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NBA Free Agency: The Best Remaining Role Players

Boston Celtics shooting guard Leandro Barbosa
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Boston Celtics shooting guard Leandro Barbosa

Jan 27, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics shooting guard Leandro Barbosa (12) celebrates during the second half of a game against the Miami Heat at TD Garden. Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Not every team can walk away from a free agency summer having struck gold, oil, or Dwight Howard. Just look at the Dallas Mavericks who since crippling the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals have looked like the dorky kid no one picks in kickball. The NBA has always been a league that is determined at its tail end by who has the most stars (or bucks) but without peripheral talent you end up with the 2011 Miami Heat.

There are still a few players out in the free agency buffet who can drastically change the course of a season, but at this point, it seems they’ll be staying with their designated teams. The peephole that requires looking through is the one where the option 6-10 guys on the bench congregate. Even a casual look at the remaining free agents reveals a nice laundry list of guys that have and can continue to be quality role players.

We pick the best below.

Leandro Barbosa

He is no longer capable of providing what he did in his Phoenix, and even Toronto, days. But he still offers speed, a low turnover mark, can shoot the three, and is a great free-throw shooter. Seemed like he and Doc didn’t get along much but in the right situation―maybe Dallas or with the Lakers―he can still be effective.

Ronnie Brewer

Brewer’s a leading example of a new reality in the NBA: with constantly-improving defenses you no longer can be a lockdown defender who can’t lock it down on the shooting front. Case in point: at the beginning of last season, Brewer was hitting his shots and the Knicks were loving him. He went cold, got traded to OKC, then played very little. He can still be a great wing defender for teams that need it like Houston, Dallas, Washington or the Lakers.

Austin Daye

Young, lanky, and can shoot. Needs about 20-30 more pounds of muscle and he’d be a mix between a young Tayshaun Prince and Kevin Martin (he’s already there body wise but would add to his consistency). The Knicks are interested and so should Charlotte.

Andrew Goudelock

Goudelock is not afraid to score nor of the big stage. He played in the playoffs for the Lakers last season and posted 20 points in his debut. ‘Lock is undersized but can be an instant offensive boost for teams that struggle with points and who can make up for his lack of height—namely Memphis and Washington.

Bernard James

Dallas were sad to let him go and are hoping no one else decides to pick him up. He’s already 28, but has great potential on the right team as a big man. He has the Bulls written all over him.

Gary Neal

Might be one of the steals of the free agency. Trained by San Antonio, and with a rocket launcher for a shooting arm, Neal can light it up from afar for any team. Memphis, Denver, Washington, and Oklahoma could use his services.

Lamar Odom

No longer the player that helped Kobe win championships. But the Clippers understand what they’ll be getting if they re-sign him. He’s playing sound basketball, can play off the dribble, and provides length on the offensive and defensive ends. Not sure why Miami isn’t courting him.

Johan Petro

One of the last of a dying breed: a semi-athletic, seven-footer who plays high-effort b-ball. Can be a second string center for teams that need it like the Mavs or the Bulls.

Nate Robinson

There’s about as many reasons why teams don’t want Nate as he lacks in inches. 1) He’s tiny. 2) Nate tends to be a ball hog. 3) His shot selection is worse than a stadium bar’s. 4) He can be brilliant offensively but is a liability defensively. And, 5) He’s Nate Robinson. Of course, he’s also Nate Robinson, which means he can give you 25 points on the drop of a pin. New York might take the gamble on him.

Beno Udrih

After parting ways with Devin Harris, Dallas needs another backup point and Udrih might be the perfect fit. He’d be another Calderon type, who is older in age, turns over the ball seldomly, and can feed Dirk the ball but then Dallas might lack athleticism in the point guard department.

Brandan Wright

Versatile big man that is rough around the edges but that can be an explosive player off the bench. Sources say he’ll stay in Dallas, but teams like New York and Boston, depending on the C’s rebuild plans, would be lucky to add him.

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