Hidden Gems Still Available on 2015 NBA Free-Agency Market
The tsunami of free-agency news has largely passed with the recent decisions by LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Tim MacMahon, but more decisions still await—some that could be particularly impactful in the seasons ahead.
Free agency isn't anywhere close to finished just yet, and neither are we. In this slideshow, we've ranked five players who haven't had starring roles in free agency, ordering them by the value they'll hold in the 2015-16 campaign. These guys remain unsigned for the moment, but that could change soon. With most major announcements already made, the rest of the offseason is largely about filling in the gaps.
Each of the players on this list is capable of doing just that, and most of them already have at least one suitor, according to the rumor mill. Where will they land, and could they be coming to a team near you?
4. Jordan Hill
Jordan Hill is mostly known for his prominent role on the last couple of underwhelming Los Angeles Lakers rosters. But his numbers have been consistently solid during that span.
The 27-year-old averaged 12 points and 7.9 rebounds in 26.8 minutes per game last season and started 57 of his 70 contests for the Lakers. His expanded range and solid interior play should make him a fairly sought-after commodity as the dust begins to settle in free agency.
With a number of more prominent big men on the market, Hill will wait his turn and perhaps emerge as a halfway-decent consolation prize for a team like the Los Angeles Clippers or Portland Trail Blazers—both teams that have lost star big men this summer.
Hill may not be a difference-maker, but he's a capable big body. That's still worth some serious money in this league.
The New York Knicks are one possibility, particularly if Hill doesn't arrive at a new deal with the reportedly interested incumbent Lakers, according to the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina.
Sporting News' Sean Deveney recently reported the following: "A source told Sporting News that the Knicks reached out to Hill on Thursday once it was clear [Greg] Monroe was going elsewhere. Hill was drafted with the eighth pick by the Knicks in 2009, but he never really meshed with coach Mike D’Antoni and was traded to Houston in his rookie year."
The Knicks have agreed to sign Robin Lopez to man the middle, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, so that may make the organization a less attractive destination for Hill. On the other hand, he won't find an unlimited number of starting opportunities and may have to make choices between money, playing time and winning.
3. Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin has become something of a forgotten free agent after his career skipped from New York to Houston and finally to Los Angeles, where the Lakers were painfully bad once again last season. But the 26-year-old has a lot of basketball left in him, and a change of scenery could do some good for his career.
So could some stability.
Where that new home will be remains unclear. There are lots of teams looking for help at the point guard spot, with the Dallas Mavericks chief among them. ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported Saturday that "the Dallas Mavericks are firmly in the mix to sign free-agent point guard Jeremy Lin, according to league sources."
Stein added that "Dallas has limited funds to offer, but sources told ESPN.com that Lin is giving the Mavericks strong consideration even though he can likely make more money elsewhere."
The Mavericks are an attractive destination because going to Dallas would likely entail a starting job. The organization parted ways with free agent Rajon Rondo and has reached agreements with Jordan and shooting guard Wesley Matthews, reports Stein.
The point guard position remains an area of need that Lin could fill.
According to Stein, Lin might have to play for less than $3 million annually in order to join the Mavericks, but Dallas could be a perfect opportunity to reboot his career. For that, it's entirely conceivable Lin could accept a discounted deal.
Lin averaged 11.2 points and 4.6 assists in 25.8 minutes per game for the Lakers last season. He'd almost certainly see a few extra minutes in Dallas.
2. Brandon Bass
Update: Bass has reportedly agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. Terms of the deal have not yet been solidified, as they are likely hinging on the details of the Lakers' dealings with Roy Hibbert.
You probably haven't heard much about Brandon Bass this summer. The availability of premier big men has overshadowed one of the league's more consistent power forwards.
Bass won't take games over, but the 10-year veteran averaged a predictably solid 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game for the Boston Celtics last season. In a limited role, he's an effective pick-and-pop specialist who can knock it down from the mid-range. He can thrive as a seventh or eighth man, adding depth to any number of playoff teams—including, perhaps, the Celtics.
The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn recently reported the following via Twitter: "Expect several teams to be interested in free-agent forward Brandon Bass, including the Celtics."
Bass will likely be one of the dominoes to fall, now that bigger names like Aldridge and Jordan have found new homes. He's not much of a consolation prize for clubs that have missed out on top talent, but he could be part of the solution for a team like the Lakers.
Much depends on what kind of contract Bass is seeking. He may have to accept fewer dollars in order to play for a good team, but there will likely be a deal worth at least the mid-level exception available somewhere.
1. David West
During a summer defined by the likes of Aldridge, Jordan, Kevin Love and Greg Monroe, David West has become something of an afterthought. The 34-year-old averaged 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per contest last season and could be poised to play a reserve role for a contender.
Fresh off a deal with Aldridge, the San Antonio Spurs are one possible destination. Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported via Twitter on Saturday that the "Spurs are aggressively pursuing free agent David West with a veteran minimum offer now, sources tell Yahoo Sports."
West would join a formidable front line including Aldridge, Tim Duncan and backup Boris Diaw, creating perhaps the best four-man interior rotation in the game. But the Xavier product is also considering the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wojnarowski added the following on Saturday: "Sources: Cleveland hasn't only worked itself into contention for David West, Cavs took slight lead on Spurs. Pop isn't done recruiting yet."
That's stiff competition for San Antonio, and West has also been linked to the Washington Wizards in recent days, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein.
One way or another, West should solidify an already talented front line in pursuit of a title. The Indiana Pacers are set to rebound from a season thwarted by Paul George's leg injury, but other opportunities may offer a better chance for a ring in today's NBA landscape.
West talked about the decision Wednesday, per WTHR's Bob Kravitz:
At this point in my career, I just want to win. I'm just not sure the Pacers are in title contention right now. I'm going into my 13th season. I'll be 35 soon. When I got to Indiana, there was hope of getting there and we played at a really high level for a couple of years. But I just don't know if the team is in the position to win right now and I didn't know if I'd have that opportunity to win a title if I'd stayed with the Pacers.
Given West's suitors, a pay cut seems inevitable. West appears willing to sacrifice for the sake of winning, in which case he'd become quite the bargain. Wherever he goes, the veteran will bring a lot of heart and leadership to the table. With those kinds of intangibles, he may be the best bang for the buck left on the market.