There were plenty of fantastic seasons from a number of bench players throughout the NBA this year. From a resurgent Derrick Rose to another excellent campaign from Spencer Dinwiddie, and Lou Williams once again proving why he is a perennial “Sixth Man” candidate, bench mobs across the league made vital contributions to playoff teams and non-contenders alike. One such player was Orlando Magic swingman Terrence Ross.
The former Toronto Raptor played in nearly every game this season, averaging 15.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game for Steve Clifford’s club.
This was a breakout year for Terrence Ross. He had always shown the potential to be a key player on a playoff team since his days in Toronto, but he struggled in his first full year in Orlando. After moving to a permanent bench role, however, he posted career highs in points and rebounds, proving to be a go-to scorer for Orlando’s second unit.
Ross posted a salivating per-36 line of 20.5 points and 4.7 boards. His growing reputation as a sharpshooter with tremendous athleticism and growing scoring ability makes him an intriguing free agent to watch this summer.
He made $10.5 million this past year, but will almost certainly command a higher salary in the open market coming off the best season of his career. Given that he will be 28 next season, Terrence Ross is still in his basketball prime.
Here are three ideal destinations for Ross in free agency:
1. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are handicapped in terms of financial flexibility, but they could make room for Ross by stretching Langston Galloway and Glenn Robinson III, neither of whom have developed in Detroit and lack the kind of ability Ross possesses.
They desperately need shooters and wing scorers in the Motor City. Blake Griffin is coming off the best season of his career, and Reggie Jackson became a steady scoring option in the second half of the year. But outside of those two, the Pistons lacked another perimeter-oriented player who could consistently score in double figures.
With Griffin and Andre Drummond in the frontcourt, the Pistons need another presence to space the floor in addition to Jackson and Luke Kennard. Bruce Brown emerged as an excellent defender, but he simply cannot score and looks extremely tentative on the offensive end.
Ross has never been a great defender, but he might improve in a system where the paint is held down by an interior stopper like Drummond.
2. Houston Rockets
Houston general manager Daryl Morey will likely be given the green light to spend over the luxury tax this offseason, and Ross could be a player the Rockets target.
Ross would almost certainly be an upgrade over Gerald Green and Iman Shumpert on the wing. He can space the floor (38 percent beyond the arc last season) and can score both off the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations.
The Rockets seemed to grapple significantly with the loss of Trevor Ariza in their playoff series loss to the Golden State Warriors. Although P.J. Tucker was tremendous in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball lineup, Houston would rather he crash the boards instead of having to worry about roaming the perimeter looking for an open shot.
Ross, on the other hand, would provide the extra shooter the Rockets lacked against the Warriors. That said, he can hardly compare to what Ariza brought defensively.
Would Morey and the Rockets take a gamble on Ross, or will they look for more of a prototypical “3 and D” player in free agency?
3. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers were rumored to be a potential deadline destination for Ross prior to their acquisition of Tobias Harris, but they might make a push to sign him a few short months later.
Jimmy Butler has a player option that he almost certainly will decline, and both Harris and J.J. Redick are unrestricted free agents. The Sixers could very well strike out on two of those three, and they will need to add perimeter shooting as a result.
Ross would be the perfect filler. Whereas Redick and Harris were primarily shooters who thrived off the ball, Ross can be a secondary ball-handler (similarly to how Butler developed during his time in Philly) and provide an additional scoring threat.
The Sixers’ so-called “Death Lineup” never really seemed to jell in Philadelphia. Even though it is likely that they will do everything in their power to retain some of their current talent, Ross would be an excellent signing should the Sixers fall behind the eight ball in contract discussions with Harris or Redick.