NBA Free Agency 2012: Genius Pickups Contenders Must Make to Perfect Rotations

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2012

NBA Free Agency 2012: Genius Pickups Contenders Must Make to Perfect Rotations

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    Free agent Grant Hill is the kind of player over whom contenders are oft to drool.

    The 39-year-old plays defense, understands his role and can knock down some mid-range jumpers when needed. He's no longer a star at this stage in his career, and perhaps he's not even a starter.

    But, when you're already on the verge of winning a title, adding another star is rarely an attainable nor essential priority. It also helps that veterans who have already made bank on their NBA careers will come at a more affordable price.

    These are the kinds of considerations that have brought the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers knocking on Hill's door.

    Other contenders find themselves in similar need of that elusive, extra piece. With little cap room to spend and sign-and-trade avenues frequently limited, those pieces won't necessarily be no-brainers. Sometimes they take a little digging.

    Here are five matches that would help give contenders even more edge.

Miami Heat–Derek Fisher, PG

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    If Ray Allen can jump ship and join the enemy, why not Fish?

    Derek Fisher doesn't owe any great loyalty to the Oklahoma City Thunder, after all. He was but a mid-season rental after the Los Angeles Lakers sent him to the Houston Rockets, who ultimately had no use for him.

    The Miami Heat's point guard situation isn't as dire as it was a couple of years ago, but some insurance wouldn't hurt.

    If Norris Cole takes a step back in his second season, Fisher would provide some insurance.

    Perhaps more importantly, he would offer some veteran leadership in the backcourt come playoff time, ensuring that mistakes are at a minimum when they can be least afforded.

Boston Celtics–Randy Foye, SG

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    With Ray Allen bolting to the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics could use some scorers.

    They'd like to find some way to bring Courtney Lee on board, but Randy Foye could be a more affordable Plan B. The 28-year-old had one of his most efficient seasons from behind the arc with the Los Angeles Clippers this year, despite transitioning into more of a spot-up shooter role.

    He might find similar success in Boston given that the Celtics have the next best thing to Chris Paul in Rajon Rondo. 

    Guys who can distribute the ball that effectively can make mediocre long-range threats look halfway decent.

    Jason Terry will make a nice addition to Boston's rotation, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to have some options.

Los Angeles Lakers–Willie Green, SG

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    The Los Angeles Lakers need help on the bench, and they haven't had a suitable backup for Kobe Bryant since Shannon Brown left for the Phoenix Suns.

    Willie Green isn't exactly sixth-man material, but he's a steady role player who can knock down some open jumpers.

    The 30-year-old had his most efficient all-around season yet this year with the Atlanta Hawks, and that's what Los Angeles needs: someone who understands his role and can produce in limited opportunities off the bench.

    Given the kind of minutes Kobe plays, that's just about all that's needed.

    If the alternatives in the backcourt are the ever-reluctant Steve Blake or the still-unsteady Andrew Goudelock, Green isn't a bad option. He's not much of a passer, and his defense is average, but a cap-strapped team like the Lakers can't afford to be too choosy at this point.

Brooklyn Nets–Kenyon Martin, PF

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    For all the talk about the Brooklyn Nets pursuing Antawn Jamison, there may be another veteran power forward who'd fit in even better.

    Kenyon Martin is everything Jamison is not.

    With Jamison reportedly heading to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Nets should perhaps view his choice as a blessing in disguise.

    Whereas Jamison makes a living with a finesse game that amounts to little more than perimeter shooting these days, Martin is an aggressive defender and active rebounder. In other words, he's exactly what the Nets need alongside Brook Lopez.

    Lopez can score to his heart's desire, but he's not much for hitting the glass.

    Besides, it's always nice when careers come full-circle.

    Jamison may be a glitzier acquisition given the kind of points he can still score, but he's not especially efficient and doesn't do a whole lot outside of spreading the floor. The Lakers can have him.

    Martin, on the other hand, would mix it up in the paint and contribute some valuable toughness to an already talented roster.

Chicago Bulls–Shannon Brown

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    The Chicago Bulls might have to orchestrate a sign-and-trade deal to land Shannon Brown, but it would probably be worth it.

    Even though Richard Hamilton showed some signs of life last year, Brown brings a number of things to the table—including some youth and the ability to finish inside.

    Whereas Hamilton does most of his worth coming off screens and looking for mid-range jumpers, Brown brings a perimeter game the Bulls could use. He also has the ball-handling ability to bring the ball up the court now and then, an asset this club would appreciate during Derrick Rose's recovery from knee surgery.

    Brown can be inconsistent, but at just 26-years-old, he could come a long way with some steady playing time and improved rhythm.