The best in the NBA are starting to decide where they will be playing in 2013-14 and beyond, but there are still several impact free agents available.
Chris Paul is off the market, and Dwight Howard will soon be as well. Then, we’ll hear from a variety of other players who are still contemplating their next destinations. There are three main factors that they will be taking into consideration: money, playing time and the chance to win a title immediately.
Some of those factors are more important than others, and which is more vital will become apparent once they sign. Will someone like Kenyon Martin sign with a contending team for which he might not play much or with a team for which he can be a starter but which might not make the playoffs?
There aren’t a ton of great options on the low block once Howard signs, but Paul Millsap and Elton Brand are two of them. Martin is also one of the players who will command a lot of interest, because of his experience and versatility. Where those three land will make a difference on the playoff picture for the upcoming season.
That being said, here are the latest rumors for three of the top big men on the open market this summer, including notes on their potential destinations and what types of role they may be playing in 2013-14.
Millsap Back to Utah?
The Utah Jazz met with Millsap on Sunday and expressed “high interest” in bringing the power forward back, according to Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune. The Jazz, however, have not made an offer to Millsap, per Oram, and the scribe believes that his future could be determined by where Howard does or doesn’t sign.
Oram believes that the Rockets could be interested in Millsap if Howard doesn’t end up in Houston. That desination makes a bit of sense, considering the situation the Rockets are currently in. If they were to land Millsap, Chandler Parsons could play small forward and Houston would keep Omer Asik at center.
Millsap scored 14.6 points and grabbed 7.1 rebounds per game this past season, making it the third consecutive year in which he averaged 14 and seven. He’s a versatile big man who doesn’t need to play with his back to the basket. He’s also a great option to have come up for pick-and-roll plays.
Now that Al Jefferson is signing with the Bobcats, per Marc Stein of ESPN, it’s going to be tough for Utah not to bring Millsap back.
If the Jazz don’t, the team will have plenty of cap space going forward but will also lack a lot of talent in the frontcourt, having lost its two top players.
Knicks Eyeing Brand
New York needs to figure out its frontcourt situation this summer. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are locks for the starting lineup, but there are still questions surrounding the power-forward position. The Knicks made it through last season without having a main guy next to Chandler on the low block.
Amar’e Stoudemire was hurt for most of the season and didn’t start in any of the 29 games he played. The Knicks used Anthony at power forward at times, playing Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and a point guard at the same time.
While that’s one way to go about things, New York can do better, and plans to.
The Knicks are one of the teams pursuing Elton Brand, but no official offers have been made yet, per Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York. Brand came off the bench for most of the year with Dallas in 2012-13, averaging 7.2 points and six rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game. New York could use a player like that.
Source: #Knicks in pursuit of Brand, called again today. Offers from NYK & other teams discussed at different $ levels. No official offers.— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) July 3, 2013
If the Knicks were to land Brand, that would mean that Kenyon Martin and Chris Copeland might not be back next season—which isn’t the worst thing in the world. New York can then decide if Stoudemire or Brand could start.
Either way, the Knicks would have two great options who would each see significant time in 2013-14.
Martin a Hot Commodity
While Martin didn’t play many games last season, he should still be a valuable player underneath the rim in the upcoming season. Last season, he averaged 7.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 23.9 minutes per night.
The Knicks are interested in bringing him back, while other teams like him too, per Broussard:
Teams interested in Kenyon Martin: Lakers, Clippers, Spurs, Knicks, Nets, source says— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 3, 2013
None of the teams pursuing the big man have made an offer yet, though, per Zwerling. As an unrestricted free agent with many options, it should be an exciting couple of weeks for Martin. No matter which of the interested teams he lands with, he’ll be playing for a contender. As a 35-year-old, he couldn’t ask for much more.
If Martin wants to win a championship next season, he should sign with the Clippers. Los Angeles has one of the best frontcourts in basketball, and he would play a big role off the bench. He could take the minutes that Lamar Odom had last season, meaning around 20 minutes per game.
The Lakers might be the team that needs Martin’s services the most, especially if Howard doesn’t re-sign.
In that instance, he’d be taking over for Antawn Jamison, who played 76 games and an average of 21.5 minutes for Los Angeles in 2012-13. Martin could start some games, depending on who else the Lakers land this summer.