June 22, 2013

NBA Game-Changers on the Market This Summer

By - Jaquan Murphy

Now that a champion has been crowned, basketball season is over, right?


Sure the x's and o's portion of the season is in the books, but perhaps the most important part is now upon us; the offseason. The draft is rapidly approaching, but there doesn't appear to be many immediate impact players available. Because of this, more emphasis will be placed on free agency. And while this year's free agent class will not rival the crop from 2010 (no class probably ever will), it does have its fair share of game-changers and potential missing pieces to a championship puzzle.

Photo by: Getty Images
Here are some of the players who your team may try to land this summer.


One of the biggest names on the market this offseason is point guard Chris Paul. For sub-par teams or clubs that are rebuilding, chances are CP3 will not be interested, especially given the enticing situation he already has in Los Angeles. However, if a team that is a guaranteed contender can come up with a way to acquire him, Paul will be all ears. The organization that can pry him away from the Clippers will be looking at stability at the position for many years to come.

Every team needs a solid backcourt. If your squad is lacking a strong scoring presence, San Antonio's Manu Ginobili may be on their watch list. He hits the market after a very disappointing NBA Finals. However, the unorthodox Argentinian can provide a solid second option on virtually any team. If he is not retained by the Spurs, chances are at this stage in his career he is looking for a title contender. Perhaps a club where he can continue to provide a spark off the bench would suit him best. However, in the right system, Ginobili can start and provide an efficient 15 to 20 points per if needed.

If your team's gaping hole was bench scoring, Chicago's Nate Robinson will definitely be on their radar. The only thing diminutive about this guard is his size. He's sure to bring instant offense and energy to the court as soon as he steps on it. Filling in for the injured Derrick Rose, Robinson showed that he is capable of lighting up the scoreboard over short and long periods of time. He may seek a team where he can start, but whether he is starting or coming off the bench, Robinson will be valuable to whichever team inks him for next season.


The marquee forward on the market this year is Atlanta's Josh Smith. A young, versatile big, he can easily fit in as a team's starting small or power forward. He provides athleticism and speed at the forward position, along with a strong ability to fight down low for rebounds. Smith's shooting touch may make him a question mark as a starting small forward, but his size, speed and athleticism makes him a matchup nightmare for many power forwards around the league. A youthful, fast-paced offense would fit Smith perfectly.

Some teams are lacking a second big or a swing man to help bolster their offense, stabilize their defense, or even both. Utah Jazz big man Paul Millsap is one who can do both solidly. And in a cramped Utah frontcourt, there's a strong possibility that he will be cut loose by the team. Millsap's size and ability to grab boards and score around the basket would be a valuable asset to any team who needs a second big man to backup their star center or to provide a partner down low for a young big.

A forward who could hit the market and be a key addition to a contending team is Lamar Odom. Not only can he provide veteran leadership, but he brings an array of skills to the table that can make him a valuable point-forward on a second unit. His size even allows the 14-year vet to come off the bench as a legitimate power forward for a lot of teams. Odom could end up being one of those low-key signings that actually proves to be big to a team's championship run.


With franchise-changing big men being so rare, Dwight Howard is a commodity amongst commodities. With his desire to get paid the big bucks, he will only be the target of teams well under the salary cap. Howard has already said that in addition to the Lakers, the Nets and Mavericks are in the sweepstakes for his services. The Rockets have also been a team rumored to be in the mix. However, with a diva mentality and a tendency to sometimes disappear when disinterested, Howard is a player that definitely comes with some red flags.

For teams not trying to break the bank, yet find a serviceable big man that can be a force down low, look no further than Chris Kaman. The 10-year veteran is a true professional down low, not requiring nor demanding many touches on offense, yet willing to battle down in the block. Kaman will prove to be huge for a team with his rebounding ability, as well as helping boost a team's defense by preventing easy buckets in halfcourt sets. Teams who ranked low in rebounding last season are sure to have Kaman high on their wish list.

If your favorite squad is in search of a quality big man, look for them to pursue Utah's free agent center Al Jefferson. He falls into the same category as the aforementioned Paul Millsap; the victim of too many players at the same spot. Jefferson has the advantage of being somewhat bigger than Millsap, so he's a larger presence down low. He also makes himself a commodity because he is a center by trade, and more teams around the league lack a respectable starting center more so than a starting power forward. Look for Jefferson to be a late signing, as he will most likely wait for the team that throws the most guaranteed money his way.

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