San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Four

A quick look at your top free agents for 2013 (as of now)


After a summer of rebuilding and trying to put a team together, there are a few teams out there that are clearly looking at next summer as the chance to remake their lineup. Yes, we’re looking at you, Dallas. But you are not alone.

So, who are next summer’s big potential free agents? Here is the short list, the highlights, the guys everyone will be going after. IF you want a complete list, including guys with options for next year (player or team) and restricted free agents, Hoopsworld can help you out.

Chris Paul: The Clippers are doing everything in their power to keep him, to the point that CAA seems to run this team at points. They brought back Chauncey Billups for him, they have taken the young core and turned it into Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe with veterans like Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill. The “grow with the youth” plan is out. The smart money is that Paul re-signs with the Clippers. But he could look around the West, see the Lakers and Thunder, and decide the Clippers are not where he can win. And remember, Donald Sterling still owns his team so the potential for him to screw it up exists.

Dwight Howard: He has to be on the list as an unrestricted FA, but there is little or no chance the Lakers do not re-sign him. He will want that. After his public relations disaster the past year, he doesn’t want to start the free agency public process up again.

James Harden: We have discussed this at length — the Thunder want to keep him but they are not getting a discount. Someone will give him a max offer and Oklahoma City will have to venture into the tax realm to keep him.

Andrew Bynum: He most likely re-signs with Philadelphia unless things go wrong this season. But he is unrestricted.

Manu Ginobili: He’s an unrestricted free agent, but it’s hard to imagine him leaving the Spurs. Or them letting him. Length of the deal will be the question here.

Josh Smith: The Hawks forward is unrestricted and if he is the No. 2 guy on a team that team could be very, very good. Danny Ferry could be shopping him as a rental at the trade deadline, he seems to be shopping everyone.

Stephen Curry: He will be a restricted free agent and how in demand he will be will depend on how his ankle holds up this season. But if it does teams could make a run at him and the Warriors would have an expensive choice whether to match or nor.

Paul Millsap: Underrated and unrestricted, he is going to get paid next summer by someone who wants boards and strong play inside.

Al Jefferson: He is unrestricted as well, Utah could lose their front line. Or, they could r-sign him and Millsap.

DeMar DeRozan: He will be a restricted free agent in Toronto, they can match. He’s athletic and can play, but how much would you pay for him?

David West: One of the best pick-and-pop bigs in the game, a solid strong player if you have a good point guard to work off him. The Pacers will try to keep him but he is unrestricted.

Kevin Martin: He’s unrestricted if you want a gunner who can get to the line.

Ty Lawson: Restricted free agent, Denver will want to keep him but he could get offers.

Darren Collison: He’s a restricted free agent but with Dallas in rebuild mode and going after guys like Chris Paul he might be had with a nice offer.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked

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The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.

Byron Scott doesn’t see reason D’Angelo Russell should play more in fourth


The Lakers’ clear top priority for this season should be simple: develop their young stars.

Julius Randle is a beast with the ball in his hands, but a one-handed beast who needs to work on his right hand. D'Angelo Russell has shown flashes but is trying to adapt to the speed and style of the NBA game. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. can be pieces on a good team, eventually. The Lakers need to build that foundation.

Which is why coach Byron Scott sitting Russell in the fourth quarter of games, even blowouts, is perplexing. As were his responses when asked about it after the Lakers’ lastest blowout loss, Tuesday night to the Golden state Warriors. So Scott, is there value in playing Russell in blowouts to get him more time on the court? Mark Medina of the LA Daily News had the answer.

“Nah. There’s really no reason to. At that particular time we’re down 30 [points],” Scott said. “I wanted to get Ryan [Kelly] some time and Marcelo [Huertas] as well and some other guys that haven’t played a lot.”

That would be 32-year-old Marcelo Huertas, who played the fourth quarter Tuesday while Russell sat.

This is not Gregg Popovich resting his stars to keep them fresh for the playoffs here. We are talking about a 19-year-old rookie point guard whose game is based on court vision, anticipation, and angles, a guy who has to learn how to apply those in a league where everybody is long and fast. He needs time on the court to adapt. Is he going to make mistakes? Yes. A lot of them. That’s what rookies do. If you coach them up, they learn from those mistakes and make fewer each time out. It’s a sometimes painful process, but it’s how rookies learn.

Except in Byron Scott’s world where they get benched. Because that will teach them. Meanwhile Kobe can do whatever he wants, because he was once great and that gives him carte blanche.