|Evans may not be a max contract guy, but his beard is.|
Free agent frenzy officially kicked off on Sunday. After a tentative "dipping the toes in the water" period, NBA GM's finally got down to their usual business -- making complete and utter fools out of themselves. Gerald Wallace for 4yrs $40M? No way. Omer Asik for 3yrs $25M, including nearly $15M in Year 3? Out of your mind! IT'S OMER FREAKING ASIK!!! And I haven't even begun to think about 'Max Contract' Roy Hibbert or 4yrs $50M worth of Nic Batum.
While big names like Deron Williams, Steve Nash, and the above mentioned guys are getting all the press, there are plenty of other, less heralded players that could make an impact at a fraction of the cost. These guys certainly aren't carrying you to a championship, but you doubtless aren't winning one without them. Think Reggie Evans of the Clippers or Shane Battier of the Heat. Neither player arrived with much fanfare (Evans less than Battier), but ended up being instrumental in their teams' playoff runs.
Here are a few bargains from this year's crop of free agents:
SF/PF Antawn Jamison
Stats: 17.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, .403 FG%
Advanced Stats: 16.1 PER, .070 WS/48, .481 TS%
Jamison’s days as an All-Star are definitely behind him, but he could be the type of instant-offense sixth man that several contenders lack. Don’t think the Celtics could’ve used some additional bench scoring? Or the Clippers? Or just about every other playoff team? Even if the price ends up being the full MLE, that seems like a reasonable short term cost for an asset that precious few teams have.
C Ian Mahinmi
Stats: 5.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, .546 FG%
Advanced Stats: 13.5 PER, .144 WS/48, .585 TS%
You read correctly! Ian Mahinmi!
Look, I don’t want to go overboard with this. Mahinmi is not some sort of Ben Wallace-like steal where he’s going to randomly turn into an All-NBA player. Please, don’t think I’m saying that. However, in a world where Omer Asik receives $25M, I do believe Mahinmi is a steal, of sorts. The value of having a quality big man on the bench cannot be understated, and Mahinmi was quietly one of the more productive backup centers in the league last year. He rebounds his position very well, he’s a solid finisher, and he plays strong, physical defense. Nothing special, but much more than you would typically get for a $2.5M center. Considering that Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf were both featured rotation players in the playoffs, I’m thinking that would be money well spent for several contenders.
PG Nate Robinson
Stats: 11.2 PPG, 4.5 APG, .424 FG%
Advanced Stats: 18.0 PER, .111 WS/48, .534 TS%
‘Nasty Nate’ can put the ball in the basket, plain and simple. He’s scored everywhere he’s ever been, and has also been far more efficient than you might believe. Yet, he’s almost certainly going to be overlooked once again this summer (ironic, right?). That’s a head scratcher considering how many contenders were openly pining for guys who can create offense (CHI, BOS, LAC, LAL, OKC, IND, others). Not only can you get one in Robinson, but you can get him for far less than the shockingly comparable Lou Williams.
C Marcus Camby
Stats: 4.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG
Advanced Stats: 16.2 PER, .127 WS/48, 22.8 TRB%
Camby may be older (38), but he can still be a huge piece for a contender. He led the league in Total Rebound Rate for the second consecutive year and his shot blocking skills, though diminished, are still elite. Having an impact rebounder/shot blocker off the bench will be a huge advantage for some contender, especially at the low price he’ll likely command.
PF/C Jordan Hill
Stats: 5.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, .497 FG%
Advanced Stats: 15.8 PER, .118 WS/48, 19.5 TRB%
Hill is never going to be the low post force the Knicks thought they were getting at #8 overall, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a very solid player off the bench. In fact, Hill distinguished himself quite well last season as an emerging force on the boards and on the defensive end, especially after being dealt to the Lakers. For the 4yrs and $17M the Lakers are reportedly offering, Hill really isn’t much of a steal, but if he can lower his obscenely high foul rate and turnover rate, Hill might actually be a quality NBA starter. Then he’d be a huge steal.
SG/PG O.J. Mayo
Stats: 12.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.6 APG, .408 FG%
Advanced Stats: 14.7 PER, .094 WS/48, .513 TS%
Let me clarify this one a bit; Mayo is only a steal if he signs for the MLE that he is reportedly being offered by several teams. Any more than that and he is either properly paid or overpaid (probably the latter). Even at the MLE, you can argue that Mayo is not a steal. His shooting numbers have dramatically fallen off the past two years, which is kind of a red flag since he’s known as a shooter. But I think a change of scenery will do Mayo a ton of good, and could help him get back to the 18 PPG player he was in his rookie season. That O.J. Mayo looked like a future star. While I’d love to see my Celtics land him, a destination like Phoenix, where he could start and be a big part of the offense, would be a much better situation for him.
C Eddy Curry
He could singlehandedly revitalize the local food industry
PF Anthony Randolph
Stats: 7.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG
Advanced Stats: 17.6 PER, .099 WS/48, .532 TS%
I know we’ve all been down this path before. Believe me, I’ve put in more waiver claims for Randolph as a “speculative add” more times than I care to admit. You know how many times it has worked out? None. Not one. But screw it, I’m advocating for Randolph again, even if it costs me every last shred of credibility I have left! The guy is just too darn talented to ignore. His per minutes numbers were, once again, excellent last season (17.5/8.6/2.4 BPG per 36 minutes), leaving everyone to wonder what he could do with more opportunity. If that weren’t teasing enough, consider Randolph’s final 8 games of the season:
26.4 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.8 BPG
I get that there’s a reason why Randolph hasn’t won a starting job, but I don’t get him being tossed in the trash heap. Immense talent, tremendous size/athleticism combo, and at just 23, there is so much room for growth. At the worst, he’s the first big guy off the bench. And if he puts his considerable talents to use, you very well might have an All-Star on your hands. For the middling cost of around $2M a season, Randolph is a huge bargain. An aging contender like Boston or Dallas could use his athleticism off the bench and develop him as a great piece for the future. Or, a struggling franchise like Charlotte could take a shot on him. Either way, the market should be much bigger than it is.
PF J.J. Hickson
Stats: 8.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, .467 FG%
Advanced Stats: 14.9 PER, .066 WS/48, .501 TS%
It was definitely a tale of two seasons for Hickson. He was so bad in Sacramento that the team waived him – and you know it’s bad when even the Kings think you suck – but played like a stud after being picked up by Portland. In his 19 games there, Hickson posted averages of 15.1 PPG and 8.3 RPG while shooting 54%. Any team interested in Brandon Bass would be wise to look at Hickson as a cheaper and potentially more productive alternative.