NBA Rumors: Examining the Top 4 Players Still Available and Where They Will Land
With free agency comes an extended period of time for NBA teams to reach out to talented players that could immediately fill sought-after roles—while building towards the goal of assembling a potential championship-worthy squad.
The first two weeks of this hectic period of the off-season have brought about some drastic changes—with many well-known players including Jason Kidd, O.J. Mayo and Jeremy Lin all agreeing to lucrative deals with new teams.
As the big names continue to fly off the board, there are certainly some recognizable names still left that have proved themselves worthy of a role on a contending team for the right price.
After the jump, we will take a look at four currently unsigned free agents that could potentially have big impacts on their new teams.
Courtney Lee, SG
The Boston Celtics decision to pull the trigger and sign veteran swing-man Jason 'The Jet' Terry to mid-level exception all but dries up their spending well, and thus will leave arguably the top free agent shooting guard on the market, Courtney Lee, without a deal.
The 26-year-old former Houston Rocket has the right defensive tools and a solid enough shooting percentage, as a career 39 percent three point specialist, that surely will make him an asset to whichever team he decides to sign with.
What we have to take into account here is that this is still the same late-first-round draft pick that, just a few seasons back, was the centerpiece for the New Jersey Nets when they dealt an aged Vince Carter out of town.
His move way up the coast to New Jersey had him fall from playing an established role with a team that made it to the NBA Finals in the Orlando Magic to starting for the worst team in the league in the Nets.
But with that minor setback that came playing for the laughing stock team of the league, Lee gained valuable experience and skills from his team's dependence on him to create his own shot as one of the most trusted ball handlers.
Factor in his solid on-ball defending skills, and you have a guy that could carve out an important role on a contenting team.
Prediction: As the last solid wing player left on the market, numerous teams without a solid backup guard will look to make a run at Lee, including the Bulls, Timberwolves, Lakers and Suns. With Phoenix loosing out on wooing O.J. Mayo, I'm going to take a stab at it and say the Suns sign Courtney Lee to a multi-year deal.
Carl Landry, PF
The New Orleans Hornet draft-day revamp, in which they acquired stud of the draft in Kentucky's Anthony Davis, spelled the end of power forward Carl Landry's short tenure in the Big Easy.
The acquisition of the Orlando Magic's Ryan Anderson, a guy that has recently come into his own as a three-point specialist, inevitably decided the Hornet's desire to move on and not re-sign Landry to the multi-year deal that he is searching for.
At 6'9", 248 pounds, Landry is obviously an undersized power forward that lacks sufficient rebounding skills due to his size, but he plays hard and can generate a spark of consistent scoring if he is being brought off the bench to face second units.
His touch around the rim allows him the ability to get into the paint with the ball (despite his shorter stature) and attack the rim with big dunks and high percentage jump shot.
His quick feet are also a strong selling point for Carl because they help mask his shortcomings on the defensive side of the court. He is a good isolation defender, and his quick feet allow him to step with guards, giving him the useful ability to close out attackers when they attempt to drive around him.
Prediction: With Michael Beasley reportedly choosing to sign with the Suns and Portland likely to match the Timberwolves' offer sheet for Nicolas Batum, Minnesota will still need a moderately sized big man that can provide crucial energy minutes. The front office has been in contact with Landry's representative, and his ties to Wolves coach Rick Adelman in Houston make him an ideal candidate to the fill the void.
Andray Blatche, PF/C
The troubled Washington Wizards forward could not seem to catch a break playing in the nation's capital—perhaps it had something to do with that good ol' D.C. air driving Wizards do such crazy things.
All jokes aside, Andray Blatche is expected to clear waivers because the nine teams that are currently under the salary cap are all built around young cores with a positive locker room vibe.
Adding in a guy that is a known troublemaker—both on and off the court—could potentially throw off that vibe and lead to a situation reminiscent of the disastrous Wizards' seasons that helped tank them to rock bottom.
But make no mistake about it, this guy can flat out play and has shown flashes of dominance despite completely falling off the deep end on the Wizards depth chart last season for a lack of conditioning after sustaining a mid-season calf injury.
Should the talented, yet troubled 6'11" big man clear waivers, at least several teams should show interest in obtaining Blatche. It could end up as being a very nice pickup that could come rather cheaply due to all the uncertainty surrounding the seven-year pro.
Prediction: Blatche needs to be surrounded by a veteran team that can keep him in check. A team such as the Spurs with a true professional in Tim Duncan don't have the necessary salary cap to offer him anything more than the league minimum; however, the guidance and tutelage of the class act that is Tim Duncan is exactly what Andray needs to help get his career back on track.
Shannon Brown, SG
First comes Courtney, and now we have Shannon—the causal observer might as well be thinking I'm writing a WNBA piece here!
But, don't judge a book by its cover; just as names can be deceiving, Shannon Brown (like Courtney Lee) has NBA talent and the abilities to fulfill a solid backup guard role as a premier second unit scorer.
The guy is basically a clone of Courtney Lee and they are the same age, but Brown has that nice speed and athletic abilities that allow him to explode and drive at the hoop despite his lack of size at 6'4".
He has proven to be a very reliable bench presence, averaging 11 points and 2.7 rebounds for the Suns in just 23 minutes of nightly action last season.
With an adequate jump shot and the range to consistently knock down treys, Brown, with his six seasons of NBA experience, will surely prove useful, and the wingman will become a nice addition to a team that lacks a necessary punch of bench scoring.
Prediction: The rumor mill is circulating with talks that Brown could possibly fill the open guard slot in Chicago. Playing in very solid second unit with the Bulls under 2011 coach of the year Tom Thibodeau, I could definitely see this rumor turning very factual in the near future.