YES, we are in August and there are still free agents available who can give meaningful contributions to an NBA squad. There are no Gordon Hayward/Blake Griffin types left, but at the right price and in the right place these 12 individuals should be snapped up ASAP to help the relevant squads to be better prepared for season 2017-18.
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12. David Lee (Unrestricted)
SPENDING a year on the Spurs bench showcased that the 33-year old David Lee can still be a solid piece. Putting up 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in a shade over 18 minutes a night, Lee was able to help the Spurs go on a decent run before they met the buzzsaw that is the Golden State Warriors. Indiana was a team that struggled to rebound the ball last year and with George’s 6.6 boards per game gone, Lee could help a mediocre Pacers team tread water.
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11. Andrew Bogut (Unrestricted)
A few teams are reportedly interested in signing the 2005 No. 1 pick. The Knicks, Nets and Jazz are a few who have been linked to the Australian center in recent times as the 32-year-old overcomes a broken leg he suffered last season. With the days gone of Bogut demanding a massive pay check, he could join someone for the minimum and provide veteran leadership and rim protection for a team in need.
10. Monta Ellis (Unrestricted)
I was kind of surprised to find Ellis’ name still on the list. Then again his output of just 8.5 points in 74 games for the Pacers wasn’t enough for the team to still want him on their roster. I believe the shooting guard, who just turned in his worst scoring numbers since his rookie season in ’05-’06, can still light it up, even though he is a lousy three point shooter for his career (31.4%). He could very well pour in double digit points for a team who needs a bench scoring option (Knicks, Wizards, Raptors).
9. Ty Lawson (Unrestricted)
WE aren’t too far removed from the borderline All-Star calibre seasons of Ty Lawson. When he was with the Denver Nuggets, Lawson was one of the best assist men in the league tied for second in the league (8.8 a game) in 2013-14 and finishing third in 2014-15 (9.6) all while putting up over 16 points during that two-year stretch. The last two years, however, have not been so glorious with feeble averages of 7.8 PPG and 4.2 APG during tenures with the Rockets, Pacers and most recently the Kings. Lawson did still manage to average 13.3 PPG and 5.9 APG over his last 15 games for Sacramento while shooting over 50% from the field, meaning he is still worth a spot as a backup point guard on a team.
8. Gerald Green (Unrestricted)
MORE than just a highlight dunking machine Gerald Green was a good piece for the Boston Celtics a season ago. Playing sporadic minutes can be tough for a player to handle and I believe that Green can contribute more than his five points in just 11 minutes a night. In the right system and with the right responsibilities a scoring/slashing option has him better poised than most of the free agents floating around still.
7. Alex Len (Restricted)
AT just 24 years old and a former top five draft choice, Len still could develop into a worthwhile NBA player if someone wants to take a chance on him. It seems likely that Len will accept the qualifying offer from the Suns and serve as a backup big off the bench before hitting the open market again next season. Somewhat a victim of circumstance he could be offered a bigger role and thrive elsewhere, should another team take a chance on him.
6. Tony Allen (Unrestricted)
IN the perimeter oriented game of today hitting on wing players is a must. So owning a player like Tony Allen is a double edged sword in some sense. Allen has made an All-Defense team in each of the last six seasons, yet over that stretch, he has shot under 28% from behind the three point line. You know what you are getting with Allen, although at 35 question marks remain over his ability to keep up with quicker players outside of the paint. With the ‘Grit and Grind’ era gone in Memphis, you know what you are getting from him and his stellar D to help slow/stop the likes of Irving/Curry/Thompson/Thomas/Hayward could help a contender take the final step.
5. Shabazz Muhammad (Unrestricted)
SHABAZZ Muhammad has had a rollercoaster ride since leaving high school. One of the most touted youngsters in 2012 entered the draft after one UCLA season but hasn’t exactly carved out a niche in the NBA. The Timberwolves retracted their qualifying offer to Muhammad earlier in the offseason, allowing him to become unrestricted and with nearly half as many career assists (137) as games (235) as well as a career PPG average in single digits (9.7) you can kind of see why. At just 24 he could still offer upside as a scoring threat and should be able to find a new team before the season kick starts.
4. Nikola Mirotic (Restricted)
ONE of the most interesting pieces in free agency this season hasn’t attracted much attention from, well anyone. Sure he still fits the bill as a ‘stretch four’ but he doesn’t offer much else and let’s be honest the 26-year old isn’t always stroking it from downtown. Much like some of the other young prospects still left, there is time for him to turn it around, but I’m tipping a return to the Chicago Bulls via the qualifying offer.
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3. Jamychal Green (Restricted)
MEMPHIS holds all the cards in negotiations with Jamychal Green, given the fact that he is a restricted free agent. With the ability to match any offer and teams lacking salary cap space to try outbid the Grizzlies, Green has become a victim of circumstance as he plays the waiting game to find out his residence in season 2017-18. He deserves to be paid a hell of a lot more than he will probably make as a high energy hustling defender and rebounder with an OK skill set on the block. Someone like the Hawks would have been a good fit, but now his only options outside of Memphis seem like the Pacers, 76ers or Suns. My tip, he remains a Grizzly.
2. Mason Plumlee (Restricted)
MUCH like Green, Mason Plumlee deserves more money than he will probably make in the upcoming season, but it’s through no fault of his own. A highly skilled big man with the ability to be a playmaker from the low block, with finesse and touch around the rim, Plumlee is part of a rare breed and should things trend in the same direction they are currently, he and Nikola Jokic will make a formidable frontcourt in Denver. He gives the Nuggets plenty of flexibility and options in their rotation too, he just deserves about four times as much as what he will probably make.
1. Nerlens Noel (Restricted)
THE Dallas Mavericks/Nerlens Noel situation is a weird one, with the talented restricted free agent so far drawing no significant offers. A return to Dallas seems like the most probable outcome with the Mavs owning the right to match any offer for the talented power forward and teams therefore reluctant to offer a contract. The thing is Noel isn’t exactly stoked about being paid less than what he is worth, with contract talks still far from resolution with the Mavericks. While a solution isn’t on the near horizon a Noel return to Dallas does seem imminent.
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