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Who are the best free agents left on the board? Here are seven.

Jul 24, 2013, 8:44 AM EDT

Gary Neal

There’s not much left out there. By this point in the summer the guys left as free agents are flawed and are still free agents for a reason.

That said, there are still quality players out there who could help teams. Guys with skill sets that if used properly can bring real value to a team — and at this point you can get them at a good price.

Here are my seven best players left in free agency.

Gary Neal (restricted, San Antonio Spurs guard). The Spurs gave Neal a qualifying offer but are reportedly about to pull it. If that happens someone will quickly snap up the guy who is the best three point threat still out there and who showed on the NBA Finals stage that he can really play. Last season he averaged 9.5 points a game, can knock down threes, can shoot off the dribble or the catch, and he plays smart defense.

Mo Williams (Utah Jazz point guard). Williams isn’t great but he’s pretty solid — 12.9 points and 6.2 assists a game last season, plus he shot 38 percent from three. With the need for solid point guards around the league, it’s a surprise he is still on the market.

Gerald Henderson (restricted, Charlotte Bobcats guard). Another guy who has shown he can play — he scored 15.5 points a game for the Bobcats last season — and play efficiently. There are a number of teams that could use him but nobody is putting in an offer, so the Bobcats may get him back at a steal of a price.

Brandon Jennings (restricted, Milwaukee Bucks point guard). We’ve broken down his game before — he gets you a lot of points but he over dribbles, takes bad shots and isn’t much of a defender. While we’ve pointed to his flaws he can still play and it’s a surprise someone hadn’t found an offer he would accept (Jennings has long overvalued his own contributions, that may be part if it). Looks like he could be headed back to Milwaukee on the $4.5 million qualifying offer for one year in what would be a forced marriage neither side will be happy about.

Nikola Pekovic (restricted, Minnesota Timberwolves center). This is a case of the restricted tag working against a player a lot of teams like — no offers came in like he expected because other teams expected (rightfully) the Timberwolves would just match. So now Minnesota and Pekovic are trying to hammer out a deal. It is possible he will just play for the $6.1 million qualifying offer for this year and be an unrestricted free agent next season. But the Timberwolves would like to keep him as the big next to Kevin Love doing all the dirty work, it’s just a question of if they can afford him.

Kenyon Martin (New York Knicks, forward). For the second straight year Martin is sitting out on the market and someone is going to get him at a steal of a price. Last season with the Knicks he shot 60 percent from the field (only taking smart shots) and was a great big man paint defender. He likely ends up back with the Knicks.

Mike Miller (Miami Heat forward). When he’s on the court he is a great stretch player who can knock down threes, make smart passes and play solid defense. He’s also banged up so the question is how much he can really give a team (he has played in 60 percent of his teams’ games the last three seasons). The Miami Heat used the amnesty on him and the buzz is Oklahoma City and Memphis — two teams that could use shooting — are going for him the hardest.

  1. borisalessandri - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    Gary Neal play smart defense??? Obviously you don’t watch ANY Spurs games other than the one good game he had in the Finals. Neal is a defensive liability, if he’s not hitting then he’s hurting. He easily gets out of position, lost on defense and has a bigger disadvantage against stronger, faster (2nd unit) guards (e.i. EBledsoe, JCrawford etc). What you do see from Neal is effort, he went from being a terrible defender in his rookie year to a better-than-terrible defender, which, is still below average. Last season he was injured more than half the year, so he would’ve garnered a bigger contract but that’s not the case. He’s a solid shooter but his production is the by-product of the Spurs system. He can easily be thrown off his game by playing physical and crowding his shot, his ball-handling skills are far below par and rarely looks to create plays for other players. Some Spurs fans would like to see him back, but this Spurs fan doesn’t mind seeing him go. He’s a great dude, but I think the Spurs front office want to develop it’s younger talent like De Colo, Joseph and HOPEFULLY Adam Hanga real soon. Marcus Denmon is getting some seasoning overseas and Deshaun Thomas could be a good fit, if they decided to sign him this year.

    • legend30 - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      Boris, here’s a snickers, you’re always angry when you’re hungry.

      • borisalessandri - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:51 AM

        you can put the money in my PayPal account and I’ll gladly go get one

    • averagej0ey - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      Agree. Everyone remembers Ray Allen’s shot in game 6, but Neal left Miller open for a 3 halfway through the 4th quarter WITH ONE SHOE ON!!

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      I appreciate the analysis, but if Gary Neal did half the things you just said he does Gregg Popovich would fly off the bench and tear him a new one. Or simply bench/trade him if he made a habit of it. I’m sure he’s not a lock down defender but he does well enough to keep up the great team D the Spurs expect.

  2. money2long - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    kmart should get some love from teams looking for hustle and attitude

  3. jcrileyesq - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    a veteran championship caliber team should go after captain jack

    • bougin89 - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:47 AM

      Didn’t the Spurs, the definition of a veteran championship caliber team, waive him and pick up Tracy McGrady instead just before the playoffs last year? Their is no upside with captain Jack unless you think being a malcontent is upside.

  4. Kevin S. - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    I’d also be interested in a breakdown of how much cap space and usable exceptions teams have left at their disposal.

    • bougin89 - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:42 AM


  5. dezglobal - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    Hope the pistons go after one of these guys

  6. patfic15 - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    OKC could use Miller Martin and Neal. If it were possible to sign at least two. Still can’t believe Perkins lard a$$ is still there.

  7. ProBasketballPundit - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    How much of the MLE do the Miami heat have left? Does Birdman count as a vet-minimum contract or a MLE contract? Because if they had the full $3.1 million or whatever it is they could make an offer to Gary Neal.

    • miamatt - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      Though I have read otherwise, I believe Miami still has their full taxpayer’s MLE. Birdman was going to make the $6mil or whatever Denver owed him unless some team offered to pay him higher than that amount…. so I don’t see what incentive he would have to sign for more than the vet’s minimum.

      The real issue with using their MLE is that they would have to pay that plus take the tax hit that comes along with it. I don’t see them using it on Neal (or really anyone at this point), but I could be wrong.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        Question is; who will occasionally fill that Mike Miller role for this team? I know they don’t need him to succeed but if there are any injuries to the wings/shooters the Heat will be in a bit of a bind. I wonder if Rashard Lewis can step up… his shooting was good early on for the Heat but I believe his defense is what kept him on the bench.

      • tcclark - Jul 24, 2013 at 6:29 PM

        So many players on the Heat bench play the exact same role. They didn’t need Mike Miller. When they officially signed the big three, the first guy they brought in to come off the bench was James Jones. Jones is a small forward with range and could spread the floor for the slashers like Lebron and D Wade. Then they found a legit bench scorer who was willing to take a contract slightly below market value(at the time) in Mike Miller. Mike Miller is a small forward/shooting guard with range and could spread the floor for the slashers like Lebron and D Wade. Then the next summer they went out and got a small forward who was known for his ability to hit the corner three and spread the floor for the slashers like Lebron and D Wade on offense and provide good (if not depleting) perimeter defense in Shane Battier. Finally last summer they found the premier three point shooter who could come off the bench and spread the floor for the slashers like Lebron and D Wade on offense and good (if not depleting) perimeter defense in Ray Allen.

        You see where I’m going with this?

    • casualcommenter - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      Birdman re-signed at the veteran’s minimum (plus a small raise he was eligible for as a second-year member of the team) with the Heat.

      So the Heat have their full mini-mid-level exception. Reportedly, Greg Oden wants the Heat to offer him the full mini-MLE, but so far they’ve only offered him the veteran’s minimum due to concerns about his health.

  8. chiefwhirlingdervish10 - Jul 24, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Good article, nice to read. Only, do you think on Kenyon Martin’s description you could remove the comma between “New York Knicks” and “Forward?” None of the other player’s descriptions have it :) Thanks.

  9. hojo20 - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Ryan Gomes not a top FA?

    • mytthor - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:59 PM

      That’s correct.

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