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The buyout market is next. Name a player or two we could see floating out there who could make a difference for a title contender?
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Steve Aschburner: Tyreke Evans should have gotten traded – that’s why the Memphis Grizzlies warehoused him for a week, right? – and now looms as the No. 1 player not just in line for a buyout but deserving of one. Evans was having a strong season and, given Memphis’ downward arc, should be given a chance via negotiated freedom to take his game to a legit contender. At a lower level, Shabazz Muhammad wants out of Minnesota and the Timberwolves ought to accommodate him, while keeping options open for buyout additions of their own. Muhammad has enough offensive skills to generate some post-buyout interest among other playoff teams.
Tas Melas: Joe Johnson. This is his time to shine. The new Raptors offense tends to revert back to the old Raptors offense in crunch time and they need another guy who can create on his own. It’s Joe-John time in Toronto. And, that would prevent him from killing the Raptors as he tends to do in the postseason.
Shaun Powell: To be honest, nobody will be a difference-maker in the truest definition of the word; if they could still make a difference, their team never would've given up on them. The batch of players up for grabs will either be old or dealing with declining skills or both. That said,Joe Johnson has a history of taking big shots. That's not saying he will, at this stage of his career, still make them. But he won't back down from the moment. Championship teams want and need gutsy players like that.
John Schuhmann: Every team needs shooting and Marco Belinelli is a shooter who has contributed to a championship team (2014 Spurs) in the past. He's not having his best shooting season (his catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage of 37.8 percent is just a tick above the league average), but he's somebody that defenses have to account for when he's on the move.
Sekou Smith: Joe Johnson is still grinding along as one of the league's most reliable scorers and certainly strikes me as a prime candidate for a buyout. He'd draw plenty of attention from contenders on both side of the conference divide and rightfully so. Cleveland has a roster spot and a connection (Johnson and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue once shared a backcourt and a leadership duties in Atlanta) that could lead him to northeast Ohio.The value a veteran practitioner of his ilk brings come playoff time cannot be overstated. The same goes for Tony Allen, who brings the defensive prowess comparable to Johnson's offensive skills and would be a plug and play, elite-level perimeter defender, provided he's physically capable of rekindling his "Grindfather" routine somewhere other than Memphis.