Monday , Feb , 23 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Need a playoff mercenary? 5 free agent/buyout options for the March 1st deadline

Bringing in a free agent is simple, cheap, and effective. Unlike trades, there are no negotiations between GMs. The player typically signs a one-year, pro-rated deal for the veteran’s minimum. And it can evolve into a win-win for all parties. For example, the Celtics struggle to capture their seventeenth banner without late season addition P.J. Brown …

Need a playoff mercenary? 5 free agent/buyout options for the March 1st deadlineEach week HoopsVibe drops a basketball related list for fans to weigh-in on. We call it ‘Listed’ … 

There are still free agents to be had.

Most contenders failed to upgrade their roster during the quietest trade deadline in recent memory, so Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles and other powerhouses could instead sign a veteran before the March 1st roster freeze.

Bringing in a free agent is simple, cheap, and effective. Unlike trades, there are no negotiations between GMs. The player typically signs a one-year, pro-rated deal for the veteran’s minimum. And it can evolve into a win-win for all parties. For example, the Celtics struggle to capture their seventeenth banner without late season addition P.J. Brown.

Who are this season’s top mercenaries? And what can they offer during the stretch run and playoffs?

In this edition of ‘Listed’, HoopsVibe The Blog is counting down the top five rent-a-player options. As always, read the post, form an opinion, and get at us in the comment box with thoughts.

#5) Stephon Marbury, New York Knicks (sort of).

The Skinny: Hopefully, MSG and ‘Starbury’ agree to a buyout, so that the NBA’s most controversial player can continue his soap opera career elsewhere. 

Possible homes: For some reason, the combo guard has been linked to Boston and his old Minnesota running mate Kevin Garnett.

#4) Sam Cassell, Sacramento Kings (for now). 

The Skinny: Gollum was a ‘coaching consultant’ with the Celtics before getting traded to Sacramento at the deadline. A buyout is coming –and soon. If he’s in condition, Cassell could serve as insurance for a contender.

Possible homes: Denver’s George Karl always had a soft spot for Sam-I-am, dating back to their Milwaukee days. Also, Cassell and Chauncey Billups in the backcourt for ten minutes a night would be interesting. 

#3) Robert Horry, free agent.

The Skinny: ‘Big Shot Bob’ hasn’t suited up since last year and is likely out of shape. It doesn’t matter; Horry’s presence could help most squads. Opposing defences would still have to account for his ability to nail clutch baskets.

Possible homes: Boston is out because Horry tossed a towel at GM Danny Ainge during their time together in Phoenix. A reunion in L.A. with Zen-Master Phil Jackson is possible.

#2) Mikki Moore, Sacramento Kings (soon to be bought out).

The Skinny: Moore, a serviceable player, has fallen out of favour in Sacramento and should get his walking papers shortly. The veteran post can fill-in as a spot-starter or play regular minutes off the bench. 

Possible homes: Moore had been linked to the Celtics before Garnett’s injury. But with The Big Ticket out, it’s a virtual certainty he’ll sign in Beantown.

#1) Joe Smith, Oklahoma City Thunder (soon to be bought out). 

The Skinny: This former first overall pick was supposed to be a Hornet, but the Tyson Chandler trade got rescinded. So Smith, ever the good soldier, waits on a buyout in The Dust Bowl. Look for Thunder GM Sam Presti to accommodate him shortly.

Possible homes: Smith played part of the 2007-08 season in Cleveland and could easily swing back into Mike Brown’s rotation.

Who is the top free agent or buyout option? Marbury? Cassell? Horry? Moore? Smith? Or someone else? Get at us in the comment box below and return to HoopsVibe the Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of jmtimages.