NBA Free Agents 2011: 8 Injury-Prone Players to Be Cautious of

Alexander DiegelCorrespondent IIISeptember 1, 2011

NBA Free Agents 2011: 8 Injury-Prone Players to Be Cautious of

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    With every free agency period, a lot of teams are willing to buy the player they believe can be the final piece to their championship dreams. But for every Shaquille O'Neal And LeBron James there is a Gilbert Arenas and a Grant HIll.

    There are some serious talents in the upcoming free agent market, and more than a few of them carry serious injury concerns to the team that signs them. Here are eight of the biggest talents and the risk they bring with them.

Caron Butler

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    Butler is coming off of a horrific knee injury that saw his kneecap slide about three inches up his thigh. For a 31-year-old forward who’s game is predicated on strength and athleticism, this is worrisome.

    None of that is stopping the Dallas Mavericks from strongly considering signing the nine-year vet to a long-term contract. Any NBA fan should be rooting for Caron Butler: He has a great story. Going from juvenile delinquent to consummate professional, and is the type of tough, do-anything player that any star would like to play with.

    Still, if I am a general manager, he has to play a full season before I give him a multi-year deal.

Tyson Chandler

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    Tyson Chandler is coming off of his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award, and just helped Eddy Curry and Jason Williams win their fourth NBA championship in the last six years. Ooops, sorry. I just entered Jerry Krause’s dream world for a second.

    Chandler was the physical post presence the Dallas Mavericks have not had since, well, ever. For everything Dirk Nowitzki did for the team offensively, you could say just about the same for Chandler defensively, and the 7’1” center likely has a rich contract waiting for him when NBA action resumes.

    However, it is worth noting that Chandler has three seasons on his resume of missing at least 30 games, all due to leg or back injuries. When you are dealing with seven-footers, those types of recurring injuries can crop up out of nowhere. Chandler will be in his tenth NBA season when play resumes.

David West

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    New Orleans Hornets' power forward David West had been the model of consistency since his breakout 2005 season, playing at least 70 games in all but one campaign.

    West figures to be one of the NBA’s marquee free agent targets, in spite of April knee surgery that could easily keep him out until December. As with any player coming off of a torn ACL, any tweak during the recovery process could push that estimate back even further.

Tracy McGrady

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    Tracy McGrady’s stellar career is likely coming near an end. Still, he can be an effective rotation player, and has another one-year deal or two left in him.

    McGrady played over 70 games last season for just the sixth time in his 14-year career. Any team that signs him has to know another tweak of that pesky back could put him on the bench for quite some time.

Yao Ming

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    Yes, Yao has retired. Still, he is only 30-years-old, so down the road an attempted comeback is not out of the realm of possibility.

    Stipulations for any contract should require that Shaq gets to stomp on both of his feet and see if they hold up.

T.J. Ford

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    T.J. Ford has been an effective point guard for each of the three teams he has played for since being drafted eight overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.

    Ford’s agent will likely receive a lot of calls once the lockout ends, and a lot of Lakers fans would love to see him take over for Derek Fisher.

    Still, Ford has played fewer than 70 games in more seasons than not, and poses a big injury risk to any team considering a multi-year deal.

Michael Redd

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    Sadly, it looks as though Michael Redd is this generation’s Grant Hill. The former all-star has played in just 61 games combined in the last three seasons.

    A lot of fans may like to see Redd get a one-year deal with a contender like the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls to prove he is a shadow of the player that averaged 26.7 points per game in 2006-07.

    However, signing Redd to a multi-year contract could be asking for trouble.

Josh Howard

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    Josh Howard, once the running mate for Dirk Nowitzki withthe Dallas Mavericks, has seen his game just plummet in the last few seasons, mostly due to injury.
    His scoring average dipped nearly ten points per game, from 19 to nine, and he has played in
    just 53 games the last two seasons.

    Four years ago, Howard would have been the perfect fit for a
    team trying to fill a hole at shooting guard. Now, he’s a huge risk that will
    probably never be the player who once averaged 20 points and seven rebounds per
    game for the Mavericks.