In addition to the recent list of possible D-League call-ups, there exist many other veteran free agents who could help an NBA team as a midseason pick-up. In light of 10-day contracts becoming available to use as of next week, here’s an unnecessary, emphatic list of some possible ones.
It’s important to note that only free agents are listed here, not all non-NBA players. So as much fun as it would be to list the likes of Eddy Curry and Quincy Douby — who this week combined for 95 points in a Chinese league game — they’re taken.
Carlos Arroyo – Out of the league for nearly two years, Arroyo is no less of an NBA player now than when he was in it. However, having declined steadily since 2005, his place within it was already tenuous. Arroyo is reportedly about to sign to Turkish team Galatasaray, where he’ll need to show improvement to be seriously considered in the NBA again.
Mike Bibby – Having fallen away dramatically in the last three seasons, Bibby achieved something difficult last season when he made the Knicks roster as a shooting specialist who couldn’t shoot. His career numbers suggest this was an outlier, yet after back to back poor seasons, Bibby will find it tough to make it back to the league.
Earl Boykins – Boykins was a rare veteran presence on a young Rockets team last season, where he showed the usual Boykins package: no fear, plenty of long twos, and a desperate need to prove himself as a scorer. He was adequate in his backup role, and was a good NBA player as recently as the 2010-11 season, but his age (36) might be the death knell.
Anthony Carter – Carter will inevitably go on to coach, yet he still believes he can contribute as an NBA player. The statistics do not reconcile with this belief, and haven’t done since 2008, yet perception is a much more important resource. “Coach on the floor,” et cetera.
Antonio Daniels – In 2011, Daniels proved you’re never too old to use the D-League as a gateway back to the NBA, getting a late call-up to the 76ers from the Texas Legends. In 2012, he posted 8.7 apg for the Legends, but couldn’t do the same again. And in 2013, Daniels is trying to lose 10,000 lbs.
Baron Davis – Davis tore his ACL last year, the latest in a decade’s worth of serious injuries. But he showed enough before the injury to warrant another look when he’s healthy again.
Derek Fisher – Fisher asked to be released by the Mavericks so that he could be nearer his family in Los Angeles. So he’s pretty much only an option for the Clippers and Lakers. Or the Sparks.
Cory Higgins – In a clear case of nepotism — with a surname different than that of an NBA general manager, he doesn’t stick this long — Higgins spent more than a year playing as the third string point guard for the Bobcats, when he simply isn’t one. He ended last season with more turnovers than assists, yet stuck for the entirety of the season, and even came back to begin this one. Higgins needs to go to the D-League and re-establish his CV as a quirky yet effective mid-range two guard, yet this has not yet happened.
Eddie House – House thrived in the NBA not only on account of the calibre of his jumpshot, but the speed of it. He has been out of work for over a year, but still feels he can contribute. And he’s probably right.
Allen Iverson – Often times, players don’t specifically or officially retire. Instead, their phone doesn’t ring for two years, and they eventually take the hint. Allen’s phone hasn’t rung for two years, since a decent but somewhat average turn in Turkey. Since then it’s been merely exhibition games around the globe. But, as in the manner that defined his playing career, Iverson never quit.
Mike James – Last year, James took the unlikely veteran-D-League route espoused by Daniels, and made it work for him. He earned repeated call-ups from the Bulls, and looked rejuvented in his limited minutes. Having re-joined the D-League on the very day that the D-League prospects list was posted, James will be looking to do the same again.
Marko Jaric – After two years out of the game, Jaric also hooked up with the Bulls, this time for training camp. He, however, looked less rejuvented. Never a good defender or shooter at the NBA level, Jaric needs a second wind.
Flip Murray – Murray also took the D-League route last season, and averaged a solid 14.6 points and 3.0 assists down the stretch of the season for the Austin Toros. However, now into his eleventh season, the explosion has gone, and thus so has the lure.
Jannero Pargo – After a decent if unspectacular comeback season last year with Atlanta, Pargo started this season with the Wizards, but was one of many to underperform at the spot. Now 33 years of age, Pargo is losing the explosiveness that allowed him to create his own offense, and while he was always a decent catch-and-shoot guard, there are better.
Donald Sloan – Recently cut by the Cavs, Sloan often looked a bit overmatched at the NBA level, and showed he wasn’t a half court point guard. Nevertheless, he demonstrated better range than expected, and kept the turnovers down.
Delonte West – West is the most talented player in the guards list, and by a comfortable margin. Yet he doesn’t have quite enough talent to make him worth the sideshow.
Mario West – With the very greatest of respect, West — who didn’t have a single NBA calibre offensive skill — was lucky to survive in the NBA as long as he did, carving out four years as a one-possession defensive specialist. Has his luck finally run out?
Kelenna Azubuike – Azubuike signed with Dallas late last season to a contract guaranteed through this year, presumably presuming he had returned to health after his three year lay-off. However, in his brief time both on assignment to the Legends and in the NBA, it didn’t seem as though he had. By this time, Azubuike has to prove himself all over again.
Renaldo Balkman – Something of a forgotten man, Balkman played only 35 games over the past three seasons, despite being healthy and under contract. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong, but he was so effective as a role player in his first three seasons that, now aged 28 and in his prime, there must still be something there to give.
Rasual Butler – Butler started for many years as a “three and D” specialist. However, he was never much more than average at either one, shooting 36 percent from three on his career, all on wide-open attempts.
Rodney Carney – After a year away, Carney almost played himself back into the NBA with the Heat in training camp. However, he chose to attend camp with the team with the deepest wing rotation in the game, and failed to make the cut. He too will thrive as an athletic three and D specialist just as soon as he can do the three-point part of it.
Josh Childress – Childress asked to be released from the Nets last week, as he couldn’t see a minute on the court behind Keith Bogans and a rejuvenated Jerry Stackhouse. It is flabbergasting how this once highly useful sixth man has seen his career go in the tank before the age of 30.
Daequan Cook – Cook was waived this week by the Rockets to accommodate James Anderson. He’s plied his trade as a three and D specialist — however, he always shoots 38 percent from the field to do it. And is it not a little worrying that he just lost out on this role to Anderson, despite more than $3 million in guaranteed salary?
Matt Carroll – Carroll made it into the NBA as a shooting specialist, and then lost his shot. After 105 three-pointers in 2007-08, he’s hit only 42 in the nearly five years hence, and has stopped looking to take them.
Maurice Evans – There’s nothing Keith Bogans can do that Maurice Evans can’t. But Keith’s played for more winning teams and thus has the better name recognition. So Keith keeps getting the spots, while Mo still looks for work.
Joey Graham and Stephen Graham – The identical twins are now idenitcally unemployed. Both are now 30 and thus it’s increasingly hard to claim that their athleticism equals potential. Nevertheless, both are proven backups.
Donte’ Greene – Greene’s lure was always his height and athleticism combination. The Kings tried to turn him into a defensive stopper, but failed. Then again, the Kings aren’t known for their successful player development in recent years, so maybe someone else could do better.
Darington Hobson – Hobson’s professional career thus far has been two injury-aborted attempts with the Bucks, and a mere handful of games. More than likely, he needs to go to the D-League and re-establish himself as a genuine prospect before he can receive more NBA interest.
Larry Hughes – Quietly, Hughes played 9 games in the NBA for Orlando last year. They were quiet because they weren’t good.
Adam Morrison – Morrison threatened to retire if he didn’t make the Blazers roster out of camp this season. Neither of those things happened, and he remains waiting for one more chance to redeem his much-maligned career.
James Posey – Posey didn’t play last season, and may as well have not played the one before, given how much he struggled. It’s been a few years since he was a feared role player on a championship team, and he turns 36 this month.
Michael Redd – Redd was useful for stretches on the Suns last year, and improved as the season went on. He also however showed he’s a fraction of his former self, and, now that most of his mobility is gone, is a defensive liability.
Quentin Richardson – Surprisingly waived by the Magic before the season started, Richardson has been mediocre for a few years, losing his athleticism and never improving much as a shooter. Like Butler, he would make it back as a defending/shooting specialist if he excelled consistently at either of those things. But he doesn’t.
Bobby Simmons – Simmons fell out of the NBA in 2011, then played his way back into it via the D-League. However, once back into it, Simmons had nothing offensively, not even his mediocre set shot that he needed three weeks to get off. His defense is still pretty good, but not that good.
Bill Walker – In four years, Walker never progressed beyond being a shooting specialist. It would have been nice if he did, but he didn’t need to in order to be effective. He struggled with fouls defensively, yet there is enough there to merit a repeat look. And he doesn’t have the off-court dramas of someone like…..
Shawne Williams – …..who just got arrested for intent to manufacture for the second time. As a player, his one good year was the outlier, and not sufficient to overcome the off-court troubles, which are just relentless.
Chris Andersen – Andersen, amnestied over the summer, has knees that have deteriorated to the point that he can’t play on the second night of back-to-backs. He turns 35 later this year, and also has the same holes in his skill set as ever, as well as that unsavoury child pornography/extortion attempt cloud hanging over his head. Nonetheless, at last check, he was still a good NBA player.
Earl Barron – Barron was waived last month by a Wizards team still desperately seeking an average NBA point guard. Now a 31 year old veteran, the story on him is well established — finesse offense, many mid-range jumpers, little effieciency, good size, mediocre rebounding, high fouls.
Tony Battie – Battie was in the NBA last year, but was running on fumes. Barely able to contribute offensively any more, Battie still has some moments defensively, but is just too slow to be of much help.
Josh Boone – Boone started his third consecutive season in China, but was cut for Eddy Curry. He wasn’t happy about this. Boone was a decent two-way NBA player for a couple of years, but when Jason Kidd left New Jersey, his pick-and-roll offense disappeared. His time in China didn’t develop his game any.
Brian Cardinal – After five consecutive bad years, the reality of Cardinal’s production might finally have superceded his perceivd use as a “little things” player. The once genuinely good player would need to be genuinely lucky, again, to come back for a final tour.
Jarron Collins – Collins can’t score, rebound, pass, block, shoot or jump. He can play man-to-man defense on bigs, but only at the expense of many fouls. But he never could do these things, nor could his brother Jason. So why is Jason the consistent recipient of guaranteed NBA contracts, while Jarron has been outside the league for two years? Because Jason started on NBA finals teams nearly a decade ago. Perception will always trump reality.
Brian Cook – A stretch four who can’t stretch the floor, Cook managed to post a 0.0 PER in 121 minutes with the Clippers last year, which is not easy to do.
Erick Dampier – Like many others on this list, Dampier has never officially retired, but he might not need to. He put up season totals of 2 points and 25 rebounds last year, for an impressive average of 0.1 ppg, and looked done.
Francisco Elson – Elson’s once strong defense has waned, and he turns 37 next month.
Kyrylo Fesenko – Rumoured to be on the cusp of signing with BC Donetsk in the Ukraine, Fesenko remains a big lovable ball of untapped potential, who just can’t stop fouling and thus just can’t start being effective.
Dan Gadzuric – Gadzuric has long been underrated due to the size of his contract, his limited offense, and his chronic fouls. All of these were valid concerns. But few others rebound like him.
Juwan Howard – Now that Miami’s stopped calling, Juwan can’t get work. Turning 40 next month, it’s unlikely he will again.
D.J. Mbenga – A long time novelty third stringer, Mbenga stopped developing many years ago, and started declining three years ago. Recently released by Chinese team Qingdao, Mbenga blocks shots like few others, but the rest of the game never advanced.
Jerome James – It’s been three years since James was an NBA players, and 10 since he was a good one. But he did average 9.6 points and 7.4 rebounds during a brief stint in Puerto Rico last April. So, there’s that.
Solomon Jones – After somehow losing out on a roster spot to Luke Zeller — whose continued presence on an NBA roster should remind us all that nothing is more important to a man’s chances of making it than blind luck — Jones is unemployed. An occasionally useful role player for years on the glass, Jones still needs to prove he can defend without fouling.
Kenyon Martin – K-Mart has said he will play for the minimum. Apparently it’s still not enough to get him into the league. His name recognition is both his strongest virtue and greatest curse — he WAS a good player, and everyone knows it. But they also know Kenyon’s reputation for not keeping his mouth shut. And the use of the past tense a sentence ago was deliberate.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu – If you want a player who makes no mistakes and yet has no discernible impact on the game other than that, look elsewhere on the list. Conversely, if you want a player who will make things happen offensively, defensively and on the glass with his athleticism and motor, while being willing to accept many fouls and some cringeworthy turnovers in the process, Pops is your guy.
Darko Milicic – Darko left the Celtics to tend to his ill mother back in his homeland. They needed someone like him quite a lot more than perhaps they were expecting to.
Mikki Moore – Moore got an unlikely NBA comeback with the Warriors last year. He made some shots, but also fouled once every five minutes and looked too slow defensively for the NBA game any more. This is unlikely to change, and is not a good thing in a man whose career was his athleticism.
Troy Murphy – Murphy had two major skills: the trailer three, and extremely effective boxing out. It seems he’s losing both.
Greg Oden – Not yet. Soon, hopefully.
Leon Powe – Powe looked bad in summer league with the Bulls, as yet more knee surgeries seem to have cost him every last inch of his lift. He has the skill and all the determination in the world, yet unless he regains even just a modicum of mobility from somewhere, his NBA career may be over.
Ben Wallace – Wallace said he would retire after last season, then hedged and said he wasn’t sure. Without official word on his status, it should be assumed that he might yet come back. However, considering his extremely limited effectiveness now, it should be assumed he probably shouldn’t.
Jordan Williams – Williams was cut by the Hawks before training camp, rather than in it, and didn’t get picked up elsewhere. He showed up out of shape to camp last season, before playing his way back into it through the course of the season, and he has NBA talent. But as a fringe player, he cannot allow that to happen ever again.