If Vince Carter taught us anything, it's that even the smallest of additions in NBA free agency can make a world of difference.
Well past his prime and beyond 30 years of age, Carter landed a deal with the Dallas Mavericks in December 2011. Three successful seasons later (he's 37 now), and he's one of the feel-good stories for an NBA market that is annually too transfixed on where major names such as LeBron James end up.
So no, those under-the-radar names on the current market are not just players fans should skim over when looking for the latest rumblings from around the league. It can be difficult to know which players to dial in on at times, but undervalued free agents with a large market should be noted at all turns.
With that in mind, here are a few players not getting enough love at this juncture but who have the talent to make a big splash no matter where they land.
Wizards Covet Caron Butler
A journeyman at the age of 34, UConn product Caron Butler has been on the hunt for rings since winning the title with the Mavericks in the 2010-11 campaign.
Last year, Butler latched on with the Oklahoma City Thunder instead of the Miami Heat, and as a result narrowly missed out on another taste of the NBA Finals. Back on the market this offseason, a bevy of contenders are in the mix for his services, per NBA.com's David Aldridge:
Lakers, Heat and Bulls join OKC in reaching out to Thunder vet Caron Butler. Butler picked OKC over Heat last year after buyout from Bucks.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 1, 2014
Since that note, even more teams have made it known they would like to bring Butler on board, perhaps most notably the Washington Wizards, according to Michael Lee of The Washington Post:
The Wizards have quietly worked behind the scenes and reached out to several potential replacements, including the last small forward to reach all-star status with the franchise: Caron Butler. A person close to Butler confirmed Thursday that Washington expressed interest in the veteran swingman.
The Wizards are perhaps the most intriguing destination for Butler, who surely wants to be on the court as much as possible. There, unlike many other potential destinations, he would compete for starter minutes if the front office is unable to bring back fellow free agent Trevor Ariza.
Lee also notes that the San Antonio Spurs have an interest, and we all know what that means given their track record on the market. What's all the fuss about? Steady production, of course:
Butler is one of those signings most will overlook until he flourishes with a contender. Keep a close eye out.
Marvin Williams Quietly a Hot Item
For those franchises on the hunt for a quality sixth man off the bench and a role player who can perform well on both ends of the court, there are much worse options than former North Carolina star Marvin Williams.
Now 28 years old, it was seemingly forever ago that Williams was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 draft. Since, Williams has spent time with two different teams, most recently the struggling Utah Jazz:
As time has progressed, it has become more apparent that Williams is not starter material, which is fine. Franchises around the league, as Aldridge notes, view him as a critical depth option:
Marvin Williams solidly on "next" line for threes after top four/five. Talking with Spurs, Heat, Wizards, Hornets, Clips, Magic, Suns.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 4, 2014
That's a lot of potential suitors, but one can glean from the Jazz's decision to draft Rodney Hood at No. 23 overall this year that the team has no interest on re-upping Williams' deal.
Clearly, there are plenty of franchises in the hunt for what Williams provides, which is a solid defensive presence and an ability to stretch the floor thanks to his range from deep. His ability off the bench in say, a Miami or San Antonio, may prove to be a critical cog in a championship push.
But like many at his position, Williams is a long way from finding out where he lands, as names such as James, Carmelo Anthony, Chandler Parsons and more have to set the market first.
Pacers Not Doing Enough for Lance Stephenson
It's time Larry Bird and the front office in Indiana get it together if they want to retain promising starter Lance Stephenson.
At 23 years of age, Stephenson is a combustible personality who may never mature, but just how great he can be is very difficult to discern. Averages of 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game a year ago only hint at good things to come.
But according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, what the Pacers have to offer the Cincinnati product is not getting ink put to paper:
Source: Pacers spoke with reps for Lance Stephenson earlier today. Sides no closer to agreement than b4 on 5-yr/$44 million offer— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 4, 2014
Now, before fans decry Stephenson's apparent greed, understand the ridiculous market the league has created for itself. Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press and NBA.com's Sekou Smith put this into perspective best:
If - repeat, if - Hayward is getting $15M next season, Lance Stephenson is perfectly within the guides of sanity to turn down 5/44.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 2, 2014
With the $$ being thrown around in free agency it's easy to see why Lance Stephenson feels justified in wanting more than $44 mil. #getmoney— Sekou Smith (@SekouSmithNBA) July 2, 2014
In an era when a Gordon Hayward may get a max deal, per Matt Moore of CBSSports.com, and an oft-injured role player such as Avery Bradley (he's played in 60 or more games twice in his four-year career) gets $32 million total over four years, Stephenson's balking at the Pacers' offer is not all that outlandish.
Again, there is no clue in regard to just how great Stephenson can be. Is he a risk? Absolutely. But that won't prevent teams from swooping in and stealing him away from Indiana if the front office continues to lowball him in this environment.