Bargain Basement Free Agents 2019 – Part One

Though 2019s Free Agency class is loaded with star players, eleven teams have the majority of the cap space. Of the remaining 19 teams, 13 are over the cap and will only have use of the mid level exception. The other six will have under 20 million to spend. Though a lot of focus will be on where Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard will end up, fans of teams over the cap will see every move their front office makes being just as important. Over a two part series you’ll find a list of free agents that teams with limited budgets can bring in to make an impact.

Carmelo Anthony

Power Forward

Unrestricted Free Agent

2018 / 19 season – 13 points 5 rebounds

This may be the most controversial entry on this list, Carmelo Anthony was waived by the Rockets after 10 lackluster games this season. Though many scribes think the league has passed him by, if a team needs instant offense and shot creation in the half court, Melo is your man. Though he may not have the drive game he once did, he can still exploit mismatches in the mid-range. He isn’t a great passer or a passable defender anymore, but he can shoot over smaller players and hit threes.

If a team was to take a chance on him it would only be at the vet minimum. He has made over 250 million in his career so would be happy only earning the league minimum. At around two and a half million this isn’t a massive long-shot for prospective teams.

Marcin Gortat

Center

Unrestricted Free Agent

2018/19 Season – five points, five rebounds

After five years playing for the Wizards and twelves years overall in the league, Marcin Gortat was waived by the LA Clippers this past season before the Playoffs. Traded to the Clippers in exchange for Austin Rivers, Gortat was only used sparingly this year. A traditional center in every sense of the word, Gortat never developed a three point shot. An excellent defensive rebounder, he is still one of the best screeners in the NBA.

Though Gortat’s at rim finishing has flagged recently, he still has value as a backup big. He won’t show up in the box-score like he used to, but he does the dirty work required from your big man. Still a strong defender in the post, he can deter opponents at the rim without fouling. Gortat has also made plenty of money in his career, so would likely accept a deal at the veterans minimum.

Jared Dudley

Power Forward

Unrestricted Free Agent – Brooklyn have his Bird Rights

2018/19 season four points two assists

Jared Dudley is one of the most respected veterans in the NBA. Having played for six teams in his twelve years in the league, Dudley is an excellent defender capable of defending bigger players. After trash talking Ben Simmons in this years playoff series, Dudley played the role of enforcer on the court for the Nets. An excellent three point shooter, he has only shot below 35% once in his career.

Dudley is another player that doesn’t impact the box score massively, but his + 3.0 net rating this season for the Nets shows he still makes his team better. At 33 he still has a few good years left, his presence in the locker room and three and d play make him a strong pickup for any team. A multi-year deal worth around five million a year would be good value for a team that needs help on the wings.

Ish Smith

Point Guard

Unrestricted Free Agent – Detroit Pistons have his bird rights.

2018/19 season – eight points two rebounds three assists.

Journeymen Point Guard Ish Smith has been a real late bloomer for the Detroit Pistons. Since going undrafted in 2010, Smith bounced around multiple teams before getting a three year deal in the Motor city. He has proven himself as a backup point guard for the Pistons and now has a passable three point shot. Hitting 38% of his corner threes with the Pistons, Smith has a well rounded offensive game for a point guard. An excellent passer, he rebounds his position well and is a popular guy in the locker room. Even though he is thirty, due to his journeyman career he doesn’t have a lot of miles on the clock. The Pistons may require a better defender and decline to bring him back. This would provide another team an option on a point guard with recent playoff experience.

Jeff Green

Power Forward

Unrestricted Free Agent

2018/19 Season – twelves points five rebounds

Gone are the days of Jeff Green commanding large salaries. A known commodity in the league now, he has given great value on his last two contracts. Playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers last year he proved a reliable option, starting games as they made the NBA Finals. This year Green was one of the Washington Wizards most consistent players, averaging twelve points and five rebounds while playing 77 games. He had career highs in two point shooting and free throw shooting, both marks were good enough for top 20 in the league. Green also finished at the rim at a career high of 74%, per Cleaning the Glass this ranked him in the 90th percentile for Power Forwards.

He is 33 years but has also only missed 34 games in the last seven years. Green is at the point in his career where he would like some security as far as length of contract goes. A three year deal at around four or five million a year would provide good value for both team and player.

Where to for the Wolves – Part three

In the last two articles we focused on the free agents that the team could resign or let go, and then the current roster and how they performed over the last year. If you weren’t able to read the first two articles, here’s the link to them!

Part One
https://steviecozens.com/2019/05/05/where-to-for-the-timberwolves-part-one/

Part Two
https://steviecozens.com/2019/05/12/where-to-for-the-timberwolves-part-two/

In Part three we will look at the Draft and then any potential moves the Wolves could make on Draft night or around July 1st. After last nights Lottery, the Timberwolves know where they are picking in the upcoming NBA Draft. Never having a great record when it comes to moving up in the Draft, they settled into the 11th pick and can now focus on workouts with potential draftees.

Trade Jeff Teague

As far as their wing positions go, the Wolves are locked in for the immediate future with the current players on the roster. Even if Andrew Wiggins was to be traded, that would still leave Robert Covington and Josh Okogie as the incumbent starting wings. As Andrew Wiggins probably wont be traded this season at least, their is a logjam on the wings. This may mean that the Wolves look at drafting a scoring guard that can create off the dribble. By trading Jeff Teague and resigning Tyus Jones they can open up guard minutes, they can start Tyus and then take the pressure off the young guard they bring in.

As Jeff Teague’s 19 million salary is expiring this year, they could get off this money by attaching two secound round picks. At worst they could give up next years first rounder. Bar a disastrous season, next years first rounder would be around the late teens in a relatively weak draft. If they need to give this up then it wouldn’t be the worst thing to do as they have no need for Teague anymore.

Draft Needs

Looking ahead to the Draft, the Wolves are in desperate need of three point shooting. Though a full season of Dario Saric and Robert Covington will help with this, they need a prospect who can hit threes at above league average. If they could get to the rim easily as well, this would be an added bonus. Last year the Wolves ranked 26th in three pointers attempted and 15th in shots attempted within three feet of the rim. If new POBO Gersson Rosas decides a guard isn’t the right way to go, then they should look at a defensive minded big to play next to Karl Anthony-Towns. This could mean not bringing back Taj Gibson, and would also give Dario Saric a hurry up in his development. Though Saric is a good fit next to KAT offensively, he has no rim protecting abilities.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker

If its a guard they want, Nickeil Alexander-Walker could fit the bill at number 11 in the Draft. A combo guard out of Virginia Tech, Alexander-Walker stands 6’6 and weighs 205 pounds. He isn’t an amazing athlete but can play on and off ball, while he also has an excellent basketball IQ. While he is quite skinny, he has wide shoulders so will fill out nicely with NBA training and conditioning.

Though he is more comfortable as a team rather than man defender, at 6’6 with a reputed 6’9 wingspan he has all the tools to succeed at the next level. He can use his body to cut off passing lanes, so if he can add some bulk he will be able to defend bigger players due to his length. He took a step as a secondary play maker and showed high IQ to find cutters and shooters.

Though NAW’s shooting mechanics have been questioned in some places, he has a quick release which allows him to shoot threes off the dribble. He is more adept at hitting them off the catch though. In his two years at Virginia Tech, NAW improved inside the arc while also getting to the line more often. He can operate in the pick and roll and he uses crafty finishes at the rim off both hands. Though not that explosive at the rim, he uses his length and smarts to get around shot blockers. His excellent decision making separates him from other prospects. Whether it be making the right read in transition or handling out of the pick and roll. He seems mature off the court and has shown tremendous improvement from one year to the next at Virginia.

Brandon Clarke

If Rosas decides to go for a defensive big man, then Brandon Clarke from Gonzaga may be the ideal fit. A 6’8 big who projects to be an elite defender at the next level, he averaged a mind boggling 4.5 blocks per 40 minutes this season. His defensive instincts are excellent, he has excellent timing on his blocks and tends to make the right decisions.

Though not an excellent defensive rebounder, he grabs his fair share of offensive boards. As a junior in college, his ball handling is advanced for his height and he has above average passing ability. Though his shot is limited he has shown some touch around the rim which may translate to range further out . At only 6’8 his best role may be a small ball center, but this could present match-up issues on defense. Though he is 6’8 he doesn’t have the biggest wingspan, and relies on athleticism for a lot of his blocks. The Timberwolves would still do well to draft Clarke, he would be an instant upgrade for them defensively next to Karl Anthony-Towns.

Four NBA teams that should blow it up

Each year there are several NBA teams that sit in NBA mediocrity, either being on the edge of the Playoffs or at the back of the Draft Lottery. Frustrating for players and fans alike, these teams are best to offload assets and blow it up!

Charlotte Hornets

Michael Jordan is one of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of Basketball shoes. But a great player does not always make a great owner. Charlotte are in salary cap hell and have no conceivable way of improving the team in the short team. Short-sighted trades and mammoth contracts for mediocre players have been the hallmark of Jordan’s ownership of the team.

Having only made the playoffs once in the last four years, management have been reluctant to push the rebuild button. This is probably because they have All-Star Kemba Walker on their books.

Rather than pair Walker with another all-star, Marvin Williams, Nicholas Batum, Cody Zeller and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were all paid like All-Stars. Though they are good role players, spending 65% of your cap on four-year deals for these guys was a terrible decision.

This year they are one game out of the Playoffs in the Eastern Conference. If they were to make the Playoffs they would likely be bounced in the first round. It gets worse for the Hornets as Walker is a free agent this year. He will demand a max salary which will go on top of the 102 million that the Hornets owe to their current players. Rather than pay the luxury tax for a team that can’t contend for a title they may be better to let Walker go. If they feel they have to pay Walker rather than lose him for nothing, then the best course of action would be to trade everyone else and rebuild through the Draft.

Washington Wizards

The Washington Wizards are having their worst season in recent memory, John Wall is out for at least 12 months while key players Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre have been traded away. With no cap space and only one fit star in Bradley Beal, Washington have no hope of improving their team in the short term.

Wall’s $170 million contract starts next year. Between him, Beal and Ian Mahinmi they are capped out with no way of signing free agents. Though they have their first-round picks moving forward they have given away their second-round picks for the next five years.

They could theoretically make the playoffs, but they are four games back from the eight seed so this is near impossible. It would be better for the team’s future if they looked forward to next year and work on improving their draft pick while also developing their young guys.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies have had one of the stranger seasons in recent memory. After starting the season twelve and five, only eleven more games were won till the All-Star break. Young rookie Jaren Jackson Jr was one of the shining lights through an up and down first 50 games.

Around the trade deadline, franchise cornerstones Marc Gasol and Mike Conley were both put on the trade block. Season ending injuries to Jackson, promising youngster Dillon Brooks and free agent acquisition Kyle Anderson killed any chances of Memphis making the playoffs. Unable to find a trade for Conley, Gasol was eventually traded to Toronto.

Though they have now won three of their last four it seems they have now embraced the tank. Trading away a lot of the pieces from previous years teams they have a small group of guys that they can now focus in the immediate future. Finding a home for franchise great Conley should be a priority for the offseason. They could also benefit from taking on bad money to get more picks and young assets.

New Orleans Pelicans

If the New Orleans Pelicans haven’t already blown it up, the time is right to push the reset button. Having never really been in the playoff race this year, Anthony Davis put the league on notice when he requested a trade. Having stupidly turned down a mega offer from the Lakers for superstar Davis, New Orleans now move into an uncertain off-season. Though they may have a strong offer round the corner from the Celtics, New Orleans should have looked to move Davis and others with the first strong offer that was received.

With plenty of expiring contracts and intriguing prospects on the books, NOLA should look to be sellers in the off-season. Through the last 20 games they can play their lottery picks from 2017 and 2018 to see who is worth investing in. Though Anthony Davis is as good as gone this off-season, its important they look to secure the future of the franchise.