Beyond his situation, there remain a number quality pieces still available who could aid playoff contenders and make a difference once the final set of dominoes start to fall when teams make their closing moves.
1. Nerlens Noel, C
The restricted free agent is stuck in a stalemate with the Mavs on a long-term deal, but hasn’t gotten the leverage he hoped for since no other team has stepped up and dangled an offer sheet in front of him. He won’t turn 24 until the end of the upcoming season, but is still more tantalizing prospect than sure thing, which is why he hasn’t received the big payday he hoped for. He’ll likely stay put in Dallas, which is banking on him not wanting to play on a qualifying offer next season. A compromise would allow them to sign him at a team-friendly rate that will ensure flexibility with the rest of their roster.
2. Tony Allen, G/F
At 35, the Grindfather is now old enough to be President, but he can still move. Although no longer the elite defender Kobe Bryant was referencing when he called him the best he ever faced, there’s no question he can be a major asset coming off a season where he averaged 9.1 points and 5.5 rebounds while playing the second-most minutes of his career. He can still lock you up, which makes him impactful. Although he’s become part of the fabric in Memphis, he’ll take a crack at earning another ring elsewhere.
3. Nikola Mirotic, F
Blessed with fantastic range at 6-foot-10, he’s got the potential to be one of the top stretch-4s in the game and is still just 26, but last year’s inconsistent season was punctuated by a brutal playoff run that killed the restricted free agent’s bargaining power. He’s decided to skip Eurobasket due to his unsettled contract situation and will probably remain with Chicago on his qualifying offer, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see someone swoop in to try and land a bargain while his value is down.
4. Mason Plumlee, C
His impressive defensive metrics have failed to land him the deal he wanted, so the Nuggets are likely to end up with his services for another season after dealing Jusuf Nurkic for him since they envisioned him being a better fit next to versatile big man Nikola Jokic. Between his athleticism, defense and playmaking skills, the 6-foot-11 Plumlee is an ideal rotation player who won’t be a liability on pick-and-rolls since he can move his feet, making him a valuable asset for a contender.
5. JaMychal Green, F
Undrafted in 2012, he worked his way into the league and made steady progress with the Grizzlies, becoming an invaluable part of the rotation last season in averaging career-highs nearly across the board. His improving shooting range has made him valuable since his motor runs high, allowing him to defend and rebound well. He’s in the same situation as Noel, Mirotic and Plumlee as a restricted free agent that has been lost in the shuffle this offseason and is now victimized by the lack of money teams have remaining. The Grizzlies want him back and will likely get their wish.
6. Andrew Bogut, C
He’ll be healthy to start the season and is likely ticketed for a role with a team that won’t require him to play significant minutes until games actually matter, but the 2005 Draft’s No. 1 pick is still serviceable. The Cavs envisioned him playing a valuable part in last season’s title defense but he failed to last even one full minute before fracturing his left tibia. Still a strong rim protector with a fantastic IQ that makes him an asset on the offensive end, he played in 70 games for the 73-win Warriors and should be able to contribute for whoever locks him up.
7. Alex Len, C
He appears to be a boom-or-bust type going forward, which is why teams have been hesitant to offer the 24-year-old former No. 5 pick a long-term deal. Back-to-the-basket centers are a dying breed, but he’s rebounded well for Phoenix and is a legitimate 7-footer. Perhaps a change of scenery and a fresh start would accelerate his improvement, which is what he’s apparently weighing as he ponders whether or not to sign his qualifying offer to remain with the Suns. His best years are likely just ahead if he stays healthy.
8. Monta Ellis, G
He hasn’t lasted more than two years at any of his stops since leaving Golden State, and his production has dipped every season. An inability to develop a consistent jumper has hindered him, allowing defenses to play off of him and daring him to shoot. An ugly tenure with the Pacers ended with him failing to average double-figures in scoring for the first time since his rookie year. Now entering his 14th season, he turns just 32 in October and is one of the better backcourt options available as a scoring combo guard. Expect him to find a home on a playoff team on a one-year deal.
9. Shabazz Muhammad, F/G
One of Las Vegas’ top prep talents is seeking the best fit after his rights were renounced by the Timberwolves. He’s proven to be an unwilling defender and seems best suited to fill a scoring role off the bench, but concerns over clashing with teammates and low-assist numbers have damaged his market value. Considering he turns just 25 in November and should have his best years ahead of him, the Bishop Gorman product is worth gambling on and could wind up being a bargain in a new environment.
10. Boris Diaw, F/C
The Jazz let him go, but the 35-year-old has won a ring and brings invaluable experience to the table. He played 73 minutes last season and really struggled from 3-point range, but his ability to defend bigs and spread the floor as an elite facilitator with a basketball IQ that’s all the charts makes him an attractive option for teams still loading up for a title run.
11. Gerald Green, G/F
He’s a decade removed from winning a slam dunk contest and comes off a productive season with the Celtics, starting seven playoff games and scoring 18 points in a key Game 4 win in against the Bulls that prevented his team from falling in a 3-1 hole. He was lost in Boston’s roster shuffle but shot 47 percent from 3-point range on their run to the Eastern Conference finals, so he’s likely to have multiple suitors.
12. Derrick Williams, F
It’s irrefutable that the No. 2 pick of the 2011 draft has been a bust to date, underperforming in Minnesota, Sacramento, New York and Miami before landing with the Cavs for the stretch run and putting together his most efficient numbers ever. A sub-30 percent 3-point shooter throughout his career, he shot 40 percent from beyond the arc over the final 25 games and shot 3-for-5 in the playoffs. Still just 26 years old, he’s got a chance to start making some positive contributions.
13. David Lee, PF
The veteran opted out of his Spurs deal but could still return there after appearing in 94 games for them including playoffs. Lee has never been a good defender and his double-double days are over, but he fits San Antonio’s system well and should be a reliable veteran presence wherever he ends up.
14. Deron Williams, PG
A 20-game stretch with the Cavs where he shot nearly 42 percent from 3-point range supplied a glimpse of the three-time All-Star’s future since his days as a starter appear over. He’ll be asked to take big shots and provide a stabilizing presence as a backup point guard but doesn’t defend a lick and really struggled for Cleveland in the Finals, further damaging his stock.
15. Anthony Morrow, SG
The best long-range shooting threat remaining on the market will be a part of someone’s plan to dethrone the Warriors, who have already filled their roster. If not for that, Golden State would be a perfect landing spot for a specialist who had a rough stint to close out an otherwise productive stint with Oklahoma City but should bounce back since he’s a career 43 percent 3-point shooter.
Others available: Lavoy Allen, Trey Burke, Brandon Rush, Tyler Zeller, Rodney Stuckey, Donatas Motiejunas, Randy Foye, Mike Dunleavy, Matt Barnes, Jason Terry, Thomas Robinson, Leandro Barbosa, Kris Humphries, Tiago Splitter, Dante Cunningham, Norris Cole, Alan Anderson, Jeff Withey, Adreian Payne.
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