NBA Free Agency 2013: Juicy Rumors and Enormous Predictions

Now that the NBA Draft is over, it’s time for hardwood GMs to go Christmas shopping. ImageSome general managers will shop at Macys and Bloomingdales, specifically those with oodles of cap space and splurging intentions. Others will be looking for great buys at TJ Maxx, Target, and Marshalls. This free agency period, like always, will be filled with unpredictable excitement. Here are some moves to ponder over before “Black Monday” kicks off, courtesy of in-house NBA expert Superb Sperb

Houston Rockets

Let’s start with the largest city in Texas, which hosts a team I consider to be the most intriguing this offseason. Last year the Rockets stole the show by signing Jeremy Lin and ImageOmer Asik, and then trading Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, and Steven Adams for James Harden (sorry Thunder fans).

The Rockets are once again looking to be big players in Free Agency. Daryl Morey back-loaded the Lin and Asik contracts so he again has eons of cap space and young assets. Translation? He can be wheeling and dealing all summer long. While the Rockets found their first superstar in James Harden and have built solid pieces around him, this team cannot be mistaken for a title contender. That being said, things can still get quite interesting for the Rockets this offseason. Let’s look at how…

Sign Dwight Howard. Rumor has it Dwight is deciding between the Mavs, Rockets, and Lakers, with the Hawks having the slightest of chances. The Lakers can offer Dwight the most quiche, but the extra $35 million does not seem to faze Dwight, as many people believe that he is willing to sacrifice some money for the right team. My guess is it’s the Texas Two vying for the mother of all Christmas presents. For guys, Dwight Howard would be like receiving Jerry Jones’ Jerrytron video screen in your house. For females, it would be several years worth of collagen facials. If the Rockets sign Dwight Howard, you can expect many backlash moves to follow.

With Dwight Howard, Thomas Robinson, Chandler Parsons, James Harden and Jeremy Lin as the starting 5, Asik becomes expendable. Here’s a thought…Chandler Parsons has one year left on his rookie deal. Why not rotate he and a movable Asik for Danny Granger or Luol Deng? This provides the Rockets with a veteran swingman and a legitimate big 3, and allows them to avoid paying Chandler Parsons top dollar next summer when he commands a ridiculous extension. Now what happens if they swing and miss on Dwight Howard? Then the Rockets can either pursue Al Jefferson/Paul Milsap/ David West/ Josh Smith or try to swing a move for Lamarcus Aldridge (I’d go the latter). The Rockets have pockets deeper then a man counting cards and you can bet that they are going to be spending this offseason.

Atlanta Hawks

Another team that can spend some serious cheese this offseason, if I am the Hawks I am Imageactually spending NOTHING this offseason…in fact, I am tanking it. The only heavy contracts they have after this season are Al Horford (a solid Center) and Louis Williams (a solid sixth man), along with the Rookies they just drafted. The Hawks can certainly sign Josh Smith, but he has been their main guy for a while and they haven’t been particularly elite with him as the guy. It’s time for a rebuild, in which they can earn a top pick and draft Andrew Wiggens No. 1 overall or get into the top-5 of potentially the most stacked drafted class in recent memory. Let’s face it, premiere free agents do not come to Atlanta, which is why the Hawks should look to tear it down and rebuild. Unless they are content with exiting the first round of the playoffs for years to come…

Los Angeles Lakers

What’s a column without the Lake-Show? If the Lakers resign Dwight, what do they do next? ImageI do not believe they amnesty Kobe, but instead Steve Nash. Let’s face it, Steve Nash is far beyond being over the hill. They can amnesty Nash and then pursue Jose Calderon, Jameer Nelson, Greivis Vasquez, and then next year rev up their search for a “franchise” point guard.

Now if the Lakers do not get Dwight, what do they do? Well in short, they should try to extract something for him via sign and trade. If it is with the Mavs, Shane Larkin, Shawn Marion’s expiring deal and a pick seems all right. If it is with the Rockets, I’d go after a package with Chandler Parsons and Patrick Beverley. Finally, a deal with the Clippers (oh no!) might actually work out best. Dwight gets his five-year, $111 million dollar deal and Chris Paul and the Lakers can demand Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe. Rest assure if Dwight leaves L.A no matter how many movies he does after his career you can bet your bottom dollar he is not getting a spot on the Hollywood walk of Fame.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Moving on I want to discuss the Minnesota Timberwolves (who’da thunk it)? The Timberwolves can be contenders next season, as they have Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and some nice young assets around them like Shabazz Muhammad and Derrick Williams. ImageHowever, Flip Saunders realizes that Kevin Love can bolt next season if he wishes, so the Wolves need to win now.

Nick Pekovic is a nice player, but he is 28 years old and is most likely going to demand $8-10 million on the market. If he gets four years and $35 million, I am certainly not letting Pekovic eat up that much of my valuable cap space (the Wolves are a small-market team). Instead, I let him walk and laugh at the team that signs him because when that contract is almost up, the only thing valuable about Nick Pekovic will be his entertainingly shaped head.

I also let Andre Kirilenko walk and I attempt to sign Andre Iguodala. This would provide the Wolves with the athletic swingman they have been yearning for years. Love, Rubio, and Iggy are a formidable tandem. If Derrick Williams can maximize even half of his potential (and he would be the starting four in this scenario, which might actually allow him to develop), you have a formidable starting lineup. Throw Alexey Shved in and Muhammad’s offense off the bench and the T’Wolves could be an interesting team. Who’s getting excited about the T-Wolves?!

New York Knickerbockers

*Update: Knicks reportedly trade assets to Raptors for former first-overall pick Andrea Bargnani

Next, I have no choice but to discuss the New York Knicks. The Knicks are a very interesting Imageteam heading into the offseason, and we naturally need to give them a portion of the Free Agency Shopping List. The Knicks might lose JR Smith in free agency, though I always thought JR would sacrifice the money (he knows the Knicks would offer him more if they could). If he wants to be bratty instead, I would make a play for Randy Foye.

I also really like Chris Copeland, but not for more then $3 million a year; I think that he deserves and will cash in, though sadly it won’t be with the Knicks. I think Pablo and Kenyon will be back and they are valuable role players, but with our mini mid-level exception the Knicks should look at Matt Barnes, Andray Blatche and Lil Nate Rob. These two players could help fill the holes that Cope and Rasheed (RIP) will leave us…not really Rasheed because he never played, but you know, once a Knick always a Knick! Hey I mean you too player-efficiency-rating nightmare Solomon Jones…moving on.

 

San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs just came off the most brutal NBA Finals loss I have ever witnessed. What do they do from here? If Manu Ginobli wants to play for fewer than $2.5 million dollars Imageyou bring him and his bat snatching powers back. Otherwise, Manu has been a great Spur, but they cannot let him eat a hunk of cap space. Though, it will surely be the most painful of goodbyes (and don’t call me Shirley). 

The Spurs need to lock down Gary Neal and go after a backup point guard. As much as I would love to see how Pop deals with Nate Robinson, I do not see this happening. I think they should chase a steady backup like CJ Watson or Devin Harris (Tony Parker’s legs might seem indestructible, but as he ages we will learn they certainly aren’t).

If I am the Spurs, who have a fair amount of cap space, I am also looking to sign one of the Utah bigs at about $6-7 million over three years. A three-year, $22 million dollar deal seems fair for Paul Millsap, who is easily an upgrade from Tiago Splitter (who can slide to the bench). If they want to splurge a bit more (which they might if they forget about Kawai Leonard’s impending extension a year from now), they can offer Big Al Jefferson a three-year, $33 million dollar deal. A significant upgrade at the four can buy the Spurs more time in this closing championship window.

Andrew Bynum’s Contract

Since this article has been just a general discussion about NBA Free Agency, I want to open Imagethe floor to what is in my opinion the most interesting topic of Free Agency. This being the Andrew Bynum contract phenomenon. What kind of contract do you give a 25-year-old center who averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds and proved to be a guy that you can build your team around? Well normally he gets the bank. Let’s throw in the fact that his knees are made of string-cheese, he has undeniable attitude problems, and he hasn’t stepped onto the court in 15 months, and you have a whole new monster.

I predict he goes to the Phoenix Suns and pairs with Josh Smith. The Suns then flip Alex Len, Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic and multiple picks for Rajon Rondo and Gerald Wallace. Here the Suns pair Rondo with Bynum and Josh Smith, which could be quite intimidating with the right role players, and the Celtics continue rebuilding by adding more picks, Alex Len (a blue-chip center), Goran Dragic (a nice point guard), and role players in Dudley and Gortat. They also rid themselves of Gerald Wallace’s atrocious contract. I also just submitted my resume for Phoenix GM on Craigslist…

Final Thoughts…

NBA Free Agency is fast approaching. Sit back, relax, “getcho popcorn ready,” and observe the flurry of moves that are about to occur right before your eyes. Nothing should surprise you, as anything is possible during free agency. Just hope your team isn’t the next team to give Jerome James a five-year, $30 million dollar deal or Eddy Curry a six-year, $60 million dollar deal or Allan Houston a six-year, $100 million dollar deal. (Cut to me and all the other Knick fans gauging their eyes out with the nearest pencil). But enough about the ridiculous 21st century Knicks, let’s get the free-agency dance started…

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