NBA Free Agency: Delonte West and the the 15 Biggest Bargain Free Agents
Caron Butler and Tyson Chandler are out there, along with Jamal Crawford and David West, but they are likely to get the big bucks, and possibly too many zeroes on their paychecks.
What I am more interested in at this point is the players that the teams above the salary cap can get for a price that is allowable under the mid-level exception but will bring the team up to the next level. Those are the guys that swing championships and the guys that subtly change the landscape of the NBA.
Sure, moving LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Amar'e Stoudemire is going to make huge waves throughout the league, but actually building a team around them is what brings the titles to those cities.
Hard workers, great teammates, defensive stalwarts, three-point specialists and old, undervalued seven-footers are usually the guys that swing titles from one year to the next.
So I've taken a look around the free agent list, looked into what these guys are looking at earning over the next few years and boiled down the 15 best bargains on this year's free agent market.
15. Marcus Thornton
My thought is that the jury is still out on Marcus Thornton.
On one hand he is an up and coming young player who averaged 21 points a game for the Sacramento Kings in 27 games this season, so he may end up getting overpaid. However, doing it in just 27 games for a team that isn't exactly brimming with scorers, so they may just chalk it up to a hot streak.
If they take his time with Sacramento with a grain of salt then he should be a bargain, otherwise I'm sure he'll get a few too many millions.
14. Michael Redd
After having been an albatross contract for two years, Michael Redd may turn into a diamond in the rough for a year or two.
There is no way any team offers him too much money after having so many injury problems over the past few years, and he should easily become a three-point specialist for a good team.
If he is given the opportunity to just stand in the corner and shoot, instead of being the man, which Milwaukee had asked him to do for a handful of years before his injury troubles, which should give him a boost in his three-point shooting percentage.
Some team is going to take a shot with Redd, and it may just be for a veteran minimum contract which would be like robbing a bank if he stays healthy and splashes in treys.
13. Brian Scalabrine
Seriously, stop laughing...are you finished? Great.
Brian Scalabrine obviously isn't swinging any titles with his play on the court, but there is a reason he has been on good teams for his career, and there is a reason the Bulls went after him after his previous team (Boston) made it to the Finals in two of the past three years.
He is a great teammate, a goofy white guy and a hard worker in practice, three traits that help any team looking to win a championship.
Just take a quick trip down memory lane with me will you? The Mavericks had Brian Cardinal, the Lakers had Luke Walton twice, Boston had Scalabrine, San Antonio had Matt Bonner, Miami had Michael Doleac the Pistons had Darko Milicic, San Antonio had an aging Danny Ferry, and the Lakers had the most famous goofy white guy of them all, Mark Madsen for two of their Shaqobe Era titles and Travis Knight for another.
So, that's every championship team since the 1999-2000 but the 2005 Spurs with a goofy white dude on the roster.
I'm not saying there is an exact formula for making a championship team, but you have to admit that seems to happen all too often to be more than just a coincidence.
12. Kwame Brown
Ok, so I convinced you to stop laughing at Brian Scalabrine, getting you to stop laughing at Kwame Brown would be a feat very few could complete, so I'll give it a shot.
How many players out there can grab six or seven boards a game, score eight or nine points and be seven feet tall while playing decent defense all while commanding a whopping $1.2 million.
Brown is one of the worst number one picks of all-time, no question, but he can still have a serviceable career as a space filler.
Tell me the Heat wouldn't give him a shot at playing some center for them for $1.5 million this season. And tell me he wouldn't love to get himself a ring just to have something to show his grandkids some day.
Somebody call Pat Riley and get this done...actually, no, don't give him any ideas that could make the Heat a good team, tell him to trade Chris Bosh for a stack of pies and then give Eddy Curry a call.
11. Chuck Hayes
Last year if you would have told me that a team would have threatened to grab a playoff spot with a 6'6" guy starting at center for them I would have to ask you if you had a time machine handy, because we would have to be going back to the 1950s.
However, after yet another Yao Ming injury, the Houston Rockets trotted out 6'6" Chuck Hayes who out-bodied guys sometimes seven inches taller than him to average eight rebounds a game as the Rockets fell three games short of the playoffs.
Now, I'm not saying that I think Hayes would be a serviceable center for a contender, but as a back-up big man that could play either the four or five or a great option to keep a team tough down low when playing small ball he would allow for unbelievable flexibility.
10. Anthony Parker
Last offseason the Chicago Bulls paid Kyle Korver $5 million to sit on the three point line, wear high socks and ignore the defensive end of the floor.
So why can't Anthony Parker make $3.5 million for shooting just a bit worse but actually playing a little bit of defense from time-to-time.
We already saw that he can shoot upward of 40 percent when there is a great distributor on his team, so why can't he get back to that mark with the Knicks or the Celtics?
9. Reggie Evans
One of the dirtiest players in the NBA should hold more value for what he does. He's a complete gamer.
Reggie Evans does all the things on the court for Toronto that Andrea Bargnani (the seven-footer who seems afraid of rebounds) cannot do.
In an injury shortened season, Evans averaged 11.5 rebounds a game, four of them offensive with some insanely aggressive defense that crosses the line at time (and sometimes you need a guy that crosses that line).
Who cares if he scores four points in 26 minutes of play, he is the enforcer that doesn't care about getting the ball.
He elbows, pulls, pokes, grabs and sometimes all four at the same time to get position in the paint, and it creates extra possessions for his team.
8. Joel Przybilla
What's that? Another seven footer whose best basketball skill is taking up space? You're damn right that's what it is.
That's basically all any team needs out of a backup center at this point in the NBA (unless it's the Heat, and then they just need that out of their starter), and why not take a shot on a guy who has actually had some good seasons in the past.
Like many current and former Blazers players, Przybilla comes with a bit of an injury bug, but giving him $2-3 million to check out how he does is hardly a risk.
7. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
There is a 19 percent chance that I am as enamored with him as I am because he has the coolest name of any current NBA player (soon to be supplanted by Bismack Biyombo), but he is also quite a player.
I feel that he is often lost in the weeds up in Milwaukee, meaning he doesn't get as much attention as he should for how good a player he has been.
When you look at LRMAM's stats, nothing really jumps off the page, but there are may things that stick out with you when you watch the man play. Mostly it has to do with his defense.
There are few things that make me go gaga in the NBA anymore, but when I see a young player come in and know how to play defense at the NBA level almost immediately I swoon a bit. LRMAM is one of those few players that can do that, like Shane Battier in his early years in the league.
LRMAM is a restricted free agent, and I'm sure the Bucks know how much of a gem he is, so he should be back in purple next year, and they should get a good price on the guy.
6. Delont West
He's a head case yes, he has some mental disorders that leave him uneven at times, and he may, just may have slept with Gloria James on the eve of the LeBroncalypse in Cleveland, but he can still play the game.
His off the court problems in Cleveland dragged his value down, signing for just over a million bucks with the Celtics this year, and some injury problems this year should keep it down, but watching him when he was healthy would give the GM in me the desire to at least offer him a contract if I were looking for a backup guard.
The guy can still shoot, he knows how to run an NBA offense and I really think that he can be controlled with the right coach.
Of course, it would also be just about the funnies thing imaginable if Miami ends up signing him and the rumors eventually come to a head when some cocky, young local reporter asks in a post-game interview if they are true. LeBron will never admit it, but we could milk an answer out of his body language and the grin that would surely be on Delonte's face.
5. DeShawn Stevenson
A defensive specialist with just the right mixture of cocky, crazy, drive and determination.
Too much of one and not enough of the others and you end up with a guy like Latrell Sprewell or Stephon Marbury later in his career.
We have seen that Stevenson has the winning gene, and with never making more than $4.5 million in his NBA career he should be able to be had at a reasonable price right in that ballpark.
4. Grant Hill
I love that Grant Hill reinvented his game to become the amazing defender that he is today, and like most of the defensive specialists in the league he will make his money on reputation more than stats, which don't jump off the page for Hill.
Hill is one of those unique forwards who can guard any player on the floor for at least a short stretch of time despite being 38 and rickety. He just has that defensive gene in him that forces him to work hard and makes playing defense more intuition and toughness than anything else.
Hill hasn't made more than $3.3 million since his contract with the Magic expired back in 2007, and he likely won't get much more than that with the fear that his bones will finally break down one last time.
3. Carl Landry
Carl Landry has bounced around as much as any player really can in his three short years in the NBA. He has shown tons of promise, but no team has been willing to give him the keys to their power forward position.
In a way you can't blame them, as he is light on defense, and a bit undersized for a power forward, something teams are starting to care less and less about as the days roll on.
Overall, Landry is a huge boon to most offenses at the four spot and can play good enough defense that he should have been able to crack a starting lineup and stay there for more than the 20 or so games he has been given by various teams.
2. Shane Battier
I learned something today, Shane Battier has only made two NBA All-Defensive teams in his career, both of them second team. That is baffling to me, especially considering he is consistently one of the top three defenders at his position.
He doesn't rack up stats, he doesn't wow you with out-of-control athleticism, but he is able to hold down his man for 32 minutes a game or so, and he can turn some of the best players in the league into chumps in a matter of a few quarters.
Battier is getting older, so he probably won't get the $7 million he made last season, which should make him quite a bargain.
At almost any price Nene is a bargain.
The big Brazilian has consistently been the most under-appreciated big man in the NBA, people constantly overlooking the fact that he is a threat from five feet or 15 feet, mixing low-post moves galore with a face-up jumper that is as smooth as you will see it from a big fella.
Besides that, Nene is a great defender. He is one of those guys whose statistical output doesn't match the effort he puts into his defense.
He isn't a great rebounder, averaging just seven a game, and he doesn't rack up the blocked shots, averaging just under a block a game, but he does the little things a big man should do. He rotates magnificently when the pick-and-roll comes down low, and most importantly, he alters shots and keeps the ball out of the lane.
Nene will likely attract a big contract if (and most likely when) he opts out of his final year, but for all the little things he does it will end up being a bargain, especially with how rare good centers are in the league these days.