8 quality free agents still looking for a team
These 8 NBA veterans still on the market could help a team in 2021-22.
From NBA.com Staff
Injuries. Drops in expected play. The sudden need of a little extra depth at a specific position. There are plenty of reasons to suddenly request a free agent’s services long after the initial signing frenzy has run its course.
We take a look at eight unrestricted free agents — listed in no particular order — who could make a difference in some spot-minute situations in 2021-22.
It wasn’t that long ago that Hollis-Jefferson was filling in admirably for the defending-champion Toronto Raptors. The 6-foot-6 forward used his 7-foot-2 wingspan and knack for the ball to average 7.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.8 steals in nearly 19 minutes per game in 2019-20. He’s had trouble finding a stable NBA home since and is currently playing in Turkey, but an NBA team needing defensive-minded forward depth might take a look.
Baynes proved his worth in 2019-20, when the then-Phoenix big man stepped up for the Suns while Deandre Ayton was serving a 25-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. He registered 11.5 ppg and 5.6 rpg and hit 35.1% of his 3-pointers that season. However, a bout with COVID-19 and a knee contusion prevented him from playing in the Orlando bubble. He struggled to find the same groove when he returned with Toronto last season, averaging 6.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg and shot 26.2% on 3-pointers.
Not much went right for the Los Angeles Lakers last season, and that included Matthews’ jump shot. Normally an above-average 3-point shooter at worst, Matthews shot just 33.5% from beyond the arc in 2020-21, and just 28% in Los Angeles’ first-round loss to Phoenix. Was that just an aberration? A team may want to find out for itself, as two-way wing players don’t grow on trees.
Teague hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2018-19 with Minnesota, so those expectations are unfair alongside the former All-Star’s name. He’s still a veteran ball-handler that knows what to do, and any number of teams might be glad to have that on their depth charts. Don’t forget, Teague scored 11 points in 12 minutes in Milwaukee’s Game 6 clincher against the Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference finals.
Despite going undrafted in 2014, Johnson has managed to do more than stick in the league, averaging more than 17 minutes in each of his seven seasons. He’s coming off a season with the Nets in which he shot 36.4% from 3-point range, and put up 13.8 points per game in the 2020 playoffs with Brooklyn. Not yet 30 years old, the 6-foot-3 Johnson might help cap off backcourt depth with the assurance he can play if called upon.
Need shooting? Galloway was quietly one of the best last season, connecting on 42.4% of his 3-point attempts for the Suns. The season before, the 29-year-old guard averaged 10.3 points on 39.9% shooting from deep for the Detroit Pistons. Teams that need a little extra shooting and scoring punch could do a lot worse.
Two seasons ago, some pundits lauded Utah for signing Ed Davis to a team-friendly deal. He seemed like a steal as the potential backup big man behind All-NBA center Rudy Gobert. A fractured left fibula early in 2019-20 derailed those hopes, and the 6-foot-9 big man never quite made the impact many expected. Now 32 years old, Davis is coming off a season in which he averaged near career lows (2.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 13.0 mpg) for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
An emergency depth signing by the Nets last season turned into a tantalizing look at James, who averaged 7.7 ppg, 4.2 apg and 2.5 rpg in 13 games with Brooklyn. His stats faltered in the 2021 playoffs (3.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.3 apg on 32.6% shooting), but the 31-year-old guard refreshed his standing in the NBA after spending most of his career starring overseas.