NBA Free Agents 2011: Best Available Players Left on the Market

Kelly ScalettaFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2011

NBA Free Agents 2011: Best Available Players Left on the Market

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    With the first few days of free agent frenzy underway, some of the big names have gone off the board already. Caron Butler wasted no time inking with the Clippers to start things off and David West signed up with the Pacers yesterday as the most recent big name signing. 

    There are plenty of names left on the board though and here are the five best. These are the names that are actually "on the market," so players like Chauncey Billups aren't included because they aren't actually on the market yet.

    I also didn't include Marc Gasol since now, by rule, he'll either be a Rocket or a Grizzly, so he's not really on the market either. 

Samuel Dalembert

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    Samuel Dalembert is a defensive presence that could be a benefit to any team, and on the right team he could be the difference for an NBA champion. 

    The latest reports had the Mavericks and Rockets pursuing Dalembert. Marc Stein of ESPN tweeted Saturday, "Mavs/Rockets teams at top of Dalembert's list, sources say. DAL wants him on one-year deal; HOU expected to pursue him if it can't get Nene".

    Since then Houston signed Marc Gasol, though the Grizzlies are expected to match. That doesn't make anything clearer though. 

    Dwight Howard is the head domino in all big men moves. The Nets want Howard. If they can't get him, they'll sign Nene. If they can, then Nene will fall to the Nuggets or Rockets. 

    If Nene chooses the Nuggets, Dalembert will go to Houston. If not, then Dallas? 

    Probably not. It's likely they obtained what they were looking for in Lamar Odom. 

    That means Dalembert would probably end up in Denver if Nene chooses the Rockets. If the Howard deal doesn't go through, just work everyone up one rung on the ladder and Dalembert goes to Houston.  

Rodney Stuckey

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    Some would probably not put Rodney Stuckey on this list, but I think he's a bit of an underrated player. He's a nice point guard who has size and can pass and score. There are only 18 players who have put together 3000 points and 1000 assists in the last three years, and he's one of them. 

    The only team really showing interest in him though is Detroit, though that's because Detroit seems set on matching any offer that comes to them or close to it. According to Justin Rogers of MLive.com:

    As a restricted free agent, Stuckey is free to sign with any team, but the Pistons maintain the right to match any offer sheet. It's long been assumed Detroit would keep the point guard in the fold.

    Asked if he had a dollar amount in mind where he wouldn't be comfortable matching Dumars extended his arm up high and said, "There's always a number, but it's way up there."

    Stuckey is probably "stuckey" in Detroit. 

Jamal Crawford

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    Jamal Crawford allegedly wants both money and to play for a contender. The only problem is that the contenders have already spent everything they have to offer and now he's sort of going to have to chose between money and a chance to win. 

    For a while, there were reports of Crawford going to the Knicks in a three-team trade, but nothing ever materialized. Later in the day, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News tweeted that the Hawks officials were denying there were any talks at all. 

    Today the talk has shifted to the Knicks hoping that they can land land Crawford for the "space" exception of $2.5 for teams who entered the offseason with cap space. It's unlikely they'll be able to land him for that. 

    The most likely landing spot for Crawford may well be the Pacers, who had interest in him before it started looking like he was going to the Bulls, but they signed Richard Hamilton. 

Arron Afflalo

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    Arron Afflalo is a player who received a lot of attention as a restricted free agent. There are a lot of teams who would love to have him though he hasn't gotten a ton of offers because it's expected that the Nuggets will just match any deal. 

    There were some rumblings earlier that the Bulls might try and work out a sign and trade for the shooting guard, but those fell by the wayside after the Bulls reached an agreement with Richard Hamilton. 

    Now the Nuggets are expected to reach an agreement, but nothing has happened yet. According to Ben Hochman of the Denver Post:

    A league source also said that no deal has yet to be made with Arron Afflalo, the gritty shooting guard who is a restricted free agent. Afflalo and the Nuggets have previously said they expected to work out a deal to bring "Triple-A" back to Denver, but numerous teams have expressed interest in him (similar to Nene, the Nuggets can offer Afflalo a fifth year).

    Expect the Nuggets to keep the shooting guard and make an announcement in the next day or two barring a miracle offer by the Bulls. 

Nene

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    Nene is the biggest name still on the market. He's not the biggest-name player obtainable though. That distinction goes to either Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. The latter of those names is holding up the process with Nene though. 

    The Nets appear to be Nene's top choice, but Howard is theirs. If they can pull off the trade, then expect Nene to go to either Houston or Denver. Houston offers a better chance at winning; Denver offers more years on his contract.