The NBA’s free agent frenzy has died down considerably, and while the well has mostly dried up there are intriguing players still without a team for next season.
Here are the best unsigned players available on the market:
1. NERLENS NOEL
2016-17 salary cap hit: $4.3 million
The latest: Noel, a restricted free agent, was a revelation in Dallas after being acquired via trade for practically nothing from the Philadelphia 76ers last season. At just 23, it’s not hard to project Noel as an impact player given his elite rim protection and ability to finish on pick and rolls. Expected to command a deal worth more than $20 million per season, the Mavs had reportedly made re-signing Noel a priority this off-season in an effort to build a young core around him in Harrison Barnes, Seth Curry and their 2017 first-round pick, Dennis Smith Jr. No team has offered Noel a contract yet, and it’s somewhat surprising that Dallas hasn’t signed the 23-year-old. Apparently the two sides aren’t close to coming to terms yet, but with only a small handful of teams remaining with enough cap space to land Noel, it seems as though it’s just a matter of time before he and the Mavericks strike a deal.
2. JONATHAN SIMMONS
Position: Shooting Guard
2016-17 salary cap hit: $874,636
The latest: A late bloomer, Simmons enjoyed a breakout playoffs this spring, averaging nearly 16 points per game in the West Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Simmons is a good defender and capable shooter who is set to continue his success from the playoffs with a bigger role next season. He’s a good fit returning to the Spurs, but the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings are two teams with cap space to offer him a deal worth $40 million or more over three years. The Spurs reportedly won’t match any offer for the restricted free agent, and would rather sign him to a contract that would pay him around $10 million annually.
UPDATE (JULY 14, 3:40 PM ET): Simmons has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Orlando Magic after the Spurs choose to renounce his rights.
3. JAMYCHAL GREEN
Position: Power Forward
2016-17 salary cap hit: $980,431
The latest: Green, who went undrafted back in 2012, is a six-foot-nine forward who averaged nearly 12 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes last season. What really attracts teams to Green is his ability to stretch the floor, hitting 38 per cent from deep in 2016-17. Green is another restricted free agent, and a valuable asset for a team like Memphis, but according to Green’s agent the two sides aren’t close to reaching a deal, and sign-and-trade possibilities have been floated. The Grizzlies are at a crossroads and may be willing to part with Green in the right scenario. There are plenty of teams—the Raptors included—with a need for a player like him. The only question now is what kind of price tag will be attached to him.
4. RAJON RONDO
Position: Point Guard
2016-17 salary cap hit: $10 million
The latest: Despite a rocky season in Chicago, Rondo proved he still has plenty in the tank during the Bulls’ first-round series against the Boston Celtics, averaging 11.5 points, 10 assists, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals in two games—both wins—before getting hurt. He’s reportedly met with the Los Angeles Lakers and Knicks, two teams with young point guards (rookies Lonzo Ball and Frank Ntilikina) and could use Rondo not just for his ability but for his experience in helping to tutor the teenage guards. Despite just signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to an $18-million deal, the Lakers are emerging as a front-runner for Rondo’s service.
UPDATE (JULY 15, 12:02 PM ET): Rondo has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans.
5. PAU GASOL
Position: Power Forward/Centre
2016-17 salary cap hit: $16 million
The latest: In order to help the Spurs gain more cap space in free agency (San Antonio recently signed Rudy Gay to a two-year deal), Gasol declined his $16-million player option for the 2017-18 season. While that decision made him an unrestricted free agent, he is expected to re-sign with the Spurs once the dust fully settles.
6. MASON PLUMLEE
2016-17 salary cap hit: $2.32 million
The latest: The seven-footer averaged more than 10 points and seven boards last season, but despite trading Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick for Plumlee at the deadline, it doesn’t appear there’s much room for him in Denver’s suddenly-loaded front court—but that didn’t stop the Nuggets from offering a qualifying offer worth just shy of $5 million. He’s not the best fit in today’s NBA, but Plumlee is still a talent and could be a serviceable backup centre for the right team should the Nuggets decline to match an offer from another club.
7. DERRICK ROSE
Position: Point Guard
2016-17 salary cap hit: $21.3 million
The latest: Despite failing to help them win games, Rose quietly had a bounce-back season with the Knicks in 2016-17, averaging more points—18 per game—than he had in four years. But Rose is a tricky one, given that he commands the ball in his hands and it’s hard to see him playing (or accepting) a supporting role at this point in his career. He may not have much of a choice, as the list of teams needing a starting point guard to run the show and hoist up a lot of shots is practically non-existent. Rose doesn’t make much sense on a young developing team, nor is he a promising option for a contender. While he likely has more years of solid basketball ahead of him, it’s a jarring turn of events for the once-superstar and former MVP. His 21.7 per cent three-point rate last season certainly isn’t winning teams over, either. Rose had been rumoured to be targeted by the Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers, but that speculation is now dead given Dallas wants to give Dennis Smith Jr. major minutes at point guard from Day 1, and Los Angeles filled their point guard gap by signing EuroLeague star Milos Teodosic.
8. DAVID LEE
Position: Power Forward
2016-17 salary cap hit: $1.5 million
The latest: Lee is far from his days as a solid starting forward, but he still has some game left and shot 59 per cent from the floor in 18 minutes per game last season, averaging a little over seven points in 2016-17. He can’t stretch the floor like most teams would want their power forward to, but Lee may be an underrated option as a backup big for a contending team.
9. LUC MBAH A MOUTE
2016-17 salary cap hit: $2.2 million
The latest: The nine-year veteran brings a clear skill-set to the table as a solid wing defender. Teams can’t expect too much else from Mbah a Moute, but there’ll always be a role for somebody who can defend multiple positions and both the post and perimeter.
10. TONY ALLEN
Position: Shooting Guard
2016-17 salary cap hit: $5.5 million
The latest: Despite his age, Allen is coming off a career-high in minutes per game (27) and was named to the All-NBA Defensive second team, the sixth time he’s made all-defence in the last seven seasons. He’s a minus on offence and one of the worst shooters in basketball—not a good sign in a league that values shooting more and more each day—but his definitive skill-set should still hold value and Allen is expected to be an affordable player who should still be able to affect games next season and beyond.
Other notable FAs: Marreese Speights (Big man who can stretch the floor and protect the paint), Ian Clark (Catch-and-shoot specialist fresh off winning a title in Golden State), Terrence Jones (Bruising power forward), Nikola Mirotic (Restricted free agent, a wildly inconsistent power forward with range).