Chaos. There is no better word to describe the NBA free agency period - big names come and go as each franchise looks to snap up someone who can turn them from a pretender into a championship contender the next season.
On July 1, 2013 this frantic period will begin and we expect some big names to move to a new franchise, but which players?
This year the NBA has plenty of star power whose contracts are expiring and they will be available to talk to a new franchise, or even renegotiate a deal with the current franchise; anything is possible during this hectic period in the NBA season; and this season is not going to be any different with some huge names available.
Some predictions can be easier than others, for example Los Angeles Lakers centre Dwight Howard had an incredible amount of hype surrounding his forced move from the Orlando Magic to the Lakers; and he hasn’t had the best of years and it seems extremely likely that ‘D12’ could be on his way out.
Whilst others are a little tougher to predict, such as Chris Paul; who has been an integral part of the Los Angeles Clippers set up and provided a great foundation for the Clippers to reach the playoffs.
His presence in the team and his overall pass-first style has led the team to be dubbed as ‘Lob City’ as people have began to see the Clippers as the new big team in Los Angeles, but there is always that possibility that Paul may decide to seek pastures new, or stay and continue building the Clipper’s legacy.
I have put together a list of the top three free agents available in my opinion; and where they could possibly be playing their Basketball next season; let’s take a look at the three best free agents:
1. Dwight Howard – Los Angeles Lakers
His first season in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey has been challenging and has basically not gone according to plan. Many thought that with Howard’s arrival to LA; he along with Kobe and the rest of the team will be this unstoppable force and steamroll their way through the opposition and bring home the coveted Larry O’Brien Championship trophy, where the San Antonio Spurs will face off against the Indiana Pacers or the Miami Heat after they were forced to a game seven.
The predictions could not have been any worse; Howard and the Lakers team had a bad season but still managed to scrape the playoffs before losing in the first round to the Spurs. But I would say Dwight Howard is the best draft pick available because he is that one physical and dominant centre who is levels above every other centre in the league, so why wouldn’t you want him in your team? He is a proven winner and he backs it all up with the experience he has, the wisdom and he also is a leader which we have seen in Orlando and when he had to step up to the plate once Kobe Bryant was injured for the remainder of the season.
This season Howard has only averaged 17.1 points in first, and possibly his last season with the Los Angeles Lakers and if rumours are anything to go by, then Dwight could be playing his Basketball in Texas next season after the Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is reportedly interested in bringing Howard with him and challenge for a championship again, and Dirk Nowitzki is open to the idea of taking a pay cut to bring one of two men to Dallas; the first being Howard. But you cannot rule anything out, Howard may opt to join Houston Rockets and they are ready to trade 2012 No.5 draft pick Thomas Robinson to the Lakers, but I believe that Howard will definitely not stay in Los Angeles next year.
Destination: Houston Rockets
2. Chris Paul – Los Angeles Clippers
In my eyes, the second best free agent available is from the Lakers biggest rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers. As much as I would personally like to see ‘CP3’ re-sign with the Clippers and continue fighting to be the best team in the City; I highly doubt that after all the rumours surrounding Vinny Del Negro’s exit and the blame Chris Paul has had to endure, he will stay; I just don’t see it happening. Chris Paul is one of the hottest properties around, maybe not as much as Dwight Howard as Dwight is easily the best centre by a long shot, whilst Paul does have stiff competition in the form of Tony Parker whilst the younger generation are also stepping up the plate in Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving, so making Howard the primary target is the most logical choice.
There are around four teams interested in snatching the signature of Chris Paul, not including the Clippers who are practically ready for the news that he will not be staying on in Los Angeles, well for the Clippers anyway. This season he has managed 16.9 points per contest and has managed to contribute with 9.7 assists per game; and he also stayed equally as dominant in the playoffs with 23 points per game but it was not enough as they were eliminated. With four teams interested Paul certainly has his plate full as offers will be flying from everywhere, now it will be up to him to decide which franchise has the best opportunity of capturing an NBA Championship.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are the four teams which have been heavily linked with his signature; for Paul moving to the Lakers is nothing new; before he joined the Clippers he was a Laker for a couple of hours before commissioner David Stern nullified the trade and instead moved to the Clippers; for his family that would be the best move but for his image? Probably not, I would say the best move in terms of success would be to join one of the Texas based franchises in Houston and Dallas, from a financial point-of-view a move to Atlanta would make sense as they have more cap-room and are even in the running for Dwight Howard; signing both is also not out of the equation. So just like Howard, staying in Los Angeles remains highly unlikely for Chris Paul too; and I believe his situation will not be settled at the early stages of the free agency period.
Destination: Dallas Mavericks
3. Nate Robinson – Chicago Bulls
Nate Robinson signed with the Chicago Bulls last season where he was a free agent and now finds himself in the same situation; although he is coming off possibly his best season since he joined the NBA. He has been playing in the league for eight years now and in those eight years he has found himself as a journeyman, playing for the likes of New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, the Golden State Warriors and now the Chicago Bulls; but as he looks to move on it does not look like he will be staying in Chicago.
He only started 23 games for the Bulls this season after coming off the bench for most of the season and performed well, averaging 13.1 points with 4.4 assists whilst shooting a career high 40.5% from 3-point range and he continued his form into the playoffs where he was the standout player alongside Bulls centre Joakim Noah as they battled past the Brooklyn Nets and lost out to Miami Heat in the next round. He averaged 16.3 points per game in the playoffs, just less than Carlos Boozer and opened the eyes of many suitors looking to bring him into the franchise, as he will be a good addition to any team.
He will be a big target when free agency begins, there is no doubt about that as he brings in experience and can still play at a great level; he could either return to the New York Knicks which is something he has mentioned and would prefer, although with the Knicks signing J.R. Smith a new four-year-deal, that now looks unlikely. So other franchises available would include the Phoenix Suns and the Portland Trail Blazers; and Robinson can offer a lot to both teams, he will also be hot property in just under a month’s time.
Destination: Portland Trail Blazers
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