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NBA Sunday: Which Free Agents Are Still Available?

A position-by-position look at the NBA free agents who are still on the market after a month and a half. Some of the names will surprise you.

Alex Kennedy

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Which Free Agents Are Still Available?

This summer’s free agency period has been incredibly entertaining. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the class of 2014 entering this NBA offseason, and the group did not disappoint over the last month and a half.

LeBron James, Pau Gasol, Chandler Parsons, Luol Deng, Lance Stephenson, Trevor Ariza, Paul Pierce, Isaiah Thomas, Carlos Boozer, Vince Carter and many other notable players changed teams. Meanwhile, stars like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Kyle Lowry weighed their options and ultimately inked contracts to remain with their respective franchises.

While many of the big free agency dominoes have already fallen, there’s still plenty of time remaining for teams to make moves. After all, it’s only mid-August and there are still many players left in the free-agent pool.

It’s not uncommon for a player to be on the market longer than expected, but then go on to become a significant contributor during the season. Sure, some of these players have baggage, some are past their prime and some have dealt with injuries. However, these late acquisitions can sometimes be steals.

In recent years, players like Matt Barnes, Chris Andersen, Andray Blatche and Kenyon Martin were scooped up late in free agency. They each signed a very reasonable contract and then surprised everyone when they became a key difference maker for a playoff team.

Some players get impatient and decide to travel abroad rather than wait for an NBA offer. In recent weeks, players like Metta World Peace, Al Harrington, Byron Mullens and MarShon Brooks among others have decided to sign with overseas teams. Players who have NBA experience, especially individuals who are well known, can make good money overseas even in the twilight of their career. Don’t be surprised to see more players sign deals with international teams in the coming weeks.

However, there are still a number of players waiting for that call from an NBA team. Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the remaining free agents:

POINT GUARDS: Eric Bledsoe, Ramon Sessions, Jordan Crawford, Chauncey Billups, Toney Douglas, Bo McCalebb, Toure Murry, Julyan Stone, Malcolm Lee, Earl Watson, A.J. Price, Daniel Gibson, Jamaal Tinsley, Mike James, Scott Machado, Rodrigue Beaubois, Delonte West, Acie Law, Bobby Brown, Terrence Joyner

SHOOTING GUARDS: Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Shannon Brown, Doron Lamb, Mickael Pietrus, Dahntay Jones, Roger Mason Jr., Jared Cunningham, Othyus Jeffers, Terrence Williams, DeShawn Stevenson, Dominique Jones, Kim English, Kevin Murphy, Darius Johnson-Odom, DeAndre Liggins, Xavier Silas

SMALL FORWARDS: Michael Beasley, Hedo Turkoglu, Francisco Garcia, Rashard Lewis, John Salmons, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Ronnie Brewer, Donte Greene, Chris Singleton, Rasual Butler, Josh Howard, Stephen Jackson, Damion James, Adonis Thomas, Ryan Gomes

POWER FORWARDS: Greg Monroe, Andray Blatche, Elton Brand, Kenyon Martin, Charlie Villanueva, Dante Cunningham, Earl Clark, Ekpe Udoh, Antawn Jamison, Lou Amundson, Tyrus Thomas, Willie Reed, Royce White, D.J. White, Lamar Odom, Hakim Warrick

CENTERS: Jermaine O’Neal, Emeka Okafor, Andrew Bynum, Gustavo Ayon, Ryan Hollins, Greg Oden, Greg Stiemsma, Nazr Mohammed, Aron Baynes, Bernard James, Marcus Camby, Jason Collins, Josh Harrellson, Andris Biedrins, Kyrylo Fesenko, Dexter Pittman, Earl Barron, Eddy Curry

Which guys do you want your favorite team to pursue? Which unsigned player surprises you the most? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Cavaliers Seriously Considering Chauncey Billups

The Cleveland Cavaliers have seriously considered signing Chauncey Billups and it seems he has a real shot at joining the team, according to reports. The Cavaliers are obviously looking to win now after adding LeBron James and Kevin Love this offseason, so it makes sense that they would want to bring in a veteran like Billups who can help their bench and provide leadership to their young core.

Billups, who is 37 years old and has been in the league for 17 seasons, reportedly met with Cavaliers brass last week to discuss a possible contract. Billups sat down with general manager David Griffin, head coach David Blatt and assistant coach Tyronn Lue (who is one of Billups’ close friends). No deal is imminent, but the two sides are talking. Cleveland has also been in contact with veteran free agents Shawn Marion and Ray Allen among others as they try to fill out their roster.

Billups became an unrestricted free agent this offseason when the Detroit Pistons decided not to pick up their $2.5 million team option on his contract. Billups has spent the summer training with Joe Abunassar at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. In an exclusive interview with Basketball Insiders earlier this summer, Billups made it clear that he would only continue his playing career if he could join a legitimate contender.

“It would take the right situation,” Billups told Basketball Insiders in early July. “I’m not going to play just to play. I have nothing left to prove and I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish playing basketball, so it would take the right situation for me to play.

“Of course, winning [is the biggest factor]. I’ve always considered myself to be a winner. I want to play for something; I don’t just want to play, I want to play to win. That’s the number one criteria – a team that has championship aspirations. And not just a team that’s saying it, but a team that could possibly do it. As far as my role on the team, I’m going to be 38 years old, so I’m not going to say I need to be a starter or I need to play this amount of minutes or anything. Those are things you kind of carve your way through as camp and the season go on. We would work our way through that and I certainly have no demands on that. I just know that with my health and what I can do, I’ll be able to carve my niche and help, that’s for sure.”

The Cavaliers definitely seem to qualify as a legit contender, since the trio of James, Love and Kyrie Irving gives them arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference.

In recent years, Billups has dealt with a number of injuries. He tore his left Achilles tendon in 2012 and had a knee injury that required a minor surgery last season. However, he’s completely healthy now and feeling better than he has in a long time. He says that his health isn’t a concern and he believes he’s capable of being a significant contributor, especially since he hasn’t played big minutes over the last two seasons and was really able to rest his body.

“The last time that I felt this good was before the Achilles injury, so it’s obviously been awhile,” Billups said. “I feel really good. I had a little knee issue last year, but I got that cleaned up. That was really bugging me for awhile, but that’s behind me now. I really haven’t played in awhile – two or three years – I haven’t played a lot and in my eyes that’s a positive because I feel fresh and I feel good. If I play, that’s fine. If I don’t, that’s fine too. I’m just glad that I feel really good. That’s the most important thing – my health and just feeling good.”

Billups has a championship ring from his time with the Pistons and he was the Finals MVP in 2004. He’s a four-time All-Star, who has averaged 15.2 points, 5.4 assists, 2.9 rebounds and a steal throughout the course of his career. Abunassar, who has trained Billups since he entered the league in 1997, says that the point guard looks better than he has in years.

“I think people talk about his leadership and everything off of the floor and what he does for a locker room, but I’ll tell you what, he can play and I think he can provide unbelievably good minutes at a high level for somebody,” Abunassar said of Billups. “I’ve been with him for his whole career so as I see all of these young guards and these new guards and then I watch him play for five minutes, I’m thinking, ‘My God, this is a whole ‘nother level.’ To put a guy like that on your roster when you’re trying to get over the hump, I think he provides a tremendous amount of help.”

If Billups doesn’t end up playing next season, he says that he’ll likely take a job broadcasting or working in an NBA front office. He has received coaching offers, but it’s not something that interests him at the moment.

“It’s either front office or TV,” Billups said when asked about his post-playing career. “I love broadcasting; I’ve done a little bit of it and I really, really enjoyed that. And if I stayed in the game, I always felt like my best role would be in a front office. I know a lot of people think of me and coaching, and I’m sure that I could coach and at some point probably be a pretty good coach, but we’ll just have to see. Every option is open.”

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team

Basketball Insiders

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Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.

“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”

Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN

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NBA PM: Patrick Beverley Set the Tone for Clippers in Season Opener

Patrick Beverley set the tone for the L.A. Clippers with his aggressive defense in their season opener.

Jesse Blancarte

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“The LA Clippers are going to the Western Conference Finals. Guaranteed.”

That bold statement was made by Charles Barkley during TNT’s coverage of last night’s matchup between the Lakers and Clippers.

While Barkley may have had his hot take canon primed and in mid-season form, that should not overshadow the fact that the Los Angeles Clippers put together a strong showing in their first regular season game since the departure of Chris Paul.

Blake Griffin logged 29 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and knocked down three of his six three-point attempts. Griffin was aggressive and showed no hesitation on his jumper, which seemed to open up lanes for him to drive to the basket (where he is most effective). DeAndre Jordan was fantastic as well, contributing 14 points, 24 rebounds, one assist and one steal.

While the Clippers lost some significant contributors from last season, including J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jamal Crawford, the team had some returning and new players show that they are capable of filling the void.

Milos Teodosic was just 2-9 from the field, but knocked down two three-pointers and looked comfortable and effective running the team’s offense. Danilo Gallinarni shot just 3-13 from the field but looked healthy and spry, displaying the kind of mobility that is necessary to play the small forward position. His ability to act as a secondary playmaker wasn’t on full display, but there were moments where it was apparent that he could be a big help in generating open looks for his teammates. Lou Williams also looked good in his Clippers debut, scoring in a variety of ways off the bench and contributing six assists as well. Wesley Johnson continues to look confident and aggressive, a continuation from his preseason performances, and is starting to knock down the open shots his teammates are creating for him (which has been a problem for him in the past).

While the Clippers looked solid in their opening act without Paul, it should be noted that the Lakers are a young team overall and their defense has been a major problem for the last few seasons. While the Lakers have added some promising young talent over the offseason, like most young teams, they are going to struggle to slow down veteran teams with potent offenses. It would be a mistake to think the Clippers can replicate this sort of offensive performance every night, especially against the better defensive teams in the league. However, perhaps the most promising part of the Clippers’ season debut was the fact that they seemed to feed off of and embrace the gritty demeanor and style of play that Patrick Beverley brings to the court each and every night.

Last night’s game was the NBA debut for rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who many predict will develop into a star player. Unfortunately for Ball, his opening night matchup came against Beverley, who earned a spot on the 2017 All-Defensive First Team. Beverley repeatedly guarded Ball past half court, pushed him around and did everything he could to throw him off of his game. He held Ball to three points, nine rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes of action.

Beverley, like every NBA player, has heard the hype and noise surrounding Ball and his future in the league (most of it from his outspoken father, LaVar).

“I just had to set the tone,” Beverley said. “I told him after the game that due to all the riffraff his dad brings, that he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him. I let him know that after the game. What a better way to start than spending 94 feet guarding him tonight — welcome the young guy to the NBA.”

Beverley is one of the more aggressive defenders in the NBA and is known for trying to get under the skin of his opponents, so Lonzo may not face this level of intensity in every game. But based on Beverley’s comments, it’s clear that he expects other players around the league to defend Lonzo aggressively as well.

Snoop Dogg, the rapper and passionate Lakers fan, summed up the issue for Ball arguably better than anyone else has so far.

“His father put him in the lion’s den with pork chop drawers on,” said Snoop.

For his part, Lonzo complimented Beverley on his aggressive defense.

“[Beverley] plays hard. He knows his job. He does it very well,” said Ball. “He gets under people’s skin and plays defense and does what he can to help his team win.”

Beverley set the tone for the Clippers, who looked crisp and confident throughout the game. Griffin’s three-point shot looks like it could finally be a reliable part of his offensive arsenal. Jordan was very active on the glass, pulling down 24 rebounds (possibly inspired in part by his commitment to donate $100 per rebound this season to help the effort to rebuild his hometown of Houston after the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey). The rest of the supporting cast played with the sort of cohesion and confidence that takes at least a few weeks into the season to develop. Again, the Clippers’ performance could have stemmed primarily from the Lakers’ shaky defense, but it was encouraging to see the team play with such force and confidence in the absence of Paul.

The Western Conference is extremely talented and deep, so it’s unlikely that the Clippers will make it to the Western Conference Finals as Barkley predicted. However, challenging for a spot in the playoffs and perhaps even doing some damage once there seems to be in the realm of possibility. This is especially the case considering how much of an impact Beverley had Thursday night, both defensively and in setting the tone for the rest of his new teammates.

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Morris Bringing Leadership To Celtics

Marcus Morris chats with Basketball Insiders for a one-on-one exclusive.

Spencer Davies

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Returning just one starter from last year’s top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics underwent wholesale changes this past offseason.

Gordon Hayward signed a super max contract. Danny Ainge pried Kyrie Irving away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a blockbuster deal. Jayson Tatum was selected with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft.

In early July, though, there was an under-the-radar trade executed that hasn’t been mentioned much. Surprisingly, Celtics guard Avery Bradley was sent to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris, a heady wing with size and versatility to add to a revamped core of players.

Bradley was a mainstay with the franchise for seven years and played a vital role as a part of Brad Stevens’ system, but Boston decided to move in a different direction. As for the man they got in return, he’s thrilled to be there.

“It makes me feel good,” Morris told Basketball Insiders of Ainge dealing one of his best former players for him. “It makes you feel wanted.

“This is my first time since I’ve been in the NBA I’ve been on a team with a bunch of guys that [are] All-Stars. With the maturity of the team being this high and having them high expectations on us, I’m excited to get the season going and see how far we can take this.”

The Detroit Pistons likely wanted to keep him, but the organization clearly felt Bradley’s skill set was too good to pass up. For Morris, he insisted there was no indication that his old team would send him away, but he hasn’t been bashful about talking up his new home.

“Had no idea that I was gonna be a Boston Celtic, but I’m ready for the challenge, you know?” Morris said. “I’m excited. Boston, being a Celtic—it’s something that growing up you don’t really see happening, but when it happens it’s an amazing thing.

“It’s like playing for the Patriots, you know what I mean? One of the most heralded teams and most heralded franchises, and Boston is one of those.”

Entering the seventh season of his career, Morris has remained a steady part of the league. During his time in Detroit, he started nearly every game for the Pistons and found a comfort zone that he believes will carry over in Boston.

“Just continue to be consistent, continue to build on my last past couple of years,” Morris said of his personal goals. “I really felt like I carved my spot in the NBA the last two years—averaging 14 a year and helping my team get to the playoffs one of those years, so I really think I’ve carved a niche in this league.”

The success has come thanks to his versatility and the NBA’s current direction pointing towards that type of game. All of a sudden, not having a defined position makes a player more valuable, something Morris is thankful for as he continues to bring a little bit of everything to the table.

“For guys like me, it’s great,” Morris said. “Coming into the league, I had this ‘tweener’ thing on my back and now it’s like [freaking] great to be a ‘tweener’ at this time. I’m actually happy that it’s switching to my position and guys that can do multiple things are being utilized more in this league.”

Putting the ball in the basket has come fairly easy for Morris, who averaged 14.1 points per game on 42.6 percent from the field over 159 games with Detroit. He’s able to stretch the floor and provide solid spacing offensively, and he envisions doing more than that for this Celtics group.

“And leadership,” Morris said. “I’m not too much of a vocal guy, but I’m a passionate guy on the court. I think that’ll rub off on guys. I love scoring. I love shooting the ball. But that’s not the only thing I do.

“I’ve been a tough defender around this league for the last past years and I’m really looking forward to hanging my hat on that again and just doing whatever it takes for my team to get to that next level.”

Stevens is aware of the impact Morris can bring in the locker room and on the floor. When he returns from a sore knee to make his debut for Boston, that’ll show through his play.

“He’s a guy that can stretch the floor at the four,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that can guard two through four. He’s tough. He’s smart. He works the right way. We’ll be better with Marcus Morris for sure. The versatility is a very important part of what we want to be.

“Whether he is starting in a couple of weeks or whether he’s coming off the bench, at the end of the day he’s gonna be a critical, critical part of our team.”

While he’s waited to come back, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have stepped up in his absence. With Hayward likely sidelined for the rest of the season, that success will have to be sustained. Morris is a big believer in this promising duo and sees how grounded they are to make that happen.

“They’re mature guys for their age,” Morris said. “Jaylen, I think he’s 20. He’s definitely a lot more mature than I thought. Jayson, too. He’s way more mature than your average 19-year-old.

“At the end of the day, it’s just basketball. I think those guys, they’re ready for the challenge. They love the game. They always in the gym, so I think it’ll be easy for ‘em.”

Part of Morris’ role is guiding those two and the other younger pieces that Boston has as they try and establish themselves as professionals. He’s kind of a coach per se, which is somewhat fitting considering what he did this summer.

Most basketball fans are aware of “The Basketball Tournament” that takes nationwide. For those that aren’t, it’s a single-elimination competition between 64 teams in which the champion receives a $2 million prize. Morris was the head coach of Team FOE—standing for Family Over Everything.

Along with his fellow Kansas alums, including his brother Markieff and Thomas Robinson, Morris coached his team to the final game. Team FOE was in front most of the game but ultimately fell to Boeheim’s Army, a squad filled with former Syracuse Orangemen.

“I was on my way man,” Morris said of coming close. “I actually liked it. I’m a smart guy. Me and basketball stuff, I can put it together real well. I was kinda upset we lost in the fashion that we lost, but we’ll be back next year.

“I’m a smart player,” he said regarding a potential future on the sidelines. “I know the game really well. Coaching comes easy for some guys and I’m just one of those guys.”

You could hear “Coach Morris” down the line, but for now and for years to come, Marcus is focused on his first year with Boston. It’s a team that surely has the talent to be the top team in the East it’s pegged to be. Stevens is a basketball savant with great leadership.

Even without an All-Star like Hayward and a 0-2 start, the Celtics should still be a force to be reckoned with. There’s an even greater demand for them to achieve their potential, especially knowing eyes will be on them, but Morris welcomes the challenge.

“Man, it’s pressure on every team,” Morris said. “It ain’t like it’s just all on the Boston Celtics. It’s pressure on every team. What’s a game without pressure anyway?

“Pressure makes it the best thing. That’s what we need to do anyway. I enjoy the pressure. Me personally.”

Shouldering the load won’t be easy, but if it comes down to it, Morris will be swimming instead of sinking. When all is said and done, he shares the same aspirations as most players do—raising the Larry O’Brien trophy in the summer.

“I want to the win the championship,” Morris said. “You put this type of team together to get to those positions. I’m looking to be playing in June and trying to get to a championship.”

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