- Which players are still up for grabs in NBA free agency and who are the teams remaining in the hunt? The Crossover examines five valuable players still on the market and where they could land.
An explosive opening six hours in NBA free agency drastically altered the league landscape on Sunday, casting stars across the country in an unprecedented spending spree. Kevin Durant swapped homes with D’Angelo Russell while Jimmy Butler took his talents to South Beach. Boston reloaded and Philadelphia once again re-tooled, and if the Lakers don’t land Kawhi Leonard, the title picture is as unclear as any year in recent memory.
There are still plenty of storylines left in the aftermath of Sunday’s frenzy, even outside of Kawhi Leonard. A notable Finals winner remains on the market as does another key figure in June’s six-game melodrama. Add a handful of impact bigs and the back-end of the guard market, and there are still plenty of options for those who sat out the initial gold rush.
So who are the top non-Kawhi players still available? We at The Crossover identified the top free agents up for grabs, playing matchmaker for those still without a team.
Any Knicks buzz for Cousins appears over after New York landed Bobby Portis and Julius Randle on Sunday. Both scoring brutes will line up next to Mitchell Robinson up front, leaving little room for Cousins to eat. The Lakers remain Cousins’ top option if they don’t land Leonard.
The Cousins-Anthony Davis reunion would be an exciting free–agent outcome, even after Cousins’ Achilles and quad injuries. The duo ran a nimble two-man dance in New Orleans, one that improved throughout 2017-18 before Cousins went down. Running a twin-towers lineup next to James would be among the league’s most interesting experiments.
Perhaps Cousins would be interested in another short deal at a large yearly value. Such a structure could be enticing to Los Angeles if it loses out on the Kawhi sweepstakes. Where else could Cousins land? The potential options with real money appear slim. Golden State looks to be out of the picture after locking up Kevon Looney for three years on Monday. The Clippers may be Leonard’s choice, and if they do strike out, they could continue to grow their young core rather than pay the oft-injured Cousins. Dallas could pull the trigger, but that idea appears unlikely. Cousins should root for Leonard to avoid the Lakers. They’re his best bet at a sizable pay day.
Green is perhaps the most valuable non-Kawhi piece left on the market. The two-time champion canned 45.5% of threes in 2018-19, and paired with Kyle Lowry for an impressive defensive backcourt. Green isn’t necessarily a dead-eye shooter, and he battled stretches of inconsistency throughout his final years in San Antonio. Nick Nurse sent him to the bench during portions of this postseason. That’s unlikely to matter to LeBron James, though, who needs all the help he can get out in L.A.
Both Los Angeles squads remain players for Green, and he could slide right into the Lakers’ starting lineup in 2019-20. The Raptors could convince Green to stay if Leonard returns. Marc Stein of the NY Times reports Green is determined to wait out Kawhi's free-agent decision before making his own.
There is one other potential suitor. The Mavericks committed to Kristaps Porzingis on Sunday with a $158 million deal, but they still have more than $20 million left in cap space to season their young roster. Green could be a malleable defensive asset next to Luka Doncic and Dallas could use another impact wing. The Mavericks locked down Seth Curry on a $32 million deal on Monday. They could double down on the perimeter by adding Green. Don’t sleep on Dallas making one final push.
Morris could be the beneficiary of a relative bidding war, especially if Leonard remains north of the border. The Lakers and Clippers both remain potential destinations for the eight-year veteran, with James and Co. standing as the most intriguing fit. Morris could thrive as a corner shooter and frontline pick-and-pop partner with James, vacating the interior as Davis logs minutes at center. This summer remains Morris’ best chance at a payday even though a Celtics reunion looks unlikely. He should root for Leonard to stay abroad.
Al Horford avoiding a move to the west coast re-opened the door for Cauley-Stein to remain in Sacramento. And surveying the landscape, a return to his incumbent team appears to be the smartest route. The Lakers don’t appear to be willing to shell out significant years to an unproven big, and Cauley-Stein isn’t a fit next to Harrell for the other club occupying the Staples Center.
Cauley-Stein isn’t necessarily a perfect match in Sacramento either. Harry Giles could make a minor leap with another healthy year under his belt, and Marvin Bagley may ultimately be best suited as a small-ball five with De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and a pair of wings. Cauley-Stein is more of an opportunistic shot blocker than interior anchor, and he is increasingly a luxury with the Kings. He runs the risk of landing without a chair at the end of the summer, forced to settle for a slashed rate as the center market passes him by. Perhaps Cauley-Stein can become a rare free–agent bargain.
Has Rondo eliminated his remaining goodwill throughout the league after a disastrous 2018-19? The former Celtic was a net negative for Los Angeles last season, pouting his way through the end of the year. Rondo is increasingly unwilling to shoot; even the foul line is a bridge too far. He’ll likely sign for the veteran minimum, and his career is in desperate need of a bounce back season. Perhaps he can revert back to his New Orleans form in 2019-20 and contribute to a contender.
Who could have interest in Rondo? It’s likely James has seen enough with the Lakers, and the Clippers are crowded in the backcourt. Rick Carlisle would likely rather sacrifice his 2011 championship ring than coach Rondo again. The Nets remain an intriguing possibility. Rondo could run second units behind Kyrie Irving, and he’s a sensible backcourt mate alongside Spencer Dinwiddie. Having Irving and Rondo in the same locker room is a combustible combination, but Brooklyn is unafraid of a gamble. Kenny Atkinson could keep the mercurial point guard happy and productive in his return to the Eastern Conference.