Free agency is raging on, the stars are all but off the market and role players have begun taking center stage. With the value of the three-ball at an all-time high, the undying need for depth at the point guard position and an emphasis on defense, perimeter players are becoming all the more critical to team success.
The question is, what's the latest buzz surrounding the top perimeter players remaining on the open market?
Certain players have experienced postseason success, thus elevating their profile to new measures. Others are young, promising players with the upside to warrant a lofty contract, but not necessarily matching their asking price.
Here's what's happening with the top perimeter players remaining and whether or not they'll get their money.
According to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford has labeled re-signing Gerald Henderson as a top priority. What's holding Charlotte back from re-signing their restricted free agent is the fact that he's asking for $8 million per season?
That's the same money that O.J. Mayo is receiving.
Henderson, 25, is coming off of a season in which he posted season averages of 15.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steals in 31.4 minutes of action. After the All-Star Break, he upped those numbers to 18.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.0 steal in 35.9 minutes.
You can see why he wants star money.
Jeffery Taylor emerged as one of the stars of the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League, which could put a hitch in Charlotte's plans to re-sign Henderson. Taylor is a younger, more athletic version of Henderson, serving as a very strong defender with a better shooting stroke.
With Charlotte signing Al Jefferson, bringing back an established player could still be a focus—per Clifford, it is.
According to Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times, point guard Brandon Jennings is looking for a contract in the neighborhood of $12 million per season. Per Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.com, the Milwaukee Bucks remain interested in re-signing Jennings, just not for such a lofty price.
That's exactly why they're exploring other options.
Now that O.J. Mayo is getting $8M a year from Bucks, I'm told Bobcats SG Gerald Henderson thinks he should, too.— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) July 17, 2013
Who would've thought that one of the NBA's fastest rising stars would last this long on the open market?
Should Brandon Jennings re-sign with the Milwaukee Bucks?
Jennings is in a bind, as there truly aren't many teams with the cap space to accommodate a $12 million per season salary. In that same breath, the Bucks would have roughly $17 million in cap space if they were to let Jennings walk.
They simply don't have many alternative options at this point—neither does Jennings.
The most rational step for both sides to take is to see Jennings accept the qualifying offer for a one-year deal. He can play his way into a higher salary in that time and thus become a free agent in 2014, when the availability of stars is greatly overstated.
It's less than ideal, but it appears to be the only move left to make.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the San Antonio Spurs will withdraw their qualifying offer to guard Gary Neal. In turn, Neal will become an unrestricted free agent and thus be free to sign with whichever team he pleases.
Don't expect his decision process to be too easy, as there's no shortage of interest from around the league.
All signals suggest that Gary Neal, after strong play in NBA Finals, sure to be snapped up quickly once he becomes unrestricted free agent— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 23, 2013
So who might be interested?
Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times reports that the Bucks have expressed interest in Neal since free agency began. This comes in the midst of their high-profile dispute with Jennings, which doesn't discredit their need for a backup.
A four-man rotation of Jennings, O.J. Mayo, Neal and Luke Ridnour would certainly be potent.
The two teams most commonly involved in speculation as potential destinations are the New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder. Both are in need of a backup scoring guard, and with Neal's positional versatility, he could fit in seamlessly.
At this point, only one thing is clear—Neal can sign where he chooses with no restriction.