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One dozen NBA free agents to watch (not named Howard or Paul)

Jul 1, 2013, 3:51 AM EDT

Josh Smith AP

Chris Paul is going to stay a Clipper. Dwight Howard is going to do whatever it is Dwight Howard is going to do.

But those two are not the only guys who became free agents at the stroke of midnight and we ventured into Monday.

Here are a dozen other newly minted free agents worth watching during this free agent period.

Josh Smith: He’s one of the best players in what is generally considered a down free agent class — 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. Nobody doubts that he is a good player, one that annually just misses the  All-Star cut line. The issue for him as a free agent is simply his shot selection. This chart pretty much sums it up.


Smith is very effective around the rim but loves his jump shot. Too much. Also, Smith wants a max contract. He likely doesn’t get it, the question is what will a team pay? He can be amazing if the fit is right, and that team will get some nights of good defense. The Detroit Pistons want him and another 4-5 teams are said to be interested. The question is, at what price? How much tax are you willing to pay for Smith and his penchant for jumpers?

Andre Iguodala: Part of the glue that led Denver to 57 wins. It’s not so much the 13 points a game and the 5.7 rebounds, it’s the strong perimeter defense and the impressive finishing in transition. He has versatility. He’s the ultimate glue guy. He opted out of the $16 million to get the security of a long-term deal. But as our own Dan Feldman pointed out, the team that gives him four years (and one will) may regret that decision in a few years.

J.R. Smith: He’s the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year and a gunner without a conscience. He is perfect off the bench — he comes in and brings energy and shooting. But he is anything but consistent. The Knicks have only his Early Bird rights and are limited with what they can offer; the most is just above the league average salary (so a little over $5 million a year for at least two years). It is possible another team swoops in, the Suns, Bucks and Pistons are reportedly interested.

Andrew Bynum: He is the real test of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement: How much are teams willing to pay a guy that two seasons ago was one of the top three centers in the league (if not the best outright), but missed all of last season with a knee injury that is chronic? Under the old CBA somebody would have overpaid, but now… There are real questions about his passion for the game, but some team will take a gamble (two or three years at $9 million per?). You can bet that contract will have an out that they can cut him and not pay him if he can’t play due to a preexisting knee condition.

Monta Ellis: He reportedly turned down two years, $24 million and he is going to regret that. Ellis is an old school volume scorer — he scores a lot of points and shoots a lot of shots. Don’t expect efficiency (41.6 percent shooting overall last year, 28 percent from three). The new breed of NBA GM doesn’t want a guy like Ellis and he is going to find a more shallow market than expected. That said, the Hawks and Mavericks are both reportedly interested.

David West: The steady forward who was a key to the Indiana Pacers success (within one game of the NBA Finals) is not expected to sign anywhere but Indiana. The Pacers will make a fair offer of around $10 million per season, but this is going to be a short-term deal, likely just a couple years. West is 33, he’s not getting four years.

J.J. Redick: His half a season in Milwaukee taught him he wanted out of Milwaukee. He’s one of the best pure shooters in the league and has worked to improve other parts of his game (for example, his defense is better than you think). He’s going to get a nice contract from someone who needs a two who can space the floor.

Kyle Korver: Another pure shooter in this draft, he’s older than Redick and not quite as well rounded, but when it comes to shooting threes he is good. The early buzz is the Nets want and are in the lead to get him.

Kevin Martin: The final sharpshooter on our list — he shot 42.6 percent from three last season for Oklahoma City, a team that could draw attention away from him. He has a very efficient offensive game, but he’s not going to give you much defense. He has a role in this league as the No. 3 guy on a good team, but we’ll see who steps up to pay him.

Al Jefferson: He is a genuine NBA big man who scored 17.8 points and added 9.2 rebounds per game last season for the Jazz. He’s age 28 and in his prime, so he should be expecting a big contract. And he’s going to get a big contract. But he’s a defensive liability on the pick-and-roll and really does his work in the post and on the boards and not much else. Someone is going to pay him then be frustrated.

Paul Millsap: He is a restricted free agent, meaning the Jazz can match any offer. It’s going to be interesting, he is a guy who comes in with almost but not quite All-Star numbers — 14.6 points on 49 percent shooting with 7.1 rebounds a game. He’s solid and efficient, a poor man’s David Lee kind of guy. He’s the kind of guy that a GM could decide he needs after missing out on his first choice and puts up a good offer that will leave the Jazz in a pickle.

Brandon Jennings: Another restricted free agent (the Bucks can match) who is going to get the kind of offer that will leave the Bucks in a tough spot. He’s a score first point guard (he did have 6.5 assists per game, to be fair) but he doesn’t score efficiently. He shot under 40 percent last season and he struggles to finish in the paint, which makes that amazing first step and quickness less frightening. I got the feeling someone is going to offer him a lot of money in hopes his game grows.

O.J. Mayo: Another guy who can score (15.3 points per game) but doesn’t do it efficiently and had Rick Carlisle so frustrated last year he called him out on a couple of occasions. He can score so he will land somewhere, but he’s not loved by GMs. The advanced stats teams are not going near Mayo but somebody will and they will get what they get with him.

  1. halfbaht - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:26 AM

    Al Jefferson would look good in clover green…. again

    • dennisj59 - Jul 1, 2013 at 9:17 AM


      • nullstadt - Jul 1, 2013 at 2:43 PM

        Yo Steven, good luck to you…thanks for the ALL CAPS, was a pleasure to read.

    • Kevin S. - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      You know the Celtics are hopelessly capped out for the next two years and even if they weren’t they’re trying to bottom out, right?

  2. nandaramesh - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:46 AM

    Jazz should keep Millsap. He is all heart but they need restrict him to 25 quality mins/game.

  3. soundsofsuccess7 - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:05 AM

    If the Lakers pull their heads out of their butts they could get Smith and Bynum for the money Howard wants.

    • sportsstar4u - Jul 1, 2013 at 9:03 AM

      No they can’t, dude.

      If they lose Howard, they don’t gain all that cap space. They can only sign Howard because they own his Bird’s rights and can go over the cap to retain him.

      Come on – you know this has been the rule for years.

      • pudgalvin - Jul 1, 2013 at 9:46 AM

        You sure Lakers fans know that?

      • paleihe - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        Yeah, Laker fans know that. The poster is an idiot.

    • elcapitanfiscal - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      He doesn’t know his Kobe is making 31 million this year, big part of why the Lakers won’t be able to sign some quality players.

  4. scottieplongballs - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    Redick is a perfect fit for the T-Wolves. Man i hope we get him.

  5. basketballhooper1 - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    “they are looking to offer just a couple seal as West, age 33. If there is any issue in Indiana, you can”

    Maaaaan, proof read.

    You didn’t finish either sentence.

  6. paulhargis53 - Jul 1, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    sounds: No, they can’t. Even if they don’t resign Howard, they are still well over the salary cap.

  7. 00maltliquor - Jul 1, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    Let the free agency season commence! I love this time of year!

    • loungefly74 - Jul 1, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      i do too, malt. a move here and there can change the landscape of the sport. we will see!

  8. sportsstar4u - Jul 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Let me preface this by saying I know this likely won’t happen because of their lack of cap space.

    It seems to me that Redick would look good in LA within Mike Dantoni’s system. While I am a Laker fan (and not a Dantoni fan), he would get some good open looks in that system.

    Obviously, nothing is going to help DH stay in LA. He’s going to do whatever makes him happy right now. Then in a year, he’ll be ready to go somewhere else. Hopefully, he’ll stay in LA long-term, but it’s looking doubtful.

    • nlruizjr - Jul 2, 2013 at 4:33 PM

      whether DH stays or goes, the Lakers will survive this season and if they pick up the right peices, keep Gasol and get a PF/C to give Gasol some rest (I don’t know if I could trust “the Cheer Leader”, the Lakers need someone that can contribute now Kaman, etc.) Plus the Lakers need people that can rest MWP, Kobe and Nash, plus maybe replace Meeks (j. Farmar and/or Ariza) and fill in the slots with better shooters, Lakers will be set, they don’t need to be superstars, just decent to excellent bench players that can score and defend.

  9. readysethike - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    for some reason i feel the bucks will replace ellis with mayo

  10. klownboy - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    I think Josh Smith may get the end of the stick in free agency. He has a rep of not being a good team guy and is a chronic underachiever.

  11. mohammadanaqvi - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    I think Monte Ellis brings a bad culture to a team. That’s why the Lakers shouldn’t even consider him, and it was part of the reason the Warriors traded him.

  12. somekat - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Sixers should go out and sign….nobody that isn’t willing to take a 1 year deal. Sign up Smith and Mayo on 1 year deals, watch them throw up 20 shots each a night and win 10 games all season, then hope you get that #1 pick. Let Hawes/Brown/Turner and these 2 guys walk.

    Then they have a ton of young talent, with only rookie contracts and Thad Young on the books. Something that could be very attractive to a much stronger free agent class next year

  13. elcapitanfiscal - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    I knew josh smith shot too much, but damn lol he’s really bad from outside..

    How in the world was he allowed to take so many jumpers?

  14. Kevin S. - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Are you sure Millsap’s a RFA? He just finished a contract that was a matched offer sheet four years ago – I don’t think there’s any mechanism for a player with his service time to be restricted again.

  15. paleihe - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    I’m just wondering how with CP3, Howard, Josh Smith, David West, Iguodala, JR Smith, Jefferson and Millsap, Matt Barnes, Bynum and Ellis that this considered a weak free agent class.

    Compared to 2010, maybe. Compared to other years, heck no.

  16. boscoesworld - Jul 1, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    Dear JJ. The feeling is mutual!! Talk about a waste of bench space.

  17. getsome99 - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Mavs will sign and trade OJ Mayo to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe.

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