As the NBA free agency period creeps up, the 2012 class of unrestricted free agents isn’t the strongest one in the world, with very few impact players on the market.
However the same can’t be said about the class of restricted free agents available as there is a very nice crop of young players that have the ability to sign an offer sheet with a new team. That crop of players include: Jeremy Lin, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, JaVale McGee, Nicolas Batum, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo.
Almost all of the RFA’s available will be in for a nice hike in pay, but their current teams have the right to match any offer, so very few restricted free agents often switch teams.
But if they do, there’s a another entire crop of under-the-radar restricted free agents that could make an impact for a new team if their current team should elect not to match any offer.
While the Knicks likely won’t be a major player in free agency, here’s a look at 10 under-the-radar free agents that could make an impact in the NBA in 2013.
Aaron Brooks, Phoenix Suns
Brooks missed the 2011-12 NBA season, electing to play in China during the NBA lockout, but he is a guy who’s averaged 12.5 points and 3.6 assists per game throughout his career.
He may not be an NBA starter, but he could be an asset to add a scoring punch off of someone’s bench.
George Hill, Indiana Pacers
Hill was impressive at times during the postseason, eventually becoming the Pacers starting point guard. He’s averaged 9.8 points per game throughout his career and looked more comfortable running the Indiana offense as the season progressed.
He’s a guy that the Pacers should look to bring back, but if not he can add valuable backcourt depth to any team.
Jerryd Bayless, Toronto Raptors
Any team that needs a quality backup point guard, Bayless can solve that problem.
He’s a decent scorer, averaging 11.8 points per game on the season and takes pretty good care of the ball, which is an asset coming off the bench.
Courtney Lee, Houston Rockets
Lee averaged 11.4 points per game and is a good shooter who can get to the rim. His real asset though is as a very athletic perimeter defender.
He can defend any 2 and some of the smaller 3s in the league and is a player that coaches love.
Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors
Rush had a nice season in Golden State, setting career highs in mostly every category.
He’s a guy that can really shoot the ball, knocking down 45 percent of his attempts from behind the arc and is also a very good defender. He will be a target for teams that need shooting off the bench.
Jason Thompson, Sacramento Kings
Thompson averaged a solid 9.1 points and 6.9 rebounds on the year and while he’s not great at any one thing, he’s decent at just about everything.
He’s a guy that doesn’t kill a team at either end of the floor and can play for extended stretches if he has to.
Marreese Speights, Memphis Grizzlies
After being acquired by Memphis, Speights had a decent season averaging 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds and filled in nicely while Zach Randolph was injured.
He’s a decent rebounder and has a solid mid-range game. While you really don’t want him as a starter, he’s a nice option as the first big man coming off the bench.
D.J. Augustin, Charlotte Bobcats
Augustin could be a steal for some team as it really doesn’t make much sense for the Bobcats to match an offer. They need to rebuild and turning the offense over to Kemba Walker makes more sense.
The former Texas Longhorn averaged a solid 11.1 points and 6.4 assists on the season and would fit in well on a lot of NBA teams.
He’s not a good defender, but he’s quick and has become a much improved distributor.
Landry Fields, New York Knicks
Fields is technically a restricted free agent
Fields is eligible for the “Early Bird Exception.” As an Early Bird player, Fields can be offered a contract that starts at 175% of his current salary or anything up to the average NBA salary (which is roughly $5 million)
Other teams can still try to snatch Fields away from the Knicks, though. Both Fields and Lin are technically restricted free agents. However, under the “Gilbert Arenas provision,” other teams are limited in what they can offer Fields and Lin. They can only offer them up to the full mid-level. So the Knicks would be able to match any offers for Fields without touching their mid-level exception.
Fields regressed a little during his second season in the Big Apple and had a miserable season shooting the ball. He dropped to 46 percent from the floor (50 percent as a rookie) and 26 percent from behind the arc (39 percent as a rookie).
Yet, he’s a guy that if he regains his touch can do a lot of things well, especially at the defensive end of the floor.
Alonzo Gee, Cleveland Cavaliers
Gee had a solid season, averaging 10.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while getting a career-high 29 minutes per game.
He was a 10-day guy early in his career, but has made strides in almost every area of his game. Gee still has a ways to go, but he’s got some talent that may be worth taking a shot on.