As Danny Green continues to set the new standard for shooting guard play in the midst of his impressive NBA Finals performances, thoughts start to shift toward what NBA teams in need of a Green-like talent can do to bolster the position.
The Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves are a few teams with obvious needs at the position, but when it comes to free agency, you make moves to make your franchise better—bar none.
That makes the 2013 NBA free-agent shooting guard pool an interesting one indeed. Several players will be looking to cash in big after strong seasons while other candidates with Green-like potential will surely entice all 30 NBA teams.
With the NBA Finals preparing to close down, the 2013 draft and start of free agency will be here before we know it. Take a look at some notable SG free agents below, and the best landing spots for the top stars at the position.
Notable 2013 NBA Free-Agent Shooting Guards
|Player||Previous Team||2012-13 Stats |
|Ben Gordon (PO)||Charlotte Bobcats||11.2/1.7/1.9/40.8|
|Gerald Henderson (R)||Charlotte Bobcats||15.5/3.7/2.6/44.7|
|Marco Belinelli||Chicago Bulls||9.6/1.9/2.0/39.5|
|O.J. Mayo||Dallas Mavericks||15.3/3.5/4.4/44.9|
|Andre Iguodala||Denver Nuggets||13.0/5.3/5.4/45.1|
|Brandon Rush||Golden State Warriors||7.0/0.5/1.0/66.7 (2 games)|
|Jodie Meeks (TO)||Los Angeles Lakers||7.9/2.2/0.9/38.7|
|Tony Allen||Memphis Grizzlies||8.9/4.6/1.2/44.5|
|Ray Allen (PO)||Miami Heat||10.9/2.7/1.7/44.9|
|Monta Ellis||Milwaukee Bucks||19.2/3.9/6.0/41.6|
|J.R. Smith||New York Knicks||18.1/5.3/2.7/42.2|
|Kevin Martin||Oklahoma City Thunder||14.0/2.3/1.4/45.0|
|Nick Young||Philadelphia 76ers||10.6/2.2/1.4/41.3|
|Gary Neal (R)||San Antonio Spurs||9.5/2.1/1.9/41.2|
|Manu Ginobili||San Antonio Spurs||11.8/3.4/4.6/42.5|
|Alan Anderson||Toronto Raptors||10.7/2.3/1.6/38.3|
*TO=team option. PO=player option. R=restricted.
For a complete look at the 2013 NBA free-agent class, click here (via ESPN).
Best Landing Spots for Top SGs
Andre Iguodala: Detroit Pistons
Despite some resistance across the league, as noted here by Denver Post columnist Benjamin Hochman, AI is a shooting guard, and he's performed reasonably well enough in that role to warrant consideration for both wing positions on any team.
Iguodala exercised his early termination option last week, and as noted by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, he will leave $15.9 million on the table to do so.
The 29-year-old wing must feel he's worth a long-term contract in the neighborhood of that salary, or he simply sees a better option on the horizon outside of the friendly confines of the Mile High city.
There's a number of teams that could show interest in Iguodala this offseason, including several listed above in the intro section and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have a strong core in place and two first-round picks in the 2013 draft.
But the Detroit Pistons offer Iguodala an opportunity to reunite with former head coach and move closer to his Illinois background. A core of Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, along with the No. 8 pick in the draft, may also weigh strongly in Iguodala's offseason decision-making.
Iguodala is a big-time performer, and the fact that he's been to the playoffs the past three seasons might make a team closer to contention more reasonable. The money and the chance to lead right away, though, comes in the form of the Pistons.
O.J. Mayo: Minnesota Timberwolves
Mayo had a strong start to the 2012-13 regular season, taking over for the Dallas Mavericks in stretches as Dirk Nowitzki rehabbed from knee surgery.
He faded fast after the turn of the calendar, though, struggling to carry his strong start to the second half of the season. Mayo lost favor with Rick Carlisle, opted out of his contract and has to face the facts that he was a so-so player for most of the year after he so wanted to prove Memphis wrong by signing a low-dollar contract with the Mavs.
Mayo can still play some good ball, though.
One of the best three-point shooters in the league last year, Mayo connected to the tune of a 40.7 percent clip, and that's exactly the kind of off-the-ball abilities Minnesota needs from its shooting guard in the current offense.
With Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Derrick Williams in place, the T'Wolves are a few pieces (and some good fortune in the medical department) away from really surprising some people in the West.
Although Mayo was frustratingly disappointing as a closer (33.3 percent free-throws in the final minute of a game last year), he won't have to be that guy in Minnesota. Love and Rubio will take care of the big plays, and Mayo can really extend his role as a knockdown three-point shooter in a strong offense.
Monta Ellis: Sacramento Kings
Monta Ellis is another player who opted out of his contract despite the status of the new CBA keeping teams from breaking the bank these days, but he'll still be a sought-after player because he can flat-out score.
As B/R's own Ethan Norof notes, Ellis must really want out of Milwaukee, where he was traded in 2012 for Andrew Bogut:
The combo guard averaged over 19 points per game this season, tops for any shooting guard currently on the open market. Playing in tandem with Brandon Jennings, he asserted his will as one of the NBA's hardest players to guard—no matter what position he was playing.
Ellis also averaged six assists per game, a strong number that suggest he does have greatness in him if harnessed the right way.
Although I'm not sure that greatness will be harnessed fully in Sacramento, a return to the west coast in the form of the Kings would be a smart move for a franchise that looks dead on offense at times when dealing with the inflated likeness of DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans.
Former Golden State mentor Mike Malone is the new head coach of the Kings, and that relationship has been described by Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears as a potential plus for the free-agent journey Ellis is about to embark on.
Personally, Ellis is a very good sixth man who should average 25-30 minutes per game on a good team. His defense is atrocious and his decisions are questionable at times, but there's little doubt he can carry the second unit (or first unit) of an offense.
No matter what Malone decides to do with Ellis, the Kings are a nice fit for the guard to return to California and earn a prominent role on a team oozing with misplaced talent.
J.R. Smith: Atlanta Hawks
After nine seasons as a premier NBA sixth man, J.R. Smith finally has a chance to cash in like a starter.
A victim of the lockout in 2011, Smith was a late signing of the New York Knicks later that season when he returned from his commitment overseas.
All he's done since then is carry New York's second unit, earn the green light from head coach Mike Woodson (although I'm not sure anyone on the roster has a red light) and average over 18 points on just over 42 percent shooting from the floor in his second season in the Big Apple.
There's plenty to like about the Smith/New York relationship.
One thing that won't go over well, though, is the salary situation.
Smith made just under $3 million this season, and with Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire making double-digit millions on a cap that could easily stretch to $85 million if the Knicks don't find a way to clear some space, where is the money in the budget to sign him?
Sure—the Knicks have money. But this is a franchise known for throwing money at players who stay on the books for years, even if they no longer where blue and orange.
Enter the Atlanta Hawks.
Loaded with cap space, opportunities and still in the mix for a big free-agent name even with Smith in the fold (think Andrew Bynum), the Hawks would be a great place for Smith to flex his muscles as either a starter or a sixth man yet again.
I think the Knicks have Smith's heart, and rightly so, but they don't hold the best interests of his wallet in mind, and we might be looking at another Jeremy Line situation if the Hawks (or any other team with hefty cap space) offers up a contract that shouldn't be matched.
The shooting guard market is an interesting one to pay attention to, as many notable names might end up just trading places with other guards. These four are the big ones to watch, though, and should be monitored until the dotted line is no longer empty.
Follow Bleacher Report FC Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.