When observing this free agency pool that's mixed up with aging veterans, rising stars and former All-Stars alike, NBA teams are going to have to be extremely careful when contemplating just who they should select to play for them over the course of the next three weeks.
The 2011 free-agency class won't have any superstars in it. There are no Dwyane Wades or LeBron Jameses or even Chris Boshes, but rather there are role players who can complement the types of superstars that were available in 2010 and will be available in 2012. Consider this year as a preparation course for the madness that is sure to ensue in 2012 when Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams become free agents.
NBA teams are going to have to play the field at a controlled pace. A number of these players raise huge question marks as well as possibly being overspent because of the lack of superstars and All-Stars inhabiting the field.
Most of all though, organizations are going to have watch out for these five veterans who might appear to give the team some leadership and consistency, but rather frustrate the team with nagging injuries that were ignored upon their signing.
A few years ago and Michael Redd would have easily been the cream of this crop. Instead, Redd has dealt with constant, nagging injuries that have persisted over the past three years and have only allowed the sharp shooter to play in a total of 61 over the past three years.
Each time Redd attempts to make a return, he always seems to be turned back immediately by either the same body part getting re-injured or a completely new ailment taking place.
A few teams will attempt to sign Redd as a result of thinking it's low risk and high reward, but this isn't going to pan out in any way due to the number of setbacks that he has been forced to deal with. The player who had once averaged 27 points per game will only be picked up if he's willing to take the veterans minimum and a seat on the bench of a contender.
Here's hoping that nobody overspends for this player solely because of his name. Spending last year with the Detroit Pistons, Tracy McGrady would play in over 70 games for the first time since 2007, when he played in 71 games with the Houston Rockets. Injuries have taken a huge toll on the progression and development of McGrady over the course of his career as he was coming off of two consecutive seasons of playing in 35 or fewer games prior to his time with Detroit.
McGrady should come as a cheap option for a contender looking to strengthen their bench, but they still need to be wary of how much they sign him to. T-Mac was relatively healthy last season and only managed to average eight points, four boards, and four dimes per game in 24 minutes worth of action per night, so a veterans minimum and not much else would be enough to get McGrady on a contenders squad.
Playing in 53 games over the past two seasons, Josh Howard is exhibit A in injured veterans who might be given too much money by a desperate team looking to make a significant signing. Howard has dealt with injuries over the duration of his career as he has played in 70 games or less six times in a career that has only lasted eight years.
The past two years, however, have been the most crippling. Injuries kept Howard on the bench during his final season with the Dallas Mavericks and this past year with the Washington Wizards, where he only averaged eight points per on 36 percent shooting from the field.
Howard is usually regarded as a dangerous threat from within the perimeter as he has always been recognized as a solid mid-range threat and slasher, but it seems as if those days might be past him after two consecutive injury-plagued seasons.
One of the most highly coveted players in this year's free-agency class due to the high amount of teams striving for a shooting guard is the Dallas Mavericks' Caron Butler. He may be the most talented player up for grabs on account of his ability to drive, play at three positions on both sides of the ball and a consistent mid-range game.
Butler was well on his way to having a terrific second half of the 2010-'11 season with the Mavericks before an injury completely derailed it, limiting him to playing in only 29 games and missing the entire postseason. The 29 games was the fewest Butler has played in a season, and it might raise concern for teams that are wary of signing a 31-year-old coming off of a devastating injury.
For the past three seasons, Grant Hill has been one of the NBA's leading iron men as he has only missed three games since the start of the 2008-'09 season. Hill has been productive in the years he has spent with Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns, and is actually coming off of one his most impressive seasons in awhile after averaging 13 points and four boards per.
However, we have to wonder how much longer can this 39-year-old go before the wheels come off. We can't forget that Hill was the same player who had an extremely promising career cut short due to nagging injuries that persisted throughout the prime of his career and turned him into a role player rather than the superstar he was supposed to become.
Hill may be a solid investment, but teams will need to be careful when approaching this situation as he's one injury away from hanging it up.
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