The climax of NBA free agency is behind us, as stars like Chris Paul, Paul George, LeBron James, and DeMarcus Cousins have found their homes for the upcoming season. And while this year’s crop of free agents is not as star-loaded as 2019’s may be, it is still had and has a lot of reliable options because of the quality of depth.
There were, and still are, NBA veterans available that are not big names but perfect role players to fill your team out with, like a Trevor Ariza or Luc Mbah a Moute.
Most of the best players are gone, but there are still some available that can help numerous teams out in different ways at, as always the case, the right price. Here they are, in no specific order:
Clint Capela, C, RFA
The 24-year-old center is probably the biggest name available, and the one guy who has a legitimate chance at a huge contract. He is coming off a career season where he averaged 13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks on 65.2% from the field and served as an essential cog to a team that was one game away from the NBA Finals. All career-bests. If you stretch those out to per-36 minutes, they go up to 18.2 points, 14.2 rebounds, 2.4 blocks. Quite impressive indeed.
He is reportedly looking for a $100 million contract, but the Rockets went as high as ‘just’ $60 million. And when you look closer, it’s easy to see why. As valuable as he was to Houston, his success was more predicated on playing off Chris Paul and James Harden. 80% of his shots came from 0-3 feet, and 82% of all his field goals came on assists.
But he’s still an elite defensive presence in the middle, a great pick-and-roll partner (offense and defense) and young enough to where he can even develop an offensive game.
Isaiah Thomas, G, UFA
Oh, how the fortunes changed in less than a year for the 5’9 guard. A year after finding himself in the MVP conversation, injuries messed with his contract year and potentially cost him at least a hundred million. He is not generating any free agent interest, but he could be gotten for a one-year deal and at a relatively cheap number because he will be looking to reestablish himself next season in search of a big payday.
Thomas is instant offense, and his best role may be as a sixth-man. Any team that will be looking into signing him will have to convince him of that. Thomas is not as bad as he showed in 2017-2018. And one positive was he improved, albeit slightly, after getting traded from Cleveland to Los Angeles. He’d be a boost for a playoff team that needs offense off the bench.
Jabari Parker, F, RFA
Parker may be the most talented player left, but his two ACL injuries flag him as a significant injury risk. But there is no doubt that he can play. He averaged 12.6 points in just 24 minutes after returning from injury this past season. Parker is a career 49% field goal scorer and above average three-point shooter at 35.2% while putting up 15.3 points per game and collecting 5.5 rebounds.
This past season he shot a career-best 38.3% from deep, and 2016-2017 proved that he could be a 20+ point-per-game scorer. He is ultra-talented, but his knees will prevent him from getting the deal he thinks he deserves.
Jamal Crawford, G, UFA
Crawford is not the same player he once was, but like Isaiah Thomas, is instant offense. But unlike Thomas, Crawford knows his role as a backup. He has spent the majority of his career as the best sixth-man in the NBA. Crawford averaged 10.3 points in 20.7 minutes each night, on career-level efficiency with the Timberwolves this past season.
A team looking to fill out the bench could use his services because he will always get you buckets, and he is an excellent veteran presence in the locker room.
Marcus Smart, G, RFA
You know what you are getting with Marcus Smart. No offense, but energy, tenacity, and athleticism on defense, with the ability to annoy and get under the opponent’s skin. He is only 24 years old but has not shown the potential for becoming a threat with the ball.
The former sixth overall pick is best utilized off the bench because of the lack of offense (started just 11 of 54 games last season). Smart can help any team, but make sure not to overpay because he is limited.
Wayne Ellington, SG, UFA
In the age of shooting, somehow Wayne Ellington is still available. The NBA veteran averaged 11.2 points this past season with Miami, but his biggest asset is floor-spacing. A career 38.1% shooter from three, Ellington shot 39.2% from deep this past season and 39.2% on catch-and-shoot opportunities.
Miami had an offensive rating of 104.5 last year, but with Ellington on the court, it went up to 113, a similar number to the year before as well. He would have been a perfect fit for a team like the Los Angeles Lakers because of the need of shooters. In reality, however, he would fit in excellent with every side, and will eventually find a new home.
Featured Image via Flickr/milwaukeeva