Last call: Veteran NBA free agents still on the market
With the business of free agency largely completed, a select group of NBA veterans currently find themselves without a contract (guaranteed or otherwise) for the 2014-15 season. Below are the most notable among those unrestricted free agents with NBA experience:
Should Allen elect to play in the NBA next season, he'll likely end up joining former Heat teammate LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers. His signing would be an accessory to Cleveland's outstanding offseason; after signing James and presumably acquiring Kevin Love, Allen would be a welcome addition for his outstanding perimeter shooting. Even at this late stage of his career, Allen remains one of the very best three-point marksmen in the league, capable of bending the opposing defense as he curls around the floor. He needs every bit of that offensive value to offset what he gives up defensively. In the end, he'll be a positive contributor to a team looking to add role players.
Even after accounting for his long, worrisome track record, it's genuinely surprising that no team has made arrangements to sign Blatche after two largely successful seasons with the Nets. There have been indications that Blatche's stint in Brooklyn brought about the usual headaches, though with them came 18.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per 36 minutes over the past two years. At some point, reliability and responsibility can be forsaken for raw production, particularly in the case of a big man so skilled.
If perfectly healthy, Okafor would be a prime free agent target: A rim protector and rebounder with just enough of an offensive game to justify significant minutes. That in itself, though, is an enormous "if." Okafor missed the entirety of the 2013-14 season with a herniated disc in his neck—an ailment so severe that the timeline for his return is unknown. The fact that he has not publicly worked out for any teams nor drawn much attention in the rumor mill at the very least suggests that Okafor might not be ready, perhaps setting up the veteran center as a target for a midseason signing.
Many lesser point guards than Sessions have found employ this summer, leaving us to wonder why it is that the pick-and-roll specialist hasn't yet found a team. There could be practical basketball reasons behind Sessions' availability, such as his lack of shooting range (28.2 percent from three last season) or concerning defense. Market dynamics are surely in play as well, given that he's drawn a $3-5 million salary for much of his career. There could be little opportunity for such a deal with so many teams stocked at point guard, leaving Sessions to wait it out for the best offer possible.
There have been relatively consistent indications that Garcia will return to Houston next season, though at this point he has not come to any agreement with the Rockets. Teams in need of a defensive specialist who can hit from downtown should pounce; Garcia has proven that he can hit shots when given space and works hard enough defensively to irritate opposing wing scorers. He's not first-rate in either regard, but his skills in tandem are worth a rotation spot all the same.
Although not very mobile at this stage in his career, O'Neal's instincts, understanding of team defense and shot-blocking ability made him a valuable interior defender last season. The catch is a very necessary management of playing time. Even 20 minutes a night might be too much for O'Neal now, who carries a greater risk of injury with increased time on the floor. Still, he was successful enough as Golden State's Andrew Bogut surrogate last season to deserve consideration—if only as a veteran-minimum play.
NBA teams' patience with Crawford runs thinner with every stop. His skills are evident, most often demonstrated in the conversion of difficult shots against pressure from defenders, or the clock. That Crawford often finds himself in those situations, however, is usually his own doing. Some team will likely take a chance with Crawford based on their need for occasional shot creation, though with valued skills like those comes the pains of operating through a tunnel-visioned ball handler.
Ever the afterthought, Udoh has drifted through his last few seasons as a spot contributor for the Milwaukee Bucks. The team's lowly status and Udoh's severe offensive limitations kept him from ever registering much of an NBA presence, but he could still pan out as a defensive difference-maker for a team better suited to mitigate his weaknesses. He's neither a shooter nor a finisher, a combination in deficit that has led Udoh to an average of just 8.5 points per 36 minutes over four seasons. Rim protection, though, is extremely important and that specific skill makes signing Udoh worthwhile.
Lewis was officially announced as a member of the Mavericks before having his contract voided as a result of a failed physical. Doctors determined that the 16-year veteran would require knee surgery to continue his career, for which Dallas was reluctant to pay $1.4 million while waiting for Lewis' potential recovery. Nevertheless, there should be a market for Lewis if he makes it back to the hardwood in reasonable shape. Veteran shooters have a way of landing minimum deals and roster spots in part because their long-range accuracy holds up well against both age and injury. It's for that reason that Lewis will likely play in the NBA again soon, whether this season or next.
Undersized power forwards have lost their luster in the contemporary NBA, but Maxiell may be successful enough as a team defender to warrant consideration. He's physical and talkative on that end, able to impede the progress of bigger players while helping to coordinate the coverage. The mileage of that defense will vary depending on teams' specific needs for rim protection, though there still might be a place for Maxiell in the league next season.
His energy level translates better to defense than offense, though Hollins is too spacey in coverage to be reliable.
If Martin's presence could be guaranteed, he'd likely have a roster spot by now. But injury issues are a fair and understandable deterrent to his signing with an NBA team.
Barbosa actually played a decent, 20-game stint for the Suns last season before breaking a bone in his left hand. He has a shot at a training camp invite at the least should he show well for Brazil in the FIBA World Cup.
Villanueva's career spiraled with Detroit's increasing dysfunction. His signing would be a reclamation project at this point, as the once-promising shooter hasn't converted his three-point tries at a league average clip since 2011.
Anderson has now played in the structure of the Spurs offense and the chaos of the 2013-14 Sixers' offense without taking particularly well to either. Frankly, there's neither enough of an offensive nor defensive spark to Anderson's game to make him all that appealing.
Other notable free agents:
Josh Harrellson (25, PF/C)
Greg Stiemsma (28, C)
Bernard James (29, C)
Andrew Bynum (26, C)
Greg Oden (26, C)
Chris Douglas-Roberts (27, SG/SF)
Rasual Butler (35, SG/SF)
Michael Beasley (25, F)
Hedo Turkoglu (35, F)
Dante Cunningham (27, F)