Best Free-Agent Options to Replace Injured NBA Stars

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2012

Best Free-Agent Options to Replace Injured NBA Stars

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    Injuries are not uncommon in the NBA, but that doesn't make them any easier to accept.

    This holds especially true when the injury bug claims a victim in the form of a superstar.

    More often than not, when a franchise cornerstone goes down, so do their team's ultimate aspirations. After all, how are you supposed to win, supposed to progress as a team, without one of your most important players? 

    While there is no easy answer to that question, for certain teams, there still is hope.

    Currently, plenty of players remain unsigned on the free market. Most notably, though, many of these athletes are actually capable players, guys who can make a difference.

    And in some cases, they're also affordable saviors that can help a team weather a superstar-less storm.

Golden State Warriors: Chris Andersen for Andrew Bogut

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    Andrew Bogut's ankle is always going to be a problem for both him and the Golden State Warriors.

    Most recently, according to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, the team was forced to shut Bogut down for seven to 10 days, in fear of his ankle taking further beating.

    Don't expect this to be a one time occurrence, either. The Warriors are going to have to rest Bogut often and extensively if they wish him to avoid further injury.

    And while I love what Festus Ezeli has done for Golden State, a little extra frontline depth behind him and David Lee would be anything but excessive.

    I mean, let's face it, Andris Biedrins isn't going to contribute anytime soon.

    Enter Chris Andersen. 

    The 34-year-old is still without a team, yet remains one of the most athletic bigs the league currently has to offer.

    Andersen can rebound, block shots and even score around the rim when he needs to. Best of all, he's a cheap stopgap for the times when Bogut must be placed on the shelf.

    Which makes this a no-brainer.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Josh Howard for Brandon Roy

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    Uh oh.

    The Minnesota Timberwolves claimed a thrilling victory over the Indiana Pacers, but the win did not come without a price.

    Brandon Roy, the supposed comeback story of the year, was forced to leave the game for good at halftime courtesy of a sore knee.

    Let's not forget that Roy was forced to retire thanks to what were being referred to as degenerative knees. This makes his most recent setback of major concern, no matter how minor it may seem.

    Throw in the fact that Minnesota is already operating without the likes of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, and you've got a team in dire need of some offensive depth.

    Paging Josh Howard.

    The 32-year-old wing isn't the scorer he once was, but keep in mind this is a guy who averaged 18 or more points on four consecutive seasons. He also put more points on the board in less time playing with the Utah Jazz last season than Roy is with the Timberwolves this season.

    Whenever you take a gamble on a player like Roy, you need to be prepared for the worst. Right now, though, Minnesota isn't.

    It will be, though, if it brings Howard into the fold.

Indiana Pacers: Mickael Pietrus for Danny Granger

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    Speaking of the Pacers getting beat by the Timberwolves, they're another team in serious need of another offensive weapon.

    According to the team themselves, star forward Danny Granger will be sidelined at three months after receiving an injection in his left knee.

    While one would expect a guy like Roy Hibbert to shoulder some more of the offensive burden in Granger's absence, he hasn't. Which leaves the Pacers in need of another scorer.

    Yet according to Andrew Perna of, Indiana has no intention of attempting to replace his production with any available free agents.

    Say what?

    After starting the season 2-4, the Pacers are going to have to change their tunes. And soon.

    Luckily for them, Mickael Pietrus is still available. Like Granger, he stretches defenses with his ability to knock down the three ball and he's also a stellar perimeter defender.

    Yes, he's not much of a passer, but hey, he's only 30, and beggars can't be choosers.

    And after a horrific start to the year, it's time for the Pacers to admit they're beggars.

Philadelphia 76ers: Kenyon Martin for Andrew Bynum

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    No, I'm not crazy.

    Hopefully Andrew Bynum will return and be ready to dominate, yet there's still no timetable for the big man's return. Plus, the Philadelphia 76ers are housing a perpetually inept, walking injury risk in Kwame Brown.

    So why not bring in a guy like Kenyon Martin, who is willing to play for any team at this point?

    Philadelphia currently boasts the lowest scoring offense in the NBA, which means their rise to prominence, even upon Bynum's return, will be predicated on defense.

    Currently, the Sixers are allowing just over 89 points per game, third lowest in the NBA. While that's fantastic, it would help them to further that cause with an athletic big who can also contribute on the offensive end if needed.

    Unlike the Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia has proven it's not capable of being a powerhouse without its pillar. So it's time for the team to enhance its overall attack.

    Signing Martin in Bynum's absence and Brown's overall stead would be doing just that.

Washington Wizards: Derek Fisher for John Wall

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    Without John Wall, the Washington Wizards need a leader.

    According to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, Wall received a positive report on his knee, yet there is still no timetable for his return.

    While I like what A.J. Price has done in his stead, he is not an emotional leader the way Derek Fisher would be.

    Under Fisher's watchful eye, guys like Price and even Bradley Beal could significantly enhance their playmaking abilities. After all, Fisher knows what it takes to win.

    Yes, the point guard is 38, but he was open to returning to the Los Angeles Lakers not too long ago. Obviously the Wizards are not a contender, but Fisher would undoubtedly fulfill a sense of purpose mentoring budding prospects like Beal, Price and even Wall upon his return.

    So while it wouldn't be about winning a championship in Washington, this provides Fisher with an opportunity to continue his career while also ensuring the advancement the Wizards' young backcourt.

    That's a win-win.

New Orleans Hornets: Allen Iverson for Eric Gordon

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    OK, now it's time to get crazy.

    According to Sam Amick of USA Today, while Eric Gordon will avoid having another surgery on his right knee, he will still be sidelined for four to six weeks.

    Toss Austin Rivers' battle with a sprained ankle into the fold and it would appear the New Orleans Hornets have plenty of room for another member in the backcourt.

    Are you reading this, Mr. Allen Iverson?

    Though the 37-year-old hasn't played in the NBA since the 2009-10 campaign, he should use Rasheed Wallace as an inspiration and return to the floor.

    Why? Because he was one of the greatest combo guards the league has ever seen.

    Iverson was never the posterboy for efficiency, but was selected to 11 All-Star games—he appeared in nine—and is also a former league MVP. It's also worth mentioning that he averaged 26.7 points and 6.2 assists per game for his career.

    Even a fraction of a fraction of that is something the Gordon-less Hornets could currently use.