NBA Free Agency 2012: Chauncey Billups and Underrated Veterans Worth Targeting

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2012

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Chauncey Billups #4 of the New York Knicks shoots a foul shot during a game gainst the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 27, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With big free-agent names such as Deron Williams and Steve Nash already off the market, the focus has started to shift from elite players to those who can help teams as complementary contributors.

If there is one thing that this year's class has, it is battle-tested veterans who could be useful pieces for contending teams or younger teams on the brink of contention.

Such players haven't really been talked about thus far since the statuses of Williams and Nash, as well as the Dwight Howard trade saga, have dominated headlines. However, sometimes championships are won due to the value signings and not the big-money names. Therefore, there are still a lot of viable options available that will make big impacts this season.

Here are three underrated, veteran free agents who teams must target and attempt to sign in the coming weeks.


Chauncey Billups

The Los Angeles Clippers signed guard Chauncey Billups last offseason to be a complement to star point guard Chris Paul, and for the first 20 games, it appeared to be a success.

Mr. Big Shot suffered a season-ending injury, however, and he is now on the open market.

Billups had always been a point guard, but he was playing the two for the Clippers, so he has the positional versatility that teams covet. Billups also has a long track record that includes an NBA championship as well as an NBA Finals MVP award.

Billups was averaging 15 points per game prior to his injury last season, so the 35-year-old veteran still has some gas left in the tank.

The Clippers have shown interest in retaining his services, while teams like the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers are possibilities as well.

Staying in Los Angeles would be great for Billups since he brings a lot of experience to a team that is still learning to win. Failing that, Chicago is ideal as he can fill in at point guard until Derrick Rose returns, and then move to shooting guard thereafter. 


Grant Hill

Most NBA players are long retired by the time they turn 40, but small forward Grant Hill is still playing and contributing at a high level.

It truly is an amazing feat when you consider how badly injuries plagued that middle portion of Hill's career. With all of that behind him, though, he is now an interesting option in free agency.

Hill has got his career back on track with the Phoenix Suns over the past five years, but he may be looking to make one last move.

There has been speculation that Hill is very interested in the Los Angeles Lakers after they struck a sign-and-trade deal for long-time teammate Steve Nash. It would be a good fit for Hill as he could chase an elusive ring and would play a good amount of minutes.

Aside from that, the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors are possible suitors, as are the Suns.

Hill would be a big part of a rebuild in Phoenix or Toronto, so if winning is a main priority, then Los Angeles and New York are his best choices. The Lakers look like top contenders again, so Hill will probably wind up there if L.A. is interested. 


Antawn Jamison

He has been overlooked for the vast majority of his career, but power forward Antawn Jamison has produced at every stop.

Jamison averaged 17.2 points per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, and that was actually his worst scoring output since going for 14.8 points per game as a Dallas Maverick during the 2003-04 season.

Jamison may be 36 years of age, but he is a forward that can stretch the floor with his excellent shooting ability and he is also capable of hitting the boards as evidenced by his 6.3 rebounds per game last year.

Jamison won't match his career averages of 19.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game regardless of where he ends up, but he would be a great, underrated signing for plenty of teams.

The Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Bobcats have all shown interest thus far.

The Lakers represent his best chance for a title, but he won't start unless Pau Gasol is traded. The Bobcats are in a total rebuild, but he would be the go-to guy if that is something that interests him. Whatever the case, Jamison shouldn't have trouble finding work and he will produce.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter