This year’s Unrestricted Free Agent class is pretty thin, but it merits some consideration. Without considering the Restricted Free Agents, here are my thoughts on some of the most interesting unrestricted free agents:
Baron Davis – Baron had his share of problems with the Warriors and Don Nelson this past season, and I get the feeling that he opted out due to a sense of frustration with the franchise. Also, he’ll never be as attractive as he is today, since he has put together two statistically remarkable seasons, and played all 82 games last year, significantly reducing the rumors about his long-term durability. No reason not to go for a rich long term deal right now, unless you consider the financial environment of the league right now. There aren’t many teams that can afford him, but a sign and trade might make things significantly easier. The Warriors have a lot to consider right now, and this decision will shape the future of the franchise for the next five years.
Elton Brand – Brand is a premier talent in this league and will be pursued by any team that can afford him. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t opt out, he’s filthy rich and has proven himself as a quality player in every sense of the word. All that is left is playoff success and a championship, and Brand knows that the Clippers are the last team he should expect to help him get there. Brand does not appear to be the kind of player who places money before everything, so he could easily take less to play on a contender.
Corey Maggette – This was not a surprise, considering the level of animosity between player and organization. He’s turning down $8.4 million, and while there are a lot of teams who’d love to add him to their roster, the number that can offer him a comparable salary is significantly smaller. If he really wants out of Los Angeles, he could take a longer contract at the MLE (roughly $5.5 million per season) and recoup the lost money with extra years on the deal. Perhaps the Magic would be willing to offer this kind of deal, but the just drafted Courtney Lee and have more pressing needs (such as big man depth). Teams might wait on Maggette and try to low-ball him later in the year.
Shaun Livingston – He’s not getting that $5.8 million Qualifying Offer from the Clipppers, so it loloks like Livingston will be UFA this summer. There are a lot of teams where he could try a “get healthy” contract , like Golden State, Miami, Orlando, Seattle, and Sacramento.
James Jones – Jones declined the $3.1 million player option he had available from the TrailBlazers and will now be a free agent. The team played extremely well with him on the court, and he is a lights out shooter. Look for him to be an extremely attractive free agent, with many teams needing a shooter who can space the floor giving him an extended and offering him a majority of their MLE.
Gordan Giricek – Giricek was traded to the Sixers this season and then released, signing and actually getting decent minutes with the Phoenix Suns. He can shoot from the outside, but isn’t good enough at most other basketball skills to be a steady and reliable player. He’ll get looks from quite a few teams, because outside shooting makes up for a lot of flaws, and he’ll be had for cheap as well.
Keyon Dooling – Dooling will be a free agent this summer and is expected to get offers from his current team, Orlando, and many others seeking an inexpensive backup guard. Dooling can shoot a bit and defend, so he has value to a number of teams with thin benches.
Adonal Foyle – If a tree falls in the woods. Foyle is opting out of the last year of his contract and is hoping to sign for aronud $2 million, but its yet to be seen if any teams see value in the slow and short center. Foyle can’t score or pass, and his defensive skills have waned with his foot speed, so it looks like a longh summer for the Colgate alum.
Jannero Pargo – Pargo is rumored to be ready to opt of his contract. very soon He developed a name this year as Chris Paul’s backup and as an offensive sparkplug of the bench. Pargo could see his salary rise with another team, but it is likely that the Hornets will make a solid attempt to retain him.
Gilbert Arenas – Arenas officially opted out of his contract this week, but still says he wants to resign with the Wizards. With Jameson in limbo, the Wizards’ situation is still greatly in doubt, but Arenas would have a ton of potential destinations should Washington not pan out. This would probably mean sign and trade, though, so the Wizards would still retain some leverage.
Sebastian Telfair – While no one was looking, Bassy finally turned his career around and had a good season at PG for the T-Wolves. He’s a free agent now and has said he wants to remain with the Wolves, but the longtim speculation that he’d sign with the Knicks hasn’t gone away, and they need a point guard. He will come cheap, as one good year doesn’t exactly merit a hige deal.
Carlos Arroyo – Arroyo is a pure backup point guard, because if you can’t beat out Jameer Nelson for a starting job then you don’t deserve one. However, he has value in this league for teams looking to bolset their rotations, and could see a few million tossed at him by any number of teams.
James Posey – Posey is the NBA’s reigning hired gun. He’s a good defender, can his threes, and plays extremely well in the playoffs. He’ll be sought out by contending teams looking to add toughness and depth, and I don’t expect him to sign with a non-playoff bound club.
Eduardo Najera – Najera is a glue guy, and played very well for the Nuggets in past years. I don’t see him getting overpaid again, but he’s a quality player and would be extremely useful on many teams because he is tough, can rebound, and can score when asked to.
Juan Dixon – Dixon has a place in this league, he’s definitely a backup who deserves good minutes. If he scored, passed, shot, or moved just a little bit better he’d be a starter somewhere. Lots of teams would benefit from his services, but he’s in a situation where teams won’t come calling until they’ve exhausted most of their options.
Eddie House – Could be a solid contributor on many many teams. A good shooter, and definitely not a liability on the court, especially against other team’s benches. He has no reason not to stay in Boston. Wouldn’t pay him more than half the Mid Level Exception, though.
Chris Duhon – Definitely a limited player, but a quality backup point guard. Imagine him on the Spurs as Tony Parker’s backup. He merits a portion of the MLE, but not more than half either. If he can improve one part of his game (like many players try to do in the offseason) he might get people to take more notice of him.
Quinton Ross – Love Mr. Ross as a player, but he still isn’t starter quality. Another bench guy who could do well on a team loooking for a bit of defense and smart basketball. Not sure he’s worth much on the open market right now, if he could improve his shooting in some form, then maybe we’d have something.
Kwame Brown – Pay him less than half of your MLE (two million dollars?) and forget his entire history, and then we’re talking about a decent value. Still, big men are valuable, so he’ll find a home.
Ricky Davis – I mean he can score, right? I wouldn’t pay him much, and I wouldn’t start him on any NBA team, but I do feel like he’ll land somewhere. Another rebuilding team that could use a high draft pick would def. take a flyer on this perennial loser. Like most guys with character red flags (particularly effort ones), he could also be well-served on a good team with strong leaders in a more niche role, paralleling Stephen Jackson’s stint on the Spurs.
Jason Williams – At this point all he is is a mentor. Now all he needs is to find someone who needs to learn a few NBA tricks. I’m not sure where to stick him, though, so I can’t exactly say he’ll have steady employment next year.
DeSagana Diop – This is one of my favorite UFAs. I think he’d be a great addition to every single NBA team. A good defensive player with great hustle and the ability to run while still being able to body up some of the NBA’s bigger centers. He can’t play a lick of offense, but on a team with enough all around firepower, that wouldn’t be a killer. I’d give him half or even a bit more of my MLE, and consider it money well spent.
Boki Nachbar – Another good role player, with decent skills in all parts of the game. Definitely worth a shot on many teams, and likely headed to New York if he has his way. I’d like to see him on a running team where his skills might be better used.
Bonzi Wells – The perennial free agent. I like him where he is, but he could make decent money on a team looking for a psycho bench player who plays the two but for some reason can rebound well and post up half of the NBA. Has anyone ever fully explained this guy?
Beno Udrih – A nice story last year. He’s basically starter quality, maybe another off-season of work will push him over the edge for sure. I like him a lot and would want to see him succeed wherever he goes, but he’s not worth too much just yet, maybe a split of the MLE until he really establishes himself. At this point, he would be a great value for less (but important) minutes on a good team as opposed to starter time on a middling one, but both options have their merits for a guy who already experienced being buried on a title team.
Kurt Thomas – Valuable defensive role player. A big man who knows what he’s doing and won’t be charging 9 million dollars anymore. He’s only going to a contender, its just a matter of which one.
Francisco Elson – An intriguing player, we have seen him play for a few years now, but like many centers who spent significant time alongside Tim Duncan, we still don’t know much about him. I’d love to see him get decent playing time, maybe even on the Warriors if he can get a bit quicker.
Antawn Jamison – The premiere UFA of 2008 (unless certain ETO’s are exercised). He probably would do well to return to Washington, but if he’s not interested, there are a ton of locations where he could sign a healthy long-term deal. If i was a prospective location for him, I’d throw on an extra year to lower his yearly salary, since I think he’d be a good bench leader and mentor for young PFs. – By all appearances, Jameson will re-sign with the Wizards on July 9th.
Here are the list of ETO players who, if they opt out of their contracts, will become UFA:
At this point, its impossible to predict what will happen to these guys. The market hasn’t even begun to shake itself out, so the RFA and ETO players will have to continue their delicate dance, until teams figure out their directions, salary caps, and draft priorities.