2013 NBA Free Agents: The 1 Can't-Miss Fit for Every NBA Team
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Not every team in the NBA can be huge winners during the 2013 free-agency period. The sport doesn't work like that.
Many teams have financial constraints weighing on their business dealings this summer. Some have to deal with those issues on top of other detriments like coaching vacancies and location.
Still, there has to a perfect fit out there for everyone. After all, that is the way Plato pictured the NBA in Aristophanes' speech. The trouble is finding that match.
For many, the NBA version of a soul mate this summer won't come to fruition. Perhaps another suitor will swoop in and grab them up before they get a chance to present their case.
Occasionally, though, all the dominoes will fall in line and a team will find that perfect piece.
That is when you have the rare case of NBA Summer Love.
All salary information courtesy of Hoopsworld.com
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Perfect Fit: Dwight Howard
What use is beating around the bush this early?
The Hawks have the opportunity to extend a qualifying offer to Jeff Teague for $4.5 million. While they like Teague, the offer is being held up because of the Paul possibility.
Howard should be the obvious first target for Atlanta. If they can secure him, then they become far more attractive to Paul. However, should they get Howard and not Paul, Teague is a perfectly capable starting point guard.
Atlanta is potentially losing Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia and Johan Petro to free agency this summer, leaving Al Horford in a very thin frontcourt. Howard immediately fills that void and improves the Hawks' overall structure.
This is also a team that has the shooters to surround him on the perimeter. Lou Williams is a talented shooter, and Teague improved his range in Year 4. There is also money to possibly re-sign Kyle Korver and go find another player.
Howard and Horford present an interesting positional matchup for the Hawks. That would be a massive pain for almost every team in the league at both ends of the floor.
This is a move the Hawks have already made known, by mistake, that they are interested in making. The secret is out, Atlanta would be a great spot for Howard.
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Perfect Fit: Marco Belinelli
The Boston Celtics are not in an enviable position right now. They have a ton of needs, but little room to fill them.
Assuming the rumored trade of Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers doesn't re-ignite and happen, the Celtics will return a very similar team as last season. Obviously, a decision will be made on Paul Pierce and his non-guaranteed deal, but even if he is shipped out, Jeff Green is waiting in the wings.
With one year as a sample size, it is fair to say the Celtics swung and missed on Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. Both are signed to sizable contracts that are really putting the Celtics on the luxury tax cusp. Trying to move them out of town should be high up on the Celtics' to-do list.
Even if they are unable to do so, the Celtics may be able to attract Marco Belinelli with a mid-level exception of around $3 million a year. He just finished out a one-year deal with the Chicago Bulls worth under $2 million.
Belinelli has become a reliable shooting guard, who has the talent to make starts when needed, but also thrives off the bench. He has the size to play alongside Rajon Rondo and the offense that Avery Bradley lacks. At just 27 years old, he also has the youth and long-term potential that Terry does not.
Things will be crowded at the position if the Celtics can't move either the Terry or Lee contracts, and they will have to out-bid the Bulls, among other teams. Still, if this can get done, Belinelli gives the Celtics exactly what they need.
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Perfect Fit: Mickael Pietrus
The Brooklyn Nets have more than $84 million in guaranteed payroll for 2013-14. As you might imagine, that will make doing anything in the free-agency period very difficult.
They will be relying heavily on the No. 22 pick in the draft, as well as whatever they can find in the NBA bargain bin to accentuate the team.
None of this is to say that the Nets are necessarily in a world of trouble. As it stands, they have a very good team that earned the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference this past season. They have legitimate stars at both backcourt positions and an All-Star center in Brook Lopez.
The issue is their thin bench. Last summer they struck gold with a creative trade for Reggie Evans on a cheap contract. They will be on the lookout for a similar deal this summer.
The Nets are set to lose both Jerry Stackhouse and Keith Bogans, and possibly C.J. Watson ($1.1 million player option). That makes a severe dent in their backcourt depth. With just second-year player TyShawn Taylor behind Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, Brooklyn should keep an eye on any veteran guards they can get on the cheap.
Mickael Pietrus fell out of favor with a young and non-contending team in the Toronto Raptors. He is much more suited to play limited minutes on a contender at this stage of his career. Because of his disappearance in the obscurity of Toronto, he is one player the Nets may actually be able to afford.
Pietrus is only one year removed from playing big postseason minutes for the Boston Celtics and guarding LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals. If the Nets could get anything close to that out of him, it would certainly prove to be a perfect fit.
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Perfect Fit: Carl Landry
The Charlotte Bobcats have needs across their roster. The good thing is, they've got the money to fill them. Charlotte holds only $27 million in guaranteed contracts for next year, though that will bump to $40 million with Ben Gordon opting in.
The decisions to be made still revolve around Gerald Henderson and Byron Mullens: two heavily used young players with matching $4.5 million qualifying offers. The Bobcats also have the No. 4 pick in the draft that will be preoccupying their minds for the next week.
One empty spot that is particularly glaring is a scorer in the frontcourt. Especially if they lose Mullens to some overzealous team, the Bobcats are very heavy in backcourt scoring.
Carl Landry would be a nice counter to hyper-athletic defensive bigs like Tyrus Thomas and Bismack Biyombo. Landry would provide a reliable low-post scorer with which Kemba Walker could better learn NBA pick-and roll-skills.
He has always been efficient and proved in 2009-10 that he can put up big numbers with more opportunities. Landry averaged roughly 17 points per game while splitting time between the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets.
Landry holds a $4 million player option for next season with the Golden State Warriors, but is due to see a pay raise after a very productive year in California. That bump, however, won't be exorbitant. The Bobcats simply need to offer enough to attract him away from the Warriors, with the starting role as a bonus, yet not enough to suck up the future funds due to Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
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Perfect Fit: Ryan Hollins
The Chicago Bulls should have a lot to look forward to. They will presumably get their superstar point guard back and proved last season that they can win without him as well.
One spot they can't feel fantastic about is their salary cap questions. Even if they buy out Richard Hamilton's contract for $1 million, the Bulls are looking at being in the luxury tax for a second consecutive year.
The Bulls may have to face the reality of losing two well-liked players who helped them in the year without Derrick Rose. Both Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli came with one-year deals that both of them massively outplayed. This summer they will both be seeking bigger and longer deals, perhaps ones that Chicago simply can't offer
Because of the constraints created in bringing Robinson or Belinelli back, neither qualifies as a perfect fit. Instead, the Bulls can look elsewhere in the league to fill a different need. Taj Gibson didn't perform up to expectations a year ago, and Nazr Mohammed is a free agent.
The frontcourt depth in Chicago could use some aid that might come in the form of Ryan Hollins. While not a flashy name this summer, Hollins provides a lot of what Tom Thibodeau's Bulls like and on a discount to boot.
Hollins plays an irritating style of fearless defense, which caught Thibodeau's eye when an assistant with the Boston Celtics. The 7-footer played 17 playoff games for Boston that year. He saw time in 60 games for the Los Angeles Clippers last season and can probably be had for the seven-year veteran minimum of $1.19 million.
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Perfect Fit: Kyle Korver
The No. 1 pick in the NBA draft will be keeping the Cleveland Cavaliers busy up until the free-agency period really gets into full swing.
However, Nerlens Noel, or whomever they chose with that selection, won't immediately cure all that ails the Cavaliers. They will need to use some of their mounds of cap space to attack the free-agent market. Cleveland has only $27.5 million in guaranteed contracts for next season, with a host of small options for players like Wayne Ellington and Omri Casspi.
Anderson Varejao is the only player on the Cavaliers roster right now who has seen his 30th birthday. Cleveland is a franchise teeming with youth and potential, but with very little veteran leadership. Adding four of the top 33 picks in the draft won't help that.
The dream scenario of LeBron James returning is still out there, so Cleveland won't be hitting this free-agency period as hard as the next one. They'll want to make sure they have a lot of money freed up for next summer.
The Cavaliers might not have a host of three-point shooters when James' decision must be made. If Ellington returns, he is one, but there aren't a ton of lights-out guys on the roster.
Kyle Korver fills both the three-point shooting and the veteran need. At a position where the Cavaliers could be down to just Alonzo Gee next season, Korver suits the team just fine. He'll be due a contract worth around $5 million over a few years, but nothing that will break Cleveland's concentration on next summer.
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Perfect Fit: Chris Paul
Since we are looking solely at one perfect fit for the Dallas Mavericks, we needn’t get into all the gymnastics that would have to be done in order for the team to bring both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard on board.
If you are looking into ways to accomplish that feat, Mike Fisher of CBS DFW did a killer job breaking it all down.
For the purposes of this piece, the Mavericks should be looking heavily at acquiring Paul. What happens after that is up in the air, but the probability of attracting Howard rockets up if Paul is on the roster.
The Mavericks will have about $37.2 million tied up, should Shawn Marion opt-in for the final year of his deal. That leaves plenty of money to be aggressive with on the free-agent market. One of their biggest needs right now is a point guard, especially if they opt to let Darren Collison walk.
Paul fits right in as the starter there and automatically vaults them back into the playoff picture. The situation in Dallas has to be appealing to Paul. While it doesn't have the location benefits of Los Angeles, he'll have a sturdy coach in Rick Carlisle, a fellow superstar in Dirk Nowitzki and an owner who isn't afraid to spend money in Mark Cuban.
If Paul could attract Howard and the Mavericks could pull it off salary cap-wise, then even better. Getting Paul could have benefits beyond getting a top-flight point guard to run the team.
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Perfect Fit: Tony Allen
Beyond finding a new head coach, the Denver Nuggets have to take a serious look at their roster and find the holes to fill. A No. 3 seed in the Western Conference was quite a feat, but that first-round exit was equally as disappointing and worrisome.
With Andre Iguodala opting out of the final year of his contract, forgoing $16.1 million, the Nuggets have some money with which to fix up those holes. Without Iguodala, they will hold roughly $51.7 million in guaranteed contracts heading into free agency.
A lot of where they go this summer will depend on who is brought in to coach the team. Obviously in its current makeup, there isn't a whole lot of defense. If Iguodala jumps ship, that need will become even more glaring.
Corey Brewer is also free agent this summer, further lightening the Nuggets' depth on the wing. For a team that finished the league No. 1 in scoring and No. 23 in points allowed, with an opening at shooting guard, there should only be one name on the mind.
Tony Allen has become a favorite with the Memphis Grizzlies, but finished out his contract this past season. Memphis is also going through a bit of an identity crisis with its head-coaching position, which could give the Nuggets the necessary window to swipe him up.
Allen is limited offensively, but that can be covered by the Nuggets' all-around production at that end. He is a beast with perimeter defense and has the ability to lock down the other team's best backcourt scorer. The Nuggets really need a player like that, especially if Iguodala goes.
Stealing him from a rival in Memphis will be tough, but both teams are a mess at the top right now, so anything is possible.
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Perfect Fit: Jarrett Jack
The Detroit Pistons are ruled by cheap, young players. Only Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva, both on $8.5 million player options, are scheduled to make more $5 million next season.
The team has a ton of money coming off the books with both Jose Calderon and Corey Maggette's deals expiring. Even with those two sizable player options, the Pistons will have just $35 million in salaries prior to free agency.
With Calderon and Will Bynum hitting the open market, the Pistons are running on E at the point guard position. Calderon makes sense as a veteran presence, but after years of losing in Toronto, he will likely be looking to join a contender.
The Pistons are still in rebuilding mode, though they are fairly stocked with prospective talent. They should be on the verge of busting out of the Eastern Conference cellar and will need a talented free agent to help them.
Jarrett Jack offers some veteran leadership, but is also young enough to carry his weight and help the Pistons get closer to relevancy. His offensive game will offer Detroit a fearless scorer who has some flair for crunch time as well.
The Pistons struggled mightily to score consistently last season. They have a lot of talent in the frontcourt, and Jack should help balance that scoring load out. After playing a sixth-man role for the Golden State Warriors, a pay increase and starting gig in Detroit will be attractive to the 29-year-old guard.
Golden State Warriors
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Perfect Fit: Aaron Brooks
The Golden State Warriors are the unlucky holders of Andris Biedrins' and Richard Jefferson's contracts. That seldom-used duo is set to make a combined $20 million next season.
While those contracts may be helpful down the line when looking to make deadline deals, they are highly constricting over the summer. With both those players opting in, the Warriors have around $65 million in salaries before they are able to hit the market.
Because of those big contracts, it is unclear if the Warriors will be able to retain the services of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, both of whom could reject $4 million player options. Should one or both of those players choose to seek bigger, more stable deals elsewhere, the Warriors will have some holes to fill.
Landry becomes more expendable with the development of youngsters Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli, as well as the return of David Lee. On the other hand, Jack's role as a scoring sixth man in the backcourt will be tougher to solve in-house.
The Warriors will be looking for similar production to what Jack was able to give them, but at a cheaper cost. Aaron Brooks could be that next Jarrett Jack. The Houston Rockets will not be picking up his option for next season, allowing him to hit the free-agent market.
Brooks has a history as a talented scorer, averaging 19 points per game in 2009-10, and has worked to improve his efficiency in recent years. For some reason he didn't fit in with the new direction of the Rockets and that could be to the Warriors' benefit.
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Perfect Fit: Josh Smith
The Houston Rockets are clearly looking to clear cap space. They recently announced that they will not be picking up the options on Carlos Delfino ($3 million), Aaron Brooks ($2.5 million) or Francisco Garcia ($6.4 million).
That saves plenty of money, despite James Harden's bump, to continue adding to their budding team. Some of that money will be undoubtedly set aside for Chandler Parsons when it comes time to extend his deal. If nothing changes with Parsons' current contract, the Rockets should have around $40 million tied up in guaranteed deals.
The rest of that would be wisely spent on a veteran frontcourt presence. The Rockets have the ability to be creative with their positional alignment. They can play small ball with the best offenses in the league by moving Harden to the wing and Parsons to power forward. However, when it comes time to play the traditional powers of the Western Conference, they are at a loss.
Josh Smith offers the Rockets a player who agrees with the creative lineups, while also being able to body up to the traditional power forwards of the West. He has played multiple positions during his career with the Atlanta Hawks and has been responsible for guarding some of the best in the league.
Smith is able to play Houston's fast-paced style, something that will greatly benefit a growing point guard like Jeremy Lin. He also takes some of the scoring load off Harden and Parsons, while helping Omer Asik immensely with interior defense.
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Perfect Fit: David West
For the Indiana Pacers, the can't-miss free agent is obvious. They already didn't miss with him and nearly toppled the Miami Heat for a shot at the NBA title.
David West proved last season that he is the perfect fit next to Roy Hibbert in the Pacers frontcourt. His play throughout the season was a warning to the Eastern Conference that he would be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.
West averaged 15.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in the postseason, helping elevate Indiana to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He and Hibbert represent something that isn't really duplicated in the conference. The two stud bigs are able to terrorize weaker front lines with rim protection and post moves.
His $10 million a year contract expired this past season, making West a unrestricted free agent. There is no doubt he'll be highly sought after by teams, but the love became mutual between he and Indiana over the last two years, and he will want to come back.
The Pacers are up against the salary cap without West, but will have an opportunity to cut some money with Tyler Hansbrough ($4.5 million) and Jeff Pendergraph ($1.9 million).
However, they just have to be willing to spend the money. Signing West to a similar two-year, $20 million deal puts them over the cap, but they should still avoid the luxury tax until Danny Granger’s contract runs out.
Los Angeles Clippers
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Perfect Fit: Chris Paul
Like the Boston Celtics, predicting the future of the Los Angeles Clippers at this point is very difficult.
The Clippers and Celtics have been involved heavily in trade talks lately, and if anything comes to fruition, it will definitely have an effect on each teams' free-agency plans.
Right now, though, it is hard to find a more suitable fit for the Clippers than Chris Paul. His deal, worth $17.7 million last season, has expired. This allows Paul to explore other options, but you'd have to think that a return to Los Angeles is near the top of his wish list.
The Clippers have to pursue Paul with everything they've got. They brought pieces together beforehand, but until Paul arrived, the team was going nowhere. He has lead them into contention in the Western Conference, and if he goes, so does that level of play.
There has been friction between Paul and fellow star Blake Griffin, but both have to see the potential of this team and their partnership.
With Chauncey Billups ($4 million) and Lamar Odom ($8.2 million) coming off the books, the Clippers have plenty of money to make Paul happy. The extenuating circumstances are their head-coaching vacancy and getting Paul another veteran leader. Both could be cured immediately with Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett, but that is mere conjecture at this point.
Los Angeles Lakers
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Perfect Fit: Dorell Wright
Dwight Howard is obviously the No. 1 target for the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, but is he the perfect fit?
Howard will put up good numbers on any team, but a No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and first-round playoff exit is decent evidence that this isn't all fine. Los Angeles should go after him this summer, but there is a better fit out there for their can't-miss free-agent selection.
The Lakers can amnesty Metta World Peace for $7.7 million or Steve Blake for $4 million, which will help clear space for Howard and another player. Losing World Peace opens up the small forward position for a player who can make Los Angeles younger and more athletic.
Dorell Wright is coming off a down year for the Philadelphia 76ers, which plays into the hands of the Lakers. They will need to find a bargain player given the constraints they are under financially.
Wright is 27 years old and should be in his prime for a few more years. If the Lakers can get him and utilize his athleticism and range, they will have filled a need for a small fee. If he replaces the soon-to-be 34-year-old World Peace, Los Angeles gets younger and more financially viable.
The contract Wright is coming off of paid him $4.1 million last season. The Lakers should be able to attract him with a starting role and the chance to play alongside their host of superstars for the small mid-level exception of $3 million per year.
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Perfect Fit: Tony Allen
The Memphis Grizzlies appear to have most of their core under contract moving forward, but Tony Allen is a loose end right now.
Once the team was eliminated from the 2013 NBA playoffs, Allen's contract expired and he became a free agent. Without Allen or Jerryd Bayless' $3.1 million player option, the Grizzlies are already up against the salary cap.
They can exceed it to re-sign Allen and remain below the luxury tax, but they won't be major players on the open market beyond that. This shouldn't be a major problem, as the Grizzlies have a very good team already. Bringing back Allen definitely helps to assure them of having an elite defense again, but does little to cure their offensive troubles (No. 27 in league scoring).
The Grizzlies have to play to Allen's sentimental side this summer. He loves playing for Memphis, and the city has shown him a great deal of affection as well. If the Grizzlies can keep him on a deal that will pay him around $3 million a year, they can utilize their slightly bigger full mid-level exception elsewhere.
Still, it has been proven to resounding success that Allen is a great fit with the Grizzlies, and thus he should be their top target this summer.
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Perfect Fit: Chris Andersen
As weird as it is to think, would the Miami Heat be where they are right now without Chris Andersen?
An argument can be made either way, but the Heat have absolutely benefited from the midseason addition of their eccentric center. He was a boon to the offense during the Eastern Conference Finals and is shooting 80.9 percent from the field during the postseason.
Andersen's athletic presence and defensive effort have proven to be a missing ingredient in the Heat frontcourt. At less than $1 million this past season, Andersen has truly been an invaluable member of Miami's roster.
Moving forward eventually, Andersen will be a free agent after the 2013 NBA Finals come to a close. He'll also be due a substantial hike in pay for next season and beyond. As is no secret, the Heat don't have a large cache of funds available to re-sign players of this caliber.
The idea here will be to convince Andersen that his value is dependent on playing for the Heat. If Andersen wants to continue having shots at winning the NBA title, staying in Miami is his best option.
Even without the options for Ray Allen ($3.2 million-player) and Mario Chalmers ($4 million-team), the Heat will be up against the luxury tax.
The veteran's minimum contract for a player of Andersen's experience would land around $1.4 million. That is about all the Heat will be able to afford this offseason, but if it goes to Andersen, that should be plenty.
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Perfect Fit: O.J. Mayo
With news of Monta Ellis opting out of his $11 million contract for next season, the Milwaukee Bucks have a ways to go just to reach the salary cap minimum.
Without Ellis or Brandon Jennings under contract, the Bucks have just $29.5 million in guaranteed salaries for next year. That should make them major players on the mid-level free-agent market. Unfortunately, the Bucks simply won't attract the top-tier players right now; the cupboards up north are just too bare.
Instead, the Bucks have the opportunity to spread their money around and create a really interesting roster. There are already talented youngsters like John Henson and Larry Sanders under contract, and Ersan Ilyasova is locked in as well. The gaping hole is created in the backcourt.
If there is an abundance of playing time and money available, O.J. Mayo could be in the cards. Mayo is an incredibly confident player who is still out to prove himself as an elite scorer in the league. After his playing time was cut by the Memphis Grizzlies, Mayo lost interest in playing for the organization.
The Dallas Mavericks gave him an opportunity to prove himself once again with a starting role. He did that to a degree and will now cut ties with the Mavericks in search of a bigger, long-term contract.
The Bucks have both the cap space and need for a name star to attract Mayo. If they can align him with a player of similar skill level in the backcourt, they will have a foundation with which to continue building.
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Perfect Fit: Tyreke Evans
The Minnesota Timberwolves have a decent crop of guards in their backcourt, but they all lack one thing.
Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, Alexey Shved and J.J Barea are all solid players and under contract with the Timberwolves for next season. However, not a single one of them is a consistent threat to score.
Tyreke Evans is that threat. When he is right, Evans is one of the league's most dynamic shooting guards
Evans and the Sacramento Kings have still not made any public decision on his $6.9 million qualifying offer. If accepted, that would be the biggest obstacle for Minnesota acquiring the player. The Timberwolves may have to come on strong with a higher offer than they might like.
The Timberwolves are awaiting a decision from Andrei Kirilenko that will have major implications on their financial situation this summer. If Kirilenko opts out of the final year of his contract, Minnesota saves $10.2 million that could go towards Evans.
Getting Evans to pair with Rubio and Kevin Love may just be worth it, even at a sizable cost. It will be very interesting to see Evans with a change of scenery. He was not drafted into the best situation with Sacramento and has proven this by decreasing his production every year.
Still, Evans is a young, energetic guard who can create fear for any defense. That is something the Timberwolves will need moving forward.
New Orleans Pelicans
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Perfect Fit: Andre Iguodala
If there is an attractive place for a veteran looking to explore his leadership potential, it is with the New Orleans Pelicans.
New Orleans is pretty well set up for talented young players. Both Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers are there for the foreseeable future. They had the wise idea to sign Ryan Anderson last summer and hold Greivis Vasquez's rights for two more seasons. Robin Lopez also wound up working out, and the team holds pick No. 6 in the 2013 draft.
Despite all those names, the Pelicans have plenty of space this summer to improve. There are a host of small deals coming off the books, chief among them are the Al-Farouq Aminu ($2.9 million) and Xavier Henry ($2.3 million) contracts. Aminu started 71 games at the small forward spot a year ago and will leave a hole in need of filling.
Even after guaranteeing Lopez's $5.1 million for next season, the Pelicans will hold around $40 million in total salary. That is easily enough to attract a player like Andre Iguodala, who is looking for some long-term stability.
Iguodala is opting out of his deal with the Denver Nuggets because he wants to find a home for substantial amount of time. That means he is looking for a place he can grow with and help along, but he also wants to win. The Hornets have the young pieces in place to last a long while.
With Iguodala's defensive presence and solid offensive range, they will also be in a position to win. His offensive game helps to help spread the floor, allowing Lopez and Davis to find space inside. However, Iguodala isn't simply a spot-up shooter like Anderson. He has the ability to get his own shot and is a menace in transition.
New York Knicks
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Perfect Fit: Jerryd Bayless
The New York Knicks are in such a financial bind that they probably won't be able to bring back last season's sixth man of the year.
J.R. Smith wants more money and more years, making it a no-brainer for him to reject the $2.9 million option owed to him. Smith will hit the free-agent market and latch on with another team looking for instant offense off the bench, but with more free salary space.
Before Smith and a few smaller options are finalized, the Knicks hold $74.7 million in guaranteed contracts. That puts them somewhere around the upcoming luxury tax level, which they were over last season.
New York's mid-level exception will be for around $9 million over three seasons. While that may not be enough to entice Smith, it could be enough to bring in a similar player who has yet to break out.
One such player is Jerryd Bayless of the Memphis Grizzlies. Bayless holds a $3.1 million player option for next season with the Grizzlies, but could reject it in search of long-term stability. The Knicks have the potential to make that offer and catch Memphis while they are occupied with the Tony Allen negotiations.
If Smith is out, Bayless slides right into that sixth-man role for New York. While he doesn't have the stats of Smith yet, Bayless does hold the potential to get there. He is just 24 years old and shot 40.7 percent from beyond the arc in college. In 80 games with Memphis last season, he was 35.3 percent from distance.
One thing Bayless does have in line with Smith already is a fearlessness to shoot. The Knicks need a player who isn't intimidated by stealing shots from bigger name guys. Bayless is that guy already, just as much as Smith was.
Oklahoma City Thunder
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Perfect Fit: J.J. Redick
Since Serge Ibaka's big extension doesn't kick in until the upcoming season, the Oklahoma City Thunder played last year underneath the NBA's $70.3 million luxury tax.
As a reward for keeping their payroll at $68.2 million last year, the Thunder have the benefit of a large $5 million per year mid-level exception. This will come in massively handy as other teams who broke the tax last season won't have as much to offer guys like J.J. Redick.
With Kevin Martin's $12.4 million coming off the books, the Thunder need to find perimeter scoring. However, the bulk of that money is now going to Ibaka, who will make a pretty $12.4 million next season. Therefore, Oklahoma City must look for cheaper options to fill the role.
Redick is a guy who a lot of teams will have their eye on. The difference is, a lot of those teams don't have the championship potential of the Thunder. Others also may not have a full mid-level to offer him.
After being dealt from the Orlando Magic to the Milwaukee Bucks, Redick played out the final year of a three-year, $19.7 million deal. While the $15 million over three years the Thunder could offer isn't quite as lucrative, the role and caliber of teammates will be incentive.
Thabo Sefolosha is under contract for another year, meaning the Thunder still need a more prolific scorer from the shooting guard position. Redick provides that perfect compliment to Sefolosha's athleticism and defense.
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Perfect Fit: Randy Foye
The Orlando Magic appear to be on a small hot streak with bargain bin players and youngsters. They hit on Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris this past season, and have a stash of other youth looking to break out.
The Magic also hold pick No. 2 in next week's NBA draft. That player will see a decent-sized contract initially, adding to Orlando's current crop of guaranteed money. Unless either Hedo Turkoglu or Al Harrington is bought out, the Magic are really only losing Beno Udrih ($7.4 million) from last year's roster.
The Magic are really saddled with another year of rebuilding, given both Turkoglu and Harrington's deals. The bright side is that if they only dabble in free agency this summer, they can create some real room to move next year when some big names hit the market.
Therefore, the Magic need to keep their eyes peeled for an inexpensive guy who can help continue the growth of Orlando's young core. They are currently loaded up at the shooting guard spot, but with no Udrih, Jameer Nelson doesn't have a natural backup.
For a guy who has just seven years of NBA service, Randy Foye has a wealth of experience. He was a four-year college player, was dealt on draft day and has played for four NBA franchises. While that could be seen as a red flag, there is nothing that stands out in his past that should give the Magic pause.
Foye is a combo guard who has good range on his jumper, as well as an ability to distribute. He has a plethora of experience both starting and playing as a reserve as well. Coming off a one-year, $2.5 million deal, his next salary isn't one that will harm the Magic's long-term goals.
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Perfect Fit: Al Jefferson
After getting completely burned by Andrew Bynum last year, it would be understandable for the Philadelphia 76ers to be a little gun-shy when it comes to free agency this summer.
However, when opportunity arises, one must jump on it before another team does. The 76ers will have that opportunity with a slew of big men hitting the market. The most reliable of which is Al Jefferson. If Philadelphia is nervous after Bynum's completely missed year, Jefferson has missed just nine games the past three seasons.
The 76ers have some serious money coming off the books right now. Making this opportunity possible is the expiring contracts of Bynum ($16.9 million), Nick Young ($5.6 million) and Dorell Wright ($4.1 million). Even after picking up a host of minute options, Philadelphia will have a total salary of $46.5 million.
If they can structure a deal like Jefferson's last one, which offered just $11 million in Year 1, but ascended each season, the 76ers can preserve flexibility moving forward.
Philadelphia has solid youth nearly across the board. The makings of a playoff team can be found on this roster, but they need a player to tie it all together. Spencer Hawes and Kwame Brown aren't playoff centers, but Jefferson can be.
His post scoring offers a totally new dimension for this roster. It is something Jrue Holiday can use to help develop as a distributor, and the team's shooters can use it to find more open space on the perimeter. While he isn't a superior athlete, Jefferson is still just 28, so the team doesn't lose its reputation and developing style.
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Perfect Fit: J.J. Hickson
The Phoenix Suns don't have a ton of room on their roster for attacking the free-agent market. However, with a new general manager in house, they will definitely be looking for creative ways to make this team competitive on the fly.
Only Wesley Johnson ($4.3 million) and Jermaine O'Neal ($1.4 million) are definitely expiring this summer. Outside of those two, there are a few tiny options coming due, with Shannon Brown's $3.5 million half-guaranteed year the biggest. The Suns will also be paying the No. 5 draft pick.
Depending where Phoenix goes with that pick, it can use free agency to fill the opposite need. With Johnson moving on, the team needs to fill the shooting guard spot with a real full-time starter. There is also a lot of mixing and matching in the frontcourt. It would help to clearly define a starter there and move Luis Scola to the bench.
Since Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore are real possibilities to go with Phoenix's No. 5 pick, the idea is to nab a starting power forward in free agency. J.J. Hickson should be that target for the Suns.
After bouncing around for a few years, Hickson agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. It was an opportunity to prove his break-out second half the year before was for real. Turns out, it was, as Hickson went for 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds over 80 games.
That means a lot of teams will be vying for his services this summer. The Suns have to make a clear case for him to start at power forward and help bring this team back to relevancy.
Portland Trail Blazers
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Perfect Fit: Samuel Dalembert
There are positives and negatives to the Portland Trail Blazers' situation right now. They have who they believe to be their two stars locked up, in LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. There is also the reigning Rookie of the Year and another promising youngster in Meyers Leonard.
However, this team missed the playoffs last year by a mile and thus has another lottery pick, No. 10, coming down the pike. So where are they really?
With J.J. Hickson ($4 million) and a host of small deals coming off the books, there is going to be some money to test the waters with in free agency. Hickson is sure to be a hot commodity on the open market, and he was never a true center anyway, so the Trail Blazers should look elsewhere this summer.
It is pretty clear that both Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeland will take some time developing into legitimate NBA centers, so the idea of bringing on Samuel Dalembert has to be of interest to Portland.
The 32-year-old veteran appeared a bit under-utilized with the Milwaukee Bucks last season and will be looking for a new home. With the emergence of Larry Sanders and John Henson, Dalembert lost playing time down the stretch. He played just one game in April and one playoff game against the Miami Heat.
With career averages of eight rebounds and 1.8 blocks, Portland could find him 20 minutes a game in the frontcourt. He would definitely be able to help Leonard's defensive development more than Hickson thanks to his experience and traditional size.
Dalembert played for $6.7 million last season, but if the Trail Blazers are willing to promise added playing time, they could convince him to join up for their mid-level exception of three years and $15 million.
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Perfect Fit: Chase Budinger
The Sacramento Kings don't have a ton of open spots on their roster. Should they retain the options on Tyreke Evans ($6.9 million), Toney Douglas ($3.1 million) and James Johnson ($3.9 million), the only money coming off the books is Cole Aldrich's $2.4 million.
The Kings are going to have to cut the line with a couple of those guys in order to free up enough space to be players in free agency. The team as it stands isn't going anywhere, and changes must be thought through. It may also be worth amnestying John Salmons' final two years to save $8.6 million towards the cap.
Something isn't right with Evans in Sacramento, as he has seen his production drop each year. Salmons has shot under 41 percent from the field for two consecutive years and is scheduled to $7.6 million next year. One of these players has to be moved in order to bring in some fresh talent.
Beyond the No. 7 pick in the NBA draft, they should seriously consider Chase Budinger. He is a budding young player who they can get cheap because his development was stalled due to injury. The former second-round pick is a career 35.8 percent shooter from three and has averaged 9.4 points and 3.6 rebounds over his four NBA seasons.
The Kings probably wouldn't have to sacrifice Evans or Salmons to make this deal happen, but they would be wise to offer Budinger some of that playing time on the wing.
San Antonio Spurs
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Perfect Fit: Tiago Splitter
The San Antonio Spurs have some other things on their mind at the moment, but are famous for keeping an eye on the free-agency pool no matter what.
With a big decision coming up for Manu Ginobili, whose $14.1 million deal expires, the Spurs may need to scour the market for replacements. There are also options-galore on the roster, with Tiago Splitter ($5.9 million qualifying offer), Boris Diaw ($4.7 million player option), Matt Bonner ($3.9 million non-guaranteed) and Gary Neal ($1.1 million qualifying offer) all unknowns.
Until the Spurs finish up the NBA Finals, we won't know about the decisions on these players, making it difficult to judge where they will look in free agency. Because of that, their best fit right now is Splitter.
The wealth of what Splitter has learned over his brief three seasons in the NBA is invaluable, and it would be great to see his development continue under Tim Duncan. Splitter has gotten himself to the point where Gregg Popovich trusts him on the floor without Duncan, a great sign for the franchise moving forward.
When playing together, the two are fantastic. They have already developed a rhythm with passing and setting picks for one another. Splitter is clearly not out for glory and understands the Spurs' system of setting screens for the perimeter players. He has improved his numbers each season and has even become a quality free-throw shooter (73 percent in 2012-13).
The Spurs will have to hope he accepts the qualifying offer this summer and then work out some sort of extension for him. With Ginobili set to either retire or take a massive cut in pay, the money should be there to retain Splitter's services.
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Perfect Fit: Devin Harris
The Toronto Raptors have a new general manager, and he is going to have to make some tough decisions. The Raptors right now are a team with a high payroll and nothing to show with it.
Spending $67.2 million and finishing 14 games under .500 is unacceptable, and that is why Masai Ujiri was brought in. A year later, DeMar DeRozan's extension kicks in and the Raptors are looking at the luxury tax if they don't cut salary somewhere.
The most common answer here is their amnesty clause, which is still available for Andrea Bargnani ($22.3 million over two years), Linas Kleiza ($4.6 million) and Amir Johnson (11.5 million over two years). Of those, Johnson proved to be a valuable player last season, while Bargnani has missed 98 games over the past three years.
In order to assure room for a player like Devin Harris, someone may have to go. Harris played for $8.5 million last year with the Atlanta Hawks. While he is unlikely to get near that on the open market, he may be above a $5 million per year mid-level exception.
Harris helps stabilize the backcourt behind DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Like he did in Atlanta, Harris can come in and play both positions with a responsible skill level. He also provides starter insurance for the increasingly injury-prone Lowry.
The Raptors may have to move some things around, but a player like Harris is worth having around in the long run.
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Perfect Fit: Jose Calderon
The Utah Jazz are possibly the greatest mystery of the summer. They have the potential to be a completely clean slate next season with upwards of $50 million in guaranteed money coming off the books.
It will be fascinating to see what decisions they make with their pursuits of departing big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, as well Mo Williams and Randy Foye from the backcourt. Those two, Williams and Foye, should be the initial focus. When building a team from scratch, a style should probably be chosen.
That is why Jose Calderon makes a lot of sense here. Calderon is malleable as a point guard. He can blend or lead a variety of styles. He makes sense as one of the first building blocks for this new-look Jazz team. Calderon obviously makes it possible for the Jazz to walk away from Williams and Foye, though they will need a legitimate backup.
Calderon just finished out the final year of a lucrative deal, making $10.6 million last season. While his new pact won't be near there, he should stand to earn a pretty decent salary with long-term security.
He will turn 32 prior to next season, but has made a career out of being one of the league's most consistent players. Calderon holds overall averages of 10.1 points and 7.2 assists per game, numbers he topped during this past season.
Surrounding Calderon with quality scorers is the biggest key. Handing him the helm of your team is a good thing, but if he doesn't have solid teammates, that ship won't sail very far.
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Perfect Fit: Mike Dunleavy, Jr.
The Washington Wizards need some offensive help. That is the one thing they can say for sure entering the free agency period. For a team that finished in the Eastern Conference cellar, they were a surprisingly impressive defensive team. They simply couldn't score when needed.
They suffered some bumps and bruises to key contributors throughout the season, but a free agent with some offensive potency, who doesn't soak up money or minutes, is a key target.
They could have that player in Mike Dunleavy, Jr. This offense, which ranked No. 28 in scoring last season, could use some punch off the bench. Dunleavy has been playing that role a lot over the last five years, with double-digit scoring success.
The Wizards have a logjam of money and talent in the frontcourt, but are thinning out on the wing. If they lose Martell Webster to free agency, Dunleavy could step right in and contribute.
He played last season for $3.75 million, finishing a two-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks. He shot 42.8 percent from beyond the arc, something that should make John Wall's eyes light up. With he and Bradley Beal running to spots on offense, Wall can be as creative as he likes in racking up long-range assists.
Once Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor opt-in to their contracts, the Wizards will have around $58 million in guaranteed salaries for the upcoming season. They can still use all or part of their three-year, $15 million mid-level exception on Dunleavy.