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Fran Blinebury

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Matt Barnes may not be a marquee free agent but he could mesh well with any team.
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Glue guys: Free agents that complete the puzzle


Posted Jun 27 2010 5:20PM - Updated Jun 28 2010 8:27PM

While the focus of the free agent season is understandably on superstars such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and potential game-changers like Amar'e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson, when you're constructing a team that can contend in the playoffs, it's always critical to remember the glue guys who keep it all together.

They are players who are versatile, tough, smart and unselfish. They're the ones who put the team's needs ahead of their own. They're rarely flashy, but are often as important as stars who wind up on the highlight reels.

Here are five free agent glue guys who could fit in and stick anywhere:

Matt Barnes

Pos: SF
Height: 6-7
Age: 30
Status: Player option; unrestricted free agent

For someone who is supposed to be a glue guy, Barnes has never managed to stick in one spot. Last season in Orlando was his seventh team in eight seasons, but that doesn't mean that coaches don't love all of the little things that he can and will do. He's not bashful at all about putting up shots and can get on hot streaks that change games. What is more endearing to coaches is that hard-nosed, tough-guy streak that means he's ready to stick his nose into any situation and his willingness to play in-your-face defense all over the floor. Toss in the fact that he's a very good rebounder for a small forward and he's one of those under-the-radar players who will attract solid offers to jump yet again to another new location.

Kyle Korver

Pos: SF
Height: 6-7
Age: 29
Status: Unrestricted free agent

Spending 30 games of last season sidelined following knee surgery did nothing to throw off Korver's shooting touch. In fact, he came back firing away with more accuracy than ever, hitting at a 53.6 percent clip from behind the 3-point line. There's nothing fancy about what he does -- finds the open spaces in the defense and shoots the ball. He was always a non-factor while playing defense and now might even be a touch slower following the surgery. But he's fearless about taking the shot in any situation, is a diligent worker and solid influence in the locker room, and if it's long-range sniping you need, he's the man for the job.

Kyle Lowry

Pos: PG
Height: 6-0
Age: 24
Status: Restricted free agent

One look says he's too small to get to the basket, yet Lowry always seems to wind up at the rim. The raw statistics say that he's not much of a shooter, yet he manages to collect his share of points. He's built like a fire hydrant, but plays like a sparkplug and always finds a way to be an asset to his team and a nuisance to his opponents. He rebounds, he hustles, he drives, drives, drives. In short, he has a nose for the ball and a head for the game. He was squeezed out by the logjam of point guards in Memphis and went to Houston and promptly became a valuable part of the rotation. The Rockets have vowed that they'll spend what it takes to keep the restricted free agent backing up Aaron Brooks at the point. Coach Rick Adelman loves his headiness and the insurance policy he provides at the position. Lowry is looking to run his own show and might jump at the chance. But his real value is being one of the guys who helps hold it all together.

Luke Ridnour

Pos: PG:
Height: 6-2
Age: 29
Status: Unrestricted free agent

So many of the headlines in Milwaukee last season went to rookie sensation Brandon Jennings, but Ridnour was there in a valuable supporting role behind the scenes. He not only was gracious in giving up his starting role to Jennings, but was a willing and capable veteran mentor who passed on wisdom of his seven years of NBA experience and helped keep things together on the court. Coming off the bench, he shot the ball better than at any time in his career and helped make the Bucks' reserves a potent bunch on their late-season drive into the playoffs. There are plenty of teams that will reach out for a quarterback with his veteran know-how and that could make it tough for Milwaukee to fit him into the 2010-11 budget. But if the Bucks are intent on building what they've started, they'll find a way to keep him.

Luis Scola

Pos: PF
Height: 6-9
Age: 30
Status: Restricted free agent

There is so much glue to this guy's game you might as well call him Elmer. In three NBA seasons, Scola has never missed a single game to injury, famine or plague. He shows up every night and takes care of business, usually quite efficiently with an array of nifty jump hooks and other post moves and a nice mid-range jumper. The Rockets are trying to spread the word that you're only wasting your time doing an offer sheet with Scola, because they'll match virtually anything that's tossed out, just as they did a few years ago with Carl Landry and Charlotte. Considering that he's already 30 years old, this could be Scola's one time to hit a home run in terms of a contract. It stands to reason that one or more courters will test Houston's resolve when it comes to this tough, wily veteran.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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