The NBA is now entering the payoff period and teams are jockeying for playoff positions. As most NBA players can attest, the NBA season is a long hard grind and, understandably, injuries occur. To reduce the likelihood of injuries, teams are strategically resting their stars in an effort to preserve them for the playoff run. That being said, this is the perfect time for these teams to look for free agents to bolster their lineups. While the easiest way to do this is to call up promising G League players or wait for players to be bought out and then sign them, these NBA teams have other options. They can sign former NBA players, such as Donatas Motiejunas and Anthony Randolph, who are playing well outside the NBA.
According to ESPN, the Milwaukee Bucks recently signed Brandon Jennings to a 10-day contract. The former 10th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft last played for the Wisconsin Herd in the G League. But before his stint with the Herd, Jennings played for Shanxi Brave Dragons in China. Jennings averaged 27.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 2.7 steals in 13 games for the Chinese team and averaged 21.4 points, 7.6 assists, and 4.7 rebounds with the Herd. With Jennings being back in the NBA, he could re-open the floodgates for former NBA players including Motiejunas and Randolph.
NBA teams needing a big man could take a risk and bring in Donatas Motiejunas. The 7-footer Motiejunas is currently playing for the Shandong Golden Stars that finished fourth in the regular season of the Chinese Basketball Association. He last played in the NBA for the New Orleans Pelicans and was deemed as the team’s future center or at least the main back up for the All-Star Anthony Davis. However, the Pelicans acquired another All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins that made it almost impossible for Motiejunas to get floor time.
According to Bleacher Report, Motiejunas, a stretch 5, could wind up as a “piece added late in the season by a title contender.” Motiejunas averaged 7.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in 5 seasons in the NBA. Ironically, one of the NBA teams in need of a big man at the moment is the New Orleans Pelicans due to DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending injury.
Anthony Randolph was the 14th overall pick by the Golden State Warriors during the 2008 NBA Draft. In a span of seven seasons, he played for the Warriors, the New York Knicks, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Denver Nuggets. The lanky Randolph played for the Russian club PBC Lokomotiv Kuban before signing with Real Madrid where he is a key player. Randolph also suited up as a naturalized player for Slovenia and helped his adopted country to win its first-ever EuroBasket title in 2017.
The 28-year-old Randolph averaged 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in the NBA. Randolph helped Real Madrid clinch the top seed in the Liga ACB which allowed the team to qualify for the EuroLeague. However, Real Madrid fell to Valencia in the Finals. Randolph, while limited offensively during his years in the NBA, now has incorporated a reliable outside jumper and can now play the role of a traditional stretch 4.
Before the NBA community sits down and focus on the upcoming March Madness and start ranking prospective lottery picks, they better stop and take a look at Motiejunas and Randolph. These two could certainly step in and contribute right this moment. And they’ll have chips on their shoulders which would probably make them play harder. NBA teams looking for big men shouldn’t look any farther. Motiejunas and Randolph are there for the taking. Assuming, of course, that their contracts can be bought out.