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NBA AM: Free Agents Headed For The Minimum

With free agency dollars drying up some veterans will be forced to take minimum level deals before training camp

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As Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler pointed out in this space on Monday, the money in this year’s free agency market is drying up fast. So while there are still teams remaining with the flexibility to offer lucrative deals, the longer free agency drags on the less incentive those franchises have to dig deep into their wallets.

Basic supply and demand principle at work.

With plenty of talented players still in the hunt for their next deal, franchises are in a strongly leveraged position to wait the process out rather than pay a premium to be the first bidder in the marketplace.

While restricted free agents Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe are the two most talented guys remaining and sure to get decent sized deals soon, there are plenty of other established guys who may be forced to take a minimum deal for next season.

Andray Blatche: Early reports suggested New Orleans and Toronto were potential landing spots for the talented big man, but almost a month into free agency there are no deals imminent for Blatche, who played with Brooklyn the past two seasons.

Shawn Marion: The veteran forward isn’t exactly hurting for coin with over $130 million in career earnings, but entering free agency there were reports Marion would be in high demand. Dallas hasn’t shut the door on a Marion return but the team allowed guard Vince Carter to bolt to Memphis in free agency this summer. Mavericks officials have publicly maintained they’re not financially able to offer Marion his true market value. So the waiting game is on to see if Marion’s agent can get him more money in the open market before a possible return to Dallas at a lesser cap figure.

Jordan Crawford: One thing is certain: If you have shots available in your lineup, Crawford isn’t afraid to hoist them up. But this is likely the reason Crawford is still trying to secure his next opportunity. At this point in the summer, teams already have their top half of the rotation filled and the rest of the offseason is about fine tuning. Early in free agency Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas and New York expressed exploratory interest but things, at least publicly, have slowed down considerably since then.

Michael Beasley: The forward headed to Miami last summer, which looked good on paper. A talented piece signing with the two-time defending champion HEAT to help add more offensive firepower, just seemed meant to be and a perfect fit. However, by season’s end Beasley was out of head coach Erik Spoelstra’s rotation completely.

Mo Williams: The former All-Star opted out of the final year of his deal in Portland in order to test free agency. Dallas has expressed exploratory interest in Williams, who has a residence in the area, but the team is also reportedly meeting with veteran guard Jameer Nelson this week.

Ramon Sessions: The seven-year veteran has been productive the last few seasons, but there hasn’t been a lot of activity around the league from teams pursuing his services for next season. Over the past three seasons, Sessions has played with four different franchises.

Ekpe Udoh: A top-10 pick in the 2010 draft, Udoh may never live up to his draft position, but he has been serviceable in spots throughout his career. Udoh struggled last season in Milwaukee after a slow start due partly to offseason knee surgery. The market is typically kind to young big men in free agency, but Udoh continues to play the waiting game for the moment.

Emeka Okafor: The veteran center missed all of last season with a neck injury, but in 2013 averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in 79 games for the Washington Wizards. Assuming the neck injury isn’t career ending, Okafor has been a productive body on the interior throughout his career.

MarShon Brooks: Three seasons in the league. Five different franchises . Brooks is seemingly on a path to journeyman status, but he has demonstrated the ability to score in bunches when minutes in the rotation are provided. But don’t expect a franchise to come offering a lucrative multi-year deal heading into training camp. Brooks is at a crossroads and will have to make the most out of his next opportunity. He played summer league with the Sacramento Kings to showcase his skills, an experience he discussed in yesterday’s NBA PM.

Francisco Garcia: As expected, the forward declined his $1.3 million option with Houston for next season and opted to become an unrestricted free agent. Early in the process Brooklyn, Houston, New Orleans and Utah expressed interest in the veteran swingman, but no agreement is imminent at this time.

Byron Mullens: After Mullens’ productive two-year stint in Charlotte, it appeared his career trajectory was rising. But after stops with the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers last season, Mullens has been unable to find his sweet spot – which is likely the reason he’ll have to take a minimum deal as free agency winds down.

Al-Farouq Aminu: The Dallas Mavericks reportedly expressed interest in Aminu early in free agency but those talks were just exploratory in nature. Aminu has proven to be a productive rebounder on the wing over the past two seasons, but questions on his offensive game have likely kept suitors from rolling the dice early in the process.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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