NBA Free Agents 2012: Breaking Down Best Values in Free Agency

Roy BurtonContributor IMay 18, 2012

NBA Free Agents 2012: Breaking Down Best Values in Free Agency

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    Every offseason, the story is the same.

    Many people spend hours and days and weeks wondering where the high-profile free agents are going to go. Meanwhile, some of the transactions that only appear in your newspaper in agate type are the ones that have the most impact on their respective teams.

    This summer won't be any different.

    While Deron Williams and Steve Nash are all but guaranteed to lead their future teams to success, there may in fact be better values out in the free-agent market once July rolls around.

    So with that in mind, here is a look at eight players who, when everything is taken into consideration, represent the best values in free agency this year.

Reggie Evans, Clippers

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    Yes, Reggie Evans is a serial flopper whose reputation for dirty antics is widely known in NBA circles. Evans also happens to be one of the league's toughest, grittiest players and would be a valuable asset to any team who lacks an imposing presence in the paint.

    Every time he steps out onto the court, Evans brings the intensity of a Tony Allen in the body of a power forward. But more than that, his exceptional rebounding ability sets him apart from most of the big men in this year's free-agent class, and could probably be signed at a reasonable price this summer.

Matt Barnes, Lakers

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    Don't be fooled by his sub-par playoff performance: Matt Barnes is a solid role player who has the potential to be one of the better bargain-basement pickups in free agency this offseason.

    Players who are more concerned about their defense as opposed to the number of points they score are few and far between in the NBA.

    Barnes is one of those players.

    At around $2 to $3 million a year, Barnes may not be as alluring as most other free-agent wing players, but he'll be a solid veteran leader who will anchor some team's second unit in 2012-13.

Andre Miller, Nuggets

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    Just when many started to write off Denver's Andre Miller, the savvy 36-year-old point guard nearly helped the Nuggets knock off the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

    In the series, Miller averaged 11.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.0 assists (off the bench, mind you) and gave the Lakers fits with his pick-and-rolls and lob passes.

    With more than a few teams looking for new lead guards this summer, expect Andre Miller to field his fair share of offers, and deservedly so.

J.R. Smith, Knicks

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    New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith has a $2.5 million option to remain with the team, but may choose to test the free-agent waters this summer after a decent 2011-12 campaign.

    The 6'6" Smith is more of a scorer than anything, but his athleticism and clutch shooting ability are skills that are extremely intriguing to NBA GMs.

    Think of Smith as a taller, better version of Philadelphia combo guard Lou Williams: a player who could get anywhere from $5 to $6 million on the free-agent market if he chooses to opt out this year.

Jeff Green, Celtics

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    The 6'9" Jeff Green was a terror with the Oklahoma City Thunder (and had moderate success with the Boston Celtics) before heart surgery caused him to miss the entire 2011-12 season.

    When healthy, the versatile swingman can play multiple positions, and should be fairly affordable for a team looking for scoring punch off of the bench.

    With a full training camp under his belt, Green could be one of free agency's hidden gems.

Courtney Lee, Rockets

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    Courtney Lee is a pure shooter (38.6 career three-point percentage) with good size (6'5", 200 pounds). The fact he can probably be signed for about $4 to $5 million per year makes him one of the best values in the league this July.

    Lee isn't super athletic, nor is he a lockdown defender, but he's more than capable of holding his own in virtually any team's starting lineup at the two-guard spot.

    As evidenced by his success with the 2008-09 Orlando Magic, Lee could blossom into a fantastic wing player in the right situation.

Brandon Bass, Celtics

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    Brandon Bass should be a pretty affordable talent on the free-agent market if he doesn't choose to exercise his $4 million player option this offseason.

    The 6'8" Bass can both bang in the paint just as easily as he can knock down a 16-footer. His energy is matched by few, and as one of the vital parts to a hodgepodge Celtics' unit this season, Bass graciously accepted any and every assignment given to him.

    Bass set career highs in both points (12.5 PPG) and rebounds (6.2 RPG) this season. Don't be surprised if he does it again next year.

O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies

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    O.J. Mayo is coming off of a playoff series that he'd like to forget (8.9 PPG on 27.4 percent shooting). But that seven-game set against the Los Angeles Clippers is not indicative of what the 6'4" Mayo is actually capable of.

    Comfortable at both guard positions, the 24-year-old Mayo is one of the better reserve players in the league. He excelled, however, when he was a starter during the first two years of his career, and could possibly be signed by a team at a "discount" if guaranteed more playing time.

    Memphis doesn't seem all that motivated to retain his services, so expect to see Mayo in a different uniform come November.