Players set to hit the free-agent market this summer recently watched the 2013 NBA draft, paying attention to the teams with whom they thought they’d fit best.
The draft is a time where organizations fill up their rosters with fresh talent, who will play important roles in the future. Since players can’t sign with teams until July, free agents are at a significant disadvantage. Their spots on teams could be gone without ever getting to make their pitch to the front office.
A free agent’s value can increase or decrease depending on what happens during the draft. If a bunch of teams need a starting small forward and there is only one great one on the board, a topnotch free agent can increase his asking price, for example. But if there are 10 small forwards who could all start, the free agent’s value decreases.
This year, the drafted affect the value of a few free agents. As we’ll see in the coming weeks, these players will be receiving contract offers for amounts that changed based on the draft, whether it is more or less. Here’s a look at three examples of players who saw the draft adjust their futures.
Price Increasing: Nate Robinson, PG
While there were several teams selecting point guards in the early rounds, those prospects will likely become starters. What a few organizations neglected to realize is that they also needed to select a guard who can come off the bench and make an impact. Nate Robinson is going to get a lot of money for that reason alone.
Robinson played a huge role for the Bulls last season with Derrick Rose out. He stayed healthy the entire year and played better as the season went on. He averaged 13.1 points in 25.4 minutes per game during the regular season. In the playoffs, he averaged 16.3 points in 33.7 minutes per night.
Robinson is a great option off the bench, as he plays well offensively and defensively. Cleveland and Indiana seem like obvious fits, among other franchises. The Cavs drafted Sergey Karasev, but he’s a shooting guard. Cleveland didn’t take anyone who’s going to be able to come play the point when Kyrie Irving is on the bench.
D.J. Augustin may not be back with the Pacers next season and Ben Hansbrough might not either, as both are free agents. But instead of selecting a point guard with its only pick in the draft, Indiana drafted Solomon Hill, a small forward. The Pacers don’t have anyone to back up George Hill at the moment.
Price Decreasing: Andrew Bynum, C
There’s a small chance that Andrew Bynum ends up as a starter to begin the 2013-14 season. Bynum didn't play a game for the 76ers last season and enters free agency with little hype surrounding him. While he may bounce back next year, many teams have already found their starting centers.
The Suns got their future center with Alex Len, and the 76ers replaced Bynum by trading for the rights for Nerlens Noel. Steven Adams could take over at center for Oklahoma City, too. Those three teams needed centers and got them. Bynum could be a fit with a team like the Mavericks, but he shouldn’t hold his breath.
Bynum isn’t even the top free agent on the open market at his position. That’s Dwight Howard. Bynum will likely be seen as a backup option for the organizations who fail to land D12. Bynum still has a lot to prove and not playing at all in 2012-13 didn’t help his free-agent stock.
If Len didn’t fall to the Suns, then maybe Bynum would’ve been a fit there. There was always the chance that he’d return to Philly if the Sixers couldn’t get their hands on a big man in the draft, but that opportunity is gone now, too. As the summer heats up, it’ll be interesting to see where the former star lands and what his role will be.
Price Increasing: O.J. Mayo, SG
There weren’t a ton of top shooting guards in this year’s draft class. After Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went off the board, teams seeking a starter were basically out of luck. That leaves players like O.J. Mayo entering free agency with a big smile on their faces.
The Milwaukee Bucks entered the draft looking to draft a shooting guard and/or a small forward. Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick might not be back and the Bucks’ options at small forward are very weak. Milwaukee selected Giannis Antetokounmpo, a small forward in the first round who needs a ton of work.
Minnesota and New York may also be potential landing spots for Mayo. The Timberwolves needed a scorer and landed Shabazz Muhammad, but he’s a small forward/power forward. Unless the Timberwolves want to start Luke Ridnour and Ricky Rubio in the backcourt, they need to find a strong shooting guard in free agency.
New York might’ve known that J.R. Smith wasn’t going to be back, but Tim Hardaway, Jr. might not be the starting shooting guard that the Knicks need. While Hardaway had his moments at Michigan, he may need some time before entering the starting lineup. Mayo could help bridge the gap for a few seasons.
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