Most NBA teams’ rosters are set, maybe save for one minimum salary spot usually reserved for a young player the team is trying to develop. The big names, and even the medium and plenty of small names, are off the board.
However, in a tight market, there are still some recognizable names out there, unsigned veterans who could help teams looking to fill a particular role — wing defenders, big men, even some point guard help. They are available for a reason, but they can help a team.
Here is my Top 10 list of remaining free agents. The list is not complete, for example, Andrew Bogut doesn’t make my cut but if healthy he could help the right team, the same with David Lee. Also, not on this list are any restricted free agents such as JaMychal Green, Nikola Mirotic, or Mason Plumlee (in theory they are available, in practice no team has or would spend the cap money on an offer the team with their rights would not match).
1. Shabazz Muhammad. He’s a wing who gave Minnesota almost 20 minutes a night and 9.9 points a game last season, but lost out in the numbers game as that roster shifted (with Jimmy Butler coming in to take a lot of minutes at his spot). Muhammad is a power player who likes to post up, but he doesn’t space the floor well — almost 60 percent of his shots last season came within 10 feet of the basket, and he shot 33 percent on threes. He’s not a great defender and not focused on that end. The Lakers reportedly are interested, and he’s still talking to Minnesota.
2. Tony Allen. The heart of “grit n’ grind” in Memphis is still on the outside looking in as that team revamps a little. He still is a quality wing defender, although he has started to slow at age 35, and he does not bring much offense to the table. Memphis may well re-sign him after they figure out the JaMychal Green situation, but Allen thought he would get more than the minimum and that seems off the table now anywhere.
3. Dante Cunningham. I could see him as a glue guy who could space the floor and hit threes on the right team — he shot 39.2 percent on his 2.7 threes a game last season, that percentage may regress a little, but he can hit that shot and blend in on units. He’s not a bad defender on the wing, and can play the small ball four. The Bucks, Timberwolves, and Pelicans all have been mentioned as having interest in him.
4. Deron Williams. The former All-Star point guard has lost a couple of steps, and that was exposed in the playoffs with the Cavaliers last season (after he was bought out by the Mavericks). Cleveland hoped he could stabilize their second unit, but that didn’t work out like they expected. He can still dish the ball, hit threes, and be a floor general against regular season second units, and there are teams that could use that. As the stakes go up in the playoffs, his role has to be limited.
5. Thomas Robinson. He’s played for six NBA teams in five seasons, and he brings energy and effort. He is strong on the boards plus was the most efficient scorer he has ever been with the Lakers last season. However, while he can get buckets inside 10 feet but does not space the floor. He was not getting court time on a young team higher on other forwards on their roster in Los Angeles, but they have worked him out again recently.
6. Tyler Zeller. He moves well for a big man, but his inefficiency and limits on the offensive end had him struggling to get minutes on a Celtics team that needed help up front last season. He has an okay midrange game but needs to get easy buckets at the rim again. He struggles defensively in space. However, if he plays to his strengths he could be a decent backup big.
7. Gerald Green. He played decently in inconsistent minutes last season in Boston, but was left in the cold as the Celtics revamped their roster this summer. He is respectable from three (35.1 percent last season) and can play decent defense, plus is a joking veteran presence in the locker room. Oh, and he likes hot chocolate.
8. Matt Barnes. The Warriors brought in Barnes (after a buyout in Sacramento) last season to provide some stability after Kevin Durant‘s knee injury, and he did that for 20+ games. He plays hard, defends, and shot 33 percent from three. In a limited wing or small-ball four off the bench role, he can give a team solid minutes. How much does he have in the tank at age 37?
9. Trey Burke. He’s a score-first point guard who hasn’t made great decisions on when to shoot and when to set up teammates. He didn’t finish well around the rim last season, but on the nights he shot well he put up points (he had two 27 point games in Washington last season). However, on nights he didn’t he hurt the team, and there were more of those nights. Burke struggles to defend at an NBA level. The Wizards brought in Brandon Jennings last season as they decided Utah was right in cutting Burke out. The Knicks and Timberwolves have taken a look at Burke.
10. Anthony Morrow. If he can find his stroke again and get back to being a dangerous spot-up three point shooter he can help teams — he’s a career 41.7 percent shooter from three but hit just 30.8 percent last season. He was a throw-in on the Taj Gibson — Doug McDermott trade and went from OKC to Chicago, but never found a rhythm there. He’s not much of a defender, he has to knock down threes to help a team.