NBA Free Agency 2012: 5 Free Agents Who Won't Get Signed This Offseason
Each offseason, free agents who are former NBA stars, current NBA hopefuls and middling veterans strive to land a spot on an NBA roster. Many fail in such an endeavor.
Antoine Walker comes to mind. Walker was a three-time All-Star that finished twelfth in MVP voting during his second MVP season in the league. Walker averaged over 20 points per game five times and over nine rebounds per game three times during his career. In 2006 Walker was the third leading scorer on a Miami Heat team that won the NBA Finals as well.
However, Antoine Walker has not played a single game in the NBA in over four years. Each year he seems to want to break back into the league and each year not a single NBA team offers him a contract.
In the following slides, I will list five players who I believe deserve a NBA contract this offseason but won't be offered one, for various reasons.
Allen Iverson Career Highlights
Allen Iverson deserves an NBA roster spot, period.
The little man with the enormous heart is still one of the most beloved basketball players on the planet, despite not having appeared in a single NBA game in over two years. The former MVP and four-time scoring champion has been itching to get back into the league since he left it and yet for some reason not a single team has signed him to even a 10-day contract. Such shocks disgust me.
It’s not as if Iverson were a carbon copy of Gilbert Arenas, a player who’s skills have eroded to the point he is little more than a third-string combo guard. Allen Iverson did not leave the game as a shell of himself.
In fact, he went out in a bit of a blaze of glory in a way.
In Iverson’s final season he was voted in as a starter to the All-Star game and averaged 17.9 points, 5.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds and a 1.8-1 assist to turnover ratio per 41.1. minutes (his career average). The rebounds and assist to turnover ratio were actually better than his career averages.
While the man they called “The Answer” may be more of a question mark at this stage of his career I have no doubt whatsoever that he could still be a quality sixth man in the NBA in the mold of a Jason Terry. A team like the Los Angeles Lakers would be the perfect landing spot for the talented but mercurial A.I.
Los Angeles is perhaps the only team in the league that has both a superstar starting shooting guard who can command Iverson’s respect and quell any belief he might have that he should start rather than come off the bench, as well as have a dire need for a dynamic scoring sixth man and back-up shooting guard.
Iverson to the Lakers makes too much sense not to happen, yet sadly, it probably won’t.
Stephon Marbury has a better chance at being elected to the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame than Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. Think about that for a minute.
The two-time All-NBA team, two-time All-Star and former NBA assist champ known as “Starbury” racked up over 16,000 points, 6,000 assists and 1,000 steals while compiling a career average of 19.3 points, 7.6 assists and a 2.53-to-1 assist to turnover ratio (both the points and assist to turnover ratio is superior to Isiah Thomas’ career numbers) before leaving the NBA for three seasons ago at just 32 years of age.
In fact, Marbury ranks ahead of such Hall of Famers as Calvin Murphy and Ralph Sampson on the “Hall of Fame Probability” list at basketball-reference.com.
Many fans have a hissy fit and start shouting out reasons why Marbury’s NBA career was not noteworthy enough to merit being inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, Marbury’s NBA numbers blow a player like Calvin Murphy’s out of the water and stack up favorably with players such as Isaiah Thomas as well.
However, what most NBA fans don’t realize is that the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is not merely for NBA players, nor are players elected solely on their NBA credentials, but on their cumulative basketball accomplishments in various leagues and competitions.
Ralph Sampson and even Bill Walton were inducted into the Hall of Fame largely on what they accomplished as collegiate athletes. Arvydas Sabonis was recently inducted based on his European dominance and Olympic gold medal won in the 1988 games in South Korea.
When Stephon Marbury walked away from the NBA after the 2008-09 season to continue his professional basketball career in China, many talking heads scoffed and fans wondered why the star would throw away his legacy in such a way.
However, the move to China catapulted Marbury back to superstardom, albeit on a different continent, and may have even assured Marbury of being elected into the Hall of Fame when he finishes his career.
In the three seasons Marbury has played in the Chinese Basketball Association, he has been named an All-Star three times, winning one All-Star Game MVP award in the process. This past season Marbury led the Beijing Ducks to a thrilling five game victory over the Shanxi Brave Dragons by averaging 45 points per game in the three victories.
Marbury and the Ducks then squared off with the juggernaut and seven-time CBA champions Guangdong Southern Tigers who came into the finals with an astounding 33-5 record (a nearly identical winning percentage as Michael Jordan’s greatest Chicago Bulls squad) and having swept through the playoffs to that point.
In the CBA Finals, Marbury outplayed former Phoenix Suns point guard Aaron Brooks in the first game of the best-of-seven series by scoring 36 points and dishing out 5 assists in a 108-101 victory. Five games is all it would take for Marbury to lead the Ducks to the title. In Game 5 Marbury once again outplayed Brooks, scoring 41 points and handing out seven assists in a thrilling 124-121 victory.
Today, Stephon Marbury is a bonafide superstar and legend in China. I personally believe he will continue to play in the CBA and one day enter the Basketball Hall of Fame, having been not only a great NBA player and superstar CBA player but the one player other than Yao Ming, who did more than any other to bridge the gap between North America and China as far as professional basketball is concerned.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Greg Oden is one of the biggest busts in NBA draft history, period.
If Greg Oden were still under contract with the Portland Trailblazers I would be hesitant to label him as a bust, choosing instead to believe that he still could become a dominant center in the future.
However, now that Oden is no longer connected to the Portland Trailblazers he can truly be called a bust, at least from the perspective of the team that drafted him. For, even if Oden does one day live up to his vast potential, it most certainly will not be as a member of the Blazers.
Despite being an enormous Trailblazers bust I can’t help but believe that there is still a solid chance Oden will become a dominant center in the future. In fact, had the title of this article been “5 Free Agents Who Won’t Get Signed Next Season” rather than merely about free agents who won’t get signed “in the offseason” I would not have even out Oden on the list.
Recently Oden’s agent Mike Conley Sr. stated that his client has an interest in playing for the Miami Heat next season. Personally, I’d like to see Oden take the year off and return as a dynamic force in the 2013-14 season but if he is healthy enough to even play just 20 minutes a game next season, he would certainly be better than any center the Heat currently have on their roster.
The fact of the matter is that Greg Oden is still just 24 years old. He is actually just 11 months older than Syracuse forward Kris Joseph and incredibly, almost three years younger than Florida State center Bernard James, two players who are projected to be drafted in this month’s NBA Draft.
The last time Oden played was the 2009-10 season in which he appeared in just 21 games for the Trailblazers. However, in those 21 games, Oden’s per-40 minute averages were a magnificent 18.6 points, 14.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game. In fact, in just the 23.9 minutes he played per game he averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks and shot 60.5 percent from the field. Those numbers are far, far better than anything the Miami Heat could even dream to get from the centers currently on their roster.
Greg Oden and LeBron James could be a match made in heaven and Oden could turn Miami’s Big Three into a legitimate Big Four as early as next season. If Greg Oden signs with the Miami Heat before next season’s playoffs begin, LeBron James may actually be able to fulfill his “not one, not two, not three” boasting.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Tracy McGrady is a shell of his former T-Mac persona. However, old man Tracy may still have what it takes to be a valuable contributor on a championship-level team.
McGrady had scored 16,744 career regular season points when the 2007-08 season ended, and was just 29 years of age. In the four seasons since then McGrady has scored a total of just 1,637 points. At such a pace, it will take McGrady another four seasons to reach the 20,000 point plateau. However, I personally believe such a milestone is important to McGrady, one of the best pure scorers to ever play the game of basketball.
While I don’t believe McGrady will re-sign with the Atlanta Hawks and may not even sign with any team until the regular season actually starts, championship contending teams like the Lakers, Bulls, Celtics and even the Indiana Pacers would benefit from having McGrady on their roster.
McGrady’s first seven games with the Hawks last year showed he still has quite a bit left in the tank as he averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. In fact his per-40 minutes stats translated to 19.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.8 combined blocks and steals per game on 51 percent field goal shooting. Those are the numbers of a player that can help a championship level team, period.
Look for McGrady to happily remained unsigned during this offseason, watch a few weeks of the coming season to gauge which teams are true title contenders and then latch on with one of those contending teams before next year’s trade deadline.
Steve Francis Career Highlights
Steve Francis hasn’t played an NBA game in over four years. Don’t bet on that changing anytime soon, or ever for that matter.
The three-time NBA All-Star who was known as “Stevie Franchise” to his fans had career averages of over 18 points and six assists coupled with almost six rebounds per game as well. For those of you who never had the chance to watch Francis play, don’t despair—his clone, Russell Westbrook, is playing in the NBA Finals this year.
Francis was a dynamic combo guard who was as athletic as any player in the league, next to impossible to stay in front of defensively, and a terror on the defensive end as well where he loved to jump into passing lanes for steals that would lead to thunderous and crowd-pleasing dunks. His career was derailed however by both Meniere’s disease as well as a serious left quadriceps tendon injury that required season ending surgery.
The bad news for Francis is that an NBA team needs to ask for his signature on a contract’s dotted line and I doubt that is going to happen anytime soon. The good news for Francis is that he earned over $103,000,000 during his playing career, has a lovely family, a great charity and various business interests.
Enjoy retirement Stevie Franchise!