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It's Time for These Veteran NBA Free Agents to Chase a Title

Matthew SchmidtFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2013

It's Time for These Veteran NBA Free Agents to Chase a Title

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    It's one thing to "chase a title" when you're in your prime. It's another thing to do so when you are in the twilight of your career and don't have much time left.

    There are numerous players on the free-agent market this summer who represent the latter, and it may be about time they sign with a championship contender. Sure, they may be able to get more money elsewhere, but is the extra couple of million dollars or so worth throwing away a chance at a title?

    Some veterans have been the victims of unfortunate situations long enough.

    These guys should try to get a ring by any means necessary.

     

    Advanced stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

Andrei Kirilenko

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    Andrei Kirilenko has been in the NBA for 11 years now, and the 2006-07 season was the only year he even came close to sniffing a title as his Utah Jazz made it to the Western Conference Finals.

    Other than that, it's been one disappointment after another for the Russian, his latest misfortune featuring him toiling away in Minnesota with the injury-riddled Timberwolves for a season.

    Kirilenko enjoyed a solid 2012-13 campaign, averaging 12.4 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting a robust 50.7 percent from the floor, so he is certainly going to be worth something on the free-agent market. However, does Kirilenko want to settle for the cash, or is he now at a point in his career where he wants to be in a situation where he can win?

    If I were him, I'd go for the latter. Kirilenko is too valuable of a role player to waste the remaining years of his career on a perennial first-round knockout.

Elton Brand

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    There was a time when Elton Brand was one of the best big men in the game. Those days are long gone, but the fact is that Brand can still be a productive player.

    The 34-year-old Brand averaged 7.2 points and six boards in 21.2 minutes a night during the 2012-13 campaign, shooting a solid 47.3 percent from the floor in the process. Of course, his Dallas Mavericks failed to make the playoffs, clinching yet another year of defeat for the Duke product.

    Time is no friend of Brand's right now, so he should seriously consider hopping on a title contender to take on a veteran-off-the-bench role. The guy can still play, after all. You don't have to look any further than the .168 win shares per 48 minutes he averaged in 2011-12 to see that.

    Plenty of elite teams could use Brand off of their pine.

Jermaine O'Neal

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    Jermaine O'Neal took a shot at this with the Boston Celtics during the 2010-11 season, but injuries and trades shook up the team and they ended up losing in the second round of the playoffs.

    Now, after a productive season with the Phoenix Suns, the former All-Star has a chance to latch on to a contender this summer and chase his dreams of an NBA championship once more.

    While O'Neal isn't the 20-and-10 guy he once was, he can still bring something to the table, as evidenced by his 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in 2012-13. He also shot the ball at a 48.2 percent clip, a mark actually better than his career average of 46.6 percent. Plus, he shot a lifetime-best 83.5 percent from the free-throw line.

    If JO were smart, he'd do all he can to make sure he signs a veteran's minimum deal with a ballclub that has a legitimate shot at a title. It's about time he gets that opportunity.

Chris Kaman

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    Chris Kaman has never been what one would call a "good" offensive player. Yes, he is a career 48.5 percent shooter, and that is pretty solid, but he has also posted minus-0.5 offensive shares throughout his 10-year tenure in the NBA. That's negative 0.5.

    That number kind of surprised me given Kaman's relatively average efficiency, but nevertheless, there it is.

    Still, there are other areas where Kaman can help a basketball team, particularly on the glass. He owns a career average of eight rebounds per game, and in 2012-13, he tallied 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes.

    While Kaman may not exactly be someone you would want to award 25-30 minutes to, he can still be a valuable contributor on a title contender. He can score, he can rebound, and he can block some shots.

    It's not like he'll be too pricey, either.

Jamaal Tinsley

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    Doesn't it feel like Jamaal Tinsley has been around forever? Believe it or not, Tinsley has only played in the NBA for 10 seasons. He has been in the league since 2001, but there were two years where he actually wasn't a member of a team.

    Now, Tinsley is coming off his most active season since 2006-07. He played in 66 games with the Utah Jazz this past year, starting 32 of them. He wasn't really any good, though. The 35-year-old averaged 3.5 points and 4.4 assists a contest while shooting a paltry 36.8 percent from the field.

    Even taking those rather underwhelming statistics into consideration, there will likely be a contender out there who signs on Tinsley as an emergency point guard. Perhaps a money-strapped club like the Brooklyn Nets will take a look at a him.

Kenyon Martin

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    Kenyon Martin had a very productive stint with the New York Knicks in 2012-13, averaging .128 win shares per 48 minutes, his best mark since 2003-04.

    Now, Martin once again finds himself on the free-agent market. Will the Knicks look to re-sign him, or will they look elsewhere?

    Either way, if K-Mart wants to win a title, New York may not be his best destination. A team such as the San Antonio Spurs could absolutely use his toughness off the bench, but whether or not Gregg Popovich would want to take on a well-known headcase like Martin is questionable.

    His attitude issues aside, Martin proved this past season that he can still offer a lot to a playoff team.

Samuel Dalembert

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    Samuel Dalembert can probably offer more than anyone else on this list. He is a true center who has never averaged below double digits in rebounds per 36 minutes throughout his career, and he is also a very solid interior defender.

    You just have to wonder if Dalembert is willing to lower his price tag in order to sign with a contender. With big men at such a premium in today's game, someone like Dalembert immediately becomes a commodity when he hits the open market.

    Is there a ballclub out there that Dalembert would take a significant pay cut to sign with? The Miami Heat could certainly use his size up front, for example.

    Fortunately for Dalembert, he is still only 32, so he has more time left than everyone else who was mentioned (except for Kirilenko, who is also 32).

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