Best Injury Solutions Remaining on the NBA Free-Agent Market
At this point in the NBA season, some teams are already struggling due to injuries. The Los Angeles Lakers are desperate for a point guard, and too many teams are lacking in the size department. Despite these needs, free-agent players ready and willing to work remain unsigned.
The lack of capable free agents being signed this season is borderline sad. Guys like Kenyon Martin (pictured, left) may be getting up there in years, but still provide valuable experience and tough defense. For some reason or another, they remain unemployed.
It's simply puzzling as to why these players have yet to land a contract. Teams have needs, these players can fill them, but no money is spent to give them a deal. Last I checked, having a key player injured at a position was enough reason to fill that void by any means necessary.
What with so many teams suffering injury woes early on in the season, GMs would be wise to troll the free-agent market and not just wait things out. In doing so, they would be surprised at just who is available.
Point Guard: Delonte West
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West started training camp with the Dallas Mavericks, but was waived prior to the start of the regular season due to being suspended twice because of his attitude. It is understandable why teams would shy away from him, but West is still just 29 years old and brings a lot to the table.
Not only is West a fine three-point shooter, having shot 38 percent from long range for his career, but he can also play some terrific defense. He may seem small at 6'3", 180 pounds, but West plays with tenacity and passion, both of which thrill coaches.
He can also play both guard positions, which makes it interesting as to why the Los Angeles Lakers haven't reached out to him about handling point guard duties while Steve Nash recovers from a leg injury. Yes, West is a shooter first, but his skills are perfect for Mike D'Antoni's system. He plays unselfishly and will provide a much-needed spark at the point.
Nash is expected back in two weeks, but West will still have value. Steve Blake is expected to be out two months following abdominal surgery, and Los Angeles will need a viable backup. West can do just that, and the Lakers should definitely reach out to him and sign him for the veteran's minimum.
Other Options: Mike Bibby, Earl Boykins
Shooting Guard: Michael Redd
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At 6'6", 215 pounds, Redd is not overly athletic. He was a fine scorer in 11 seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, but knee injuries dropped his production.
Redd managed to appear in 51 games for the Phoenix Suns last season and averaged 8.2 points over 15.1 minutes per game. He is only 33 years old and can still score points in bunches, and there are plenty of teams in need of a shooting guard.
One squad that comes to mind is the New Orleans Hornets. The team is clearly hurting in the scoring department with Eric Gordon out indefinitely with a knee injury, and Austin Rivers is looking more and more like a draft bust with each passing game.
Redd would be a great fit for the team either in the lineup or off the bench. He doesn't have to be the Redd of old, scoring a great number of points and being lights-out from long range, but just reliable enough to provide instant offense when necessary.
Injury-strapped New Orleans could use his presence and probably would rank higher than 23rd in points scored if the experiment worked out.
Other Options: Flip Murray, Bill Walker
Small Forward: Quentin Richardson
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Richardson has been a respectable shooter throughout his career, averaging 36 percent from long range. His biggest problem has been staying healthy. In 12 seasons, he has only reached the 70-game plateau five times.
Despite that, the 32-year-old has good size at 6'6", 228 pounds and can be a solid defender on top of a shooter. On a team like the San Antonio Spurs, he could be a great fit.
San Antonio is currently without Stephen Jackson, who, like Richardson, is essentially a "three-and-D" player. Jackson is out until late December or early January with a broken pinky, and Richardson could do a fine job of filling in for him until he is fully recovered.
Richardson could also fill in for second-year forward Kawhi Leonard, who is out with tendinitis. His defense and three-point shooting would make the talented Spurs all the more deep, so it wouldn't hurt GM R.C. Buford to give the man a shot, especially since he'll come so cheap.
Other Options: Shawne Williams, Bobby Simmons
Power Forward: Kenyon Martin
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At 34 years old, Martin's best years are behind him. He'll come off the bench no matter where he signs, if anywhere at all, and will not be as much of a scoring and rebounding threat like he was in the prime of his career.
Martin still has good size at 6'9", 240 pounds and can play the low-post very well. He has averaged 7.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks for his career, so he is no stranger to defense.
Martin's defensive abilities are exactly why the Dallas Mavericks should look to sign him. The team is hurting without star forward Dirk Nowitzki, and Elton Brand has done little to impress in his absence. Brand is averaging just 6.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game and is shooting just 39 percent from the field.
Dallas currently ranks 19th in rebounding and 22nd in points allowed, and just one slight change will be enough to make the team improve there until Nowitzki returns. Martin is a better athlete than Brand, not to mention in far better shape, and would bring a tough, blue-collar approach to his game. Dallas has nothing to lose in bringing him aboard for the veteran's minimum and should sign him while he's still available.
Other Options: Josh Powell, Brian Cook
Center: Ben Wallace
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Wallace may seem undersized for a center at 6'9", 240 pounds, but he is easily one of the greatest pure defensive centers of all-time. He has averaged 9.6 rebounds and two blocks per game for his career and has been named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year four times (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006). Wallace also has a championship ring, won with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.
The only real drawback with the man known as "Big Ben" is that he is 38 years old and not the same dominant player he used to be. Last season, he announced that he would retire at the end of the year, only to change his mind over the offseason.
The Philadelphia 76ers have a glaring hole at the 5 with Andrew Bynum out indefinitely, and Wallace's experience makes him the perfect candidate to man the paint in the City of Brotherly Love. He wouldn't receive much playing time, but would still serve as a fine mentor to the young Sixers team and show them just what it takes to win a championship.
It would be a risky signing, what with Wallace's age, but he can still play a fine low post game and bring some quality defense to the table. At the veteran's minimum, he is certainly worth the gamble.
Other Options: Chris Anderson, Dan Gadzuric