The National Basketball Association's free agent period kicked off July 7th. In the two weeks that have passed, we've seen millions and millions of dollars given out to players, as the league's new nine-year television deal kicked in, resulting in a spike in the NBA's salary cap.
With the new-found available cap space we have many teams eager to spend, and general managers and agents alike, unable to contain themselves. This has led to some bizarre and head-scratching contracts being handed out, like the four-year $64 million deal backup center Timofey Mozgov got from the Los Angeles Lakers, or the four-year $52 million deal former Pacers' reserve Guard Solomon Hill received from the New Orleans Pelicans.
On the flip side, we also witnessed some really good signings, like the Boston Celtics bringing in Al Horford to take a run at the Cleveland Cavaliers, the San Antonio Spurs adding Pau Gasol to replace the legendary Tim Duncan, and help take down the Warriors, and the New York Knicks signing Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah to give them some defense and toughness as they attempt to change the fortunes of the once proud franchise.
Some of the deals that have taken place have shocked us, like Kevin Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign on with their rivals the Golden State Warriors. Or, watching another face of the franchise in former Heat All-Star, and future Hall-Of-Famer Dwyane Wade leave the Miami Heat to sign with the Chicago Bulls.
Free agency is still ongoing, and there are still many quality names left on the market. Because of that, we here at TheSportster present to you, our Top 15 NBA Remaining Free Agents and where they might sign.
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15 Carlos Boozer - Oklahoma City Thunder
The former two-time All-Star sat out this past season due to injuries. Reports indicate that the Power Forward wants to play this year. The Duke product can bang inside, hit jump shots from 12-15 feet away from the basket, and can hit the boards. Over the course of his 12-year career, Boozer has averaged 16 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game. In the playoffs his numbers improve, as he puts up 17 PPG and 11 RPG. Assuming he's in shape, he'd instantly make anyone he signs with better.
The Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves devastated in losing Kevin Durant this offseason. While signing Boozer wouldn't heal any wounds from KD leaving, Russell Westbrook needs some reinforcements if the Thunder plan to keep him going into the season. Boozer could provide a steady presence and would be of good support to Westbrook as the Thunder are now his team.
Other possible fits: Celtics, Hawks, Bulls, Cavs.
14 Shane Larkin - Houston Rockets
The former New York Knick and Brooklyn Net brings a lot of speed to the table. His ability to get from one end of the floor to the other so quickly, enables to get points in transition and penetrate the lane. Last season, the 23-year-old Miami product averaged a career-high 7 points and 4 assists. While he's not starting material, Larkin has shown he has what it takes to be a solid backup point guard, especially on a team that employs a fast-pace offense.
Like the Thunder, the Houston Rockets lost one of their star players this offseason, as Dwight Howard elected to sign with the Atlanta Hawks. Larkin in no way fills the Dwight Howard role, but the Rockets need some depth in their lineup and Larkin could provide that. With the offense the Rockets run, Larkin looks like a solid fit there.
Other possible fits: Pelicans, Wizards, Warriors.
13 JaVale McGee - Toronto Raptors
Doesn't it feels like a lifetime ago when JaVale McGee along with Andray Blatche were the core pieces of the Washington Wizards front-court? Wow how time flies...Fast-forward to now, and McGee is a 28-year-old journeyman. Why does he make the list you might be asking, because he is 7 foot tall, who can score in the post, and is a ferocious rebounder. How many teams do you know could somebody like this?
The Toronto Raptors seem like they would be a good fit for McGee, as they could add some depth in their lineup. The Cavaliers remain their biggest obstacle in the East and we saw in this year's Eastern Conference Finals that the Cavs had too much power for the Raptors to overcome. DeMar DeRozan is coming back to Toronto but they need to do more to take the next step. McGee has something to offer them.
Other possible fit: Heat
12 Norris Cole - Charlotte Hornets
As a member of the injury-ravaged New Orleans Pelicans last season, Norris Cole got a lot of playing time, and averaged a career-high 10.6 points per game, which bested his high of 9.9 the year before. Blessed with blazing speed, and solid defensive skills, Cole also has two rings on his resume, as he was a member of the Miami Heat's back-to-back championship teams in 2012 and 2013.
Here, we have Cole going from the old Hornets franchise to the new one. Cole will be 28 years old and will be ready to come in and compete for playing time. Cole would bring some solid defending to the Hornets, as they look to take the next step this year after forcing the Miami Heat to a seven-game series in the first round. It'd be a refreshing change for Cole to return to a playoff team.
Other possible fits: Magic, Wizards, Warriors, Lakers, Nets
11 Kevin Martin - Golden State Warriors
The smaller version of Kevin Love (they were actually teammate with the Timberwolves for two seasons) Kevin Martin, just like his former running mate, is the poster-child for guys that put up stats on bad teams. He has made the playoffs only 4 times in his decade-plus career. Despite all that, Martin does know how to score. Throughout his career, he has averaged 17 points a game. At 33 years old he doesn't need to be given starter minutes to be effective. Having him come off with the second unit, and provide a spark offensively, would be ideal.
I know what you might be thinking and that's that the Warriors really don't need that much more help, but depth is important and the Warriors have lost some of it this offseason in signing Kevin Durant after letting several role players go. They'll need some more recruits in their championship run.
Other possible fits: 76ers, Nets, Wizards, Grizzles
10 Gerald Green - Orlando Magic
After two very solid years with the Phoenix Suns in which he averaged nearly 16 and 12 points a game respectively, Gerald Green, the high-flyer is coming off of a bad year in Miami as his PPG dropped to 9 a game, his worst since the 2012-13 season as a member of the Indiana Pacers. A high-flyer who looks like he can jump out the gym on some nights, Green is also a streaky shooter. Put in the right situation, and with the right coaching, the Boston Celtics 2005 first round pick could flourish.
The Orlando Magic would be a fine destination for Green, as the Magic have a pretty young team and Green at 30 would bring a veteran presence. It's a good time to get him, as his down year in Miami has brought his price tag down. Taking a one year flyer on him would be a shrewd move by Orlando.
Other possible fits: Warriors, Pelicans, Hornets, Rockets
9 Amar'e Stoudemire - New York Knicks
A legitimate MVP candidate with the New York Knicks before Carmelo Anthony came to town, Stoudemire seemed to find his game last season with Miami Heat, after bad knees, and a bad fit ended his stay in NY, as well as with the Dallas Mavericks. In games with the Heat, the former six-time All-Star put up 6 points and 4 boards a game in limited minutes, while still displaying his high quality shot from the elbow, and ability to throw it down when near the basket.
While he will never be known as even a good defender, (he got victimized by Bismack Biyombo and Jose Valanciunas in the playoffs) he still brings value as a backup 4 or 5. The Knicks have reloaded their roster this offseason and adding a guy who is familiar with New York on the bench could be of use to them.
Other possible fits: Suns, Celtics, Thunder, Jazz
Update: Amar'e Stoudemire has retired from the NBA after 14 seasons. He retired as a New York Knick.
8 Josh Smith - Denver Nuggets
Wow, how quickly things turned around for Josh Smith. This time last year, Smith was looked at s a solid free agent signing by the Houston Rockets, after he averaged nearly 14 points and 6 rebounds for them in the playoffs. Smith and the Rockets couldn't agree on a contract, so the Forward ended up signing a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. The deal didn't work out for either side, and the 2004 first round pick was traded back to Houston in January. In 23 regular season games with the team he averaged 6.6 PPG.
In the playoffs he was worse as he put posted just 4 PPG. When he is at his best, Smith is blocking shots, grabbing boards, and dunking on people. There are more than a few teams that can use those types of skills. The Nuggets seem to be like the best fit.
Other possible fits: Thunder, Hawks, Wizards
7 Jason Terry - Golden State Warriors
Why not, right?
The man nicknamed "The Jet" is still getting it done after all these years. The 16-year veteran and member of the Dallas Mavericks 2010-11 championship team, has made the most 3 pointers in NBA history. Having made upwards of $100 million in his career, I think it's pretty safe to assume that adding another ring to his list of achievements is more important than chasing a few extra dollars. The Warriors are already ridiculously stacked, but why not add one more weapon on the outside?
Jason Terry doesn't have much time left in his career so riding the coattails of all the stars on the Warriors might be the best way to maximize whatever basketball he has left in him.
The Warriors could use some experience in their lineup and Terry would be able to bring some. If not Golden State, he should have other options if he wants to be on a championship contender.
Other possible fits: Spurs, Thunder, Cavs, Pacers.
6 Mario Chalmers - Milwaukee Bucks
If the point guard didn't suffer a torn Achilles this past season, he would be much higher on the list. In fact, he probably wouldn't even be on the list, as he most likely would've signed somewhere by now. Mario Chalmers, has the ability to start and come off the bench for any franchise that he eventually signs with. The former University of Kansas star, is a proven winner, having won an NCAA title, along with two NBA championships as a member of the Miami Heat. He also has shown throughout his professional career, that he can hit big shots, as he did against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 playoffs. Chalmers tore his Achilles in March. He should be back to normal come Christmas time.
The Milwaukee Bucks are a team on the rise and Chalmers brings some playoff experience to them. The good news for Chalmers is that he should be a little fresher come playoff time.
Best Fit: Spurs, Mavs, Warriors, Trail Blazers
5 Ty Lawson- Philadelphia 76ers
From the 2011-12 season till the 2014-15 season Ty Lawson played like a borderline All-Star for the Denver Nuggets. Last offseason, the former North Carolina Tar Heel was traded to the Houston Rockets. Things went downhill quickly for the team, as they fired Head Coach Kevin McHale after a slow start, and Lawson as well he put up only 5.8 points per game, and he was suspended on two separate occasions by the league for charges related to driving while impaired, and driving under the influence. Lawson was cut by the Rockets, and eventually signed with the Pacers to finish the season where he averaged a career-low 4.9 points. Assuming last year was just a blip on the radar, Lawson can be an instant contributor to almost team in the league.
The 76ers are set to begin making their climb up the NBA ladder, but they can't only do it with their young budding stars. They could use a presence like Lawson in their locker room.
Other possible fits: Kings, Magic, Trail Blazers, Bucks
4 David Lee - Golden State Warriors
The ultimate team player, David Lee, is never afraid to dive for loose balls, stand-up for teammates, do the dirty work on the boards, or take a backseat because of lineup changes, as he did for the Golden State Warriors during their championship run two years ago. After not working out in Boston after the Warriors him there last off-season, the Celtics waived former Florida Gator. He went on to sign with the Dallas Mavericks for the rest of the season. In 27 games as a Mav, the two-time All-Star averaged 7 rebounds, and nearly 9 points a game.
A return to Golden State might be ideal for both the Warriors and for Lee as him doing some dirty work could help the Warriors in those long playoff series. We'll see if the Warriors seek a reunion with him.
Other possible fits: Trail Blazers, Bulls, Knicks, Spurs, Rockets
3 Lance Stephenson - Memphis Grizzlies
Things all went downhill for the mercurial Stephenson and for the Indiana Pacers for that matter, when the Cincinnati product left Indy in 2014 to sign a 3-year $27 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets. He would last one season in Charlotte, where averaged 8 points and 4 rebounds per game, much lower than the season before, where he posted 14 and 7 respectively. At the end of the season, Stephenson was being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Things didn't go much better in the city of angels, as he averaged 4.7 points, and 2.5 boards, his lowest since his second season in the league. He was traded during last season to the Memphis Grizzles where he found himself offensively, as he averaged a career-high 14 PPG. Assuming he can keep his rediscovered game going, he could be a valuable piece to a number of teams.
A return to the Grizzlies makes the most sense here.
Other possible fits: Timberwolves, Spurs, Wizards, Pelicans, Mavs
2 Dion Waiters - Philadelphia 76ers
After averaging nearly 10 points a game last year (9.8) with the Thunder, there is no doubting that Dion Waiters can put the ball in the net. His decision-making and shot selection when said ball is in his hands however, can sometimes be questionable. The former 4th overall pick of the 2012 draft is an offensive talent, who loves to jack up shots, doesn't always play within the team concept. In the playoffs, however, the light seemed to go for the Philadelphia native, as he played solid defense, and hit a bunch of big shots. At this rate, while Waiters could be an instant starter on a bottom-feeder team, he would provide a huge boost off the bench for a middle-of-the pack or contending team.
The 76ers aren't a contending team right now, but they're set to be one in the near future. Waiters would be able to contribute right away and may expedite the process.
Other possible fits: Kings, Grizzles, Rockets, Heat, Celtics
1 J.R. Smith - Cleveland Cavaliers
When he is on his game, J.R. Smith is a deadly sharpshooter from behind the arc, an underrated passer, and gives a spark to your starting lineup or bench. He is a fan-favorite wherever he goes, and brings instant offense with him. The 12-year veteran proved his worth last season, as he was a vital part of the Cleveland Cavaliers' championship team. After taking a discount last season to play with LeBron and company ($5 million), you can be sure that the 30-year-old will be looking to make some of that money back.
The Cavaliers still have to re-sign LeBron James. The King has already made it known that he will return to the Cavs, but management will have to make an effort to make J.R. Smith happy too. If Cleveland wants to defend their championship, they'll find a way to bring Smith back.
Other possible fits: Mavericks, Spurs, Celtics, Bulls.
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