NBA Rumors: Top Suitors for Biggest 2011 Free Agents
The 2011 free-agency class doesn't have the big names like the 2010 class had and what the 2012 class will eventually have, but it doesn't meant that we should just overlook it.
There are still a number of key names being thrown out there in free agency with a few of those players being from the current NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks, among other teams, will be expected to lose some huge names this offseason as the teams with the most cap space and the lower salaries will be attempting to bolster their roster by signing the role players that are available.
None of the players in free agency this year are primary scoring options on any team. For a team to be successful, these five players will have to be either a second option on a team looking to rebuild and a possible third option on a contender. Either way, these players are sure to be valuable to whichever teams they sign with.
Heavily desired and coveted, these top five free agents could all be on the move and could be on a different team by the start of the regular season on December 25th. Whichever team they do end up joining will find themselves extremely lucky to have their services, as they'll contribute in a positive light with whichever team signs them.
These five free agents are listed with their most likely suitor outside of their current team, as they could very well end up there as soon as a week from now.
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A highly coveted free agent on account of his three-point shooting and killer crossover, the Atlanta Hawks sixth man will be weighing his options in the upcoming free-agency period on whether to stay a sixth man for the Hawks or to potentially start on the plethora of teams that are set to offer him a deal.
Crawford will command a lot of attention and money this offseason as he's basically the cream of the crop in terms of being the top scorer and one of the top players. He's always been one of the league's most lethal perimeter shooters as well as one of its best at getting to the rim on account of the lightning-quick handles that he possesses. While Jamal doesn't utilize his ability to drive too much, his shooting touch does support his game and will be the main reason as to why he'll be desired.
He has been the sixth man for the Hawks for the past two seasons and has even walked away with a Sixth Man of the Year award after averaging 18 points and connecting on 38 percent of his three-pointers in his first season with Atlanta. He did regress this past season, however, as he only averaged 14 points per while making 34 percent of his three-point attempts.
It shouldn't take anything away from what Crawford will command though, as he's still one of the league's most lethal shooters and is the only player in NBA history to have a 50-point game with three different teams.
The Suitor: Chicago Bulls
At the hands of the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls were exposed for their lack of a consistent scoring option next to Derrick Rose. With Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer both coming up short in the postseason once again, it became obvious to the Bulls front office that the team would need some help via free agency to put the team over the top.
It'll be in the team's best interest this offseason to pursue Crawford and replace him with their weakest link in the starting lineup, which is Keith Bogans starting at shooting guard. Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy reports that the Bulls have already expressed interest.
He'll be the player to consistently score for the Bulls and he'll also be one of the few representations of a perimeter threat on this team.
Not to mention that he is a Heat killer and one of his 50-point games did come against Miami.
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Spending his first eight years in the league with the team that drafted him in the New Orleans Hornets, David West has been a member of some of the best teams in the franchise's history, which includes the 2008 squad that won the Southwest division and won a franchise-best 56 games while making it to the second round.
West has been partnered up with point guard Chris Paul since 2005 and has seen his best years come while playing with the fellow All-Star. The year that Paul was drafted to become the team's starting point guard would also happen to be the first time that they'd start West at power forward and it would pay off, as he'd take advantage by averaging 17 points and seven boards per in his first shot at a consistent starting job.
The two years before he started? West barely got off the bench and hardly provided any contribution on offense. Starting West was a huge risk for the Hornets and it paid off as he'd eventually become one of the NBA's most consistent scorers from the mid-range as well as in the post.
Averaging as much as 21 points per game twice in his time with New Orleans, West is another valuable piece for a number of teams that are looking for a big man to stretch the floor and improve their offense.
The Suitor: Indiana Pacers
It's no secret that the Indiana Pacers will be looking to throw some money around this offseason. President Larry Bird announced yesterday that he and the rest of the organization will be actively pursuing a number of top free agents, which includes West.
While the Pacers might have been impressed with Tyler Hansbrough's improvement last season, they'll be more impressed if they can get West in a Pacers uniform which would suddenly give Indiana one of the NBA's top frontcourts in himself, Roy Hibbert at center and Danny Granger at small forward.
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The most highly coveted free agent this offseason on account of the fact that he's a center that can actually score as well as play defense and rebound, Denver Nuggets center Nene Hilario may be one of the first big-name free agents to be on the move after recently announcing that he grew unhappy with the way he was treated by the organization.
Nene has grown disgruntled with the club after the team refused to immediately offer him a contract extension. Nene feels as if he had provided enough to the team over his first nine years with the Nuggets to warrant himself an extension, but was only given the offer months later after giving no word to the center on what they were going to do with him as a free agent.
Nene is a bruiser of a center that's listed at 6'11", 260 pounds and has been a huge asset for a Nuggets team that's going to potentially lose him to one of the many suitors that are already clamoring for his services. He proved his worth this past season after taking over leadership duties in the absence of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups by averaging 15 points on a league-high 62 percent from the field to go along with eight rebounds, two assists and a block per.
Nene isn't the best center in the league, but he's easily the best center in free agency and the best player overall. Any team would offer loads of money to a center, especially one that has as impressive an offensive game as Nene.
The Suitor: Houston Rockets
Plain and simple, the Houston Rockets need a capable and domineering figure in the paint to replace Yao Ming following his retirement. With Yao being injured over the past few seasons, the Rockets have greatly struggled in the paint and have been using the 6'6" Chuck Hayes as their starting center, which doesn't exactly spell out success for a team in the most difficult division in basketball.
Nene would solve a lot of problems for Houston, and the team is prepared to offer a lucrative deal to the top free-agent center. The Rockets have already contacted him, according to My FOX Houston.
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He might be 31 years old and coming off of a devastating injury that kept him out from the start of January until the very end of the postseason, but Dallas Mavericks small forward Caron Butler will still command a lot of attention and money from teams looking for a consistent and multidimensional player to run at the 2 or 3.
Butler is one of the most gifted and talented players in free agency this year as he can play the role of scorer, facilitator and defender. As far as scoring goes, Butler can do it from just about everywhere, as he can either find himself scoring near the rim off of his drives that are supported by speed, length, quickness and a great deal of athleticism.
His offense is also supported by his ability to hit from the mid-range and the perimeter as he was converting on 43 percent of his three-point attempts in the 29 games he spent with the Dallas Mavericks last year.
Defense may be Butler's greatest trait, however, as he can defend the 1 through 3 spots at an efficient rate. He's quick enough to keep up with the point guards and shooting guards, but is still tall and strong enough to keep up with the opposing small forwards, which makes Butler a terrific asset for any team looking to acquire a player that can perform well and play three different positions on both sides of the ball.
The Suitor: Los Angeles Clippers
It's strange, isn't it? It was only two years ago that the Los Angeles Clippers were still the punchline of the NBA and was one of the least-desired spots any free agent would want to join. The Clippers' track record was awful as they only had one playoff appearance in the past decade, the front office was a complete joke and the roster was its own nightmare. However, according to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clips and Bulls top Butler's list.
That all changed once Blake Griffin joined the fray. With Griffin on the team, the Clippers would improve at just about every aspect and they are now attracting free agents with Caron Butler eying a spot on the team as a possible option to start at small forward.
A frontcourt that consists of Butler, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan would easily be one of the most feared in the NBA.
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Not receiving as much adoration and attention as his center counterpart in Nene Hilario, there's still plenty of reason to believe that Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler will still receive a number of lucrative offers from teams looking for a defensive-minded center that can pack the paint.
Basically, that translates to about 95 percent of the league, as the majority of the teams in the NBA are severely lacking in terms of possessing a quality center. Finding a center that can actually hold his own in the paint on offense and defense is one of the rarest commodities to find in the game today, which makes a player of Chandler's caliber even more valuable than most would expect.
Chandler's main weapon on offense would easily be his hands. His post work is limited and his jump shot is non-existent, but Chandler's hands allow him to throw down alley-oops, and it's his understanding of the game that allows him to find creases to cut and get open for these alley-oops; this is what made him such a desired target during his time with Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets.
The main reason why Chandler will be considered by many teams is because of his defense. While he's only averaged a block per game for his career, it's his man defense that will make him heavily desired and highly paid this offseason. Chandler's strength, length and terrific lateral quickness are what have made him such a strong defender and it's also going to help land him a lucrative deal.
The Suitor: New York Knicks
It's already been announced that Tyson Chandler doesn't expect to be making a return to the Dallas Mavericks, which means there will be a great number of teams taking a long and serious look at possibly acquiring the famed defender.
Rather than signing Chris Paul and having no money to sign a quality roster, the New York Knicks should start building up their supporting cast by signing the 29-year-old and starting him at center to replace him with Ronny Turiaf.
Adding Chandler not only helps to bolster the lineup, but it gives the Knicks some defense in the frontcourt which is a huge need for the team when considering that Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire are the other frontcourt members.
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