Despite the fact that we’re almost a quarter of the way through what’s left of a regular season, there are still some NBA caliber talents that are either unsigned, waiting for work, or in the NBA D-League, waiting for better work.
This list attempts to document some of those available NBA-caliber talents. As well as some who aren’t.
Gilbert Arenas — One of seven designated amnesty players this offseason, Hibachi is finally free from the monumental burden that was his monumental contract. Even then, however, no one seems to want him. As much as Gilbert has declined, he has never declined to the point that he is no longer an NBA talent. He is, however, seemingly not good enough any more to overcome his reputation.
Marcus Banks — After eight years and $40 million in the NBA, Banks never realized his potential beyond “sometimes useful defensive specialist.” That said, he still is that.
Earl Boykins — If you need someone to come in and take all of your fourth quarter shots, Earl might be your man. This is a particularly useful service if you are trying to lose.
Luther Head — Head has had a poor couple of years, struggling with both injuries and opportunity. A reported invite to training camp with the Bulls never materialized, and a much publicized trip to the D-League lasted all of two days. If healthy and available, Head provides solid small-guard defense and catch-and-shoot range, but they are increasingly big ifs.
Eddie House — Signed by the Heat to a guaranteed contract with a view to being a feared shooting specialist off the bench. Then cut by the Heat when it became apparent he hasn’t shot well enough to be a feared shooter for a couple of years now. There may still be a spark on the fire, but Eddie needs to chuck a log on it. (As well as not chuck.)
Allen Iverson — Should take the Antoine Walker route and join the D-League. And I base that on absolutely nothing.
Patrick Mills — By all accounts other than Xinjiang’s, Patrick Mills has been out with a hamstring injury. When healthy, he is one of the best available players on the cusp of the NBA. He is, however, still a restricted free agent of the Blazers.
Ronald Murray — Murray spent last year in Turkey, unable to find NBA work. With his athleticism and skills starting to fade, his inconsistent-but-explosive scoring ability now lacks for explosiveness. Nevertheless, he still has skills and experience.
Ish Smith — Cut twice by NBA teams already this year, Smith is too small and flawed to ever be a rotation caliber player. But his blistering speed and full court game can always be useful as a change of pace off the bench.
Ben Uzoh — Unconventional point guard with size, athleticism, defense and aggression, currently averaging a points and rebounds near-double double in the D-League. As long as you don’t need a spot-up shooter, Uzoh has something to offer.
Others: Will Conroy, Zabian Dowdell, Rashad McCants, Willie Warren, Morris Almond, Terrico White, Mardy Collins, Jermaine Taylor, Orien Greene, Mike Wilks, Kareem Rush
Keith Bogans — It’s not often that you see someone out of the NBA the year after starting every game the previous season. As reviled as Keith has always been amongst NBA fans for his uncanny knack for landing playing time he doesn’t deserve, that’s not his fault. His CV is packed full of glowing references and game splayed from quality franchises, you’ll just have to accept the massive limitations to his game first.
Ricky Davis — Buckets is trying to make a comeback, electing for the increasingly popular comeback root of the D-League. Before being cut this weekend, he was averaging 8.5 points per game as a jumpshooting specialist without true three point range. The rest of his game is the same.
Joey and Stephen Graham — The two are listed together on account of being the same person, with the same face, the same occupation, the same skill set, the same career, and the same current employment status. Both have shown flashes of usefulness at times, most notably Stephen’s time as a Bobcat during the Larry Brown era, but their physical tools are still in excess of their ball skils and basketball IQ’s.
Gerald Green — Rather unfortunately a poster child for low basketball IQ’s, Green nevertheless is one of the best talents on this list. He demonstrated this at the D-League showcase, scoring 18.6 points per game in a variety of ways, demonstrating that he is more than just a physical profile. He is, however, fantastically inconsistent still.
Manny Harris — Harris was cut by the Cavaliers, in favor of undrafted rookie Mychel Thompson, on account of the fact that he’s just too wild. That, plus his lack of size and his underwhelming catch-and-shoot jumper, has rendered Harris’ versatile talents on the outskirts of the league, as he doesn’t really have a defined role.
Jamario Moon — Plucked out of obscurity by the Raptors and made into a useful NBA role player, Moon never added to his game, and finds himself back in obscurity.
James Posey — Once considered one of the best role players in the league, Posey did little over the span of his last contract, and thus joins the scrapheap. His transformation from poor-shooting-but-explosive young scorer into a jumpshooting specialist with versatile defense was unexpected, but was most effective. Was.
Quinton Ross — Outside of the one year with the Grizzlies in which he demonstrated three-point range, Ross was a good defensive wing specialist, but provided so little on offense that it barely helped. Once the three-point range also regressed to the mean, Ross’s employment ended.
Al Thornton — Al always needed to do more than just look for his own shot, especially since he was never a particularly efficient scoring talent. He didn’t, so he’s on this list.
Antoine Walker — Antoine is now into his second year of D-League action, still trying to make it back for one more NBA paycheck. He is not in too bad of shape these days, however, this is somewhat secondary to the fact that his skills are eroding.
Others: Devean George, Marcus Landry, Ronald Dupree, Othyus Jeffers, Derrick Byars, Mo Peterson, Michael Finley, Kelenna Azubuike, Marko Jaric, Bonzi Wells, Da’Sean Butler, Marqus Blakely, Andre Emmet, Bobby Simmons, Julian Wright
Malik Allen — Mid-range jumpshots and a beard. Something for everyone there.
Erick Dampier — Even when he was overpaid and apathetic, Dampier was a productive NBA player. Last year for Miami, however, Dampier seemed to have aged quickly. The one time defensive anchor was no longer anchoring anything, and that doesn’t leave much in the tank.
Francisco Elson — About to turn 36, Elson has nevertheless managed to sustain his health and productivity rather well for one so deep into his career. The only problem is that there was never a huge amount of the latter.
Kyrylo Fesenko — Fesenko has drawn interest from a number of teams, and even a couple of premature “agreed to sign with” news stories. Nonetheless, he remains unsigned.
Dan Gadzuric — Gadzuric joined the Chinese exodus this year, but was released last month due to injury. He is still not ready to play. When he is, warts and all, Gadz can rebound and block. By this point in his career, the rest doesn’t really matter.
Kenyon Martin — The more high profile Chinese expat was also released last month, without an injury as an excuse. His glory days are behind him, but Martin can still contribute to both ends of an NBA floor, which makes him a rarity on this list. However, as a condition of his Chinese buyout, Martin must wait until the CBA season ends before he’s allowed to return to the NBA. So he may be another month.
DJ Mbenga — Long regarded as a novelty, Mbenga was always actually pretty good for a third-string center. He’s still only going to be a third-string center, but third-string centers are still always going to be in demand.
Leon Powe — Powe’s once-productive career has been derailed time and again by a never-ending saga of knee injuries. When healthy, he contributes on both ends of the court with strength, skill and determination.
Joel Przybilla — Przybilla has simultaneously threatened retirement and talked about signing with the Bulls. As of right now, he has done neither.
Joe Smith — Smith has an outside chance of setting the record for most NBA franchises played for. The record is 12, shared between Smith, Tony Massenburg, Chucky Brown and Jim Jackson. Let’s make it happen.
Others: Dwayne Jones, Jake Voskuhl, Melvin Ely, Jerome James, Robert Swift, Garret Siler, Keith Benson, Brian Butch, Brian Skinner, Etan Thomas, Theo Ratliff, Magnum Rolle, Jarron Collins, Mike Sweetney, Mikki Moore, Chris Richard