NBA Free Agents 2011: Tracy McGrady and the Top 10 Ex-Stars on the Market
Although the 2010 offseason will go down as the most influential free agency period in NBA history, the 2011 offseason still offers a handful of valuable free agents. That is assuming, of course, there is a 2011 season.
The league is littered with former All-Stars who are no longer the players they once were. However, many of these ex-stars can still contribute and could be useful to a contending team.
Tracy McGrady leads the pack of former stars on the market in the 2011 offseason. T-Mac's long history of injuries inhibits him from being the player he once was, but he has shown this season that he can still make an impact.
Here is a list of the top 10 ex-stars who will be on the market in the 2011 offseason.
10. Larry Hughes
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Before you start rolling on the floor laughing, hear me out.
You're probably asking yourself when the last time Larry Hughes was even relevant in the NBA. It would probably be fair to say: "Not since 2005 with the Wizards."
However, the former eighth overall pick could still make an impact on a championship contender. He brings a solid defensive presence to the table. In 2005, Hughes made the NBA All-Defensive First Team after he led the league in steals, averaging 2.9 per game.
He hasn't been in uniform since last season, but still averaged a productive 8.8 points and 1.1 steals per game with the Knicks and Bobcats.
If he stays in shape, teams should consider signing Hughes for his defense and experience.
9. Eddy Curry
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The last time Eddy Curry actually mattered was when Isiah Thomas was still running the Knicks.
Still, Curry is a gamble worth taking. After being cut loose from the Timberwolves, Curry can actually sign a contract that's worth his production. So, if a team in need of a big man could sign Curry to the veteran's minimum, why not?
There is no doubt that Curry would need to lose weight in order to get back into basketball shape, but his seven-foot frame alone makes him worth the risk.
At 28-years-old, Curry is still relatively young and could work his way back into this league. At the very least, he could grab rebounds and provide a big body in the middle.
8. Kurt Thomas
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In his 16th season in the NBA, Kurt Thomas is still finding a way to be useful. Both Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer have missed extensive time this year with injuries, and the Bulls have been able to rely on Thomas to fill their void.
Thomas is averaging 24 minutes per game, which is his highest since the 2007-2008 season. And at 38-years-old, he's still putting up solid numbers. Thomas has posted 4.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game for Chicago so far this year.
He has stepped up big in Noah and Boozer's absence and helped the Bulls immensely on the defensive end.
Thomas is definitely worth a contract next season for a contending team in need of a veteran big man. He offers the intangibles of defense, rebounding and experience.
7. Peja Stojakovic
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Peja Stojakovic has declined in recent years, but remains one of the biggest deep threats in the NBA.
He is a perfect role player to round off a championship-caliber team because of his stellar shooting. Stojakovic stretches defenses with his ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc consistently, and he's still an excellent free throw shooter.
In addition, he has tons of playoff experience, dating back to his days with the Sacramento Kings. His veteran leadership would be an asset for plenty of teams.
6. Michael Redd
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After missing 220 games over the last five seasons, Michael Redd is an afterthought. Knee injuries have, unfortunately, doomed his career.
Still, Redd was one of the most lethal sharpshooters in the league before injuries and had a great knack for scoring. If he can finally be injury free, it might be worth seeing what Redd has left in the tank.
He has a career average of 20.3 points per game and is only three years removed from being a 20-point scorer. It would be a gamble, but Redd could be worth a minimum contract. With a much lesser role, he could come off the bench and provide a spark with his scoring.
5. Tayshaun Prince
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Tayshaun Prince's numbers are similar to what they've been for most of his career, but he isn't viewed the same as he was when the Pistons were elite. Since the Pistons' fall from the top, Prince has been surrounded by trade rumors, and it appears his time in Detroit is coming to an end.
Prince would be an awesome fit for a playoff team. He is a great defender with his long arms and wingspan. He can score and rebound as well.
His true value, however, is his experience. He was part of a Pistons team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals six consecutive years, so he knows playoff basketball.
A change of scenery could really benefit Prince and bring him back to relevancy.
4. Kenyon Martin
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After injuries appeared to derail his career, Kenyon Martin has been able to get back on track in recent years. He's been an integral part of the Nuggets run at the top of the Western Conference.
With Denver likely headed to a rebuilding phase, Martin will probably not return.
A playoff team could use K-Mart for his rebounding, size and aggression. In addition, the former first overall pick still shoots at a great clip from the field. This season, he is averaging 50 percent from the floor and is very efficient inside the paint.
3. Grant Hill
The most ageless man in the NBA—Grant Hill—is still a big-time contributor at the tender age of 38. Along with Shaq, Hill is one of the lone remaining NBA stars of the 1990s.
After knee injuries nearly ended his career, Hill was able to revive his basketball life with the Suns. He is averaging 13 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game this season.
Hill has never won a ring. Being that he is in the twilight years of his career, he will want to play for a contender next season. He is a role player who can provide immediate scoring off the bench.
2. Yao Ming
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It's unfortunate how much injuries have taken a toll on Yao Ming's career. A nagging foot injury has caused Yao to miss the last two seasons, and it's unclear if he will ever recover.
If he is able to rehab, there is no question how valuable the seven-footer could be to a team. Yao is one of the few remaining true centers in this league, and he was an absolute beast before his injuries.
Hopefully, Ming will be able to rehab and return to the NBA in a reduced role. If he played in limited minutes, he could minimize the risk of another injury and still be effective. At seven-feet tall, he could be counted on for rebounds and blocked shots.
1. Tracy McGrady
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If it weren't for all the injuries to Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, one must wonder just how far the Houston Rockets could have gone in the playoffs.
McGrady, a former two-time scoring champion, was once among the NBA elite. He was a player who could score at will and had a natural gift for the game of basketball. The seven-time All-Star used to light up scoreboards and is one of four active players to have scored 60 points in a game.
Unfortunately, multiple knee surgeries took McGrady from his prominent levels and reduced him to a role player.
However, the former superstar still shows flashes of his old self. In Detroit this season, McGrady has transitioned into a facilitator role and has filled out the part nicely. He is averaging 8.4 points and 3.6 assists in 24 minutes per game.
McGrady still has the ability to put up big numbers from time to time and would be a great addition to a playoff team if he is willing to accept a lesser role.