As training camp approaches – it’s just over a month away – most players have settled in with their new teams and are looking forward to building chemistry with their newest teammates.
Of the nearly 400+ players currently employed in the NBA, more than 70 free agents, both unrestricted and restricted, remain on the market. Some are aging veterans looking for a final contract, some are young players just looking for a chance. We’ll take a look at the remaining few who could still make an impact in the 2012-13 season.
Despite being 35 and having previous knee problems, Martin continues to provide quality minutes in the NBA. In his 12th season, he averaged 22.4 minutes with the Clippers, giving them 5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal and shot 51% from the field. He won’t light up the scoreboard like he used to – his season-high last year was 12 – and his assist-to-turnover ratio last season (.56) leaves plenty to be desired, but for a minimal contract, he would add a veteran defensive presence to the end of any team’s bench.
The journeyman forward from UCLA has played on eight teams in his nine-year career, and unless the Lakers decide to sign him again, he’ll find himself on another squad next season. He’s never been much of a scorer, with a career average of just 7.3, but his perimeter defense has kept him in the league. He has some restraint problems – seven technicals, two flagrant fouls and two disqualifications in 2011 – but a defender who can get under the opponent’s skin should find a place on someone’s bench. If he can keep his temper in control, Barnes won’t be a free agent for much longer.
For the first seven years of his career, Barbosa played alongside arguably the best point guard of this decade, Steve Nash, and flourished. He had a career year in 2006-07, averaging 18 points, 4 assists and 1.2 steals, and won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award for it. His production has gone down since then, as injuries have kept him from playing a full season, but he showed he can still shoot from outside as he made 42% of his shots and scored 10.5 points in a reserve role. A team in need of quick offense off their bench would be smart to pick up Barbosa.
Despite respectable career averages of eight points and five rebounds, Jianlian has been on four teams in his first five seasons. His best year came with New Jersey in 2009-10, when he averaged 12 points, 7.2 points and a block in 32 minutes, but he was traded the very next season to Washington. He might have been hyped too much coming into the NBA, being hailed as a more athletic Yao Ming, but after a solid showing in the 2012 Olympics with the Chinese national team, he should be playing in the NBA in 2012.
How can a 6’11”, 260-pound center who averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, 2 assists and 1.5 blocks just two seasons ago still be a free agent? His name is Andray Blatche, that’s how. Blatche has rare talent and is extremely athletic, but his conditioning leaves plenty to be desired. It didn’t help that he played in Washington, a perpetually toxic situation of a team, and had numerous off-court problems there, including getting shot in his rookie season, solicitation from an undercover cop, and reckless driving charges, but now that he has left the team, he could resurrect his career elsewhere. The 26-year old would surely benefit from the veteran leadership on a team like San Antonio or Chicago.
There were plenty of people scratching their heads when Minnesota picked Flynn with the sixth overall pick of the 2009 NBA draft, considering the team had just selected Ricky Rubio with the fifth pick. Regardless, things worked out well for Flynn, as Rubio was unable to come over due to a contract dispute with his Spanish team, FC Barcelona; the former Syracuse standout would go on to play 81 games in his rookie season due to Rubio’s absence. Averaging 13.5 points, 4.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds and a steal per game, Flynn went on to earn All-Rookie Second Team honors in 2010. Hip surgery in the next offseason would derail any momentum for him, as his averages plummeted to 5.3 points and 3.4 assists in 2010-11, and he was traded to Houston at the 2011 draft. After playing just 11 games with the Rockets, Flynn was once again traded, this time to Portland, where he started just one time. A team looking for an athletic, young backup at the point guard position could definitely do worse than signing Flynn to a minimum contract.