NBA Free Agents 2011: One Guard Every Team Should Consider Signing
Jamal Crawford, Jason Richardson, J.J. Barea and J.R. Smith are some of the bigger name guards available in free agency this year.
As soon as the lockout ends (fingers crossed that happens soon), those players and several other guards will start receiving calls from teams in need of some perimeter help.
Obviously, the new CBA will make things harder on teams that are already over the salary cap. But we've been told that the changes may not go into effect until 2014. If that's the case, teams will still be able to take advantage of current cap loopholes like "Bird" rights and mid-level exceptions.
Here are guards who each and every team should go after in free agency this summer...
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Atlanta Hawks: Marcus Thornton
Jamal Crawford was a solid combo guard who provided a serious offensive spark off the bench for the Hawks the last couple years.
Marcus Thornton is essentially a younger version of that (assuming he can improve his passing skills a little bit).
Boston Celtics: Shane Battier
The Celtics look like they're going to make one last run at another title with the old guard. As a veteran in search of a title, Battier would fit in right away with a mature team like the Celtics.
He can play both wing positions, so he could relieve Ray Allen or Paul Pierce off the bench (if they keep Jeff Green, they'd have two very versatile bench players).
He'd also fit in perfectly into the defense-first mentality of this team.
Charlotte Bobcats: Wilson Chandler
The Bobcats have a few undersized guards. Point guards D.J. Augustin and Kemba Walker are listed at 6'0" and 6'1", and shooting guard Gerald Henderson is 6'4".
At 6'8", Wilson Chandler has great size for a shooting guard (which means he can obviously play some small forward as well). He could help make up some of the scoring the team lost by trading Stephen Jackson.
Chicago Bulls: Chris Douglas-Roberts
The Bulls' need for a shooting guard may have been the biggest positional need in the NBA last season. Derrick Rose could have used a guard alongside him with the ability to create a little offense for himself and take on some of the pressure he was under.
Chris Douglas-Roberts is an under-the-radar option here. He won't command as high a price tag as Jason Richardson or J.R. Smith and he has the potential to be a great fit for Chicago.
He and Rose played together in Memphis for one season. Douglas-Roberts led the team in scoring that year at 18.1 points per game. In three NBA seasons, he's averaged nearly 14 points per 36 minutes.
Chicago Bulls: Me
I could take some pressure off Rose as well. Hey John Paxson, if you want a 6'7" guy who can play both wing positions and knock down the three, I'm officially making myself eligible for NBA free agency this year (anyone know how you do that?).
Cleveland Cavaliers: Jason Richardson
A lot of people think Richardson would be a good fit for the Bulls. If he doesn't end up there, Cleveland should make a run at him.
Their weakest positions last season were shooting guard and small forward. Richardson can play both.
Dallas Mavericks: Shane Battier
If the Mavericks are able to re-sign Caron Butler, they really won't need to look for another guard (Butler, Rodrigue Beaubois and Jason Terry would be plenty off the bench).
If not, Shane Battier would be a great fit for the Mavericks. They're a defensive-minded, veteran team that Battier would gel with right away.
Denver Nuggets: Reggie Williams
The Nuggets could potentially lose three starting-caliber wings via free agency this offseason (Wilson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Arron Afflalo).
I think they'll be able to re-sign at least one of those guys, but they'll still need to make up for some lost scoring and versatility (they all spent time at both wing positions).
Reggie Williams is another player who can play both shooting guard and small forward and is a very underrated scorer.
As an undrafted rookie, he averaged over 15 points a game for the Warriors. For his career, he's averaged over 16 points per 36 minutes while shooting 48 percent from the field and 41 percent from three-point range.
Detroit Pistons: Kelenna Azubuike
Even if the Pistons can trade Richard Hamilton, they'll still have a few bad contracts on the books. They could use a guard who can be signed to a small contract but still has the potential to be productive.
Azubuike averaged over 14 points a game in his last two seasons with the Warriors, but missed all of last year with the Knicks due to injuries (which is why he could be signed to a cheap deal).
As a career 41 percent three-point shooter, he could still provide some perimeter scoring for Detroit.
Golden State Warriors: DeShawn Stevenson
If the Warriors trade Monta Ellis, they might have a need for a little depth in the backcourt.
DeShawn Stevenson is fairly underrated in terms of versatility (he can legitimately play a little point guard and small forward) and would help new coach Mark Jackson instill a new defense-first mentality.
Houston Rockets: Shane Battier
In all honesty, the Rockets really have no need for a guard. They have Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, Courtney Lee and Chase Budinger.
If they really want another guard, they could try to bring Battier back. He fits with Houston very well.
Indiana Pacers: Vince Carter
The Pacers wanted to acquire a shooting guard who could bring some offense when they tried to trade Josh McRoberts for O.J. Mayo last year (both teams agreed to the deal but paperwork was submitted to the league office minutes after the deadline).
Vince Carter is a bit risky for any teams going after him, but I still think he has a little gas left in the tank. His numbers were down these last two years in Orlando and Phoenix, but that had more to do with his situation than his age. He still averaged 18 points per 36 minutes while playing with lots of other offensive options.
Los Angeles Clippers: Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford could provide the Clippers with essentially the same thing he gave the Hawks: a big offensive lift off the bench.
He has the ability to play both guard positions so he could relieve Mo Williams and Eric Gordon.
Los Angeles Lakers: Jamal Crawford
If the Lakers lose Shannon Brown, they may be in need for another combo guard who can give them a boost off the bench.
Crawford may be willing to sign for a bit less with a title contender.
Memphis Grizzlies: Jason Richardson
In my opinion, the Grizzlies are pretty set. With Rudy Gay healthy, they have a strong starting five of Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. They also have a deep bench with Grievis Vasquez, O.J. Mayo, Sam Young and Darrell Arthur.
Some feel they could still upgrade at shooting guard, and Richardson could be an interesting fit with this group.
Miami Heat: Aaron Brooks
The Miami Heat desperately needed some stability at point guard and center last year. They drafted Norris Cole in June, but I don't think he's any more of an answer than Mario Chalmers (why, oh why was he not the starter last season?).
If Aaron Brooks is willing to sign for a mid-level-exception-type contract, he would be a very interesting fit for the Heat. His ability to space the floor with outside shooting would create some lanes for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Milwaukee Bucks: Nick Young
If the Bucks start Stephen Jackson at small forward, they could have a need at shooting guard. Personally, I think a starting backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Shaun Livingston would be very intriguing, but there's next to no way that will happen.
They'll probably look to fill that need elsewhere, and free agency may be the answer. Nick Young had a breakout year with the Wizards. For the first time in his career, he averaged over 23 minutes a game and he scored over 17 points a game.
Just think how exciting the Bucks would be at positions one through three with Jennings, Nick Young and Jackson.
Minnesota Timberwolves: J.R. Smith
Despite his supposed attitude problems, J.R. Smith could be a hot commodity this offseason and the Timberwolves are another team in need of an upgrade at shooting guard.
I could see him averaging around 20 points a game as a full-time starter, but it's hard to imagine the wing combo of Smith and Michael Beasley not having some mental issues.
David Kahn has done crazier things.
New Jersey Nets: Wilson Chandler
The Nets have a great foundation in place for their backcourt. They have Deron Williams and Jordan Farmar at point guard and Anthony Morrow and Marshon Brooks at shooting guard.
Chandler would be an upgrade on the wing in terms of size and versatility (in addition to playing shooting guard, he could help fill the hole at small forward).
New Orleans Hornets: T.J. Ford
There's a chance the New Orleans Hornets may deal Chris Paul before next season's trade deadline. If that happens, they could use some depth at point guard.
T.J. Ford has averaged 15 points and 7.5 assists per 36 minutes for his career and could be a good fit stylistically for the Hornets.
New York Knicks: Sebastian Telfair
I'm one of those guys who's still holding out hope that Sebastian Telfair will one day live up to the hype that surrounded him coming out of high school (or at least partially live up to the hype).
We've seen Mike D'Antoni's system boost the numbers of a few point guards, and it could do the same for Telfair. Having Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire to pass to would certainly make things easier for him.
Plus, he'd possibly be an instant fan favorite as a Brooklyn product.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Tracy McGrady
The Thunder don't need to sign a guard, but Tracy McGrady would be an interesting addition as a veteran who can play both wings.
Orlando Magic: Arron Afflalo
If the Magic lose Jason Richardson via free agency, Arron Afflalo could be a perfect replacement.
Stan Van Gundy would appreciate his stellar perimeter defense and his elite outside shooting would help him fit in perfectly in Orlando's system offensively (he's hit 43 percent of his three-point attempts as a member of the Nuggets).
Philadelphia 76ers: Shannon Brown
This is starting to sound a bit repetitive, but this team really doesn't need to sign a guard. Their backcourt is already fairly crowded with Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks, Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala (I understand the last two may be forwards in some minds, but point forwards are still guards to me).
That said, Shannon Brown could be an upgrade for the team at shooting guard.
Phoenix Suns: J.J. Barea
If the Phoenix Suns trade Steve Nash, but keep the Mike D'Antoni style that Alvin Gentry has kept in place, J.J. Barea could be a very exciting option for this team.
He has the speed and quickness to lead effective fast breaks and pick-and-rolls and, if he improves his outside shooting, he could be extremely productive in this role.
Portland Trail Blazers: Ronnie Price
The Blazers have a ton of wings (Wesley Matthews, Brandon Roy, Nicolas Batum and Gerald Wallace) but, if they lose Patty Mills, they may need a backup point guard.
Ronnie Price has been a solid role player behind Deron Williams in Utah for the last three years.
Sacramento Kings: Shane Battier
With Jimmer Fredette, Tyreke Evans, John Salmons and Marcus Thornton (if he's re-signed), the Kings have plenty of shoot-first guards on the roster.
They could use a veteran (this is a young, immature team) wing who is willing to take a back seat offensively. I find it hard to believe Battier would be too thrilled about joining this situation though.
San Antonio Spurs: Michael Redd
Michael Redd has one last shot to prove that he's healthy enough to play a few more years in the league. He seems like the kind of veteran who might work well with San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich.
One thing's almost certain, he'll always be able to knock down outside shots.
Toronto Raptors: Rodney Stuckey
Rodney Stuckey is one of the most talented guards available this offseason, but he just doesn't seem like a great fit with most teams to me.
He and DeMar DeRozan could form a very exciting backcourt, but the Raptors already have a young combo guard who plays a game similar to Stuckey's in Jerryd Bayless.
Utah Jazz: Mario Chalmers
The Utah Jazz were one of the very worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA last season. Jimmer Fredette would have been a perfect fit for them for several reasons, but the Kings selected him two picks before the Jazz were on the clock for No. 12.
Mario Chalmers is a decent outside-shooting point guard who hasn't been given the minutes or role he deserves in Miami over the last two years.
At 25 years old, he could fit into the youth movement the Jazz have going (they have four lottery picks from the last two years on the roster).
Washington Wizards: Delonte West
If the Wizards lose Nick Young, they could use a guard with the ability to hit from the outside (Jordan Crawford can score, but isn't a great shooter).
Even though I think Shelvin Mack was an excellent pick for the Wizards, West could also back John Wall up in spots.