The NBA season is just about to begin and even though the offseason started months ago, there are still some pretty interesting names sitting at the top of the Free Agents list with just over 10 days or so to start the season.
Some of those players are aging or just wandering around to see if they can jump into a contending team after the All-Star break, while others just haven’t had the chance to prove their worth on a team so far despite still having what it takes to make it in this league.
Of course, none of them would have the impact a guy like Gordon Hayward had when he decided to join the Boston Celtics, or like Blake Griffin deciding to stay put with Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers for the long run.
Still, given the playing time and the opportunity, these guys could definitely improve a team’s second unit and help them reach the playoffs, or even make a playoff push against the top-notch teams in the Association.
Furthermore, their veteran leadership and experience would be a very nice intangible asset for some of the teams in desperate need of some balance to help the youth develop into the league’s rising stars.
Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 guys that to this date, are still up for grabs in the Association, and that might as well could wind up inking their signature on a short-term deal at some point this season.
Not so long ago, it looked like Trey Burke was going places, being a very talented point guard that was trusted with the Utah Jazz’ starting gig, but that just wasn’t good enough to be able to hold onto it, even with Dante Exum spending most of the time on the nursing home rather than the hardwood.
Burke had a very decent tenure with the Washington Wizards and it’s still pretty young, so he could continue pursuing his NBA dream, and recently declined a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder to be the team’s third-string point guard, so he could still help a contending team on the need for a substitute ball handler.
Monta Ellis was one of the league’s most gifted scorers just a handful of seasons ago, but the aging 31-year-old has just been horrible since joining the Indiana Pacers, that have finally waved him after deciding to rebuild and give the youngsters as many touches on offense as they can handle this season.
Despite looking like pretty much a lost cause at this stage of his career, Ellis can still provide an offensive boost off the bench at either guard spot, and he could be a nice mentor for young ballers that struggle to find his offensive stroke during the early stages of their careers.
Henderson is a very capable two-way player but he just doesn’t fit the Philadelphia 76ers current plans, as they already have a veteran guard in JJ Redick to help a team that’s filled with youth and some of the most exciting prospects in the league.
Besides, his most recent injury will keep him sidelined for a couple of months, as he’ll have to undergo a hip surgery. Nonetheless, considering his experience and what he’s capable of putting off the bench, he would be a nice addition to any team’s roster considering he’s able to come back this very same season after that kind of procedure.
After lots and lots of trouble with the Houston Rockets, it seems like Donatas Motiejunas’ promising career just won’t reach the heights we all expected out of the talented Lithuanian big man, who last played for the New Orleans Pelicans but didn’t have much chance to succeed in a very crowded frontcourt.
Now, the 27th-year-old is still a Free Agent, something kind of shocking considering he’s a physical specimen that can dominate inside and even stretch the floor and connect from distance from time to time. He’s getting some offers from European sides at this point, but he’s made clear that he intends to remain in the NBA for at least one more season, so stay tuned.
Just a handful of seasons ago, Norris Cole was a key part of the back to back NBA Champions Miami Heat squad as the team’s point guard off the bench, making a huge impact in both ends of the floor as a very pesky defender.
Sadly for him, he just wasn’t able to build on that success and his game took a major toll during LeBron’s last year at South Beach, and after a failed stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the young veteran inked his signature to play with Israeli side Maccabi Tel A Viv. Still, he could make a comeback after the All-Star break, with teams constantly needing another guy to run their offenses in case of injury.
Ty Lawson’s NBA journey was full of up and downs, mostly because of his own self-destructive behavior constantly led them to bad decisions. Now, after being the King's substitute point guard, the veteran playmaker decided to take his talents to the Chinese CBA, but just like most players that make that move, he can make a return late in the season to help a contender.
Of course, it’s going to be hard to find a team that’s willing to gamble and take the risk to sign him, but considering what he’s capable of doing with the rock on his hands when he’s focused and locked down, he’s definitely worth the shot if he wants to make a comeback.
A 37-year-old free agent is always going to have a very tough time to find space on any NBA roster, and considering Barnes’ temper, he could find it even tougher. Still, the veteran hothead is a very good wing defender even at this stage of his career, as he proved during this last season with the Golden State Warriors.
Barnes shot from beyond the arc since broken at this point, but considering the lack of depth most teams got on the wings right now, he’d be a high - risk / high - reward acquisition for a team needing to improve their defensive end of the court.
David Lee just decided to decline his player option year with the San Antonio Spurs to explore free agency, and even though he’s far behind from those years with the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors, the veteran power forward can still bring a lot to the table at age 34.
Lee has always been a very good and willing passer and he could definitely be a nice fit in some small ball lineups, as well as leading the way on a team’s second unit. Of course, the former All-Star seems to be looking for a starring role, something that he won’t find at this stage of his career, so if he manages to put his own personal affairs aside, he could be a huge asset for any team willing to take him.
It seems like it was ages ago when Roy Hibbert was an All-Star center and the defensive standout and rim protector that could be the Miami Heat’s kryptonite, but after several mental breakdowns and his apparent lack of character, his whole career took a major downfall until he’s not even on a team’s roster anymore.
The 30-year-old is far below his former self, but he could still be a nice mentor and boost off the bench for a team in need of depth up front, and even though he’s never flashed with athleticism and has always been a subpar rebounder, his rim protection skills could be a huge asset for a team like the Portland Trail Blazers right now.
And last but not least, we have to put Deron Williams at the top of this list, mostly because of what he was several seasons ago than for what he is right now. Not so long ago, Williams was considered to be the best -or at least a top 5- point guard in the world, but constant injuries and lack of playoff success really made his career go backward.
Nevertheless, Deron can still be a major factor off the bench for any team that’s willing to take the risk on him, but he’ll need to have his minutes really capped in order to actually be able to dress up and play. Still, considering how talented he is and the desire he has to win his first ring, he’s definitely worth the shot, at least after the All-Star break.