As we approach the end of July, there is no doubt in the fact that we have witnessed what was possibly the biggest off-season in terms of trades, re-signings and free agent movement in recent years. The two biggest free agents this July certainly took their time but after making the entire world wait on their decision, LeBron James announced that he would return home to sign with his home franchise of Cleveland Cavaliers while Carmelo Anthony re-signed with former team, the New York Knicks to stay put in the Big Apple.Pau Gasol and Luol Deng are a couple of players among many whose movement and futures have been influenced by the decision that Anthony and James had taken a couple of weeks to go. Lance Stephenson was the last big chip to be removed off the table after he declined a five year $44 million deal with his former team the Indiana Pacers to sign with the Hornets of Charlotte.Stephenson’s deal was reported just less than 10 days ago and since the market has gone comparatively quiet. Close to four weeks have passed since the teams were allowed to negotiate and approach players with deals and contracts, yet there are many useful and productive players still available on the block. Here are the top five players under that category:
#5 Jermaine O\'Neal
What is a 35 year old veteran center whose played for five teams over the last six years doing on the list of top free agents still available right?
Well it’s actually a surprise that teams in need of a center with genuine shot blocking ability like Miami Heat or other such teams have not approached Jermaine O’Neal after the level of production he displayed this past with the Golden State Warriors.
With the Warriors starting center Andrew Bogut out with a rib injury just prior to the start of the Playoffs, O’Neal needed to step up to the plate and grab the opportunity with both hands. In the seven games that Golden State played in the Playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers, O’Neal did just that, proving to be a productive efficient center on the court and a dependable veteran presence in the locker room.
His averages of 6 points and 3.4 rebounds this post-season might not be impressive, but they are definitely very deceptive. The numbers have come at an average playing time of just 12 minutes with a Playoff career high shooting percentage of 56.3%.