Ten free agents still out on the market

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At this point, the free agent cupboard is pretty bare, and a number of teams have filled out their rosters anyway. Let’s just be honest — if you’re still on the free agent market there is a reason.

Still, there are a few teams still looking to add player 14/15 to the roster off minimum contracts… and there are still some guys whose names you know who do not have an NBA deal yet. Which makes us all want to play matchmaker, even when we shouldn’t (we remember the version of the guy from four years ago too often, not the reality of his play now).

Here are 10 guys who you know still looking for an NBA deal:

1. Richard Hamilton. Let’s be kind here and say Rip is not exactly at the peak of his powers anymore (he shot 42.9 percent last season and is not a strong threat from three). But he still got 9.8 points a game for the Bulls when healthy. As a veteran off the bench who would play limited minutes and has championship experience you could do worse.

2. Sebastian Telfair. He’s just 28 and is still kind of the player he always was — solid defender, not a great finisher in the paint, decent shooter from the midrange, not a special playmaker — but as a third guard in the rotation he could be a solid fit somewhere (interest from the Heat and Knicks faded).

3. Stephen Jackson. At age 35 we are seeing his skills fade (he shot 37.3 percent last season and had a PER of 8) and he couldn’t get along with Gregg Popovich. He’s had a couple bad endings with teams, which hurts his stock as much if not more than his play.

4. Marquis Daniels. What he brings is solid defense on the perimeter to the table. Not much on offense, but if you could use a defender off the bench you could do worse.

5. Dahntay Jones. He was a solid “3 and D” guy a couple seasons back but last season he shot just 22.4 percent from beyond the arc. At age 33, was that a fluke or just the way things are trending with him? Still he can defend and there are teams that could use that.

6. Shavlik Randolph. Only got in 16 games for the Celtics last season, but didn’t look too bad when he did (he shot 58.3 percent). You could do worse for a reserve big off the end of bench.

7. A.J. Price. The Wizards played him a lot last season (he started 22 games) because they had to, and he showed he’s not great at running a team. But he wasn’t a disaster (PER 12.4) and could fill a role if you brought him off the bench in a limited role.

8. Josh Howard. The question here is simply one of health — he has not played in more than 43 games (during the lockout season for the Jazz) in the past four seasons. With that his efficiency has dropped as well. Do you think he’s right now?

9. Tyrus Thomas. Has the former No. 4 pick fallen this far? That nobody is willing any longer to take a chance on his potential? Looks that way.

10. Cole Aldrich. He could barely get off the bench with the Thunder, then last season bounced between the Rockets and Kings without making many waves. Still, he has legit center size and is just 25, so he could get an end of the bench deal.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.