Jennings (left) and Teague (right) are two of the top remaining free agents.
There are still plenty of top-caliber athletes remaining in the free-agency pool. Some are players who could help provide a nice boost to a rebuilding squad. Others just might be the missing piece to a championship contender.
Sure, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Josh Smith may have been the cream of the crop of 2013’s free-agency class. However, the announcement of their respective deals doesn’t signal the end of this summer’s excitement.
In fact, the trio were just the tip of the iceberg regarding what is actually a very talented class.
Former Team: Dallas Mavericks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 minutes, 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 59.7 FG%, 61.5 FT%, 21.03 PER
Free-Agency Buzz: Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks
Brandan Wright has put together back-to-back seasons of elite bench production for the Dallas Mavericks, but concerns about his durability (Wright has played an average of 45 games per year in his career) are probably behind his continued status as a free agent.
For teams interested in high-efficiency scoring, excellent shot-blocking and useful help-side defense, Wright is a fantastic fit. And really, who wouldn't be interested in those things?
The Mavericks are best acquainted with Wright's useful combination of skills, which probably explains why they're the clear leader to sign him this summer, per Tim McMahon of ESPN. They know he's worth having on a roster.
As everyone knows by now, Wright hasn't lived up to his lottery selection in 2007. A lack of strength prevents him from defending tougher big men, and his limited post game isn't good enough to make him more of a heavy-minute player. But as a specialist whose job is to clean up the offensive glass, block a couple of shots and knock down the occasional mid-range jumper, Wright has a lot of value.
Don't expect him to stay on the market much longer.
Robinson proved during the postseason that he is a clutch performer.
Former Team: Chicago Bulls
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 25.4 minutes, 13.1 points, 4.4 assists, 2.2 rebounds, 43.3 FG%, 40.5 3FG%, 17.43 PER
Free-Agency Buzz: Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks
After jumping around five different teams over the last four years, Nate Robinson’s career seemed to be dwindling away. However, in 82 games with the Bulls last season, Robinson put together his best campaign since 2008-09.
He has Derrick Rose’s absence to thank for that.
Without Rose, Chicago relied on Robinson to deliver quality minutes at the backup point guard position. What the team got was far more than that.
In 23 contests as a starter, the 29-year-old averaged 14.8 points and 6.1 assists over 33.4 minutes per game. He also shot 41.7 percent from the field.
But Robinson saved his best for the postseason.
During the Bulls' first-round matchup with the Brooklyn Nets, the eight-year veteran averaged 17 points on 50.5 percent shooting. That includes leading the team to an epic 142-134 triple-overtime victory in Game 4 after netting all but five of his 34 points after the third quarter.
Still, Chicago wasn’t impressed. So much so, that, according to HoopsWorld’s Alex Kennedy, the team only offered Robinson the bare minimum. It was almost like a slap in the face.
After earning $1.2 million last season, Robinson is going to be expecting a lot more than that.
The New York Post’s Marc Berman reported that the New York Knicks met with their former point guard. However, with the recent re-signing of NBA Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith, the Knicks are a highly unlikely suitor.
Regardless of where Robinson winds up, expect the 5’9” guard to continue the revitalization of his career.
Henderson (left) may be ready for a change of scenery.
Former Team: Charlotte Bobcats
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 31.4 minutes, 15.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 44.7 FG%, 16.48 PER
Free-Agency Buzz: Charlotte Bobcats
After a couple pedestrian seasons began his career, Gerald Henderson rebounded with two productive ones.
Over the last two seasons, Henderson averaged 15.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists over 32.5 minutes per game. He also shot 45.2 percent from the field.
But let’s not forget the tear the 25-year-old was on to close out the regular season.
During the Bobcats’ final 26 contests, Henderson averaged 19.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists over 36.2 minutes per game. He also shot 47.1 percent from the floor.
Like good wine, Henderson just seems to get better with age. However, more is coming his way than just talent.
Now that Kevin Martin has agreed to a four-year, $28-million deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to USA Today's Sam Amick, expect Henderson to seek the same. That's especially the expectation, given Martin’s eerily similar stat line—14 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
However, aside from Charlotte extending a qualifying offer of $4.2 million, per the Associated Press, there has been little to no interest for the four-year guard.
Henderson is an efficient shooter and seems to just be entering his prime. The fact that teams aren’t hounding over him is mind-boggling.
Teague is one of the top young point guards in the league.
Former Team: Atlanta Hawks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 32.9 minutes, 14.6 points, 7.2 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 45.1 FG%, 35.9 3FG%, 16.82 PER
Free-Agency Buzz: Milwaukee Bucks
In one season, Jeff Teague went from being a proficient point guard to one of the best in the league. However, the Atlanta Hawks don’t seem to mind whether he leaves or not.
That’s been a source of much frustration for the 25-year-old, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears.
A versatile point guard like Teague is a hot commodity. Not only can he distribute the basketball—Teague’s 579 assists ranked sixth in the league—but he can also score. Teague ranked 12th among point guards in points per game.
The Bucks have entered as strong contenders to land the fourth-year playmaker.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that Milwaukee is readying an offer sheet for Teague. If it’s signed, Atlanta only has three days to match.
With Monta Ellis likely leaving and Brandon Jennings’ future up in the air, Teague would fit in quite nicely with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Jennings considers himself one of the best shooters in the game.
Former Team: Milwaukee Bucks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 36.2 minutes, 17.5 points, 6.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 39.9 FG%, 37.5 3P%, 16.20 PER
Free-Agency Buzz: Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks
Not many guards can shoot under 40 percent in three out of four seasons and expect a pay raise.
Brandon Jennings believes he’s the exception.
According to The Racine Journal Times’ Gery Woelfel, Jennings is demanding $12 million a season. He only earned $2.5 million last year. Woelfel also adds that the Bucks are willing to offer as much as $11 million.
Sure, it sounds crazy. But as worrisome as Jennings’ shot selection is, point guards that average over 17 points and six assists per game aren’t easy to come by. Not to mention the 23-year-old has seemed to rediscover his touch from long range.
Another rumor has Jennings heading to the Hawks.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that Milwaukee and Atlanta have been in discussion over a possible sign-and-trade. The deal would see the two teams swapping Jennings and fellow restricted free-agent Jeff Teague.
It could be possible that all Jennings needs to tap his full potential is a change of scenery.
But is such a risk worth $12 million?
Pekovic (center) would boost any team's frontcourt.
Former Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 31.6 minutes, 16.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 52 FG%, 20.26 PER
Free-Agency Buzz: Minnesota Timberwolves
Nikola Pekovic is arguably one of the best centers in the NBA. If it weren’t for the media coverage that followed Dwight Howard’s decision, the 27-year-old would surely be the big man all the teams were clamoring to sign. In fact, his PER of 20.26 last season was a little bit higher than Howard’s 19.48.
Still, don’t expect Pekovic to get the respect he deserves.
Although he is 27, he has only been in the league for three seasons. He’s made significant improvements each year.
At 6’11” and 290 pounds, Pekovic knows how to utilize his body to get shots inside the paint. He’s a player who can bang down low, but also capitalize off the pick-and-roll. Pekovic is also often busy on the offensive glass, averaging 3.7 boards per game in that area.
Surprisingly, there hasn’t been much interest for the Montenegrin international this summer.
Per Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Pekovic might be “getting closer” to re-signing with the Timberwolves. The deal would reportedly be for four years and $50 million.
Look for Pekovic to continue making strides in his game next season, whether he's in Minnesota or not.
Ellis has no desire to return to Milwaukee.
Former Team: Milwaukee Bucks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 37.5 minutes, 19.2 points, 6.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 41.6 FG%, 16.30 PER
Free-Agency Buzz: Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Charlotte Bobcats, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers
Monta Ellis hasn’t had a shooting year this bad since his rookie season. Yet that hasn’t stopped nearly one-fourth of the league from pursuing the 27-year-old.
According to ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard, Ellis has narrowed that list down to four teams: The Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte Bobcats.
But while several teams have shown an interest in the guard, none have offered Ellis the kind of contract he is seeking.
As a result, the eight-year veteran has parted ways with longtime agent Jeff Fried, via Broussard. Ellis has reportedly grown frustrated over the lack of high-paying contract offers.
After opting out of the final year of his six-year, $66 million contract, it’s safe to assume that Ellis is seeking close to, if not more than, $11 million a year.
While he is largely categorized as a chucker, Ellis has been pretty successful in that role. He has shot 45.6 percent from the field over his career.
Sure, Ellis is not your traditional point guard. But what team is going to turn down a guard with the potential of averaging over 20 points and six assists per game in the right system?
Not too many.
All salary cap information courtesy of HoopsWorld.com