NBA Free Agency 2014: Picking Safest Landing Spots for Market's Sleepers

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 18, 2017

Indiana Pacers' Evan Turner (12) in action during the first half in Game 1 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks Saturday, April 19, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The restraints on NBA free agency have been lifted.

With LeBron James going back to Cleveland, per Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, the floodgates can now open with the most important piece of the NBA landscape settled.

Yet there still remain veterans and role players on the market who continue to fly under the radar and will act as critical pieces to complete what is an ever-changing landscape.

Let's examine those names and nail down the perfect landing spot for each.


Anthony Morrow's Best Value

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 16: Anthony Morrow #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots against the Houston Rockets on April 16, 2014 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

Perhaps the definition of "sleeper" personified, Anthony Morrow has been one of the NBA's best deep shooters since entering the league back in 2008.

Now going on 29 years of age, the Georgia Tech product is on the market once more and presumably on the hunt for a major deal as he reaches the tipping point before dipping into a natural decline.

While much of the attention gets thrown on sharpshooters like Ray Allen, Morrow has been elite as well throughout his career:


Some teams understand this, such as the ones listed by's David Aldridge:

Morrow is a role player off the bench, so the right amount of cash, playing time and perhaps a chance at a title have to be in mind. Given the teams listed, that best chance likely resides in either Washington or Los Angeles.

While the Wizards and their upside make sense, it is the Clippers that give Morrow the best combination of the three. His ability to space the floor for the likes of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan would give him ample playing time outside of the second-unit appearances, and the threat of a title is certainly there, health permitting.

Safest landing spot: Los Angeles Clippers


Evan Turner's Plight

INDIANAPOLIS, IND - MAY 20: Evan Turner #12 of the Indiana Pacers warms up before a game against the Miami Heat in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 20, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Quietly on the fence of veteran status, Evan Turner is on the market after the Indiana Pacers elected to not extend the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft a qualifying offer.

There is good reason for that, as Turner spent three-and-a-half seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, seemingly improving each year before going on and doing a full-on face-plant with the Pacers after getting dealt at the deadline.

Once with the Pacers, the former Ohio State star posted just 7.1 points per game and never really broke into the rotation. He floundered as a non-primary scoring option and certainly did not fit the bill as someone who could help Indiana past the now-defunct Big Three.

There is plenty to like about Turner, though. For one, he's still just 25 years of age. Two, his contract demands won't be all that exorbitant, and he'll likely be best suited for a shorter deal in the hopes he can adapt to his new role and then cash in at a later date.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports that this seems to be the plan and that a few teams have an eye on Turner:

But Turner appears to be the top free agent priority. Playing one season for the Wolves could help him re-establish his market value for 2015. Whether the feeling is reciprocal will play out in the coming weeks. The Cavs, among others, are also interested in Turner, so he'll have a few options.

What better way to work on a career transition of the utmost importance (primary scorer to off-ball role) than to join the Minnesota Timberwolves? That sounds harsh, but Turner needs to be somewhere that lets the offense partially run through him as he takes the time to make important alterations.

Plus, should the Timberwolves also find some semblance of success, his reputation would get a boost, too. Once his tour is complete, then Turner can look for a bigger deal in the coming years.

Safest landing spot: Minnesota Timberwolves 


Trevor Ariza Has Options

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

One of the small forwards sitting idly by waiting for James to make his decision, Trevor Ariza is now free to finally land with a team of his choosing.

According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, that team might just be the Dallas Mavericks:

While Dallas is an intriguing option for a player like Ariza, this is about both money and a chance to win a title for the 29-year-old who not only posted averages of 15.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game in Round 1 of the playoffs but had a massive reemergence last season with Washington.

'08-'09 LAL 82 4.3 1.8 0.3 1.7 8.9
'09-'10 HOU 72 5.6 3.8 0.6 1.8 14.9
'10-'11 NO 75 5.4 2.2 0.4 1.6 11.0
'11-'12 NO 41 5.2 3.3 0.6 1.7 10.8
'12-'13 WSH 56 4.8 2.0 0.4 1.3 9.5
'13-'14 WSH 77 6.2 2.5 0.3 1.6 14.4

The Wizards are certainly one name Ariza must consider at this point, especially with such a talented core and names such as John Wall and Bradley Beal in place.

But another interesting locale to consider is the vacancy created by James' departure from Miami. Much of the roster is still in flux, although Chris Bosh is back on board, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, who also notes that the Heat have reached out to Ariza:

That's a no-brainer for Ariza. He can demand more than he would get elsewhere because the Heat are desperate, play in a great locale and can form a tandem with Bosh that would quietly be rather potent.

Safest landing spot: Miami Heat


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