Those who think the NBA takes a break following the Finals are quite mistaken. This is a sport that has year-round activities for supporters to follow, including the NBA draft lottery, the Combine, the NBA draft and competitive summer leagues. Above all, monitoring free agency undoubtedly provides the highest level of excitement for fans and contains enough drama to rival any television soap opera. Daily – even hourly – checks on various news feeds and Twitter (and here at Basketball Insiders!) have proven to be mandatory actions to check the status of 2015 restricted and unrestricted free agents. We need to know which players are moving, which players are staying and how teams are shaping up for the upcoming season.
The amount of free agency activity since teams were allowed to begin negotiations with free agents on July 1st is staggering. No signings could occur until July 9th, and now, newlines are loaded with confirmations of player signings.
Yet there are many intriguing free agent players whose futures have not been decided. A deal is not done until contracts are signed (DeAndre Jordan hammered that truth in for all of us), so which free agent players do we need to watch? To help you keep track, we’ve compiled a list of the best free agents remaining:
TRISTAN THOMPSON (RFA) – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
Reports began circulating on July 1st that Tristan Thompson and the Cavaliers were closing in on a deal that would pay the fourth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft a salary in excess of $80 million. A couple days later, it was said the two sides were far apart with no indication regarding the sticking point. And now it’s gone strangely quiet. So much for LeBron James holding out on his own contract re-signing until Thompson’s deal had been finalized as the Cavs already announced that James re-signed. Thompson filled in nicely for the injured Kevin Love during the playoffs and is a valuable asset with his ability to post double-doubles in every game.
JOSH SMITH (UFA) – HOUSTON ROCKETS
Perhaps the Sacramento Kings are interested in acquiring Josh Smith. The Los Angeles Clippers may be interested as well. Or maybe it’s true the Dallas Mavericks are eyeing Smith. All three teams have been connected to Smith’s name in the past week. Of course, it’s an option that Smith returns to the Rockets. They do need his proven versatility. Remember the Detroit Pistons are obligated to pay Smith $5 million in each of the next five seasons. He could elect to accept a reduced paycheck for a chance to sign with a top contender.
KEVIN SERAPHIN (UFA) – WASHINGTON WIZARDS
Are the Mavericks now considering Kevin Seraphin in light of losing out on the aforementioned Jordan? Seraphin is probably the best unrestricted free agent center left. With his desire for a salary increase over what the Wizards paid him last year ($3.89 million) and more playing time (15.6 minutes per game) along with the Mavs’ ability to pay significant dollars, this might be a match. It’s rumored that the San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers have also placed him on their respective radars. Would he return to the Wizards?
J.R. SMITH (UFA) – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
J.R. Smith elected to opt out of his $6.4 million guaranteed contract with the Cavaliers, and thus far, he remains a free agent. General manager David Griffin maintains he expects Smith to return to the fold. There are no rumblings of any other teams prepared in the short term to make a run at the volatile and inconsistent player. It appears the Cavs are focused on wrapping up other deals first before turning their attention to Smith. By the time that rolls around, Smith may not get the salary and term he desires. In that case, there are teams that would surely make him a one-year offer.
MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA (RFA) – CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
As for Matthew Dellavedova, all indications suggest the Cavs want him back and are planning a multi-year deal.
DARRELL ARTHUR (UFA) – DENVER NUGGETS
It appears the Nuggets and Darrell Arthur are making progress on a deal, but no word has been released yet. The defensive-minded forward is woefully underrated – he’s a high-character player who always seems to make the right decision on the court. Injuries, however, are a concern. Reports say the Pistons and Wizards are eyeing him.
ANDRE MILLER (UFA) – SACRAMENTO KINGS
With 16 years of NBA experience under his belt, Andre Miller, now 39, is not ready to hang it up quite yet. We understand his representatives are talking with other teams, but don’t be surprised if he heads back to Sacramento in the third point guard slot. The two sides have been talking. Coach George Karl and Miller share history together and significant mutual respect exists; this team needs his veteran leadership.
Obviously, there are many, many other NBA free agents remaining that didn’t make our list. Keep your eye out for such players as Carlos Boozer, Norris Cole, JaVale McGee, James Jones, Donald Sloan, Michael Beasley, Will Barton, Tayshaun Prince and K.J. McDaniels. There are sure to be many more free agent surprises in the near future.
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