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6 Former NBA Stars Still Looking for Work in 2012 NBA Free Agency

Stephen BabbFeatured Columnist IVJuly 29, 2016

6 Former NBA Stars Still Looking for Work in 2012 NBA Free Agency

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    Stardom is a fleeting thing in the NBA, and a handful of current free agents can certainly attest to that.

    More often than not, a catastrophic injury and/or an endless series of nagging ailments turn a previously outstanding career into a regrettably forgettable one. For all the sympathy directed their way, these guys really just want another chance–and an earnest one at that.

    Of course, injury isn't always the culprit.

    It was only part of the problem for Gilbert Arenas, and the explanation for whatever happened to Andray Blatche last season still remains unclear.

    Suffice it to say, they all have their reasons.

    And now, they're all banking on comebacks that will allow them to end their careers with some dignity, even if not with the fanfare that once came so effortlessly.

    Here's a look at six former stars who are still looking for jobs. They won't be seeking the kind of contracts that once came their ways.

Tracy McGrady

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    It's easy to forget that Tracy McGrady once averaged over 32 points per game, and it's hard to believe he's still just 33 years old.

    Given how far removed the oft-injured guard is from his glory days, you'd think he was nearing 40. You might get a very similar inclination based on how little interest he's fetched on the free-agent market this summer.

    The Chicago Bulls were rumored to have some interest in the veteran swingman, but the latest reports suggest he might be a match with the Charlotte Bobcats. While it's tempting to attach rock-bottom undertones to such a scenario, TMac would actually make some sense for Charlotte.

    The Bobcats have a backcourt full of shoot-first guards like Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon, so a point-forward capable of creating offense for his teammates off the bench would certainly be useful.

    Plus, you can't underestimate the value of a veteran who could help mentor a star-in-the-making like rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

    McGrady has already learned to swallow his pride, playing just over 16 minutes a game last season for the Atlanta Hawks. Chances are he could have taken on a more prominent role, and he might have the opportunity to do just that in Charlotte.

Gilbert Arenas

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    Gilbert Arenas never matched Tracy McGrady's 32.1 point season average, but he came mighty close in 2005-06 when he scored 29.3 points per game for the Washington Wizards.

    If you're in the market for guys who used to be electric scorers, it's an exciting time in the NBA offseason.

    Arenas shares something else in common with TMac.

    He should still have something left in the tank, at least in theory.

    The 30-year-old's career was derailed by injury and off-the-court shenanigans, but he isn't too far removed from being a productive contributor. He averaged over 17 points for the Wizards in 2010-11 before being traded to the Orlando Magic.

    Unfortunately, Arenas isn't as quick or explosive as he used to be, so he's probably not much more than a trigger-happy perimeter shooter at this point. Most teams would prefer to look for a sixth man within their own ranks than risk any distraction.

    On the other hand, Arenas is reportedly fit and healthy, and the chance that he could produce even a fraction of what he once did will surely land him a spot with a club willing to take a little gamble. Based on speculation alone, the Dallas Mavericks might be an interesting fit given that Darren Collison and Delonte West are currently slotted to run the point.

    Might Mark Cuban role the dice in what promises to be something of a transition year?

Kenyon Martin

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    It's been a long time since Kenyon Martin has properly qualified as any kind of "star," but he's continued to make an impact on account of his energy, rebounding and defensive commitment—the kind of things contenders love to see in a role player.

    Martin has been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, but it's hard to see him playing significant minutes in L.A. with an interior rotation including Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill.

    Brooklyn, on the other hand, would be a perfect fit.

    The Nets don't have many guys who will make a significant impact on the defensive end (excepting Gerald Wallace of course), and the only proven reserve they have behind Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries is Reggie Evans.

    Martin might not be a qualitative upgrade over Evans at this point, but it's hard to imagine any general manager scoffing at the possibility of having some additional depth.

    Besides, how could you resist the opportunity to reunite Martin with the franchise that drafted him in 2000, especially as that franchise embarks upon its rebirth in Brooklyn?

Josh Howard

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    Josh Howard is no longer the top-shelf perimeter defender he proved to be once upon a time with the Dallas Mavericks, nor does he have an especially reliable mid-range game. His best days are behind him thanks in large parts to injuries that plagued his two seasons with the Washington Wizards.

    Nevertheless, Howard is by no means washed up, and he may very well be the best wing addition a team can make at this point.

    He averaged 8.7 points with the Utah Jazz last season and at least began to recover his shooting touch (though it remains a far cry from the efficiency displayed during his prime).

    The 32-year-old has postseason experience and doesn't harbor any ambitions of making a grand return to the stardom. He was always more of a complementary player to begin with, and that makes him a low-risk solution for teams seeking some extra bench help.

    A number of teams are apparently intrigued by the possibility of adding Howard, so he shouldn't be contributing to the nation's unemployment rate for too much longer.

Andray Blatche

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    Andray Blatche was a rising star for all of five minutes, but it was long enough to win him a contract that would eventually become his undoing with the Washington Wizards.

    Those Wizards amnestied him this summer as per a house-cleaning effort aimed at ridding the roster of the many demons haunting its abysmal performances of late.

    For his part, Blatche is still young and out to prove that his last season in Washington was a fluke (albeit a fluke of the worst possible sort). Given his low cost, the 26-year-old power forward is actually a pretty wise investment for teams looking to take their chances on a guy who could make a significant impact in the paint.

    To that end, both the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat have reportedly contemplated making a run at Blatche, and the most recent word links him to the Brooklyn Nets.

    Needless to say, all three teams could use a mobile, 6'11" scorer, and they wouldn't be the only ones.

Michael Redd

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    If you forgot Michael Redd even existed, you're forgiven.

    Spending your standout years with the Milwaukee Bucks has a tendency of doing that, and his comeback with the Phoenix Suns last season was consistently overshadowed by the geriatric greatness of Steve Nash and Grant Hill.

    At his best, Redd was a lights-out shooter before knee injuries put an end to his prime years with the Bucks. We saw flashes of that shooting last season, especially in a couple of starts where Redd scored a combined 37 points in just 51 total minutes.

    When he's on, he's on.

    The defense isn't what it used to be (and it was never much), but Redd still has a quick release that can translate into a burst of points off the bench. Given the Phoenix Suns' needs on the wing and the organization's track record with keeping guys healthy, it wouldn't be at all shocking if the 33-year-old stays right where he is.

    With Nash and Hill taking their talents to Los Angeles, the Suns could actually use another veteran around nowadays.

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