NBA Free Agents 2012: The Best Bargain Pickups
Free agency in the NBA is far from over—contracts can’t even be signed yet—but we are already getting a good sense of where some key pieces are going and what certain types of players are worth.
We’re also getting a sense of which players could be viewed as bargains given the new contracts that they are about to sign. Here’s a look at six potential NBA free-agent bargains this year.
Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia 76ers
Hawes is a true center in every sense of the word. He’s a seven-footer who won’t blow you away in any particular way, but he’s increasingly effective. He averaged 9.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in just 25 minutes last year.
He’ll find more playing time this year, and he’s still only 24, so he has a lot of room to grow and mature as a player.
He’ll likely never be a superstar-type player, but the Sixers locked him up for two years at a very reasonable rate, and I suspect that the rebuilding team will be very happy with the investment.
Michael Beasley, Phoenix Suns
I have had a soft spot for Beasley ever since he dazzled in college. He has had some off-court issues and hasn’t yet found a perfect spot to play on the court in the NBA, but given his immense talent and flashes of brilliance, I love that the Suns are taking him on.
The Suns got him at a reasonable price—$18 million over three years—and suddenly have some very potent offensive potential to build around as they try to move on from the Steve Nash era without taking any steps backwards.
Along with the addition of Goran Dragic, the bounty of picks they got for Nash, and the offer to Eric Gordon that may or may not be matched by the Hornets, the Suns have had a very strong offseason so far.
Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns
Speaking of Dragic—I love this pickup. He wasn’t exactly cheap, but if he plays like I believe he can, then he’ll be a steal.
The team needed to find a way to replace Nash as seamlessly as possible. What better way than to bring back his talented understudy? Dragic started his career backing up Nash in Phoenix. He had a huge 23-point fourth quarter in a playoff game against the Spurs in 2010, but was traded to Houston last year.
He played very well in the second half of last season when he found more playing time after Kyle Lowry was hurt.
Given the opportunity to run a team of his own, he has very high upside as a game-controlling, low-risk point guard who can make things happen. The Suns have been spoiled on that front for so long, so the aggressive action to immediately secure what could be a long-term replacement for Nash should be applauded.
As I write this, Camby has not yet landed anywhere, but he’s in hot demand by teams like the Heat, Knicks and Nets. He’s 38 years old, so he doesn’t have a long-term role with any team. He’s still a conscientious player who is capable of double-digit rebounds on any given day, though, so he'll definitely have a job.
He’s going to be relatively cheap—likely a mid-level exception or less—and he won’t command more than two years, so for a relatively small investment you can get a good leader and citizen who you can trust for all the extra minutes you have.
And he’s a leader as well.
It has been a long time since a team regretted having Camby around, and that trend will continue.
There aren’t a lot of second chances in the NBA, but Green appears to be on the verge of one. The monstrously talented former high school draft pick played his way out of the NBA despite high-flying moves.
Discipline and focus were issues, and he never really found his stride. He spent two years playing in Russia and China before swallowing his pride completely and playing in the D-League. His play there was stellar, and he earned a 10-day contract with the Nets. Then another. Then a deal for the rest of the season.
In 31 games, he averaged 12.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in 25 minutes per game, and he seemed to blossom with added responsibility. Now he’s a free agent.
Several teams are interested. He’ll come cheap, and he seems to be hungry and aware of how things can disappear. I’d sure take a risk on him if I had the choice.
Hasheem Thabeet, Oklahoma City Thunder
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft is on the verge of being considered a bust. He is on his fourth team already, and has career highs of just 3.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
There are a few things to remember here, though. First, he’s 7'3". You can’t teach that, and he knows how to use it defensively.
Second, he’s only 25. That’s young for a big man, and especially young when you consider he only started playing at 15. He still has time to grow.
Finally, on the Thunder he will have almost no offensive responsibilities at all. The team seems happy to assign offense to Durant, Westbrook and Harden and have guys like Ibaka, Perkins and Sefolosha focus mostly on defense. Fitting into that latter group will take a lot of pressure off of Thabeet and let him concentrate on what he does best.
If he is going to turn into any kind of pro at all, this is a great place for it to happen, so I love that the Thunder took the low-cost risk.
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