After LeBron and Wade were eliminated, the basketball universe has been talking about the 2010 free agent bonanza almost as much as the playoffs that are still going on. While everyone is talking about the max contract guys and “free agent summits,” here are 10 unrestricted free agents who will make an impact for a team whose names you haven’t heard mentioned.
1. Ray Allen
For some reason Ray Allen’s name has not surfaced when talking about marquee free agents available this summer, but he will be unrestricted after the season. Despite showing signs of age, and sub-par defense that is covered up by the Celtics great team defense, Allen is still the purest shooter in the NBA. His release may not be quite as quick as it once was, but it is still quicker than anyone else in the League. Allen probably has two or three good years left, and if he doesn’t re-sign with the Celtics, another championship contender could really benefit from signing him.
2. David Lee
This guy has turned into a stud basketball player. At 6-9, he is a natural power forward, but has been playing out of position as a center in Mike D’Antoni‘s offense. With it looking like the Knicks won’t re-sign him, Lee could help a team right away. He hustles and rebounds with the best of them, and last season showed he has the ability to score from up to 18 feet instead of just on put-backs and lay-ups – which helped his value tremendously as he averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds for the pitiful Knicks last season. Lee will also benefit greatly from not being the biggest guy on the floor at all times for his team, making him the best free agent nobody is talking about.
3. Udonis Haslem
Like Lee, Haslem is a rebounding vacuum, pulling in boards with the best of them. He has been a valuable role player for Miami since their 2006 championship season, contributing his rebounding, mid-range jumper and defense to the team. While his minutes in Miami have decreased because of Michael Beasley‘s arrival, his production remains steady as he averaged almost 10 points and nine rebounds this year, and could help a rebounding deficient team right away.
4. Kyle Korver
Behind Ray Allen, Korver is probably the best pure shooter in the NBA. Before the Jazz acquired him, they struggled mightily when facing the zone, but Korver’s arrival solved that problem for them and he will do the same wherever he lands this summer. He set an NBA record this season shooting 53.6% from three, and was the main reason Utah almost squeezed out a Game 3 victory over the Lakers. His shooting can immediately help a team open up their offense and stretch the defense, and not many teams can say they have a shooter of Korver’s ability at this time.
5. Brendan Haywood
After being a disappointment throughout the early part of his career, Haywood over the last few years has shown an ability to consistently pull in double digit rebounds. While not a big scorer in the post, Haywood can provide a team with a big body, some much needed toughness on the defensive end, and shot blocking – as he averaged over two blocks per game this past season in Washington and Dallas.
6. Al Harrington
After Harrington’s magical run with the 2007 Warriors team that knocked out Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, he has somewhat fallen off the radar spending his last two seasons with the Knicks. Despite being on a terrible team, Harrington has put up some big numbers for the Knicks averaging 20.7 points in 08-09, and 17.7 in 09-10. While some of this is due to the fact that he played in D’Antoni’s offense and was often the Knicks’ best offensive player, Harrington can certainly help a team looking for wing scoring; and could be a good third option for a championship team.
7. Nate Robinson
Despite his run-ins with D’Antoni in New York, and his spotty play in Boston, Robinson can flat out score. This guy is exciting, and will quickly turn in to a fan favorite wherever he goes, providing instant offense off the bench. He will be a great investment for a team that needs scoring off the bench (i.e. Memphis) and probably be cheap due to his up and down season this year.
8. Raymond Felton
Felton has been playing point guard for the Bobcats since his rookie season, but he still doesn’t look like a natural point guard. However, Felton played a nice role in the Bobcats’ first-ever playoff berth this year. He can be a solid ball handler, and contribute double digit scoring for a team that signs him. But a team shouldn’t sign him looking for him to solve all their problems at the point, as he still hasn’t seemed to figure it out.
9. Jermaine O’Neal
Despite being on the decline in his career, and definately no longer a reliable second scoring option on a good team, O’Neal still has some juice in the tank as a serviceable big man. He played 70 games last year for the first time since 03-04, and if he stays healthy, he can be a solid 4 for many teams – either as a starter or off the bench. But he definitely is no longer the Jermaine O’Neal of old.
10. Jason Williams
After his one year retirement, Williams has returned to the NBA with the Magic and proven to be a very solid backup point guard for them. Williams shot 38 percent from three this year, and averaged 6.0 points and 3.5 assists in 20 minutes, proving he definitely can be a good backup point guard for the next few years. Plus, he can add much needed depth for a team looking for some.
What do you think? Who would you want on your team?
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