Much of the 2019 NBA free-agency market dried up in the first 24 hours, leaving only a handful of difference-makers at each position. Only the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and the two Los Angeles teams are working with meaningful cap space.
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While the Lakers and Clippers await word on Kawhi Leonard, the rest of the league will be filling out rosters with what little room is left, their limited cap exceptions and veteran minimum contracts. Here are the capable rotational players still available:
THE BIG NAMES
The biggest domino is still standing, with the futures — and possibly title hopes — of the Toronto Raptors, Lakers and Clippers all hanging in the balance. Once Leonard comes off the board, a number of other dominoes will fall. If he returns to Toronto, the Lakers and Clippers will both have cap space to burn on the crop of lower-tier players remaining on the market. Leonard is expected to meet with the Clippers and Lakers before giving the Raptors the final pitch this week.
It is remarkable how many stars came off the board on the opening night of free agency, leaving Cousins as the sole non-Kawhi elite talent available. And there is some question as to how elite he still is, given the tendon tears that cost him 109 of his teams’ last 147 games. Cousins showed as many flashes of concern as he did stardom in the Finals. He may still need to re-establish his value on a short deal, but a return to the Golden State Warriors was made more difficult by their sign-and-trade for D’Angelo Russell, which pushed his incumbent team against a hard cap.
The 32-year-old has now served as a 3-and-D wing for two separate title teams, and his next stop may largely depend on Leonard. The Raptors will want to keep him if Kawhi comes back, but they will have to compete with the Lakers, who will be looking for floor spacers with their $32 million in cap space if Leonard does not join LeBron James and Anthony Davis in L.A. All we know now is what Green told HoopsHype: He wants to maximize his next contract and play for a contender.
The Morris twins
Marcus Morris Sr. should be in high demand after submitting a career year with the Boston Celtics. It is unlikely he returns to Boston after they had to renounce his Bird rights. He too may be waiting on Leonard. He has ties to the Lakers as a Klutch Sports client, and he has always wanted to play for his hometown Philadelphia 76ers. Either way, he is unlikely to take a discount anywhere, because he has played on a bargain deal the last few years. The market for Markieff Morris is a little more murky, as a neck injury impacted his pre- and post-buyout production last season.
Kelly Oubre Jr.
Oubre is a restricted free agent who missed the first wave of free-agent spending, which means the Phoenix Suns will likely match whatever offer sheet he might sign, unless one of the few remaining teams with cap space swoops in to overpay. Ideally, he’s a younger 3-and-D wing option, but he shot just 32 percent on five 3-point attempts per game last season. The market is drying up for guys like him.
Yet another guy who may be waiting on Leonard, because the Clippers still hold his Bird rights and could probably offer him the most money if they are not spending their cap space on a max contract. The floor-stretching swingman position is drying up by the hour, and the the 6-foot-9, 227-pound Green shot 40.3 percent from distance between his stops on the Memphis Grizzlies and in L.A. last season.
Also under consideration: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn Nets; Trey Lyles, Denver Nuggets (restricted); James Ennis, Philadelphia 76ers; Wilson Chandler, L.A. Clippers; Stanley Johnson, New Orleans Pelicans; Vince Carter, Atlanta Hawks; Iman Shumpert, Houston Rockets; Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Los Angeles Lakers; Rodney McGruder, L.A. Clippers (restricted); Justin Holiday, Memphis Grizzlies
Cauley-Stein could be had from the Sacramento Kings, who still hold his restricted rights after extending a qualifying offer. In theory, he fits the modern mold as an athletic rim-running and rim-protecting 7-footer, but somewhere along the line he saw bigger things for himself, likening himself to the unicorns of the NBA world. There is concern about how he might imagine his role if he ever gets the big deal he wants.
A former lottery pick turned journeyman, Vonleh put up career numbers on a bad New York Knicks team, averaging 8.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game. He showed some promise in improving his perimeter shooting, but the concern is that he reverts to a guy who played his way off several lottery teams. As the list of available bigs dwindles, he may be well worth a flier for short money.
Also under consideration: Ivica Zubac, L.A. Clippers (restricted); Khem Birch, Orlando Magic (restricted); Boban Marjanovic, Philadelphia 76ers; JaVale McGee, Los Angeles Lakers; Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics (restricted); Tyson Chandler, L.A. Lakers; Joakim Noah, Memphis Grizzlies; Pau Gasol, Milwaukee Bucks; Nene, Houston Rockets
The point guard market ran dry quick, with the handful of top names committing almost as soon as free agency opened and many among the next tier agreeing to terms shortly thereafter. That leaves Jones as a top option in an imperfect crop of spot starters, and the Minnesota Timberwolves — who failed in their pursuit of D’Angelo Russell — can match any offer for the 23-year-old restricted free agent.
Another restricted free agent, Wright was a valuable member of Toronto’s deep bench in recent years, before being dealt to the Grizzlies in the Marc Gasol trade. His production increased with his opportunity in Memphis, where he averaged 12 points, five rebounds and five assists in 30 minutes a game. He needs to find the shooting stroke that failed him this past season, but at 6-foot-5 he has the size to play and defend multiple positions, unlocking some versatile lineups for any team.
The former four-time All-Star is not entirely washed, as he averaged nine points and eight assists in 30 minutes per game for the Lakers before requiring hand surgery. He is only a year removed from proving effective as both a lob partner for Anthony Davis and a playoff performer for the New Orleans Pelicans. There is surely mutual interest between him and the Lakers in returning to that role with Davis in the fold.
Burke resurrected his career with the Knicks in 2017-18, and then fell back to Earth a bit last season, splitting time between New York and the Dallas Mavericks. He remains intriguing for any team in need of an inexpensive playmaking point guard off the bench, especially with better shooting and defending guards off the board.
Also under consideration: Patrick McCaw, Toronto Raptors; Emmanuel Mudiay, New York Knicks; T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 76ers; Quinn Cook, Golden State Warriors (restricted); Jeremy Lin, Toronto Raptors; Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks; Ryan Arcidiacono, Chicago Bulls (restricted); Shelvin Mack, Charlotte Hornets
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