NBA PM: Free-Agents-To-Be in 2013 Finals
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Free-Agents-To-Be in 2013 NBA Finals
The NBA Finals are underway with the San Antonio Spurs leading the Miami HEAT, 2-1. While this has been a fascinating series, 28 teams have stopped focusing on the playoffs and are now turning their attention to the draft and free agency. Both are approaching quickly and teams must be prepared so that they can bolster their roster and try to secure a spot in next year’s NBA Finals.
In this series, there are a number of players who are about to become free agents in about two weeks. Here are the unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents and potential free agents in the 2013 NBA Finals:
Unrestricted Free Agents
Manu Ginobili – San Antonio Spurs – Guard
Ginobili is in the final year of his contract with the Spurs and he can test free agency this summer. However, all signs point to Ginobili either re-signing with San Antonio so that he can finish his career with the team or retiring at 36 years old. Retirement may seem premature considering Ginobili has only played 11 years in the NBA, but keep in mind that he played professionally in Argentina and Italy for several years prior to joining the Spurs in 2002 as well as playing for the Argentine national team since 1998. Ginobili has a lot of wear and tear on his body. It remains to be seen what he’ll do this summer, but it’s hard to imagine him putting on another team’s jersey. He’ll likely return to the Spurs on a much cheaper contract (he was making $14,107,492 this season) or retire from the NBA.
Tracy McGrady – San Antonio Spurs – Guard
McGrady’s future is up in the air. I spoke to McGrady about his future several times while in Miami, and he sent mixed messages about what he plans to do next. On one hand, he said that his confidence is high again and that he’s gotten over the mental block that comes with serious injuries. McGrady said, “Mentally, it’s tough to get back to that level that you were once at. Now, I’ve gotten over that hurdle. I’m able to go out and do things that I was accustomed to doing on the basketball court. Making cuts, driving, dunking on people.” On the other hand, when asked if he wants to return to the Spurs next year or even play in the NBA at all, McGrady said, “I don’t know. I haven’t even thought that far. … I don’t know what’s going to happen.” He said several times that he didn’t plan on returning to the NBA, but that he couldn’t resist joining the Spurs and making a deep postseason run. McGrady has accepted that he’s no longer a starting-caliber player in the NBA and he’s willing to make sacrifices as long as his team is transparent and honest with him, so he could be more attractive to NBA teams this summer than he was in the past when he wanted a larger role. It could really go either way with McGrady. He may be back in the NBA or he could be playing his last games right now.
DeJuan Blair – San Antonio Spurs – Forward
Considering that Blair has fallen out of Gregg Popovich’s rotation, it’s hard to imagine him re-signing with the Spurs. San Antonio has shopped Blair several times, most recently at this year’s trade deadline, but they didn’t find a deal that they wanted to pull the trigger on. Blair will likely explore other options and try to find a situation where he can play more minutes and continue to develop his game. When Blair has seen the floor, he has been a productive reserve, averaging 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in 18.9 minutes over the course of his four-year career. Also, Blair is only 24 years old so he still has plenty of room to grow as a player. Things didn’t work out in San Antonio, but he may be able to thrive elsewhere. A change of scenery would probably be best for both parties.
Chris Andersen – Miami HEAT – Center
Andersen has been one of the biggest surprises of the postseason, emerging as one of Miami’s best reserves. He has provided the HEAT with some much needed energy and toughness while also playing solid interior defense and rebounding well. The 34-year-old has also been better than expected on the offensive end, averaging 6.9 points (the highest playoff average in his career) despite only playing 15 minutes. Andersen was a free agent until January of this year because he was recovering from knee surgery and dealing with legal issues. No team wanted to sign Andersen this season until Miami picked him up, but that could be very different this summer. Now that his off-court issues are behind him and he has proven he can still be an effective role player, he’ll likely have more potential suitors come July 1. Andersen was asked several times in Miami if he would re-sign with the HEAT, but he refused to talk about his future and instead wanted to focus on the Finals. It’s possible that he signs elsewhere, but he may be loyal to Miami since they signed him when nobody else wanted him and, more importantly, he has the best shot of winning his first ring playing with the HEAT.
Juwan Howard – Miami HEAT – Forward
Howard, like Andersen, spent most of the season in the free agent pool before being signed by Miami in March. Howard was brought in to provide veteran leadership and because he was familiar with the team and system in Miami after spending the previous two seasons with them. Howard will turn 41 years old in February so it’s possible that he’ll retire. However, if the HEAT want to keep him on the roster so that he can be a strong presence in the locker room again next season, I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to continue getting those paychecks and living the NBA lifestyle. It’s very possible that Miami does the same thing that they did this year, letting Howard spend most of the season as a free agent and then signing him to a pro-rated deal just before the start of the playoffs so that he can be part of their run.
Restricted Free Agents
Tiago Splitter – San Antonio Spurs – Center
The Spurs will extend Splitter a qualifying offer of $5,876,560 to make him a restricted free agent. San Antonio will then be able to match any offer that the big man receives. Splitter has become a key contributor for the Spurs this season and they’ll likely bring him back, assuming they can do so at a reasonable price. Splitter is part of the team’s core and has been solid in the starting lineup all season. One of the teams that miss out on the top free agent centers such as Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson or Nikola Pekovic could make things difficult for San Antonio by giving Splitter a large offer sheet, but all indications are that the Spurs want Splitter back and that he wants to return to the team. Splitter could decide to sign the qualifying offer, putting him on a one-year deal and allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. However, that’s unlikely since Splitter almost certainly wants to secure a long-term deal now.
Gary Neal – San Antonio Spurs – Guard
A few weeks ago, re-signing Neal would’ve been easy for the Spurs. However, after his recent production in the NBA Finals, there may be a few teams lining up to meet with the 28-year-old once he hits free agency on July 1. Fortunately for the Spurs, Neal will be a restricted free agent once they extend the $1,116,099 qualifying offer to him, which means they can match any offer sheet that Neal receives. Neal seems to love playing in San Antonio and he appreciates the opportunity that they gave him when no other team was interested in his services. Just like with Splitter, both parties seem like they want to continue the relationship, but anything can happen in free agency as we’ve seen many times before.
Potential Free Agents
Mario Chalmers (Team Option) – Miami HEAT – Guard
Miami has a team option on Chalmers, so they can bring back the 24-year-old point guard for the final year of his contract at $4,000,000. The HEAT will assuredly bring Chalmers back. With $75,547,200 committed in guaranteed money next season and potentially $86,464,629 on the books (if all options are picked up), it would be very difficult for Miami to find a replacement for Chalmers. He may struggle at times, but he has played well at times in the Finals and he is someone who is familiar with the team and system. Chalmers isn’t going anywhere, at least for one more year.
Ray Allen (Player Option) – Miami HEAT – Guard
If Allen opts into his contract, he’ll make $3,229,050 next season with the HEAT. If Allen opts out of his contract, he’ll once again become an unrestricted free agent. Allen seems happy in Miami because he’s competing for a championship and playing significant minutes. He also fits in with their system since they have stars that can penetrate and then kick out to him for open three-point attempts. The HEAT would love for Allen to come back because he’s an important piece for them and an absolute bargain considering he’s still one of the best shooters in the league. However, the ball is in Allen’s court. It seems like he’ll opt in to the final year of his deal based on how this year has gone for him, but we won’t know for sure until free agency gets underway.
Rashard Lewis (Player Option) – Miami HEAT – Forward
Lewis has made it clear that he’ll opt in to the final year of his contract, which will pay him $1,399,507 next season. When he discusses his future, he always says that he has another year in Miami rather than even mentioning the possibility of opting out. When asked directly about opting in, Lewis told HOOPSWORLD’s Bill Ingram: “I’m with the Miami HEAT. I don’t plan on opting out at all.” The 33-year-old isn’t considering retirement, as he told me last week that he wants to play five more years in a reserve role since his goal has always been to play 20 years in the league.
James Jones (Player Option) – Miami HEAT – Guard
Jones has a player option for next season so if he opts in, he’ll make $1,500,000. But if Jones decides to opt out, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent and can leave Miami to sign elsewhere. However, Jones is expected to opt in because all signs point to him finishing his career in Miami. He has left the team before and then re-signed, because he wants to be a member of the HEAT. He has talked about retirement several times in recent years so that’s always an option as well, but if he plans to play next season, it will likely be with the Miami HEAT.
Boris Diaw (Player Option) San Antonio Spurs – Forward
If Diaw opts in next season, he’ll make $4,702,500. If he opts out, he’ll likely make much less. The only reason it would make sense for Diaw to opt out is if he could get the Spurs, or another team, to give him a multi-year deal that would give him some long-term security rather than one big payday this year. However, $4,702,500 is a lot of money for the 31-year-old to walk away from. I’d be surprised if he decided to opt out rather than take the money and spend one more year in San Antonio, a situation that he seems to enjoy (since he’s with his good friend Tony Parker) and plays well in.
Patty Mills (Player Option) – San Antonio Spurs – Guard
Mills can opt in and make $1,133,950 next year or he can opt out and become an unrestricted free agent. Mills has fallen out of Popovich’s rotation and is only playing garbage time minutes, so he may opt out and look for a situation that would allow him to play more. He’s only 24 years old so he still has room to develop, and there would likely be interested teams if he were to test free agency. It’s unclear what Mills plans to do, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he opted out. He wouldn’t be walking away from much money at all and could probably find a bigger role elsewhere.
Matt Bonner (Partial Guarantee) – San Antonio Spurs – Forward
Bonner doesn’t have an option, but his contract is only partially guaranteed, which means the Spurs could decide to waive him to clear cap space. Only $1,000,000 of Bonner’s $3,945,000 contract is guaranteed for the 2013-14 season so it’s conceivable that the Spurs could waive him. However, he seems to be a great guy to have around the team and he’s a smart player. When he does get minutes, he makes good decisions and helps the team. Bonner is a potential free agent only because he can be waived, but nothing is finalized. He could very well end up staying in San Antonio for another year. We’ll see.
Tony Parker Gets Good News
It’s hard to imagine the San Antonio Spurs beating the Miami HEAT without Tony Parker. Yes, he only had six points in the Spurs’ Game 3 victory, but he had eight assists and was still very important because he ran the offense and limited his turnovers. Luckily, the Spurs don’t have to worry about facing the HEAT without their best player.
After experiencing pain and discomfort in his hamstring last night, Parker had an MRI this morning that indicated the injury is a strained hamstring with no tear.
Parker received the good news and almost immediately took to Twitter, posting a message in French that translates to, “I just had MRI. Result: I suffer from a slight stretch to the hamstring. We’ll see tomorrow how I feel, I really hope to play!”
At one point during Game 3, Parker had to leave the game, heading back to the locker room to be evaluated by San Antonio’s medical staff. Parker was experiencing pain as well as a strange feeling in his hamstring. After the game, Parker described the feeling as “weird,” but couldn’t describe it or pinpoint which play it happened on.
“I felt something on my hamstring so I don’t know, I have no idea,” Parker said. “Hopefully it’s nothing big and it’s just a cramping, or got tight on me. I don’t know, it was just a weird feeling. I just wanted to make sure the doctor said I was okay and then I played two minutes in the fourth quarter and we were up big so Pop didn’t want to take a risk. … It was just weird. I can’t really remember one play. Hopefully it just got tight and hopefully I will be fine.”
Parker finished the game with six points on 2-of-5 shooting from the field along with eight assists in 27 minutes. The Spurs beat the HEAT, 113-77, handing Miami their worst playoff loss in franchise history.
All signs point to Parker being available for Game 4, which is excellent news for the Spurs.
USA Basketball Announces Mini-Camp Participants
The following players will participate in the camp:
Ryan Anderson (New Orleans Pelicans); Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors); Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies); DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings); Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans); DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors); Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons); Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets); Derrick Favors (Utah Jazz); Paul George (Indiana Pacers); Taj Gibson (Chicago Bulls); Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz); Jrue Holiday (Philadelphia 76ers); Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers); DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers); Ty Lawson (Denver Nuggets); Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons); Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets); Larry Sanders (Milwaukee Bucks); Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors); Dion Waiters (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats); John Wall (Washington Wizards); and Tyler Zeller (Cleveland Cavaliers).
“The group of players we have assembled for the mini-camp are extremely talented and very versatile. This is an important opportunity for each one of them because we will be evaluating which players will continue to be involved in future USA National Team training camps and teams,” said USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo, who has seen USA National teams compile a 62-1 record since taking charge of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team program in 2005. “Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Danny Granger, and Andre Iguodala were all guys who played in our 2009 mini-camp and went on to play for the 2010 USA World Championship and 2012 U.S. Olympic teams that won gold. I’m sure it will not be much different this time around and some of the players involved in this mini-camp will be members of upcoming USA National teams.
“The majority of these players have prior USA Basketball experience including 10 members of last summer’s USA Select Team that helped prepare the U.S. Olympic Team. This year is an important first step in the rebuilding of the USA National Team roster for the 2014-16 international competitions, and we believe we have compiled a roster of not only outstanding basketball talents, but individuals who will represent the United States in the manner we expect.”
Buy USA TODAY’s 2013 NBA Draft Preview
Be sure to order USA TODAY’s 2013 NBA Draft Preview or pick it up at a newsstand near you.
The HOOPSWORLD team helped put this preview issue together and it has all of the information you could possibly need to make sure you’re ready for the draft on June 27.
It has articles on many of the top players, in-depth capsules for each team and player, a mock draft, a look ahead at next year’s star-studded class and much more.