UPDATE: Paul has agreed to a five-year deal with the Clippers. With Paul's prodding or not, L.A. ousted Vinny Del Negro because they believed a new coach will make re-signing more appealing. And they are probably right: Bringing in Doc Rivers effectively guaranteed Paul's return. The Clippers can offer an extra year and more money, as well as a Southern California lifestyle that Paul's friends say he has grown to enjoy. Expect Dallas and Atlanta to put on the fullcourt press for Paul, though at this point, don't expect Paul to listen.
What are Howard's priorities? Money? Location? Role? Howard has been a walking Rubik's cube since forcing his way out of Orlando. The money -- namely the $30 million or so Howard can get by re-signing with Los Angeles -- puts the Lakers in good position but Howard's relationship with Mike D'Antoni, or more specifically D'Antoni's offense, will be a factor. If Howard doesn't want to play for D'Antoni and the Lakers refuse to fire him, Houston, Atlanta and Dallas will be ready with appealing offers.
UPDATE: West has agreed to a three-year deal with the Pacers. Put simply, Indiana cannot afford to let West walk. The Pacers have no replacement and even if they could fill West's production on the floor, his value as a leader in the locker room is incalculable. An Eastern Conference executive estimated West could attract a three-year, $36 million deal, which is a risk: West is 32 and just two years removed from major knee surgery. But he relies on his strength more than his athleticism and is an accurate perimeter shooter, indicators that he could age better than other big men.
Smith, said an Eastern Conference GM, "is the most risky player on the market." A skilled shotblocker coming off a season where he averaged 17.1 points and 7.7 rebounds -- his seventh straight season averaging at least 15 points and seven boards -- Smith's is a top talent. But well-documented battles with coaches and a maddening propensity to fire up jump shots has slapped Smith with a warning label. The Hawks haven't ruled out bringing him back while Boston could be interested in a sign-and-trade that would pair Smith with close friend Rajon Rondo.
Jennings doesn't get the exposure of some of the NBA's other marquee point guards, but make no mistake: He ranks right up there with them. Jennings has averaged at least 15 points and 4.5 assists in each of his four seasons, with his assists rising to a career-best 6.5 per game last season. The restricted free agent has hinted that he would like to leave Milwaukee, but the Bucks have made it clear they intend to match most any offer, including Ty Lawson/Jrue Holiday-type money ($11-$12 million per season), if not more.
Iguodala had a $16 million player option for next season, but opted out of his contract to seek a long-term deal. The Nuggets want him back -- at least the Masai Ujiri administration did -- and Denver's up-tempo style suits Iguodala well. Rival executives like Iguodala's talent in transition, but they like his perimeter defense more. Iguodala won't expect to match his previous annual salary in his next deal, which will open up more options. Utah, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Cleveland are possible landing spots.
UPDATE: Jefferson has agreed to a three-year deal with the Bobcats. Jefferson is as consistent as you get: He has played in at least 76 games in three of the last four seasons, averaging between 17 and 19 points per season. Want more? According to Hoopdata.com, Jefferson has connected on exactly 41 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet in each of his last three seasons. Jefferson is a skilled post scorer just entering the prime of his career. Teams in need of a interior scoring will be lining up for his services.
If Bynum, who missed all of last season with knee injuries, was healthy, he would rank several spots higher. As it is, Bynum is damaged goods. New Sixers GM Sam Hinkie didn't sound all that enthusiastic about re-signing Bynum last month. There's plenty of risk with Bynum: He has battled serious injuries to both knees over the last few years. But when healthy, Bynum is one of the best centers in the game, a legitimate low-post presence who can dominate both ends of the floor. Charlotte, Houston, Phoenix and Dallas could all be interested.
A second-round pick in 2006, Millsap has developed into a productive scorer and rebounder over the last five seasons. Signing Millsap won't sell tickets but it will give you one of the most consistent power forwards in the game. Like teammate Al Jefferson, Millsap could be pushed out of Utah by the Jazz's youth movement -- Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are poised to take over starting frontcourt spots -- but the unrestricted free agent won't have any shortage of suitors.
New Wolves president Flip Saunders says he expects Pekovic to return, but he won't come cheap. After a breakout season -- where Pekovic transformed from a fouling machine into a tremendous screener and a capable complement to Kevin Love on the inside -- Pekovic will be in demand. Minnesota can match any offer and the going rate for improving young centers starts at around $10 million per year. But the Timberwolves, with Love and Ricky Rubio returning at full health next season, can't afford to let Pek walk.
Ellis reportedly turned down a two-year extension that would have guaranteed him $35.8 million over the next three seasons, and he is expected to opt-out of the final year of his deal. Ellis is something of an enigma: He's a prolific scorer -- he led the Bucks with 19.2 points per game, the sixth straight season he has averaged at least 19 per game -- but an undersized 2-guard and a deteriorating defender. "In the last two years, his defense has gotten worse," said an Eastern Conference exec. "He gambles because he can't stay in front of his man."
The decision by the King to draft shooting guard Ben McLemore -- who plays the same position Evans started at last season -- could be an ominous sign for the future of Evans in Sacramento. After a spectacular rookie season, Evans' scoring and assist numbers have declined every season since. His versatility is a plus; he can play all three perimeter spots, and is a matchup nightmare at each, but has not proved he can thrive at one. Will the Kings match if the restricted free agent gets a big offer?
Teague started to live up to his potential the last two seasons, starting 144 of the Hawks 146 games while posting career-bests in points and assists last season. Atlanta has positioned itself to potentially -- with several maneuvers -- have double-max cap room this summer to make a run at Chris Paul or Dwight Howard (or both). If the Hawks miss out on Paul, Teague is as good as any playmaker on the market. Outside of Atlanta, any team that likes to play in transition would be a good fit.
UPDATE: Smith has agreed to a four-year deal with the Knicks. Coming off a Sixth Man of the Year season, Smith should be in demand. He accepted the reserve role from Day 1 and evolved into a more complete scorer during the season. But a disastrous postseason -- where Smith reverted back to the immature gunslinger and saw his three-point shooting dip from 35.6 percent to 27.3 -- may have cost him some money. The Knicks want him back but they could get some serious competition from Milwaukee.
UPDATE: Splitter has agreed to a four-year deal with the Spurs. The Spurs face a tough decision with Splitter. As noted above, the going rate for young centers (see Jordan, DeAndre; McGee, JaVale) is north of $10 million, and while Splitter may not command that much, it could be close. At 28, Splitter is coming off of his best season, has the size and strength to defend centers and is a decent scorer in the post. But he may have peaked as a player; his lack of athleticism doesn't suggest he is going to develop into much more than what he already is. Splitter's value in San Antonio -- where he proved a capable frontcourt sidekick to Tim Duncan -- may be more valuable than it is anywhere else.
Mayo plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent. Despite a sluggish finish to the season, Mayo was one of Dallas's most consistent offensive players, starting all 82 games. Undersized for a 2-guard and lacking the playmaking skills for a point guard, Mayo is the definition of a tweener. But for a team looking for a steady starter or some scoring punch off the bench, Mayo can provide it.
UPDATE: Martin has agreed to a four-year deal with the Timberwolves. Acquired in the James Harden trade, Martin had big shoes to fill, and for the most part, he was steady. But asked to play a bigger role in the postseason, Martin was inconsistent, calling into question whether he can be the team's third option. Martin made $12.4 million last season but will have to take a sizable paycut if he wants to return to Oklahoma City. He is an efficient scorer and a solid veteran in the locker room, but his best role is as a first or second guard off the bench.
UPDATE: Allen has agreed to a four-year deal with the Grizzlies. There are few, if any, better perimeter defenders than Allen, a bulldog who can guard three positions. Problem is, there are few worse perimeter offensive players than Allen, who shot a career worst 12.5 percent from three-point range last season. Allen made $3.3 million last season and wants a raise. Every team would love to add Allen's defensive toughness but questions linger about his role. "How many contending teams have a starting guard who is a non-scorer?" asked a Western Conference executive. "He has to find the perfect fit."
UPDATE: Redick has agreed to a four-year deal with the Clippers. The sharpshooting Redick can fit in anywhere: His scoring output was a career-best and he is a career 39.0 percent three-point shooter. On the floor, Redick is well-suited for a Sixth Man role, off it he is a respected veteran and a quality locker room guy. Milwaukee would like to bring Redick back while San Antonio made a hard push for him at the trade deadline last season. Any team with a need for perimeter shooting will inquire about Redick.
Remember Hickson? The guy the Cavaliers were once reluctant to trade for Amar'e Stoudemire? Quietly, Hickson is coming off of his best season, averaging a double-double -- in 80 games, no less -- for the first time in his career. Hickson also shot a career best 56.2 percent from the floor and his total rebounding percentage (20.7) was good for third best in the NBA. At 6-foot-9, Hickson showed an ability to defend centers, a skill many teams covet.
After seven years as a solid NBA journeyman, Jack blossomed last season in Golden State, thriving in the Warriors' up-tempo system and emerging as one of the NBA's best Sixth Men. Golden State would love bring Jack back -- his veteran leadership was a big boost for a team loaded with young players -- and Jack has publicly said he would like to stay. But he will be in demand. Indiana, Oklahoma City and Memphis are among the many teams who will likely try to ink Jack for mid-level exception money.
UPDATE: Korver has agreed to a four-year deal with the Hawks. Every team wants shooting, and Korver remains one of the league's top marksman. At 32, Korver is coming off one of his finest seasons, finishing the season with an excellent field goal (46.1) and three-point percentage (45.7). Korver has said he believes he has four or five good years left and prefers playing for a contender. Though not a high-level defender, Korver is a serviceable team defender who will get calls from many teams this summer.
UPDATE: Ginobili has agreed to a two-year deal with the Spurs. OK, so Ginobili is technically a free agent. But can anyone see him playing anywhere else? Ginobili has hinted that he will consider retirement but he was mostly healthy last season and has grown comfortable in a Sixth Man role. He won't make anywhere near the $14.1 million he earned last season, but he will still make millions in a one- or two-year deal. And even Ginobili can't see himself playing anywhere but San Antonio. In a recent online chat, Ginobili said he guessed he's "a Spur for life."
Landry was one of the Warriors' top subs last season, and will be looking for a raise from the $4 million contract he opted out of to hit free agency. Landry is a tough, physical forward who can score in the post and, at 29, will be looking for a long-term deal. The Warriors want him back -- and with Festus Ezeli out for the next 6-9 months following knee surgery, they need him -- but financial constraints may force them to choose between Landry and Jarrett Jack.
Robinson was one of the breakout stars of the postseason, inheriting the starting point guard job from an injured Kirk Hinrich in the first round and powering Chicago to a series win over the Nets. Overall, he is coming off his most consistent season; he played all 82 games and averaged career-bests in scoring and three-point percentage. Lil' Nate can be maddening at times, but he is instant offense off the bench.
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