With the NBA free agency period approaching, all stories will certainly be around LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. They are the big-name players that if a team is able to sign will immediately alter their new team’s chances of being successful next season.
Although they are the top stories, they are not the only players that will shape who will win next season’s NBA title. Here are the top five non-superstar free agents that will have major impacts on their new team next season.
Parsons will have to wait to see what James and Anthony do first before the market opens up for him, but there will be a market. Parsons can do a little bit of everything except defend. On defense he can get lost, but offensively he offers a team 16 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4 assists per night. He should never be a team’s No.1 option, but he could be the type of player that help puts a team over the hump.
The Los Angeles Clippers should be interested; he would be an upgrade over Matt Barnes offensively. If the New York Knicks cannot resign Anthony they could look at him. Going back to Houston is an option as well.
Gortat is a big body who plays just enough defense, and his offense is underrated. Last season, he almost averaged a double-double, with 13 points and 9.5 rebounds. He also threw in 1.5 blocks per game. He should have several suitors because you cannot teach size.
The Wizards would love to bring Gortat back but may not be able to afford him. A logical destination would be the Oklahoma City Thunder. If the Thunder amnesty Kendrick Perkins, they could take that same $10 million they were paying him and offer it to Gortat. He along with Serge Ibaka would make a formidable front line. Other teams that could show interest are the Los Angeles Lakers, the Phoenix Suns, or the Miami Heat if the big three don’t resign.
3. Boris Diaw
Diaw’s numbers are not always great, but he finds ways to impact the game positively. His defense and passing ability have been on display the last two seasons in the NBA Finals and now it’s time to get paid for those efforts. The problem with Diaw is he has to be in the right system for him to flourish. He wasn’t highly thought of when he played for the Atlanta Hawks or the then-Charlotte Bobcats, but with the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs he played at a high level. The common denominator being up-tempo systems with a lot passing and great players around him, and only select teams offer that.
He is likely to give the Spurs a hometown discount. However, if he chases the money, deals could come from the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, and maybe the Golden State Warriors if they make the cap space.
4. Pau Gasol
Gasol is not the same player he was when the Los Angeles Lakers were winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Even so, Gasol can still be effective in the right situation. The last couple of years he has had injury problems and he did not fit the system he was put in, so it is difficult to know how much he has left in the tank.
The Lakers will try to re-sign Gasol, but that may not be the best deal he is offered. The Memphis Grizzlies are on the radar, but only for the chance to play with his brother, and the chances of that happening appear slim. The Houston Rockets make some sense. It is true that Gasol and Dwight Howard did not co-exist on the floor well with the Lakers. The difference would be Kevin McHale knowing how to utilize two big men on the floor much better than Mike D’Antoni did.
Espn.com is reporting the Knicks would like to pair Gasol with Anthony. Obviously, Phil Jackson thinks there is enough left in his tank to chase at least one more ring.
These two are the very definition of the idea of boom or bust. Young or “Swaggy P”, as he prefers to be called, has legit talent. Problem is, it is often overshadowed by his antics and horrible shot selection. Young doesn’t care about what offense is being run or the play that is called, he will just jack up shots.
Blatche has talent as well. His problem has been how much effort is he willing to give and at times, he has poor shot selection as well. While with the Washington Wizards, he gave more effort in the night club than he did on the court. While with the Brooklyn Nets, he redeemed his career, but if he were to get a hefty contract no one knows how he would react.
Both players need teams with strong management to have any shot at being successful.
Blatche to the Knicks makes some sense because Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher would not tolerate anything less than full effort. Other teams that could be interested are the Mavericks and the Heat at the right price.
Young may find that his market is pretty small. The Lakers will make him an offer but it probably won’t be for big money. He could really help the Portland Trailblazers who had trouble with their bench outside of Mo Williams.
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images: Christy Jennsen