It’s amazing what a guy can do with a Thursday morning and a complete list of NBA free agents.
This week’s sign of the apocalypse: Spurs G/F Richard Jefferson opted out of the final year of his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent/crazy man. RJ was scheduled to make $15 million in 2011. The only way he’s getting that much on the open market is if he sells himself for organs.
No worries, Casualtists. We haven’t all lost our heads in the midst LeBron-a-Palooza. In fact, I just pieced together the eighth best team in the Eastern Conference out of Joel Przybillas and duct tape. Think of the following list as both my official bid to replace Minnesota’s David Kahn (“KAAAAAAAAAAAHN!!”) and the New Jersey Nets’ contingency plan should Russian Cuban whiff on LeBron. Which he will.
Each of the players on the 2010 Scrap Heap All Stars is an unrestricted free agent. I realize they don’t look like much when stacked against LeBron/Wade/Bosh, but they’re going a hell of lot further than last year’s Clips, Nets or Knicks – all teams with loads of dough to spend and apparently no one to spend it on. Plus, I think they’re only a viable trade away from undeniable respectability. We’ll get there in a second.
StartersBrendan Haywood, C 2009-10 Salary: $6 million Age: 30
Let’s kick this thing off with a bang! Ok, not so much. But he gave you 10 pts, 10 boards, 2 blocks and shot 62% from the field in 67 games as a starter last year. Heywood’s got the ugliest jump hook you’ve ever seen, but he’s usually the biggest guy on the court and has a mean streak about him to boot.Matt Barnes, F 2009-10 Salary: $1.6 million Age: 30
If you’d stuck his personality in Dwight Howard’s body, last year’s Magic go all the way. He’s a gritty defender who can guard your best scorer, a deep threat, and a high percentage mid-range player. Basically Ron Artest without the crazy eyes.Mike Miller, G/F 2009-10 Salary: $9.8 million Age: 30
Yeah, a little pricey for me, too, but he’s not pocketing $10 mill this year… Miller usually scores the basketball for sucky teams. Let’s put him on a non-sucky team and see what happens. Last year’s numbers – 50% FG, 48% 3FG – inspire a WTF? double-take.Ronnie Brewer, G 2009-10 Salary: $2.7 million Age: 25 A 6’7″ two-guard who jumps out of the gym, plays hard-nosed D and was a pivotal piece on good Jazz teams. You want him to shoot, too? You’re pushing it.
Raymond Felton, G 2009-10 Salary: $5.5 million Age: 25
A worldbeater by no means, but he’s been the same solid distributor and viable third banana since he entered the league. Always willing to take the big shot, too. Could be Derek Fisher in another life.
J.J. Barea, G 2009-10 Salary: $1.7 million Age: 25
Ballsy and the definition of “spark plug.” He’s a two guard in Gary Coleman’s body, but compensates by busting his ass on both ends. A defensive liability against anybody taller than AI… still, did you see him in the San Antonio series?Travis Outlaw, G/F 2009-10 Salary: $3.6 million Age: 25
Was the sixth man on a good young team in Portland. A lanky scorer (6’9″) who can be your no. 1 option coming off the bench, Outlaw’s got talent for days, but still hasn’t found the right situation… unless you count “buried behind Brandon Roy/Eric Gordon” as the right situation.Joel Przybilla, C 2009-10 Salary: $6.9 million Age: 30
Love this guy – a legit 7-footer with a wide body, a rebounder and competent with the ball in his hands. Like Barnes, he’s always mixing it up with someone who’s bigger and better. Was Portland’s best center a year ago even with a healthy Oden.Kyle Korver, G/F 2009-10 Salary: $5.1 million Age: 29
Can’t play a whiff of defense, but will fill it up from any spot on the court. He’s a little too pretty for my liking, but I guess years of Jerry Sloan tutelage offset his penchant for choosing crappy movie roles (or is that Ashton Kutcher?).Channing Frye, C/F 2009-10 Salary: $2.0 million Age: 27
A streaky shooter, but a guy that can create matchup problems with his height and ability to stretch the floor. He was the eighth man on a team that went to the Western Conference Finals. On this team, he’ll give you 10 high-energy minutes a night. Advantage: GM Hilson.Luke Ridnour, G 2009-10 Salary: $6.5 million Age: 29
Did he or did he not play 31 minutes a game for the ’04-’05 division title-winning Supersonics? And I’m not a Hollinger guy, but I imagine 10 points, 4 assists on 48% FG/90% FT in 21 minutes translates into a pretty solid PER. Ridnour was a crucial piece for last year’s surprise Bucks.
Alright, so we’ve spent $51.4 million on 11 guys, which leaves us an open roster spot and $5 mill in wiggle room to go out and land either Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Darren Collison, Al Jefferson, Kevin Love or – wait for it – Carmelo Anthony, all of whom are rumored to be on the trade market. Or we just stand pat and nab the eighth seed in the East.
You’re welcome, Donnie Walsh.