NBA Rumors: The 5 Best Players Still Available Not Named Dwight Howard
But seriously, even with August approaching, there are plenty of solid players still on the market. There isn't another ultra-star like Howard, but there are plenty of pieces out there who could help a team win.
Here are the five best players available not named Dwight Howard.
No. 5: Courtney Lee
Every year, there's one player who stays on the market a bit too long and ends up costing himself a lot of money because, eventually, teams run out of needs. This year, it looks like it's going to be Lee.
Lee's free agency has been baffling to me. He does two things that every team needs: He plays great defense and hits three-pointers. Didn't Nicolas Batum just get $50 million for doing those things?
Lee is only 26. Some team could lock up its designated glue guy at a great price for the next four years, yet nobody is jumping on it. He may even be forced to take the bi-annual exception with Boston. I'd much rather have Courtney Lee for $2 million than Nicolas Batum for $50 million.
On the right team, Lee could be the next Bruce Bowen. He'll never be quite that good defensively, but he'll do similar things and will help a team win games. I'm fairly certain those are qualities that warrant a contract bigger than $2 million.
No. 4: JaVale McGee
The Nuggets have offered JaVale Mcgee $50 million. He hasn't taken it yet because he thinks he's worth more. Can someone explain to me why we just had a lockout?
Personally, I wouldn't touch McGee with a 970 foot pole. He's exactly the type of person you don't want on your basketball team. His maturity level falls somewhere between a newborn puppy and an average fourth-grader.
But you can't teach seven feet. Players with his height and leaping ability are rare.
Most NBA teams are more than happy to bet $50 million on their ability to teach someone that talented how to harness his abilities. Personally, I don't think even Phil Jackson could fix this kid. But hey, I'm not running an NBA team (yet). His knucklehead factor is simply too high.
In terms of raw talent, McGee compares favorably to Anthony Davis. Yes, I just compared him to a current member of our national basketball team. That's why, even though McGee has averaged 8.6 points per game over his career, there is at least one team willing to pay him $50 million.
Again, I'd want McGee nowhere near my team. Then again, I root for a guy who missed a playoff game after punching a fire extinguisher. Maybe I'm not a great judge of character. There's a 20 percent chance McGee is a star someday, and plenty of teams are willing to take that bet.
No. 3: Anderson Varejao
Varejao is the anti-Javale. He's a mature team player who is a physical defender and isn't afraid to dive on the floor or take a charge. This is the type of guy teams win with.
According to ESPN's Ric Bucher, Cleveland has emerged as a potential facilitator in a Dwight Howard trade by offering up Varejao. While I doubt that a trade gets done (we're on Dwight rumor No. 1257—it's just not a smart bet at this point), it does bring up the interesting possibility that Varejao could be available.
Personally, I think Cleveland should have traded him two years ago. When you rebuild, you should do it completely. Keeping veterans on the roster only hurts your chances in the draft lottery.
Varejao could fetch some enticing draft picks that could speed up the rebuilding process in Cleveland. A core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, lottery pick X and Varejao pick Y with plenty of cap space is a very promising future.
Plenty of teams could use a defensive big man. Shouldn't San Antonio offer Tiago Splitter and a few picks? How about Brooklyn with MarShon Brooks and cap filler?
The point is, plenty of teams could use Varejao right now. It doesn't make sense for Cleveland to keep him unless it thinks it can win a championship in the next few years. I wouldn't be surprised if this Dwight rumor opened the floodgates of teams chasing after the big Brazilian with the Sideshow Bob haircut.
No. 2: Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol rumors have slowed down since the Lakers acquired Steve Nash, but the fact remains that Gasol and Andrew Bynum have a very hard time coexisting.
Even if they won't admit it, the Antawn Jamison signing might be a sign that Gasol is on his way out. Jamison is best suited for a bench role, but he'd be a capable starter should the Lakers decide to move Pau. They are similar players, so Jamison could fill his role.
What the Lakers don't have is a perimeter stopper—someone like the No. 1 player on this list, Andre Iguodala.
Wouldn't a lineup of Nash, Kobe Bryant, Iguodala, Jamison and Bynum make more sense than the team the Lakers have now? They could bring Metta World Peace off of the bench, and they'd just need to find a few more players for their second unit.
Nash will help the chemistry issues between Bynum and Gasol, but he won't fix them entirely. No point guard can change the space two players try to occupy on the floor, and there may just not be enough of it for Gasol and Bynum to work together.
Gasol's value dropped last year, and it might make sense for the Lakers to trade him now while they can still get a valuable piece.
No. 1: Andre Iguodala
It feels like Andre Iguodala has been on the trading block since his junior year of high school. He's been involved in almost as many rumors as Dwight Howard.
I've berated Memphis for not jumping on an Iguodala-Rudy Gay swap several times. A combination of Iguodala and Tony Allen on the perimeter is the perfect duo to defend against teams like Miami and Oklahoma City.
It also allows the Grizzles to switch back to the offense they used in 2011, when they tried to feed the ball inside to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol as much as possible without worrying about getting Gay touches.
If Memphis doesn't fit, why not the Lakers? Pau Gasol gives them the lead scorer they so desperately need while also freeing up Evan Turner and Jrue Holliday to control the ball more often. It seems like a win-win.
Andre Iguodala is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, a solid scorer and an above-average distributor for his position. He should be the third banana on a contender right now, not toiling away for a Philly team that clearly doesn't want him. My guess is that this is the summer when he's finally traded.
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