By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Jul 1 2009 10:51AM
Free agency has begun, and we've already gotten word of teams recruiting their top targets of the summer. Deals can't be signed until next Wednesday, but some discussions are already in the advanced stages.
Some moves will work. Some won't. Last season, there were some summer free agent signings that general managers were regretting by Christmas.
With that in mind, here are five suggested free agent signings that would work out well this season.
Nate McMillan has a defensive reputation and the Blazers allowed 94.1 points per game, but the numbers are deceptive since they played at one of the slowest paces in the league. Portland wasn't nearly as good defensively as it was offensively last season. The Blazers ranked second in the league with an offensive efficiency of 115.2 points scored per 100 possessions, but just 11th defensively (109.0).
Portland needs a point guard (and may get one in Andre Miller), but they could also use an upgrade at the small forward position (Rudy Fernandez is an ideal sixth man). Artest would give them that, as well as the defensive toughness and experience they need to take the next step.
During the Rockets-Blazers first round playoff series, Artest called Brandon Roy "the best player I've played against," while also dismissing Roy's defense as "suspect." If he signed with the Blazers, Artest wouldn't have to guard Roy and he could teach the young All-Star a thing or two about defense.
Under Larry Brown, the Bobcats were a much-improved defensive team last season, ranking seventh by allowing just 107.5 points per 100 possessions. But they were 27th offensively, scoring 106.0 points per 100 possessions.
Iverson would be an instant shot in the arm to the Charlotte offense, and this may be one team that could actually use him in the starting lineup. Best of all, Brown is a coach that has dealt (and succeeded) with Iverson before, when they helped lead the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals.
Brown often said that the best offense that Sixers team had was letting Iverson get into the paint and having his rebounders (such as Tyrone Hill, George Lynch and Theo Ratliff) clean up the glass. Those players couldn't create their own shots, but Iverson's shot attempts created put-back tries for them.
Emeka Okafor is one of the best offensive rebounders in the league, and Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw and DeSagana Diop can also take advantage of Iverson's game by cleaning up the glass.
The Sixers are best when they run. With athletes like Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and Marreese Speights, they can fly down the floor and kill you in transition. In many ways, they're a lot like the Nets of early 2000s.
In 2002 and 2003, Kidd led New Jersey to The Finals. He's not the same player he was then, but he can still get the ball to his teammates where they need it and get the most from transition opportunities.
In addition, Kidd's improved shooting will help spread the floor for the returning Elton Brand. Andre Miller gave the Sixers a solid floor leader, but he was a poor perimeter shooter.
A move to Philly would also reunite Kidd with Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski and coach Eddie Jordan, both of whom were with the Nets. This move also puts him within a short drive of his kids in northern New Jersey. A move to New York would get him closer to his kids, but not to the Playoffs.
The Raptors have been one of the worst rebounding teams in the league for the last few seasons. Chris Bosh is an All-Star power forward, but he's most comfortable in the high post. Fellow big man Andrea Bargnani is, of course, most comfortable on the perimeter.
So the Raptors need a big that can operate down low and do the dirty work on the boards. Lee ranked third in the NBA with 11.7 rebounds per game and recorded a league-high 65 double-doubles. He doesn't have the size of a center, but the trio of Bargnani, Bosh and Lee complement each other very well.
Bosh may leave Toronto a year from now, but that wouldn't diminish Lee's value with the Raptors because Bargnani will always need help on the glass.
The 66-win season and 8-0 start to the Playoffs were nice storylines for Cleveland. But only after losing in six games to the Magic in the East finals did it become obvious that the Cavs lacked frontline versatility.
Villanueva isn't the most athletic guy around and his defense is questionable, but he's much more mobile than anyone the Cavs have up front. Villanueva would give Cleveland more offense out of the power forward spot, and with his shooting range, he'll better complement Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas on the frontline. There seems to be mutual interest here, so this looks like the scenario most likely to take place.
Often, when teams make moves to match up with the team that ended their season, they usually don't see them the next year. But if the Cavs happen to meet the Magic again in the playoffs and they don't have anyone to guard Rashard Lewis, the Cavs may be saying goodbye to LeBron James.
|Shot Makers: Western All-Stars|
See what makes Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and James Harden three of the best shot makers in the West.
|Top of the Hour|
Kristen Ledlow has the latest news from around the Association.
|Inside the NBA: Barkley's Rant on Suns|
Charles Barkley goes on an epic rant about the Phoenix Suns organization.
|#LiveMasHYSTERIA Kevin Durant|
Kevin Durant crosses-up his defender and sticks the deep triple to take the lead with :00.5 seconds left.
|Daily Fantasy Minute - Feb. 5 |
Get your lineup ready for Friday's games with these tips from NBA.com!