With training camp only six weeks away, most of the league’s rosters are set, but many GM’s have a few spots open in the event that an a D-leaguer impresses or a low cost free agent pick-up becomes necessary. There isn’t much to choose from at this point, but there are still a few potential difference makers that remain unsigned. Here they are, in no particular order:
Position: Power Forward Last Team: Lakers
The word around the rumor mill is that the Clippers are interested, but are waiting to hear back from Lamar Odom first. I understand that Lamar has more upside, but really, Clippers? Antawn Jamison is a sure thing that can consistently knock down shots and spread the floor at the power forward position. He went on a few absolute tears last season, so any contender still looking for a shooting big should be all over him.
Position: Power Forward Last Team: Clippers
What happened to this guy? He was one of the league’s best all around players during the Lakers’ most recent championship runs, but hasn’t been the same ever since LA unsuccessfully tried to ship him off to New Orleans in the Chris Paul non-trade. However, given his unique skill set, you can’t blame teams for wanting to give him a shot to rediscover his game. He’s not expected to command much cap space and is a solid low risk high reward option.
Position: Small Forward Last Team: Spurs
It’s usually not a good sign when Greg Popovich thinks you’re beyond his help. Yes, Stephen Jackson is a confirmed head case, but he has shown in the past that in the right situation, he can be an effective scorer off the bench. At this point he’s most suited for a reserve role on a veteran team, and based solely on his skill, could definitely help out a few contenders.
Position: Power Forward Last Team: Knicks
As a Knicks fan, I’m a little biased on this one, but the fact remains that he is a valuable veteran presence despite his advancing age. On top of that, the locker room guru with an eye on coaching showed that when he needs to, he can step up and put the team on his back. In an away game at Utah, Thomas held Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to a combined 22 points, securing a Knicks’ win when it looked like their season may have been headed for disaster. Don’t be surprised to see him get picked up and contribute somewhere by season’s end.
Position: Shooting Guard Last Team: Mavericks (2012)
Delonte West is a bit of an outcast due to his off the court issues, but after taking a season off, I really think it’s time someone gave him a chance. The guy can flat out play basketball, and with the ability to play either the one or the two, is certainly worth the risk for a contender in need of guard depth.
Position: Shooting Guard Last Team: Bulls
Last season made it pretty clear that Rip is in the twilight of his career, and although he may not be a starter anymore, he is definitely a solid guy to have on the bench. His big game experience, combined with his ability to find a role within a larger framework makes him a solid option for a young team looking for veteran leadership.
Position: Power Forward Last Team: Hawks
Ivan Johnson actually played fairly well last season, averaging four boards and about seven points in fifteen minutes. He’s a bit of a throwback, enforcer type that would be a fantastic bargain for any team in need of front court help. I could easily see him being a difference maker for a contender come playoff time.
Position: Center Last Team: Suns
Not a starter by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s coming off an excellent performance in the FIBA Asia Championships (for what that’s worth), and may be the best remaining center on the market. He knows his role, can rebound, and is immensely physical. As far as backup centers go, you could do a lot worse.
Position: Point Guard Last Team: Raptors
Never panned out as the elite point guard many thought he’d be, but Telfair is still a valuable bench player that knows how to shoot and defend. He has yet to play for a contender, and it’d be interesting to see how he responded.
Position: Power Forward/Center Last Team: Pelicans
A young, tenacious defender that crashes the glass. Was in the running for D-League “Rookie of the Year” award last season thanks to averaging upwards of 16 points and eight rebounds. He hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he can do on an NBA level, but if a team takes him on as a development project, expect him to be a solid contributor sooner rather than later.