The time of NBA free agency is entering a critical stage, as the period of moratorium has been lifted. In turn, contract offers are available to be signed and the most high-profile free agents will officially come off of the market.
The question is, what is the latest buzz surrounding the best scorers available as we enter this pivotal time in free agency?
Even as the superstars have agreed to long-term contracts, some of the NBA's most dynamic scorers remain available. From dominant, low-post big men to explosive guards, there's no shortage of point producers on the open market.
As a result, they've inevitably become the hottest commodity of all.
With that being said, there is hardly a case of open-and-shut consideration here, as each scorer has his weaknesses. With this in mind, it's no wonder that each of these players remains an option on the free-agent market.
The question is, where might they end up?
Andrew Bynum, UFA
Experience: 8 Seasons
2011-12 Season Averages
23.01 PER, 18.7 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.9 BPG
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Cleveland Cavaliers have offered unrestricted free agent Andrew Bynum a two-year deal worth $24 million. The offer is incentive-based, with the Cavaliers owning a team option for the second season.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported that Bynum would make a decision July 9, but a conflicting report has emerged.
Per Marc Stein of ESPN, Bynum is also considering the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks.
Bynum missed the entire 2012-13 season due to recurring knee injuries, thus leading to the Philadelphia 76ers refusing to offer him a new contract. Even still, we'd be remiss to ignore the fact that Bynum is arguably the most complete center in the NBA.
When on his game, Dwight Howard is the only player who has been able to rival Bynum from a production standpoint.
The 25-year-old last played in 2011-12 as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. It's that type of production that has some labeling Bynum as the best big man in basketball.
The question is, where will he resume his career?
Monta Ellis, UFA
Position: Shooting Guard
Experience: 8 Seasons
2012-13 Season Averages
16.56 PER, 19.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, 3.9 RPG, 2.1 SPG
Arguably the most prolific scorer remaining on the open market is former Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks star Monta Ellis. The 27-year-old has a career mark of 19.4 points per game and has topped 20 in four of his past five seasons.
The exception was 2012-13, when he averaged 19.2 points, which has thus led multiple teams to make offers to the combo guard.
The only question at this point is who will Ellis agree to play for?
Fans have labeled Ellis as an inconsistent player, but he's posted a career mark of 45.6 percent shooting from the field. In fact, from 2006 to 2011, Ellis averaged 21.2 points on 47.2 percent shooting from the floor.
That's not inconsistent—that's elite.
Clearly, the Atlanta Hawks, the Dallas Mavericks and the Sacramento Kings believe he can be that player for them. While his tenure in Milwaukee was rocky, there was an absence of an offensive system to create quality looks.
Even still, Ellis finished the season with averages of 19.2 points, 6.0 assists and 2.1 steals—it's time he gets his money.
Brandon Jennings, RFA
Position: Point Guard
Experience: 4 Seasons
2012-13 Season Averages
16.30 PER, 17.5 PPG, 6.5 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.6 SPG
At 23, Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings has already emerged as one of the best players at his position. As a restricted free agent, it appears as if Jennings is now looking to be paid in the way that matches his abilities.
Much like Tyreke Evans, Jennings wants a mega deal.
If Milwaukee is unable to come to terms with Jennings, there are other options.
According to Stein, the Bucks and the Hawks have discussed a deal to swap Jennings and Jeff Teague. With Atlanta possessing significant cap space and Milwaukee now under head coach Larry Drew, the trade makes sense.
Teague played under Drew with the Hawks.
As for Jennings, he's developed a more consistent three-ball and appears to be on the door step of an All-Star bid. While his shot selection must improve, playing in a system would certainly help Jennings in that department.
The question is, will it be Drew in Milwaukee or Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta who gives him that chance?
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