21. DeJuan Blair (Power Forward, San Antonio Spurs)
Blair has been a good solider in San Antonio since he entered the league way back in 2009. He may not have any ACLs, but he makes up for it with effort and heart. At just 24 years old, Blair is the type of rugged player that coaches love and opponents hate. His career per-36 minute averages of 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds are no aberration, and we certainly think he will accomplish those numbers if given consistent minutes. And if his knees hold up. JULY 14 UPDATE — The Washington Wizards are said to covet Blair and may want to engage the Spurs in a sign-and-trade deal.
22. Byron Mullens (Center, Charlotte Bobcats)
Mullens seemed to take a bit of a leap in his third season, but he still found himself as an unrestricted free agent despite averaging 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game for Charlotte. The Bobcats did not extend him a qualifying offer and the Los Angeles Lakers registered their interest back on July 1. Mullens is hoping for a decent payday, but that would surprise us. In 53 games last season, he had eight double-doubles. We tend to think with the right prodding and minutes, he may be worth a flyer. Can shoot 3s better many NBA centers.
For the New York Knicks, Kenyon Martin was Birdman light. His per-36 minute averages of 10.8 points and 7.9 rebounds paid huge dividends. Still can’t shoot a lick, but like Elton Brand, still has something left. His athleticism is still off the charts for a 35-year old, and he is as tough and nasty as they come. Knicks are still chasing, but do not have much in terms of money to offer Martin, who may be signing the final contract of his NBA career this offseason. JULY 10 UPDATE — The Knicks may come crawling back to K-Mart if they have truly lost out on Elton Brand. JULY 14 UPDATE — The Knicks are said to be carefully considering whether or not to offer Martin the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception ($1.75 million) to return to the team. It is not known whether Martin would be amenable to a return at that number, but there are no reports of him receiving other interest on the open market.
After one season with the Celtics and one with the Cavs, has spent the past two years in Turkey and is coming off a very strong season. During the EuroLeague playoffs, he led all players in fouls drawn and offensive rebounds. There was a time not so long ago when he was considered a better prospect than countryman Omer Asik, who has blossomed with the Rockets. Big will always be in demand in the NBA, so we are keeping a close eye on him.
Once known as “Curly” when he plied his trade in East Rutherford as a member of the New Jersey Nets, he remains an NBA talent – but also a guy who stands to make more money in Europe than in the United States, where he would be a better-than-decent 15-20 minute backup center. Could see him signing in Brooklyn, where his talents are appreciated by Jason Kidd and Lawrence Frank.
Chauncey Billups (Point Guard, Los Angeles Clippers): Can’t count out Mr. Big Shot — ever. Returns to the scene of his greatest days by inking a two-year, $5 million deal with the Detroit Pistons. The second year is a team option.
Antawn Jamison (Power Forward, Los Angeles Lakers): Can still hit the occasional 3-point shot, and still a better than advertised rebounder for his size.
Corey Maggette (Small Forward, Detroit Pistons): Only one year removed from averaging 15 points per game as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats. A scorer, but never a winner.
Jason Maxiell (Power Forward, Detroit Pistons): A bonafide bruiser and great finisher around the rim, Brandon Bass light. (Celtics fans cringe).
Leandro Barbosa (Point Guard, Washington Wizards): Injuries have derailed his career somewhat, but at just 30 years old, may be worth the risk. Plans to play for Brazil at the Tournament of the Americas, so will likely remain unsigned well into September.
Moke Hamilton is a Senior NBA Columnist for SheridanHoops.com, covering the NBA’s free agency period. Follow him on Twitter: @MokeHamilton