By Art Garcia, NBA.com
Posted Jun 30 2009 12:40PM
Bargain hunters rejoice. You don't have to break the bank to add a piece to the rotation or perhaps even a starter in the shopping spree known as free agency.
That's not to say guys like Kobe Bryant or Carlos Boozer or Hedo Turkoglu aren't worth the big bucks they'll command once the bidding starts tonight. It's just that teams aren't built on stars alone. As much as Kobe meant to the Lakers' championship run -- he was The Finals MVP, after all -- Trevor Ariza had more than his share of moments during the Playoffs.
Ariza made $2.9 million last season. Kobe pocketed 10 times as much.
The Spurs lost out on Corey Maggette last summer and ended up with Roger Mason Jr. as Plan B. Flying under the radar in Washington, Mason inked a two-year deal with San Antonio for slightly less than $8 million. The money proved well spent, as Mason started the majority of the season, averaged a career-high 11.8 points and became one of the league's top 3-point shooters.
While this is hardly a complete list, we subjectively offer up 10 potential free-agent bargains in no particular order:
Player (2008-09 salary)
Rasheed Wallace ($13.9 million): 'Sheed, 35, has made his money and won his title. At this point of his career, adding to the ring collection is more important than the money pile. Wallace's skill set has never been questioned. His desire has. Still, the postseason-tested vet is the perfect fit for a contender in need of frontcourt depth.
Andre Miller ($11.4 million): The 32-year-old point guard quietly continues to put up numbers -- 16.3 points and 6.5 assists last season. His days of making eight figures appear over. Miller can lead a young team and hold his own against the top playmakers in the league. He just won't cost as much he used to.
Chris Andersen ($998,398): The Birdman would have been in line for a huge payday in years past, but his checkered past and an uncertain economic climate could work against him. Third in blocked shots last season, Andersen is instant energy off the bench and a well-liked teammate. And he'll sell some t-shirts and wigs.
Brandon Bass ($826,269): After a pair of wasted seasons with the Hornets, the athletically-gifted power forward has put together two solid campaigns as Dirk Nowitzki's backup in Dallas. He averaged 8.5 points and 4.5 boards last season and his production has gone up in the Playoffs. He's only 24.
Anthony Parker ($4.6 million): There's interest out there in the 6-foot-6 shooting guard, but he's unlikely to get a significant jump, if any, from his current salary. He's already 34 and has averaged just a tad over 10 points for his career. Toronto wants to use Parker in a sign-and-trade.
Matt Barnes ($1.2 million): Averaged a career-high 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds last season -- his sixth in the league (and his sixth different team, too). The glut of wings hurts Barnes' earning potential, but that hasn't stopped the defensive stopper with a smooth offensive game from producing. He's comfortable coming off the bench or starting.
Ramon Sessions ($711,517): The only restricted free agent on this list, Sessions averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 assists last season despite starting only half the time. Milwaukee drafted point guard Brandon Jennings, leaving Sessions' situation clouded even through the Bucks have the right to match any offer the 23-year-old gets.
Rasho Nesterovic ($8.4 million): Way overpaid on his last contract, but that happens with centers. Has a nice shooting touch and good hands, and at 33, still has a few years left in the tank. Not a starter for a contender, but a capable backup in a league devoid of quality big men.
Grant Hill ($1.98 million): Played in all 82 games (started 68) for the first time in his career last season. Hill averaged 12 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists, proving that the all-around game is still there. He turns 37 before the season starts, but veteran leaders like this make sense on title hopefuls.
Zaza Pachulia ($4 million): Solid center has been forced out of Atlanta's starting lineup by Al Horford. He has size (6-11, 275) and is only 25 years old. While Pachulia won't be an All-Star, the Georgian can contribute to a squad in need of quality bodies on the frontline.
Others to consider: Ike Diogu, Marquis Daniels, Shannon Brown, CJ Watson and James Singleton.
If you have a question or comment for Art Garcia, send him an email.
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