The NBA Free Desk 2022 period is less than a week old, but most of the best players are already off the board.
Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine returned to the wizards and bullsrespectively, on five-year contracts worth over $200 million, while Anfernee Simons remained in Portland on a $100 million four-year deal. Jalen Brunson is the biggest name to switch teams through free agency, making the Mavericks for a four-year $104 million deal with the Knicks†
Even a majority of the top role players have been picked up. The 76ers lured PJ Tucker away from Miami† The Trail Blazers (Gary Payton II) and birds of prey (Otto Porter Jr.) each poached a key piece of the reigning champion warriors† Malik Monk went from Los Angeles until sacramento, Kyle Anderson left Memphis for Minnesota and Bruce Brown left Brooklyn for Denver. In the meantime, Bobby Portis (bucks), Kevon Looney (Warriors), Nic Batum (clippers), Mitchell Robinson (Knicks), and Gary Harris (Magic) all remained seated.
But while the pool of free agents has thinned considerably, there is still value to be gained. Here’s a rundown of the best remaining NBA free agents:
James HardenPhiladelphia 76ers, unlimited
harden may not be long on this list. It would be an absolute blast if he and the Sixers didn’t reach a contract deal in the near future. Harden, 32, declined his $47.4 million player option to give Daryl Morey the flexibility to enhance Philly’s depth in free agency, and Morey did just that by offering ex-Rockets PJ Tucker and Daniel House Jr† There are rumors that Harden will sign a two- or three-year deal with a starting salary in the range of $35 million. possible with a player option after year 1†
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns, limited
So… where is it? Deandre Ayton to go? The Suns were unwilling to give Ayton a max contract and apparently no other team with a suitable offer has come in yet. Ayton looked to be heading for Detroit until the Pistons drafted Jalen Duren 13th overall. He then seemed an excellent piece to be moved to the nets in a potential Kevin Durant tradebut Brooklyn reportedly not interested at the 23-year-old center. The Pacers and Spurs still make sense as Ayton destinations, but are they willing to pay for him? Ayton has the option of accepting the Suns’ one-year qualifier offer ($16.4 million), which will give him unlimited free agency next summer.
The Cavaliers have locked up Darius Garland for a long time. What are they going to do now with their other promising young guard? Cleveland surprisingly took 44 wins in 2021-22, despite Sexton being sidelined for most of the season with a torn meniscus. Sexton, 23, can get buckets and in an efficient way as he racked up more than 24 points per game on 47.5/37.1/81.5 shootings two seasons ago. But, like Ayton, there may not be a big money offer to force Cleveland’s hand. Sexton’s qualifying offer from the Cavs is worth $7.2 million.
Harrell is facing a felony drug charge following a traffic stop in Kentucky on May 12, where authorities said they found a backpack containing three pounds of marijuana in vacuum-sealed bags. Harrell, who authorities claim has “admitted to being in possession of marijuana and producing a small amount from his sweatpants,” is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on July 13.
Harrell’s lawyers told TMZ he “has never been part of any form of marijuana trafficking or any other illegal activity.” They also claimed that Harrell “was not driving the vehicle, and after the stop, he was only given a ticket to appear in court on a marijuana-related charge at a later date, as were all occupants of the vehicle.”
It wouldn’t be surprising if interested teams waited for more clarity on Harrell’s legal situation. The 28-year-old big man appeared in 71 combined games for the Wizards and Hornets last season, averaging 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game, shooting 64.5% from the field .
Carmelo Anthony, Los Angeles Lakers, Unlimited
The NBA’s ninth all-time leading scorer is still available. Anthony, who turned 38 in May, averaged 13.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 26 minutes per game and shot a total of 44.1% in his first season as a Laker. After proving he can still beat 3s on a large number of tries (37.5% at 5.8 per game), Anthony should spark interest from contenders. Melo is 308 points away from passing Shaquille O’Neal for eighth on the all-time scorer’s list.
Caleb Martin, Miami Heat, limited
A Martin twins have already been signed, as the Hornets were reportedly able to keep Cody on a $32 million four-year deal. But Caleb is still available after a strong season with Miami. In what was essentially his first NBA season away from his brother, 26-year-old Caleb averaged 9.2 points in 22.9 minutes per game, shooting 50.7% from the field and 41, 3% out of 3 (on 2.6 attempts per match). The 6-5 wing was also part of Miami’s playoff rotation, with 12.3 minutes per game.
Dennis Schröder, Houston Rockets, Unlimited
Schröder was regarded as one of the greatest free-agent steals last season when he signed a $5.9 million one-year deal with the Celtics† However, the signing turned out not to be a massive coup. Schröder was shipped to Houston on trade deadline after 49 games (and 25 starts) with Boston, when the C’s came in Derrick White to be their new lead guard of the bank. While Schröder’s days as a starter on a playoff team may be over, he certainly still offers value as a backup. In 64 total games last season, he averaged 13.5 points and 4.6 assists on 43.1/34.4/85.3 shots.
DeMarcus Cousins, Denver Nuggets, Unlimited
Boogie Cousins comes from a solid stint as the Nuggets’ backup center. After signing a 10-day contract with Denver in January, Cousins averaged 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 13.9 minutes over 31 games, shooting 45.6% from the field and 32. 4% out of 3. He registered 11.4 minutes per game against Golden State in Round 1 of the playoffs, averaging 10.6 points and 3.4 rebounds for a total of 65.5%. Curiously, Denver struck a deal with veteran center DeAndre Jordan in the first minute of free agency, so it doesn’t look like Cousins, who turns 32 in August, will be back with the Nuggets.