5 Predictions for Official NBA Free-Agent Signing Period
NBA teams can begin to officially sign free-agent contracts starting on July 10, when the league-wide moratorium is lifted.
In anticipation of that, this list predicts where a handful of high-profile players will eventually land.
It also highlights a potential signing that could include a former No. 1 pick who hasn't played since 2009 along with a possible trade involving two point guards.
These predictions are ranked in terms of how bold each move would've seemed prior to free agency beginning this summer.
5. Greg Oden Signs with Miami Heat
Greg Oden last appeared in an NBA game on December 5, 2009.
After being selected first overall in 2007, Oden has played in just 82 games during a professional career ravaged by knee injuries. His health issues eventually required a third microfracture surgery in March of 2012.
But what he can still provide, if remotely healthy, is a low-post presence around the rim for the Miami Heat at a minimal price.
With the majority of dollars tied up in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat do not have much room to maneuver in an attempt to improve on a league-worst 38.6 rebounds per game in 2012-13.
Despite interest from eight teams, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports—along with the prospect of Oden not receiving much in terms of guaranteed money from the Heat—signing with Miami in free agency will likely become his best opportunity for a return to the league in 2013-14.
4. Monta Ellis Lands with the Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings selected guard Ben McLemore with the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
They also recently invested a lottery pick in Jimmer Fredette and more recently acquired Greivis Vasquez from the New Orleans Pelicans. Isaiah Thomas is also currently in their ranks.
Despite this plethora of guards, however, the Kings could become the eventual landing spot for unrestricted free-agent guard Monta Ellis.
After pulling a lucrative offer to free-agent Andre Iguodala, who has since reached an agreement with the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento could turn to Ellis to fill the scoring void left by the impending departure of Tyreke Evans.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports confirmed this speculation on Twitter, reporting that the "Kings' contract talks with Bucks free-agent guard Monta Ellis have been described as 'aggressive'" as recently as this week.
3. Jeff Teague and Brandon Jennings Switch Teams
Before this summer's free-agency period began, it appeared a foregone conclusion that Brandon Jennings would eventually re-sign with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 23-year-old point guard has spent four seasons in Milwaukee since breaking into the league in 2009, while averaging 17 points and 5.7 assists per game for his career.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com, however, recently reported the following with respect to Jennings' future.
Sources briefed on the situation told ESPN.com that the Hawks and Bucks have in recent days discussed a sign-and-trade deal to land Brandon Jennings in Atlanta and send fellow restricted free agent Jeff Teague to Milwaukee to reunite with former Hawks coach Larry Drew. ESPN.com reported early in free agency that the Bucks, at Drew's behest, had interest.
This is a scenario that I can see materializing once the official moratorium is lifted.
Teague, at 25, is a solid young point guard in his own right coming off a year where he averaged 14.6 points and 7.2 assists per game with the Atlanta Hawks. He would help Coach Drew chart a new direction for the Bucks' organization, while Jennings could work to replace the scoring that was lost in Atlanta with the departure of Josh Smith.
2. Dallas Enters Late for Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Doesn't Match
Al Jefferson agreed in principle on a three-year deal with the Charlotte Bobcats worth $40.5 million, according to Sam Amick of USA Today.
As a 27-year-old center who averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2012-13, Nikola Pekovic could command similar money.
Jerry Zgoda from the Star Tribune has reported that the T-Wolves have made a formal contract offer to the restricted free agent and are currently awaiting a response. Zgoda goes on to speculate that the offer for Pekovic could be a "four-year deal that will likely be worth $12 million a year or more."
The Dallas Mavericks, on the heels of missing out on Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in free agency, are a team that could potentially enter late and steal Pekovic by offering a contract that Minnesota is unwilling to match.
Though the Mavericks may have to make a move to free up additional cap space for 2013-14 to get to the $13.5 million annually that Jefferson is making, their books are essentially clean after that.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers Sign Andrew Bynum
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers have made free-agent center Andrew Bynum "a two-year, $24 million-plus, incentive-based contract offer," with a team option in Year 2.
The Cavaliers seemed an unlikely landing spot for the former All-Star heading into free agency, but that could be exactly where he ends up later this week.
Though Bynum has also received interest from the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and others, the offer from Cleveland may end up being the most lucrative opportunity after he missed all of last season with the Philadelphia 76ers due to injury.
Depending on how achievable the incentives are in the contract Wojnarowski reported, it could also be a pretty fair price for both sides.