NBA Free Agents 2012: Underrated Players Available and Where They'll Land

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVJuly 9, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 12:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at US Airways Center on March 12, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 127-124.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

NBA free agents can't technically sign with the team of their choice until July 11, but many big names are already off the board. Needless to say, there are still many players still available who will be contributors next season and about whom nobody's talking.

Even though the big names like Jeremy Lin, Eric Gordon and Roy Hibbert are still unsigned and their futures are uncertain, there's no shortage of players still on the market who aren't getting nearly as much attention.

Maybe the biggest names of the free agency period—Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Ray Allen—are off the table, but we won't truly know how some of these teams did in the offseason until they complete their rosters with their least expensive players. 

Let's see who some of the most underrated players are who are still on the market and where they will end up once this messy NBA offseason is settled.


Kris Humphries

I'm sorry, but if your views on the person named Kris Humphries are based on what you saw on television channels other than a sports network, then you're completely wrong about the guy.

He may not even be the most skilled athlete that his ex-wife Kim Kardashian has been with, but he's still got plenty of skill, size and value to bring to any NBA team that can find a spot for him. 

Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski has said that Humphries is major trade bait for the Brooklyn Nets via a sign-and-trade with the free agent, and he could either go to the Magic in a hopeful Dwight Howard deal or potentially to the Bucks in order to pull in Ersan Ilyasova to pair with Williams and Joe Johnson.

It's hard to imagine a scenario in which the Nets don't at least find somebody that's a dominant figure to put in the frontcourt, since they have a decent amount to offer so many teams.

With the D-12 saga carrying on and becoming more unpredictable than it's ever been, it's almost impossible to predict Humphries landing in Orlando. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they finalize a deal with the Bucks that sends him packing to Milwaukee. They have use for him in a thin frontcourt and could use everything he brings to the table.

Destination: Milwaukee Bucks


Aaron Brooks

Fourth-year pro Aaron Brooks has seen better days in the NBA, but he's still a solid option for a team looking for scoring depth and solid minutes.

He didn't see any time in the league in 2011-12, instead staying in China after the lockout and opting not to join the Phoenix Suns, who had his rights. They opted out from Brooks and made him an unrestricted free agent.

Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle has reported that Brooks has been in contact with his former team, the Houston Rockets. They plan on bringing him in regardless of how the Jeremy Lin situation ends, and they could team him up with Lin to bring a massive improvement to their backcourt.

Rockets, Aaron Brooks have "mutual interest" in deal to bring him back to Houston, per source. Deal not close. Won't depend on Lin decision.

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) July 7, 2012

Brooks enjoyed his best success with the Rockets in the 2009-10 season, when he became the league's Most Improved Player after averaging nearly 20 points and more than five assists per contest. With his recent success in Houston, it's hard to imagine them not making the best pitch to Brooks.

Destination: Houston Rockets


Grant Hill

There was a report on Wednesday from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that Grant Hill is expected to either retire or join former teammate Steve Nash with the Los Angeles Lakers

Grant Hill will either join Steve Nash and the Lakers or retire, a source close to the veteran forward told me.

— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) July 5, 2012

With the Lakers' biggest problems being bench play, this seems like a great deal for Mike Brown's squad. Since Metta World Peace could very possibly be dealt if the Lakers look for one more big deal, adding defensive length and a player who could log a lot of minutes—which Hill has proven to be capable of—or even start if he remains healthy enough to handle the heavy load.

It not only answers L.A.'s biggest problem, but it could potentially answer Hill's biggest demons—winning a championship. After the arrival of Nash, the Lakers suddenly look the part of a legitimate Finals contender, and whether they have Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard manning the post, they'll have a stellar core.

Hill's legacy in the NBA would suddenly look much less impressive if he were to retire right now. One championship would suddenly put him in conversations of being one of the best complete NBA/college players ever, after seven All Star games, two national championships with Duke and a very long NBA career that's already been highly successful.

Destination: Los Angeles Lakers