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:
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.”