McDyess now anchors list of best unemployed players

The odds still favor Antonio McDyess returning to the Detroit Pistons once his 30-day waiting period has expired, but the odds aren't as short as they were just 48 or 72 hours ago.

McDyess planned to speak with his agent, Andy Miller, on Friday to begin whittling down the list of 18 teams that have expressed interest in signing the former Olympian and one-time All-Star.

"It's not a foregone conclusion that he'll go back to Detroit," Miller told ESPN.com Thursday night. "We're sifting through everything that has transpired. I don't think 'hurt' would be the way to characterize how he felt about being traded, but he was caught off guard."

McDyess cleared waivers Wednesday after reaching a buyout with the Denver Nuggets following their acquisition of him in the trade that also sent Chauncey Billups and Cheikh Samb to Denver while Allen Iverson went to Detroit. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams perceived to have a shot at him.

Time will tell whether those teams have a legitimate shot, and in the meantime, there still are a few other viable NBA commodities out there on the unrestricted free-agent market.

So we'll start with a few angles on the McDyess possibilities as we offer our annual early season list of the Top 10 Unemployed NBA Players (as of Friday). You also are invited to have a look-see at our accompanying Top 10 NBA Players in Limbo list (Insider).

1. Antonio McDyess
He gave up almost $8 million in his buyout, and he could recoup almost $5 million of that immediately if the Cavs are willing to offer him the remainder of their midlevel exception (the most Detroit can offer is the $1.91 bi-annual exception). But remember that $6 million of the money McDyess gave back was income he would have earned next season, and he can recoup a significant amount of that through a new contract this summer.

Also, the argument has been made that Kevin Garnett, who has the same agent as McDyess, might exert influence to get him to Boston. But McDyess is his own man, and even the possibility of remaining with his best friend, Billups, was not enough to get him to agree to report to Denver.

"This is about Antonio being able to dictate his own future, have some level of control over the next stage of his career," Miller said.

2. Alonzo Mourning
He is considered franchise family and still has a locker in Miami, right next to Mario Chalmers', which is as strong an indication as any that the final chapter of the big man/recent author's career has not yet been written.

Mourning still is restricted to working out on a stationary bicycle as he continues to rehabilitate from knee surgery, but he is expected to begin running in early December. He is said to be in phenomenal shape, having gotten his body fat down to 7 percent. But Miami would have to make a cost-cutting trade to clear enough room to sign him, as it currently sits some $440,000 over the luxury tax threshold.

3. Darius Miles
The Celtics had him in camp and released him in late October so he could have a chance at hooking up with another team, although it hasn't happened yet. Miles is said to have conducted two recent workouts for NBA teams, and he told ESPN.com at the start of camp that New Jersey, Dallas, Charlotte and Phoenix had expressed interest in him over the summer.

The 26-year-old has been working out with famed trainer Tim Grover in Chicago. If he signs with an NBA team, he must immediately serve a 10-game suspension for failing a drug test. If he then plays 10 games, he goes back on Portland's salary cap for $9 million this season and next.

4. P.J. Brown
It wasn't until the All-Star break last season in New Orleans that Garnett and Paul Pierce talked Brown into joining the Celtics, and Boston coach Doc Rivers is keeping his fingers crossed that Brown will get the itch sometime in late winter to go for a repeat title with the Celtics.

"I think it's 50-50, although I really have no basis for saying that," Rivers told ESPN.com. "What we really need is for the All-Star Game to be back in New Orleans so we can bring our staff to his house."

5. Damon Stoudamire
We had Lindsey Hunter safely plugged into this spot before he signed with the Bulls on Thursday, so we hand over slot No. 5 to the former rookie of the year. Friends say Stoudamire feels he got a raw deal from Gregg Popovich last season when he took a buyout from Memphis and signed with the Spurs, then logged only 35 minutes in seven playoff games.

The Popovich-Stoudamire household relations weren't helped when Damon's cousin Salim turned down a lucrative offer from Tau Ceramica in Spain and tried out for the Spurs this past summer, only to get injured in camp and then waived.

6. Bonzi Wells
Word around the league over the summer was that the 10-year veteran wouldn't consider signing for the veteran's minimum, and his phone never rang. And unless something changes this weekend, Wells is expected to sign early next week with a professional team in either Spain or China.

7. Fred Jones
He once was a slam dunk champion with a nifty 3-point shot to go along with his athleticism, but six years of bouncing around the league convinced a lot of folks his upside already had been reached. No doubt he's regretting his decision to give up almost $3.5 million in guaranteed money for 2008-09 when he accepted a trade from Toronto to Portland two years ago.

8. Robert Horry
We rang him to ask whether he was interested in going for Ring No. 8, but he did not ring back. Given the fact that Horry often was accused of taking off the regular season even when he was playing, it's no surprise to see him sitting out the month of November. Expect to see him on some playoff team's radar in March or early April.

9. Scot Pollard
Tough call on whether to give this spot to Pollard or fellow journeyman Jake Voskuhl, but Pollard won out for three random reasons: He was in attendance for the ring ceremony on opening night in Boston; he spent 11 years in the NBA without ever making a 3-point shot (career 0-for-2); and he told me when he was a rookie that he didn't want his NBA legacy to be that he painted his toenails. So if and until he returns, it appears the NBA's only toenail painter is Oklahoma City center Robert Swift.

10. The D-League Entry
Former Timberwolves forward Chris Richard went No. 1 in the D-League draft earlier this week. Also selected were Larry Ayuso, the sharpshooting guard for the Puerto Rican national team, and former NBA players Coby Karl, Smush Parker, Eddie Robinson and Keith Closs. (And since we're mentioning Closs, we must pass along this classic Closs encounter reported by Lang Whitaker of Slam.)

Honorable mention: Michael Doleac, Patrick Ewing Jr., Ronald Dupree, Darrell Armstrong, Luke Jackson, Kirk Snyder, Ira Newble, Adrian Griffin.

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.