99 cent store free agents: Point Guards

The NBA offseason is always filled with exciting storylines like star free agents and blockbuster trades.

But rather than dwell on the obvious, this series intends to do the opposite: focus on the lower-profile free agents who may have some value to teams. No NBA player is actually “99 Cents,” of course, but these are all players who may be bargains based on their perceived market. Most of the players mentioned will probably go in the $3-5M range in terms of salary. Some exceptions will be marked as “featured items” that may go in the higher $5-10M range. If a player is listed as a “clearance rack,” then they may be on the fringes of NBA rosters and take minimum deals.

This 99 Cent Store series has been open for business for the last two offseasons. In the past, we’ve highlighted names like Fred VanVleet (pre breakout), Davis Bertans, and Christian Wood. Not all of the items turn out to be gems (is Nerlens Noel still not a DPOY candidate yet?), but the returns have been largely positive so far. Let’s see if we can keep that momentum going this season.


99 cent store

Langston Galloway, Detroit Pistons, UFA, 28 years old

In last year’s 99 Cent Store, we hyped up Seth Curry (Steph’s brother) as a possible value free agent and “featured item.” Seth didn’t have the size and skill set of a traditional point guard, but the NBA isn’t always craving traditional point guards these days. A lot of star SGs, SFs, PFs, and even Cs have the ball in their hands, so teams need to fill the court with a supporting cast that can complement them and provide spacing. Effectively an undersized SG, Seth’s excellent shooting appeared to be a perfect complement to a ball-dominant superstar. Seth ended up going to Dallas on a moderate contract, and had a strong season for them in that role.

For those same reasons, we’d recommend Langston Galloway as a potential bargain add. We’re not going to suggest that Galloway is as good as Seth Curry as a player or as a shooter, but his skill set is related. He’s not Steph Curry — he’s not Seth Curry — he’s on the opposite side of the family tree. He’s like the random third cousin who shows up at the barbecue and hogs all the mac n’ cheese. Still, if he got the address, then he must have some relation to the family we know and love.

Galloway would share some DNA in the sense that he’s also a “point guard” who’s more of an undersized shooting guard by nature. He doesn’t have the ball skills or playmaking to run an offense. At all. However, he can be effective if operating as a 3+D guard. Players like Patrick Beverly and George Hill are the premium prototypes of that skill set, and Galloway is the 99 Cent store generic brand. He’s above-average as a shooter (36.7% from three for his career) and he’s decent as a defender, where his 6’8″ wingspan helps his cause. And while it feels like Galloway has been around forever, he’s still only 28 years old. He probably has 2-3 years left of usefulness in his role. There may be only 1 or 2 teams that would start Langston Galloway (in a limited role), but almost every team could use him as part of the rotation.

possible fits

HOU. Russell Westbrook and James Harden are ball dominant and salary-cap dominant players, making depth a constant struggle for the team. Backup PG Austin Rivers can probably get more money than he’s due on his player option ($2.4M) even in a COVID-market, possibly creating another hole. Galloway would make sense as a replacement here, seeing as how he’d be able to play in a lineup with either Westbrook or Harden.

LAL. The Los Angeles Lakers clearly did fine with their three-headed guard rotation of Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo, and Alex Caruso. Hell, they won the title even without Bradley. Still, the future of the position is still up in the air. Both Bradley and Rondo have player options, meaning they could test the market and leave for a better deal. If that’s the case, Galloway and Caruso could tag-team and provide a decent and low-cost 3+D guard spot for next year.

MIN. The Timberwolves tried the “no PG offense” for a majority of the season, and it didn’t work out so hot. Now, they’ll be handing the reins over to D’Angelo Russell full time. Galloway could be a nice backup for Russell; the two would have enough size to play some minutes alongside each other as well. You have to figure Gersson Rosas will prioritize shooters like Galloway as well. The team wants to play MoreyBall (top 3 in 3PA), but doesn’t have the personnel yet to pull it off (bottom 3 in 3P%).


Yogi Ferrell, Sacramento Kings, UFA, 27 years old

He may be fairly anonymous now, but there was a time when the name “Yogi Ferrell” was a big deal in college basketball. The bluechip recruit immediately stepped into the starting lineup for Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers, helping to lead the team to a # 1 seed that first year on campus. But then a funny thing happened: the college star actually stayed in college. Ferrell would go on to play all 4 years (starting 137 of 137 games) for Indiana.

Through it, Ferrell developed the negative narrative that he was a “college player.” Only 6’0″ with average length and athleticism, he didn’t have the look of a future pro. The NBA dismissed him, leading him to get undrafted. He’s hung around since then, but his buzz has dwindled and dwindled. He played this past season as Sacramento’s 3rd PG, only logging 11 minutes per game. Maybe they were right — maybe he was never cut out for the NBA.

Then again… are we sure about that? Ferrell may not be the prototype, but he still has some virtues. Among those strengths: “basketball.” He’s a savvy, steady field general who has an above-average shot. He’s hit 36.5% from three and 83.8% from the line over the course of his NBA career. He’s not going to carry the load (14-4-4 per 36 minutes), but he’s not going to rock the boat either. In fact, he only averages 1.5 turnovers per 36. He’s a very strong character guy as well. We tend to use terms like “boy scout” or “chess player” as metaphors, but Ferrell is literally both of those (former boy scout, current chess player.)

The concern with a player like Ferrell would be his limited size and athleticism, a combo that tends to translate into awful defense. But again, we haven’t seen much evidence of that. Effort and basketball IQ can help overcome athletic weaknesses, and that appears to be the case with Ferrell. Limitations and all, Ferrell has registered only a -0.2 defensive box plus/minus.

Overall, this profile doesn’t suggest any huge upside or any hidden “star” potential. But at the end of the day, this store isn’t about star potential — it’s about value. Ferrell is a high-end third PG who can potentially be a true # 2. He’d make sense on a team like Orlando as a potential replacement for their own steady eddie backup D.J. Augustin (also a free agent.)


Clearance Rack

Gary Payton II, Washington Wizards, UFA, 27 years old

On paper, you may wonder why Gary Payton II wasn’t a bigger deal entering the NBA Draft. After all, we’re talking about the son of an NBA superstar who had been productive in college. In his last season at Oregon State, he averaged 16.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 2.5 steals (!) How the heck did someone with that pedigree go undrafted?

Unfortunately for Payton, two factors worked against him. For one, he was a poor shooter. Second, he was “old.” After spending some time in community college with Jeff Winger and Dean Pelton, Payton would be a 24-year-old rookie, a major knock against him and his perceived upside. That criticism may have proven apt; Payton has not improved as much as a young pup may have. His three-point shooting has sagged around 25-30%, a major problem in today’s NBA. In general, he’s a below-average offensive player, averaging just 10-6-4 per 36 minutes.

That said, Payton does have some virtues on the other end. He’s not quite “The Glove” (basketball-reference even dubs his official nickname “The Mitten”), but he’s definitely a good defender. He’s 6’3″ with a 6’8″ wingspan, and has proven to have sticky hands himself. After averaging 2.8 steals over two years at OSU, he’s at 2.2 per 36 in the NBA. He makes some sense when paired together with a ball-dominant SG like a James Harden or Devin Booker or Bradley Beal. No, we’re not talking about as a starter, or even as a lead backup, but as a 3rd PG who can add a different skill set to a bench. In that context, he’s worth a roster spot. Is a 13th man not worth reading about to you? Well then, get the F out of our store, ya snob! This is what the 99 Cent Store is all about.

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