NBA Free Agency 2012: 10 Signings That Should Happen but Won't
This year’s free agency period has been as unpredictable as those of years past. A lot of teams should do a lot of things, and yet a lot of teams and players are making unpredictable decisions.
Ray Allen stabbed Celtic fans in the back to chase another title in South Beach. Steve Nash went to a division rival in a sign-and-trade. What else will we see? Who knows?
Here are 10 signings we should see, but won’t for varied reasons.
O.J. Mayo by Boston Celtics
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2011-12 stats: 12.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.6 APG
Now that Ray Allen has given the middle finger to Boston fans by spurning the Celtics to sign with the rival Miami Heat, the Celtics must find a starting shooting guard. O.J. Mayo is the best option on the market.
Mayo won’t be able to replace Allen’s daggers from the arc, but he will pick up the scoring slack.
Mayo has averaged around 15 points per game for his career. He is a capable scorer.
Plugging him in with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett doesn’t exactly replicate the Big Four. However, it does give them four legit scoring options and also greatly reduces the Celtics cumulative age.
Past attitude problems have plagued Mayo while he’s been in the NBA, though. Because Allen left amid perceived problems between him and Rondo, it’s easy to foresee a spat arising between Rondo and the often headstrong Mayo.
Lou Williams by Atlanta Hawks
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2011-12 stats: 14.9 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.5 RPG
With Lou Williams testing the market, an emerging high-level point guard is now available.
The Atlanta Hawks would be smart to pick him up.
Williams is a big time upgrade over Kirk Hinrich. He would also create an interesting position battle with Jeff Teague.
Atlanta’s moves this offseason make it unpredictable to figure out what the Hawks are planning to do. Is this a full-blown rebuilding effort? If so, a 25-year-old point guard like Williams might be the way to go.
Yet if the plan is to create cap space for next year, then Williams may not be the best bet.
Marcus Camby by Los Angeles Lakers
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
2011-12 stats: 4.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG
With the Los Angeles Lakers trying the age movement this offseason, adding Marcus Camby works right into their plan.
Camby’s on-court production is not the prize in signing him. Camby’s veteran presence and willingness to work with young players could vastly improve Andrew Bynum’s production. Camby is a true professional and his work ethic would hopefully rub off on the sometimes indifferent Bynum.
Plus he can still produce in spurts when Bynum or Pau Gasol needs a sub.
Between Kobe Bryant, Gasol, Steve Nash, Bynum and Metta World Peace, the Lakers have zero cap flexibility. They are overspent. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that this signing will become a reality.
Brian Scalabrine by Miami Heat
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
2011-12 stats: 1.1 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 56 parody Twitter accounts
Brian Scalabrine might be the worst player in the NBA when he’s on the court. He is the best player in the NBA when he’s on the bench.
Personally, I can’t remember the last time I saw him in a uniform. He’s always rocking a suit next to the bench. And he’s hilarious.
Because the Heat will be on national TV more than any other team in the upcoming season, as a public service to basketball fans, Miami must sign Scalabrine.
The Heat won’t, because they’re selfishly more interested in winning titles than providing terrific bench television. Jerks.
Plus, they can re-sign Juwan Howard to fill that role.
Roy Hibbert by Indiana Pacers
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
2011-12 stats: 12.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.0 BPG
The Pacers have a good nucleus developing. They drew criticism this year for not having a go-to guy, but then countered by having five or six go-to guys.
Now they will lose a key cog from that group.
Hibbert has been offered a maximum deal by the Portland Trail Blazers. Indiana should match the deal, but won’t.
Instead, they’ll shift their focus on maintaining the rest of the group and adding Chris Kaman to the fold. Indiana has been interested in Kaman since the trade deadline, and now has a shot to sign him as a free agent.
Craig Smith by Portland Trail Blazers
2011-12 stats: 3.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, .504 FG%
The Portland Trail Blazers badly need frontcourt depth. Craig Smith can provide that for them on the cheap.
Smith factored into the Blazers’ rotation heavily early in the season. His minutes sharply decreased as the season wore on and Nate McMillan was fired as head coach.
Portland can retain him as a 10 minutes a night kind of guy at the power forward position. By doing so, they’ll retain T-shirt rights for the Rhino—one of the NBA’s best current nicknames.
However, despite the Rhino’s cheap price tag, Portland seems to have little interest in bringing him back for another season.
Kris Humphries by Brooklyn Nets
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
2011-12 stats: 13.8 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.2 BPG
The Brooklyn Nets have been active this summer, re-signing Deron Williams and acquiring Joe Johnson—and then there’s Dwight Howard. You can’t say Howard’s name without mentioning the Nets in the next sentence.
Brooklyn has an intimidating front line already, with Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. Those two, when healthy, can create the same type of production as Howard.
The Nets, however, are too caught up in the hype of bringing yet another blockbuster name to New York. That will leave Humphries—and likely Lopez too—as the odd man out.
J.J. Hickson by Oklahoma City Thunder
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
2011-12 stats: 8.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.8 APG
If a weakness was evident for the Oklahoma City Thunder during the postseason, it was that the Thunder’s frontcourt could not score.
Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka are tremendous defenders, and Nick Collison plays with more energy than just about anyone in the league. None of the three, however, is good at creating his own offense.
Enter J.J. Hickson. The guy can flat-out get buckets—that is, of course, when he’s happy with his playing time.
In his 19 games with Portland, he averaged 15 points—including six 20-point bursts—a game in 30-plus minutes per game. There won’t be enough minutes to go around in Oklahoma City, but he’ll be playing with a winner. That should be enough to keep him happy.
Unfortunately, the concerns about whether he’ll accept a reduced amount of playing time will be enough to keep the Thunder away.
Ivan Johnson by Golden State Warriors
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2011-12 stats: 6.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, .513 FG%
Ivan Johnson is an enigma. He entered the NBA as a 27-year-old rookie who wears a diamond grill. He was banned from playing professional basketball in Korea…for life.
The guy has a bit of an attitude, you might say. He’s the type of player who won’t back down from a challenge.
That is precisely what the Golden State Warriors need.
The Warriors are a talented bunch, but they lack that toughness. They could use an enforcer like Johnson to make sure Stephen Curry isn’t getting cheap shots thrown at him on the court.
But Golden State probably won’t find it worthwhile to sign a 28-year-old with one mediocre season’s worth of experience under his belt.
J.R. Smith by Denver Nuggets
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2011-12 stats: 12.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.4 APG
The Denver Nuggets have been without a good shooting guard since they lost J.R. Smith. After Smith’s sojourn overseas and an impressive showing with the New York Knicks, he will be on the market once again.
The most sensible place for him to go is back to Denver.
The big question in this situation is going to be whether the Nuggets are willing to take another chance on Smith.