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Free agency has, for the time being, slowed to a relative halt. But that only means a gaggle of quality names are still left on the board. Here are the top five available players, as determined by our original big board.
1. Clint Capela, C, Restricted
Clint Capela tweeted a pensive-face emoji without context on July 1. Was he simply reacting to LeBron James joining the Lakers a full 14 minutes before it became official? Thinking about what to have for dinner? Or could he and the Houston Rockets be at an impasse in contract negotiations?
Hitting a snag in talks wouldn’t bode well for Capela. He doesn’t have any obvious leverage after the Dallas Mavericks burned their cap space on DeAndre Jordan. Only the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings can afford to sign him outright.
Now, I’m not saying Atlanta should offer him a near-max deal and see what happens. I’m not not saying it, either. (For the record, USA Today‘s Sam Amick reported that Houston remains committed to keeping Capela.)
Best fits: Atlanta, Houston, Washington (sign-and-trade)
2. Marcus Smart, PG, Restricted
Marcus Smart’s market is dwindling by the day. The Indiana Pacers loomed as a potential destination, but they’re out of the picture after landing Tyreke Evans. Hardly anyone has the space to offer Smart more than his $6.1 million qualifying offer.
He could probably coax a sizable short-term offer out of the Boston Celtics, but that begs them to use him as a blockbuster-trade anchor. The longer he remains unsigned, the more likely he is to accept his qualifying offer and reassess the landscape in 2019.
Best fits: Boston, Orlando, Sacramento
3. Isaiah Thomas, PG, Unrestricted
Isaiah Thomas is having himself one helluva year. Last July, he was talking about his desire to snag a max contract this summer. Then he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the Kyrie Irving blockbuster. Then, after not making his 2017-18 debut until January, he was sent to the Lakers. And now, he’s without a home, verging on an afterthought.
League sources told HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy that Thomas is “negotiating a possible deal” with the Orlando Magic, which makes sense. They won’t give him anything close to max money; he’ll be lucky to get most of their mid-level exception. But they need a point guard, and he needs a team that’ll invite him to stuff the box score and recoup some of the luster he’s lost over the past 12 months.
Best fits: Miami, Memphis, Orlando
4. Jabari Parker, PF, Restricted
Aaron Gordon received a four-year, $84 million contract from the Magic. Julius Randle is getting two years and $18 million from the New Orleans Pelicans. Where does this leave Jabari Parker, a fellow restricted free-agent power forward? Good luck figuring that out.
Parker is a tantalizing offensive prospect. He has expanded his arsenal to include more three-pointers and off-ball work while retaining his appeal as a from-scratch creator. But his defense is a problem. He’s too slow to guard 3s and isn’t strong enough to pester 5s. His fit with Giannis Antetokounmpo has fluctuated between weird and downright poor. The Milwaukee Bucks will have a no-thanks breaking point if Parker gets the right offer, but he won’t solicit big-money dalliances unless Atlanta, Chicago or Sacramento gets frisky with their cap space.
Best fits: Atlanta, Brooklyn (sign-and-trade), Milwaukee
5. Kyle Anderson, SF/PF, Restricted
The league-wide cap shortage has left virtually all restricted free agents without leverage. Kyle Anderson is no exception.
In another summer, he might have a more robust market. His three-point touch is a work in progress, but he can jump-start half-court sets and has improved his finishing around the rim. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in length and IQ. He can comfortably rotate between 2s, 3s and 4s on the defensive side. Expect him to re-sign with the Spurs even if they punt on Kawhi Leonard’s future.
Best fits: Atlanta, San Antonio, Chicago