NBA free agency 2018: Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker are among the top free agents still left on the market
As we get deeper into the second week of NBA free agency, the number of big names available is dwindling. But there are still some solid players remaining on the board.
LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and Paul George — have made their decisions, while dozens of other players have also agreed to deals. And with few teams possessing much cap space, it could be a long, drawn out process for the rest of the free agents to make decisions. Simply put, there aren’t a lot of places for them to go and get paid.
The Rockets might be lucky enough to avoid paying Capela the max simply because the market is so barren, but it’s hard to imagine him getting much less than that. His development in Houston has been exceptional, and at 24 his combination of rim protection, switchability, screening and vertical spacing make him one of the league’s better centers already.
The sharpshooter has said he wants to stay in Miami, but the Heat don’t have a ton of wiggle room financially if they want to avoid the luxury tax. Ellington seems like a popular guy: The Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson reported that nine other teams are interested in him, and the Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds reported that 23 (!!!) teams have reached out to his representatives. Everybody wants shooting, but how many of these teams have the wherewithal to pay for it?
The Celtics‘ chances of keeping Smart without overpaying look pretty good now, with the Indiana Pacers adding Doug McDermott and the Dallas Mavericks spending their money on Jordan. Would the Magic go after him? How about the Bulls? At this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if Smart accepted his qualifying offer and tried free agency again a year from now. Restricted free agency can be brutal.
Another restricted-free agent conundrum. Maybe you think he’s the next Victor Oladipo, destined to break out and make good on all his potential a little later than experts expected. Maybe you think he’s not a winning player because he doesn’t rebound or defend like you want from your power forward and he stops the ball on offense. Parker is not a clean fit in Mike Budenholzer’s system and the Bucks just added veteran stretch 4 Ersan Ilyasova, but is the front office OK with being made to look stupid if he shines elsewhere? Maybe a sign-and-trade is a possibility here.
Every hipster’s favorite under-the-radar restricted free agent, Harrell had a fantastic year for the Clippers last season. I’d love to see him return and compete with Marcin Gortat for the starting spot, and I wonder if any of the teams with the full $8.6 million midlevel exception are considering offering it to him.
The rebuilding Cavaliers should probably keep him, and his mostly poor play for them after the trade deadline might be a blessing in disguise from a financial perspective. No restricted free agent hurt his value as much as Hood did last season, but he remains a skilled playmaker and a 37-percent career 3-point shooter.
Is there any team out there willing to sign Thomas and give him the keys to the offense the way Brad Stevens did? At his best, Thomas can carry an elite offense, with an awesome arsenal of hesitation moves and creative finishes over bigger players. He couldn’t do his normal thing when recovering from a hip injury last year, though, and his offense no longer made up for his defensive deficiencies. Looking around the league, there really aren’t many teams with starting point guard jobs available as currently constructed — would the Magic or the Suns be interested?
Everybody expects Wade to finish his career in Miami because that’s what he said would happen. I can’t help but wonder, though, if he’d consider giving it another try with LeBron in Los Angeles.