NBA Free Agency: Shane Battier and Veterans Who Will Be Underpaid
Shane Battier is one of the most complete players on the NBA's free-agent market, but he seems destined to be underpaid for his services.
Battier has long been one of the league's most dependable defenders and is a talented all-around scorer, but will likely only get mid-level exception offers.
While a ton of attention is being lavished on big names like Marc Gasol, Nene and Tyson Chandler, there are multiple veteran players who, while they have the ability to make a serious impact for a new squad, seem destined to be underpaid for their services.
The free-agent class of 2011 may lack star power, but it doesn't lack respectable established NBA talent.
Which veteran players amongst the free agents will end the offseason underpaid? Let's take a look.
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The biggest problem for Battier isn't his talent, but his suitors.
Battier has long been regarded as one of the leagues best defenders, and is a solid all-around player, with career averages of 9.8 points and 4.7 rebounds.
But Battier is 33 years old and seems likely to try and join a contender. Of the teams who can compete for a ring this season who Battier would fit with—Chicago, Orlando and Miami seem the biggest names—none can offer him more than a mid-level exception: a $5 million deal for the next four seasons.
Based on his defense alone, Battier is worth that, but considering his ability to be an excellent offensive role player and his established record as a locker room leader, a mid-level exception is underpaying Battier.
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Hill, a 16-year veteran who will enter the 2011-12 season at the ripe age of 39, has lowered his choices down to four teams, according to NBA.com's David Aldridge. Hill will decide between the Los Angeles Clippers, the Chicago Bulls, the New York Knicks or could return to the Phoenix Suns.
While Hill is 39 years old and only has a few years left, he'll more than likely be underpaid considering what he can bring to a team.
Hill averaged 13.2 points and 4.0 rebounds a game for Phoenix last season, and has played in 243 out of a possible 246 games for Phoenix, proving his ability to stay healthy.
He's also an very sharp defender and could seriously help any of the veteran teams who might sign him.
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Yes, Chuck Hayes is a 6'6" center. He's incredibly short for the position and isn't anything special offensively, but he's one of the best post defenders in the league and an excellent rebounder, considering his size.
Where teams are likely to go looking at Nene, Gasol or Chandler for their size, Hayes will be left under-appreciated.
He is no star by any means, but his ability to rebound and defend the post should easily net him a nice contract. He averaged 7.9 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Rockets last year, filling in big-time in the absence of Yao Ming.
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Prince has been exceptionally unmotivated the past few years in Detroit and has lost a lot of the glamor he'd had during the Pistons' playoff runs.
At his best, he was a determined defender, a tough rebounder and a great jump-shooter, but the drama and mediocrity Detroit has had over the past few years has buffered off most of his luster.
If Prince signs with a championship contender and gets properly motivated, he could once again become one of the best role players in the league and the steal of free agency.
But if that happens, most likely, he'll be underpaid considering what he could bring to a team.
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TJ Ford won't ever been the potential star he showed flashes of in his youth, as three injury-plagued and mediocre seasons in Indiana have cost him dearly.
But the point guard crop this season is especially weak, and when he does play, Ford is fairly efficient, especially at controlling an offense. His career assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.36, which is pretty solid.
He'll likely sign a veteran's minimum contract or just slightly more than that. If he could stay healthy and gets in the right situation, he could end up vastly underpaid.
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Jeff Foster has been one of the most efficient rebounders in the league in his 12-year career, despite only averaging 20.7 minutes a game. He averaged 6.9 rebounds for his career and shoots at a 49 percent clip.
Any team looking for some big man help (Miami immediately comes to mind) should be burning up the phones trying to recruit Foster. He isn't really a scorer or a great defender—you can even argue that he shouldn't start—but in terms of depth and efficiency, Foster would be a great addition.
If he only gets paid a veteran's minimum, though, he's being vastly under-appreciated.
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Caron Butler struggled early last season in Dallas but picked it up...right before his season-ending injury.
He was forgotten amongst his teammates as the Mavericks marched to the NBA Championship, and won't likely get a large payday.
He averaged 15 points and 4.0 rebounds for Dallas while shooting 45 percent from the field and a career high 42 percent from downtown. The most he will get is a mid-level exception, and that itself seems dubious.
If Chicago, which is in desperate need of wingman, can snap him up for cheap and keep him healthy, Butler has the capacity to go for 15 points or more. But with most of the attention on wing scorers going to Jamal Crawford and Jason Richardson, Butler will most certainly be overlooked.