NBA Rumors: Best Landing Spots for Top Players Left on Market

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NBA Rumors: Best Landing Spots for Top Players Left on Market
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 offseason has forever altered the landscape of the NBA, as top stars have changed cities and revered role players have followed suit. With that being said, even as we are more than a week past the moratorium, there are numerous players of note remaining on the market.

The question is, where are the best realistic landing spots for the top players available?

Certain players have set their price tag too high for teams to meet their demands. In turn, they've remained free agents well beyond the point in time in which we expected said players to be signed.

In that same breath, there are the select few who simply do not garner the headlines their ability suggests. Whether age or reputation factors into their availability, there are players that remain available past their sell date.

Here's where they should end up.

 

6. Kenyon Martin, UFA

Position: Power Forward

Age: 35

Experience: 13 Seasons

2012-13 Season Averages

13.94 PER, 23.9 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 0.9 SPG, 60.2% FG

 

During the 2012-13 NBA regular season, the New York Knicks signed Kenyon Martin, saw their defense dramatically improve and went on a 13-game winning streak. During the playoffs, Martin switched over to center to support the injured Tyson Chandler.

Regardless of where he was on the floor, Martin was playing high-level basketball and proving that the explosiveness in his legs is far from gone.

With Martin still one of the strongest and most physical players in the NBA, there's a place for him on any defense. With leaping ability that most 25-year-old players would like to have, the 35-year-old could actually see heavy playing time.

According to Tommy Beer of HoopsWorld.com, Martin recently liked this photo on Instagram:

I think it's clear where Martin wants to end up.

With that being said, Jared Zwerling of ESPN New York reported in early July that the San Antonio Spurs were in "hot pursuit" of Martin's services. Zwerling has since reported that the Knicks are talking with Martin about a potential deal.

New York may be where Martin's heart is, but when it comes to carving out playing time, the Spurs are the best possible fit for K-Mart.

Best Landing Spots: New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs

 

5. Greg Oden, UFA

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Position: Center

Age: 25

Experience: 2 Seasons

2009-10 Season Averages

23.14 PER, 23.9 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 60.5% FG

 

According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Greg Oden's potential suitors include the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs. Oden has either met or scheduled meetings with each of those teams.

Multiple sources are reporting that the Mavericks are amongst the teams making the most serious push for Oden's services:

If that doesn't do it to you, take it from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban:

The question is, would the Mavericks be the best fit?

At this point, the three best options for Oden would be the Heat, Mavericks and Spurs. Each team has their own advantage to offer, thus providing Oden with a better situation than fringe postseason teams such as the Celtics, Pelicans or Kings.

Call it predictable, but with a deeper evaluation of Dallas' current state, it becomes clear that Miami and San Antonio are the most ideal locations.

Miami is in need of a traditional center, and for Oden, there isn't a better situation than joining the two-time defending champions. He'd be buried beneath superstars, thus serving as a player receiving a workload that progresses as his knees prove capable of handling the burden.

In the case of the Spurs, they're an organization with one of the best training staffs in all of basketball. They've helped Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw and company extend their careers into their 30s, dealing with numerous serious injuries to Spurs players in that time.

Who better to teach Oden how to use his body and thus avoid future injury?

In the end, it will likely come down to Dallas, Miami, New Orleans and San Antonio. All are reportedly aggressive in their pursuit and, with Oden likely to receive a one-year deal, there isn't much to lose here.

There's only so much damage that can be done by a short-term contract.

Best Landing Spots: Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs

 

4. Nate Robinson, UFA

Position: Point Guard

Age: 29

Experience: 8 Seasons

2012-13 Season Averages

17.43 PER, 25.4 MPG, 13.1 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 40.5% 3PT

 

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Denver Nuggets are interested in acquiring point guard Nate Robinson. Per Frank Isola of The New York Daily News, the New York Knicks are looking to bring Robinson back to Madison Square Garden.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com reports that the list of potential suitors expands well beyond two contenders:

So where should Robinson end up?

Each and every team interested in Robinson can offer him close to 25 minutes a night with their current situation at point guard. The Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks appear to be the teams most capable of giving Robinson a contract within his desired price range.

At this point, it's a matter of four teams in different situations—the Los Angeles Lakers, Bucks, Knicks and Washington Wizards.

Robinson could potentially join the Bucks and become the starter, as the Brandon Jennings situation remains unsolved. In Los Angeles, he'd be backing up a 39-year-old point guard that missed 32 games due to injury in 2012-13.

Robinson played with the Knicks for four-and-a-half seasons, and with Raymond Felton and 35-year-old Pablo Prigioni serving as New York's point guards, minutes are available. The Wizards, meanwhile, need a sixth man and are primed and ready to make a run at the postseason.

With the process of elimination, it's clear that Robinson's best suitors are teams that can offer him an opportunity to raise his profile on a one-year deal to enter a time when teams aren't saving up for a massive 2014 class of free agents.

Best Landing Spots: Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards

 

3. Gerald Henderson, RFA

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 25

Experience: 4 Seasons

2012-13 Season Averages

16.48 PER, 15.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.0 SPG

 

After the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, Charlotte Bobcats shooting guard Gerald Henderson averaged 18.9 points on 46.2 percent shooting from the field. In turn, the 25-year-old proved that the upside is real and he's finally beginning to tap it.

According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, that has the Bobcats working diligently to bring Henderson back:

Henderson is reportedly seeking between $7.5 and $8.5 million per season.

Henderson has a prototypical NBA body at 6'5" and 215 pounds, possesses explosive leaping ability and has improved in each season he's played. While he may not be elite in any one area, his prime is looming and Henderson has the look of a high-quality role player.

If he's smart, Henderson will stay in Charlotte.

For the first time since—well, maybe ever—the Bobcats appear to have a direction. They've addressed their most glaring voids, a weak interior and horrendous shooting, by signing Al Jefferson, drafting Cody Zeller and hiring Mark Price as an assistant coach.

Henderson could carve out a role on a contender, but if there was ever a time for him to believe in the Bobcats, it would be now.

Best Landing Spots: Charlotte Bobcats

 

2. Brandon Jennings, RFA

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Position: Point Guard

Age: 23

Experience: 4 Seasons

2012-13 Season Averages

16.20 PER, 17.5 PPG, 6.5 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 37.5% 3PT

 

According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, Brandon Jennings doesn't want to return to the Milwaukee Bucks. Per Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal TimesJennings is seeking a four-year deal worth $48 million.

Woelfel later reported that the Detroit Pistons were interested in executing a sign-and-trade for Jennings. Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars responded by telling Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that those rumors are unsubstantiated.

Just like that, Jennings' future is in question.

At this point, Jennings returning to the Bucks seems like the most rational option. The Bucks would have a trio that they can actually build with in Jennings, O.J. Mayo and Larry Sanders, which is a significantly better fitting group than Monta Ellis helped form.

In this scenario, Jennings would be the primary ball-handler, experience some form of continuity and thus progress as a facilitator.

Ellis is wrongly criticized and was horribly misused in Milwaukee—a common theme for most players within the organization—but Mayo's presence changes everything for Jennings' career trajectory.

The most ideal situation would be Detroit, where he could work with established players such as Josh Smith and Greg Monroe. With Dumars clearly wary of paying Jennings max contract money, however, it all comes down to viable options.

Until another team emerges—and there aren't many without a point guard—returning to Milwaukee appears to be the only option for Jennings.

Best Landing Spots: Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks

 

1. Nikola Pekovic, RFA

Position: Center

Age: 27

Experience: 3 Seasons

2012-13 Season Averages

20.26 PER, 16.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 52.0% FG

 

On July 10, 2013, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves were nearing a four-year, $50 million contract extension with restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic. Eight days have passed and Pekovic is still a free agent.

You can read into that as you will, but some are growing restless:

Chase Budinger recently signed a three-year deal worth $16 million with the T-Wolves.

Minnesota created depth at the center position with rookie Gorgui Dieng. Even still, the Timberwolves would be able to offer Pekovic as many minutes and touches as any team in the NBA.

Regardless of who else is willing to pay Pekovic, that's the most important factor of all.

If Pekovic is to be offered a deal in the neighborhood of $50 million over four years, there's no reason for him to turn it down. He could win immediately in other scenarios, but with as much time as we've seen pass this summer, there are few contenders with glaring voids at the 5 and cap space.

That makes a return to Minnesota the only viable option at this stage.

Best Landing Spots: Minnesota Timberwolves

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