NBA Free Agents: Shane Battier and Players Who Will Re-Sign with Their Teams
What a ride that lockout was.
With the NBA season finally underway, we can now look forward to free agency and determine who will stay and who will go.
Some free agents, like JR Smith, have already punched a ticket out of town. Others, like Jamal Crawford, seem to be feeling out the situation and could be waiting for an offer. There are also always the players who want to remain with their current teams, who want to re-sign and make another run at their end goal, whatever it may be: winning record, playoffs, championship, etc.
With the likes of Miami and Boston making a push for the game changing free agents, hometown fans can only hope that their team is either competitive enough or has enough money to lure their prized free agent away from the big markets looking to claim some new real estate.
Here are some players who should be back on their same team this shortened season, resisting the urge of the large markets or staying in the one they are already in.
Tyson Chandler: Dallas Mavericks
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Tyson Chandler will arguably be the most sought after free agent this (short) offseason.
He proved his worth in the NBA Finals, showing that he is more than just someone to catch Jason Kidd's lobs as he dominated on the boards and altered and blocked shots defensively, wreaking havoc in the lane.
He's what so many teams would call the "missing piece." Nearly every team in or close to title contention is a good center away from being considered one of the front runners. Put him on the Miami Heat and automatically you have the clear-cut favorite.
Put him in Boston and he'll replace Kendrick Perkins' toughness while restoring the nitty-gritty team attitude that took them to two NBA Finals in three years.
Give him a spot in Atlanta and you'll have one of the most balanced teams in the NBA and Al Horford will finally be able to play power forward. Chandler would also be in the same front court as Josh Smith, creating one of the most feared defensive one-two punches in the league.
A player of his skill set is a missing piece. He proved to be the Mavericks missing piece after acquiring him in a trade from the Charlotte Bobcats.
Teams want to win championships, and the ones that have already built established rosters will be vying the hardest for Chandler's services in the shortened season.
No matter how much they offer, though, and no matter how much Miami beckons, he just won a championship with a team that's willing to shell out some cash to keep him. His importance can't be overstated as evidenced by his NBA Finals performance. The Mavericks aren't going to just let him waltz out of Dallas with a ticket punched to another championship. They'll want to keep him in Texas where they can make another run at the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Damien Wilkins: Atlanta Hawks
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An underrated, physical defender who has athleticism somewhat reminiscent of his uncle's, Dominique Wilkins, is essentially all but locked up to return to the Atlanta Hawks.
The likelihood of him getting a significant offer elsewhere is slim, and his services are needed and welcomed in Atlanta. His efficient defense and occasional offensive spark were enough to make Atlanta want to retain him for the rest of last season, and his further contributions, albeit small contributions, in the playoffs proved just why some Hawks fans have fallen in love with the last man in the actual rotation.
The chances of Wilkins leaving the town where his uncle is a legend and where he has carved out his own niche is minimal. You might as well pencil him in the roster for next season.
James Jones: Miami Heat
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I can't promise you the Miami Heat still want James Jones. I can promise you, however, that James Jones still wants the Miami Heat.
He'll be willing to take whatever contract he's given as he and the rest of the team continue their seemingly elusive quest for a championship.
The playing time he received on Miami last season won't be matched by any other team, and not many players get the chance to be part of history in the making as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh look to cement their legacies as one of the game's best trios.
Jones' playing time will likely decrease this coming season with a fully healthy Mike Miller and probable add-ons, but he's a bench player no matter where he goes.
It's better to be a bench player with a ring than a bench player without one.
Shane Battier: Memphis Grizzlies
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Shane Battier, much like Tyson Chandler, can be seen as the missing piece for several teams.
He's a defensive mastermind, a forward who can knock down the open three, a true Dukie who will take a charge at all times. His hustle play is the kind of basketball that puts teams over the top, that gives them the extra edge they need to compete for championships.
He'll be attacked with offers by the likes of Miami and Oklahoma City, teams that are just one player of Battier's caliber away from a championship.
Despite the influx of attention he'll be receiving, you can bank on him staying with Memphis. It was his first NBA team and he was thrilled to be back last season. Him and Tony Allen together make for one of the best defensive combos in the league and his chemistry with the team was palpable and present in the playoffs. They were a triple overtime win away from getting a crack at the eventual champion Mavericks, and Battier jumping ship to the team that knocked them out of the playoffs just seems wrong.
Battier has a solidified role in Memphis and he plays that role well. This team surprisingly has a chance for a championship down the line, so Battier will be on a competitive team in a city he seems to love. Why leave that?
Aaron Gray: New Orleans Hornets
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When Aaron Gray is one of your team's top contributors, your team has a problem.
Clearly, the New Orleans Hornets have a problem. With David West likely out the door, Aaron Gray will be receiving an influx in minutes (the fact that Gray would be getting more minutes than he is now should be incredibly discouraging for New Orleans) as they do all they can to retain Chris Paul and keep him in New Orleans.
Chances are there will be nothing they can do, but Gray knows that if he comes back, he'll probably be the No. 2 option, and with Chris Paul setting him up for at least another half of a season, whats not to love?
More playing time, being set up by the best point guard in the league and being a fringe playoff team on that point guard's own accord certainly creates for some exciting times as a player. The fans may be frustrated, but Gray will look at West's likely departure as just more opportunity.
Caron Butler: Dallas Mavericks
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Caron Butler is an NBA Champion, regardless of if he played in the Miami series or not.
He'll always carry that title, but he most definitely felt left out of the great run by the Mavericks as he sat on the bench with his dilapidated knee and broken opportunity.
He never made his mark in the playoffs, and he'll look to prove to his teammates that he is worthy of the title of a champion. This team gave him a trophy while he helplessly watched from the bench. He owes it to Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion to stay and show them that he is worthy of what was handed to him.
There is nothing more he could have done for his team down the stretch than his encouraging moral support and display of great sportsmanship, evidence of him being a great teammate. He did all he could, but for his situation, that shouldn't be enough. There will always be an asterisk next to his name as a champion unless he does something to shed that label.