If you consider the NBA playoffs the “second season” then the months following the playoffs that are filled with trades and free agency moves has to complete the NBA seasons trilogy. The rumors get overwhelming at times, especially when Chris Broussard starts referencing “sources” who are most likely imaginary friends. While the Orlando Magic search for a 47th team to include in their trade and Dwight Howard continues his strategic planning to look like the biggest ass in NBA history, the only thing we really know at this point is who the official free agents are heading into the 2012-13 season. Here in part five of The Sports Geeks look at NBA free agency, I’ll take a look at some available “swing” players (SG/SF) who are available that will be looking to re-up or change scenery soon.
He’s no longer a free agent since he decided to take his talents to south beach but he was one of the most sought after swing players heading into the offseason. He’s not the Ray of old, but he’s still a deadly shooter who can greatly help a team who can get him some open looks. Enter the Miami Heat who, unlike Boston, have a few guys who demand double teams which will give Allen some room to find his spots and play catch and shoot like Mike Miller and Shane Battier did last year. A look at this shooting graph helps to explain why Miami pursued him so hard.
With his Memphis roster spot soon to be filled by Jerryd Bayless, OJ Mayo is a young, versatile swing man who is getting lots of free agent attention. So far he hasn’t lived up to this USC hype, but he’s a guy who can create his own shot and is still young enough to live up to his potential. Teams in need of his services right now look to be the Pacers and the Suns, but the Timberwolves could join the mix if their offer to Batum gets matched by the Blazers.
A year ago Shannon Brown left the Lakers looking for what people assumed was a long term deal elsewhere that would result in more playing time. He ended up signing a one year contract with the Suns and played just 23 minutes per game. He’s likely not consistent enough (scoring or defensively) to be a starter on a contending team, but he could provide lots of energy and athleticism off the bench for a number of teams.
Another (potential) former Laker swingman is available this offseason and, like Brown, could fill the 6th man role for a number of teams. Barnes is a good rebounder and energetic defender who hasn’t been afraid to mix it up. At age 32, it will be interesting to see if Barnes will chase the biggest contract he can get or choose to remain in LA for likely less money but a chance to contend for a ring.
As is the trend with these free agents, Leandro Barbosa is another likely role player who would come off the bench for some scoring punch when given a favorable matchup. He can score in bunches and is willing to shoot (last year he took a shot once every two minutes he was on the court), but defensively he’s a liability. His age and limitations may not make or break a team, but one could certainly do worse when looking for a quick guard who can put up some points.
Pietrus is a big SF who would like to return to Boston next year, but Boston doesn’t sound as interested as he is. He has the size and talent to defend big, talented SG/SFs and has a decent outside shot so he isn’t just a one way player like some other available wing players. He’s coming off of another knee surgery and his next contract will likely hinge on the results of his rehab process.
Lee, a starter for Houston last year, is a young and improving player who will likely start for any team that signs him. He’s an athletic defender who, like Pietrus, is big enough to handle some of the larger wing players in the league. He also has a good 3 point shot (40% last season) and has shown some potential to be a scoring threat, especially in the transition game. Going into his fifth year, he’ll likely be looking for a contract with a few years on it. Considering he’s been on three different teams in four years some consistency may prove to be very beneficial for his game.