NBA training camp – Most likely landing spots for Blake Griffin, Hassan Whiteside and other veteran free agents


NBA training camps opened this week, and players from all 30 franchises are preparing to refine their skills and build chemistry with their teammates for the 2022-23 season.

But a handful of serviceable players are still unsigned and not yet sure which team they will be helping this upcoming season, if any. Injuries, age and reduced minutes from previously playing on teams with deep rosters have lowered their stock as players, but several teams still have time to take a chance on these unsigned players and bring them in before the season.

Seasoned veterans such as Jeremy Lamb and Hassan Whiteside and former All-Star Blake Griffin are among the top unsigned players who could make a solid late addition to an NBA team, either as a role player for a contender or a mentor for young teams.

Here’s a look at the best unsigned players who still have a chance to find a home this season and where they could fit in best:

Jeremy Lamb | Guard | Age: 30

Stats: 7.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.4 APG

What went right in 2021-22: Lamb was healthier last season, appearing in 56 games between his stints with the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings — his most since undergoing ACL surgery on his left knee in 2020. He is not the same scorer he was before the injury, but he had some flashes of instant offense off the bench. He played his best basketball in January before the trade, averaging 8.5 points on 43% shooting with a steal and 0.5 blocks. — Jamal Collier

What went wrong in 2021-22: He has struggled with shooting since his injury, especially with his jump shot. In 2021-22, Lamb shot 32.4% on 3s and 44.1% on 2s in one of the worst shooting seasons of his career while still taking 10.4 shots per game. If Lamb finds a role as a reserve for the 2022-23 season, he will have to improve his efficiency coming off the bench. — Collier

Best fit this upcoming season: Toronto. The Raptors strengthened their frontcourt depth with the signings of Otto Porter and Juancho Hernangomez while keeping Thaddeus Young and Chris Boucher. Still, there is a void in bench scoring. The lone reserves are Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton and Jeff Dowtin. The Raptors have 13 guaranteed contracts and four players on partial or non-guaranteed deals (Banton, Josh Jackson, Justin Champagnie and D.J. Wilson). — Bobby Marks

Hassan Whiteside | Center | Age: 33

Stats: 8.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 0.4 APG

What went right in 2021-22: Whiteside proved he can still be a solid option last season backing up Rudy Gobert, and he could help a team looking for size and experience off the bench. He averaged 8.2 points and 7.6 rebounds while putting up a career-best 65.2% from the field on 5.1 attempts last season, and filled in well as a starter in Gobert’s absence. In eight starts in Utah last season, he averaged 11.5 points and 11.3 rebounds. — Collier

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What went wrong in 2021-22: Whiteside has his limitations, but his biggest issue might be a crowded market for players with his skill set, as they are much less in demand in the modern NBA. Whiteside joins a group of veteran big men who are still looking for landing spots that includes Tristan Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, among others. Whiteside accepted his role as a reserve more seamlessly in recent seasons. — Collier

Best fit this upcoming season: Brooklyn. If there is a weakness to this Nets team, it is the lack of size at center. The Nets re-signed Nic Claxton, but the lone backup is Day’Ron Sharpe. Last season Brooklyn ranked last in defensive rebounding percentage, and there is still a pressing need to add size to their roster. Unlike most teams, the Nets do have roster spots open. — Marks

​​LaMarcus Aldridge | Center | Age: 37

Stats: 12.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.9 APG

What went right in 2021-22: Through the first half of the season, Aldridge provided the Nets with a stabilizing veteran presence — averaging 15 points and 5.5 rebounds in six December games while helping Brooklyn get off to a strong start in the East. — Nick Friedell

What went wrong in 2021-22: After scoring 16 points and grabbing nine rebounds in a March 1 loss to the Toronto Raptors in which the Nets played without Kevin Durant (knee) and Kyrie Irving (vaccination requirement), Aldridge played in just four more games and was stuck at the end of Steve Nash’s bench. — Friedell

Best fit this upcoming season: Golden State. Aldridge in the Bay Area is a “break glass in case of emergency” situation. Kevon Looney started all 82 games, but his backup, James Wiseman, missed the entire season with a knee injury. Wiseman has been cleared to practice, but there will be a glaring lack of size if the former No. 2 pick suffers a setback. Because of the Warriors’ luxury tax situation, signing a player such as Aldridge would cost them close to $12 million. — Marks

Blake Griffin | Forward | Age: 33

Stats: 6.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.9 APG

What went right in 2021-22: Griffin averaged 8.8 points and five rebounds during eight December games while the Nets dealt with injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak. — Friedell


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What went wrong in 2021-22: Griffin played just seven games from March 1 until the end of the season. Nash repeatedly praised Griffin for staying ready — but the athleticism and explosiveness that defined his career aren’t there consistently after 13 seasons in the league. Like veteran center LaMarcus Aldridge, Griffin could barely get off the bench for the last two months of the season. — Friedell

Best fit this upcoming season: Miami. The Heat have an open roster spot and a void at power forward with the loss of P.J. Tucker to Philadelphia. However, Miami is only $162,830 below the luxury tax, and the final roster spot likely will not be filled until after the trade deadline. — Marks

Eric Bledsoe | Guard | Age: 32

Stats: 9.9 PPG, 4.2 APG, 3.4 RPG

What went right in 2021-22: Bledsoe started the season with the LA Clippers and came out swinging with a 22-point effort on 10-of-16 shooting. Bledsoe started and came off the bench at times for the Clippers and had his best stretch over nine games from mid-December to New Year’s Day, when he averaged 15.7 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds while shooting 48.6% overall and 45.7% from 3. — Andrew Lopez

What went wrong in 2021-22: The 22-point effort in the opener ended up being his second-highest scoring effort of the season. Once Bledsoe was dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers in February, he wound up on the injury report with tendinopathy in his left Achilles and was officially ruled out for the season on March 28. Overall, Bledsoe’s efficiency continued to drop, shooting 42.1% — the second-lowest mark of his career — and 31.3% from 3 — his lowest mark since 2011-12. — Lopez

Best fit this upcoming season: Charlotte. The Hornets have two roster spots open, and their lone backup to LaMelo Ball is Dennis Smith Jr. The former lottery pick signed a non-guaranteed training camp contract and played in 37 games last season with Portland before he was waived in February. — Marks

Ben McLemore | Guard | Age: 29

Stats: 10.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG. 0.9 APG

What went right in 2021-22: McLemore proved he was still a gunner capable of putting up points in bunches when his shot was falling. McLemore averaged double digits for the third time in his career in 64 games with Portland. He hit a season-high 28 points on three occasions. As Portland dealt with injuries down the stretch, McLemore averaged 16.1 points over the final 14 games of the season. He also was second on the Blazers in 3-pointers (151), and his 10.2 points-per-game average was the second highest of the former lottery pick’s career. — Lopez

What went wrong in 2021-22: While McLemore got his shots up, it didn’t always translate into success for the Blazers. Certain lineups late in the season factored into this, but of the 215 players to play in at least 60 games last season, McLemore finished with the second-worst net rating at minus-13.1. — Lopez

Best fit this upcoming season: New Orleans. The Hornets’ reserves shot 31.9% (27th in the league) from 3 last season, and there is a need for additional bench scoring. However, the Pelicans have 15 guaranteed contracts (including the partial contract of Jose Alvarado) and would need to open up a roster spot. — Marks


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