NBA Free Agents: Biggest Targets Still Left for the Taking

Grant Rindner@grantrindnerContributor IIIJuly 6, 2012

While free agency still technically won't begin until July 11, there are plenty of players who have either negotiated themselves new contracts or are waiting to see if their current team matches an offer as restricted free agents. High profile players like Deron Williams, Jeremy Lin and Roy Hibbert, who were the talk of the offseason, already look to have found new homes, but there are still a slew of athletes out there waiting on a new deal.

Players from all walks of professional basketball, from grizzled veterans hunting for one last shot at a ring to promising young players still oozing with potential are still available for the right price. Some of the star power is undoubtedly gone, but there are quality basketball players still to be had in free agency.

Let's take a look at a handful of guys without a definite contract on the table that teams will be looking to grab over the next few weeks...


Raymond Felton

Although Raymond Felton did not have the kind of stellar season many anticipated he would in Portland, Felton remains one of the better point guard prospects still available in free agency.

His averages of 11.4 points, 2.5 boards and 6.5 assists aren't excellent, nor is his 40.7 percent shooting from the floor, but that was a product of coming into the season poorly conditioned and not meshing with the Portland Trail Blazers' offense, not of his natural abilities.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that the Knicks would either bring in Felton or match Houston's offer for Lin. But with the Houston Chronicle reporting the team is looking to keep Lin, Felton is still without a definite suitor.

Felton is still capable of being a good starting point guard. He can push the pace of the game and score in transition, while also orchestrating a half-court offense and hitting perimeter shots. His defense on the ball is solid and he is willing to be physical out on the perimeter.

There are a number of teams that could use an upgrade at point guard, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Felton end up with a team like the Dallas Mavericks or Houston Rockets.


Chris Kaman

Coming off of a serious knee injury, Chris Kaman was included in the Hornets-Clippers deal for Chris Paul, more to make the salaries match than to give New Orleans an impact player. However, he proved that even at 30 years old, a fully healthy Kaman is still a force to be reckoned with.

Kaman averaged 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 blocks per game, showing flashes of the All-Star he once was. He is a versatile scorer who can play in the post but also knock down midrange jump shots, proving tough to cover in the pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop game.

He is not a great defensive player, but his size bothers opponents and he is still a gifted shot blocker thanks to his timing and length.

ESPN's Ric Bucher reports that the teams still with a shot at snagging Kaman include the Mavs, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers, among others. I could certainly see Kaman having several productive seasons in San Antonio—he would be a nice piece to add alongside Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.


Louis Williams

Only one thing is certain about Louis Williams' NBA future: He will not be returning to Philadelphia, according to a tweet by Williams.

Williams had a stellar season coming off the bench for the Sixers, averaging a career-high 14.9 points, along with 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He was the team's crunch-time scorer and hit a number of huge shots throughout the year.

Williams is capable of playing both guard spots because of his passing and shooting abilities, he can attack off the dribble, pull up for jumpers or create shots for his teammates. In addition, he is not afraid of the big moment and rises to the challenge of an important game.

He is far from a great defender, but Williams fills his role of instant bench offense and three-point shooting very well and should garner heavy interest across the league.

Teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls that could use some perimeter scoring would be wise to inquire about Williams' availability.


O.J. Mayo

In a free-agency period without a ton of quality shooting guards, O.J. Mayo has garnered plenty of interest, but is still without a definite deal.

The former Memphis Grizzly played well this season as the team's sixth man, averaging 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists while connecting on 36.4 percent of his attempted three-pointers.

He can handle the ball well and even run a team's offense for stretches, while also spotting up for perimeter shots or cutting to the hoop.

He improved as a defender over the past few seasons and bought into Memphis' chaotic defensive system. He is capable of forcing turnovers and taking the ball coast to coast for easy scoring opportunities.

The Boston Celtics were once considered a likely landing spot for Mayo, but with the team signing a slew of other players recently that seems unlikely. Ric Bucher reported in the same tweet about Chris Kaman that Mayo's suitors include the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Mavs and Knicks, among others.

Mayo would be great in Dallas replacing the offensive production of Jason Terry, and with Jamal Crawford and Chauncey Billups headed to L.A. I believe it will come down to the Mavericks or Suns for Mayo's services next season.


Carl Landry

Landry is always among the league's more underrated power forwards. His yeoman-like style of play does not lend itself to many highlight reel appearances, but he has performed well in every city he has played for and is one of very few quality power forward still available in free agency.

Landry, slightly undersized at 6'9", plays primarily below the rim, scoring with his back to the basket and banging in the paint for rebounds. He is not a great defender or athlete, but he is effective and was able to average 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds for New Orleans last season on 50.3 percent shooting.

John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that the Hornets are interested in keeping Landry, while Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times says that the Milwaukee Bucks have also looked at Landry as an option at power forward.

Landry can be a quality piece both in the starting lineup or off the bench, and would make a great addition for a Milwaukee team that needs to add size after dealing Andrew Bogut.


Ersan Ilyasova

One of last season's breakout players, Ersan Ilyasova burst onto the national scene by averaging 13 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists while hitting on 45.5 percent of his three-point attempts. He proved to be a multi-tool on the court and nearly led an upstart Bucks team to a playoff berth.

Though the Bucks have reportedly offered Ilyasova a five-year deal worth around $7-8 million per season, Gery Woelfel reported in the same piece about Carl Landry that Ilyasova will likely not take the deal.

Ilyasova's versatility makes him a top target for many teams. He is a pest on defense because of his length and ability to keep opponents out of the paint, but is also capable of guarding the perimeter due to his lateral quickness.

He has a knack for rebounding matched by few players in the league. Ilyasova is far from the most athletic four man in the NBA, but he always seemed to carve out great position and simply out-muscle opponents in the paint for a tough board. He can make an impact on both the offensive and defensive glass and there are plenty of teams that could use a strong inside presence like Ilyasova.

Add to all this the fact that he was lethal from three-point range, and it is easy to see the Turkish big man's appeal (not to mention his weird resemblance to James Franco).

Fred Kerber of the New York Post reports that the Brooklyn Nets have been in talks with Ilyasova's camp and should they be able to scrounge up the money to throw him the kind of deal he deserves. The fledgling franchise would make a perfect landing spot for Ilyasova.

With the signing period almost upon us, expect these six free agents to start piling on offers in the near future.


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