Predicting the Biggest Surprises for the 2013 NBA Offseason

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2013

Predicting the Biggest Surprises for the 2013 NBA Offseason

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    The 2013 NBA offseason has begun for most franchises, and with it a host of decisions surrounding their respective futures.

    We all know who the top free agents and prospects are, and we know what most squads need.

    So what are some of the offseason happenings that will actually surprise us?

    There will be some unforeseen developments in the coaching carousel, interesting free-agency decisions and draft-related trade scenarios.

    Who will raise eyebrows this summer? Find out as we predict the biggest surprises of the offseason. 

Dwight Howard Will Court Suitors Aggressively, Only to Remain in LA

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    Dwight Howard's wishy-washy ways will catch us offguard once again.

    He has recently indicated his interest in exploring options outside Los Angeles, and squads like the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks would be solid choices for several reasons.

    The Houston option, in particular, seems like a superb choice from a basketball and financial standpoint.

    However, the big fella will be re-attracted to the Lakers because it's one of the marquee franchises in all of sports, and he'd rather not play on three teams in three seasons.

    This wouldn't be an absolute shocker, but it would be surprising considering considering what the Rockets have to offer.

James Southerland Will Be Drafted in 1st Round

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    Syracuse Orange small forward James Southerland is pretty much a one-dimensional offensive player, and therefore ranked pretty low on most top 100 big boards: 46th on NBADraft.net, 64th on CBSSports.com and 74th on DraftExpress.com.

    Nevertheless, he'll get snatched up toward the end of the first round.

    CBS' John Rothstein offered this hint of an early pickup:

    Hearing Syracuse's James Southerland will be drafted anywhere between 20 + 40, per a source. The Clippers could be in play @ 25. Deep range.

    — Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 12, 2013

    As draft day approaches, teams will realize that players with Southerland's size (6'8"), long-distance range and athleticism aren't too common.

    In fact, it's not a stretch to say he's the best three-point shooting prospect over 6'8" in the entire draft class.

Brian Shaw Won't Find a Head Coaching Gig

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    One of the most heavily endorsed head coaching candidates this offseason is Brian Shaw, who's been a finalist for several openings.

    A champion as a player and assistant coach, Shaw is an attractive option for teams looking for a fresh start. However, he may fail to land a gig when the dust settles.

    At the beginning of the offseason coaching carousel, it seemed like Shaw would get his chance at a head coaching job one way or another. Within a few weeks, fans might be surprised to find he isn't tabbed by any franchise.

    With the Nets choosing Jason Kidd over Shaw, that leaves the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers, among others, as the main options for the 47-year-old assistant.

    But with Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins taking aim at the Lob City vacancy, and Denver potentially promoting assistant Melvin Hunt from within, Shaw's odds aren't as good as they once were.

    What began as an offseason of numerous opportunities will result in no career advancement.

Pierre Jackson Will Light Up Summer League

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    Although he's an undersized guard who's likely to be selected in the second round of the draft, Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson has what it takes to make noise this summer and beyond.

    He spent a couple seasons carving up the Big 12 and battling against future NBA talent. The 5'10" floor general won't be fazed by the rigors of summer league, as he'll be the one putting pressure on younger opponents with his speed and playmaking skills.

    Jackson can blow by defenders, create for teammates and shoot from deep. He generated a truckload of offense for Baylor in 2012-13 while keeping his shooting efficiency strong.

    In Summer League, he's going to be a match-up problem for most middle-tier guards, as they won't have the lateral quickness to stay in front of him.

    If his decision-making is sharp, it could be a big coming-out party for him.

League Will Ditch Idea of Heavier Flop Fines, Turn to Technicals and Suspensions

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    Last week, David Stern admitted the league's current flop fine scale is ineffective.

    Thus, a change of some sort won't be surprising.

    What will surprise many is exactly how the NBA will address flopping in 2013-14 and beyond. If the league is smart, it will do away with fines and institute punishments that will truly motivate change.

    Right now, players are more than willing to mislead referees in exchange for a monetary penalty, especially in the playoffs. If the league instituted two-shot technicals (after video review) and eventual suspensions, coaches and players would conclude that the flopping theatrics aren't worth the effort.

    Flopping is a legitimate concern in the NBA because it's cheapening the product. I anticipate the league to come down harder on offenders than most predict.

Cavaliers Won't Find Suitable Trade, Keep No. 1 Pick

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers are keeping all options open regarding their No. 1 pick in the draft, and they should.

    They'll listen to offers that include superstars who can help launch the squad into the playoffs next spring. If a good enough offer comes up, they'll probably take it.

    But the Cavs will also highly consider keeping the pick and build with a youngster like Nerlens Noel or Ben McLemore.

    There's a good chance they end up doing just that. It might be wise to keep the team young instead of trading for a veteran like LaMarcus Aldridge or an injury prone Kevin Love. It will also be difficult to find a deal that they're comfortable with from both a basketball and payroll perspective.

    The 2013 draft has widely been bashed for its lack of star power, but Noel and McLemore both have All-Star potential. If Cleveland feels extremely comfortable with one or the other, we won't see a trade.