The 2018 free agent frenzy has been a rollercoaster ride for some and some big names have switched teams and shifted the dynamic in the league. Their are still some big names left out on the market who can be difference makers. I will be breaking down the top 12 remaining free agents and the rumors surronding them and where they could possibly wind up in the upcoming weeks of free agency.
Top Remaining Free Agents:
1: C Clint Capela
Clint Capela had an outstanding season last year with the Houston Rockets. Capela was the anchor of their defense and a huge piece to their success. Clint is a defensive difference maker and can be effective on the offensive end in the pick and roll and on the offensive glass. The Houston Rockets are trying to retain Capela as they want to bring back their same team from last year which had the best record in the Western Conference and were one win away from the NBA Finals. As of the past couple of days the Rockers and Capela haven’t been on the same page during discussions and seem to be at a stallmate. Capela has been rumored to be thinking about accepting his qualifying offer and becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer which would be bad news for the Rockets.
Prediction: Houston Rockets
2: PG Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart was the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics last season. Smart is one of the guys that you want on your team night in and night out. Smart is a tough defender and isn’t afraid of the opposing player. Marcus wants on average around 12 – 14 million a year and the Celtics have made Smart their number one priority in free agency. The Celtics want to retain their free agents and have a fully healthy team this season after making the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Smart and the Celtics are said to be at a stallmate with their discussions and Smart is said to be hurt and disgusted that the Celtics haven’t reached out to him yet.
Prediction: Boston Celtics
3: PG Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas was one of the best players in the league 2 years ago when he lead the Boston Celtics to the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Thomas was a scoring machine where he averaged 25 points per game. Thomas was then traded that offseason to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kyrie Irving. Isaiah had a hip injury to start the season which resulted in him missing 32 games and then when he came back he played 15 games for Cleveland before getting traded again to the Los Angeles Lakers. Thomas played in 17 games for the Lakers in which he came off the bench and contributed. Isaiah was on the verge of a big payday before his injury and now he’s looking at a one year prove it deal this season. Thomas could be a dynamic sixth man or starting point guard for some teams in the league with his scoring ability. Thomas has been linked to the Orlando Magic over the past couple of days as their starting point guard in trying to make some noise in the Eastern Conference. Isaiah is getting great attention as a backup point guard who can be a game changer.
Prediction: Orlando Magic
4: SF/PF Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker hasn’t had the NBA career that he could have hoped for so far due to injuries. Parker has had 2 torn ACL’s since he has come into the league which is hurt his progress in reaching his potential. Jabari ended up coming back late last season and appeared in 38 total games and he showed flashes of his potential. Parker just needs an offseason where he is free of injuries in which he can work all summer and come into the season with a fresh mind. The Bucks have been rumored to be moving on from Parker and heading in a different direction but with a new head coach that may be changing.
Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks
5: C Jusuf Nurkic
Jusuf Nurkic had a remarkable season with the Portland Trail Blazers last season and was a difference maker on defense for Portland. Portland hasn’t had the playoff success that they would have hoped for but bringing back Nurkic to pair with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and filling out their roster with role players. Jusuf has been an above averaged center in the league and has the ability to score at any level and be a high level defender and rebounder. Nurkic has been a different player since being traded to Portland from the Denver Nuggets a few seasons ago.
Prediction: Portland Trail Blazers
6: SG Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine is one of the surprise players left on the market in my opinion. Zach LaVine is a young dynamic athlete who has shown flashes in the league. LaVine was one of the major pieces in the Jimmy Butler trade last offseason. Zach is a restricted free agent meaning that the Chicago Bulls can match any offer that he signs. I would expect Chicago to match any offer and retain LaVine in which would be a building block in Chicago. Zach has shown the ability to score from any level, play multiple positions, create for himself and his teammates, play high level defense, and contribute in multiple ways.
Prediction: Chicago Bulls
7: SF/PF Luc Mbah a Moute
Luc Mbah a Moute played for the Houston Rockets last season but wasn’t a big contributor of the bench. Luc is one of the best one on one defenders in the league and can defend nultiple positions. Luc isn’t known as an offensive player but can be a stretch forward and space the floor. He will keep defenses honest with his shooting ability from the outside. Luc would be a nice addition to a playoff caliber team in which he can defend and space the floor and can play multiple positions in todays NBA. Look for the Houston Rockets to retain Luc on a one year deal with the loss of Trevor Ariza who was a major contributor last season.
Prediction: Houston Rockets
8: SG Wayne Ellington
Wayne Ellington is coming off of a career year last season with the Miami Heat. Ellington was a sixth man and broke the record for most 3’s in a season in Miami. Wayne is one of the top shooters in the league and could be a nice addition on almost any team in the league. Wayne may be looking for a one year deal to become a free agent next season when the cap numbers increase. Wayne can be a plug in starter or a very high level role player with his ability to defend and stretch the floor. Ellington and the Miami Heat have mutual interest in striking a deal but their is legitimate interest in Ellington by a number of teams around the league.
Prediction: Miami Heat or Los Angeles Lakers
9: C Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez has been one of the top offensive centers in the league since he entered the NBA. Lopez has been a dominate inside presence and over the past couple of years has developed a shot from the outside making him even more deadly on the offensive end. Lopez is an average defender in the league and isn’t a very good rebounder but he can hold his own. Lopez would be a nice addition as a backup center in the league to a playoff caliber team with his offensive ability.
Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers
10: SG Rodney Hood
Rodney Hood was coming into his own in Utah starting off the season strong before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers at the trade deadline. Hood arrived in Cleveland and lost playing time and even failed to crack the rotation. Hood and the Cavaliers had a rough patch in the playoffs when Hood refused to enter the game for LeBron late in the fourth quarter of a blowout. Hood came out publicly to apologize to his teammates, the organization, and his friends and family. Hood is an underrated player in the league with his high level defense and offensive ability. Hood should be pursued by multiple teams especially teams who are rebuilding as he could be a major piece due to his age. Hood is another possibility to sign his qualifying offer with Cleveland to rebuild his reputation and become an unrestricted free agent next season.
Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers
11: SG Dwayne Wade
Dwayne Wade is one of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA. Wade has won 3 championships and has had a phenomonal career. Wade has spent most of his career in Miami while making quick stops in Chicago and Cleveland. Dwayne Wade has been rumored to be thinking about retiring this offseason but due to his workouts and the work he is putting in this summer he may be coming back for another year. Dwayne Wade has all the abilities in the league and could be on the chase for another ring this season. My prediction will be based on him coming back but remember he could end up hanging it up this offseason.
Prediction: Miami Heat or Los Angeles Lakers
12: SG Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford is one of the best sixth men to ever play in the league. Crawford has always been a spark off the bench and even in the starting lineup when he has had the oppurtunity. Crawford has played for a number of teams over his career but no matter where he plays he always contributes. Crawford is a deadly offensive player and can create for himself and his teammates. He is also an above average defender with a very high basketball IQ. Jamal will be looking to join a contender and help them chase a championship this season.
Prediction: Golden State Warriors or Philadelphia 76ers
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