NBA AM: Free Agency Stock On The Decline
Yesterday, HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy took a look at some guys who have dramatically improved their free agency stock as they prepare to hit the open market this summer. But the same cannot be said for this next group of guys who have struggled to find a consistent rhythm or haven’t been able to play at all due to injury.
DJ Augustin, Indiana Pacers
Augustin signed a one-year $3.5 million deal last summer to bolster the Pacers’ guard depth and also secure a position which was sure to give him plenty of visibility in preparation for free agency this summer. But almost from the start it became obvious the fit between both parties would be a struggle. Augustin is averaging 4.7 points on just 35 percent shooting in 16 minutes of action per night. Just two seasons ago Augustin started 82 games for the Bobcats and posted 14.4 points and 6.1 assists per game.
Dorell Wright, Philadelphia 76ers
Just two seasons ago Wright’s name was in the discussion for the league’s Most Improved Player award after averaging 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3 assists per game in 2011 with the Golden State Warriors. However, after arrival of head coach Mark Jackson in 2012, Wright struggled adjusting to the new system and was traded to Philadelphia before the start of this season.
Wright has also struggled to find consistency with the Sixers this season, so while there is definitely talent in his game it will be hard for the veteran forward to snag a lucrative multi-year deal this season in free agency.
Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Clippers
Odom is now 33 years old so naturally, a decline in on court productivity is to be expected. But Odom’s deterioration has been surprising to watch. In 2011, with the Los Angeles Lakers, Odom posted 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per night on 53 percent shooting from the floor. But in his last 119 regular season games Odom has connected on 37 percent of his shot attempts and averaging just 5.2 points per outing.
To be fair, Odom is playing a different role with the Clippers nowadays and the team is leaning on him to provide interior defense and rebounding but in his prime Odom was strong offensive asset and threat to score the ball from inside and out. If motivated, Odom has the potential to play a few more years but his days of commanding top dollar are long in the rearview.
Daniel Gibson, Cleveland Cavaliers
As a rookie in 2007, Gibson was an integral part of the Cavaliers’ run to the NBA Finals. The future appeared bright for the former University of Texas standout. But as we near the end of the 2013 campaign, Gibson is the odd man out of the guard rotation in Cleveland with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters serving as the future building blocks.
Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers
Bynum was set to cash in this summer as one of the most coveted free agent targets on the market. However, the former All-Star will miss the entire season after undergoing knee surgery. The Sixers could offer a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $100 million in free agency but it’s unlikely any team takes more than a two flier on Bynum or at the very least layer his new deal full of injury clauses.
By default, if healthy, Bynum is an elite big man but he has only played more than 65 regular season games just one time in his first eight seasons as a pro.
The Nuggets Just Keep Rolling, Streak Moves to 14
Last night the Denver Nuggets stretched their winning streak to 14 games after late game free throws by forward Corey Brewer pushed the team past the struggling Philadelphia 76ers. Whether the Nuggets finally start getting more mainstream respect remains up in the air, but their run has been impressive and the club is virtually in a tie for the Western Conference’s fourth seed.
In the playoff scheme of things, the fourth seed is a valuable slot because it holds home court advantage in the first round. The Nuggets are a whopping 31-3 at home playing in the Pepsi Center and have looked unbeatable there on most nights. On the other hand, is below .500 away from home (17-19) and have been erratic on the road all season.
Obviously, securing home court advantage will go a long way toward helping the Nuggets if they’re going to pull off a first round upset over star laden teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers or Memphis Grizzlies.
The Nuggets’ streak has included wins over playoff bound teams such as Oklahoma City (twice), Atlanta, Los Angeles (Lakers and Clippers), New York, Chicago and Memphis.
Nuggets head coach George Karl has been adamant in his belief a team without an established superstar can win a title in today’s NBA. That’s a debate which can go on for hours at a time about its validity, but this Nuggets team should definitely be considered a sleeper team in the West to potentially make a lot of noise come playoff time.
No Job Is Safe In Detroit As Losses Mount
The Detroit Pistons will be an intriguing team this summer. The franchise could potentially have over $30 million in salary cap room to be active in free agency or the trade market and has a promising roster with three former lottery picks which look to be long term pros in Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Brandon Knight. The Pistons haven’t reached the playoffs since the 2009 campaign but with a little creativity this offseason could make a run to end that streak in 2014.
But as it stands today, despite the future promise, the team is mired in another sub .500 campaign and head coach Lawrence Frank doesn’t think anyone in the organization should feel comfortable with their job security.
“Eyes are always on you,” Frank told David Mayo of MLive. “No one’s going to write it off. No, no, this is how you evaluate. We’re evaluating our guys every single day. That’s how the league is.
“To me, there are no guarantees. When you’ve won the amount of games that we’ve won, I don’t care who you are, no one should feel safe. Me as coach, player. … There shouldn’t be a player on the roster with a record like we are who thinks, ‘Oh, I’m here next year.’ Well, we only one ‘X’ amount of games.”
The Pistons have lost their last nine contests and have only won six games since February 1 (6-17 during that span overall).
HOOPSWORLD’s March Madness Coverage
The 2013 NCAA Tournament kicked off today. Make sure you’re up to speed on all of the top teams and players by checking out HOOPSWORLD’s March Madness content.
We have previewed every single first-round game. You can find all of the previews here. They have in-depth stats, players to watch and a poll so that you can vote on which team will win. Once it tips off, feel free to discuss the game in the comment section.
Are you an NBA fan who only watches the NCAA Tournament to get a look at this year’s draft prospects? Here is a look at 20 players to watch during March Madness as well as a list of prospects to keep an eye on during the opening round.
HOOPSWORLD will continue to push out NCAA Tournament coverage over the next few weeks so be sure to check back regularly.
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