The Forgotten Summer: 2009 NBA Free Agents
THE FORGOTTEN SUMMER OF 2009
By Mike DeStefano
2010 has become an obsession. People forget that there are actually a lot of quality pieces that can be added this summer.
While most GMs are clearing cap space to make a run at the LeBrons, Wades, and Boshes of the world, guys like Mark Cuban who refuse to wait could cash in on some valuable players with limited competition from other teams. For any GM in search of help at the point guard position, or maybe in need of a veteran presence up front, this summer has a lot of attractive options available at potentially cheap prices.
Here are the players available in a few short months for the shrewd GM that isn’t putting all of his eggs in one 2010 free agent basket:
Definitions: (ETO – Early Termination, P – Player Opt, T – Team Opt, R – Restricted)
The Top Ten Free Agents:
1. Carlos Boozer (P) – Many speculate that Boozer will opt out since he will be the most coveted player this summer. Miami is one destination that looks like a possibility for Boozer if he doesn’t return to Utah.
2. Hedo Turkoglu (ETO) – The Orlando Magic have become one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference in large part because of Turkoglu’s improvement. He doesn’t make nearly enough money for his production, so opting out would make sense.
3. Allen Iverson – It’s safe to say that he will not be back in Detroit. People forget that it was only last year when Iverson was averaging over 26 points per game. His skills haven’t diminished that much, so whoever decides to take a chance on him will get a great scorer at a discount.
4. Paul Millsap (R) – Millsap has been one of the most improved players in the League this year. He played great as a starter in Boozer’s absence. If Utah re-signs Boozer, it’s doubtful they’ll match an offer sheet for Millsap.
5. Ron Artest – He clearly enjoys playing without T-Mac. McGrady won’t be a free agent until 2010, but he will be shopped hard this summer just as he was prior to the trade deadline. Artest’s decision to return or not will probably depend on what happens with McGrady.
6. Ben Gordon – Things don’t look as bad for Gordon in Chicago as they did at the beginning of the year, but he is an unrestricted free agent and will be looking for more money and a full-time starting job. Teams in need of shooting will throw both at him.
7. Lamar Odom – He’s been vital to the Lakers’ success in Bynum’s absence, but his place in LA next year may depend on his playoff performance. If he lays another egg, he’s expendable, especially with Ariza playing so well.
8. Rasheed Wallace – He can definitely still play. It just won’t be in Detroit. Depending on how much money ‘Sheed expects, he’d be a perfect fit in Orlando. We also know how much Boston and San Antonio like adding veteran help.
9. David Lee/ Nate Robinson (R) – With the way the Knicks have been trying to clear salaries, there’s a good chance neither will be back, let alone both. They are not as good as their stats but can strengthen any contender’s bench.
10. Charlie Villanueva (R) – He’s in the Top Ten based on talent alone, but questions still linger about his consistency and heart. Will teams be willing to invest enough in his questionable work ethic to outbid the Bucks?
• Mehmet Okur (ETO) – It just makes sense for Memo to stay put. He fits in well in Utah and probably wouldn’t get much more than the $9M he’s slated to make next year.
• Marvin Williams (R) – He missed some time due to a broken hand, but before the injury, Williams had shown serious improvements in his game. At only 22, he’s added range to his jumper and has shown star potential.
• Raymond Felton (R) – Felton’s had a good year (14 ppg, 7 apg, and 1.6 spg), and so have the Bobcats. Nevertheless, D.J. Augustin is set to become the starting point guard, so it’s almost a certainty that Felton will look to leave Charlotte.
• Linas Kleiza (R) – His play declined this year, but Kleiza is a good young player whose versatility and energy off the bench could be of great value. He’s an asset to the Nuggets, but how much are they willing to spend to keep him?
• Ramon Sessions (R) – Sessions is making less than $1M this year and will certainly command a huge raise with averages of 15.4 and 6.9 since becoming a starter. With Milwaukee in financial trouble, they may not be able to retain him.
• Jarrett Jack (R) – Indiana is in the same boat as Milwaukee. They’d like to see how this team can play when healthy but might have to let some players walk. Jack’s played well sharing time with TJ Ford but puts up better numbers as a starter and could cash in somewhere else.
• Jamal Crawford (ETO) – Crawford has been told he will be traded if he doesn’t terminate early, so expect it to happen. While a defensive liability, Crawford could certainly fit in an up-tempo offense like Phoenix.
• Al Harrington (P) – Harrington seems to believe he’s going to be in NY for the long haul. He has an interesting offensive skill, and the Knicks (who are close to home and play no defense) are the perfect situation for him.
• Trevor Ariza (U) – If you’ve been paying attention to the parentheses, Ariza is the only unrestricted free agent on this list. He is very important to the Lakers’ bench, and GM Mitch Kupchak should do whatever it takes to bring him back.
• Kyle Korver (ETO) – Korver is the 4th Jazz player on this list, and just like the rest of them, he comes with restrictions. He’s going to make over $5M next year, but with shooters of his caliber at such a premium, he might test the market.
Honorable Mentions: Glen 'Big Baby' Davis (R), Jamario Moon (R), Brandon Bass, Marquis Daniels (T), Hakim Warrick (R)
• Andre Miller (U) – Miller’s the best player available for those looking for point guard help. He won’t command as much as his current deal ($10.3M), but he’s playing at as high a level as ever. Philly should be the frontrunner for his services.
• Mike Bibby (U) – Bibby’s game is on the decline, but he is still putting up solid numbers at 30. Like Miller, his best bet is to stay with his current team until Acie Law is ready.
• Antonio McDyess (U) – You’ve got to think that the Pistons are ready to unload everyone but Hamilton and their youngsters. McDyess has shown he can still play defense, compete on the glass, and hit the open J. He’s another guy that would fit in somewhere like San Antonio, Orlando, Boston, or Cleveland.
• Jason Kidd – Kidd’s done a good job in Dallas this year, but Cuban realizes his mistake and knows his team needs to get younger. Kidd can still run a team, and Cleveland has rumored interest in signing him this summer.
• Shawn Marion (U) – He still has top-notch athleticism, which is always an alluring quality. There are very few systems that he can thrive in, and it will all depend on how much he thinks he’s still worth.
• Michael Finley (U) – He’s 36, and while his minutes are still around 30 minutes per game, he’s producing far less than expected. San Antonio needs someone who can put more than nine points on the board in that amount of time.
• Wally Szczerbiak (U) – Wally will be more effective playing with LeBron James than he would playing anywhere else. But, with LeBron a free agent in 2010, does Danny Ferry let the lesser pieces walk in exchange for someone like Boozer?
• Stephon Marbury (U) – The Celtics experiment hasn’t really worked, but one positive is that we haven’t heard Marbury complain once. With a full training camp and time to get acclimated to a team, he could be a solid starting PG.
• Grant Hill (U) – Averages of 12 and 5 are solid, but Hill’s also shown he can still carry a team’s scoring load – for stretches of time. I think he would be a great fit in San Antonio to replace Michael Finley.
• Drew Gooden (U) – He’s not producing the way they thought he would in Texas, but the Spurs will wait until after the playoffs before making a decision on him. The same teams (Boston, Cleveland, etc.) will consider Gooden once again.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Barnes, Anthony Parker, Bobby Jackson, Chris Andersen.
Mike DeStefano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.