The big names signed on the dotted line – or in Deron Williams‘ case, on the iPad – weeks ago, and the pool of talent is pretty much completely dry. But for contending teams, and even those who are just in the market for a veteran to give them a few good minutes or a few good pre-game speeches, there are still a couple of names available. None of these guys will be making consistently key contributions for a contender, but they’re all still viable NBA players.
Yesterday, we saw Carl Landry go to the Warriors, and Nate Robinson is on the cusp of signing with Chicago. Brandon Rush is also expected to return to Golden State officially within the next day or two. The crop is thinning every day. Here are the 10 best players still without a team.
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10. JODIE MEEKS
Whereas Terrence Williams has twice the potential and three times the athletic ability, and Tracy McGrady has the name, Meeks is probably the better option than either of them at the moment. You never know what type of mood Williams will be in, as we saw recently at the Jamal Crawford Summer Pro-Am All-Star Game, and with T-Mac? He seems almost a novelty at this point, a player who could score eight points in garbage time, and have all of his fans talking about the glory days.
Meeks started 50 games in Philly last season, and is a knockdown shooter (career 37 percent from deep) who is still only 24 years old. Meeks told HOOPSWORLD he’s gotten interest from the Lakers, Bucks and Wizards, and he’d fit in with any of those teams. The Lakers need shooters to surround their stars… the Bucks live and die by playing small and launching triples… and the Wizards are doing all they can to provide a core that can work with John Wall.
9. IVAN JOHNSON
Ivan the Terrible first gained significance because last season, he rocked an in-game grill harder than anyone since B.G. But it didn’t take long for his play to gain headlines as well. With Atlanta, he saw time in 56 games, and finished with a 14.37 PER. In April, when he was finally given some significant minutes, the 28-year-old averaged a solid 10.7 points and 5.9 rebounds a night. The Hawks extended the man a qualifying offer at the beginning of July, but since then we’ve barely heard a peep about what’s going on with his status.
8. DEREK FISHER
The old man showed he wasn’t quite done in the playoffs last season with OKC. At worst, at least he didn’t curl up into the fetal position like Ramon Sessions did, the man he was replaced by. Fisher showed last season he’s at the point in his career where he won’t play for just anyone. Ask Houston.
Fisher is 37 years old, and had a PER last year (8.02) that was so small, I’m not surprised Daryl Morey traded for him and then immediately bought him out. Chicago was interested, as was Brooklyn. But I haven’t heard anything over the past few days.
7. MATT BARNES
Barnes went and got himself arrested recently on an outstanding traffic warrant, and THEN on top of that, he supposedly threatened a cop and resisted arrest. On the court, it’s cool to be a menace. Off of it though? When you’re fighting to stay in the NBA, and have a track record of not only creating problems with the law, but also of failing to latch on with any team? It’s not good at all. In fact, the Lakers have already decided they won’t be bringing Barnes back, opting instead for Devin Ebanks. No one else appears to be interested.
With that said, Barnes is probably the best defensive player still available, and any contender could use him against either LeBron/Wade in the East, or Durant in the West. It’ll be interesting to see who gets picked up first: Barnes or Mickael Pietrus. Very similar players, Barnes is a loose cannon while Pietrus is threatening to go to Europe if he doesn’t get something better than the vet minimum.
6. CARLOS DELFINO
While he’s out in London stroking triples for Argentina’s National Team, Delfino is still pretty pissed at Milwaukee for not bringing him back into the fold. The man never did become the next Manu Ginobili as so many “experts” guaranteed he would be back in the day. But he’s still a solid defensive player, and always seems to pull bombs out of his ass. He’s done it the last three seasons with the Bucks, shooting above 35 percent from deep every year while hitting a combined 325 three-pointers in just 178 games.
The Cavs are reportedly interested, as are a few other Eastern Conference playoff contenders. More than likely, Delfino won’t sign anywhere until his home country’s Olympic run is over.