NBA Free Agency: David West and 8 Most Sought-After Free Agents
The NBA may not see a 2011-12 season, but that doesn't mean several NBA free agents aren't already assessing their futures as it relates to which team they may play for next.
Similarly, despite the lockout, NBA general managers are still keeping one eye on the team budget and another on potential players who may help their team's cause.
Once the league arrives at an agreement between the owners and the players union, nine players, in particular, are going to receive several phone calls wowing and wooing them over to a particular team.
The top prize to be won is, arguably, David West, who continues to be one of the NBA's premiere power forwards.
Eight other players rank just beneath West, but they, too, are likely to be heavily sought-after for different reasons.
Also, it's worth noting that two Dallas Mavericks players—Caron Butler and Tyson Chandler—are excluded from this list given Mark Cuban's deep pockets and track record for re-signing his troops. Not to mention, the situation in Dallas is as peachy as it can be after the team's glorious championship victory over the Miami Heat this past summer.
That being said, let's begin.
The New Orleans power forward is still relatively young (31 years old) and is one of the most consistent players in the league.
Averaging nearly 19 points and eight rebounds this past season, West is renowned for being an excellent jump shooter, rebounder and a back-to-the-basket player.
His defense is underrated as well, making him one of the more complete competitors at his position.
Teams that will make a push for his services will be ones that lack frontcourt size or are on the lookout for a power forward to complement their center.
For instance, the The Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers—who will likely have money to spend—will be inclined to lure the two-time All-Star in order to shore up their front line.
The Orlando Magic experienced embarrassment at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
Jason Richardson, along with the rest of his team, struggled to shoot well from the floor, averaging over five points less than his regular season average.
Still, the former slam dunk champion will have several NBA teams, who need a three-point specialist, coming after him.
For instance, with J.R. Smith now playing overseas in China, the Denver Nuggets might feel the need to replace their former sharpshooter with another one.
Glen Davis' stats may not impress (12 points and five rebounds per game), but he is the epitome of a hustler on the court.
Additionally, it helps his cause that he also happens to play one of the most physical positions in the NBA—the power forward spot.
The beneficent bull is adept at utilizing his size—with his back to the defender—to get to the hoop.
Moreover, there have been several times when the 25-year-old—who is already playoff savvy—successfully scrounged for the ball in traffic in clutch situations.
Not just an "energy guy," a newfound jump shot from 15 feet out has altered the perception of Davis as merely a one-dimensional player.
Certainly, any NBA team with spare change would love to have him; in fact, don't be surprised if No. 11 receives offers for as much as $8 million per year.
Shane Battier is the consummate professional in the NBA and, quite frankly, a dying breed.
He is not only a jack of all trades on the hardwood, he is a quasi coach for his teammates, listening intently and doling out appropriate advice.
It was the Duke alum's leadership that propelled the Memphis Grizzlies beyond the first round and almost into the Western Conference Finals after a seventh semifinal game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
His production on the court, from an offensive standpoint, is limited, but it is his defensive acumen that has earned him the reputation for being one of the league's hardest working players.
Battier likely won't command more than the mid-level exception, but he'll have a multitude of choices to pick from.
Howard was at one time the NBA's most underrated small forward during his tenure with the Dallas Mavericks.
Upon being traded to the Washington Wizards for Caron Butler, however, injuries—of the dreaded knee variety—began to pile up, unceremoniously cutting his 2010-11 NBA season short.
Washington is not an ideal situation for Howard, who has regressed as a player since being shipped to the nation's capital.
Because his injuries aren't particularly devastating, Howard should bounce back on a team like the New York Knicks or the Houston Rockets, who can use his skills as a slasher, shooter and opportunistic rebounder.
Additionally, a sign-and-trade for the player formerly known as Ron Artest may not be out of the question, either.
Having last played for the Sacramento Kings, Samuel Dalembert is the definition of a player who is overly coveted by NBA teams for one reason only—he plays the center position.
The Philadelphia 76ers were so enamored with his size that they signed him six years ago to a $58 million contract, amounting to over $9 million per year.
The 6'11" center probably won't be able to ask for and receive a similarly bloated contract, but he will be incessantly pursued because centers are—and always will be—in high demand by NBA teams.
If the Clippers decide to trade Chris Kaman, who has been in trade discussions for the last year, a Dalembert acquisition for a reasonable price would behoove them.
T.J. Ford, who averaged 15 points and five assists two seasons ago, has had a very unsettling time with the Indiana Pacers.
The speedy point guard participated in only half the games this past season, performing at the worst level of his pro career.
Notwithstanding his injury-plagued tenure and differences with Indiana coach Jim O'Brien, T.J. Ford will be sought after because of his above-average decision making and uncanny speed on the court.
Although he can be reckless at times, teams will not hesitate to sign someone who has the ability to break down defenders off the dribble, get to the rim and dish out to teammates.
With the NBA's perimeter rules being what they are—which favors the game's guards—Ford will be desired for what he has to offer.
As for what lies in his future, a return to the Bucks or a New York City debut may be on the horizon for the 6' player.
Although he can pass, it isn't Jamal Crawford's primary strength, which happens to be his ability to score in bunches.
The Hawks were happy to have the ice-blooded shooter on their squad in the 2010-11 playoffs when they upset the Orlando Magic.
Crawford, however, dropped from the playing level he established when those same shots fell short or woefully long against the Chicago Bulls in the semifinals.
Nonetheless, it's Crawford's willingness to take those shots—which many stars shy away from—that would ingratiate him to GMs who need an intrepid guard on their team.
With a market value above the mid-level exception, Crawford may be looking at a homecoming to the Knicks or a contract with the Warriors, especially if they trade the disgruntled Monta Ellis.
Like Shane Battier, the Duke alumnus Grant Hill represents a bygone era of the NBA where the players were gentlemen on the court.
Since seeing a career resurgence in Phoenix after four years of ankle-ridden turmoil, Hill has regained his confidence.
Granted, the veteran will never fulfill the potential of being one of the NBA's all-time greats like many pundits prognosticated when he was initially drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1994.
Yet, as one who consistently puts up around 13 points per game on an efficient 48 percent from the field, while being a fundamental on-ball defender, Hill has a few good years left in the tank.
The most important thing he can offer, though, is not heady play, but leadership and guidance.
If the Suns don't retain Hill, expect the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat to short-circuit his cell phone when the time comes.