6 NBA Free Agents Who Could Be Last-Minute Targets for Desperate Teams

D.J. Foster@@fosterdjContributor IOctober 10, 2013

6 NBA Free Agents Who Could Be Last-Minute Targets for Desperate Teams

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    Preseason provides teams with the opportunity to get an extended look at players who wouldn't normally see much of the floor. Sometimes, though, the teams don't always like what they see.

    Lackluster preseason performances routinely open up a few jobs for NBA veterans who are out of work. While it makes sense for a team to try and find a young diamond in the rough at first, filling out the end of a 14- or 15-man roster with experienced players who know the demands of a full season makes sense. 

    A handful of former contributors are still available in free agency, and they'll be waiting for their phones to ring before the October 28 roster deadline.

Dahntay Jones

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    Dahntay Jones has carved out a 10-year career in the NBA despite not possessing much offensive talent. He's never been a good shooter or natural scorer, and really, he doesn't have a discernible offensive skill.

    But on the other end? Jones is a tenacious wing defender who can use his incredibly strong frame to cover shooting guards and small forwards alike. Although he's lost a step at 32 years old, Jones can impart plenty of knowledge and share his little defensive tricks with his teammates.

    Although you certainly wouldn't want Jones playing extended minutes, in little four-minute bursts he could potentially cool down a wing scorer. He's not the player he once was, but no one's eyes will light up when they see Jones coming into the game to check them. He's a physical dude.  

    Jones was recently cut by the Chicago Bulls, but he has enough intelligence and experience to make him a safe last-minute target for a team in need.  

Daniel Gibson

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    Teams are always wanting specialists for the end of the rotation, and that's especially true for pure shooters. Daniel Gibson can shoot.

    Despite a rough year last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Gibson is a 40.7 percent career three-point shooter who has shown over the course of his career that he can't be left alone.

    While that's really the only skill Gibson brings to the table, at least he knows what he is. Over half of Gibson's career attempts have come from behind the arc, and although he lacks point guard skills, the 27-year-old guard is still a pretty low-mistake player (1.4 turnovers per 36 minutes).

    Gibson can allow a team to steal a few minutes at the end of quarters while helping the spacing offensively. He needs to be hidden on the other end, but against bench units, that shouldn't be too much to ask.

    It would be fairly surprising if a shooter of Gibson's quality didn't land a roster spot soon. The Denver Nuggets have reportedly inquired about Gibson recently, so it might not be long before we see Gibson turn up on a team in need of perimeter shooting. 

Tyrus Thomas

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    If Michael Beasley can land a roster spot, why can't Tyrus Thomas? 

    Thomas was truly dreadful in his last two seasons for the Charlotte Bobcats, shooting below 37 percent from the field in both years. That's shockingly low for a player with that kind of athleticism and size, and his strange obsession with outside shooting is just one of the many flaws that led to his downfall.  

    If Thomas was in need of a wake-up call to get him back to doing the things he's capable of doing (rebounding and cutting to the rim), perhaps getting amnestied by the Bobcats and receiving no camp invites this offseason will do the trick. 

    Thomas has had injury issues in the past, and you worry about how devoted he is to the game after totally mailing it in for Charlotte.

    Still, athleticism like his doesn't come around all that often. In a winning environment with strong leaders who tell Thomas exactly where he needs to be, maybe he could revive his NBA career. Still just 27 years old, Thomas can probably earn one more chance before he hits the bricks.

Rodrigue Beaubois

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    Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is well-respected around the league, and when you spend as much time in his doghouse as Rodrigue Beaubois did, that will put up some red flags. 

    Beaubois has a lot of unbridled talent, even if his skills have seemingly declined over the last four years. The sledding is tough for small guards who can't reliably shoot from the perimeter, but Beaubois can make a lot of plays on both ends with his great quickness. He's a little out of control at times, which is what irked Carlisle, but the potential is there.

    He's a project, but the 25-year-old could still become a useful player if his perimeter shooting improves and he plays more carefully with the ball.

    Never scared of swinging for the fences, the Miami Heat wanted to give Beaubois an audition this offseason, but a wrist injury kept it from happening. If Beaubois can show he's fully healthy soon, a team in a position to take a risk could do much worse than betting on Beaubois' natural ability. 

Daniel Orton

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    There are a handful of rebuilding teams in the league this season, and each would be wise to kick the tires on Daniel Orton. 

    Orton was recently released by the Oklahoma City Thunder, but this shouldn't be the end of the line for his NBA career. The former first-round pick from Kentucky is still just 23 years old, and players with his body don't come along all that often.

    Orton has had some productive minutes in the D-League, where he's flashed potential as solid interior presence who can clean the glass. 

    While his talent isn't overwhelming, players with Orton's size and youth don't usually fade out of the picture this quickly. A team with a patient front office might want to invest in Orton's potential. 

Jason Collins

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    Why isn't Jason Collins on a roster? Marc Stein of ESPN.com detailed a few of the reasons here, and it would make sense for teams to try and hit it big with a player that has potential over Collins.

    Collins is basically a known entity at this point on the floor, and his one skill (post defense) isn't as big of a deal as it once was.

    Still, teams weary of guys like Brook Lopez, Dwight Howard and other lumbering low-post centers might want to look at Collins at some point. Solid defense (and six fouls) could come in handy at some point.

    It seems more and more likely that Collins will be a midseason acquisition, which might be best for all parties involved. Collins isn't a spring chicken anymore, and the wear and tear of 82 games and practices might leave him exhausted for when he'll really be needed.

    That said, injuries happen all the time in preseason, and Collins should be near the top of most teams' emergency lists. This feels like only a matter of time.