With the NBA Finals underway, the attention is focused on the teams involved, but there are veterans preparing for free agency that still have plenty left in the tank.
Among the bigger names in free agency this summer, there are still some talented vets oozing with experience and leadership. Here are some of the top unrestricted free agents over 35, ready to give a new club their all.
Chauncey Billups has only played 42 games with the Los Angeles Clippers the past two seasons due to injuries. The winner of the inaugural Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award was nagged by a right groin strain throughout this season, playing just 22 games. In those games, he averaged career lows in minutes (19) and points (8.4). With a full offseason to heal, there is nothing to say that Billups couldn't provide terrific veteran leadership for a young club, or stabilize the back court of a contender. One contender specifically tweeted by Sports Illustrated.
Manu Ginobili is vying for his fourth NBA title, which could be the perfect cap to an impressive career. Rumors have circulated that the 35-year-old is considering retirement following one of the least productive seasons in his 11-year career.
While Ginobili played in 60 regular season games, he didn't make a single start and averaged 11.8 points. He still has tremendous play-making ability and would provide guidance with his invaluable postseason experience.
Derek Fisher comes in as a 16-year veteran who has played just 53 games over the last two seasons between the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder. As with any veteran he comes with experience, however, Fisher has seen the nearly every aspect of the game. He has witnessed the glory of a NBA title (five) to the helpless feeling of possibly facing the end of your career before you're ready. The guy knows what it takes and can certainly still play the game.
Kenyon Martin is an interesting option for teams in search of a big man. The 6'9" power forward is coming off an injury plagued season with an ailing knee and sprained ankle. While he only played 18 regular season games, he averaged 23.9 minutes per game and a career high .602 field goal percentage. He provides excellent size and presence down low, with a pedigree for rebounding and could provide a palpable contribution.
Longevity is a quality often overlooked in the NBA. In a sport where each roster contains only 12 spots per game, it is safe to say a roster player over 35 brings something to the table.
The perfect balance of young talent and veteran leadership is integral for the success of professional franchise. Some of these veterans may be over the hump in their careers, but they're certainly not over the hill.