NBA 2019-20 | Four notable remaining veteran free agents
After a record-breaking and historic off-season with seemingly dozens of franchise-altering trades and signings, the NBA season is up and running with training camps underway and a few pre-season games in the books.
Even after a frenzied period of free agency, there are still some veteran free agents out there that can help a contending team with bench depth or a young team with leadership. We will highlight four remaining notable free agents yet to sign on the dotted line.
After being phased out and eventually banished from the New York Knicks for the better part of two seasons, Joakim Noah signed with the Memphis Grizzlies as a free agent. When he was there, he showed some of the fire and passion in his game that fueled his prime All-Star years with the Chicago Bulls.
His rebounding, passing, and defense were back on display. Noah will occasionally hit a jumper, but most of his offense comes from putbacks and cuts to the rim. At 34 years old, and with a history of foot and shoulder injuries, among other things, his days as a starter are almost certainly over, and he is best served in limited doses off the bench. But he could still be a valuable role player and impact the game.
He worked out for the Lakers in their search for a big man (they settled on Dwight Howard), and was scheduled a few weeks ago to work out for the Clippers, but it was called off. Ironically, a team like the Bulls could use someone of his abilities and experience at center, though they are relatively crowded there. Look for him to be signed at some point, particularly by a contender.
Faried was phased out of the rotation steadily in his last few years with the Nuggets, and when he signed with the Nets, he was banished almost completely to the bench. His career decline was a combination of injuries and concerns about his offensive skills and defense. However, he had a resurgence with the Rockets, largely as an undersized center (filling in for injured Clint Capela) and reclaimed some of the rebounding and boundless energy of his “Manimal” days.
Putbacks, dunks, and cuts to the rim are still his primary sources of scoring but he has showed some improved offense, including a few 3-pointers. He showed he is more than capable of supplying, rebounding, defense and some offense off the bench or in starts. Faried was linked to the Los Angeles Lakers after they were granted an injury exception following DeMarcus Cousins' injury.
Iman Shumpert can play both backcourt positions and some small forward. He is not quite the high-flyer he was in his Knicks days, but he is still a formidable defender and decent ball-handler. He has championship experience with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and has improved as a shooter, particularly from 3-point range. At 29, he is still a relatively young.
“Shump” recently turned down a contract offer to return to the Rockets. With the presence of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Eric Gordon on the team, his minutes may have been limited anyway. However, a contending team looking for a defender and capable scorer off the bench will almost certainly sign him at some point before or during the season.
In his prime, Amir Johnson was a productive shot-blocker and rebounder, and used his athleticism and length well on the defensive end. He also could score a few buckets, including from three-point range occasionally. At 32, he can still provide some good post defense and rebounding in limited minutes.
He proved to be a reliable backup to Joel Embiid when called upon for the 76ers in the last two seasons. His best asset at this point is his leadership on the bench and in the locker room. Johnson still has value in the league as a third-string option at center and power forward.