Free agency won't be making much of a splash this year as last year because of The Decision and won't be as big this year like next year when the likes of star players like Kevin Garnett, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Tim Duncan all become free agents. However, with that said, there are still a few A-list guys and many top-notch B-list players that can help a team in need of their specific skills and services.
The NBA lockout has delayed free agent signings all the way until Dec. 9, and thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, teams will be more wary of how much they commit to a particular person.
Here is a summary of the top five free agents on the market now, what they bring to the table and which teams could use them:
Arguably the most underrated big man in the NBA, Nene has defined consistency playing with the Denver Nuggets over the last three seasons, averaging at least 13 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot. He has hit his stride at the prime age of 29 and, even after nine seasons, all with the Nuggets, still provides the physical presence a big man should have. According to the Denver Post, general manager Masai Ujiri said that the Nuggets' number-one priority is re-signing Nene, who turned down a four-year, $50-million offer from the Nuggets last summer. That means that by testing free agency this offseason, Nene commands more than $50 million dollars, and thus, a long-term deal.
Possible Destinations: Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, New Jersey Nets, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks
2. Marc Gasol
One has to think the Memphis Grizzlies have to do all they can to keep Gasol after his playoff performance last season that helped the Grizzlies reach the Western Conference Finals as an eight-seed. In the regular season, he averaged 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one block. In the postseason, he averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks per game. According to the Commercial Appeal, owner Michael Heisley reiterated that the team will exercise their right to match any offer sheet Gasol might sign with another team, which puts them in the driver seat to sign the restricted free agent.
Possible Destinations: Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers
3. Tyson Chandler
Chandler, who was the defensive catalyst of the Dallas Mavericks' run to an NBA title last season, said himself to ESPN that he expects to be with a new team this upcoming season. Probably the most athletic big man on the market, it will be hard for the Mavs to repeat without him and the versatility he brings. He won't put up many points for the team he does end up going to, but it's almost guaranteed he will block shots and rebound. Another report says that Chandler is simply using a negotiating tactic to get the most money possible from the Mavericks.
Possible Destinations: Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, New Jersey Nets
4. David West
Despite suffering a season-ending injury in late March, West started 70 games for the New Orleans Hornets last year and averaged a decent 18.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game last season. The 31-year-old has been consistent in the last five years of his eight-year career, all with the Hornets, averaging of at least 18 points per game. The two-time all-star is one of the most reliable scorers in the NBA and should provide high-caliber shooting ability wherever he goes. West opted out of the final year of his contract in late June, walking away from a guaranteed $7.5 million season's salary. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that West is a top priority for the Hornets.
Possible Destinations: New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards
5. Jason Richardson
The journeyman even at the age of 30 can still provide a spark to a team with his shooting and dunking abilities. Not to mention, he is still a solid perimeter and man-to-man defender. Last season, Richardson's numbers dipped when he was traded to the Orlando Magic from the Phoenix Suns, proving that if there's a good point guard that he can team up with, he can maximize all of his skills to help the team win. CBS reports that J-Rich told CSN Bay Area he's not ruling out a return to the Warriors, the team that drafted him in 2001. A team that can persuade him to sign for the mid-level exception will surely be getting a steal.
Potential Suitors: Orlando Magic, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics