Chris Paul and Dwight Howard head this year's free-agent class.
NBA teams are gearing up for the free-agency period which begins on July 1. Each franchise has a dream scenario in which it lands the top stars available, but ultimately most must hone in on players they can realistically sign and are a good fits for their team.
Finances play a crucial role in determining which players general managers will pursue. It is important to consider how much room teams have under the salary cap or whether they are capped out, as well as their future financial situation.
If a team is over the cap, has it passed the luxury tax threshold? Does it have the mid-level exception at its disposal or just the "mini" mid-level? Does the general manager work for an owner who is willing to pay a luxury tax?
Next, it is essential to consider the team's needs. What positions do they need to shore up, and which of the players available would fit into their style of play.
The contract status of individual players is also an integral part of the free-agency process. Teams have the opportunity to match an offer sheet signed by their restricted free agents, whereas unrestricted free agents are free to sign with whichever team they choose. Some players have the right to opt out of their contracts, and in other cases, the team has the option of whether or not to retain the player.
Athletes have different priorities when searching for a new team. Many simply sign with the one that offers them the most money. However, certain ballplayers are more concerned with other factors, such as their role on the team, the opportunity to win and the location of the franchise.
* All salary information was obtained from Hoopsworld.com
Andre Iguodala's well-rounded game would be a nice fit for the Hawks.
Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry did an excellent job of clearing cap space during his first few weeks on the job last summer, unloading Joe Johnson's outrageous contract on the Brooklyn Nets and trading Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz.
The Hawks have plenty of money to spend this summer with just three players under guaranteed contracts for a total of $18.6 million. Ferry's first task is to decide which of the Hawks' own free agents to retain, beginning with Josh Smith and restricted free agent Jeff Teague.
The Hawks GM will undoubtedly reach out to free agents Dwight Howard, who is from Atlanta, and Chris Paul—though the Hawks are unlikely to land either of the superstars. Atlanta also needs more athleticism on the perimeter in order to compete with the Miami Heat in the Southeast Division, especially if Smith does not return.
Andre Iguodala, who will likely exercise the early termination option on his contract with the Denver Nuggets, would be a nice fit. Iggy is an excellent two-way player who can guard multiple positions and get out on the break. At 29, he is in the prime of his career, and the Hawks have the cap space to reel him in.
The Boston Celtics have expressed interest in Paul Millsap in the past.
According to Greg Dickerson of CSNNE.com, the Boston Celtics inquired about the availability of Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap before the trade deadline. The seven-year veteran is a free agent this summer and is likely still on the radar of Boston GM Danny Ainge.
Millsap would fill a glaring hole for a Celtics team that desperately needs a big man to help Kevin Garnett on the boards. Boston finished 29th in total rebounds and tied with the San Antonio Spurs for dead last in offensive rebounds per game. Millsap has averaged 3.2 offensive boards and 9.2 total rebounds per 36 for his career.
The Celtics are over the salary cap, so Ainge would have to get creative to land the 6'8'' forward. They could offer the Jazz a package including Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a draft pick, or clear space by amnestying Paul Pierce.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. can help space the floor for the Nets.
Mike Dunleavy Jr.
The Brooklyn Nets will not make any major changes after being bounced by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. They are way over the salary cap and have few desirable trade pieces to work with. That leaves the draft, veteran's minimum contracts and the "mini" mid-level exception (about $3.2 million) to improve their team.
Brooklyn's biggest weakness offensively was poor spacing. Teams were able to sag off both of their starting forwards, Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans, and clog the paint. They need a shooter who can spread the floor and open up driving lanes for Deron Williams.
The top shooters on the market are out of their price range. That leaves players like Chris Copeland, Dorell Wright and Daniel Gibson to choose from. Mike Dunleavy Jr., who is a career 37 percent shooter from downtown, may be willing to accept a little less money to play for a good team.
Marreese Speights is an intriguing option for the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Charlotte Bobcats will continue to build through the draft after another dreadful season rather than shell out money for high-priced free agents. Point guard Kemba Walker made significant strides in his second year, and the organization is still expecting big things from the second pick in the 2012 draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They can use help everywhere else.
Tyrus Thomas has been a huge disappointment for the Bobcats, and occasional starter Josh McRoberts is a free agent. Marreese Speights is an interesting option at power forward. He has a player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers for next season, which he will probably opt out of.
Speights did not crack the starting lineup in Philadelphia, Memphis or Cleveland, but he put up impressive numbers in limited playing time. The 6'10'' forward has averaged 17.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per 36 minutes over his five-year career. He is still just 25 years old and could flourish with more playing time in Charlotte.
Wesley Johnson is the kind of young, cheap player the Bulls are looking for.
The Chicago Bulls are another team without the cap space to make a splash in free agency. Even wiping out the $32.1 million owed to Carlos Boozer over the next two seasons wouldn't put them under the cap.
Bulls ownership demonstrated last season that they are unwilling to pay a hefty luxury tax by refusing to match Omer Asik's offer from the Houston Rockets and trading Kyle Korver to the Atlanta Hawks. Free agents Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli will head for greener pastures this summer.
The Bulls' biggest need is at shooting guard. Jimmy Butler is ready to be a full-time starter, though that would leave Chicago with a lack of depth at the 2 and 3 spots.
Wesley Johnson could be an ideal reclamation project for Coach Thibodeau. Johnson has been a disappointment since the Minnesota Timberwolves selected him fourth overall in 2010, but he is still young, and at 6'7'' has the length to develop into the type of versatile defender that Thibodeau prefers.
J.J. Redick's outside shot would add a new dimension to the Cavs' offense.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won the lottery for the second time in three years and will likely select Nerlens Noel with the first pick. The University of Kentucky product will join a talented young nucleus built around point guard Kyrie Irving. Cleveland's next goal is to add an experienced All-Star to the mix.
They should be at least $26.5 million under the cap this summer and could have as much as $31 million to spend if Marreese Speights does not pick up his option for next season. The Cavs will reserve much of that space in the hopes of luring LeBron James back to Cleveland next summer. If they fail to land a star this offseason, they can still sign a second-tier free agent and have plenty of money remaining.
J.J. Redick would be a wise target. Cleveland ranked 22nd in the league in three-point percentage this season and their outside shooting could take a major hit if Wayne Ellington departs via free agency.
Dion Waiters is a promising young talent, but his shooting is suspect and he may be best-suited as a sixth man. Redick is a career 39-percent shooter from downtown. He can spread the floor for Irving and the Cavs' young big. His experience and professional approach would be an added bonus for the predominantly young team.
Tiago Splitter's size was a big factor in the Spurs' playoff sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Mark Cuban will make his sales pitch to Dwight Howard, but landing the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is a long shot. The Dallas Mavericks are no longer one of the most attractive destinations for free agents. Dirk Nowitzki turns 35 this summer, and an aging Vince Carter could be the only other rotation player returning.
The Mavs will try and remain competitive now with an eye towards the future. 28-year-old Tiago Splitter meets both objectives and fills one of Dallas' most pressing needs: a starting-caliber center.
Splitter could be this summer's Omer Asik, a talented center who elevates his game in a greater role with a new team. The Brazilian averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Spurs this season, which comes out to 15.1 and 9.1 per 36 minutes.
Kyle Korver is the deep threat that the Denver Nuggets are looking for.
Andre Iguodala is expected to exercise the early termination option on his contract, though the Denver Nuggets' biggest offseason losses may be on the management side. Masai Ujiri, the architect of this Nuggets team, took more money to become the general manager of the Toronto Raptors, and Denver parted ways with long-time coach George Karl days later.
The Nuggets need to add a shooter. They ranked 25th in three-point shooting percentage this season and will be without sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari, who is recovering from a torn ACL, for the early part of next season.
Kyle Korver shot 45.7 percent this season and shoots 41.9 percent for his career from behind the arc. Even if they re-sign Iguodala, the Nuggets will be about $7 million under the cap, which should be more than enough to land Korver.
O.J. Mayo had his best professional season in 2012-13.
The Detroit Pistons have $34 million coming off the books this summer and are expected to be a player in the free agent market. Hopefully, general manager will avoid a repeat of the Ben Gordon/Charlie Villanueva debacle of 2009.
The Pistons have two young pillars on their front line in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. They need somebody to feed the big men the ball.
Guards Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey look for their shot first. Detroit should lock up free-agent point guard Jose Calderon, who ran the offense after being traded to the team midseason.
Next, the Pistons need to add some perimeter scoring to keep defenses from sagging down on Monroe and Drummond. O.J. Mayo tailed off at the end of the season, but was a solid No. 2 option for the Dallas Mavericks most of the year and is almost certain to turn down his player option for next season. Mayo connected on over 40 percent of his three-point attempts and is a very good passer for a 2 guard.
DeJuan Blair is a great rebounder with a low price tag.
The Golden State Warriors have little money at their disposal this summer. Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million) will definitely opt in for the final year of their contracts. Assuming Brandon Rush, who missed the entire season with a torn ACL, does the same, the Warriors will be approaching the luxury tax.
Golden State will be hard-pressed to retain their two most important bench players. Jarrett Jack, who played both guard spots for the Warriors, is an unrestricted free agent, and forward Carl Landry is expected to choose to opt out of his contract.
Jack is the most likely of the two to remain the Bay Area. The Warriors have his Bird rights and need him as insurance for Stephen Curry's chronic ankle problems.
Golden State will have to sign a big body with the "mini" mid-level exception to replace Landry. Mark Jackson places a premium on rebounding, and DeJuan Blair has averaged 11.1 boards per 36 minutes for his career. The forward should come with a low price tag after rotting away on the San Antonio Spurs' bench for the past couple of seasons.
Josh Smith's game would mesh nicely with the Houston Rockets uptempo offense.
The Houston Rockets will make a push to sign superstars Chris Paul and Dwight Howard once free agency begins on July 1. Paul is unlikely to take his game to Houston, though Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that Howard is intrigued by the possibility of signing with the Rockets.
The more likely scenario is that Howard will re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, who can pay him more money and provide greater opportunities off the court. Houston's Plan B could be Josh Smith.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale tried several players at power forward last season without much success. Smith can fill the lane when James Harden and Jeremy Lin push the ball up the floor, and his length and athleticism would be a boon to Houston's mediocre defense.
Beno Udrih would be an upgrade over D.J. Augustin for the Pacers.
The Indiana Pacers' two biggest priorities this offseason are re-signing David West and upgrading an atrocious bench. West has stated on multiple occasions that he wants to remain with the Pacers, and the team will likely bring him back, though doing so will leave them with just the mid-level exception to address their bench.
Three of the Pacers' most prominent bench players, D.J. Augustin, Sam Young and Tyler Hansbrough, are free agents. Hansbrough is the only one they would consider bringing back.
The return of Danny Granger will provide a huge boost to Indiana's second unit. Granger, who has averaged over 20 points per game four times, can play the 2, 3 and even a little stretch 4 for Frank Vogel's club.
Indiana must seek out a point guard to backup George Hill and could use another big man. Veterans Devin Harris, Jerryd Bayless and Nate Robinson are potential options, though Beno Udrih may be the best fit. The lefty knows how to run an offense and takes care of the basketball, something Indiana struggled to do all season.
J.J. Hickson was a double-double machine for the Trail Blazers.
The Los Angeles Clippers' future hinges on their ability to re-sign Chris Paul. The point guard will explore other options but is probably not going to find a clearer path to a championship than the one he has in L.A.
Once Paul is back in the fold, the Clippers need to add a big man to back up DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. L.A.'s lack of depth upfront was exposed by a physical Memphis Grizzlies team in the first round of the playoffs.
The Clippers should let free agent Lamar Odom walk and use the mid-level exception to replace him. JJ Hickson was a double-double machine for the Portland Trail Blazers this season, averaging 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds. Lack of consistency earlier in his career may keep him within the Clippers' price range.
Martell Webster is one of the few shooters the Lakers may be able to afford.
The Los Angeles Lakers' first order of business is to re-sign Dwight Howard. Then they need to become more athletic on the wing and add shooters to improve their spacing.
Re-signing Howard would put them deep into the luxury tax, even if they were to amnesty Metta World Peace. They could explore trading Pau Gasol for a couple of role players. Otherwise, they are left with the "mini" mid-level exception to upgrade their roster.
Martell Webster never developed into the game-changer the Portland Trail Blazers envisioned when they selected him with the sixth pick in the 2006 draft. However, at 6'7'', he can play the 2 and 3 spots, two areas of concern for the Lakers, and shot 42 percent from long distance for the Washington Wizards this season.
Dorell Wright can give the Grizzlies a lift on both ends of the floor.
The Memphis Grizzlies are not afraid to make a bold move, as evidenced by the Rudy Gay trade in January. They may explore the possibility of dealing Zach Randolph and the $34.3 million remaining on his contract, though that would be a risky move considering the success he has had playing with Marc Gasol.
The Grizzlies will likely have two key free agents this summer, Tony Allen and Jerryd Bayless (assuming he turns down his $3.1 player option for next season). They will probably re-sign Allen, whose defensive tenacity is central to their team identity.
That would put them over the cap and they would have to use the mid-level exception to sign any additional players. Bayless may be too rich for their blood, especially with a young Tony Wroten waiting to take to his place.
Memphis' glaring weakness in the playoffs was a lack of perimeter shooting. Defenders dropped off of Allen and Tayshaun Prince, who offered minimal production on both ends of the floor. Dorell Wright is an affordable option at small forward. He can knock down the outside shot and would fit in with the Grizzlies' defensive culture.
Greg Oden may still be able to carve out a role for himself as a rebounder and shot-blocker.
The Miami Heat will pick up the option on Mario Chalmers' contract and return the entire nucleus of this year's team, with the possible exception of free agent Chris Andersen. That will place Miami in luxury tax territory, leaving them with the "mini" mid-level exception to try and sign the Birdman.
The Heat have plenty of shooting and a fast-improving backup point guard in Norris Cole. They could use another big man to rebound and protect the rim, especially if Andersen is not back with the team.
Ben Golliver of SI.com reported in January that the Heat are one of multiple teams who have expressed interest in Greg Oden. With a championship-caliber roster, the Heat can afford to take a chance on the former No. 1 overall pick for the veteran's minimum.
Oden has undergone three microfracture surgeries and has not played in the NBA since the 2009-10 season. Yet, he is still just 25 years old and may be able to carve out a role for himself, much like Sam Bowie, another high draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers whose career was derailed by leg injuries.
Corey Brewer would be a practical addition for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Milwaukee Bucks have a busy offseason ahead of them. If Monta Ellis opts out of the final year of his deal, their top three perimeter players, Ellis, Brandon Jennings and J.J. Redick, will be free agents.
The Jennings-Ellis pairing fell short of expectations, and Ellis will probably be the one to go. Jennings is the lone restricted free agent of the group, and according to Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ellis reportedly turned down a contract extension from the Bucks. Milwaukee would like to re-sign Redick, though the shooting guard will draw plenty of interest around the league.
Assuming the Bucks do not break the bank for Jennings or Redick, they should be able to sign both and still have about $7 to $10 million in cap space remaining. They can spend that money on a second-tier free agent or maintain the financial flexibility to make a run at a star player down the road.
Corey Brewer can defend the 2 and 3 spot and would replace some of the athleticism lost with Ellis' departure. He should come with a reasonable price tag (somewhere in the $3 to $5 million range), which would allow the Bucks to move him later on, if necessary.
Marco Belinelli is the type of shooter the Timberwolves are looking for.
The Minnesota Timberwolves' biggest need this offseason is outside shooting. They ranked dead last in three-point shooting percentage (30.5 percent). The return of Kevin Love—and possibly Chase Budinger, who is a restricted free agent—from injuries should help, though the T-Wolves would greatly benefit from a 2 guard that opposing defenses would need to account for.
The amount of money they will have in order to acquire a shooter will depend on whether they retain Budinger, Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko. Pekovic is a restricted free agent, and the Wolves cannot afford to lose him. He does the dirty work inside, which allows Love to drift out to the three-point line.
Kirilenko has a player option for $10.2 million. If all three players remain, Minnesota will likely be over the salary cap and have to rely on the mid-level exception to sign another quality player. If Kirilenko decides to to opt out, the T-Wolves will probably have around $5 to $6 million to pursue another free agent.
Assuming Minnesota only has the mid-level exception at its disposal, Marco Belinelli would be a nice acquisition. The Italian has shot 39 percent for his career from downtown and was a valuable member of a feisty Chicago Bulls team.
Tiago Splitter would be an upgrade for the Pelicans at the center position.
The New Orleans Pelicans are set at power forward with Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson. The rest of their lineup is full of question marks. Starters Robin Lopez, Greivis Vasquez and free agent Al-Farouq Aminu are all solid rotation players, though opinions differ as to whether they are starting quality. Eric Gordon, who New Orleans inked to a maximum deal last summer, has been unable to stay healthy.
The Pelicans are more than $20 million under the cap. Their approach to free agency will depend in part on which player they select with the sixth pick in the draft. If they land a small forward such as Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett or Shabazz Muhammad, they will address the center and point guard positions. If Trey Burke falls into their lap, they may pursue a forward.
Tiago Splitter is somebody for Pelican fans to keep their eyes on. The Brazilian is young enough to be a part of New Orleans' building process. He could work in tandem with Lopez, and would form a formidable defensive duo with Davis.
Sebastian Telfair is a low-cost option for the Knicks at point guard.
The New York Knicks are well above the luxury tax line with virtually no attractive trade pieces to upgrade their roster. Jason Kidd retired, J.R. Smith will almost certainly opt out of his contract, Kenyon Martin is a restricted free agent and Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni are restricted free agents.
Smith was the team's second-leading scorer, and the Knicks will be in big trouble if he does not return. They have his early Bird rights, which will allow them to offer him a four-year deal beginning at around $5 million in the first year, with incremental increases after that. Smith may have played poorly enough in the postseason to remain within the Knicks' price range.
New York is left with veteran's minimum contracts and the "mini" mid-level exception to try and re-sign Copeland, Martin and Prigioni. They also need to add another guard to replace Kidd, especially if Prigioni returns to Europe.
New York will explore low-cost options like Will Bynum, A.J. Price and Sebastian Telfair. Telfair, a native of Brooklyn's Coney Island, is a poor shooter, but he takes care of the basketball and can push the pace for the Knicks' second unit.
Carl Landry is a possible target for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The biggest question for Oklahoma City Thunder this is summer is whether to re-sign Kevin Martin. The probable answer is no. The shooting guard contributed 14 points per game while shooting 42.6 percent from behind the arc, but the Thunder will not be willing to pay the luxury tax in order to keep him. That is why they traded James Harden.
OKC already has close to $65 million in guaranteed salary, and signing Martin would likely bring them over the projected luxury tax threshold of $71.6 million. Thunder general manager Sam Presti will inquire about other perimeter options, such as J.J. Redick and O.J. Mayo.
Presti would also like to add another player who can create his own shot, preferably on the block. Carl Landry is an efficient low-post scorer who could diversify the Thunder's attack. OKC may be able to lock up the veteran forward for the mid-level exception and avoid paying the luxury tax.
Al-Farouq Aminu could be a nice under-the-radar pickup for the Magic.
The Orlando Magic have compiled some nice young assets in Nikola Vucevic, Mo Harkless and Tobias Harris and will add another building block with the second pick in the draft. They could have as much as $15 million to spend this summer, but will likely continue to maintain financial flexibility rather than dish out big money for a second or third offensive option.
Orlando needs depth on the wing and Al-Farouq Aminu could be the answer. The three-year veteran is an excellent rebounder and uses his quick hands and long wingspan to generate turnovers.
His shooting has regressed (he shot just 22 percent on three-pointers this season) and the New Orleans Pelicans grew tired of his lack of offensive production. However, Aminu is just 22 years old and has plenty of room for growth in his game.
Gerald Henderson could add some punch to the 76ers' offense.
The Philadelphia 76ers are another team that will remain patient. Philly's new GM, Sam Hinkie, is an adherent of the analytics movement and worked under Daryl Morey in Houston for several years. Expect him to try and acquire young assets.
That being said, the 76ers must address their lack of offensive firepower. They ranked last in the league in scoring, with 93.2 points per game.
Shooting guard Jason Richardson is in the twilight of his career and averaged just 10.5 points per game. His backup, Nick Young, is a free agent and unlikely to return.
Gerald Henderson of the Charlotte Bobcats has the skill and athleticism to create his own shot and continues to increase the range on his jumper. He is just entering his prime and would be a significant upgrade at the 2 spot for the Sixers, but it may be difficult to pry the restricted free agent away from Charlotte.
Tyreke Evans could benefit from a change of scenery.
The Phoenix Suns need help in a number of areas after finishing with the worst record in the Western Conference (25-57). They are desperate for a perimeter scorer, preferably a younger player they can build around. Last year, the Suns signed Eric Gordon to an offer sheet, but the New Orleans Pelicans matched it.
Tyreke Evans is an intriguing option this offfseason. He is a restricted free agent, though there is a strong possibility that the Sacramento Kings are prepared to severe ties with him.
Evans looked like a star in the making while averaging 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists in his rookie year, but has not been the same player since. He has been slowed by a variety of leg injuries over the past three seasons and struggled to find his role in Sacramento's offense.
Evans is immensely talented and still just 23 years old. The Kings have been in disarray during his tenure in Sacramento, and he could benefit from a change of scenery. He has the potential to develop into a No. 2 or 3 option on a very good team.
Brandan Wright could protect the rim for the Trail Blazers.
The Portland Trail Blazers are set at point guard and both forward positions with Damian Lillard, Nic Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge. They have about $15 million to fill out the rest of their roster. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a maximum-salary player who meets their needs and/or is interested in relocating to Portland.
The Trail Blazers' biggest concern is finding a defensive center to play alongside Aldridge. Portland ranked 27th in blocked shots, with 4.3 per game. They also finished 24th in rebounds, and may lose their leading rebounder, JJ Hickson, to free agency.
Brandan Wright would address both issues. The former University of North Carolina star has received limited playing time with the Dallas Mavericks, though he has produced when given the opportunity. Wright averaged 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots in 18 minutes per game this season, which translates to 17.0, 8.2 and 2.4 per 36 minutes.
Wright has a tremendous wingspan, and pairing with Aldridge and Batum would give the Blazers a long and athletic front line. Offensively, he is effective in the pick-and-roll and has a soft touch around the basket.
Monta Ellis has a history with new Sacramento Kings coach Mike Malone.
It will be interesting to see what Monta Ellis' value is on the market. The nine-year veteran is an explosive scorer, though highly inefficient (shot 42 percent from the field and 29 percent on three-point attempts this season) and undersized for his position.
Ellis is not officially a free agent yet, but is expected to opt out of his current contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. According to SI.com, he turned down what was essentially a three-year, $36 million offer from the Bucks. It is unlikely that Milwaukee will offer much more than that, as they are also interested in re-signing guards Brandon Jennings and J.J. Redick.
According to Marc Spears of Yahoo.com, Ellis feels comfortable with the Sacramento Kings new coach, Mike Malone, who was an assistant under Mark Jackson during Ellis' final season with the Golden State Warriors. The Kings will need a shooting guard if Tyreke Evans departs via free agency, and they have the money to sign Ellis to a lucrative deal.
Elton Brand is a viable backup plan for the Spurs if they do not re-sign Tiago Splitter.
The San Antonio Spurs will have about $10 million in cap space after making a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Tiago Splitter. They will use that money to re-sign Manu Ginobili and attempt to keep restricted free agent Gary Neal after his breakout performance in the NBA Finals.
The Spurs would love to keep Splitter, whose role would continue to expand as Tim Duncan ages, but may not be willing to meet his asking price. Splitter is one of the better big men on the market and could draw an offer in the $8 million-per-year range with a poison pill that would make it difficult for San Antonio to match.
Elton Brand would be a solid replacement if Splitter does not return. The two-time All-Star has lost plenty of mobility since his days with the Los Angeles Clippers, but was still an effective rebounder and defender for the Dallas Mavericks this season, producing 17.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per 36 minutes.
Brand would also be a nice cultural fit for the Spurs. He does not draw attention to himself and is respected by teammates. At 34 years old, he may be willing to accept less money for a shot at a championship.
Darren Collison could provide a change of pace off the bench for the Raptors.
The Toronto Raptors' new GM Masai Ujiri has his work cut out for him in Toronto after reconstructing the Denver Nuggets. He will not find many takers for the bloated contracts of Andrea Bargnani, Landry Fields and Rudy Gay. The Raptors are over the salary cap and would remain so even if they used the amnesty clause on Bargnani or Linas Kleiza.
One immediate need Ujiri can address with the mid-level exception is a point guard to backup Kyle Lowry. Darren Collison would be an upgrade over Sebastian Telfair (unrestricted free agent) and John Lucas III (team option).
Collison has struggled as a starter due to poor decision-making but is an ideal change-of-pace option off the bench. He is extremely quick in the open floor and could play to the strengths of Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan by pushing the ball up the court.
Jose Calderon would bring stability to the Utah Jazz backcourt.
The Utah Jazz only have $17 million in guaranteed salary for next season, and all five of their starters will be free agents if Marvin Williams exercises his early termination option. Utah's biggest decision will be whether to retain one, both or neither of their starting big men, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
Both are unrestricted free agents, and Utah has two young, talented bigs who are ready to take on a larger role in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. Jefferson, the better offensive player of the two, is a polished low-post scorer through whom a team can run its offense, but is a liability on defense.
Utah also needs to address its point guard situation. Incumbent Mo Williams is a free agent and is best-suited as a sixth man. The Jazz will likely inquire about Brandon Jennings and Jeff Teague, though Jennings may be overpriced, and it is doubtful that the Atlanta Hawks will let Teague get away.
Jose Calderon is the next best option. The Spaniard would bring immediate stability to the position. He is an efficient shooter, never turns the ball over and would be able and willing to feed Kanter and Favors in the post.
Jarret Jack could backup both guard positions for the Washington Wizards.
The Washington Wizards have an exciting young backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal and might pick up another young wing player, possibly Otto Porter, with the third pick in the draft. They also have about $15 million to spend in free agency.
The wise move would be to save that money until next summer when Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor's contracts come off the books and there is expected to be a deeper and more talented pool of players available.
The Wizards should set their sights on Jarrett Jack this summer. Jack is an experienced ball-handler who could mentor Wall and Beal. He can play both guard positions and is not afraid to take the big shot. The Golden State Warriors are over the salary cap and may not be able to retain his services.