Best of Who’s Left in NBA Free Agency
It’s almost desperation time in free agency. That point in which your favorite team has come up empty-handed as the star player they’ve lusted after re-signs with the home team or the home team matches an offer to the star player.
After this happens, expect the teams left out in the cold to make a run at the best of what’s left in the free agent class of 2012.
Let’s keep in mind that none of the deals that have been reported so far are official until this Wednesday, July 11. Nonetheless, here’s the cream of the crop of free agents still available without a deal in place by position:
Once celebrated as a key cog for the future of the L.A. Lakers, a dismal post season and the arrival of Steve Nash have sealed the exit of Sessions from Los Angeles. After averaging 12.7 points on nearly 48 percent shooting and 6.2 assists per game in 23 games (19 starts) during the regular season, Sessions averaged just 9.7 points on 37.7 percent shooting and just over 3.5 assists in 12 postseason starts.
However, Sessions is still just 26 years old and hasn’t yet hit his ceiling as an NBA player.
As of now, Sessions has already been in talks with the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks about acquiring his services. Sessions left $4.55 million on the table to become a free agent, so it’s safe to say the Middle Level Exception ($5 million) would be his starting asking price.
With the Phoenix Suns having withdrawn their qualifying offer, Brooks finds himself an unrestricted free agent this offseason after spending last season playing basketball in China. In his last (and only) full season as a starter in the 2009-2010 season, Brooks averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists for the Rockets and has the tools to be a serviceable point guard next season.
Also on the radar of two teams looking for a point guard, Brooks could be heading to the Mavericks or Rockets before it’s all said and done. Brooks has already met with the Rockets and there could be an interest from both sides for Brooks to rejoin the team in Houston.
Ironically, the Rockets traded Brooks at the 2011 trade deadline to the Phoenix Suns for Goran Dragic (who recently agreed to terms with Phoenix) and a future first round pick.
According to Williams, the 25-year old point guard will be making an abrupt departure from the Philadelphia 76ers after seven seasons with the team.
“Philly, I appreciate you all,” Williams announced via Twitter. “Unfortunately I will not be coming back, as an organization they decided to move in a different direction.”
After averaging nearly 15 points per game last season off the bench, Williams is a solid scorer who might have been expecting a hefty raise this offseason. Money is almost assuredly the motivation for the split, which could also be a reason Williams may wait a while to find a team in free agency.
D.J. Augustin (Restricted):
With Kemba Walker waiting in the wings as the future starting point guard for the Charlotte Bobcats, seemingly, Augustin’s days in Charlotte could be numbered. Talk of Augustin leaving the Queen City this offseason may be a bit premature though, as the Bobcats have recently extended a qualifying offer to Augustin, making him a restricted free agent.
The Bobcats now have the ability to match any offer extended to Augustin and, judging by the lack of activity so far, are likely to re-sign him at a reasonable price. Last season, Augustin averaged 11.1 points and 6.4 assists in 48 starts this past season for Charlotte but shot just 37.6 percent from the field.
It’s also no secret that Augustin declined a contract extension earlier this season and may have been apart of numerous trade discussions at the 2012 deadline so this is certainly a developing situation.
One of the most versatile guards still left on the market, Mayo is capable of being a solid contributor on a playoff team – just as he was the last few years with the Memphis Grizzlies. Some may forget that, as a starter with Memphis during his first two seasons in the NBA, Mayo averaged 18 points per game on 45 percent shooting from the floor.
Still just 24-years of age, Mayo proved over the last two seasons that he can also be a key factor as a sixth man off the bench.
The Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns could all be in the running for Mayo’s services once the first wave of free agent signings is completed. Looking for a replacement for departed sixth man Jason Terry, the Mavericks could also be in the running for Mayo if the price and (more importantly) the length of the contract is right.
After proving last season that he indeed could be an integral part of a playoff team with little-to-no distractions, West is still available for perspective teams. Not only was he efficient offensively in averaging 9.6 points per contest on over 46 percent shooting but West’s overall versatility opened up a lot of eyes in Dallas. At times, West served as both the Mavericks best perimeter defender and as a solid facilitator on the offensive end of the floor.
Dallas could still be in the mix for his services, but it’s more likely he gets additional money and extra years elsewhere.
While his play on the court has been overshadowed by a doomed high profile marriage off it, Humphries has proven to be a solid contributor in the paint throughout his eight-year career. Last season, after shedding the drama of being involved with a Kardashian, the 27-year old Humphries averaged 13.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game in 34.9 minutes a night – all career highs.
Rumored to be involved in numerous sign-and-trades that have the Brooklyn Nets acquiring Dwight Howard, Humphries could land with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic or even the Charlotte Bobcats. Of course, that all depends on Humphries consent and word is he wants a multi-year, guaranteed deal.
A quality defender, efficient offensive player and adequate rebounder; Landry is a stout interior player and is still relatively young having played just five NBA seasons thus far. Last season, Landry stuck close to his career stats by shooting over 50 percent from the field, averaging 12.5 points and snagging 5.2 rebounds per contest. Keep in mind, Landry started just eight of the 41 contests he played in 2012 and did that damage in a modest 24.4 minutes a night.
Especially if they can get him at a discount, teams will be on the prowl for Landry and soon with the Hornets likely to renounce his rights after acquiring forward Ryan Anderson from the Magic.
The Milwaukee Bucks, among others, have already been in contact with Landry and his agent.
Even at 33-years old and with his career conceivably winding down, Brand continues to be a valuable interior player going into his 14th NBA season. Over the last four years with the Philadelphia 76ers, Brand has not only been a quality contributor but a veteran mentor to the younger players on the team.
Philadelphia is expected to Amnesty Brand once they’re able to exercise it on July 11.
Brand has hinted that playing at the veteran minimum is a distinct possibility (he’ll be paid over $35 to not play in Philly over the next two seasons) but wants to continue to play significant minutes. Dallas has emerged as a possibility, as have the Miami HEAT among others trying to acquire the veteran’s services.
JaVale McGee (Restricted):
Young, talented, 7-foot centers aren’t exactly a dime-a-dozen in the NBA and the 24-year old McGee may be primed for a huge paycheck this summer.
Although he was known to make some knucklehead decisions at times, last season, in 41 games for the Washington Wizards, McGee averaged 11.9 points (53.5 percent shooting), 8.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per contest. After the deadline trade, playing time and overall numbers dipped slightly with the Denver Nuggets but McGee did shoot over 61 percent from the field with Denver.
During his time with head coach George Karl and the Nuggets, McGee has also shed the viewpoint that he’s a selfish player and that could pay dividends on the open market.
After the Roy Hibbert situation with the Portland Trail Blazers is settled, McGee immediately becomes the second-most desirable center on the market. Expect Denver to do their best to keep the talented big man but the price could become too steep once desperation kicks in for other teams looking for help at center.
Brook Lopez (Restricted):
Possibly the most talented of this group, Lopez is also coming off a season in which he played just five games and this could be a huge red flag for possible teams looking for his services. Adding to that is the Brooklyn Nets pursuit of Dwight Howard, which has Lopez as apart of a sign-and-trade in virtually any deal to acquire the Orlando Magic center.
When healthy, Brooks is a career 50.4 percent shooter who’s averaged 17.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for his career. And, actually, Brooks has started at least 82 games in two of his four career NBA seasons and played 82 games (starting 74) in the other – his rookie season.
The injury issues (and lack of rebounding) have been a bit overblown over the past few weeks and the reality is Lopez, at 24-years old, is clearly one of the best young centers in basketball. If no sign-and-trade happens, expect Brooklyn to secure Lopez with a long term deal as it’s highly unlikely the Nets would allow Lopez to slip away – nor would he want to go with the type of team Brooklyn is assembling.
At 7-feet tall, and having averaged nearly a double-double for his career, Kaman is one of the few unrestricted gems left on the market – especially at the center position.
Staying healthy has been an issue for Kaman over the last few seasons but, when in uniform, the veteran center is a force on both ends of the floor.
Both Portland and the Indiana Pacers are expected to have Kaman’s number on speed dial and ready depending on if Indiana decides to match the max offer extended to Roy Hibbert. The Utah Jazz is another team in the mix for Kaman and it’s expected that numerous other teams will begin to show interest starting Wednesday.
(Note: San Antonio’s Tim Duncan is also an unrestricted free agent but there’s little doubt that he will either re-sign with the Spurs (most likely scenario) or, if all else fails, simply retire)
Who is the best free agent left on the market? Let your voice be heard in the comments below!