The dust of the 2018 NBA Free Agency season has settled. Contracts both big and small have been handed out to stars, role players, veterans, and young guys alike. Some, however, remain without a team. This includes a bunch of guys with real talent and potential to be valuable assets on any team. What could be the best or most realistic option for these remaining ones?
The Remnants of Free Agency
Clint Capela has proven himself to be a budding young big man that can play alongside stars such as James Harden and Chris Paul. He was an important reason for the Houston Rockets‘ impressive 65-win record last year, as well as their deep playoff run that nearly threatened the Warriors dynasty. He posted per-36 numbers of 18.2 ppg, 14.2 rpg, and 2.4 bpg last year, and was the league leader in field goal percentage.
Clint and the Rockets didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye in earlier contract discussions in his free agency, with him reportedly turning down a 5-year, $85 million dollar offer, and instead asking for a contract similar to that of the Jazz‘s Rudy Gobert and the Thunder‘s Steven Adams, both of whom have annual salaries in the $24-million range. The important factor here is that Capela is a restricted free agent. The Rockets, therefore, can match any offer to him. They are most likely attempting to keep their luxury taxes at a minimum, although their owner has previously expressed willingness to spend for the sake of a true contender. If contract talks don’t progress and Capela doesn’t get what he wants, he can always take the $4.7M qualifying offer from Houston This allows him to re-enter free agency next summer, this time as an unrestricted free agent. For the 2018-19 season, however, the Rockets seem to be the most plausible option for Clint Capela.
Once a solid NBA big man with the Detroit Pistons, Greg Monroe has lost his place in an evolving NBA. After his run with the Pistons, he has split time in Milwaukee, Phoenix, and Boston. He never regained his starting spot with any of these teams, and doesn’t seem likely to do so in the future. However, he remains a talented big man who contributes to a team’s offense and crashes the boards often. Despite these, few teams have expressed serious interest in him this summer.
One team that might take him on board are the Los Angeles Lakers. The team’s center lineup consists of the surprisingly-decent-but-still-a-clown in Javale McGee, rookie Moritz Wagner, and Ivica Zubac. Surely, the Lakers are looking for a more reliable big who can rebound and pass well, while being a legitimate offensive threat inside. After Brook Lopez and Julius Randle both left Los Angeles, Greg Monroe seems like a great fit for Los Angeles.
Another potential destination for the New Orleans native is to go to his hometown team, the Pelicans. After losing their injured All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to the defending champions, New Orleans are looking for options to fill in the Cousins-sized void in the middle.
They have already signed Lakers’ power forward Julius Randle to a two-year deal, but could still use Monroe’s skillset in the middle. Although he won’t ever replace the player that Cousins was with the Pelicans, he surely would put in serious contributions to make Cousins’ exit hurt less for New Orleans.
Michael Beasley has had a lot of obstacles in his NBA career. Many have been mostly self-inflicted ones in his character issues and his behavior off the court. However, the former 2nd overall pick still has not lost his talent on the offensive end. Last year, he put up 13.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in just over 22 minutes a night for the New York Knicks. While close to nothing can be expected from him on defense, he is still a useful guy to bring off the bench and serve as a catalyst on offense.
One team that could certainly use him is the Portland Trail Blazers. In the increasingly difficult Western Conference, the Blazers are stuck with little cap space, a guard-dependent offense, and with mediocre and inconsistent wing players. Although Beasley wouldn’t be a starter, he is an affordable option who can take some load on offense. The Blazers are in need of more weapons in the arms race that is the West, and Beasley would be a useful one that can acquire without giving up a lot.
The L.A. Clippers‘ restricted free agent Montrezl Harrell was one of the long list of players that went to Los Angeles in exchange of star point guard Chris Paul. In the past season, he was a regular on the Clippers rotation. Though he played in only 17 mintues a game, he put up 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks. In 36 minutes, that is equivalent to 23 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. Doesn’t seem too bad for a third year player, huh?
His free agency has been relatively quiet, though. However, the Clippers are expected to lock him up for the next few years. He is an explosive, high-motor player, and with DeAndre Jordan (finally) leaving for the Dallas Mavericks, a bunch of minutes in the middle are up for grabs. Standing at only 6’8″, Harrell is also a great option to be a small-ball center for the Clippers. They would definitely be unwise to let him go. If they have the cap space and the ability to retain him in the long term, why not do it?
David Nwaba is not a household name, nor is he a star on any team. But he has a skillset that makes him a valuable contributor to any NBA roster. He came into the NBA as an undrafted guard on a 10-day contract for the Lakers late in the 2016-17 season. He would eventually earn himself a spot on the Laker rotation, playing 19 minutes a night in 20 games. His best aspects were his defensive prowess and his knack for rebounding as a guard. These caught the eye of many, including the Chicago Bulls, who claimed him off waivers after the Lakers let go of Nwaba in the 2017 offseason. With the Bulls, he averaged 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.8 steals in 23.5 minutes of action in 70 games. He also shot 48 percent from the field, and 35 percent from deep.
He was supposed to enter free agency with the restricted status. but with the Bulls rescinded his qualifying offer. Now, other teams now have the ability to negotiate and sign him without the Bulls matching their offers.
Although many teams could use David Nwaba, the Brooklyn Nets would be one of the better fits for him. The Nets finished 28th in the league in points per game allowed last season. Nwaba has the ability to lockdown on opposing guards and wings, grab rebounds, and score on a decent clip. This makes him an intriguing backup to the Nets’ main backcourt players. He wouldn’t come at that high of a price, too. The Nets’ management wouldn’t lose any of the flexibility that they have sought to retain in free agency.