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Fran Blinebury

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Boris Diaw's stop in San Antonio worked out much better than his one in Charlotte. Next?
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

2012 free-agent class replete with solid role players


Posted Jun 26 2012 11:36AM

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LeBron James makes the jaw-dropping moves that become staples on the highlight reels, but these guys often make the plays that make just as much difference.

Kevin Durant fills up the buckets with shot after shot to win games, but these guys can squeeze out victories sometimes without taking a single shot.

Kobe Bryant can do almost anything he wants on a basketball court, but often these guys specialize in a single task.

Every successful team needs role players to supplement the stars. Here are a noteworthy handful who'll be available on the free-agent market:

Boris Diaw

Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 235
Position: PF/C
Age: 30
Status: Unrestricted
Stats: 6.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg

Which role do you need filled -- guard, forward or center? Diaw can play virtually anywhere on the court and excel, with his nose for making the right play, excellent passing skills, athleticism and an ego that doesn't need to score.

He needs to play for a winner and will lose interest if things turn sour, as evidenced by his experience in Charlotte. But even though his shooting range is limited and he's flat-out horrible from the free-throw line, he was a perfect late season fix in San Antonio and could stick around.

Jason Terry

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 180
Position: PG
Age: 34
Status: Unrestricted
Stats: 15.1 ppg, 3.6 apg

The JET would prefer to stay in his favorite hangar in Dallas, but that won't happen if the Mavs are able to land Deron Williams in the free-agent sweepstakes. They'd be more likely to re-sign Jason Kidd for the reserve role.

He still has outstanding quickness, is a good on-the-ball defender, can light it up off the bench and has never been shy about taking a big shot in a clutch situation. His ability to penetrate opens up teammates and that would put him in line with many others to help out the offense in Miami.

Mickeal Pietrus

Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 215
Position: Small forward
Age: 30
Status: Unrestricted
Stats: 6.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.5 spg

His best role is that of the twister who whirls and crashes and turns everything upside down in the trailer park. Pietrus is one of those guys who you might think should have developed more consistency to his game by now. But in a way that's the beauty of his game -- you never know what you're going to get. Sometimes it's a bucketful of 3-pointers, other times it's big offensive rebounds or filling the lane on the fast break.

A great athlete who can jump through the roof and loves to mix things up on defense is usually a welcome addition to any roster. He gave an infectious and unpredictable spark to the Celtics during their playoff run and wants to stay in Boston, where the home crowd appreciated his wild and crazy hustle.

Reggie Evans

Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 245
Position: PF
Age: 32
Status: Unrestricted
Stats: 1.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg

How do you stick around in the NBA for 10 years when you'd have a hard time putting the ball into the basket even if you sat on the back of the rim? Play on the backboards like you're hungry and battling for a meal. Play a style of defense that is more suffocating than a plastic bag. OK, play dirty. Evans denies that anything he's ever done on the court is outside the letter of the law. But can all those opponents be wrong?

For all the complaints about his, uh, tactics, his teammates love the way he has their back. The fact that he can't shoot a lick is far less important than the attitude that he doesn't care if he ever shoots that will keep Evans employed as long as he can lace up his sneakers.

Steve Novak

Height: 6-foot-8
Weight: 240
Position: SF
Age: 28
Status: Unrestricted
Stats: 8.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg

How many other NBA players can say that Paul Simon once wrote a song about them: One Trick Pony. But oh, Novak can do that trick over and over again. He's a shooter, plain and simple.

Novak led the league in 3-point field goal percentage (47.2) last season and became a minor star orbiting in the "Linsansity" in New York, but was unable to deliver in the playoffs. However, in a game where putting the ball into the hole is the object, he can line up and do it with the best of them. He'd get opportunities in Miami and playing with Dwight Howard in Orlando. Boston if Ray Allen leaves?

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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