5 NBA Free Agents Still Available Who Could Start on Opening Night
As the NBA free agency pool starts to evaporate, teams are looking for NBA talent that can fill out their rotations and contribute when needed. Little do they know, there are several veterans on the market who can start for NBA teams when next season rolls around in October.
One player comes in the form of a past scoring champion itching to prove he still has NBA games left on his odometer. Tracy McGrady's deep shooting range and underrated basketball IQ make him one of the true bargains available. Provided the right situation with enough shots to go around in an offense, McGrady is not only the only wing who can fill up the tin.
You name it: volume-scorer, post defender, defensive specialist; there are several talented players without a home. Let's take a look at these overlooked vets who could start right away.
Mike Shiekman is an NBA Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He also likes to express his thoughts in 140 characters or less. Follow him @TheRealShiek on Twitter.
For teams that are in search of an athlete with starting experience, Josh Childress should be in the conversation.
Coming out of Stanford, he was lauded for his high-flying California game, featuring generous hops around the basket. Unlike some of these qualified free agents, his athletic ability hasn't left him, on top of being a willing passer and defender. There's no reason why Childress couldn't be a viable option in a rotation, even be a starter on a team that needs a glue guy.
One year in which he played 76 games, Childress' offensive rating was a league-leading 127 points per 100 possessions amongst players who averaged over 25 minutes. Not to mention, he has a 54 percent career field-goal percentage and 15.7 PER; he knows how to play efficient basketball.
The 29-year-old wing was one of the first NBA players who flocked to international waters even when his team was willing to re-sign him. Perhaps that put a caution label on Childress for general managers, because the market has been relatively sour for his services since he came back to the NBA.
The Knicks, in particular, could use his services. Iman Shumpert's injury leaves a hole at shooting guard that J.R. Smith can't handle alone. Another athlete can't hurt, even if Childress is only a temporary fix.
Not long ago Tracy McGrady was the face of the Houston Rockets, a two-time scoring champion with a long body and an ultra smooth game.
Where has the time gone?
Multiple knee surgeries have derailed T-Mac's athletic ability, but he can still stroke it from unlimited range. His numbers were pedestrian in Atlanta last season, only averaging 5.9 points, but there wasn't much playing time to go around with Joe Johnson and Josh Smith playing the majority of minutes.
McGrady can be a team's volume scorer if given the shot opportunities. He has always been a streaky shooter; when he gets rolling, the nylon can fall apart at any moment. Lastly, his resume speaks for itself.
Thirteen points in 35 seconds, anyone? This guy can shoot jumpers for somebody.
Delfino is the definition of a heady player, one who is fundamentally sound and gives maximum effort on both ends. He can be molded into any role suitable for a wing, and yes, even a starting position.
He has had immense success on the international level, most notably a gold medal from the Athens Olympics in 2004. Transitioning to the NBA, he hasn’t needed much of a learning curve; he has been a rotation player for a top-seeded Detroit team and a starter under Scott Skiles in Milwaukee.
The Argentinean can contribute in so many different ways, averaging five rebounds and one steal along with nine points and three assists. In addition, he's able to contribute significantly on offense, all the while maintaining a low usage rate.
Defensive-minded coaches may want to take a look at the 29-year-old Delfino to fill out their roster.
In 2010, Kenyon Martin was in the starting lineup for a Denver Nuggets playoff team. Two years later, he can’t find a home.
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Martin has always been a willing defender and rebounder, two qualities that NBA teams are always in need of. The 13-year veteran will give his new team toughness and a strong help defender in pick-and-roll defense, among other things.
A lot of K-Mart’s free agent troubles have to do with the Chinese contract he signed during the 2011 lockout. He was unable to suit up for an NBA franchise until March, rendering him out of shape and devoid of his offensive quickness last season. Through the end of the season with the Clippers, though, Martin was able to get back into basketball shape and contribute, especially on the defensive end.
If a team needs to add some grit, Martin is the quintessential pickup.
Regarded as a sixth man throughout his career, Leandro Barbosa has always been a viable offensive option best utilized in transition.
Unfortunately, the days of the "15 Seconds or Less" Phoenix Suns are over, but Barbosa still has a complete offensive arsenal. Last year with the Pacers he managed 12 points even when nagged by injuries for more than half the season.
With an offseason to get healthy and some play in the Olympics, Barbosa can crack most NBA rotations based on scoring ability alone.
For a team that relies on defense, taking a flier on Barbosa could be a smart move for offensive contribution. He could be a quick fix for wing play on some lottery teams lacking a veteran presence. The Warriors and Bobcats come to mind as teams that could use the Brazilian guard.
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