Hey everyone, welcome to the fifth installment of Rotoworld’s division-by-division 2016 NBA free agency preview. I’ll be previewing the Southwest Division in this article and will discuss what the Spurs, Mavericks, Rockets, Grizzlies and Pelicans could do in free agency. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the previews in the links below!
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Team Needs: Regardless of whether or not Tim Duncan retires this summer, the Spurs will still be a contender in the West with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge leading the team. They could use an upgrade at point guard with Tony Parker struggling for the past couple of seasons, and the Spurs will definitely try to upgrade their bench this summer. Adding another shooting guard also might not be a bad idea, as Danny Green failed to meet expectations last season after signing a 4-year, $40 million deal and Manu Ginobili still hasn’t decided if he will retire. Additionally, finding a replacement for David West will also be a priority for San Antonio this offseason.
FA Outlook: The Spurs have been linked with Mike Conley, so maybe they are serious about reducing Parker’s role next season. They also have a decent shot at landing Kevin Durant if he leaves OKC this summer, as they’re one of the few teams that have secured a meeting with the superstar forward. Dwyane Wade’s agent has also reached out to the Spurs, but it’s likely just a negotiation ploy to increase his value on the open market. As for Boban Marjanovic, I fully expect him to remain in San Antonio since the Spurs have the ability to match any opposing offers for the big man.
Free Agents: Dirk Nowitzki (unrestricted), Deron Williams (unrestricted), Chandler Parsons (unrestricted), Raymond Felton (unrestricted), David Lee (unrestricted), Zaza Pachulia (unrestricted), Charlie Villanueva (unrestricted), Dwight Powell (restricted).
Team Needs: The Mavericks exceeded expectations last season despite having an underwhelming roster, as players such as Deron Williams, Zaza Pachulia and Raymond Felton were all able to revitalize their careers. Unfortunately for Dallas, all three of those guys are becoming free agents along with Chandler Parsons and their franchise player, Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs will always try to make some noise in the offseason as long as Mark Cuban is around, so expect them to go after some big-name free agents. Replacing Parsons will likely be the first priority, while finding a long-term answer at the center position will also be one of Dallas’ main goals. There aren’t many great options at point guard in free agency, so Dallas might be better off trying to re-sign Williams unless they can steal Mike Conley from the Grizzlies.
FA Outlook: Nowitzki’s name has been floating around the rumor mill and there was a report that the Warriors were interested, but I just don’t see him leaving Dallas. Expect Nowitzki to return for one or two more seasons and don’t be surprised if he takes another discount to give Dallas some more flexibility in free agency. It doesn’t sound like the Mavs want to give Chandler Parsons a max deal, so there’s a good chance he leaves this summer. The good news for Dallas is that they’ve been linked to Nicolas Batum, and while he may also demand a max deal, he’s a better player than Parsons and doesn’t have durability issues.
Dallas is actually the first team other than the Grizzlies to secure a meeting with Mike Conley, but the Rockets, Pelicans, Nets and Lakers are also trying to get a meeting. While adding Conley would be huge, Dallas won’t stop there. Hassan Whiteside has reportedly narrowed his choice down to three teams, and one of those teams is the Mavs (Heat and Blazers are also in the mix). Additionally, expect the Mavs to bring back Dwight Powell unless they run out of cap space.
Free Agents: Chris Andersen (unrestricted), Matt Barnes (unrestricted), Mike Conley (unrestricted), Bryce Cotton (unrestricted), Jordan Farmar (unrestricted), P.J. Hairston (unrestricted), Ryan Hollins (unrestricted), Xavier Munford (unrestricted), Lance Stephenson (unrestricted).
Team Needs: With a total of nine players hitting free agency, the Grizzlies are facing a crucial offseason for the future of the franchise. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will be back in the frontcourt, and the Grizzlies were able to draft two promising rookies in Wade Baldwin and Deyonta Davis. However, they could lose Mike Conley this summer and the team desperately needs some help on the wings with Barnes and Stephenson both hitting the open market.
FA Outlook: The Grizzlies will do everything they can to keep Conley, but they will likely have to offer him a five-year max deal with teams such as the Mavericks, Rockets, Pelicans, Nets, Spurs and Lakers expected to pursue him. If the Grizzlies want to remain in the playoff picture next season, re-signing Conley will be crucial. Memphis will have some cap space to work with this summer, and the good news is that they have been linked with Chandler Parsons and Kent Bazemore which would give them some much needed talent on the wings. The Grizzlies will probably try to bring back either Barnes or Stephenson, but they won’t be willing to overpay to do so.
Team Needs: The Rockets were nothing short of a disaster last season and it’s clear that the franchise needs some major changes. They hired head coach Mike D’Antoni to push the pace next season which should bode well for James Harden, but the hire basically signaled the end of Dwight Howard’s career in Houston. There have been some reports that the Rockets have been shopping Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley and it’s no secret that the Rockets couldn’t find an answer at power forward last season, so they should be very busy this offseason. They do have a couple of young promising centers in Clint Capela and rookie Chinanu Onuaku, so expect them to explore the market for PGs, SFs and PFs.
FA Outlook: The Rockets are very intrigued by Mike Conley, but they still haven’t been able to secure a meeting with the PG. They also haven’t had any luck convincing Kevin Durant to meet with the team, so it sounds like they can kiss that dream goodbye. However, they have been able to secure a meeting with Al Horford and are also expected to sit down with Ryan Anderson, so maybe they will be able to bring in some top talent to appease Harden. As for their own free agents, the Rockets will be able to match any opposing offers for Motiejunas, but Terrence Jones will likely be moving on to a new city after the Rockets decided to not extend him a qualifying offer.
Free Agents: Ryan Anderson (unrestricted), Norris Cole (unrestricted), James Ennis (unrestricted), Tim Frazier (restricted), Alonzo Gee (unrestricted), Eric Gordon (unrestricted), Jordan Hamilton (unrestricted), Kendrick Perkins (unrestricted).
Team Needs: A little bit of everything. Unless the Pelicans decide to move Anthony Davis to center, they seriously need to find a replacement for Omer Asik. It sounds like Ryan Anderson is moving on, so adding another power forward will be important as well. Jrue Holiday has one year left on his deal, but Tim Frazier showed enough last season to earn a look as the backup PG for opening night. Tyreke Evans should be back as the starting SF, while promising rookie Buddy Hield should be ready to step into Eric Gordon’s role right away. The Pelicans had one of the worst benches in the NBA last season, so that will obviously be a focus this summer as well.
FA Outlook: The Pelicans aren’t close to being a contender, so they probably won’t be in the running for any of the big-name free agents. However, they can still have a successful offseason by signing some under-the-radar players, and they have been linked with guys such as Evan Turner and Kent Bazemore. There was also a report that the Pelicans have interest in Terrence Jones, so that would potentially give them a suitable replacement for Anderson.