The madness of the NBA free agent period began on midnight Tuesday, with many teams focused on luring the top players available. This list, as you’re familiar by now, includes The Big Three in Miami (if they’re even available at all, LeBron has yet to commit to any meetings with interested suitors) and Carmelo Anthony, while everyone keeps tabs on whether the Timberwolves will really do anything about Kevin Love’s trade request.
There are half a dozen teams fawning over the same couple of guys so someone’s going to get caught overreaching for a star. Once the top players commit to contracts, those teams will move onto the secondary market and there’s a lot of value to be had. We took a look at 10 players from this secondary market who could be great pick-ups.
10. Marvin Williams
For many people, Marvin Williams will always be the guy who the Atlanta Hawks drafted ahead of Chris Paul—fair considering the nondescript career Williams has had.
Williams will never be a star, and perhaps shouldn’t even be a starter if you’re looking to contend. But for teams looking for a wingman to fill 20 to 25 minutes per game (and average 9.1 points and 3.8 rebounds) especially if there are financial constraints that restrict teams to just the mid-level exception or less, Williams would be a decent pick-up. Which is why it should be no surprise to hear Pat Riley and the Miami Heat expressing interest, though the Jazz are expected to make a decent offer for the unrestricted free agent.
9. Rodney Stuckey
There are so many great point guards in the league that it’s easy to forget about the second-tier ones. One its members would be Rodney Stuckey, who has spent his entire seven-year career in Detroit, putting up unspectacular but consistent numbers.
Stuckey is by no means a game-changing signing, and there is a long list of point guards you’d prefer to guide your team before you get to him (like Jodie Meeks). But as a combo guard he offers a lot of potential value as a scoring threat who could fit in alongside established players. Stuckey’s last deal had him at $8.5 million per so he could be a valid post-Lance option for the budget-conscious Pacers or the Orlando Magic.
8. Mike Miller
After appearing in 59 games with the Miami Heat a season ago, Mike Miller was amnestied by the champions in a move that was both for luxury tax purposes and an indictment of what the Heat felt Miller had left in the tank (read: not much). But Miller quietly put together a very solid comeback season last year with the Memphis Grizzlies. In 20.8 minutes of play, he averaged 7.1 points. But he was an efficient scorer in his time on the floor, shooting 48.1 percent from the field, and an astounding 45.9 percent from three.
Miller is 34 years-old, and has had a long history of injuries, but if there are few better options on the open market if you’re looking for a veteran with championship experience who can knock down shots, coming off the bench.3 of 10
7. Channing Frye
Channing Frye missed the entire 2012-13 season because of a heart condition, but returned last year and picked up right where he left off, starting all 82 games while serving as a consistent cog in the Phoenix Suns’ starting lineup with 11.1 points and 37.0 percent shooting from three. Frye is a big man who can stretch the floor and is still relatively young at 31 years old. You can never have enough shooting on your team, and Frye can most definitely help in that department.
He opted out of a player option at $6.8 million but the Suns are likely to make a competitive offer once their done wooing the Melo-LeBron tandem.4 of 10
6. Shawn Marion
When you think of Shawn Marion, there’s really no one discernible skill that stands out at you. He just does everything really well. This type of above-average, across the board skill set is perfect for any contender looking to round out their roster.
Marion is an efficient scorer around the basket, you don’t need to run plays for him, he’ll rebound and guard the other team’s best player on the defensive end if needed—a jack of all trades player. Marion is near the end of his career, so he will not command a huge salary. As long as you’re not expecting him to be a primary scorer on your team, he will be a huge addition for anyone.
5. Spencer Hawes
Like Channing Frye, Hawes is a floor-stretching big who’ll draw interest for his role in the pick-and-pop. Splitting the season with Philadelphia and Cleveland last year, Hawes made a career high 128 three-pointers and did so with relative efficient ease, shooting the long ball at 41.6%.
He’s only 26 years old and will not command an eight figure salary like some of the other big men out there. For a relatively discounted price, (ok, not that discounted) Hawes could end up being a very sneaky pick-up for a contender.6 of 10
4. Patrick Patterson
Patrick Patterson is still just 25 and he hasn’t done anything to stand out during his four-year career, which is why it’s unlikely he can command more than say $5-7 million per season on the open market. But there’s a lot to like here, especially in the role he played for the Toronto Raptors last season after a trade from Sacramento.
Patterson can shoot the three, is athletic and strong enough to guard both the three and four position, and his versatility makes him easy to slot into five-man units depending on if your team wants to play small or big. He’s received a qualifying offer from the Raps at ($4.3 mil per) so they could be keeping a bargain player or another squad could jump in and get post depth for the low.7 of 10
3. Shaun Livingston
Livingston is off the market as of yesterday, having committed to a three-year deal worth $16 million with the Golden State Warriors. We’re still going to include him here because this is a terrific signing by the Warriors and fills their need for a back-up guard behind Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, a position they had trouble filling last year after letting Jarrett Jack go in free agency.
Livingston revived his career with Brooklyn this year, where he started 54 games and was one of the main reasons why the Nets were able to survive a 10-21 start and a season-ending injury to center Brook Lopez to still make the playoffs. He averaged 8.3 points and 3.2 assists on 48.3 percent shooting in 26.0 minutes of play per game, and should help solidify the second unit of the Warriors as they look to take the next step in the Western Conference.8 of 10
2. Vince Carter
When you think about Vince Carter’s career, it is amazing how he has been one of the few superstars who found a way to transition themselves into a reliable role player late in their career. Carter has been one of the best sixth man in the game the past few seasons for the Mavericks, helping the Mavs from losing any momentum on the offensive end when Dirk Nowitzki isn’t on the floor. Carter has averaged double digits in scoring in all 16 seasons of his career, including 11.9 points and 39.4 percent from downtown last season.
Add to that, he’s a low-maintenance player with the ability to provide another veteran voice in any team’s locker room, and you can see why teams can benefit from adding 37 year-old Carter.
1. Pau Gasol
It’s strange to see Pau Gasol on a list of secondary players considering how he still quietly averaged 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks last year while the Lakers had their worst season since moving to Los Angeles. If anything, Gasol has been lost in the shuffle during the mess that’s been the Lakers the past two seasons. He did not click with Mike D’Antoni, and at one point was coming off the bench in favor of Earl Clark. Seriously, this was a thing that happened.
But now that he’s free to choose his next destination, Gasol, who is still just 33, can most definitely help a lot of teams. He’s had an up-and-down relationship with Kobe his whole career, and if Gasol wants to win now, teams like the Heat or the Spurs may be more appealing to him, even if it means taking a pay cut. Someone’s going to sign Gasol at a discount, and it would not be surprising to see him rebound with a monster season next year.10 of 10