By Matt Citak
We are 12 days into July, and almost all of the NBA’s big-name free agents have inked new deals. However a few familiar names remain, and with each team’s cap space dwindling, where they end up is anyone’s guess. Let’s take a look at some of the top remaining free agents.
PF Nerlens Noel
After being traded to the Mavericks in late February, Noel had a solid finish to the season. In 22 games (12 starts) with Dallas, the 23-year old averaged 8.5 points on 57.5 percent shooting, 6.8 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 steals in only 22.0 minutes. Between his time in Philadelphia and Dallas last season, Noel ended the year with a 20.40 Player Efficiency Rating, and proved he can be a valuable, young piece to a team’s core. While his offensive game is a bit limited, the 6-foot-11 forward has the potential to become an elite rim protector, a trait many teams would find appealing.
Noel is a restricted free agent, meaning the Mavericks will have the opportunity to match any offer the young power forward receives. After trading Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and a first-round pick to obtain Noel just a few months ago, Dallas has made it abundantly clear that they plan on keeping the former-Kentucky Wildcat, no matter the cost.
PF JaMychal Green
While Green may not be as much of a household name as some of the other players on this list, don’t sleep on the 27-year old forward. Green averaged 8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 27.3 minutes for the Grizzlies last season, shooting 50.1 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from the three-point line. The 27-year old is a fantastic athlete who has shown the versatility to be able to slide up to small forward and defend on the perimeter, although he is more of a natural power forward.
Green, at 6-foot-9, 227 lbs, can clean up the boards and tough it out with the big men down low, while also helping to stretch the floor with his ability to shoot from the outside. His athleticism makes him a good all-around player, and at 27, he could fit in well with a team looking to get younger. Green is a restricted free agent, but it is rumored that Memphis is looking to go in a different direction.
SG Jonathon Simmons
Simmons did not have that impressive of a season, scoring 6.2 points while shooting 42.0 percent from the field in only 17.8 minutes per game. But it was his performance in the postseason that really put him on the map. In 15 playoff games, Simmons averaged 10.5 points on 45.6 percent shooting, including a 35.1 percentage from behind-the-arc. If he can continue to improve on his three-point shooting, Simmons could develop into a nice 3-and-D player, as he has already proven to be a great defender.
Simmons has good size at 6-foot-6, and has shown the versatility to be able to defend multiple positions, including stretch fours. His defensive ability was put on full display in San Antonio’s second round series against Houston. Simmons did a very impressive job guarding James Harden, helping to force the All-NBA guard to 5.17 turnovers per game. Simmons is also a restricted free agent, and reports out of San Antonio say the Spurs will match any reasonable offers.
PG Derrick Rose
Hidden underneath all the turmoil at Madison Square Garden last season was a quietly productive year for Rose. The 28-year old point guard started 64 games for the Knicks and averaged a respectable 18.0 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.8 rebounds in 32.5 minutes per game. While these are far from the MVP-like numbers we have seen from Rose in previous seasons, the 28-year old proved that there is still plenty of gas left in the tank, despite all of his past injuries.
Teams with a void to fill at the point guard position are sure to be interested in Rose, who is the top ball-handler still available at this point of the offseason. The 6-foot-3 guard is unlikely to command the $21.3 million he made with New York last season. But with teams such as the Mavericks and Clippers reportedly interested in the former-MVP, the unrestricted free agent could cash in on a rather-barren point guard market.
PG Rajon Rondo
After playing his first eight and a half seasons in Boston, Rondo has bounced around in recent years, playing for three teams in the last two and a half seasons. The 31-year old point guard appeared in 69 games for the Bulls this past season, and managed to put up 7.8 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.1 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per game. The veteran guard shot a career-best 37.6 percent from the three-point line, while adding 1.4 steals on the defensive side. While Rondo has clashed with a few of the front offices of his recent teams, he is still seen as someone with an excellent basketball IQ that can provide great leadership on the court.
While Rondo may be past his prime, he can still open up scoring opportunities with his great court vision. There are several teams interested in adding the 6-foot-1 unrestricted free agent, including the Lakers and the Knicks. The Lakers have recently increased their efforts to sign the veteran after meeting with him on Tuesday.