Well, here we are...one year away from the biggest, most important offseason in the history of the basketball universe. However, there are still free agents this offseason. These guys need a home. This year's crop is strongest at the forward positions, but still even isn't that great there. Good luck finding a decent center in free agency this year. The only guy who graces the top 25 list (see sidebar) is the Big Z, an aging jump shooter who got embarrased in the Eastern Conference Finals. This year's class is lacking of star power, but is full of bargains who can help put a team in title contention. Lets get started...
1. David Lee- Clearly a double-double machine for the Knicks last year. Still improving all aspects of his game. I don't think he will ever be a superstar, but he is an excellent guy in the post to eat up rebounds, and work guys down low. The Knicks have tendered him a qualifying offer, but Detroit and Portland are very interested
2. Steve Nash- Unless something changes, Nash will likely exercise his team option with the Suns. However, if he were to opt out, several teams would be interested, including the Knicks.
3. Ben Gordon- An undersized 2 guard, Ben Gordon may be the streakiest shooter in the League. He wasn't always given ample playing time in Chicago, but he has the propensity to score in bunches. Also, he has shown the ability to come through in crunch time. There aren't many teams looking for a 2 guard, but his possible suitors include Toronto, Detroit, Dallas, and the Bulls will also consider re-signing him. He is the best scorer of this class
4. Lamar Odom- Odom has earned himself a bunch of money and interest through the playoffs this year. He is a lanky SF who can do pretty much whatever he wants to on the court...assuming he wants to. The Lakers will likely resign both him and Trevor Ariza, but if they don't, Lamar may wind up in New Jersey and Toronto, as they both could use a player of his caliber at a wing spot
5. Jason Kidd- Despite his age, 36, Kidd is still an elite point guard. Remarkably, at his age he is still one of the top 5 guys most likely to get a triple double on any given night. He is an excellent rebounder for his size, and still is one of the best passers in the game, period. The Knicks have expressed strong interest so far. Mark Cuban may decide he still wants Kidd as well.
6. Charlie Villanueva- Essentially, this is a bigger, stronger version of Lamar Odom. Both guys run the floor well, are good shooters, and are mainly downgraded because they may not have a burning desire to play the game. The only reason Odom is higher on this list is because he proved himself in the playoffs. Villanueva hasn't had that chance. Cleveland has already expressed interest. Other good fits would be Detroit and Memphis. Milwaukee did not extend a qualifying offer due to insufficient funds
7. Hedo Turkoglu- With Vince Carter entering the Magic's picture, Hedo Turkoglu has chosen to opt out because the Magic will probably not be able to pay him what he desires. The playoffs stoked the fire for his suitors, as everybody was able to see what Hedo brings to the table, a veteran point forward who can knock down clutch shots...however, he is still somewhat of a defensive liability, as seen in the NBA Finals. Detroit and Portland are both interested
8. Ron Artest- Ron Ron has already stated that he would like to resign with the Rockets. Although he can get a little shot-happy at times, he is still an excellent defender, and a guy who can put up 15 points with great consistency. Other teams who might show interest are Portland and Toronto
9. Shawn Marion- Marion might be the most interesting free agent in this class. He has boatloads of talent, but people say he is stuck between positions and can only play in certain systems. I believe Marion is a SF, but people try to put him at the PF, which he does not enjoy. As far as the other criticism, Marion thrives in up-tempo systems like Mike D'Antoni's, but he can be a solid 3rd option on pretty much any team. In most other years, Marion would cost a ton of money, but I think he could be an excellent bargain for a team looking for some rebounding and versatility. The Raptors may resign him, but if the Hawks cannot resign Marvin Williams, they might take a look at Marion
10. Rasheed Wallace- As a fomer Pistons blogger, I know about the game of Rasheed Wallace. As a Pistons fan, I would rather see him leave, even if we only had to pay him 5 to 6 mil a year. Rasheed is one of the most physically gifted players in the league, but he simply chooses not to use these gifts, and ends up on the perimeter, putting up jumpshots. He would be best in the post, but he often avoids banging down low. Nonetheless, he is still a veteran who can provide consistent points and decent rebounding. The Cavaliers are his biggest suitors
54 minutes ago