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NBA Free Agency: The Clearance Section
Posted By Alex Kennedy On July 26, 2013 @ 5:00 am In NBA | No Comments
By now, nearly one month into the NBA’s free agency period, most of the starting-caliber players have been signed. While there are a few exceptions such as restricted free agents Brandon Jennings and Nikola Pekovic, the majority of unsigned individuals are role players who will be reserves next season.
However, even though the free agent pool is starting to dry up, there are still some recognizable names floating around. Most of these players are in the bargain bin for a reason such as old age, health issues, recent struggles or off-court trouble, but they could still emerge as contributors if put in the right situation.
Here are some notable players who are still on the market:
Corey Maggette – It’s easy to forget about Maggette since he only played a total of 18 games and 257 minutes for the Detroit Pistons last season. However, this drop off wasn’t Maggette’s fault. The Pistons never had any intention of playing Maggette or making him part of their long-term plan – they just wanted his expiring contract rather than his on-court production. However, Maggette is just one year removed from averaging 15 points per game with the Charlotte Bobcats. Even though Maggette hasn’t done much lately, he still seems to have gas left in the tank and could be a key reserve for a team.
At this point in his career, Maggette wants to play for a contender. He has made more than $89 million since entering the NBA in 1999, so he could likely be signed for a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum. Sources close to Maggette say that he briefly considered retiring this summer so that he could attempt to land a job within an NBA front office. He recently took part in the NBPA’s Leadership Development Program, which essentially grooms current players to become executives. However, it’s looking like he’ll play one more season and then attempt to join a front office next offseason.
DeJuan Blair – Over a dozen teams have expressed some level of interest in Blair, but the 24-year-old is hoping to sign a multi-year deal or have the San Antonio Spurs facilitate a sign-and-trade so that he can retain his Bird rights. So far, the Spurs haven’t been very cooperative since they obviously won’t agree to take part in a sign-and-trade that doesn’t benefit them.
If the sign-and-trade option falls through, Blair may have to take a one-year deal, play well this season and then try to secure the multi-year deal he desires next summer. The Chicago Bulls have been linked to Blair this offseason and seem like a realistic landing spot for him since they’re a top-tier team that has minutes to offer. The L.A. Clippers have expressed interest in Blair, but only have a minimum deal and limited role to offer the young big man.
Sebastian Telfair –Telfair has talked to several teams since free agency began. The New York Knicks have been in contact with the 28-year-old, and he would love to play for them since he’s from New York and currently owns a home about 30 minutes away from Madison Square Garden. Not only did the Knicks reach out to Telfair’s camp, members of the organization also spoke directly to the point guard to express their interest.
Telfair would love to return home, but if that doesn’t work out then he wants to join a different contender. The Miami HEAT and Oklahoma City Thunder are among the other winning teams that have shown interest. Telfair could’ve signed a new deal already if he was willing to join a non-playoff team, but that’s not something he has considered at this point. He has yet to experience the postseason during his nine-year NBA career, and he wants that to change in the 2013-14 season.
Jamaal Tinsley – Tinsley nearly signed with the Brooklyn Nets earlier in the offseason, but the team ultimately decided to go with Shaun Livingston instead, according to sources close to the situation. Now, Tinsley is weighing his options and considering several other teams such as the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Bobcats and Phoenix Suns among others.
A return to the Utah Jazz always seemed unlikely, but now it’s completely off the table since the team recently signed John Lucas III to replace Tinsley. Last season, Tinsley showed that he can still be a very productive distributor, averaging 4.4 assists in 18.5 minutes. The 35-year-old’s assist ratio was 45.2 percent (second in the NBA) and his assist-to-turnover ratio was 2.74 (18th in the NBA).
Beno Udrih – Udrih could be one of the best back-up point guards in the league if put in the right situation. Last season with the Orlando Magic, the 31-year-old averaged 10.2 points and 6.1 assists after being dealt to the team at the trade deadline. After Jameer Nelson got hurt late in the season, Udrih was thrust into the starting lineup for nine games and he averaged an impressive 14.3 points, 8.1 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 40.7 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from three-point range.
Udrih didn’t see eye to eye with the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision makers during his two-year stint with the team, which is why he has been critical of the franchise since being traded last February. But make no mistake about it, Udrih can still impact games, as he showed in Orlando, and he could be a solid addition for a team that’s looking for a veteran floor general to come off of the bench.
Keyon Dooling – Dooling has received interest from a number of teams and he’s likely going to sign a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum at some point in the next week, according to sources close to the situation. The 33-year-old came out of retirement last April to join the Memphis Grizzlies, but sources say that a return to Memphis seems unlikely.
On paper, the Los Angeles Clippers look like a perfect landing spot for Dooling since the team has been searching for veteran leaders and Dooling has a strong relationship with head coach Doc Rivers (as well as a number of Clippers players). Last year, Dooling worked with Rivers as a player development coordinator for the Boston Celtics when he was briefly retired. However, at this point in time, the Clippers aren’t one of the teams expressing interest in Dooling’s services, according to sources. Dooling appears close to signing a new contract, but it’s unknown which team he’s on the verge of joining.
Antawn Jamison – Last summer, Jamison signed with the Los Angeles Lakers because he wanted to be a key contributor on a contending team. Things obviously didn’t go as planned, as the Lakers were the biggest disappointment of the 2012-13 season and Jamison’s minutes fluctuated throughout the season, which frustrated the 37-year-old.
Now, Jamison is going through the free agency process yet again. A return to the Lakers is unlikely for Jamison, and joining their STAPLES Center co-tenant seems like a long shot as well. The L.A. Clippers had some discussions with Jamison earlier in the offseason, but they decided to go in a different direction and sign Byron Mullens instead. While chasing a ring in a different city is still an option for Jamison, the Charlotte Bobcats seem to be the frontrunner to sign him at this point. Jamison grew up in Charlotte and is interested in returning home and living year-round with his four children. He flirted with the Bobcats last offseason for this very reason, and may decide to join them now. While he would most likely have to endure a losing season, he’d get to play a large role and be one of the team’s veteran leaders alongside Al Jefferson and Ben Gordon as well as his former teammates Ramon Sessions and Brendan Haywood.
Tyrus Thomas – After being amnestied by the Charlotte Bobcats, Thomas is trying to salvage his career. If healthy and in the right situation, the 26-year-old may be able to prove that he still belongs in the NBA. In recent years, he has been labeled a toxic player, but he may still be able to contribute for a team as a reserve. Keep in mind that he’s just two years removed from averaging 10.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 21 minutes off of the bench for the Bobcats.
Thomas’ five-year, $40 million deal was one of the worst contracts in the league before the Bobcats used their amnesty provision on him, but he could be a steal at the veteran’s minimum, especially if he’s desperate to revive his career and humbled by his recent experiences. This is the exact same situation that Andray Blatche was in last summer after being amnestied by the Washington Wizards. Blatche and Thomas are basically the same age – they were born just four days apart – and had similar reputations. Blatche revitalized his career by becoming a productive reserve for the Brooklyn Nets. Can Thomas do the same while playing on a similar minimum or non-guaranteed deal?
Austin Daye – At just 25 years old, Daye is younger than many of the players on this list. However, he’s at a crucial point in his career after failing to stick with the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies. He needs to find a situation where he can flourish because he’s running out of opportunities to prove himself and may soon get the dreaded journeyman label.
A few teams have expressed interest in Daye, most recently the Los Angeles Lakers. No signing is imminent at this point, but Daye worked out for Lakers officials on Wednesday. Since his 2012-13 season came to an end, Daye has been working out at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, where he trains every summer and holds his own against fellow NBA players. It’s clear that Daye has the talent to make it in the league – he just needs to find a team that can help him grow and make the most of his skills.
Stephen Jackson – Jackson made headlines in April when he was waived by the San Antonio Spurs just six days before the end of the regular season. The veteran had been upset with his role and butted heads with head coach Gregg Popovich, so the Spurs let him go and signed Tracy McGrady. Because Jackson was released after March 1, he wasn’t eligible to play in the postseason for another team.
Now, Jackson remains an unrestricted free agent and is hoping to join a contender. There are some executives who are understandably scared off by Jackson because of how his latest stint with the Spurs came to an end, but there may be a front office that’s willing to take a chance on him. Even though Jackson is in the twilight of his career at 35 years old, he may still have what it takes to be an effective role player. Prior to leaving the Spurs, he averaged 6.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.5 minutes. It seems like Jackson can still contribute and provide toughness to a team, but he’ll need to land in the right situation for the marriage to work.
Ronnie Brewer – Brewer’s stock took a hit after he was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder at last year’s trade deadline, but he’s still the same highly coveted role player who turned down larger offers to join the New York Knicks last offseason. The 28-year-old appeared in just 15 games for the Thunder because their rotation was set when he arrived in Oklahoma City in February, but he played well in 46 games with the Knicks last season.
Over the past three seasons, Brewer has shown that he’s a team-first player who can help an organization with his versatility and postseason experience. Brewer is also a terrific man-to-man defender, who deserves to be on a team even if he’s just contributing in a defensive-specialist role. Brewer’s name hasn’t surfaced much since free agency started, but he could end up being a late addition who helps a team in the long run.
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