Head to Head: Most Obtainable Free Agent?

Free agency officially starts on Wednesday. Who are the most obtainable free agents? Our writers discuss.

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Now that the NBA Draft has come and gone, all eyes now turn to free agency, which officially starts on July 1. There are plenty of big name free agents hitting the market, but some are more obtainable than others for various reasons. In today’s Head to Head, Cody Taylor, Moke Hamilton and Jesse Blancarte take a look at three players that are up for grabs and could be on the move this offseason.

DeAndre Jordan

The Los Angeles Clippers should be in for an interesting summer once free agency begins on July 1. The team will be limited in what they can ultimately do given their cap situation, but figure to offer upcoming unrestricted free agent DeAndre Jordan a five-year max deal.

While the Clippers can offer him more money than any other team, will that be enough to retain their big man? The Clippers can offer him a five-year, $108 million contract while every other team can only offer a four-year, $80 million deal.

A report surfaced yesterday afternoon stating the rumored rift between Jordan and Chris Paul is true, despite head coach Doc Rivers denying those rumors at the end of season. Jordan reportedly is seeking a larger role in the team’s offense and wants to ultimately become an All-Star, but is unsure if that will happen with Paul and Blake Griffin on the team.

Jordan is expected to meet with four teams once free agency starts on Wednesday – the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Clippers. In addition to those four teams, Chandler Parsons is also said to be recruiting Jordan to the Mavericks as the two have been hanging out in Jordan’s hometown of Houston.

Jordan meeting with potential teams should not come as news. Most players want to experience the free agency process and be wooed. In Jordan’s case, he’s earned that right after averaging 11.5 points, 15 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game last season while also leading the league in rebounding and field goal percentage.

The fact that the Clippers have yet to advance past the second round of the playoffs could also potentially factor into Jordan’s decision, especially after they blew a 3-1 series lead over the Rockets this postseason. Jordan could potentially see the team as not capable of advancing deeper into the playoffs in a stacked Western Conference and could see himself as the missing piece in Dallas or Milwaukee. The idea of joining the Bucks could potentially be a big move as Jordan could help them become a real force in the weaker Eastern Conference and the Bucks will undoubtedly try to sell him on that idea during their reported meeting.

The Clippers could be at risk of losing Jordan should the reported rift between him and Paul be true. While they can still offer him the most money, Jordan may prioritize chasing a ring in a different environment rather than cashing in on the extra $28 million the Clippers can offer him. At this point of the process, Jordan could be on his way out and the Clippers could be in trouble.

– Cody Taylor

Rajon Rondo

This actually plays right in last weekend’s NBA Sunday, wherein I looked at Rajon Rondo and his situation through the lens of Pau Gasol and let it be known that I think Rondo is far from done.

He is, however, utterly available.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Greg Monroe and Wesley Matthews will be amongst those that find themselves with the ability to change teams, but there is no doubt that Rondo is “attainable,” because head coach Rick Carlisle himself said exactly that.

For me, the most interesting thing about Rondo is not whether or not he has divested himself of the condo he was no doubt living in while in Dallas, but whether he ends up as a member of the Sacramento Kings, the terms of the contract he will sign and whether he is able to bounce back from the ACL tear that seems to have cost him some of his quickness and explosiveness. I am expecting big things from Rondo mainly because I think that a player who is not in a good place, mentally, will see his performance suffer. Gasol’s rejuvenation in Chicago, I believe, will be seen again with Rondo. And for sure, it will be seen in a new city—one far away from Carlisle and Mark Cuban.

Not too long ago, Rondo was considered to be amongst the top floor generals in the entire league. Interestingly enough, there are many critics that somehow believe that the Boston Celtics team of which he was a vital part succeeded in spite of him, and not because of him. Had that team been fully healthy for the duration of its time together, they may very well have three-peated.

Rondo was a major part of the reason why, and now, in a new city, a new chapter will begin for him.

– Moke Hamilton

Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe’s free agency situation is quite unique. At age 25, Monroe is set to hit this season’s free agent market as an unrestricted free agent. That may not seem all that significant, but, based on historical precedent, it is.

Last year, the Detroit Pistons and Monroe failed to come to terms on a long-term contract, and as a result, Monroe took the rare step of signing and playing on a one-year qualifying offer of roughly $5.48 million. This is an unusual move for middle-tier and star players because they risk significant injury or having a down-year without long-term financial security. But Monroe made the gamble, played out the season and now is free to choose where he wants to go, and there’s nothing the Pistons can do to stop him.

Guys like Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Tobias Harris and Khris Middleton are all highly-coveted free agents. But they are all restricted free agents, so even if they sign a max-level contract with another team, their respective teams could simply choose to match the deal and retain their player. No such limitation applies with Monroe.

Monroe has now played five seasons in the league, all with Detroit. Last season, playing alongside Josh Smith (briefly) and Andre Drummond, Monroe averaged 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. Monroe is a versatile player who can play both at power forward and center. However, there are limitations in his game, most notably his inability to protect the rim. He has never come close to averaging more than one block per game, and he is not an explosive athlete that can cover his teammates when they make mistakes on the wing or on defensive rotations.

Nevertheless, at such a young age, with no contract limitations, a versatile game, and no extensive injury issues, Monroe hits free agency as one of the most attractive, obtainable, upper-tier free agents. Any team that pursues him (which will reportedly include the New York Knicks), needs to understand Monroe’s limitations, and surround him with the right teammates to properly utilize his notable strengths.

Monroe has shown enough game over the last five seasons that teams looking for a big man will make a hard push to sign him. Couple his talent with him taking the risk of playing on the qualifying-offer (and by virtue becoming an unrestricted free agent), and Monroe hits free agency as one of the most obtainable upper-tier free agents.

– Jesse Blancarte


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