NBA

Top 3: Free agents still available

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Jennings is a restricted free agent (©GettyImages)
Jennings is a restricted free agent (©GettyImages).

Much of the NBA Free Agency buzz has died down.

Seemingly long ago, Chris Paul resigned with the Clippers, Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday were acquired by the Pelicans, and Dwight Howard joined the Rockets.

Later, Andre Iguodala went to the Warriors and Josh Smith went to the Pistons. The Jazz's overstuffed backcourt got less crowded when Paul Millsap went to the Hawks and Al Jefferson to the soon to be Hornets.

This has been a busy NBA offseason, although quite not so much in the past few weeks. However, there are still three names out there that could really make a difference on a franchise.

Brandon Jennings, PG

Brandon Jennings is one of the quickest in the league and one of the best lefties. He prefers to drive to his left and always uses his quickness to get into the paint and from there either distributes or attempts to draw a foul.

The past two years, he has also shot a few more threes. He is a little bit out of control and not the most efficient player. Last year for the Bucks, he averaged 17.5 points and a career high 6.5 assists.

However, he did it with 2.5 turnovers per game and under 40% shooting. 

He is a restricted free agent, meaning the Bucks can match any offer for him. If he does not receive any offers, the Bucks retain him because of the fact that they extended a qualifying offer. If he signed that, he would have to play for the Bucks another year, but just for $4.5 million. Unfortunately for Jennings, if he refuses, he must go to play overseas for a year.

He had played in Italy before the NBA but for a player of his caliber, it is not ideal. Lastly, he could sign the qualifying offer and push for a sign-and-trade. 

Jennings is reportedly unhappy in Milwaukee but if he receives no other offers, he might have to stick it out for one more year. Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Orlando all have room, but it is unlikely for any of them to extend an offer.

Looks like Jennings will stay.

Nikola Pekovic, C

This giant, bruising force of a man has all but returned. No other teams have made an offer, just like Brandon Jennings’s situation.

He is out for a deal around 4 years, $50 million but no other teams have budged. Unlike with Jennings, it looks like Pekovic will return to the NBA and play for the Timberwolves again. The only question is how low the Timberwolves are going to drive the deal. 

Pekovic is an inside presence. If you look at his shoulders, you would think he's a gladiator, or plays American football or rugby, not a basketball player.

In fact, he looks like the warrior that he has tattooed onto his arm. But he has surprising finesse for a man of his size. On offense last year, he averaged 16.3 points and nine rebounds. He has a good post game and benefits from having a point guard like Ricky Rubio.

His individual defense is also very good. No one can get around him and you won't outmuscle him in the post. The problem is, he doesn't have "basketball reactions" and won't necessarily come out of nowhere to help.

His reaction time is one of the reasons he only averaged .8 blocks per game. That and his vertical.

Either way though, if he does get into a good position, he's hard to defend.

Pekovic is set to return to the T-Wolves, with the only question being for how much. Expect the final deal to be around 4 years, $44 million, because the Wolves don't want to upset Pekovic, yet they know he doesn't have too many bargaining chips.

Greg Oden, C

Out of Ohio State drafted number one, Greg Oden must be one of the worst first overall picks of all time. Drafted over Kevin Durant, he has only played 82 games in his career, which began in 2007. The sad thing is, none of it is his fault. 

Oden was hampered again and again by knee issues, in both knees, until he was ultimately forced to retire. After a long rehabilitation process, he is finally coming out of retirement. His old team, the Blazers must be cursed. They lost both Oden and All-Star Brandon Roy to injury.

With that duo (added into the Lamarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard combo), they might be contenders in the West. The Blazers are not in the running for Oden though.

There are six main teams: the Heat, Spurs, Pelicans, Kings, Mavericks, and Hawks.

The Hawks and Mavericks are the most unlikely, and the Heat are favorites. T

he Heat could offer him a starting role on a world champion team. The dark horse would be the Pelicans, who are reportedly willing to offer $3 million a year for 2 years. Other teams are offering 1-year deals worth $1 million.

Oden has been efficient when playing, averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in under 25 minutes. Not too bad considering the injuries.

He has (or had) a good post and mid-range game, a lot of strength and rebounding ability, and was a defensive presence. All of this was diluted by injuries though.

He was considered (by some and very unfairly) a young Bill Russell. The next great big man.

Oden is set to make a decision next week. No matter where he goes, it will nice seeing him back where he belongs.

 

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Topics:
Miami Heat
Atlanta Hawks
NBA
New Orleans Hornets
Milwaukee Bucks
NBA Draft
Minnesota Timberwolves
Sacramento Kings
San Antonio Spurs
Dallas Mavericks
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