The Other Guys (The Mid Tier Free Agents)

December 13th, 2012 by Nate Smith
Jarrett Jack and Karl Landry

Jack and Landry: Perfect for the Cavs.

The Mid Tier Guys:

In Monday’s segment, we covered the premiere free agents available in 2013.  In this installment we cover the guys that will be available for less than $10 million dollars a year, in some cases MUCH less.  These are the guys who should be filling out our bench: spot starters and role playing starters.  They  should provide veteran leadership, identifiable skills, and should be able to help us win ball games.  Either that, or they should be young players who might still have room to develop.  Some of these guys I like a great deal, and some I wouldn’t want wearing a Moondog suit.

RFA finds: Here we have a few restricted free agents who are definitely a notch below the ones we mentioned Monday.

Nikola Pekovic: I actually meant to post him in Monday’s article, because he’s going to make more money than he should.  Pekovic is a big, bulky, almost 300 pound, 6’11” center.  We saw Nik throw around the Cavs front line (though not that effectively) last Friday night.  He will get a lot of money because he’s big, plays center, and is only 26.  13.6/1.3/7.1/.9 Blk 16 PER.  While his game has limitations, he’s an absolute space eater in the paint, and would be a fun guy to have on the Cavs for screens and to pin opposing big guys for Andy to eat up boards.  He has a $6 million qualifying offer, and would probably take at least $9 million to get the Wolves to relent.  I’m wary of paying any non all star more than Andy on the front line, but Pekovic would definitely bring the Cavs a dimension they don’t have.

Toney Douglas:  Currently playing very well for the Rockets, and in danger of supplanting Jeremy Lin as the preferred point guard.  7.1/2.1/1.5/1 Stl 11.69 PER, might be a very good backup point guard who can play some defense, and run a pick and roll offense.  He also shoots well.  He might be Daniel Gibson without having to pay the extra trainer (sorry Boobie).  $3.1 million is a somewhat expensive qualifying offer, but Houston might have a hard time matching 2 years $8 million.  That’s pretty steep for the Toney Douglas of the last few years.  That’s a bargain for the Toney Douglas of the last several games.

Byron Mullins: 11.8/1.2/7.8/.7 Blk / 13 PER has a $3.3 million QO.  He’s basically the same player as Tyler Zeller at this point, except without the four years of college that let Zeller learn how to actually play.  He’s a project big man who’s benefited from being on an awful team.  He inhereted the “goofiest looking white guy” title when Adam Morrison and Luke Harangody (all praise be) left the league.  Mullins is probably not worth the money.

Ivan Johnson: A 28 year old 2nd year player for the Hawks, has been an effective bench player this year at 5.2/.4/2.9 17.27 PER in 11.7 minutes a night.  He has a $1 million qualifying offer.  Might not be a bad $2 million fill in for a couple years.  But we probably don’t need another undersized power forward.

Timofey Mozgov: Frequent poster victim and another space eating backup center, he sports a 14.9 PER in 13.6 minutes a night.  Might be worth a couple million.

Gary Neal: 28 year old can play both guard spots, has a 13.89 PER for the Spurs, and is averaging almost 12 points for them this year.  Just an OK defender, but an effective system guy for the Spurs.  Not worth overpaying to get him out of his $1  Million QO

Charles Jenkins: Bench player for the Warriors who may be benefiting from a good overall team.  He’s a small school dynamo who’s just 23 with a low QO.  He has a 12.68 PER in low minutes.  He could have some future as a bench scorer.

Austin Daye: I’ve always liked his length, and he had a couple very nice games against the Cavs.  He’s buried on the Pistons bench right now, but I think he’d be worth a look as a 3D guy

Jeff Pendergraph: An ’09 graduate of Arizona State and draftee Pendergraph has put up good numbers in extremely limited garbage time minutes in his few years in the NBA.  25, and buried on teams’ benches, he certainly has more upside than Samardo Samuels.

Not worth the call: Rodrique Beubois, Eric Maynor, Darius Morris, Wayne Ellington, DeQuan Jones, D.J. Kennedy, Devin Ebanks, James Johnson…

The Vets: We’ll start with guards.  The Cavs should be looking for guys who can build and sustain leads and generate offense or intense defense.  We’ve hit Sloan’s ceiling.

Mo Williams and Jose Calderon: Too much for too little.

Jarret Jack: Brings steady play at both guard positions, 29 years old 9.9/4.6/2.9 14.7 PER in 25 minutes.  Just a solid player who you can win with as a spot starter, and you don’t have to worry about the team falling apart when he’s on the floor.  He’d be an excellent backup guard.  Currently making $5.4 million.  If we could get him for $4.8 (Boobie Gibson Money), I’d be happy.  2 Years of that and then a waivable or partial third year would be awesome.  Also, he had the game winning pass last night in crunch time, on the road, against the Heat.  Heady stuff.

Randy Foye: I’ve always thought him one of the more underrated bench guards in the league.  Has size and ability to play either guard spot, but not much of a distributor.  At 29, a 3 year deal might be about right.  26 MPG 11.5/1.8/1.4 shoots .419/.447/.811.  He’d be a quality bench player.  At $2.5 million per he’s making now, I think he’d be a good player, or even at just a little more for 2 years.  However, 82games HATES him, and he has a -11 net points per 100 possessions, so what do I know?

Devin Harris: The one time all star is also 29.  7.5/2.7/1.7 12.01 PER in 23.5 minutes.  A notch below Jack, and a very streaky player who sometimes still plays like he thinks he’s an all star.  He’s been hurt a lot, and the injuries have taken their toll on his game.  Would he play for $3.5 million per?

Benoh Udrih: The Euro version of the above.  He’s playing really well off the bench for Milwaukee. With 17.62 PER, he is an effective backup point, who’s been catalyzing the offense.  He is 30 though…

Jarryd Bayless: Another combo guard who’s only 24.  He has a player option for $3.5 mil.  With his reputation growing, I’m betting he opts out to take the “mediocre player who’s going to cash in because he’s lucky enough to play on a really good team” benefit.  He’s had some nice moments for Memphis, but has fallen off as late.  His ceiling is probably a quality bench guy at this point.  13.78 PER and a very streaky shooter.  If he’s smart, he’ll pick up his play and get himself a decent contract.  He’s another player that advanced stats hate, as he stalls the offense, and opposing guards are lighting him up.

Nate Robinson: Bench spark plug finally found a home with the bulls currently playing for $1 million.  Better than Sloan?  Yes.  Better than Pargo?  Maybe.

C.J. Watson: His warts are probably hidden by being on a good team, but he’s a competent backup who’s better from 3 than from the floor this year.  Vet Minimum.

Patrick (Patty) Mills: I’ve liked him since college, and he’s a pace pusher for the Spurs, sporting a 12.9 PER, but with very respectable shooting numbers at 47% and 40%; shooting guard in a point guard’s body; terrible on defense, but fun to watch.

No thanks: D.J. Augustin, A.J. Price, Will Bynum, Nolan Smith, Earl Watson, Jamaal Tinsley, Bassy Telfair, Leandro Barbosa, Dominique Jones.


J.J. poses with the Magic's new mascot.

J.J. Redick: Shooting specialist extraordinaire.  28 years old 6’4″ 13.5/4.9/2.1 14.25 PER.  He’s been forcing it of late, shooting only 32% from three this year, but that’s mainly a byproduct of chucking and being forced to score for the Magic.  He’d be an awesome bench guard to play with Kyrie or Waiters, as he’s a floor stretcher.  His defense is competent.  He’s a good passer, and he can close ball games at 90% from the line.  He’ll probably get overpaid because he’ll be traded to a contender before the deadline, and because of his pedigree.  I’d like him, but not at more than $7 million per, his current salary, and maybe not even then.

Anthony Morrow: At 27, a cheaper and younger version of Redick.  Morrow’s a shooting specialist, one of the best pure 3 point shooters in the league, but is not nearly the passer Redick is, or the threat to put it on the floor.  Only playing 12 minutes a game this season, but shooting .453/.429/.846, he’d be a fine bench wing for the Cavs for the next three years at $3-4 million per — a much cheaper option.

Chris Grant's master plan: trade for Korver and Redick and start a boy band with Walton, Boobie, and TT. Please post band names in the comments section.

Kyle Korver: The pride of Creighton is an underrated defender, and a long time shooting specialist with a bit of size and a lot of experience.  He sports 31 with a PER of 14, and is shooting .427/.420/.857, this is a guy who will get a lot of vet minimum offers from playoff teams looking for situational shooters.  He’s very much a steely eyed version of Anthony Parker.  He’s a little too past his prime for my taste.

Tony Allen: Simply one of the nastiest defenders in the league.  In the Cavs/Grizz game, Waiters worked him twice, got cocky, and then Allen simply owned him for the 2nd half of the 4th quarter.  I’d love his defensive intensity on the Cavs.  And his nick name “Trick or Treat” says it all with his 11.14 PER.  He just isn’t always a good offensive player.  The trick would be getting him without overpaying him on the wrong side of 30.  Two years $8 million would probably be what it takes to get him, or probably more.  However, the Grizz are strapped, just below the tax line, so he may walk.

Corey Brewer: 26 Years old, unbelievably long, 6’9″ wing who has the physical tools to be one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, and has never been able to figure it out.  He’s been content to be a simply a slightly above average one.  He’s worked himself into a competent 3D/lane filler, shooting .434/.370/.647 and fills the stat sheet up at 11.4/.8/3.1/1.4 Stl 15.53 PER.  He’s one of my top free agent targets for the Cavs as a young player with upside who would look great with Kyrie.    Given his popularity among GMs and the fact that he still has some upside, it’s probably going to take $6 million+ per year.  He’s a high risk/high reward player.

Draft disappointment, thy name is Marvin.

Marvin Williams: Will possibly opt out of is $7.5 million guaranteed option, for a longer term payday.  He’s been the beneficiary of being a very high draft pick for a long time.  His 13.66 PER hasn’t been scintillating, and he’s been outplayed by his backup, Demarre Carroll  (below) during his most recent injury.  It’s my opinion that the money Williams wants will not be worth what he brings, but he’s not a bad individual defender.  I don’t think he opts out unless he thinks can get $6 Million per year or more.

Ronnie Brewer: Another hard nosed defender with an OK offensive game with a 13.49 PER.  He’s shooting a career high from 3, and a career low from the floor at .416/.395/.440.  He’s making league minimum and would be a step up from C.J. Miles’ defense.  He’d probably be a bargain at the league minimum, or just above that.

Martell Webster: Currently playing his heart out for the Wizards, and is their 3rd best player according to 82games.  Another shooting specialist at .426/.400/.867 and a 13.7 PER.  He’s a serviceable player who plays hard and is only 26.  A 2 year deal for $4 million might get it done.

Marco Belinelli: Currently killing it for the Bulls; has shown the ability to put up numbers when given extended playing time.  I think he’s better off trying to be a borderline starter somewhere else.

J.R. Smith: I like him, but he’s crazy, and the advanced stats don’t like him.  He has a player option for $2.9 million.  It’s borderline whether he opts out.

Mike Dunleavy: Still playing at 32, he’s a solid vet now, with a 15.9 PER, and is a jump shooting specialist…  His length at 6’9″ will let him play in the league a little longer than he might otherwise.  I think he has 2 years left as a solid veteran.  He’d be a good get at maybe $2.5 million per, cause no one else will probably pay him that.  He leads the Bucks in a lot of advanced stats.

Nick Young: Meh…  11.75 PER for this 6’7″ SG who’s defense is decent this year, and can shoot open threes.  He’s a perennial tease who had two good years in Washington, on a bad team.  I guess he’d be OK for low money.

Someone get Demarre some Rick James apparel.

DeMarre Carroll: One of the best kept secrets in the league.  Sporting an 18.49 PER on a league minimum contract at 18 minutes per game, he’s 26 and has turned himself into a competent3/4 tweener off the bench with .467/.353/.786 shooting right now.  He’s tough and he’s played his way up into the league.  He’d be a very nice fit as a quick 4 against a lot of teams, and could probably be had on the cheap (he’s not a great rebounder though).  I’d like to keep an eye on him and see how he finishes the season.  If he finishes the season strong, skies the limit for what he can make.  He’s currently sporting an insane net 14.3 points per 100 possessions at 82 games, killing everyone else on the Jazz.  He didn’t score any points last night, but I watched him hounding Manu Ginobili 4 feet past the 3 point line.  He’s the defender Gee wishes he was.

Chase Budinger: Another long 3, with more of a mid range game than a 3 point game.  The blonde wonder was playing pretty well before his injury, with a 17 PER.  There should be time to evaluate him in March, and he’ll be an unrestricted 24 year old free agent.  If he plays well, and the Wolves make the playoffs, he might have a very nice payday.

Luke Babbitt : An even goofier white guy whose strictly a 3 point specialist, albeit a decent one.  He’s going to be an unrestricted free agent at 23, 6’9″ 225, he’s shooting .410/.467/.500 to the tune of 3.3/.5/2.2 14.8 PER in 9 minutes a night.  That’s right, he’s a shorter, doughier Steve Novak.  Might be worth a flier.  He’s what we always wanted Luke Harangody to be.  This kind of player can be effective off the bench, and he might just drive Mallory nuts.

Marquis Daniels: The 31 year old vet is staying healthy this year, and playing very productively for the Bucks.  He’s one of three Bucks on this list.  7.5/1.6/2.5/.9 Stl 13.5 PER, with +3.0 simple rating at 82games.  He would be a good veteran minimum player, or just above that for 1 or 2 more years.

Matt Barnes: Ageless and still just as mean.  At 32, he’s posting a 16 PER, and is one of the outstanding bench players for the Clips.  I highly doubt he leaves the west coast.

Fancisco Garcia: Another veteran minimum.  The Kings will decline his $6.4 Million team option.  He’s an average defender, is 31 years old, and posts a 14.18 PER.  He posts a positive +1.8 simple rating.  There’s worse options.

Jerry Stackouse: 38?  He can’t play another year can he?  He’s playing well for the Nets though.

If you promise not to tweet, Chris, you can be in the boy band.

Stick a fork in ’em: Stephen Jackson, Cory Maggette, Damien Wilkins, Keith Bogans, Josh Howard, Josh Childress, Dorell Wright, Roger Mason Jr., Raja Bell, Dahntay Jones, & Wesley Johnson.

Chris Douglas-Roberts: Crazy still?  Probably.  But he closed his twitter account, and the Lakers are probably regretting cutting him right now, as he’s far and away the best player in the D-League, with an almost 28 PPG average.  Ability to play was never his issue.  He seemed to grate front offices wherever he went.  I’d love to see the Cavs dump someone and sign him right now.  We could use some crazy that cares.

The Bigs:

Carl Landry: My #1 target.  Will probably opt out of his $4 million dollar option to pursue one last long term payday.  I’ve always liked Landry and he thrives in an uptempo offense where he can get quick postups in transition, as well as use his nice mid range game.  He’s tearing it up right now at 13.2/1.1/7/.5 Blk and a 19.8 PER, shooting .563/0/.776.  He runs the floor well, posts up, has a fantastic post game and jump shot out to 20 feet.  He rarely takes stupid shots.  He’s the Warriors’ best rated player at 82games.  Carl is a leading 6th man candidate, and would probably be a more affordable option than Millsap.  He’s a player the Cavs should strongly consider in the 4 years, $26 million range, with front loaded money and a non fully guaranteed last year.

Andray Blatche: Is putting himself in line for a monster payday with a 24 PER this year, average 17/1.4/9.8 in the last 5 games.  Stay away, Cavs.  This guy is fool’s gold.  He’s playing for a contract.

Marreese Speights: With a player option on this list, and only included because the Grizz are so strapped.  At $4.5 million, he may test the market.  He’s a perennial tease.  He’ll play one great game then two stinkers.  13.6 PER at  15 minutes a night, he’s a decent rebounder, but probably not worth any kind of monetary risk.

Brandan Wright: The anti-Maurice Speights.  He has a 21.15 PER is shooting .639/.0/.636 and averaging a 8.1/.8/3.1/1 Blk in 18.8 minutes.  He’s a 25 year old unrestricted free agent and is playing great on offense, and just above average on defense for the Mavs.  82 games has him with a sick +6.9 simple rating.  A 25 year old 5 year vet from UNC, he was once considered a bust from the ’07 draft.  Wright is finally living up to his potential.  I doubt we’ll be able to outbid Dallas on this guy, and I’ve never seen him actually play, but his numbers look really good.  He should definitely be on our radar.

Is Brandan Wright finally ascending?

DeJuan Blair: The guy we should have drafted instead of Christian Eyenga is an average NBA player on offense with a PER of 13.83, and a below average defender (he’s a 6’7″ center).  He doesn’t fit in the Cavs offense, where players rarely post up on the block.  So long DeJuan.

Don't mess with a man named Zaza.

Zaza Pachulia: One of my least favorite opponents of the last several years is exactly the kind of enforcer the Cavs need.  He’s a space eater and a rebounder who still defends well.  13.87 PER and still a decent finisher with a game out to about 10 feet, he rarely gives up layups, and his fouls look like they really hurt.  Probably re-signs with the Hawks, but would be worth a flier for a 2 year $6 million deal.

Cole Aldrich: Buried on benches for teams that were too good for him to get any playing time, he could be an interesting addition on a make good contract.  The difference between Cole Aldrich, Byron Mullins, Kosta Koufos?  Playing time.

Kaman preps for picture day by channeling his inner Hans Klopek.

Chris Kaman: Remember that boy band idea?  Well how about a slasher flick where they pick up a hitchhiker played by Kaman?  Scary stuff, right?  Ginger vampire looks aside, Kaman is a good NBA center, still.  14.6/1.0/6.6/.9 Blk 17.94 PER.  He shoots well, defends ok, eats space, and scares children.  He’s currently on a 1 year $8 million dollar contract, and might have two good years left in him at 30 years old.  He probably signs with a contender anyway, but two years, $12 million might do it.

Josh McRoberts: What the heck happened to this guy?  He used to be a pretty effective bench stretch 4 who could rebound and hit 3s.  He’s kind of fallen off the map in Orlando, but he defends opposing 4’s pretty well, and could shoot and rebound.  At 25, he could be a training camp invite.

Samuel Dalembert: Another of a million Bucks on this list.  He’s overpaid for what he does, seems less effective every year, and whines too much.  His 16.62 PER means nothing to me.  He’s 31 and I hope he never wears a Cavs uniform.

Ekpeh Udoh: Yet another Buck… Good defensive player, and a decent shotblocker.  He flashes a 12.1 PER, and shoots .447/.0/.853.  He blocks shots and draws fouls, but doesn’t rebound as well as he should.  At 25, he could be a nice 3 year contract for low money, say 3 years, $7 million with the last year not fully guaranteed.

Hasheem Thabeet: Collossal draft whiff by the Grizz is 25 now, and can’t walk down the street without fouling someone. But… he’s 7’3″ and can block shots, rebound, and dunk.  I can’t imagine the Thunder will pick up his $1.2 million option with their desire not to pay the luxury tax.  He has a 12.93 PER, and a block % rate that is very nice.  He also has similarly high foul and turnover rates.  Why not sign him and send him to Canton?  If we’re talking about signing Greg Oden, this option doesn’t make any less sense.  Additionally, he could probably be had for a future 2nd rounder as a draft day trade, or even a trade this year.

Thanks for the awesome pic

J.J. Hickson: Rhianna took Chris back.  This reunion could work, right?  The man’s a double double machine right now with an over 19 PER.  But he’s still a below average defender.  Hey…  Maybe we could sign him and then trade him for Amare when he’s amnestied in a couple years.  Probably not.

Greg Oden: The #1 pick of the 2007 NBA draft plans to sit out the entire 2012-2013 NBA season to rehab his knee.  He has admitted to battling alcoholism, and is supposedly in Columbus now working on his degree.  I wish Greg Odon the best, but  he’s the long shot of long shots at this point.  He has to deal with his alcoholism, depression, knees, and then fix his game in that order.  If he can do the first three, invite him to camp.  I know the Cavs don’t want to deal with a Delonte West situation again, but I think this would be a similar distraction.

Don’t call us, we’ll call… ok, no we won’t: Antawn Jamison, Lamar Odom, Anthony Tolliver, Rasheed Wallace, Lou Amundson, Chris Wilcox, Kurt Thomas, Vladimir Radmanovich, Jason Maxiell, Troy Murphy, Earl Clark, Nazr Mohammed, Joel Pryzbilla, Jermaine O’Neal, Darko Milicic, Ryan Hollins, Ronny Turiaf, DSagana Diop, Jason Collins, Johan Petro, & Earl Barron.

Conclusions: The Cavs will have two rookies next year on top of a core of KI, St. Weirdo, Andy, ZPA, Gee, TT, and maybe 2 guys that are on the team now.    That leaves 5 slots.  After going through this list, my top free agents, are Carl Landry, Jarrett Jack, Tony Allen, Demarre Carroll, Corey Brewer, Brandan Wright, and Martell Webster.  Their biggest need is depth at the big man, wing, and backup combo guard.  I think any 5 of those would be awesome.  Aside from Landry, they’re all players who can play multiple positions.  They all defend with varying degrees of success, and they’re all on the right side of thirty.  If we could get 5 of them for around $20 million combined per year, we’d be doing very very well.  There are a lot of low pay guys on this list that could fill out a roster too.

Next year is the year to start competing.  Golden State has big time money problems and if we offered Landry and Jack $6-8 million per for two years, the Warriors would have a very hard time matching. They do have a deep pockets owner, though, in Robert Sarver.  Dallas and Denver will have decisions to make on Brandan Wright and Corey Brewer, but the opportunity to start long term in Cleveland could push those guys into coming here.  $6-8 Million dollars for them might work too (we’re not going to get all 4).  Tony Allen would be a very nice option to help establish a winning, defense first, mentality as well.  It will be up to Grant to prioritize the players he wants and go after them in free agency right away: to make them feel wanted and that they can be a part of a playoff team.  It’s gonna be a constructive summer.