NBA roster building knows no offseason. The quality of veteran free agents still out on the open market in mid-August of 2014 shows that most franchises can still make moves to improve their squads late in the summer, even after all the big free-agent movers and shakers have made their hotly anticipated decisions.
Picking up a key role player on a cheap, veteran contract can be hugely beneficial for teams looking to make strides toward the playoffs without entrusting the duties to an untested youngster.
Just like every team has its unique needs, the top veteran free agents have to be mindful of finding teams that can allow them to flourish and best utilize their skills.
For the purposes of this article, we will focus solely on unrestricted free agents. Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe are the top talents remaining, but their status as restricted free agents makes their ideal situations a bit harder to project and quite a bit more fanciful since their teams can likely match any significant offers that have yet to materialize.
Here are three veteran players and the teams that can best make use of their unique skill sets.
Ray Allen can fill a backup shooting specialist role for a number of NBA teams. Floor spacing is key to running an effective offense, and Allen's reputation and statistics mean teams often give him plenty of respect.
However, his numbers took a dip last season, as age is clearly catching up to the 18-year NBA veteran. Allen shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc last season, his lowest rate since the 2009-10 season. His 9.6 points per game in 2013-14 was the lowest mark of his career, and his 44.2 percent shooting from the field was his worst clip since the 2006-07 season.
He needs a team that can provide him with plenty of alternate scoring options while on the floor. In this case, his rumored move to the Cleveland Cavaliers is indeed the ideal situation for this legendary sharpshooter.
According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, the Cavs are optimistic about signing Allen this offseason:
The Cavs are also optimistic about their chances of signing free agent guard Ray Allen prior to the start of training camp, a source said.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) August 17, 2014
Of course, Allen has stated this offseason that he could be quite content with the way his career has panned out thus far, diminishing his chances of returning at all.
"I'm not in any rush [to make a decision]," Allen said in early August, via Dom Amore of The Hartford Courant. "I've played 18 years, and the way I look at my career, I'm content with everything that I've done. I just want to take this summer and see how it goes."
Allen has two NBA championships to his name, so he will likely only come back to a team that offers him a clear shot at another legacy-bolstering title. With LeBron James angling to bring a title back to his home state, Allen would be wise to latch on with this loaded team in a diluted Eastern Conference that lacks serious title challengers.
Michael Beasley's once promising career has been on a swift, steady downward trajectory over the past few seasons. After posting a career-high 19.2 points per game in the 2010-11 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Kansas State product has seen his scoring average and minutes decline with each passing season.
Beasley's best fit is a team that can promise him the opportunity to play a bigger role on offense.
The Indiana Pacers need depth at forward in the wake of Paul George's devastating leg fracture, which makes this Midwestern team the best fit for Beasley. The Pacers will be desperate to find ways to replace George's scoring and athleticism on the perimeter.
Beasley could still be a solid scorer if given the opportunity. He hardly played on a loaded Miami Heat team last season, but he averaged 18.9 points per 36 minutes. However, his mid-range shooting does need work. Beasley shot just 37.5 percent on two-pointers beyond 16 feet last season.
The Los Angeles Lakers are also a strong possibility, but they have a wealth of forwards on their team and his presence would likely siphon valuable minutes from promising players like Xavier Henry and Wesley Johnson.
The imbalance on the Lakers makes the Pacers a much better fit for Beasley, who should be eager to prove that he can still be a potent scorer on a top team.
Andray Blatche may have more talent than any player still looking for an NBA contract. The 6'11" forward/center is just 27 years old and coming off a season where he averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per contest.
Blatche's character concerns have kept teams from jumping at the chance to sign him. His obvious skills and size would make him a strong fit on many teams, but he could truly flourish on the Houston Rockets if given the chance.
The Rockets need a backup center behind Dwight Howard after dealing Omer Asik this summer. They have little in the way of proven talent behind their All-Star big man. Clint Capela, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas are unlikely to become major contributors next season.
This gives the veteran Blatche the perfect opportunity to assert himself as a viable talent on a top contender.
Look, the back-story issues with Blatche have been well-chronicled, or else the Wizards wouldn't have let him walk in the first place and the Nets wouldn't have been as lukewarm on a return. Just about every time I've seen him play, I've seen a player who can make an NBA contribution. But there also is the issue of the Heat only having the minimum left to pay. Plus if Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and Chris Andersen are going to comprise the primary power rotation, there is the issue of minutes. Still, Blatche would make this current Heat roster better, no doubt.
At this point, Blatche may be waiting for a phone call well into the upcoming NBA season. Should he remain available that long, the Rockets might realize that their lack of depth at forward/center can be quickly alleviated by signing Blatche.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.