NBA Free Agency Losses That Could Devastate Teams

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIJuly 2, 2013

NBA Free Agency Losses That Could Devastate Teams

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    Which potential 2013 NBA Free Agency departures would devastate their previous franchise?

    While certain teams will be looking to add new pieces, other franchises are focused on locking up the players who mean the most to them.

    Certain organizations have placed their futures in the hands of one superstar, marking that player as a critical piece of their future. Others have begun to build a contender, but need their current free agents to re-sign in order to avoid taking a significant step in the wrong direction.

    One way or another, these players could alter their previous organization by leaving to sign with another team.

    Following is a look at some of those players and teams.

Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 31

    Experience: Nine seasons

    2012-13 Season Averages: 13.26 PER, 26.7 MPG, 8.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.5 SPG

     

    The Memphis Grizzlies finished the 2012-13 NBA regular season with the league's top-ranked scoring defense. As a result, Marc Gasol was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year and three Grizzlies were named to the NBA All-Defensive team.

    As great as Gasol may have been, Memphis wouldn't have been the postseason force they proved to be if not for Tony Allen.

    You can count on two hands how many players are matched up against the best scorer an opposing team has to offer every single night of the season. At the top of that list is Allen, who defends every perimeter position and does so with supreme effectiveness.

    That's exactly why the general managers voted Allen as the best perimeter defender in the NBA forboth 2011-12 and 2012-13. He will likely receive the nod for 2013-14 as well.

    Allen is a masterful ball hawk, but forcing turnovers is only a piece of the puzzle here. The Grizzlies are a team which lives and dies by its defensive ability, and to remove Allen would be equivalent to a high-octane offense taking away its best shooter.

    The machine may run, but it wouldn't be nearly as effective.

Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Position: Center

    Age: 27

    Experience: Nine seasons

    2012-13 Season Averages: 19.48 PER, 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 2.4 BPG, 1.1 SPG

     

    If Dwight Howard were to spurn the Los Angeles Lakers, the loss would be two-fold. For starters, the Lakers would lose a franchise player that, when bias is put aside, remains the best center in the league today.

    The true devastation here, however, comes from the Lakers not having enough cap space to replace him until 2014.

    The Lakers are stuck in NBA limbo, as they have three superstars, a strong defender and absolutely no perimeter athleticism. In other words, they're good enough to be a playoff team, but are unlikely to win a title and will not see a favorable position until the 2014 NBA draft.

    Losing D-12 essentially means they put their franchise on hold for the next calendar year.

    Howard may not be the most popular man in Los Angeles right now—or perhaps he is—but his value is undeniable. Not only is Howard a perennial All-Star, but he's also a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the reigning league rebounding champion.

    Keep in mind that Howard led the NBA in rebounds, ranked top five in blocks and was first among those players with at least 500 attempts in field goal percentage—all during his "down year."

Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets

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    Position: Guard/Forward

    Age: 29

    Experience: Nine seasons

    2012-13 Season Averages: 15.27 PER, 13.0 PPG, 5.4 APG, 5.3 RPG, 1.7 SPG

     

    If I told you that the Denver Nuggets didn't know how to play defense, I'd be lying to you. That isn't because they do know how, but instead due to the fact that it's a disturbing understatement.

    If Andre Iguodala leaves Denver via free agency, the Nuggets will be helpless defensively.

    Iguodala may not have had his greatest season with Denver in 2012-13, but he's an Olympic gold medalist and one of the most versatile players in the NBA. Not only can he defend at an elite level, but he plays multiple position, facilitates and shoots the ball at a decent clip.

    All of this was on display during the NBA playoffs, when Iguodala finally found his groove and averaged 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.0 steals with a slash line of .500/.483/.720.

    There are quality alternatives, but Iguodala is one of the most respected players for a reason. His defensive prowess is extraordinary both in the half court and in transition, which is something that no other player on Denver's roster can match.

    The Nuggets' offense will be just fine, but it's rare that you can find someone who can provide quality defense against any player on the court—from Kobe Bryant to Kevin Durant.

    Iguodala can.

Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 23

    Experience: Four seasons

    2012-13 Season Averages: 16.20 PER, 17.5 PPG, 6.5 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.9 SPG

     

    In 2012-13, the Milwaukee Bucks reached the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2010 and just the second time since 2006. At the heart of their run to the postseason was the core of Brandon Jennings and Larry Sanders, who have proven to be legitimate franchise cornerstones.

    If Jennings were to leave via free agency, however, all of Milwaukee's progress will be lost and the Bucks will be forced to hit the rest button.

    Jennings played like an All-Star in 2012-13, averaging 17.5 points and 6.5 assists at the age of 23. Sanders, 24, was second in the NBA in blocks per 48 minutes and proved to be one of the top defensive forces, regardless of age.

    Paired with 2012 lottery pick John Henson, the Bucks have something to build on moving forward. Unfortunately, it all goes to waste if Jennings leaves.

    Franchise point guards are tough to come by, and at 23, Jennings has displayed just how much potential he has. While he may not have had the smoothest tenure in Milwaukee, his ability is undeniable and his progression is just as impressive.

    The silver lining? Losing Jennings would mean the Bucks would be in line to draft Andrew Wiggins.

Kevin Martin, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 30

    Experience: Nine seasons

    2012-13 Season Averages: 16.09 PER, 14.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 42.6% 3PT

     

    If we've learned anything from Russell Westbrook's injury, it's that the Oklahoma City Thunder lack depth. They have promising young players scattered across their second unit, but when it comes to player who can create and make shots, it's a three-man show.

    Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin make up that trio, and is exactly why OKC can't afford to lose the latter.

    Jeremy Lamb displays upside, but the Thunder are looking to win a title right now, and putting your money on a player with no NBA experience would be naive. Martin, meanwhile, shot 42.6 percent from beyond the arc during the 2012-13 season.

    Paired with the fact that he can put the ball on the floor, Martin is the ultimate sixth man—something OKC needs after trading James Harden.

    If Martin leaves, the Thunder would scramble to find a replacement. There are options on the open market, but OKC is on a relatively tight budget and is unlikely to land one of the more high-profile scorers.

    Martin's return means OKC has scoring depth while his departure will leave this as a two-man show. This is a high-stakes pursuit for the Thunder.

David West, Indiana Pacers

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    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 32

    Experience: 10 Seasons

    2012-13 Season Averages: 20.15 PER, 17.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG

     

    Those stuck on the "Chris Paul had nothing in New Orleans" train might senselessly disagree, but David West is one of the best big men in the NBA.

    Not only is West one of the game's elite offensive players, he's also a powerful presence who has significantly improved his defensive presence.

    If he were to leave the Indiana Pacers via free agency, his absence would be crippling.

    The Pacers could target a player such as Paul Millsap to replace him, but that's hardly a guarantee. While it's believed that West will re-sign, should he end up signing on elsewhere, Indiana would be placed in a tough spot.

    Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't Paul George who served as Indiana's go-to clutch scorer. It was West.

    According to Basketball-Reference.com, West made, and attempted, the most clutch field goals of any player on the Pacers' roster this past season. He converted 47.9 percent of his field goal attempts in comparison to George's mark of 35.7.

    George will continue to develop into a two-way superstar, but if Indiana wants to win now, re-signing West is the only way to do so.