At this point, NBA teams have almost completely filled out their rosters. Most teams have 14-15 roster spots filled, plus they have some partial-guaranteed deals for guys who will get a look but most likely are just there for training camp fodder.
Still, there are veteran free agents out there, looking for a landing spot.
Let’s be clear, if a guy is still a free agent, there’s a reason. That said, these are names you know. These are guys that very well may get a chance when a team realizes they need help at a position (or suffer an injury that creates a need). Here are the five best free agents still on the market.
1) Lance Stephenson. He couldn’t blend in with the Clippers’ team system last year, but did put up numbers when he went to an injury-ravaged Grizzlies team that needed scoring: 14.2 points a game on 47.4 percent shooting. As a ball-handling forward who can help a second unit put up points, Stephenson has value on paper. But concerns about locker room chemistry, and if he can buy into and play within a team system, have kept him without a contract. Expect some GM will roll the dice on him at some point during the season.
2) Josh Smith. Like Stephenson, he started the season with the Clippers as part of what Doc Rivers thought would be an improved bench, and by the middle of the season he was in Houston, where he played a limited role. While he showed flashes last season (19 points against the Heat, or in Game 2 of the playoffs vs. Golden State), he struggled to hit the three or defend well enough to stay on the court. Like with Stephenson, GMs will have concerns about how he impacts the locker room. It looked like his game has faded, but some team may give him a shot.
3) J.J. Hickson. Statistically, he’s the best guy on this list considering last season. Denver bought him out and he bounced over to Washington, where he provided a little scoring off the bench with 4.3 points per game while shooting 54.6 percent. He hustled on the glass, rolled to the rim, missed free throws (44.7 percent last season), and he doesn’t bring much on the defensive end of the floor. Still, as a reserve big teams could do worse, and he will get a shot somewhere.
4) Ty Lawson. He started last season in Houston, finished it in Indiana, and was a disappointment in both on the court. After two DUIs in a six month span and a team executive saying he showed up to practice with alcohol on his breath in Denver, there are concerns about his drinking. Lawson defended himself from those charges and said the team lands him will get a deal. Hopefully, he has his personal life in order, but he’s going to need to prove he can be better running and offense and setting up teammates than he was last year to stick with a team.
5) Kevin Martin. He bounced between the Timberwolves and the Spurs last season, and while his skills have diminished over the years he can still shoot the rock and that is always valuable. Last season he shot 36 percent from three overall, although he never found the same groove in San Antonio, certainly not like both sides had hoped. Some team that needs shooting — and there are plenty of them — will bring him in at age 33 to see if he still has anything left in the tank.