The NBA Free Agency period is madness.
Starting at midnight on July 1, the league and its fans are bombarded with report after report of landscape changing moves that create a wave of new storylines for the upcoming season. This free agency period has been no different.
As the first few days of free agency have taken place, most of the big fish have either stayed put with their current teams or found new deals elsewhere around the league. The likes of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant inked fresh new agreements to keep the Golden State dynasty together in the Bay Area, while Gordon Hayward decided to jump ship from Utah to join the Boston Celtics.
Other big names on the open market, like Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague, took their talents from an already weaker Eastern Conference and signed with Denver and Minnesota, respectively, making the path to the Finals out of the West that much tougher.
However, even with most of the top impact players off the board, there are still quality players looking to cash out on a new deal. Some of the remaining players can command high dollar contracts, while others could be bargain options that can provide quality minutes to any number of clubs around the Association.
For the second leg of free agency, now that the initial flurry has died down, let’s take a look at the best available players who are still looking for work.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope* – Shooting Guard
At 24 years old, KCP remains on the market as a restricted free agent.
But now that the first wave of wing players are off of the board, Caldwell-Pope could be looking at offer sheets from other clubs who may have struck out on other options.
The former eighth overall pick has continued to grow into his own, especially over the last two seasons. A defensive pest, Caldwell-Pope has the ability to lock down the opponent’s top wing player. His shooting touch is still a bit shaky, 35 percent from downtown last season, but his percentage from three-point range has improved over each of his first four seasons. If the shooting guard can continue to creep that percentage closer to the 40 percent mark over the course of the next few seasons, he could develop into one of the top “3-and-D” wings in the entire league.
What is also attractive about Caldwell-Pope to potential suitors is his durability. Over the course of his rookie contract, Caldwell-Pope played in 314 of a possible 328 games. As the saying goes, no ability is more valuable than availability. And Caldwell-Pope has shown consistency in that area of his game.
Clarity in Caldwell-Pope’s contract situation should come over the course of the next few days, whether it’s a Detroit deal or a hefty offer sheet from a new club looking to bring in the 24-year-old shooting guard for the next stage of his career.
Rudy Gay – Small Forward
Rudy Gay has been in more favorable positions than the one he currently finds himself in after suffering an Achilles tear last season. However, that shouldn’t necessarily stop the career 18-point-per-game scorer from finding a decent home.
Going into next season, Gay will be a 30-year-old wing player on the court for the first time since tearing his left Achilles. An Achilles injury for any player is problematic — for one at Gay’s age, there isn’t much of a track record to assume he’ll return to peak form. Nonetheless, Gay still obtains countless scoring abilities that few players across the league can lay claim to.
Now that Gordon Hayward has chosen his new home up in New England, teams that were in pursuit of his services could turn their attention to Gay.
If the Heat miss out on Hayward, likely they'll extend bigger offer to Gay. Celtics could as well.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) July 4, 2017
Along with Miami, Utah now has a gaping hole at small forward, and with players on board like Rudy Gobert and Ricky Rubio, they could look to throw money at Gay in order to keep pace in the Western Conference gauntlet.
Reportedly, Gay would prefer to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder and join league MVP Russell Westbrook and his new teammate Paul George. But the Thunder currently don’t have the cap flexibility to make that move possible.
As one of the top remaining wing players left on the market, it’s likely a deal for Gay gets done sooner rather than later.
Dirk Nowitzki – Power Forward
What should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the NBA is the lack of interest from other clubs in Dirk Nowitzki.
And even at 39 years old, it has nothing to do with his age.
The career-long Dallas Maverick will wind up re-signing with the club that drafted him and the owner, Mark Cuban, who adores him. But nevertheless, that doesn’t stop Nowitzki from cracking the list as best available due to what he can still contribute on the court.
While Nowitzki is no longer the top dog on his team in terms of scoring — that title belongs to Harrison Barnes — the 7-footer from Germany still managed to average 19.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and shoot nearly 38 percent from deep last season per-36 minutes.
With Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr. on board in Dallas, Nowitzki will give Cuban and the Mavericks the opportunity to try and improve the roster bit by bit before he inks a deal to return home.
C.J. Miles – Small Forward
Another player who can look to find a new deal now that the Hayward saga is over is C.J. Miles.
The 6-foot-6 swingman has logged minutes at the point guard, shooting guard and small forward positions over the course of his career. And at 29 years old, the versatility and ability to score and defend multiple positions could make Miles a coveted player at this stage of the free agency game.
Last season with the Indiana Pacers, Miles shot a career-high 41 percent from beyond the arc.
While Miles may be pursued by prospective clubs for his ability on the court, it’s his price tag off the court that may make him most attractive. Without having the clout of players like Hayward and Gay, Miles isn’t in a position to command nearly as much money on his next deal as those players.
Miles can provide is a piece that complements an already constructed roster. A team like the New Orleans Pelicans, who is operating with little flexibility, could look to bring Miles on board in order to provide another floor-spacer for Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
As the next wave of free agency moves starts to take place, Miles’ phone should be ringing more often than it was last week.
JaMychal Green* – Power Forward
Of the players remaining in free agency, JaMychal Green is one of the most intriguing.
At 6-foot-9, Green displayed a serious development in skill over the past two seasons for the Memphis Grizzlies. After taking over for Zach Randolph in the starting lineup last season, Green turned into a formidable option for Memphis on offense. Green averaged 11.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and shot 38 percent from beyond the arc last season — a testament to his growing versatility.
With Randolph moving on from Memphis to sign a two-year deal with the Sacramento Kings, the Grizzlies look to be in even more of a position to re-sign the 27-year-old big man. However, Green’s agent doesn’t feel the Grizzlies are doing their part to make Green feel welcomed back in Memphis, going as far as to say he believes, “Memphis is going in another direction.”
Whether Green winds back up in Memphis or signs an offer sheet elsewhere, the versatile forward should be able to bring a developing skillset to whichever club he plays for next season.
*Denotes restricted free agent
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