With the NBA lockout apparently over as of a few hours ago, we better start preparing for the upcoming season… and fast. Training camps and the free agent period are both pencilled in to start in just two weeks – on December 9th. Expect a Black Friday-esque feeding frenzy on that day, as teams snatch up available players. But which players are worth spending money on this season? Not very many.
Here are the top 10 available 2011 NBA free agents.
(list will be updated as players get signed; restricted free agents marked with a R beside their name; players who signed overseas deals without an opt out clause not included)
updated Dec 15th
1) Marc Gasol (R) – re-signed with Memphis
One of the best big men in the NBA (and still only 26-years-old), Marc Gasol is one of the main reasons that the Memphis Grizzlies are actually a legitimate NBA threat nowadays. While the Griz have vowed to keep him, can they afford to with $130 million still owing to Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay over the next four years?
2) Tyson Chandler – sign & trade to New York
While it is true that the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title almost soley due to Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler‘s contributions shouldn’t be overlooked. One of the NBA best defenders, Chandler gave the Mavericks the defensive teeth that all championship teams need. It would be a shock if Dallas doesn’t resign him.
3) Nene Hilario – re-signed with Denver
With his injuries and cancer scare hopefully in his rear view mirror, Nene could be a great pickup for a team in need of a quality big man. And he’s not even 30-years-old yet.
4) Greg Oden (R) – re-signed with Portland
Laugh all you want about Greg Oden‘s inclusion so high on this list, but signing the big man with the permanent black cloud over his head could have its benefits. He’s only 23-years-old and averaged 9.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 1.4 bpg over the first 82 games of his career (the catch, of course, is that it has taken him four years to play those 82 games). For the right price, he could be the steal of this free agent class.
5) Caron Butler – signed with Clippers
Extremely versatile forward who can help a team in a number of ways. The big question mark is his health, after a knee injury forced him to sit out most of last season.
6) David West – signed with Indiana
He is 31-years-old and tore his ACL in March, but David West is a low maintenance, two-time NBA All-Star that is normally good for 19 points and eight boards a game.
7) Tayshaun Prince – re-signed with Detroit
A superb defender, a stat-sheet stuffer and extremely durable (despite his frail frame).
8) J.J. Barea – signed with Minnesota
A fearless sparkplug that helped spur the Mavs to last season’s title. He’s probably best suited as a backup, energy guy off the bench but no doubt some team will overpay him based on his play last June.
Given significant minutes for the first time in his career, Kris Humphries averaged a double-double for New Jersey last season. We’ll let you insert your own Kardashian joke here.
10) Andrei Kirilenko
He’s currently playing in Russia but has an opt out clause in his contract. Still a great defender and versatile player.
Next in line:
Shane Battier – signed with Miami
Nick Young (R)
Grant Hill – re-signed with Phoenix
DeAndre Jordan (R) – re-signed with Clippers
Rodney Stuckey – re-signed with Detroit
Jeff Green (R) - re-signed with Boston
Jamal Crawford – signed with Portland
Thaddeus Young – re-signed with Philadelphia
Chuck Hayes – signed with Sacramento
Marcus Thornton (R) - re-signed with Sacramento
Mike Dunleavy - signed with Milwaukee
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (R) - re-signed Milwaukee