Pivotal NBA Free Agents

Gem JeffersonSenior Analyst IJune 23, 2009

CLEVELAND - APRIL 18:  Anderson Varejao #17 of the Cleveland Cavaliers guards Rasheed Wallace (L) #30 of the Detroit Pistons during Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 18, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

There may not be a lot of major names in this year's free agent pool, but there are a few guys that can make a big impact for a team on the verge.

Rasheed Wallace

The cream of the Unrestricted Free Agent crop. No real introduction or explanation needed here. Former NBA Champion, one of the best offensive big men in the league, a solid post defenderWallace is perfect for a team a player or two away from a championship push. And with Detroit seemingly heading in a new direction, Wallace should be willing to play elsewhere.

Also, as an aging veteran, Wallace maybe willing to take less to get one more ring. I believe the ideal place for Wallace is Cleveland, but Boston could continue to build it's video game roster by adding yet another All-Star to the squad. Fantastic Four? I think so (at least if Rajon Rondo sticks around).

Ben Gordon

One of the best scorers in the league. A little undersized and will probably demand a little more money than his upside can back up. It's reported that Detroit will offer $11.5 million a year. If so, he should take it; it's undoubtedly the best deal he'll get.

If he's willing to take less I wouldn't mind seeing him as a San Antonio Spur, especially if Manu Ginobli remains the sixth man. Spurs have the contracts to move around if they have to.

Shawn Marion

If he's still the Matrix, he's definitely part three. On a strange decline, he needs to sign to a team that likes to run. And because he decided to hold out in a contract year, he'll be making considerably less than he made in his previous contract. But he can still help.

Wouldn't life be grand if he could just quietly go back to Phoenix and pretend the fallout never happned? Grant Hill and Stromile Swift are off the books, why not?

If he would take a one-year deal to prove himself, I would ship him to New Jersey. Yi Jianlian is not the answer they were looking for and Marion would give them a very crafty backcourt with Vince Carter and Devin Harris.

Marion can still play the four against given teams and when they want to go small and insert Bobby Simmons into the lineup. Brook Lopez, Marion, Harris, Carter, and Josh Boone if he continues to grow, will be a potent starting lineupgranted Marion returns to form.

Anthony Johnson

Huh? What? Yeah. AJ is a stud.

With the clutter at point guard in Orlando, the Magic may not want to match an offer if it's large enough to keep the backup. If anyone noticed during this year's playoffs, the Magic offense ran more efficiently with Johnson at the point than with Alston. In fact, I can almost guarantee the NBA Finals would've been much more competitive had Jameer Nelson not taken AJ's spot.

He's bigger, a better defender, and is better in the lane than Orlando's two guards, just older. He seems like San Antonio's kind of guy but they probably couldn't offer enough money that Orlando wouldn't be able to match.

But the team that NEEDS AJ would be the Hornets. They needed a backup PG all season long and if they can make the numbers work, they can steal AJ from Orlando; at least in a sign-and-trade.

Carlos Boozer

I don't like him. He's going to make more than he should. He's a good player, plays hard, gets numbers, but is not what you need from a PF on the defensive end.

I put him here because his numbers warrant it, but whoever signs him will be the same or worse than they were the year before and won't have the money to change their problems because they signed him to a contract no one will want.

Nicer guy than Zach Randolph, but about the same player. Similar stats, similar impact. Hopefully, Utah let's him go and Millsap gets the nod.

If we've learned anything from Carl Landry and Chuck Hayes' efforts in the playoffs, it's that the small PF's are back. Smile, Charles Barkley, smile. DeJuan Blair, you can smile, too.

Morris Almond

Never had a chance to shine, but the man can shoot. With the acquisition of Kyle Korver (great deal) he was made expendable.

He won't demand much from the market and will earn his way into an eight-man rotation somewhere. Depending on how the Magic feel about the JJ Redick project, Almond would make a good backup to Courtney Lee and his size at 6'6" will be a great addition in Cleveland. King James loves to kick it out after all.

Denver would like him too if they don't re-sign Dahntay Jones or replace him in the draft.

Mike Bibby

Hard to gague. He's a big name, but had a rough season; definitely not the dynamic PG he once was. Atlanta should resign him for about $8-10 a year for 2 to 3 years. I'm not sure that another team has the finances to take a chance on him.

Zaza Pachulia

Anderson Varejeo with better footwork. He can do somethings here and there, and would make any team happy. Spurs could use him; he's a profound upgrade over Fabricio Oberto (his first name is fun to sayFabricio...). Spurs LOVE the foreign players, and Duncan would appreciate the help up front, I'm sure.

Either San Antonio or he stays in the ATL. Spurs for the ring, Hawks for the money. Look for a sleeper to woo Pachulia to their team, probably not a winner though.

Jamal Crawford

Golden State Warriors head coach, Don Nelson, already politely asked Crawford to look for another team. Playing time will be tight and young guys are getting better.

Wow. At least Nelly had the class to let him know, and with that he should take his Early Termination option and test the market, unless he traded on draft day.

He's such a bonafide scorer but where does his game fit? A wee-bit undersized for the two-guard, a little too much of a scorer for the point, he needs to be surrounded by mature veterans that will compliment his game. He loves to take big shots and score from anywherewith proper veteran support, his game can go places.

I like...(drum roll please)... Dallas and Denver. Why? Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billupsespecially Billups. Billups was a similar player coming into the leaguenot really sure if he was a one or twovery talented, can shoot it from anywhere, and needed to be surrounded by good players to grow into his own.

If Crawford can pair up with a veteran PG (Phoenix with Nash as well), he can really play his game and learn how to play the point. Crawford is a nice passerdoesn't exercise it muchbut certainly has the vision and talent to facilitate an offense if need be.

Shaun Livingston

Someone will give him a chance, hopefully a veteran team. He has all the talent in the world and full recvery permitting, should make a decent addition to a team until he blossoms into a star.

6'7" PGs are incredibly hard to find (Penny Hardaway, Magic Johnson...), and his skillset warrants a chance, especially because he can't demand much money or a very long-term deal until he proves himself.

I like Cleveland to pick him up for $1 million a year or a mid-level exception. He would add some height and length to a very small backcourt.

Miami could use him tooMario Chalmers is the only sure bet in town. Many teams have solid PGs, but a good backup job shouldn't be impossible for him to find.


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