Chris Paul is expected to agree to a 5-year, $107 million extension with the Clippers shortly after 12:01 AM eastern time.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 1, 2013
There is a large market for guards in this year’s class, including players capable of starting and coming off the bench. If a team didn’t come away with a solid guard in the 2013 NBA draft, there is still plenty of time to land one before the upcoming season begins.
The best guards available aren’t necessarily pass-first types of guys either. While each makes his teammates better with crisp and accurate passes, the three following players each ranked in the top 15 in scoring among point guards last season, per ESPN.
That being said, you shouldn’t be worried if your favorite team hasn’t found the guy just yet. But will any of the top guards be headed to your hometown or top city next season?
Here are the latest rumors surrounding three of the best guards on the market, with predictions for where each is going to wind up for the 2013-14 NBA season.
Jeff Teague has really improved over the last few years, making bigger contributions for the Hawks in each season since getting drafted. This past season, Teague started all but four games for Atlanta and averaged 14.6 points and 7.2 assists per night. The best part about the point guard is that he’s only going to get better.
In the coming seasons, Teague could become one of the elite point guards in the league. The Hawks realize this, and Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports that Atlanta made Teague a restricted free agent by issuing him a qualifying offer. This way, even if another team wants him, Atlanta has the final say:
Though Hawks didn't announce it, they issued a $4.5 million qualifying offer to PG Jeff Teague to make him a restricted free agent.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 30, 2013
One of the teams that could challenge the Hawks for Teague is the Bucks, per Marc Stein of ESPN:
As if their backcourt situation not sufficiently up in air ... hearing Bucks, at behest of new coach Larry Drew, pursuing RFA Jeff Teague— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2013
Milwaukee might lose a lot of talent at the guard position via free agency, and bringing in Teague as a replacement would be a smart decision. He’d become the top scoring threat on the team if the Bucks were to land him. The Bucks will have to offer him a lot of money in order to prevent the Hawks from matching the deal.
Predicted Landing Spot: Atlanta Hawks
One of the reasons why the Bucks might try to snag Teague is that Brandon Jennings may not be back. Milwaukee is going to try to make sure that Jennings is still with the team into next season, and C.F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Bucks made a qualifying offer:
The Bucks already have made a qualifying offer to Jennings, allowing Milwaukee to match any offer made by another team after July 1.— cfgardner (@cf_gardner) June 28, 2013
Jennings has been one of Milwaukee’s best players the last few years, averaging at least 15.5 points per game since getting drafted. This past season, Jennings scored 17.5 points and totaled 6.5 assists in 36.2 minutes per game. He was the team’s second-highest scorer, behind another guard we’ll soon analyze.
While free agency has just gotten started, it seems pretty safe to say that Jennings is going to be back with Milwaukee. Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports report that the Bucks will match any offer sheet that Jennings signs, but they’d prefer to bring him back before he signs a deal with another organization.
Spears also reports that Jennings and his representatives have made it known to the Bucks what the star guard is looking for. If it seems too high for now, Milwaukee could wait until Jennings potentially signs an offer sheet or his contract demands decrease. Milwaukee needs to decide if Jennings is worth what he thinks he is.
Predicted Landing Spot: Milwaukee Bucks
Monta Ellis is arguably the top guard of these three, mainly because he’s versatile enough to play shooting guard as well. Ellis is more than capable of scoring 20-plus points per night, although he doesn’t done so in a season in two years. In 2009-10, he averaged 25.5 points per game for the Warriors.
With that sort of scoring potential, Ellis is one of the bigger assets on the market this summer. The Bulls, Spurs, Nuggets, Suns and Knicks all have interest in the guard, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports. Berger notes that the Knicks only have the $3.2 million mid-level exception available, and that might not be enough.
Since Ellis opted out of his deal for next season, per Berger, it doesn’t seem very likely that he’ll be back with Milwaukee. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports that Dallas may be Ellis’ destination, too, as the Mavericks have reached out to his representatives.
Of the teams mentioned, the Knicks appear to be the organization that most needs Ellis’ services. The Knicks must land him if J.R. Smith doesn’t return, as the team doesn't have another great alternative. He'd step into a starting lineup that still needs some help and would be the second-best scoring threat on the squad.
New York needs to find a way to make it work.
Predicted Landing Spot: New York Knicks