Best Remaining Free Agents On The Market - God, what these guys would give to be free agents in the summer of 2016

NBA Free Agency has been underway for the past few days and several of the big names have already fallen off the board though many are still left on the market.  

Dirk Nowitzki - Free Agent By Name Only

The Mavericks declined his $5 million team option to give to open up cap space to sign other big free agents - like DeAndre Jordan who finally agreed to come to Dallas and is in the process of finalizing the terms of his deal. Now, Mark Cuban can focus on signing the face of his franchise for the same dollar value. They are likely to use the remaining $5 million in cap space to sign Nowitzki. 

It would be intriguing to see how much value other teams have for the future Hall Of Famer. He has lost whatever athleticism he had possessed, but he is armed with a versatile skill set that Father Time has failed to erode. In the past season, he shot a shade under 41% from 3-pt range, the fourth highest in his storied 20 year career. 

The last time he was in the playoffs wasin 2016, though Dallas have attempting to get him back to the postseason one last time before he hangs up his jersey. The Mavericks were tanked last season and lost 58 games though they are now poised to fight for the 8th seed in the Western Conference after adding Jordan, Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson. 

 

Luc Mbah a Moute

For much of the past season, he was a bargain. With Trevor Ariza taking a one year big money deal with the Suns, Mbah a Moute is a much needed necessity with for the Rockets. He gave Houston defensive versatility as he is capable of guarding multiple positions and is a competent 3-point shooter. All of this should award him at least the veteran's minimum, if not more, though there are concerns about his recent injury history. His two shoulder injuries - the first of which sidelined him for the month - and the second which rendered him unplayable at best during the playoffs. Recency bias does create a more passive market in a league where teams are desperate for 3-and-D swingmen. 

His multi positional defence alone makes him basketball given the current style of play and a healthy shoulder means that he can be an influence on both ends of the floor.  

 

Wayne Ellingtion

He is a sauvant in a rather potent market. He has picked up the perfect time to master the ability to knock down the 3-point shot. Almost every team in the league has shown interest in the veteran guard. Despite Ellington's stance in his preference to stay in South Beach, his free agency does complicate things for the Heat. If the status quo is to stay, Miami would launch themselves into the luxury tax. This is a situation that Miami desperately wants to avoid and re-signing Ellington launches them into this problem. 

Every team is looking to add snipers in their roster. He finished last season as an elite shooter. He was one of 14 players to launch at least seven threes per game. And in that group, he was among the likes of the Splash Brothers, Paul George, and Kyle Lowry to shoot above 39% from deep. Even though he is at best an average defender, he established himself as a vital cog within the Heat Organization. 

 

Kyle Anderson (Restricted) 

His nickname, "Slow Mo" says it all about the tone of Anderson's market. His is not completely surprising given the unresolved situation around Kawhi Leonard and Anderson's unique skill set. He has spent much of his career on the wings despite his lack of athleticism and his war against the trend of analytics, averaging less than a shot per game from three point range. This might be a glaring flaw for other wing players though Anderson approaches the game like a true Spur. He is an excellent secondary playmaker for his age and is more than capable of working the pick-and-roll. He understands his limits and plays to his strengths. He has shot 48% from the field for his career and 53% last year. Anderson is also a high IQ player with expert ball control - averaging less than a turnover per game for his career. 

His wingspan and basketball intelligence are assets that make him invaluable for the Spurs. Other teams are likely to try and pry him away from San Antonio

 

Jusuf Nurkic (Restricted) 

The pace and space era of the NBA has made big men like Nurkic redundant. A 7-footer with no semblance of a 3-point shot, he is in danger of becoming obsolete. Yet, after his trade from the Nuggets to the Trailblazers in the 2016-17 season, Nurkic destroyed everybody's expectations of him by averaging 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals before succumbing to injury.  These appear to be numbers that would make him a foundational player in any squad, especially one that needs a stable presence in their backcourt. 

The only problem is that his number dropped in his sole full season for in Portland. He is a player capable of posting 20-10 nights though is it more likely that he disappears on a nightly basis. Even worse for him, he is known to stand out for all the wrong reasons. He is the kind of player that is easy to talk yourself into, but just as easily to talk yourself out of. He plus sides include his youth, physical presence and skill for his size. He is also known for being plagued with foul trouble - a career 5 fouls per 38 minutes - and has entered a market where teams are short of cap space with his kind of player being inessential

Nurkic is likely to be playing next season on his qualifying offer from the Trailblazers unless is is able to get an offer sheet from another team.   

 

Jamal Crawford

Every team in the NBA would like to increase their bench depth and scoring from their second unit, meaning every time could use Jamal Crawford. The 76ers have shown interest in his services and he is beloved within the Golden State locker room. Age is yet to dampen the 38-year-old Crawford who still maintain an excellent handle and is a streaky shooter.  

He has thrice won the Sixth Man of the Year award and his consistency has not budged off from contention for the same. His volume has dipped having played the second fewest minutes of his career and the third-fewest points of his career though he still averaged 18 points and 4 assists per 36 minutes. Crawford has never been an efficient scorer and his defence has gotten worse with age. 

Teams interested in Crawford are well aware of his strengths and weaknesses. They also know that if used properly, he can still pack an offensive spark capable of changing the outcomes of games.  

 

Shabazz Napier  

Since it is quite unclear as to what happened last season, the traction for Shabazz Napier has been quite nonexistent. Did he have a breakout season or did he has a long hot streak? His raw numbers do show some progress. He averaged a career high in points and his percentages of all risen. 

Despite this, Napier was a mere bunch warmer for much of Portland's short playoff run. This was entirely reasonable given his inconsistencies towards the end of the regular season and the handful of minutes he played in the playoffs. He was shooting 45% from the field and over 40% from deep till the All-star break. His accuracy failed to return after a short in-season vacation. This combined with the struggles he's head in his previous three seasons give plenty of teams to be suspicious of Shabazz's hotstreak. The Blazers decision to not give him a qualifying offer is an inauspicious start to what is likely to be a gloomy summer for the young guard.

 

Montrezl Harrell (Restricted)  

The Clipper touted him as a defensive-minded energizer who could be of significant use as a backup to DeAndre Jordan when they acquired him in last summer's swap for Chris Paul. And then Doc Rivers and his staff saw him through training camp and the regular season to be surprised by his scoring prowess. His energy is the first things observers notice; with him impressive 7'4'' wingspan being a close second. His 11 points per game do not jump out among NBA players though the averaged his by playing only 17 minutes per game. Energy guys simply do not score like Harrell. Post the All-Star break, he was able to boast his stats to 14.6 points/game in 20 minutes. His range is limited to the paint but he is a bulldog around the basket. He is an excellent finisher around the rim and pairs well with guards as a pick-and-roll screener. 

While suitors have yet to inquire about Harrell, he skill set is likely to attract attention from teams who are looking for backup centers.

 

Rodney Hood (Restricted)  

What if Rodney Hood was never traded by the Jazz? Where would his stock currently be? 

At the time of his trade to Cleveland, the young swingwan was averaging a notch under 17 points a game and drilling his threes at 39% a clip. He was a crafty ball handler and was capable of manipulating defenders to create space. He was a streaky scorer though still very handy and getting buckets on a nightly basis. The debate around him has always been with regards to his ceiling; would he top out as an high-level role player or could be one day become a star player? This is something that matters for his free agency, and ultimately how much value a team would place on him. 

Post his trade to the Cavaliers, he was simply unable to recreate his numbers while with the Jazz. From a bench player Hood soon found himself out of the rotation, unable to even get garbage time minutes. He did tally a combined 25 points and 14 rebounds in Games 3 and 4 of the finals though this is unlikely to see an increase in his paycheck. He is still generating interest as he is clearly a talented player who in the right situation can be a productive player for a playoff team. Logics demands that that the offers coming his way will not be anywhere near the what he thought he would like to collect. Signing his qualifying offer from the Cavaliers would be the best decision he could take. With LeBron James leaving Cleveland once again, Hood is likely to get more offensive touches which could allow him to restore his form and draw attention from other teams as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

 

Jabari Parker (Restricted) 

On paper, the former No.2 pick is a no-brainer for the Bucks. A 6-8 wing with a 7 foot wingspan, Parker is a more than capable of scoring 20 points a night. 

He's missed 145 of a possible 328 regular season games having had his young career be hampered by twice tearing his ACL in his left knee. Parker has never been a knockdown three point shooter and despite his length, he has struggled on the defensive end. This explains why there is almost zero traction surrounding his free agent status. One would think it is most a matter of time before a team is to hand him an offer sheet  given his offensive skill set and potential.

Everybody is fully aware of his ability to play though putting a price tag on Parker is tricky. Teams questions his health and his commitment on the defensive end of the floor which makes one wonder, will the Bucks match an offer sheet if Jabari is to get one? 

 

Marcus Smart (Restricted)  

A non-shooting shooting guard who is a bulldog capable of the making the unlikeliest of plays, Marcus Smart is a player that stands out in an era defined by shooting. 

The restricted free agency market as barely budged with most teams already beginning to eye free agents next summer. Resigning smart is a top priority for the Celtics though he is unlikely to get a contract where he gets paid a 7 figure sum annually. Setting aside he box score numbers, his true value comes from the fact that he is a hustler. He is among the lead leaders in charges drawn and deflections. He can defend multiple positions and is the key reason for why Boston had he best defence in the league last season. 

He can play make, rebound on both ends of the floor and finds himself routinely at the free-throw line. His lack of shooting is a concern as is his irrational ability to jack up terrible shots. These are not egregious in a young player, especially with one that has tremendous upside.  

 

Clint Capela (Restricted)  

The Rockets tout Capela as a near-elite two-way big man. He finished the season with a second place finish in the MIP Player award voting with a stat sheet loaded with career highs. He averaged 14 points on a league high 65.2% shooting that complimented his 11 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. He's the closest thing to an ideal non-shooting center in the modern game. 

He measures at 7'1'' with a 7'5'' wingspan that makes him an rim protector. He is an explosive athlete that makes him a punishing finisher at the rim. His energy also make him a ferocious rebounder with the lateral mobility to guard smaller players at the perimeter. 

 He does everything required of a low-usage, ultra-efficient center in today's game. Daryl Morey will do everything in his power to sign him long-term and is aided by the fact that supposed competitors for his services have already signed centers. 

 

Isaiah Thomas

Two seasons ago, Isaiah Thomas finished 3rd in scoring, 5th in MVP voting and lead the Boston Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals. Now, his free agency might be the trickiest to predict. 

His stock has plunged since then. His hip injury he fell victim too in his best season yet continues to plague him. That his ravaged his stat sheet and ended his 2017-18 season by requiring surgical attention. Teams are concerned as to which version of Thomas they are going to get. Is Thomas capable of replicating his ultra-efficient 2016-17 season (averaging 29 points on 46/38/91)? It is more likely to be the damaged-goods player the basketball world saw last season? 

He is an obvious candidate for a short-term prove it contract where teams will aid in his rehab and see whether he is capable of being the player of old before strapping their finances to him. The fact that he has had troubles assimilating in a locker room certainly does not help his case in a quest to return back to the player he was.

 

 

Major Questions of the NBA Offseason

Some interesting Free Agency storylines