NBA Rumors: Potential Landing Spots for Remaining Free Agents

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2012

NBA Rumors: Potential Landing Spots for Remaining Free Agents

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    With less than two months to go before the start of the regular season, there are still a handful of free agents looking for some NBA work.

    Needless to say, there are also more than a few teams with some unfinished business left before them.

    Between the two sides, there should be some matches. Though all the premium talent has been snatched up, bargain shoppers actually have some pretty nice options.

    Whether looking for a shooter like Michael Redd or an energy guy in the paint like Kenyon Martin, this is the time of the year when organizations address specific, unmet needs.

    It's when they fill in the holes.

    Though virtually every team will be tinkering with their rosters right up until the trade deadline, a few still need to deepen their depth charts before heading into training camp.

    Here's a look at their remaining options.

Leandro Barbosa, G

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    ESPN's Marc Stein claimed the Los Angeles Lakers had interest in combo-guard Leandro Barbosa, but that was before the team signed sharpshooter Jodie Meeks to presumably play the role Barbosa would have filled.

    So, what will become of the sometimes-electric 29-year-old?

    Assuming the Lakers are out of the picture, some have suggested the Cleveland Cavaliers would make room for Barbosa. With Daniel Gibson the only noteworthy reserve behind Kyrie Irving and rookie Dion Waiters, a veteran who can shoot the ball might sound pretty good to the Cavs.

    Yes, Barbosa leaves something to be desired on the defensive end, but he still brings a lot of speed and scoring ability to the table. For a team that's still in the midst of rebuilding, that should be good enough for the time being.

    A return to the Phoenix Suns would be intriguing as well, and you'd have to think Barbosa could see time behind point guard Gordan Dragic and shooting guard Shannon Brown.

    The Suns did draft Kendall Marshall to play some point, but Barbosa would provide a more scoring-oriented change of pace.

Derek Fisher, PG

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    You know what you're getting with Derek Fisher at this point. The 38-year-old is no longer an everyday starter by any stretch of the imagination, but he's still capable of providing quality minutes and spots, and you won't find much better insurance at the point guard position.

    More importantly, adding Fisher is almost like adding another assistance coach given his experience and leadership.

    That should be attractive both to contenders looking for some depth and young teams looking for a veteran locker-room presence. From Fisher's standpoint, an opportunity to win another ring probably makes the contender-option a fit more intriguing.

    Fox Sports' Sam Amico speculates that the San Antonio Spurs would be a good fit for Fisher, but the team has to like what its seen out of back-up Patty Mills. In theory, though, the pairing certainly makes some sense, and San Antonio fits the profile of the kind of team you'd expect to target Fisher.

    The Miami Heat might make an even better fit given that Mario Chalmers and the second-year Norris Cole are the team's current one-two punch at the position.

    Of course, if feelings aren't too bruised, a return to the Los Angeles Lakers might be the happiest ending to this story. Fisher is still beloved by fans in Los Angeles, and it's hard to argue Steve Blake would make for a better backup to Steve Nash.

Josh Howard, SF

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    Josh Howard may be the best all-around small forward left on the market, and that really says something about the state of the market. The 32-year-old took a step towards getting his career back on track after injuries did otherwise, but he's better-suited to 20 minutes a game than any kind of starting role.

    The Charlotte Bobcats saw Howard in action during a recent workout, and it would make sense for the organization to bring in a veteran swingman to reduce some of the pressure on rookies Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor. 

    After trading Corey Maggette for Ben Gordon, the Bobcats are seriously lacking experience on the wing.

    Howard's also a solid defender, and that would fit with what new head coach Mike Dunlap is trying to implement in Charlotte. 

    He's also been connected to the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, and both options make some degree of sense. With NYC's Ronnie Brewer missing a few weeks after knee surgery, the Knicks could be in the market for help they otherwise might not have needed.

    And, the Nets are in dire need of a second unit, so they could become front-runners if Howard doesn't return to his home state of North Carolina first.

Ivan Johnson, PF

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    If your first reaction is, "Who?" don't feel too badly.

    Ivan Johnson may not be a star in the making, but he's proven he can be a capable back up at the very least. The 28-year-old power forward played nearly 17 minutes a game for the Atlanta Hawks last season thanks in large part to Al Horford's extended absence. 

    He made the most of the opportunity, tallying an efficient 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Johnson shoots from mid-range and plays with a lot of heart, but he doesn't have the size or post skills to draw too much attention.

    The Hawks extended a qualifying offer to the restricted free agent back in July, and chances are he stays in Atlanta and adds some depth to a frontline that doesn't have much coming off the bench at the moment.

    It's not especially likely any other team will come along with the kind of $3 million offer that might scare Atlanta off, so Johnson will probably stay put. It's not inconceivable, though, that a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers could give him a one-year deal to beef up another relatively thin bench.

Kenyon Martin, PF

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    Kenyon Martin's days as a starter are over, but that doesn't mean he can't play an important role this season.

    The once-explosive power forward still plays gritty defense at age 34, and he'll throw in some rebounds and blocks to keep the box score happy. Plus, he knows how to play the game at this point and is more of a sure thing than the younger options available to most teams.

    Sports Illustrated' Sam Amick mentioned the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets as clubs catching Martin's eye, but it's hard to see where he'd fit in with the Lakers given the presences of Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill on the bench.

    The Nets on the other hand would be a perfect match, for sentiment if nothing else. This is the franchise that drafted Martin back in 2000, and bringing him along for the rebirth in Brooklyn has a certain symbolic charm to it.

    More importantly, though, the Nets could use a feisty defender behind power forward Kris Humphries and center Brook Lopez. For all the team's star power, it has a thin bench–especially up front.

Tracy McGrady, SF

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    Tracy McGrady is still looking to solidify a comeback that would make Grant Hill proud. You might think his tank was running on empty, but a career derailed by so many injuries will create that perception.

    In reality, TMac is still just 33, and he proved plenty valuable to the Atlanta Hawks last season even though he was used somewhat sparingly.

    McGrady has been mentioned as a possibility for the Chicago Bulls, but the most recent stirring suggests the Charlotte Bobcats are interested in bringing him in. It wouldn't exactly be an opportunity to chase rings, but the Bobcats would be a good opportunity for the guy to actually get some minutes and play a relatively important role.

    He could serve as something of a mentor for rookie small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and he'd give the team a play-making point-forward to supplement a backcourt of shoot-first guards like Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon.

    McGrady probably doesn't have much of a shot latching on to a contender unless a team like the Boston Celtics or Oklahoma City Thunder decides they want a backup small forward.

Mickael Pietrus, G/F

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    Mickael Pietrus' stock has dropped considerably since the days he seemed like an up-and-coming athletic wing who could shoot the ball.

    He's still a pretty good defender, though, and his size and strength make him a valuable second-unit contributor for a team that needs some bodies to match up with big-time scorers. Most clubs probably fall into that category to at least some degree.

    The 30-year-old has been linked to the Milwaukee Bucks, and they may be even more interested now that shooting guard Carlos Delfino has signed with the Houston Rockets. While the Bucks have plenty of options at small forward, Pietrus could slide in behind Monta Ellis at shooting guard.

    Milwaukee could certainly use someone to match up against bigger 2s, and Pietrus would do the job.

    Other teams that might still be in the market for a swingman who can shoot and defend might include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns and even the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Michael Redd, SG

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    Michael Redd seemed to take note of what the Phoenix Suns' training staff did for Grant Hill's resurgent career, and he took the first step to a similar comeback last season.

    Given how young the Suns' roster is at the moment, holding on to Redd wouldn't be such a bad thing. He'd fit in alongside Shannon Brown, Jared Dudley and Wesley Johnson to provide some veteran padding for a wing rotation that won't turn many heads.

    Fox Sports' Sam Amico is hearing that the Washington Wizards, Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder all might have some interest in Redd, and anything is certainly possible given that he'll be coming on the cheap to wherever he goes.

    Of those teams, the Wizards and Grizzlies probably make the most sense. The Wizards are desperately short on perimeter shooters and have a young backcourt rotation (John Wall, Bradley Beal, Jordan Crawford) that could use some experience.

    Meanwhile, Memphis is currently looking at some combination of Tony Allen, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby at the 2 now that sixth man O.J. Mayo is gone. Where Redd ranks on that depth chart is anyone's guess, but he could probably edge out Ellington for a consistent back-up role.

    The Nuggets could certainly use a veteran, and the Thunder could always use another shooter. Redd might be a bit redundant with Marco Belinelli (another one-dimensional three-point specialist), so the Bulls are probably the least likely option among the teams Amico mentions.