Roundtable: Which remaining NBA free agent is worth a gamble?
- Several notable names remain NBA free agents with the season just a month away. Can Josh Smith, Andre Miller and Mario Chalmers find homes?
The NBA season is right around the corner and there are still familiar players out there who have yet to find an NBA home. While many of the players have experienced some level of success, they have faults as well. When an NBA team picks up a known commodity this late into the season, there's typically some gambling involved. Players like Mario Chalmers, Josh Smith and Nate Robinson are classic cases. Below we explain why a team should take a chance on players of their ilk.
Rohan Nadkarni: Mario Chalmers. There's an NBA player unsigned right now who is not only a two-time champion, but also a player with a history of clutch shot-making and a pupil of some of the game’s greatest players ever. That player is Mario Chalmers. It hurts my heart that Rio remains unsigned. He was traded from the Heat to the Grizzlies last season, then ruthlessly cut by Memphis after tearing his Achilles. Sure, Achilles tears are a notoriously difficult injury for NBA players to recover from, but Chalmers has a chance to bounce back. The team that signs him would get a 36% career shooter from three, a solid pick-and-roll defender and at least three pull-your-hair-out plays a game. And who better to handle all of that than the Cleveland Cavaliers? I can't think of a better counter to the Kevin Durant signing than LeBron reuniting with the Big One. Chalmers certainly has more to offer than Mo Williams, right?
Matt Dollinger: Josh Smith. Admittedly, I’ve always drank the J-Smoove Kool-Aid, even though it has occasionally been spiked with poison over the years. That said, it’s hard to believe a player as talented as Smith—and one that is only 30, which is younger than LeBron and Carmelo—is no longer able to find work in this league. He’s coming off the worst season of his career after failed stints with the Clippers and Rockets, but it seems like the right coach in the right system could squeeze some usefulness out of Smith’s versatility, shot-block ability and offensive skill set. Unfortunately, the cons seem to outweigh the pros when it comes to Smith. His shot selection borders on atrocious, he’s as efficient as a bucket with holes and he hasn’t shown he can be effective in a reserve role. It might take an injury for Smith to get another shot. And unless something changes, it could be his last.
DeAntae Prince: Andre Miller. In a July interview, Andre Miller said he was about 80-90% sure he will retire after amassing 16,278 points, 8,524 assists and 40,268 minutes over 17 years. Well, we're deep into September and no announcement has been made yet so I'm still holding out hope, and every NBA team with a young point guard should do the same. The Timberwolves, Nuggets, Lakers and a number of other teams all fall under that umbrella.
A smart, sound veteran is always useful, and they don't get any smarter than Miller. The savvy point guard out of Utah was never the best athlete on the floor. Still, defenders were overmatched against Miller's tight handle and blinding passes. His career was made on outsmarting taller, faster and stronger players with wit and timing. Miller has leveraged that intelligence to extend his career and serve as a de facto coach. He doesn't have as much to give on the court as he once did, but Miller's contributions during practice and in the locker room are worth far more than a final roster spot.
Jeremy Woo: Tom Thibodeau's army of backups. Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, John Lucas III, Mike James are all on the market. It's a shame C.J. Watson and D.J. Augustin are under contract with the Magic because it’s only right that Tom Thibodeau’s erstwhile army of backup point guards (non-Marquis Teague category) reunite with him up north. I don’t even know who Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn are at this point. When injury strikes, there is no mediocre guard whisperer like Tom Thibodeau. If the Timberwolves really want to go to the playoffs, it’s obvious there’s juju in collecting. Did we get everyone? Can Keith Bogans and Carlos Boozer get in on this action? Has anyone seen Jannero Pargo?
Jarrel Harris: P.J. Hairston. Hairston's career so far has been a disappointment. But at the age of 23, Hairston still has the potential to turn his career around. He is built like a middle linebacker and he can shoot. The main concern with Hairston has been his decision making on and off the court. He struggled mightily in Charlotte and has earned a bad reputation for making mental mistakes. If he lands on a veteran team such like the Spurs or even the Pacers, Hairston can be a valuable spot-up shooter that comes off the bench.