a max player, and the longer Smith stays in the free-agency pool, the more attractive he'll start to look. 

    Potential Destination No. 3: Houston Rockets

    The Houston Rockets present Josh Smith with an absolutely perfect fit. They play up-tempo basketball and love shooting either from behind the three-point arc or right at the rim. Everything about that probably sounds appealing to No. 5. 

    Daryl Morey loves chasing stars, and his eyes are currently fixed on even bigger names than Smith, but should Chris Paul and Dwight Howard sign elsewhere, his gaze will quickly shift. 

    Don't be surprised when this is exactly where Smith plays out the next chapter of his career. 

3. Andrew Bynum

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    Last Team: Philadelphia 76ers?

    Age: 25

    Position: C

    2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.9 blocks, 0.5 steals, 23.00 PER (with Los Angeles Lakers)

    Type of Free Agency: Unrestricted


    Potential Destination No. 1: Charlotte Bobcats

    If the Charlotte Bobcats decline Gerald Henderson and Byron Mullens' team options, they'll have enough cap space to give Andrew Bynum a max deal. 

    And at this point, why not? 

    It's a great idea for both teams, as the Bobcats would gain a marquee player, and Bynum would be afforded the opportunity to resume his career under the radar and at his own pace. Plus, Charlotte would be so thrilled to have a true star that it might even let him shoot as many three-pointers as his heart desires. 


    Potential Destination No. 2: Philadelphia 76ers

    If the Philadelphia 76ers don't view Andrew Bynum's 2012-13 season as a sunk cost, they might be tempted into bringing him back. After all, they gave up Andre Iguodala for absolutely nothing at the moment and would probably like to change that. 

    Bynum would give the Sixers the post presence they both covet and need on each end of the court.

    Imagine how good Jrue Holiday would look if he actually had some top-notch help out there. 


    Potential Destination No. 3: Phoenix Suns

    The Phoenix Suns could land Andrew Bynum via a sign-and-trade, likely one that sends Marcin Gortat across the country, and then they could use their magical training staff.

    Don't injuries seem to have a way of healing faster in the desert? It's remarkable how many times players have either recovered quickly or resurrected their careers once signing on with Phoenix.

    Jermaine O'Neal is the latest example, and Bynum could be the next one. 

2. Dwight Howard

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    Last Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Age: 27

    Position: C

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.4 blocks, 1.1 steals, 19.48 PER

    Type of Free Agency: Unrestricted

    Potential Destination No. 1: Atlanta Hawks

    There are very few teams that give Dwight Howard the ability to play alongside a close friend and fellow superstar, but the Atlanta Hawks are one of them.

    Danny Ferry masterfully cleared enough cap space that the Hawks can sign any two free agents of their choosing during the 2013 offseason, and the Howard-Chris Paul combo will be the one he goes after relentlessly.

    Plus, Howard is from Atlanta and would quickly be embraced by the hometown fans.  

    Potential Destination No. 2: Houston Rockets

    Daryl Morey would love nothing more than to let Howard roam the paint while James Harden goes to work on the perimeter. He'd finally have the stars that he covets. 

    No team presents a better fit for D12 than the up-and-coming Houston Rockets. They'd surround him with potent three-point shooters, spreading out the defense enough that his job on the inside would be relatively easy. 

    Houston would need a third star to blossom from its current roster in order to form a trio of superstars, but even a Harden-Howard duo is a frightening prospect for the rest of the Association. 

    Potential Destination No. 3: Los Angeles Lakers

    The Los Angeles Lakers can offer Howard more than any other team in two areas. 

    First, they can fill his wallet more than any of the 29 other NBA squads because they can give him a five-year max deal. Money is often a major factor, and it could come into play here. 

    Secondly, the Lakers can offer him the most attention, whether that comes from fans, the media or commercial endorsements. 

    Year 1 didn't go so well for Howard in L.A., but there's plenty of potential for the next few to unfold more smoothly. 

    For the pros and cons of all the teams interested in signing Howard, check out this article. 

1. Chris Paul

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    Last Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Age: 28

    Position: PG

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 0.1 blocks, 2.4 steals, 26.43 PER

    Type of Free Agency: Unrestricted

    Potential Destination No. 1: Atlanta Hawks

    The Atlanta Hawks will either sign both Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, or they'll land neither of the superstars. CP3 and D12 won't sign with the team individually, but there's a chance they'd be willing to form CPD15. 

    Only five players are under contract next year for the Hawks—Al Horford, Lou Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, John Jenkins and Mike Scott—and only three of the contracts are guaranteed. If necessary, Atlanta can just let Stevenson and Scott walk away. 

    There's plenty of money to make this pipe dream actually happen. Now it's just a matter of convincing the players involved.  

    Potential Destination No. 2: Dallas Mavericks

    If Chris Paul agrees to meet with the Dallas Mavericks, you can be sure that Mark Cuban will be present, even if there's a conflicting Shark Tank shoot. It's not every day that you get a chance to sign the best point guard in the NBA. 

    The point guard position isn't a huge concern for Dallas because, if worst comes to worst, restricted free agent Darren Collison can be retained, but CP3 presents a massive upgrade. 

    Cuban loves going after the stars, and Paul most assuredly falls into that category. 

    Potential Destination No. 3: Los Angeles Clippers

    Have you ever heard the phrase "addition by subtraction?" 

    The Los Angeles Clippers showed they're serious about adding Chris Paul to the 2013-14 roster by subtracting former head coach Vinny Del Negro from the equation. 

    CP3 is technically an unrestricted free agent, but following the release of VDN, the Clippers are the prohibitive favorites to retain his services far into the future.