NBA@2: Notable Veterans Remain Unsigned
The NBA’s free agency period has been underway for more than a month and nearly all of the starting-caliber players have been signed. However, there are still some notable veterans who have yet to find a home. As teams look to fill out their roster, these are some of the players who will be considered.
These are former All-Stars who are past their prime, but still capable of being significant contributors if put in the right situation. At this point in their careers, many of these players can be picked up for the veteran’s minimum and are low-risk, high-reward signings. At the very least, these are well-known players who will generate interest among fans, which is why the experiment may be worth it.
Here are several well-known veterans who remain unsigned as of this afternoon:
Tracy McGrady – McGrady has received interest from a number of teams including the Chicago Bulls. However, talks between McGrady and the Bulls have ended. Once Chicago signed first-round pick Marquis Teague to his contract worth 100 percent of the rookie scale, they activated the hard cap at $4 million above the tax line. If the Bulls want to add a player, the most they can pay is the $473,604 rookie minimum. It’s now impossible for Chicago to sign McGrady without making a trade or buying out a player. Last season, McGrady averaged 5.3 points, 3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 52 games as a reserve with the Atlanta Hawks. The 33-year-old would like to join a contender, according to sources, and will continue to weigh his options in the coming weeks.
Kenyon Martin – After spending last season with the Los Angeles Clippers, Martin is talking with several teams. The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are reportedly among the teams expressing interest in the 12-year veteran. Martin wants to play for a contender that will give him significant minutes. Sources close to the 34-year-old had previously said that he wasn’t going to sign for the veteran’s minimum, but he may not have a choice given how long he has waited to sign. The list of teams with money to spend is short, especially when further narrowed down to only include contenders. There’s no timetable for Martin to sign, but he’s negotiating with teams and considering his options. In 42 games with the Clippers, Martin averaged 5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, one block and one steal.
Josh Howard –Of all the players on this list, Howard was the most productive last season. The 32-year-old emerged as a key contributor for the Utah Jazz, averaging 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 43 games and providing veteran leadership for the young team. Howard may ultimately return to Utah, but he’s also receiving interest from the Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets among other teams. While injuries have limited Howard in recent years, he can still play and help a team. There’s no timetable for Howard to sign, but it sounds like he’s nearing a decision.
Jermaine O’Neal – O’Neal has been training at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas and a number of teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, have stopped by to watch him work out. The 33-year-old looked good in his workout and proved that he can still play some quality minutes off the bench for a team. O’Neal wants to join a contender on a veteran’s minimum contract, telling HOOPSWORLD that “winning a championship is the only goal.” This offseason, O’Neal traveled to Germany to receive Orthokine treatment on his knees, which is the same therapy that Kobe Bryant has made popular. Now, he’s feeling good and hoping to sign with a winning team in the near future.
Gilbert Arenas – Just two years ago, Arenas was averaging 17.3 points and 5.6 assists for the Washington Wizards. The 30-year-old is trying to get back to that level, but injuries have limited him in recent years. His one-year stints with the Orlando Magic and Memphis Grizzlies were forgettable, and he hasn’t been linked to any teams this summer. Now, Arenas is training in Los Angeles and sources close to the point guard say that he’s slimmed down and completely healthy. He’s hoping a team gives him a chance and gives him an opportunity to show that he can still be a contributor off of the bench.
Michael Redd – After battling knee injuries and missing the majority of his final two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, the general consensus around the league was that Redd’s career was coming to an end. However, the 32-year-old signed with the Phoenix Suns last year and proved that he can still contribute in the NBA. Redd averaged 8.2 points in 51 games with the Suns and managed to stay healthy for the duration of the season. He even showed glimpses of his former self, scoring 20 or more points on three different occasions. When put in the starting lineup, Redd was extremely effective, averaging 18.5 points while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from beyond the arc. Redd may return to Phoenix, where he can continue to work with their renowned training staff, or he may decide to sign with a contender. If his play last year was any indication, he can still be an effective role player.
Ben Wallace – Wallace will either return to the Detroit Pistons for one more season or retire after 16 seasons in the NBA. The 37-year-old hasn’t made up his mind just yet. Last season, Wallace wasn’t much of a factor for the Pistons, averaging just 1.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and .8 blocks. However, he was an excellent mentor to 22-year-old Greg Monroe and could help 19-year-old Andre Drummond as he makes the transition from college to the NBA. Wallace has been playing in a Virginia summer league to test his body, and he’ll make a decision on his future at some point in the next month.
Baron Davis – When Davis blew out his right knee during the 2012 NBA Playoffs, many feared that the devastating injury would be career-ending. However, the 33-year-old is determined to make a comeback after undergoing surgery and he’s planning to enter rehab as soon as his knee is ready. Davis is currently an unrestricted free agent, but he may return to the New York Knicks once he’s healthy. Last season, Davis averaged 6.1 points and 4.7 assists in 29 games with the Knicks. The point guard was supporting New York during the Las Vegas Summer League, sitting with Knicks head coach Mike Woodson during games and hanging out with former teammates J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. “(I’ll do) whatever they need me to do around here, whatever Coach Woody needs me to do,” Davis told HOOPSWORLD in Vegas. “It’s good to be around the guys.”
Allen Iverson – A list of former All-Stars looking for work wouldn’t be complete without Iverson. However, it’s unlikely that a team will sign the 37-year-old. It has been two years since the 2001 Most Valuable Player suited up for an NBA team and while he has made it clear that he wants to return to the league, there just doesn’t seem to be any interest from teams. Executives are worried that Iverson would have trouble adjusting to a reserve role and become a distraction. During his last year in the league, Iverson averaged 13.9 points and 4.1 assists in 25 games with the Philadelphia 76ers. Iverson may sign with a team overseas, but he has likely played his last game in the NBA.
Up Close with Kyle Wiltjer
After winning the national championship last season, the Kentucky Wildcats have reloaded with another superb recruiting class. While Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller left for the NBA, they aren’t losing all of their talent from last year.
Kyle Wiltjer, who played a limited role for the Wildcats last year, will be returning and likely moving into the starting lineup.
Wiltjer, who was a McDonald’s All-American two years ago, led Jesuit High School to three straight Oregon state championships and he was named Oregon’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011. He’s expected to take on a larger role this year and eventually take his talents to the NBA.
HOOPSWORLD’s Yannis Koutroupis caught up with Wiltjer recently at the adidas Nations event in California. Wiltjer talked about his adidas Nations experience, expectations for next season and more. Check out the exclusive interview below: