Everyone wants to sign LeBron James, but not everyone can. Some teams need to find help on the cheap. So, as July 1’s free agency frenzy begins, let’s take a look at three free agents who will command more than a minimum salary, but won’t cost you the max deals owners are hesitant to pay:
P.J. Tucker, SF (Former team: Phoenix Suns)
Tucker may have only posted a 13.3 PER this past season, but he’s the type of player who fits pretty seamlessly into any team. He’s a low-usage floor spacer, who knows how to move off the ball and knocked in 40.7 percent of his corner threes this past season. Meanwhile, he used just 14.2 percent of his team’s possessions.
You don’t need to worry about getting Tucker the ball on anything other than open jumpers. He’s a quality spot-up shooter, posting a 57.7 percent adjusted field-goal percentage in catch-and-shoot situations this past season, according to Synergy Sports. As a fourth-year, 29-year-old player, Tucker is a late bloomer. He left the league after his rookie season in 2006-07 only to return for 2012-13. In that time off, he learned how to guard. Now, he’s a pitbull who actually understands how to rotate on the defensive end. His 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame helped him hold offensive players who isolated against him to 32.3 percent shooting, per Synergy.
Spencer Hawes, C (Former team: Cleveland Cavaliers)
Hawes has been around so long, we forget he’s still only 26 years old. This past season, the center who has always been able to attempt the occasional three, added the long-range ball to his repertoire consistently, knocking home 41.6 percent of his 3.9 three-point attempts a night. Bringing that skill into his arsenal adds a completely new dynamic to Hawes’ game, helping make him one of the league’s sneakiest and most dangerous pick-and-pop threats.
Hawes averaged 1.07 points per play as a pick-and-roll roll-man this past season, per Synergy. That ranked him in the top quarter of all qualifiers for that stat. Meanwhile, like Tucker, Hawes is a legitimate catch-and-shoot threat. He’s become a solid screen setter, enabling himself to find space on those pick-and-pops more often than not, and when he’s open, he’s learned to dominate, posting a ridiculous 70.0 percent adjusted field-goal percentage on unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers while in Cleveland. With the direction the NBA is heading in, anyone team could use a pick-and-pop center with range out to the arc. After this year, we can safely say Hawes fits that description.
Greivis Vasquez, PG (Former team: Toronto Raptors)
For some reason, Vasquez never gets enough credit. Maybe it’s because he’s never really played on a high-profile team or because of his unassuming nature, but really, the former Maryland star deserves more attention than he receives.
We’re talking about a restricted free agent who sneakily led the NBA in total assists just two seasons ago. He’s a solid pick-and-roll point guard. The Toronto Raptors averaged 0.93 points per play when he ran a pick-and-roll, putting him in about the same class as Ty Lawson. The knock on Vasquez used to be that he couldn’t shoot, but this past season, he sunk 37.7 percent of his threes on 3.7 attempts a game. He averaged a fantastic 1.07 points per jumper, per Synergy, and shot at an elite rate from midrange, 50.5 percent. Now, he’s a passer and a quality jump-shot maker. He might be the best backup point guard in the league. Anyone should be happy taking in a 6-foot-6 floor general with that skill set.
Fred Katz averaged almost one point per game in fifth grade, but he maintains that his per-36-minute numbers were astonishing. Find more of his work at Bleacher Report, RotoWire.com or on ESPN’s TrueHoop Network at ClipperBlog.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.