The Free Agency Scrapheap

We are down to the bargain bin of free agency.

Reduced for clearance! Everything must go! Up to 90 percent off!

Yes, we know Mickael Pietrus and Derek Fisher aren’t exactly scrap heap material. Both were key players for playoff teams last season, as were Leandro Barbosa and Kenyon Martin.

But most of what is left falls into three categories: Olympians, amnesty victims and veterans too proud to take minimum deals.

There is some variety remaining at both forward spots and shooting guard but little left at center and the point.

Here’s a positional look at the 20 best available free agents.

SMALL FORWARD

MICKAEL PIETRUS: Became a victim of a money game in Boston, which is strange given that the Celtics still don’t have a true backup for Paul Pierce. Agent Bill McCandless has said Pietrus won’t play for the minimum, which may mean he is headed overseas.

JOSH HOWARD: Can still have an impact off the bench as a slasher and defender. Once a borderline knucklehead, his experience could help a young team in need of a veteran presence.

MATT BARNES: The irony here is that last season, Barnes was the best of an awful group of Lakers small forwards that included Metta World Peace, Devin Ebanks, Luke Walton and Jason Kapono. Now he is unemployed and apparently being stalked by cops. Hard to imagine his toughness and experience not being valued by any team.

ANTHONY TOLLIVER: Like Pietrus in Boston, one of the odd men out in Minnesota. There is some interest from Washington, Charlotte and Indiana, as there should be for an athletic 27-year-old combo forward with arc range.

MARTELL WEBSTER: Since he was waived by Minnesota, there has been virtually no buzz around him. That’s strange, given that he is still just 25 with good size and athleticism. Maybe it’s his haircut, one of the worst in the NBA in some time.

ALONZO GEE: Did not sign a $2.7 million qualifying offer from Cleveland, looking for a better offer that never came and never will. If he returns to the Cavaliers, he will now have to battle C.J. Miles for minutes.

TERRENCE WILLIAMS: Could be the steal of free agency – or a huge headache. When given minutes, has shown awesome skills for the 3-spot. Has also shown himself to be a clown and doesn’t seem to be in Sacramento’s plans. He needs to land where he can play rather than just deepening a bench.

POWER FORWARD

KENYON MARTIN: Still available because he wanted more than a minimum deal, based on his defense, toughness and 100 career playoff games. But he is 34 and has had two microfracture surgeries. Philadelphia, Phoenix and the LA Lakers all could use his snarl.

ANDRAY BLATCHE: Undoubtedly the most talented player with the biggest upside on this list. Also has the most work to do in rebuilding his wrecked reputation, which has him on the verge of being out of the league at age 25. Amnesty victim has $25 million coming over the next three years, so he should pick a place that will afford him minutes and the right surroundings. San Antonio has been mentioned and would be ideal.

LOUIS AMUNDSON: Always seems to be overmatched but always finds a way to contribute. Still not yet 30 and would be an ideal fourth or fifth big on any roster. He may be holding out for the mini-midlevel exception with a contender.

YI JIANLIAN: Could a 7-foot stretch-4 really be done at age 24? He averaged 15 points and 10 boards in group play in the Olympics, not a bad audition after sinking to the end of the bench in Dallas last season. If he returned to China, he would instantly become the league’s biggest homegrown star. But he wants to play in the NBA.

D.J. WHITE: His 36-minute numbers last season (12.9 points, 6.9 rebounds) were not bad. The question remains can he do it with a team other than Charlotte, which had no interest in bringing him back. Also may be hoping for a mini-midlevel deal somewhere.

CENTER

DARKO MILICIC: He has $7 million due over the next two years as part of his amnesty release. Given his size and age (27), he can be a little picky regarding minimum deals. Would be a good fit for any team with a defensive-minded starting center because he can put the ball in the hole a little.

JERMAINE O’NEAL: His experience makes him a nice addition who can back up the center and power forward spots. It is hard to believe he is just 33 because he has looked 43 at times over the last couple of years. He claims to be healthy now, but still no one is biting.

CHRIS ANDERSEN: Apparently not looking for more than the veteran’s minimum; with $9 milion due via amnesty over the next two years, that seems like smart way to continue his career. However, he also has some legal issues hanging over his head.

SHOOTING GUARD

LEANDRO BARBOSA: Led Brazil in scoring at 15 points per game through Olympic group play and probably will have plenty of offers as long as he emerges healthy, which has been an issue in the past. The Lakers and Cavaliers are said to be interested, with LA offering a chance at a title and the Cavs able to offer more money and minutes.

CARLOS DELFINO: Has always had an inflated opinion of himself, so it’s not surprising he is unsigned, especially considering he is still playing in the Olympics. Undersized for small forward and not quick enough for shooting guard but could back up both positions.

MICHAEL REDD: Nowhere near the player he was in his prime but still a dead-eye shooter who bounced back a bit last season in Phoenix. Was that due to the awesome work by the training staff of the Suns? His agent says he is taking his time picking a team, but his name has been quiet this summer.

LESTER HUDSON: Averaged nearly 13 points in 13 games with Cleveland – which let his second 10-day deal expire. Then Memphis signed him – and did not make a qualifying offer. Already 28, he is worth a one-year deal as a fifth or sixth guard.

POINT GUARD

DEREK FISHER: If he wasn’t so steadfast in wanting more than the veteran’s minimum, he would have been snapped up long ago. Even though he turns 38 this month, his postseason with the Thunder showed he has plenty left in the tank both on and off the court. Might still get an exception from a contender.

JANNERO PARGO: Not really a point guard but can handle the ball for brief stretches. Those who consider him a journeyman should note that he has played 40 playoff games – and averaged double figures in two postseasons. He has no fear of taking a big shot.

Chris Bernucca is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops.com. During the season, his columns appear Wednesday and Sunday. You can follow him on Twitter.

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  1. C-money says

    One more player to add to the list — combo forward James Singleton has greatly improved his outside shooting as he demonstrated in a stint with the Wizards last year. Add that to willingness to bang and go after boards and he’s a bargain.

  2. jbrett says

    JOSH CHILDRESS is basically free for the taking, and he isn’t even on your list. If Atlanta hadn’t played chicken with him four years ago, they might have gone to the NBA Finals–and Childress would be a star. He doesn’t hoist enough ill-advised shots to meet the definition of a SG (Kobe, Crawford, Nick Young, etc.), but he outrebounds them all, and plays efficiently–the advanced stats community loves him. Phoenix is on the hook for everything but the minimum for two years; how is he still out there? I’ve been a Laker fan since 1968, but wherever JChillin plays this year is my new favorite team.

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