The Miami Heat were able to convince Udonis Haslem to sign for $3.5 million for this upcoming season which while a princely sum for your average American worker in a bad economy is a bargain in the NBA as Udonis averaged 10 points, 8 rebounds, and played solid defense last year.
The signing of Haslem for $3.5 million raises the question as to what other value players exist within the NBA that a team would love to have on their roster.
Assuming you could cherry pick any player you wanted from any team, could a general manager in the Eastern Conference, while not having to be obligated to pay any one player more than $3.5 million, assemble a team of 12 quality players that could play competitive basketball?
Some of the names on the list will be obvious choices as they are the players that should have been taken earlier in the first round of the NBA draft. Not all players on the list however were first round draft picks, two players on the team were not taken until the second round.
Below, I offer up 12 players for your consideration the 2010-2011 All Value Eastern Conference Team.
Swedish Import Jonas Jerebko may just make Pistons fans forget about President Joe Dumars' selection of Darko Milicic. Jerebko is slotted to start for Detroit at the power forward position after averaging 9 points and 6 rebounds a game last year. While Jonas will need to improve upon his outside shooting from the floor to solidify his position as a starter, he did make the most of his opportunities last year with hustle.
Jonas was a great selection and value pick for the Pistons as he was drafted with the ninth pick in the second round of the draft last year.
Detroit is on the hook to pay their projected starting power forward $762,195 next year.
USC has not recently produced a standout NBA talent. Taj Gibson hopes to start a new trend with the new and improved Chicago Bulls. The 6'9" 225 pound Gibson was the 26th pick of the first round last year.
Gibson made the Trojan faithful proud as he averaged 9 points, 8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and .9 assists last year for the Bulls. Gibson did most of his damage doing the dirty work off of the offensive glass as he shot 49 percent from the floor; however, Taj needs to work on his outside shooting as evidenced by his free throw shooting percentage of only 65 percent. Gibson appears to have a bright future in Chicago.
Gibson is scheduled to make $1.12 million next year.
Thornton was a solid player for the Wizards last year, averaging 11 points, 4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and .5 blocks a game. Al was a decent shooter as he shot 47 percent from the field, 36 percent from beyond the arc, and 73 percent from the free throw line. Thornton appears poised to make a nice long run in the NBA.
Thornton is currently slotted to start for the Wizards at the small forward position but for this roster we have him coming off the bench to provide some high energy minutes. Al was drafted with the 14th pick in the 2007 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Thornton is scheduled to make $2.81 million a year next season.
Every team needs instant offense coming off the bench and it is a bonus if that instant offense can stretch the defense with shooting from beyond the arc—let’s add Brandon Rush to provide scoring for the second team.
Rush played in every game last year for the Pacers on his way to averaging a respectable 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists against only 1.1 turnovers a game. Brandon, the long-distance sharp shooter for the Kansas Jayhawks, has continued his prowess from downtown as he shot 41 percent from downtown.
The Pacers currently have Rush penciled in as their starting shooting guard. Rush was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers with the 13th pick in the 2008 draft.
The Indiana Pacers have Rush under contract next year to make $2.07 million.
Young was taken with the 12th pick in the 2007 draft by the 76ers after only playing one year at Georgia Tech. Many felt that Young would have been better served staying in the ACC for at least one more year; however, Young’s career numbers would suggest that he made the right decision.
In the first three years, Young has averaged 13 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor, 34 percent from three point land, and 72 percent from the charity stripe. If Evan Turner comes in and makes an impact distributing the ball, Young may be the biggest beneficiary with his athleticism and he might become a player that can score 20 points a night.
Young is scheduled to make $2.9 million next year.
Chandler was a very pleasant surprise for the New York Knicks as they took Wilson with the 23rd overall pick.
The third year player out of DePaul has been a solid player since coming into the league and in this past year he posted his best numbers as a professional as he averaged 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists a game.
Chandler is a solid shooter in that he averages 48 percent from the floor and 81 percent from the free throw line. Chandler however will likely continue to come off the bench for the Knicks with the signing of Amare Stoudemire.
Hopefully, Stoudemire will occasionally take Chandler out on the town in the Big Apple as Wilson is scheduled to only make $2.13 million next year.
Andray was expected to be a first round pick coming out of high school but instead dropped to the very end of the second round of the draft taken by the Wizards with the 49th overall pick.
Blatche's road to NBA stardom got off to a very rough start.
Three months after being drafted by the Wizards, Blatche and his mother were both shot in a carjacking that occurred in Blatche’s home town of Alexandria, Virginia. Andray recovered quickly and was able to see minutes in his first year with the Wizards.
Blatche had a solid season last year averaging 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block shot a game.
Blatche, slotted to start as the Wizards power forward, is scheduled to make $3.26 million next year.
Lopez is one of the more underrated post players in the league; he has apparently been lost in the shadow of Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.
While the Nets had a horrible season most fans would like to forget, Lopez was one of the few bright spots for New Jersey fans last year as he averaged 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 block shots.
Lopez has a nice touch for a big man; he shot 50 percent from the floor and 82% from the free throw line.
Many teams are undoubtedly kicking themselves for allowing Lopez to drop to the New Jersey Nets with the 10th overall pick two years ago.
Lopez will have to wait for a couple of years for his big pay day as he is under contract for $2.41 million this season.
If Galinari is stretching the defense and Lopez is drawing double teams, we need somebody to effectively move without the ball, bring energy, and do the dirty work.
Noah is not a gifted scorer but he is exactly what the Eastern Conference All-Value team needs.
Noah’s motor never stops running; he averaged 11 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks a game last year.
Noah would like benefit from playing with a player who can command a double team in the low post like Lopez next season; the impact of Carlos Boozer on Noah’s production next year will be interesting.
The Bulls drafted Noah with the ninth overall pick in 2007; Joakim will be paid $3.13 million next year.
The Eastern Kentucky standout Rodney Stuckey was taken with the 15th overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 2007 draft. Stuckey's size, at 6'5" and 205 pounds, poses tough matchup problems for most guards in the league.
Last year, Rodney averaged 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists against only 2 turnovers. Stuckey is not a great shooter but he is a solid scorer that uses his size to get to the free throw line, where he connects on 83 percent of his shots.
Stuckey collapsed in a game against Cleveland late last season but appears to be healthy and ready to play.
Dumars will be saving some money in Detroit next year as Stuckey is scheduled to make only $2.77 million next season.
Well, when you have a team comprised of value players you likely need to have a leader who exudes confidence. Jennings is not a shy retiring wall flower and putting the ball into his hands to run the show seems to be just what the doctor ordered.
Jennings has reason to be confident in his abilities as in his rookie year he averaged 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists against only 2 turnovers.
Not satisfied to rest on his laurels, Jennings has said that he wants to be an all-star and that he wants “to be a double-double guy. I feel like with the talent we have I can be that.”
Clearly, adding Jennings to the team should give the necessary swagger all good teams need to have to be competitive.
Jennings selected 10th overall last year in the first round will be taking $2.33 million to the bank courtesy of the Milwaukee Bucks.