With the lockout finally over, the attention immediately shifts to an abbreviated free agent signing period beginning on December 9th, which is also the same day training camps will open.
From there, teams will have 16 days to assemble a roster before the first games are played on December 25th (Insert stupid analogy about the “gift” of season starting on Christmas here). Just like in years past, teams will have contact with agents and available players prior to that date; allegedly, as early as December 5th.
This year’s NBA unrestricted free agent signing period will be a lot different that last year which featured an endless list of studs. The 2010 offseason was high on drama thanks to “The Decision”, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and several other big names. This year will be the exact opposite based upon who is available. While there are no big names a franchise can build a team around blindly, there are plenty of solid players who could help teams with specific needs. Here’s a quick rundown of some notable free agents:
JJ Barea and Tyson Chandler
The Mavs don’t win the title if they don’t have both of these players. Chandler is the big man/garbage man that the Mavs had lacked for years, the “ying” to Dirk’s seven foot jump shooting “yang.” Barea’s quickness and shooting ability augment his overall fundamentally sound game. But is he just a gimmicky type player who only makes a difference coming off of the bench? Some team is probably willing to offer him some significant coin to find out.
Does he have anything left? Tearing the same ACL twice didn’t ever make anyone quicker– if he was a racehorse they would’ve taken him out back and shot him. But he can shoot, which is always a valued commodity.
Speaking of a guy who has missed entire season due to injury, Grant Hill (at age 39), is coming off of his most productive season since 06-07. After not playing in 80 games for nine straight seasons, Hill has played in at least 80 games in each of the past three seasons.
Big Baby Davis
I think Big Baby is the most intriguing free agent of all. I mean, what are you really getting? You have no idea. It’s easy to say he was only productive because of his teammates, and it could easily be true. But Davis developed a nice mid-range jump shot after entering the league without one and became a better overall player.
For all the talk a year ago you would’ve though Tayshaun was dead. But Prince is what he is- a solid swing man who can score and play respectable d.
Kirilenko’s first five years in the league were productive in all facets and he was probably the most multi-faceted player in the game. But in 06-07 he stopped scoring and was nowhere near as productive across the board, especially on defense and rebounding. Since then he’s been good, not great.
Modern day version of Vernon Maxwell is just a straight scorer- lots of teams need one of those.
Battier is the anti-Jamal Crawford/Mad Max. He hates shooting. Despises it. One of the league’s best defenders, he will be snatched up early.
Hilario is the ideal big man in an era of tweeners. At 6-11, 260 he is a center, nothing else- he’s the physical man in the middle that every team needs. Nene lead the league in FG % last season. Contrary to most big men, he can hit free throws; 70%+ in each of last three years.
Another pure scorer who needs shots to help a team. Provides scoring and veteran experience.
Are the Mavs better without him? They did win the title, essentially, without him. But it would still be cool to see him play an entire season in Dallas. But the odds of him, Barea, Chandler and Stevenson all rejoining is pretty slim.
West is probably going to be the most sought after player on this list, overall. The torn ACL will scare some teams away but it’s been eight months since the injury occurred.
NBA teams will always need a 6-11 inside presence. Whoever doesn’t get Nene, gets Dalembert.
Image Credit: Keith Allison