With the 2013 NBA Finals in full swing, the offseason is right around the corner. With this in mind, countless players are preparing for a period that will forever alter their lives and careers, as free agency could send athletes to new homes.
The question is, which players are in need of a change of scenery?
Certain players have spent their entire career with one team, but they've either overstayed their welcome or simply do not fit into the long-term plans of their organizations. Other players have experienced success in their current situation, but would be better suited to sign elsewhere.
One way or another, they need to get out while they can.
Unfortunately, not all players will have that luxury, as some enter the offseason as restricted free agents. This presents the possibility for a player to sign an offer sheet, but ultimately return to their franchise due to their restricted status.
Regardless of what their situation may be, these players need a change of scenery.
Monta Ellis, ETO
Monta Ellis is one of the more polarizing players in the NBA, as his world class production is met by troubling inefficiency. From his poor shot selection to the questions about his defensive effort, the fact that Ellis can do everything—and we mean everything—is overshadowed by his do-it-all approach.
As part of the discussions the Bucks offered the 27-year-old guard a two-year extension through the 2015-’16 season, resulting in a total package of nearly $36 million over three years, according to a source. Ellis would have been required to opt in to get the additional two years on the deal.
That includes the opt-in first year at $11 million, with annual raises bringing the total to $11.8 million in the second year of the deal and $13 million in the final year.
Ellis reportedly declined the offer and will thus become an unrestricted free agent.
Ellis needs to go to a team with an identity, and as it presently stands, Milwaukee simply doesn't have one. A coach with a commanding presence and a group of respected veterans would be the most ideal situation, as Ellis' shot selection would be significantly improved with their mentorship.
Keep in mind, Ellis shot above 45.0 percent in four of five seasons from 2007 to 2011—the one season he failed to, he hit 44.9 percent.
The Dallas Mavericks are an ideal destination for that reason, as Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle are one of the most respected player-coach duos in the league. Together, they could help curve Ellis' appetite for baskets and place him in a system in which shots come by design, not chance.
There are other options, but the most important part of this decision-making process is simple—he needs out of Milwaukee.
Al Jefferson & Paul Millsap, UFAs
The Utah Jazz are in a bit of a transition period, as their postseason-caliber frontcourt is about to hit free agency. While re-signing both players could be a target, there is one very important factor that we'd be remiss to ignore.
Neither Al Jefferson nor Paul Millsap have a reason to return to Utah.
The Jazz have two Top Five draft picks waiting in the wings with power forward Derrick Favors and center Enes Kanter. Seeing as Millsap and Jefferson play those two positions, there really isn't a reason for either to come back and take a "for now" job.
Not when they were a hot commodity at the trade deadline and will continue to be in free agency.
Why turn your backs on a chance to be a franchise cornerstone when the alternative is serving as a transitional starters as Favors and Kanter develop?
Jefferson has countless options due to his ability to play the 4 or 5, but he'll likely get signed as a center.
As for Millsap, he's one of the better power forwards in the NBA, specifically on the offensive end of the floor. That makes him an intriguing option for teams such as the Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers if they're to let David West walk—an unlikely scenario, but one worth acknowledging.
Either way, neither Jefferson nor Millsap should remain in Utah.
Josh Smith, UFA
For the sake of both the Atlanta Hawks and Josh Smith, it's time to put an end to their nine-year relationship. While Smith may be a well-rounded, highly productive player and the Hawks are flush on cap space, anyone who's been in a relationship can agree upon one thing.
Sometimes, a fresh start is what's best.
Smith will have suitors and the Hawks have the money and draft choices to build without him. More importantly, they could move Al Horford to power forward on a full time basis and land a true small forward.
Smith, meanwhile, can move on to a team that better fits his abilities and style of play.
Both the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers make sense—the former is the key party here, though.
The Rockets are an up-tempo team with a superstar scorer in James Harden, a rebounding machine in Omer Asik and a two-way presence in Chandler Parsons. What they lack, however, is a rim protector that can improve their 28th ranked scoring defense.
Smith certainly fits the bill.