While the big moves of free agency in this NBA off-season are behind us, some meaningful names remained unsigned, with restricted free agents Greg Monroe (of the Detroit Pistons) and Eric Bledsoe (of the Phoenix Suns) sitting on top of that list.
There are also veterans like Shawn Marion who is contemplating retirement although he can still give any team that signs him quite a lot, Mo Williams and Andray Blatche who won’t get the money they thought they’re worth, and Jordan Hamilton who has enough offense and potential to get someone to bite eventually.
Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
A restricted free agent who is asking for the maximum deal. Monroe averaged just over 15 points and 9 rebounds per game last season. Yes, big men usually enjoy larger deals, but Monroe isn’t a very good defender, and he hasn’t really shown that he’s capable of being the focal point of an offense. A poor man’s Al Jefferson, or on his way to becoming the same kind of player? It doesn’t matter. The Pistons aren’t in a rush to sign him because they have Drummond and Josh Smith, giving them a bit of leverage and an opportunity to check out some trade options if Monroe and his agent, David Falk, refuse to budge.
Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns
Similar problem. Bledsoe hasn’t done enough in his short NBA career to deserve a max contract, but he’s certainly trying to get one. Many are saying that it is his agent, Rich Paul, who for the first time is trying to close a deal that doesn’t include LeBron James, who is pushing for the max deal. The Suns have Isaiah Thomas as insurance if Bledsoe carries on persisting to be paid more than he deserves to be. Maybe Bledsoe eventually takes the qualifying offer and tries his luck in unrestricted free agency next summer.
Marion, 36, has been with the Dallas Mavericks for the last five NBA season. Some thought he’d be picking up a bit more interest at this point, with his defense and rebounding still more than slightly useful, and his ability to contribute for more than just 10-15 minutes a night like most guys his age. The Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets seem like good fits and interested parties, but Marion himself might even end up retiring if there’s no more hunger for him when it comes to basketball and chasing a second championship ring.
Mo Williams probably made a bad move by opting out of his deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. He averaged 9.7 points and 4.3 assists last season playing behind Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews. He thought he’d be able to get a long term deal for more than $2.7 million, but it isn’t happening and probably won’t. He’s a great guy to have: An offensive spark plug coming off the bench who can play both guard positions, but teams, at this stage of free agency, don’t really like paying for that kind of player.
Blatche thought that after a solid season of stepping up for Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett in Brooklyn (11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds per game) he’s be looking at more than the veteran’s minimum in this free agency. He’s wrong, as teams aren’t sold on his ‘rehabilitated” image, and still consider him to be a risk to take on. He’ll eventually fold and come in cheap, and can be a very solid contribution in two big man positions coming off the bench.
He didn’t get a lot of playing time for both the Nuggets and the Rockets last season, but Jordan Hamilton is a solid offensive option off the bench. He’s not a good defender and still hasn’t been through the coach to turn him into a more serious player, but he isn’t a negative influence on the team, and scoring is something you can never have enough of.