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3 ideal free agent destinations for Kendrick Nunn

Kendrick Nunn, Heat

The Miami Heat have a lot of crucial decisions to make over the next week, one of them deciding whether to re-sign guard Kendrick Nunn. With Nunn and Duncan Robinson being restricted free agents and the team being on the hunt for a permanent point guard solution, it’s reasonable to think a core piece of the last two years will depart Miami this offseason.

Nunn is a scorer. Across his two seasons with the Heat, he averaged a combined 15.0 points and three assists per game while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc as a primary starter.

Nunn is a plausible shooter who’s adept at creating his own shot and scoring off the dribble. He’s one of the more intriguing free agents this offseason, as he can be an embedded aspect of an up-and-coming team and is likely to receive an eight figure payday.

Here are three ideal free agent destinations for Kendrick Nunn

3) New Orleans Pelicans

With Eric Bledsoe traded and free agent Lonzo Ball likely a goner, the Pelicans could use another backcourt player. Kendrick Nunn is an enticing option for first-year head coach Willie Green.

New Orleans’ frontcourt is formidable. With the likes of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas present, the Pelicans’ focus should be on getting the proper guards present to complement their stacked frontcourt. Nunn offers the Pelicans an efficient shooter and capable scorer who can get the ducks in a row.

With Williamson and Ingram scoring in a multitude of ways, Nunn wouldn’t be the focal point of defensive attention. He’d have plenty of clean looks from the perimeter and a handful of viable options in pick-and-roll and/or traditional halfcourt sets to get the ball to for an easy bucket. Nunn could be the missing link for the Pelicans and provide young guards like Kira Lewis Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker more time to develop.

On the other hand, the Pelicans may prefer to spend their coin on a veteran guard or outside shooters. Furthermore, Lewis and Alexander-Walker should have bright futures, and the addition of a fellow youngster could hinder their chances of being NOLA’s backcourt of the future.

2) New York Knicks

The Knicks need backcourt scoring, and Kendrick Nunn would provide them with that precise skill set.

Nunn can score in isolation, get scrappy buckets off the dribble and drain outside jump shots. His youth (Nunn turns 26 on August 3) and offensive versatility would do the trick for head coach Tom Thibodeau’s offense. The Knicks need another scorer and someone who can run their offense, getting everyone else the ball in their hotspots. With Miami, Nunn’s role has been somewhat all over the place.

In New York, Nunn would be bringing the ball up the floor, creating opportunities for Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. Nunn could also benefit from the attention Randle and Barrett attract in the form of open jump shots from the perimeter. He’d be their lead ball-handler and is a player who fits the Knicks’ timeline, as Randle, 26, is the team’s oldest player. The Knicks can sign Nunn and still have the cap room to add an upgrade at small forward (Kelly Oubre Jr. or Evan Fournier?) and shooters to spread the floor.

Investing in a player who’s still just two years into his NBA career could pay dividends, as there’s potentially room for Nunn to grow more productive and impactful. All that said, what could halt a Nunn-Knicks marriage is the team feeling Nunn is more of a combo guard than a true point guard and them already having a couple of young guards in Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride.

1) Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have a void in their backcourt, and Kendrick Nunn could fill that vacancy.

Kyle Lowry’s days in Toronto are likely numbered, and head coach Nick Nurse has an abruptly promising, young core. Rookie Scottie Barnes joins a rotation that includes homegrown products like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Chris Boucher. Speaking of VanVleet, he and Nunn would be an enticing backcourt pairing. The two guards are each respectable shooters who can find their teammates, are roughly the same age and were each undrafted.

One might argue that both Nunn and VanVleet aren’t true point guards. At the same time, their combined skill sets make for a savvy backcourt. They’d provide outside shooting and a pair of players who have improved in every passing year to co-run the Raptors’ offense. It’s also possible that the Raptors find a way to re-sign Gary Trent Jr. this offseason, which would further cement a deep-rooted and well-rounded Raptors’ core.

With the veterans gradually leaving the building, the Raptors should spend their money on youth and take chances on players with upside. Nunn is right up their wheelhouse and should be a seamless fit in their rotation. It’s feasible to think this bunch can get back in the Eastern Conference mix next season.