2014 NBA Free Agents: Predicted Landing Spots for Under-the-Radar Players

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2014 NBA Free Agents: Predicted Landing Spots for Under-the-Radar Players
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

The 2014 NBA free-agent class is full of big names like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Dirk Nowitzki.

However, how many of those guys are going to actually change teams? Potentially none.

So instead of discussing the likelihood of Anthony leaving New York or Bosh leaving Miami, let's take a look at some less prominent free agents who are much more likely to be on the move this offseason.

 

Danny Granger

Noah Graham/Getty Images

Is it merely a coincidence that the Indiana Pacers' struggles this season began around the same time that they traded away Danny Granger? 

I don't think so.

Granger is a savvy veteran who clearly had a positive effect on that locker room. 

Those two things alone would be enough to make teams bite this offseason, but it will be his shooting ability that will draw the most interest—especially from teams interested in using him as a stretch 4. 

One of those teams could be the Brooklyn Nets. 

With the likely retirement of Kevin Garnett and the return of Paul Pierce anything but guaranteed, Brooklyn could have a vacancy at the 3 and 4 positions.

After having so much success playing a small-ball lineup this year, with Pierce at the power forward spot, Jason Kidd might push for a guy such as Granger to fill that void if "The Truth" leaves.

Brook Lopez's return could spell the end of the Nets' small-ball tendencies, but even if they play a more conventional lineup, Granger could still easily be their starting small forward or power forward. 

It's pretty crazy how quickly Granger went from borderline All-Star to a forgotten man. Injuries have limited him to just 46 games over the past two seasons, where he's averaged 7.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 20.0 minutes per game, per Basketball-Reference.com.

However, take a look at his statistical averages during his five previous seasons:

Danny Granger: 2007-2012
PPG RPG APG FG % 3-PT FG % MPG
21.6 5.4 2.4 43.2 38.8 35.4

Basketball-Reference.com

That wasn't that long ago.

And while Granger will never be the volume scorer he once was due to the fact that his days as a No. 1 scoring option are over, shooting nearly 40 percent from three-point range over a five-year time span proves he's capable of being a consistent perimeter option. 

Mikhail Prokhorov will do whatever it takes to continue to retool and improve his Brooklyn Nets squad, and signing Granger could very well be the best move he makes this offseason.

For Granger, he won't get a ton of money or stability from Brooklyn—the Nets can only offer him the taxpayer mid-level exception—but at this point in his career, a one-year deal with this Nets squad might actually be perfect for him.

If he goes to Brooklyn and proves he can be a solid contributor on a playoff team, he'll put himself in great position to cash in during the 2015 offseason.

Predicted Landing Spot: Brooklyn Nets

 

Patty Mills

Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Aside from becoming somewhat famous for his towel-waving antics during last year's playoffs, Patty Mills has managed to remain relatively unknown in the basketball world. 

That's a shame because this guy can really play.

In addition to being a career 40.6 percent three-point shooter while also possessing a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0—which is very good for a backup who is more of a scorer than a distributor—check out Mills' per-36-minutes stats from this season:

Patty Mills Per 36 Minutes Statistics from 2013-2014 Season
PPG RPG APG TPG 3-PT FG % FT %
19.5 4.9 3.5 1.5 42.5 89.0

Basketball-Reference.com

Those are fantastic numbers.

While per-36-minutes statistics are a bit misleading because we are assuming players would maintain their level of play for longer periods of time, Mills' stats paint a pretty clear picture of the kind of player he is and the kind of player he could become when given greater opportunity.

As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, the San Antonio Spurs reserve could cash in and potentially even land a starting gig on a team in desperate need of a point guard (Milwaukee or Orlando).

However, I think he's going to stay in San Antonio for two reasons. 

First off, Mills surely saw what happened with Gary Neal this past season in Milwaukee.

There were many factors that contributed to his essentially begging to be traded—mainly the fact that the Bucks were god-awful— but what it really boiled down to was this: Spurs players are jaded.

Once you play for Gregg Popovich and the Spurs organization, most other places are going to let you down. 

Mills understands this and, therefore, will potentially take less money to stay in San Antonio.

The second reason is the opportunity he has with the Spurs. Tony Parker is the starter and will be until the day he retires, but Mills is clearly next in line. He's being groomed.

Imagine being Parker's successor. That's a ton of pressure, yes, but it's also incredibly exciting, and it's a role that Mills probably envisions himself playing.

Signs point to Mills staying put, but then again, if you were a GM and those per-36-minutes stats were shown to you, how much would you offer him?

Money does talk.

Predicted Landing Spot: San Antonio Spurs

 

Avery Bradley

Kamil Krzaczynski

The Boston Celtics can offer Avery Bradley a qualifying offer of $3.6 million, but coming off his best season as a pro, other teams will be offering the young shooting guard much more than that. 

Will the Celtics be willing to match, say, a three-year $18 million deal?

My gut tells me no, and there are a few reasons why. 

First of all, Boston is looking to make a big splash this offseason. Whether it's bringing in a guy such as Greg Monroe or trading some of their future first-round picks for a scorer, Danny Ainge wants to make a move to jumpstart the rebuilding process in Beantown. 

Not only would matching an offer in the $6 million per-year range for Bradley impede on these potential opportunities, but do they really even need him?

Don't get me wrong, Bradley is a fantastic one-on-one defender, and he really developed his shot this year, but he simply cannot run an NBA offense.

Even when Rajon Rondo was out and Bradley got the opportunity to run the point, his assists-per-game average this season was 1.2.

Should the Celtics Re-Sign Bradley?

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For a Celtics team that lacks both a true backup point guard and a consistent scorer from the 2-guard spot, giving Bradley more than $4 million a year would be a mistake. He fills neither of those roles.

So where does this ball-hawking defender who possesses plenty of potential and solid ball-handling ability end up? 

Naturally, the team with the lowest defensive-efficiency rating in the NBA last season will be interested.

This team also happens to have a huge amount of cap space, a lack of depth at the guard positions and a young core that Bradley could fit right in with. 

This team is the Utah Jazz.

Imagine this potential depth chart next season:

Imagining the Utah Jazz's 2014 Potential Depth Chart
PG SG SF PF C
Trey Burke Avery Bradley Gordon Heyward Julius Randle* Derrick Favors
Diante Garrett Alec Burks Marvin Williams Jeremy Evans Enes Kanter
Jerami Grant* Rudy Gobert

NBA.com

That doesn't even include the additional free agents Utah will be able to bring in with their excess cap space.

Maybe they go after a veteran like Kirk Hinrich to serve as Trey Burke's backup. 

Regardless of what other moves the Jazz front office decides to make, bringing Bradley in simply makes too much sense to ignore. He fills a need, they have the money to do it and at just 24 years old, Bradley could be the last piece to the puzzle for a Jazz team ripe with young talent.

Predicted Landing Spot: Utah Jazz

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