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NBA AM: Solid Free Agents Remain Unsigned
Posted By Lang Greene On August 29, 2012 @ 8:20 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Free Agent Money, Getting Tighter
Perhaps one of the most noticeable changes the new collective bargaining agreement has ushered unto the NBA landscape is the amount of quality free agent veterans who are still in the market looking for employment as we sit just one month away from the start of training camp.
While the bulk of free agent dollars have dried up with the signings of the upper tier players from this year’s class, there are still a number of teams who have significant salary cap room available and others who still possess their mid-level and/or bi-annual exceptions.
But it’s a buyer’s market in today’s NBA economy, so the era where veterans could once rely on lucrative deals still being handed out late in free agency appears to be over and more than likely some of these guys will be forced to take on one year deals, or worse non-guaranteed training camp invites if they’re looking to play in the league this season.
Here are some of the remaining unsigned veteran players who are still looking for a home in 2013:
Michael Redd, Shooting Guard
Previous Team: Phoenix Suns
2011-12 Stats: 8.2 points, 40% FG, 32% 3PT, 51 games
Redd is no longer the player who averaged 20+ points per night from 2004-2009, but the veteran did have a breakthrough in the lockout shortened 2012 campaign – he was able to stay healthy. During the prior two seasons lingering knee ailments had limited Redd to just 28 games. The former Ohio State University standout turned 33 last week and likely has a couple more years left as a serviceable role player if given the opportunity.
Redd has been linked with the Washington Wizards as of late due to his history with its president, Ernie Grunfeld, who drafted him while with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2000. Other teams who have been rumored to have interest are Denver, Memphis and Oklahoma City.
Kenyon Martin, Power Forward
Previous Team: Los Angeles Clippers
2011-12 Stats: 5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 44% FG
There is definitely a market of suitors for the rugged veteran forward as both the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks were reportedly interested in his services during various points this summer.
But, in this new NBA economy you’re starting to see teams shy away from investing multi-year exception money on aging guys. So while there continues to be interest, the market is starting to dictate that Martin would have to take a one-year veteran minimum deal to suit up for a franchise this fall. And if that is indeed the case, does Martin pack up and head overseas for a more lucrative deal like he did during the lockout last year?
Mickael Pietrus, Guard-Forward
Previous Team: Boston Celtics
2011-12 Stats: 6.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 34% 3PT
The Boston Celtics reloaded this offseason and will once again be amongst the leaders at the top of the Eastern Conference, but Pietrus, one of their most valuable reserves last season was a victim of the money game.
Pietrus’ agent has maintained all summer the forward would not play for the NBA veteran minimum and says his client has a multi-million dollar offer overseas. This may have turned away the Milwaukee Bucks who were interested in the defensive minded nine year veteran.
Pietrus has 69 games of postseason experience in stints with Golden State, Orlando and Boston, but the closer we get to training camp the more leverage his camp continues to lose in searching for a more lucrative deal.
Leandro Barbosa, Shooting Guard
Previous Team: Indiana Pacers
2011-12 Stats: 11.1 points, 43% FG, 39% 3PT, 82% FT
Closing in on 30, Barbosa is still a dangerous change of tempo guard who can provide a team with consistent double-digit production. The Los Angeles Lakers were at one point interested this summer but were hesitant to use their mini-MLE to bring him into the fold.
Barbosa, who played for Brazil in the 2012 Olympics, has also attracted interest from Golden State, but seems to be more exploratory in nature.
Darko Milicic, Center
Previous Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
2011-12 Stats: 4.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 45% FG
Milicic wore out his welcome in Minnesota under head coach Rick Adelman last season, but his first 93 games with the T’Wolves (2010-11) was marked with pretty steady production. As big men go in today’s game Milicic still deserves at least a look if properly motivated.
In the past the belief was Milicic would return overseas, but his camp has maintained that the veteran is looking to remain in the NBA.
The Miami HEAT are reportedly interested as were the Los Angeles Clippers back in July. A report that Real Madrid was interested in Milicic has recently been ruled as false.
Andray Blatche, Power Forward
Previous Team: Washington Wizards
2011-12 Stats: 8.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 38% FG
Blatche was a victim of the amnesty provision in Washington as the Wizards essentially will pay him over $25 million to not be a part of their future.
Although skilled, Blatche has developed a reputation as a problem in the locker room and his commitment to conditioning has been questioned frequently. Still, Blatche has game and isn’t a slouch by any means when motivated.
Blatche has been working out with former NBA guard John Lucas this summer in Texas and has attracted looks from the Miami HEAT and San Antonio Spurs. Blatche is also said to be open to taking the veteran minimum for the right opportunity.
Derek Fisher, Point Guard
Previous Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
2011-12 Stats: 5.6 points, 2.7 assists, 32% 3PT, 85% FT
Even at the height of his prime Fisher was never a guy who was going to boast a gaudy box score, but the veteran excelled at making the clutch shot, drawing the key charge and playing turnover free basketball.
The Brooklyn Nets were an option before they landed C.J. Watson in free agency. But the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have cap room and possess a young and talented backcourt with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, may be seeking to bring in a veteran to help aid their development.
Josh Howard, Small Forward
Previous Team: Utah Jazz
2011-12 Stats: 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 40% FG
Howard still has some game left in his tank, but his biggest battle in recent years has been with the injury bug. Last season, a lockout shortened campaign, Howard played in his most games since 2009.
Howard has received interest from Indiana, Golden State and Brooklyn this summer but may be forced to take a one year deal at the veteran’s minimum as we approach the start of training camp.
Omar Casspi Going Back To Basics
During his first two seasons in the league, forward Omri Casspi was starting to develop into a double-digit nightly producer with the Sacramento Kings. Not surprisingly when the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired the wing last year via trade expectations were high for a breakout season from Casspi.
It didn’t happen. Casspi struggled to a career low 40 percent shooting performance from the field and also posted career lows in three-point percentage (32%) and points per game (7.1).
Casspi feels he has to get back to the basics and play more to his strengths.
“Basically, I just have to go back to playing my basketball,” Casspi told Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv this week. “To be good, effective, to punish — everything I didn’t do last season. I need to go back to my old self.”
The Cavaliers recently signed veteran forward C.J. Miles in free agency which may also eat into Casspi’s minutes in the rotation this season. But Casspi isn’t worried for the moment.
“I know that the team brought more players on the wings, and everybody in Cleveland is good,” Casspi said. “But none of us is an All- Star. We don’t have Kobe [Bryant] or LeBron [James] there. Coach [Byron] Scott says that whoever is better will play, and I believe him.”
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