NBA Free Agents 2014: Predicting Destinations of Underrated Available Players

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NBA Free Agents 2014: Predicting Destinations of Underrated Available Players
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The Big Three and Carmelo Anthony aren't the only important 2014 NBA free agents.

Many more will make a significant impact on their teams next season, whether they're the franchises these free agents played for in 2013-14 or not.

Here are three underrated free agents in the rumor mill lately and a prediction for where they'll sign this summer.

 

PF/C Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers

Prediction: New York Knicks

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ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported that the Lakers may want to re-sign Pau Gasol. Key word: may. Only if they can't sign LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will they settle for Gasol.

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This is exactly why he'll sign with the Knicks.

ESPN's Marc Stein reported that Knicks president Phil Jackson will make a "determined attempt" to recruit Gasol. If Gasol has any self respect—which I have to assume he at least has a sliver—he's New York-bound.

Gasol is still one of the top big men in the league, yet he's the Lakers' plan B, again. They traded him for Chris Paul in 2011 before not second thoughts, but basketball reasons kept him in Los Angeles after the NBA nixed the deal.

Of the top 40 scorers in the league this season, Gasol had the 11th-highest field-goal percentage. He still has a couple strong years of basketball left, and the familiarity of Jackson and New York head coach Derek Fisher would bring best out of him. There'd be no better way to spurn Los Angeles than to team up with his former associates whom, like himself, Los Angeles has spurned. 

 

SF Trevor Ariza, Washington Wizards

Prediction: Toronto Raptors

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His name is drawing few headlines, but Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy reported that Trevor Ariza will have several pursuers this summer.

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The 28-year-old Ariza averaged 15.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals against the Chicago Bulls in Round 1 of postseason, helping the Wizards win their first playoff series since 2005. He hasn't been on a legitimate contender since he left the Lakers, though. And he's talented enough to start on a contender now, but by the time his next contract rolls around, he likely won't be.

Toronto isn't exactly a contender, but it's a playoff team that needs a way to convince Kyle Lowry to re-signespecially after drafting small forward Bruno Caboclo 20th overall in the NBA draft. Signing Ariza could do it, and Canada.com's Kevin Rashidi reported the Raptors are interested in doing just that.

 

PF Josh McRoberts, Charlotte Hornets

Prediction: Charlotte Hornets

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Josh McRoberts opted out of his contract and the Hornets drafted power forward Noah Vonleh ninth overall, but according to The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell, their interest in keeping McRoberts hasn't wavered.

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And it shouldn't. Charlotte is a playoff team.

Vonleh is promising. Cody Zeller is promising. But neither are yet capable of starting on a playoff team that plans on advancing. 

While Vonleh and Zeller are raw talents, McRoberts had a career year last season. In the playoffs, he averaged 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, and shot 47.1 percent from downtown. Charlotte will take a small step backward if it replaces him with Vonleh or Zeller immediately.

 

David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.

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