clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NBA free agency 2017: Ranking the 9 best players remaining in a dried-up market

The big fish are out of the pond, but there are still some catches left for teams willing to shell out some bait.

New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The dust has settled in NBA free agency after the big names have found homes for the future. Gordon Hayward chose the Celtics, Chris Paul ended up in Houston (and Carmelo Anthony could soon follow), Blake Griffin stayed in Los Angeles, Kyle Lowry returned to Toronto, and the Warriors kept their championship core together.

Now, the best available second-tier free agents are on the clock. The Nets threw a max offer sheet at Otto Porter, only for the Wizards to match the four-year, $106 million pact. With Porter off the market, guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jonathon Simmons, and JaMychal Green patiently wait as teams make their pitches and sell themselves as the ideal destination.

Of the remaining free agents, though, nine stand out as players who will inevitably sign a deal sooner than later. In no particular order, here are the best left:

Top 9 free agents left on the market

1. Nerlens Noel — 23, Restricted

The Mavericks traded Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and a first-round pick to Philly to get Noel. It’s unlikely they let another team pry their next Tyson Chandler away.

2. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — 24, Unrestricted

Caldwell-Pope is a victim of restricted free agency. He was a restricted free agent up until the Pistons pulled his qualifying offer. But they did so after several teams already dedicated their cap space elsewhere. Now, Pope looks for a new home and a hefty payday.

Caldwell-Pope is a promising perimeter defender and has shown flashes of marksman-like accuracy amid his inconsistent shooting. A team that gets and develops the 24-year-old guard could be a big winner down the road.

3. Jonathon Simmons — 27, Restricted

Simmons broke out at the most opportune time for a championship organization last season, averaging 13 points in the second round against the Rockets and 15 points in the conference finals against the Warriors.

Simmons, who will be 28 when the season starts, is older for a third-year guard, but he showed he’s just entering his prime as a slashing guard for the Spurs last season. San Antonio may match any offer sheet he’s signed to, as long as it’s not egregious.

4. JaMychal Green — 27, Restricted

Green’s agent felt Memphis was going in a different direction. The versatile, 27-year-old combo forward had come off a breakout season with solid numbers, but his agent saw two sign-and-trades and two offer sheets on the Fourth of July.

Whether the Grizzlies match competing offers on Green remains to be seen, but as the ash settles from the beginning of free agency, teams will come knocking, and they had better pay up.

5. Derrick Rose — 28, Unrestricted

Rose had a quietly decent season amid the ruckus that is the New York Knicks. He averaged 18 points and 4.4 assists for a team that changed offensive schemes midseason and remained relatively healthy until he slightly tore his meniscus during the latter stretch of a meaningless season.

The 28-year-old Rose likely won’t command the $21.3 million salary he made last season. But at the right price, he can be a value pickup for a team still looking to compete for a playoff spot.

6. Willie Reed — 27, Unrestricted

Reed reportedly has interest from five teams, and deservedly so. The high-energy big man averaged about five points, five rebound, and just under a block in 15 minutes per game.

I’ll let you do the math on his numbers per 36 minutes. ... Done? And this guy wants to win Most Improved Player next season.

7. Nikola Mirotic — 26, Restricted

Mirotic didn’t have the season many expected after placing second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Andrew Wiggins two years ago. The Yugoslavian sharpshooter averaged 10 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for the Bulls last season, but his shooting percentages dipped to just 34 percent from three, and 28 percent in the playoffs.

Still, Mirotic can be a serviceable option as a stretch-4 for a team like Brooklyn that needs to space the floor. Chicago can always match any offer to retain his services.

8. Ian Clark — 26, Unrestricted

Clark has improved every year, culminating with a career-best championship season with the Warriors. Golden State can’t keep him, but Clark should be coveted as a respectable three-point shooter who has yet to show the full depth of his game.

9. Monta Ellis — 31, Unrestricted

At this point, we know what Monta Ellis is: He’s a hooper, here to get buckets. Ellis is a volume scorer, a role that’s decreased in value over the years. Indiana waived him this summer, but he can still latch on elsewhere. The veteran guard could be of help off the bench for a team looking to stay competitive but not competing for a championship.