2013 NBA Free Agency Outlook
Chris Paul (key teams interested: LAC): Everyone wants Paul on their squad, but no teams aside from the Clippers really went after the All-Star point guard with the thought that they had a chance of landing him. The thought was that if the Clippers acquired Doc Rivers as their head coach, Paul would re-sign. The Clippers traded for Rivers, and Paul promptly agreed to a max contract (five years, $107 million) on the first day of free agency.
Dwight Howard (key teams interested: HOU, DAL, ATL, LAL, GSW, LAC): The Lakers traded for Howard last offseason under the impression that they would be able to re-sign him this offseason, but reports are suggesting that Howard would like a change of scenery. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak met with Howard on Monday morning, and Kobe Bryant is expected to meet with him on Tuesday, so the Lakers still have a shot to get him back, but it appears that teams like the Rockets, Mavericks, and Hawks may have a better shot. All three teams have plenty of cap space.
The Rockets are going after Howard with the help of Hakeem Olajuwon. They also brought on Howard's old strength and conditioning coach from Orlando. Reports from ESPN say Howard "really likes" the Mavericks, who are using Dirk Nowitzki and owner Mark Cuban to lure him to Dallas. The Hawks play in Howard's hometown of Atlanta, and have gutted their team in hopes of building a new squad around him. The Warriors will meet with Howard sometime this week, and the Clippers are just a throw-in due to Howard's rumored desire to play with Chris Paul. Howard will be the most interesting free agent to follow this offseason.
Josh Smith (key teams interested: DET, HOU, BOS): Smith had a five-hour meeting with the Pistons beginning on the first minute of free agency. The meeting was reportedly "productive." The Rockets are said to be viewing Smith as a backup plan in case they can't land Dwight Howard. The Celtics are rumored to be interested in a sign-and-trade to acquire Smith, but it currently doesn't appear likely. ESPN's Marc Stein claims that Smith will have 5-6 suitors, so more teams are bound to surface.
Al Jefferson (key teams interested: CHA, BOS): It looks like Jefferson is set to leave Utah, as he will demand big money and the Jazz have some very promising young bigs ready to take on bigger roles. The Bobcats - who have holes all over their frontcourt - are said to be pursuing the 28-year-old center. He could be a nice fit in Charlotte next to recently drafted Cody Zeller, who the Bobcats view as a stretch power forward. I threw the Celtics in because they reportedly attempted to trade for Jefferson during the regular season, and also are the team that drafted him. However, it looks like fellow Jazz big man Paul Millsap is higher on the Celtics' list.
Monta Ellis (key teams interested: ATL, DAL, NY, SAC, CHI, SAS, DEN, PHO): The Bucks are expected to prioritize Brandon Jennings this offseason, so it looks like Ellis will be looking for a new home. He is reportedly willing to sacrifice some money to play for a winning team, so squads with a lot of cap space but limited talent (ATL, DAL, SAC, PHO) shouldn't necessarily be considered the frontrunners. The Knicks are very limited financially, so they will have a hard time landing Ellis, despite their interest. The Bulls have had a need at shooting guard for a while now. The Spurs may be looking for a replacement for Manu Ginobili. The same goes for the Nuggets with Andre Iguodala.
Tony Allen (key teams interested: MEM, IND, MIL, NY, POR): After leading the NBA in All-Defensive First Team votes, Allen will be a hot commodity this summer. However, he has expressed a clear interest in returning to the Grizzlies. The other four teams have also expressed interest, but the Grizzlies will be able to get Allen back if they want to (which I would imagine they will).
Tyreke Evans *restricted* (key teams interested: NO): With a surplus of guards/wings (especially after drafting Ben McLemore), it looks like the Kings are prepared to lose Evans once a team inevitably sends him an offer sheet. Evans' play has dropped off quite a bit recently, but he had a sensational rookie year and will draw interest based on the lofty potential he showed back then. As of now, the Pelicans are the only team that have been linked to Evans - they spoke with him Monday morning. It has been suggested that they may attempt a sign and trade by sending Greivis Vasquez or Eric Gordon to Sacramento. (UPDATE: Evans may agree to an offer sheet with the Pelicans worth approximately $44 million over four years by Monday evening).