While it seems like almost everyone was a free agent this summer, there were still plenty of NBA players under contract who didn’t hit the open market. Some of these guys probably wish they had been free agents, though, as they either don’t fit with their current team or they aren’t getting the minutes they deserve. These are 10 guys who would do well with a change of scenery:
10. Gilbert Arenas — I think Arenas can return to be an elite player in the NBA this season, it just shouldn’t be in Washington. Arenas and John Wall would make a scary backcourt, but Arenas needs the ball in his hands a great deal of the time, which won’t happen with Wall there. Last year the Wizards broke up their “Big Three” by shipping Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison out of town, and Arenas is probably next. The move would be for the better for both sides, as Arenas was seen as a pariah in D.C. last year, and needs to restart his career somewhere else.
9. Mike Bibby — Bibby played a big part in the rebuilding of the Hawks these past few years after he came over from Sacramento, but his time as a starting point guard has passed. With coach Larry Drew now at the helm, the Hawks are expected to run a lot more and build around their more athletic players (Jamal Crawford, Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Al Horford). Drew is expected to make second-year point guard Jeff Teague the starter eventually this year, and Teague’s strong Vegas Summer League performance may have accelerated that process. Bibby looks a step slow on the court, and at this time it’s probably best he move to a team that runs their sets out of the half-court.
8. Brandan Wright — Like many of the Warriors’ draft picks in recent years, Wright hasn’t panned out. He has been constantly injured, and when healthy he has not produced up to his capabilities. It is clear that Don Nelson is not a big fan of his, and with Ekpe Udoh now on board (even though he’s currently injured) it appears Wright’s days in Oakland are numbered. If given a chance to play, he provides athleticism and length to any frontcourt, and can probably be had on the cheap right now.
7. D.J. Augustin — In 2008, Larry Brown lobbied Michael Jordan to draft Augustin over Brook Lopez. Two years later, Lopez is one of the top young centers in the game, and Brown has very little trust in Augustin’s ability to be his point guard. While Raymond Felton’s departure gives Augustin an opportunity to start, he would probably be best in another uniform because he has talent but he just needs to be more aggressive. Another coach may be able to bring that out in him.
6. Brandon Bass — When the Magic signed Bass last offseason, they thought he could move into the starting power forward role next to Dwight Howard. Well, things didn’t go as planned. Bass averaged only 13 minutes a game and has stated a desire to be traded if his role doesn’t increase. Bass doesn’t really fit Orlando’s style of play, and unless backup center Marcin Gortat is moved, I don’t see his minutes increasing. A team looking for a tough, hard-nosed player that can hit a mid-range jumper and play 20-25 minutes per game should seriously look into acquiring him.
5. Julian Wright — Wright is one of those players that is about to move from the “he has potential” category to the “bust” category. He is athletically gifted but doesn’t possess much else in his game. He already did not get off to a good start with new coach Monty Williams, refusing the coach’s request to play in Summer League. The Hornets also drafted Quincy Pondexter, who can play small forward, so the writing is on the wall for Wright in New Orleans. A move to a place like Phoenix or New York would showcase his talents and may help salvage his career.
4. Marcin Gortat — Gortat is the best backup center in the NBA, and a luxury for the Magic. He was a little disappointed they matched his offer sheet from Dallas last season, as he will forever be behind Dwight Howard on the depth chart in Orlando. While having Gortat as your backup center is great, they should turn him into some wing players with Vince Carter aging and Matt Barnes leaving. Gortat is a starting caliber center, and he deserves a chance to be one somewhere.
3. Ramon Sessions — I’m sure many players on David Kahn’s team wouldn’t mind a change of scenery, but Sessions could use it the most. While Sessions told a young fan yesterday that he’s excited about the coming year, the Wolves have Jonny Flynn and the recently signed Luke Ridnour (who Sessions backed up for a season in Milwaukee), in addition to holding Ricky Rubio’s rights. Sessions’ days in Minny may be numbered, and that would probably be a good thing. He didn’t seem to fit in the triangle, and played a career-low in minutes last year. Sessions has the talent to be an above-average starting point guard in the League, just not in Minnesota.
2. Rudy Fernandez — As my colleague Sean Sweeney wrote, Fernandez wants out of Portland and that would be the best move for him. He is a great shooter but not much else, and with Wes Matthews now on board, Fernandez appears to be the odd man out. He would thrive on a team like the Suns, but his desire is to return to Europe. No matter what, another year sulking on the bench in Portland won’t do him any good.
1. Eddy Curry — I don’t think anyone could use a change of scenery more than Curry. Ever since signing a monster contract four years ago, Curry has struggled mightily to justify it, especially in New York, where his every move is scrutinized. He also clearly doesn’t fit in Mike D’Antoni’s speedball offense as he is slow and overweight. While a move to a different team — any team — would help Curry, I really just want to see this guy to get his life in order. His off-the-court problems overwhelm his issues on the court, as he is nearly broke, saw his daughter and ex-girlfriend murdered, and was sued by a former driver for making sexual advances. Eddy is one player I really believe never wanted to be in the NBA, but was forced into it because of his size. He should move to a small-market team where he is out of the spotlight.