NBA Free Agency 2014: Best Destinations for Top Players Remaining

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NBA Free Agency 2014: Best Destinations for Top Players Remaining
Gus Ruelas/Associated Press

The 2014 NBA free-agency period is no longer the round-the-clock spectacle it was when LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were busy making their highly anticipated decisions.

The news has settled into a bit of a lull, but there is still plenty of talent to be had out on the open market. The last man on the squad could still make a big impact come playoff time, whether it's veteran leadership or filling in after an unforeseen injury.

For those teams without championship aspirations, the last man in could end up boosting the team's record with a strong performance.

Let's take a look at some of the top unrestricted free agents on the market and which teams could get the most out of them.

 

Shawn Marion

Eric Gay/Associated Press

Shawn Marion is still waiting to ink a new contract with a team, and CBS Sports' Matt Moore gave his opinion on which teams he thinks should be looking at the veteran forward:

The Clippers, Lakers, Thunder, Hawks, Suns, Pistons, Rockets and Heat should all take a look at Marion. He's a quality defender who brings a veteran attitude and professionalism, can still score, and is a quality rebounder. He's still a plus player at his age and the market drop on him should allow teams to get him at a discount.

The 36-year-old averaged 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season and still puts in quality shifts on the defensive end night in and night out.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dwain Price laid out his thoughts on Marion's options this offseason:

It's been awhile since Marion has come off the bench regularly, but that may be his only option now that most teams have their rosters settled. Marion could fit in well with the Los Angeles Lakers and might have an outside shot at a starting role there.

Kobe Bryant is the kind of insatiable personality that can keep Marion motivated throughout an NBA season. Marion also gives the Lakers great roster flexibility, as he can rotate with—and mentor—Xavier Henry and Wesley Johnson and allow Nick Young to focus on playing shooting guard.

Best Destination: Los Angeles Lakers

 

Andray Blatche

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Things are fairly quiet surrounding Andray Blatche at this late stage in the free-agency period. After opting out of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets, the 27-year-old power forward is still looking for a new place to call home.

He should find a taker eventually, as he averaged 11.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in just 22.2 minutes per contest last season. Blatche is very athletic for a player filling out a 6'11" frame and should be entering his peak years in the NBA.

Basketball Insiders' Moke Hamilton credited Blatche as one of the players responsible for the Nets' remarkable turnaround last season:

According to ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, the Toronto Raptors were willing to meet with Blatche in early July, but they have yet to make a move on this front.

The Miami Heat could use a player like Blatche at a low cost. Udonis Haslem is 34 years old and doesn't provide much in the way of offense these days (3.8 points per game last season). Blatche could serve as an effective backup to Chris Bosh while picking up slack at center with his size and versatility.

Best Destination: Miami Heat

 

Jameer Nelson

John Raoux/Associated Press

With Eric Bledsoe a restricted free agent, teams still in search of help at the point are running out of options. Jameer Nelson is the top unrestricted floor general available and could be an excellent value addition at this point in the summer.

He's 32 years old but has remained highly productive in his minutes on the court. Nelson averaged 13.5 points and 7.9 assists per 36 minutes last season, per Basketball-Reference.com.

Nelson was no longer viable for the retooling Orlando Magic, who will be putting their faith in the development of Elfrid Payton for next season.

The Dallas Mavericks are in need of a point guard after trading Jose Calderon to the New York Knicks, but it's unlikely they would be able to flourish with the aging Nelson and the mercurial Raymond Felton switching off.

The Clippers would be an excellent destination for Nelson. Darren Collison left for the Sacramento Kings, leaving a void behind Chris Paul for a pass-first point guard.

With Paul and Jordan Farmar getting the lion's share of playing time, Nelson could contribute sparingly and step up as a team leader should Paul—who's missed 54 games since joining the Clippers in 2011—go out with another injury. It also gives Nelson perhaps his best shot at going out on top with a major title contender.

Best Destination: Los Angeles Clippers 

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