The Larry O'Brien trophy is up for grabs now more than ever. The NBA will resume its course following a four-month hiatus, which means all players are going to be fresh and well-rested to face the remainder of the season and the playoffs.
This unprecedented situation is going to get even crazier now that the league has allowed teams to sign two more players before making it to the Orlando bubble. That means unsigned veterans can make a comeback and pursue a Championship before retiring.
But, who are the best players available and where should they sign? This may be the last dance for most of them, so they must choose their destination wisely. That's why we'll break it down for you in the following paragraphs:
Pau Gasol hasn't played in a while due to injury but he recently claimed that he's not ready to retire just yet. The 2-time NBA Champion could provide much-needed veteran leadership and input for a team making a run at the Championship.
Gasol is one of the greatest foreign players of all time and he deserves a chance to leave the league on his own terms. Any team that can use his rebounding and gives him around 12 to 15 minutes a night would be thrilled to have him on their roster.
Best destination: Los Angeles Lakers
Kenneth Faried should be playing in the league. He's proven to be a never-ending source of energy in the offensive glass and his rim-running abilities could help plenty of teams needed of a presence above the rim. We can think about several teams that fit that description.
We all know what Faried's capable of giving. He's a hustler, a physical guy that makes up for his lack of size with his great timing as a rebounder and freakish athleticism. He may not be a scorer but could be a huge difference-maker in the playoffs.
Best destination: Boston Celtics
Lance Stephenson is a bucket. He's a versatile player that can do all the little things to help a team win, including playing defense. He can play and guard up to three spots on the court and you know he's not going to back down from any challenge.
Stephenson may be a bit of a troublemaker but he's proven to be capable of focusing and doing what's best for his team. He's the kind of low-risk pickup that could make a huge difference in the playoffs thanks to his versatility and ability to fill the stat sheet.
Best destination: Indiana Pacers
Iman Shumpert has been quite unlucky over the past couple of seasons. He just hasn't found the right spot for him and just when it looked like he was finally going to play for a contender, the Nets had to cut him loose. Still, he could be plenty of use in the playoffs.
Shumpert is the typical 3-and-D kind of player that all teams should crave having on their roster. He's a physical stopper that won't hesitate to put his body on the line on every single possession and guard the rival team's best scorer.
Best destination: Brooklyn Nets
Darren Collison was pretty close to making a comeback this season but claimed that he's still not in game shape. He's had plenty of time to go back to his best shape ever since so we wouldn't rule out him signing with a contending team for the remainder of the season.
Collison would provide a huge boost for any team coming off the bench. He's an outstanding three-point shooter and above-the-average playmaker and would provide veteran leadership that always comes handy in this kind of situation.
Best destination: Dallas Mavericks
Jamal Crawford is one of the most gifted scorers the game has ever seen. He's a walking bucket that could torch and embarrass the best defenders in the league in no time. He proved it by scoring 51 points the last time he had a chance to play in the NBA.
Crawford is never going to be a good defender. Still, he's an instant-offense kind of player off the bench that'll help your team come back from a double-digit deficit. He still got it and has shown the desire to make a comeback to the league.
Best destination: Los Angeles Clippers
Nick Young is an entertainer on and off the court. That's why he's got a bit of a reputation that may not help him get a deal. However, several teams now have a golden opportunity to add another sharpshooter and he's one of the best there are out there.
Young is a streaky scorer. He can go 5-5 from beyond the arc or 1-9. The good thing is that he's going to keep on shooting as his confidence will remain untouched. He could end up being any team's X-factor in the playoffs coming off the bench.
Best destination: Houston Rockets
You may not believe it because of his meltdown in the playoffs but JR Smith is a much mature player now than what he was earlier on his career. He's embraced his role and could now be a very valuable asset for any team pursuing an NBA Championship.
Smith should get more credit for his backcourt defense. Also, he's one of the best when it comes to knocking down contested shots. So, if any team is looking for a 3-and-D shooting guard, they just have to pick up the phone and hit the Henny God.
Best destination: Milwaukee Bucks
It's crazy to think that Isaiah Thomas was the league's leading scorer in the fourth quarter, an MVP candidate, an All-Star, and the leader of the Boston Celtics less than five years ago and now he can't even get a 10-day contract. Life comes at you fast.
Thomas may not be the same explosive scorer he was prior to suffering that heartbreaking back injury. Still, he could provide a lot of energy and around 15 points and 4 assists per game coming off the bench. He deserves a chance to prove his doubters wrong again.
Best destination: Philadelphia Sixers
And last, but not least, we find DeMarcus Cousins. Boogie has been terribly unlucky since leaving the Sacramento Kings, struggling with devastating injuries that may not allow him to ever go back to his former All-Star and All-NBA level.
Still, given his talent and feel for the game, he'd be the ultimate low-risk / high-reward pickup at this point of the season. I mean, if he can be one-third of the player he was prior to getting hurt, he'd still be better than more than half of the big men in the league.
Best destination: Los Angeles Lakers