This summer is not solely about the biggest names on the market. Key role players will also be targeted by many organizations throughout the coming months.
While Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith, among others, will make their next franchises contenders, it takes a complete team effort in order to win a title. Just ask the Miami Heat. Sure, LeBron James is amazing, but the Heat wouldn’t have won the championship without the likes of Ray Allen and Shane Battier.
Teams will certainly be interested in landing the bigger names this summer, but plenty of time will be devoted to the guys who lend a hand to the stars. Signing the role player is nearly just as important as getting the superstar.
So, which players are going to make a big difference next season, but won’t be the major focus of the public once free agents are allowed to sign on July 11?
Here’s the latest buzz surrounding some of the under-the-radar players on the open market this summer, with rumors as to what teams are interested in them and where they might be playing in 2013-14 and beyond.
Minny In On Martin
The Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t waste any time in trying to land shooting guard Kevin Martin. Marc Stein of ESPN reports that the Timberwolves called the Oklahoma City Thunder about the unrestricted free agent at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning. Think Minnesota is interested?
Martin averaged 14 points in 27.7 minutes per game coming off the bench for the Thunder all last season. He fits what the Timberwolves need, which is a shooting guard. At the moment, Minnesota will likely be starting Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour at the two guard positions. Landing Martin would be a major upgrade.
Neither Rubio, Ridnour or J.J. Barea—the team’s three main guards—averaged 12 points per game last season. While each is a good passer, the Timberwolves need their backcourt to be putting more points on the board each night. Martin has averaged nearly 18 points per game over the course of his career.
Stein reports that the Thunder likely won’t be able to bring Martin back because of how close they are to the luxury-tax mark. That bodes well for Minnesota, as well as Milwaukee and New Orleans, who also have interest in the 30-year-old shooting guard, per Stein. Minnesota needs Martin more than the Bucks or Pelicans do.
Korver to Nets a Done Deal?
Kyle Korver will be one of the most sought out role players this summer, but it appears that there’s a team that’s already a lock to sign him: the Brooklyn Nets. A source told Stein that the Nets are already frontrunners to land the three-point shooter. Stein also notes that there are several teams interested in landing him.
The Nets are looking like a very complete team these days and adding Korver to the roster would only solidify that statement even more. Brooklyn currently has five great starters for the 2013-14 season and is now looking to fill in the voids on the bench. The first goal is finding a top small forward like Korver.
Jerry Stackhouse was the primary backup behind Gerald Wallace last season, but he’s now an unrestricted free agent. While Stackhouse has been solid over the course of his career, he wasn’t very effective off the bench last season. In 14.7 minutes per game, he averaged fewer than five points and shot just 38.4 percent.
While Korver was a starter for the Hawks last season, he’s been a bench player for most of his career. He only has 170 starts in 738 career games. It appears that he’ll be coming off the bench for the Nets next season, as a rival general manager told Stein that, “I’m hearing that Brooklyn has Korver in the bag.”
Mavs, Bulls Have Eyes on Mo
While the Dallas Mavericks are certainly focused on landing Dwight Howard, the second priority is to address the point guard position, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas. Darren Collison is now an unrestricted and it doesn’t seem likely that the Mavs will be bringing him back.
That being said, Dallas has interest in point guard Mo Williams, per MacMahon, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Williams started 46 games for the Jazz last season, averaging 12.9 points and 6.2 assists per night. He would likely start over rookie guard Shane Larkin if he were to sign with the Mavericks.
But Dallas isn’t the only team intrigued by the possibility of signing Williams. Sam Amico of Fox Sports reports that the Bulls are also interested in the veteran guard. One would assume that Chicago wants him because it doubts that Nate Robinson will be returning for next season.
Robinson probably won’t be back since his role will be lessened with Derrick Rose coming back from a torn ACL. Coming off the bench might not be what Williams is looking for, but he has done it in the past. He’s started more than 75 percent of his career games, but was the backup to Chris Paul in Los Angeles in 2011-12.
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