The NBA‘s free agency is arguably the most important aspect of the summer since the draft is only two rounds deep.
That said, role players are vitally important for depth and reliability purposes in making a championship run. Restricted free agent Omer Asik of the Chicago Bulls is a prime example, because his youth and production have paid great dividends for the Windy City’s frontcourt.
Before we get to Asik though, there are some other role players that must get re-signed to ensure confidence when giving the starters a rest. Here, let’s check out key role players teams must retain.
Full view of 2012 NBA Free Agents
Jared Jeffries: F, New York Knicks
The Knicks must keep reliability behind Amare Stoudemire in the frontcourt and retaining Jared Jeffries is the answer.
Despite starting just four games in 2011-12, Jeffries averaged almost 19 minutes per game and grabbed 3.9 boards and 4.4 points. He also averaged a career-best 68.1 percent from the line. Obviously with more playing time these numbers will get inflated, so his effectiveness has been proven in a limited role.
New York also has seen Jeffries contribute well in the past, as he played in 236 games from the 2006-07 season through the 2009-10 season. With the ability to work the base line and occasionally challenge shots on the perimeter, Jeffries is needed in the Big Apple to fight for an Atlantic Division title.
Goran Dragic: PG, Houston Rockets
After backing Steve Nash in Phoenix from 2008-09 through part of the 2010-11 season, Goran Dragic started a career-high 28 games in 2011-12. Although he was the No. 2 point guard to Kyle Lowry (started 38 games), Dragic has the potential to be the No. 1 guy for the entire upcoming season.
While with the Suns, Dragic played in 183 games and appeared in 16 playoff games during the 2009-10 season.
Averaging 26.5 minutes for the Rockets last season, he can help Houston on both ends. With 11.7 points, 1.3 steals, 5.3 assists and an 80.5 free throw percentage a year ago, Dragic is on the verge of a breakout season.
Houston finished just two games out of the postseason and will make the playoffs with Dragic going from role player to starter in 2012-13.
Omer Asik: C, Chicago Bulls
Omer Asik enters the 2012 offseason as a restricted free agent, so Chicago must be wary of remaining deep in the frontcourt and not losing a strong rotational player.
For one, Asik played in all 82 games as a rookie and then appeared in all 66 this season (starting two). He may be a seven-footer that averaged only 14.7 minutes per game last year, but Asik has more athleticism than given credit for.
He also played in 15 playoff games in 2010-11 and started three of six for the Bulls this postseason. Now he does need to become a more efficient scorer and putting down free throws, that however, will come with development as Asik is only 25 years old.
A defensive force at rebounding, it’s imperative the Bulls keep Asik aboard for the long-term future, because depth is necessary for them to continue being Eastern Conference title contenders.
John Rozum on Twitter.
Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com