Remaining NBA Free Agents: Bargain Buys
The NBA’s free agent pickings start to get mighty slim past the halfway point in August, but there are still a few bargains left for teams hoping to fill out their roster or maybe even that last rotation player.
Most of the guys unwilling to work for the veteran’s minimum have already packed their bags for an overseas destination, although there are still a few more that will find a bigger payday outside of the NBA, if that’s what they decide. Those free agents unwilling or unable to leave the cozy confines of North America have few options other than the teams that only have a minimum contract to offer. Then there are the recently amnestied players, who are still collecting a full salary from their old team and do not need to be fully compensated to earn more than they are worth next season. Let’s look at the best bargains still on the market:
At 34 years old, Kenyon Martin can still contribute on the defensive end of the floor and made his impact felt last year with the Los Angeles Clippers. In just 22.4 minutes per game, he averaged a block and a steal, along with 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds. Martin would be a reliable backup big man at the end of many benches and last year he played for just $2.5 million.
After playing on seven teams in six seasons, it would be safe to say big man Shelden Williams has yet to find a home in the NBA. However, Williams has averaged a double-double and better than a block and a steal per 36 minutes over that wandering career. Clearly Williams isn’t terrible and, at this point, he would be a bargain addition to a roster in need of size and rebounding.
Six years into his NBA career and Louis Amundson has never been a big-minutes player. However, when he is on the floor, he has been productive. Averaging a double-double and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes over his career, Amundson is someone who often gets noticed. Unfortunately, his 43 percent shooting last season also gets noticed, but this budget big man could still be a valuable addition.
Andray Blatche’s career fell off a cliff last season in Washington, but it was only a year ago that the 25-year-old big man was putting up 16.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. Amnestied and earning over $7.7 million a year over the next three seasons, Blatche can afford to accept a bargain deal to get his NBA career back on track.
After three seasons in the NBA, the 25-year-old Terrence Williams has not shown a lot of progress in his game, but given 20 plus minutes a night, the wing can get you better than eight points, four rebounds and three assists and that’s not bad. On a minimum deal, Williams is something of a bargain. At this point, Williams would be a decent third-string wing, but there is still a chance that he finally realizes his full potential and develops into something much better.
The 6’9, 250 lb. D.J. White had a tough start to his NBA career after being drafted near the end of the first round in 2008. Jaw surgery delayed his entrance into the NBA as a rookie and a fractured thumb set him back the next year. White didn’t play much until he was traded to the Bobcats at the deadline in 2011. In 82 games with Charlotte, White has averaged 7.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 19 minutes, but the Bobcats had to renounce their rights to the 25-year-old in order to sign Ramon Sessions. In his short NBA career, White has averaged 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per 36 minutes and he could be a bargain if someone gives him another chance.
Some other possible bargain free agents include: Derek Fisher, Michael Redd, Anthony Tolliver, Josh Childress and Jonny Flynn.
There are still a couple of restricted free agents available who would be bargains if anyone believed their own clubs wouldn’t just match any reasonable offer. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Alonzo Gee and the Atlanta Hawks’ Ivan Johnson find themselves in that unenviable position of being left to let the market set their value and the market ignoring them. Their best option appears to be the modest qualifying offers that remain on the table.
A handful of special situations are also muddling up some of the best values remaining in free agency.
Leandro Barbosa was being encouraged to opt-out of his contract last summer to play in Brazil and get the lucrative endorsement deals a national hero can enjoy. After leading Brazil in scoring at the Olympics, that pull to return home has to be even stronger and makes accepting the veteran’s minimum or small exception deal to play in the NBA even harder to accept.
The Timberwolves amnestied Darko Milicic, so the center will earn $5.2 million without playing and while the 2003 second overall pick from Serbia would be a bargain for the NBA minimum salary, he could earn more by returning to Europe.
The seven-foot Yi Jianlian was drafted sixth overall in 2007, but has struggled thus far in the NBA and based on his play in Dallas last season, it was doubtful Yi would return. However, an impressive showing at the Olympics for China had Yi back on the radar. Yi averaged 14.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks over five games that included a 30-point performance against the silver medal team from Spain. Unfortunately, Yi twisted a knee and may miss the entire NBA season.
Matt Barnes has contributed wherever he has played, but he always seems to carry around some kind of baggage. This time the baggage includes a court date in October for an incident with the police while he was being arrested on an outstanding traffic warrant. Barnes has never been overpaid, but it remains to be seen if there is a team that still considers him to be a value-added addition.
Then there are the guys coming back from recurring injuries. Mickael Pietrus started last season recovering from a right knee injury and had knee surgery again this summer. The oft-injured Josh Howard’s season ended in March with cartilage issues in his left knee. If either of these players could convince a team they would be ready to go in October, they would be value pick-ups.
To no one’s surprise, the best values in free agency are usually gone by mid-August and this year is not an exception. However, as the summer passes, the cost to land a free agent drops considerably and there are bargains to be had. For the savvy general manager, there are still experienced players that could fill a need and prospects that have shown the potential to develop at bargain basement prices.
Are there any other unsigned free agent bargains out there that we may have overlooked? Let us know in the comments below and tell us why they could be a bargain next season.