We’re into the last week of August, the weather has been torrid, although not as bad as it could be, and in about a month, NBA training camps will rev up.
The excitement level around all teams is building, the Mavericks included. That present known as Kristaps Porzingis has been sitting under the proverbial Christmas tree for six months and coach Rick Carlisle and Maverick fans have to wait two more months before they can see it unwrapped.
While it’s too early to start fixating on just how good the Mavericks can be this season, it’s not too early to look at one of the interesting side stories going on in the NBA.
If you haven’t noticed, there are more than a handful of free agents left on the market that sure seem like they should have professional homes by now. Why haven’t they? Maybe they still are hoping for more money. Maybe they are waiting to see if a contender needs to fill a hole. Maybe they just are enjoying life and waiting for their agents to do their jobs.
But there are good players out there. This isn’t to say that any of these players would be good fits for any specific team. And while the Mavericks do still have one or perhaps two roster spots open, they aren’t in any real hurry to add anybody.
That said, here’s our list of free agents that have fallen through the cracks for one reason or another and what their future may hold, starting with the guards since the big-man market is considerably more dried up than the available perimeter players.
Devin Harris: The longtime Maverick said near the end of the season that he was willing to be patient – good thing. “August will be my time,” he said, knowing that a lot of free agents had to find homes before teams would get to him. August is almost gone and Harris remains unemployed. Rest assured that if the Mavericks find themselves in a bind in the backcourt, Harris will be their first phone call. But in the meantime, one of the contenders in the East should give Harris consideration. Boston could use a solid veteran backing up Kemba Walker and Milwaukee (where Harris grew up) could do worse than having him behind Eric Bledsoe and George Hill.
Jodie Meeks: This one is difficult to understand, too. Meeks is a very solid 3-point shooter and an OK defender. He played in 14 of Toronto’s playoff games last season as the Raptors won the title. Meeks has been around awhile, but he’s still got some tread left. And every NBA team craves shooting.
Jamal Crawford: Yes, he’s older than Dirk. Oops, we mean dirt. Although he’s not far behind Nowitzki. Crawford will turn 40 this season, but the dude still scored 51 points in an NBA game last season (against the Mavericks, in case you forgot). As mentioned about Meeks, shooters can always find a home. Crawford has had a really good and long NBA career. If he wants to call it quits, nobody would hold it against him. But if you need a shooter, why wouldn’t you give him a shot.
Iman Shumpert: Pretty solid all-around player who has a ring with Cleveland a few years back. He’s only 29 and has proven to be able to handle any role. He’d be best suited as a rotation player off the bench. Not a great shooter, but good enough to keep defenses honest.
Justin Anderson: His career has stalled since the Mavericks traded him in 2016-17. He’s had trouble getting consistent playing time the past two seasons. But he’s only 25 and he’s got good athleticism. In the right situation, he could still be a functional role player.
Best of the rest:
Ryan Anderson: Lost his shot last season and if he doesn’t have that…
Jose Calderon: Long in the tooth, but still a clever playmaker, good shooter.
Raymond Felton: Another former Maverick who can still shoot and dish.
Jeremy Lin: Apparently, the league really has forgotten about him.
Shaun Livingston: Retirement is an option after Warriors stretched him.
Thabo Sefalosha: Had lots of good years as a role player/defender.
J.R. Smith: Might be at the end of the line.
Best available big men:
Kenneth Faried: The Manimal isn’t what he was back in his Denver days, but he’s still a threat to put up a double-double anytime he gets appropriate playing time. Seems like he’s been around longer than eight seasons. Has career numbers of 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds. He’s only 30. Seems like somebody should jump on him, manage his minutes, keep him healthy and let him be a horse off the bench.
Marcin Gortat: He’s contemplating retirement after what even he called a ridiculous contract that Washington gave him five years back. But he was still a really good rebounder per minute played for the Clippers last season. The guess is that somebody will throw some dollars at him at some point.
Salah Mejri: Who doesn’t love “The Mej?” If you’re in the market for a reserve center, you could do a lot worse than Mejri, who got better in each of his four seasons with the Mavericks, even if the numbers didn’t always reflect it. Plus, he’s good people who will tell it like it is in the locker room. Good teammate to have around.
Joakim Noah: He had some productive moments in limited minutes for the Grizzlies last year, which is why the Lakers are trying him out. He’s not the double-double version he once was. But he’s good enough to help somebody off the bench.
Jon Leuer: The Bucks waived him via the stretch provision and he’s been a functional role player for much of his career. But the league is getting younger and more athletic and that’s not exactly Leuer’s wheelhouse. Still, he’s worth a minimum contract for somebody considering he’s getting $10M over the next three seasons from the Bucks.
Best of the rest:
Marquisse Chriss: Questions exist about his want-to, but not about his talent.
Dwight Howard: He’s disappointed a lot of teams, but some still chase him.
Amir Johnson: He’s done yeoman service throughout his career.
Luc Mbah a Moute: He’s pieced together a very nice career, although it’s winding down.
Nene: A personal favorite, but not getting a lot of interest these days.
Zaza Pachulia: Somebody will pick him up and be very, very happy.
Tyler Zeller: He’s one of 17 Zeller brothers in the NBA, we think.