While the drama surrounding Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving’s reported trade request continues to unfold, there are numerous free agents still searching for their next destinations. With the majority of free agency money dried up and cap space around the league dwindling, there are still guys on the market that could make a difference in the right situation.
But they’ll likely have to do it on a discounted deal.
The Cavaliers signed former league MVP Derrick Rose to a one-year veteran minimum deal this week, a move, if it happened five years ago, would have changed the trajectory of the league’s power structure. But in 2017, Rose has settled for a minimum deal which will allow him to join a title contender. Sure, Rose has an extensive history, but the former All-Star is coming off of a season where he averaged 18 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest.
These are the types of late offseason deals that can play a huge role determining a team’s slot in the power rankings. Today, we’ll take a look at five free agents still available that could potentially move the needle for their next team.
Nerlens Noel, Center, Dallas Mavericks (Restricted Free Agent)
Noel became an odd man out in Philadelphia last season and Dallas acquired him via trade at the deadline. Noel didn’t put up a huge stat line in 22 games with the Mavericks, but he’s clearly positioned to be their center of the future if the two sides can come to an agreement on a deal. It has been reported by numerous outlets that Noel is seeking a deal in the $20 million a year range, while the Mavericks are in the $13 – $15 million range.
The Mavericks can match any offer received for Noel’s services and at this point don’t seem intent to bid against themselves for the big man headed into his fourth season.
Mason Plumlee, Center, Denver Nuggets (Restricted Free Agent)
The Nuggets have an interesting collection of young talent and after a summer landing All-Star forward Paul Millsap in free agency, the team’s potential is rising. One player in flux, however, is Plumlee. The center is a restricted free agent, so the Nuggets hold the leverage and the team already has Nikola Jokic as a building block of the future. This leaves Plumlee is a tough position. On the surface, Plumlee’s potential to produce a nightly double-double would likely command an eight figure annual salary. But with free agency money scarce, he may ultimately have to play on the Nuggets’ qualifying offer ($4.6 million) next season and test his worth in 2018.
Tony Allen, Guard, Memphis Grizzlies (Unrestricted Free Agent)
You’re not going to get a lot of glitz and glam with Allen, but the veteran brings a lunch pail mentality to the arena every single night. The Grizzlies have signed guard Tyreke Evans and Ben McLemore in free agency this summer, while allowing forward Zach Randolph to sign elsewhere. Memphis’ moves seem to indicate they’re in the midst of an identity shift which means Allen likely won’t be returning. However, the veteran is a rugged defender that could add value to a contender.
Nikola Mirotic, Forward, Chicago Bulls (Restricted Free Agent)
Mirotic, a big man that can stretch the floor with range out to the three-point line, would seemingly have had multiple offers in free agency this summer. But as we head into August, the soon to be fourth year forward is still waiting on a phone call. Part of the reason Mirotic is still available is due to his restricted status. Another could be due to his lack of consistency and erratic jump shot. The Bulls, in the process of a rebuild, hold the cards and can match any offer received for Mirotic and the team seems intent on letting the market decide his fate.
Shabazz Muhammad, Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves (Unrestricted Free Agent)
It’s no secret what Muhammad does. He is a scorer with a career average of 18.9 points per 36 minutes. Muhammad is also a 47 percent shooter from the field, but is a high-volume shooter that has averaged one assist per game just once in four seasons as a pro.
The Timberwolves rescinded Muhammad’s qualifying offer earlier this summer making him an unrestricted free agent and free to sign with any team. Muhammad is too talented not find a landing spot, but high volume shooters that don’t have a reputation for strong defense and ball distribution skills aren’t in the highest demand.
Other Notable Free Agents Available: Michael Beasley (UFA – Milwaukee Bucks), Lavoy Allen (UFA – Indiana Pacers), JaMychal Green (RFA – Memphis Grizzlies), Ian Clark (RFA – Golden State Warriors), Deron Williams (UFA – Cleveland Cavaliers), Gerald Green (UFA – Boston), Alex Len (RFA – Phoenix Suns), Brandon Jennings (UFA – Washington Wizards)
The majority of the players on this list will ultimately be back in the league next season. But their free agency expectations entering the summer likely didn’t reflect the reality of their perceived market value around the league.
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