As long as the NBA collective bargaining agreement is ratified and there is no reason to think that it won’t be, NBA camps will open for a short training camp, a couple of exhibition games, and lace it up for real on Christmas Day. There is still plenty to of stuff to be worked out not the least of which is the signing of unrestricted free agents. There are plenty of hired guns out there so we’ll look at a couple of impact free agents and their possible destinations.
Nene (C): Denver Nuggets
Big men are always at a premium and this year will be no exception. The best big man on the market is the former Brazilian national Nene Hilario. At 6’11” and rock solid, you can pencil in 15 ppg and 8 rpg and solid defense. There were questions of Nene’s durability because on injuries and a bout with testicular cancer early in his career but he’s played 75+ game the last three years and will be a solid addition wherever he goes. The New Jersey Nets and Houston Rockets appear to be his primary suitors.
Tyson Chandler (C): Dallas Mavericks
Chandler has as much as said that he doesn’t expect to get his ring in a Dallas Maverick uniform. Long and athletic, Chandler is highly prized as he specializes in rebounding and shot blocking while still managing to get double-digit points on most nights. People forget that he was the second overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft but was saddled with losing organizations before catching on with the Mavs last year. Chandler would be a perfect fit in Miami although it would seem impossible to realize a lng term deal with the Heat. Chandler’s problem with the Mavs is that he doesn’t want to be Dwight Howard trade bait. It will be intersting to see how this all works out.
David West (F): New Orleans Hornets
The ex-Xavier Musketeer has very quietly put together a solid under-the-radar career in Charlotte/New Orleans. He’s averaged 16.4 ppg and 8.7 rpg during his eight year career. He’s a solid worker and a lunch pail type of guy. West come off the first injury of his career, a knee injury that required season surgery. He has had the extra time from the lockout for rehab so he should be good as new once he’s game tight. West is 31 which could be a red flag to some. The Pacres seem to be the best fit in terms of need and money to spend.
Shane Battier (F): Memphis Grizzlies
Battier makes this list over say a Grant Hill in that he’s most likely already found a home in Miami. The Dukie is hard working and does all the dirty work including being the stopper on opponents top-scorers. Battier has range and has averaged 9.6 ppg in his career. As the Heat’s mid-level exception, Battier could get up to $20 milllion over four years or $9.4 million over three years depending on the Heats exposure to the new luxury tax. The Lakers and Oklahoma City or also thought to be interested in Battier’s services.
Jason Richardson (G): The Orlando Magic
J Rich is a popular guy. The Magic would like to bring him back and his name has been linked to the Bulls, Celtics, and Warriors. Richardson is still an 18.0 ppg scorer over his career despite sometimes coming off the bench in recent years. The former two-time NBA slam dunk champion started last year in Phoenix before coming to Orlando in the Vince Carter deal. The fifth overall pick out of Michigan State in 2001, Richardson could wind up back in Golden State, the team that drafted him. The Bulls are in the market for a low risk shooting guard to use their mid-level exception and are looking at Richardson and Caron Butler.