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NBA PM: Hunting For Late Free Agency Bargains

Free agency has dried up, but the market still has some quality pieces that could help a franchise win.

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The splashy moves that received all of the headlines at the start of free agency are now long in the rearview mirror. But the small roster tweaks a front office executive makes leading up to the season can be just as important to a team’s title chase or locker room chemistry despite the lack of mainstream attention.

Although the market has dried up considerably, there are still productive names on the market waiting for their next deal. Let’s take a look at some of the more intriguing names still in play:

Shawn Marion (Unrestricted): Marion, a former All-Star, is a little long in the tooth these days but the veteran is still productive. The 36-year-old forward averaged 10.4 points on 48 percent shooting with the Dallas Mavericks last season in 76 appearances.

Marion is reportedly receiving interest from Indiana, reeling from the loss of All-Star forward Paul George, and Cleveland, which is looking to add more veteran bodies around four-time MVP LeBron James.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the lure of competing for another championship may be the deciding factor in Marion’s decision.

Ray Allen (Unrestricted): The 39-year-old future Hall of Fame guard maintains he has yet to make a decision about his long-term future. With two NBA titles already on the mantle all indications point toward Allen taking his time making a decision on his next career stop, if he decides to play at all.

Most of the speculation leans toward Allen signing in Cleveland to join former teammate LeBron James who signed with the Cavaliers in free agency this summer. Allen’s former teammates James Jones and Mike Miller have already committed to the Cavaliers next season.

“There’s so much speculation about me going to Cleveland,” Allen said according to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. “I haven’t even decided where I will play. Obviously LeBron and I are great friends, and James Jones and I are really close. But at no point have those two tried to push me in that direction. I haven’t had that conversation. LeBron and I went on vacation to the Bahamas earlier this summer, and we didn’t talk one iota about things. And that was before he made his decision.

“It’s just what they start talking about on TV — where I’m supposed to go. I have not leaned towards Cleveland. I have not made any mention of going to Cleveland. These last two months were about me physically, and deciding whether I want to play again.”

Allen averaged 9.6 points per game last season in Miami. It marked the first time in his 18 year career he failed to average double figures in scoring.

Eric Bledsoe (Restricted): Bledsoe is brimming with potential, but the dynamic guard also has injury concerns and is currently enduring a free agent market where the biggest players have already spent their cash earlier this summer.

The Phoenix Suns have a standing offer of four years and $48 million on the table for Bledsoe, but the guard and his camp believe he’s worth maximum-level money. Suns owner Robert Sarver believes his team’s offer is more than fair and doesn’t appear willing to outbid himself at this point.

“We think it’s a fair offer. I think you could argue, you know, I mean some would say it’s maybe a little high, some would say it’s low,” Sarver told the Burns & Gambo show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “What’s fair is important to us, and also important to him — him and his agent. It’s not necessarily us to determine what he thinks is fair; it’s him to determine that. … We think we gave him a fair offer, and [we would] be more than happy to sit down with him and continue to negotiate it. We’re happy to do that.”

Greg Monroe (Restricted): Talented big men, who are proven producers, come at a premium in today’s league so it is a bit shocking Monroe is still available in early August. But the Detroit Pistons hold the cards. The franchise can match any offer Monroe receives and the amount of teams with the amount of cap space needed to pry the forward away from Motown are far and few between.

Ramon Sessions (Unrestricted): Since the beginning of the 2012 campaign, Sessions has played with four different franchises moonlighting as a borderline starter throughout most of the journey. Sessions isn’t the sexiest name on the block but the guard hasn’t averaged less than 11.3 points in any season since 2010.

Charlotte and Chicago were reportedly interested in Sessions at the start of the free agency period. However, both teams have moved in different directions since those initial reports.

Elton Brand (Unrestricted): The aging former All-Star proved he could still be productive in the right situation last season with the Atlanta Hawks. Thrust into action because of a rash of frontcourt injuries, Brand averaged 8.1 points and 6.6 rebounds on 52 percent shooting in 15 games as a starter.  

Reportedly, the Hawks are still mulling the possibility of bringing the veteran back next season, while the New York Knicks expressed some exploratory interest in Brand very early in free agency.

Andray Blatche (Unrestricted): In terms of skill, Blatche possesses solid offensive talent. But unfortunately the veteran forward has yet to put it together consistently throughout his career. Blatche is now at a career crossroads. Will the 27-year-old be able to latch on with a team on a multi-year deal or is he headed to the journeyman scrapheap?

Early in free agency, the Toronto Raptors were rumored to be interested but have seemingly went in another direction. According to multiple reports, Blatche will work out for the Los Angeles Clippers this week. The Clippers are seeking to add additional depth on the interior.

Blatche averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 73 appearances with the Brooklyn Nets last season.

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

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