Sunday, March 16, 2008

Early Look at Free Agency

With the season all-but-over for everything except for evaluation purposes, I'd like to take an early look at some prospective free agents. Now without knowing draft position or which players we'll be keeping of our own free agents, it is tough to pinpoint who to really take an interest in at this time. However, even with that in mind, there are a handful of players that I think would be beneficial to the team no matter who they draft or re-sign. As a disclaimer, let me say that I'm not looking at any of the "big name" guys (Gilbert Arenas, Elton Brand, Monta Ellis, etc.) or any of the higher profile restricted free agents (Andre Igoudala, Luol Deng, Emeka Okafor, Josh Smith, etc.) for this post. These will be mid- to lower-level players that can contribute off the bench or as occasional starters when needed.

Mickael Pietrus - Warriors: The player known as "Air France" was heavily rumored to be on Jerry West's watch list prior to the 2003 draft, which led to the Warriors taking him at #11 before the Grizzlies pick at #13. Pietrus demanded a trade about a month ago when he wasn't getting any playing time in Don Nelson's free-wheelin' system in which he thrived last year. In fact, he even joked with the Grizzlies broadcast team, wondering "if Chris Wallace was in the building, because I'd look good in Memphis".

Pietrus is an athletic SG/SF (6'6", 215 lbs.) who is a capable defender, if prone to foul trouble on occasion. I blame that on Nellie's insistence on a gambling, hacking defensive style that produces turnovers at the expense of giving up hand-check fouls quite often. He's not a terrific outside shooter (career .352%) or free-throw shooter (career .660%), but he is a good slasher and defender, which the Grizzlies can definitely use at the swingman position.

Trevor Ariza - Lakers: Ariza is another athletic slasher with good size (6'8", 210 lbs.), although he has absolutely no outside shot, so the Grizzlies would have to retain Miller or Navarro to complement him when he's on the floor since none of the young PG's are capable perimeter threats either. He played well for L.A. before suffering a broken right foot, but there is some question as to how concerned they are about retaining him with the other talented forwards they have on the roster. He'd make a solid backup to Rudy for the next few years.

Josh Childress (R) - Hawks: Honestly, I want to sign him just for the hairdo. Ok, not just that. I like the idea of a 6'8", 210 lbs. G/F who has a .580 FG% this season. He could start at SG if the team decides to trade Mike Miller or fill in at both SG and SF positions off the bench.

Chris Duhon - Bulls: I know a lot of Bulls fans hate him, but he has a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. I'd love to have him as the primary backup to help the young PG's that remain on the roster. He's a smart player, if a little undersized (6'1", 185 lbs.) in today's NBA.

Eduardo Najera - Nuggets: The guy you love to hate....when he's on the other team. When he's on your team, you defend him with your last breath. Najera is the classic hustle player that does all the dirty work that nobody else thinks is worth their time. He's a poor man's Shane Battier, which the team has missed the last two seasons since Battier was traded to Houston. He's capable of playing either forward position and won't back down from anyone.

DeSagana Diop - Nets: Is he a starter? Not for a legit playoff team in the West, he isn't. But he is a solid defender and shot-blocker with the size (7'0", 275 lbs) to match up with anyone in the league. With only Darko and Jason Collins capable of playing center, he'd be a nice addition.

Louis Amundson (R) - Sixers: I can see the question forming on your lips right now - "Who?" I profiled Amundson in an earlier post and although he hasn't gotten much playing time for Philly this season, my opinion on him hasn't changed much. This 6'9", 225 lbs. forward is an energetic player with great athleticism and a knack for shot-blocking. He wouldn't see much PT here either, but in case you haven't noticed, we need to upgrade our bench so that guys like Andre Brown don't have to see the floor.

James Jones - Trail Blazers: A 6'8", 220 lbs. SF, Jones is familiar with Coach Marc Iavaroni from his time in Phoenix. He's hitting over 48% of his 3-point attempts this season. Besides, David Berri (Wages of Wins) says he's the key to Portland's success and that's good enough for me.

Bonzi Wells - Hornets: And this is where I lose most of you. Hear me out though. Bonzi (or "The Bonzi" in my house) is a solid scorer with an excellent post-up game. At 6'5", 210 lbs. you're not going to see him get pushed around by anyone either. He's not quite the defender he used to be, but he's still a good rebounder and a solid option off the bench.

Those are the players that I'd like to see the front office take a look at if they aren't going to go after any of the "big names" this summer. Chime in with your own thoughts on some of the lower-level players we should target this offseason to upgrade the bench.

BallHype: hype it up!


ChipC3 said...

Pietrus - Yes
Ariza - No (doesn't fit the profile wanted by Iavaroni)
Childress - Maybe (not a great outside shooter however)
Duhon - No
Najera - Maybe (good hustle but likely past his prime and not a great outside shooter)
Diop - No
Amundson - Doubtful
Jones - Maybe (knows Iavaroni's system and provides great range)
Bonzi - You can't be serious

Anonymous said...

I like cheese

ht said...

Good post..

I like the Pietrus and James Jones ideas. I think they're both legit, and I think Josh Childress could help too.

But the rest I could do without- especially Bonzi.

But again, good post. I want to hear your thoughts on some of the bigger names (esp. Elton Brand) and whether you think Heisley will make a move this offseason.

I was having a conversation today with a friend about Heisley's motives... what's he going to do you think?

ChipC3 said...

I am not Spartacus but I think big name players looking for a major payday for thier last contracts are out. That includes Brand, Arenas and the like. Heisley and Wallace are rebuilding with youth and are committed to that plan. A player looking for an opportunity to prove themselves is more likely than a big name.

Anonymous said...

You threw in Bonzo just to make sure we were paying attention, right?

Why not Ricky Davis while we are at it if its cancer you want to add?