Top 10 free agents still on the market

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Most NBA teams’ rosters are set, maybe save for one minimum salary spot usually reserved for a young player the team is trying to develop. The big names, and even the medium and plenty of small names, are off the board.

However, in a tight market, there are still some recognizable names out there, unsigned veterans who could help teams looking to fill a particular role — wing defenders, big men, even some point guard help. They are available for a reason, but they can help a team.

Here is my Top 10 list of remaining free agents. The list is not complete, for example, Andrew Bogut doesn’t make my cut but if healthy he could help the right team, the same with David Lee. Also, not on this list are any restricted free agents such as JaMychal Green, Nikola Mirotic, or Mason Plumlee (in theory they are available, in practice no team has or would spend the cap money on an offer the team with their rights would not match).

1. Shabazz Muhammad. He’s a wing who gave Minnesota almost 20 minutes a night and 9.9 points a game last season, but lost out in the numbers game as that roster shifted (with Jimmy Butler coming in to take a lot of minutes at his spot). Muhammad is a power player who likes to post up, but he doesn’t space the floor well — almost 60 percent of his shots last season came within 10 feet of the basket, and he shot 33 percent on threes. He’s not a great defender and not focused on that end. The Lakers reportedly are interested, and he’s still talking to Minnesota.

2. Tony Allen. The heart of “grit n’ grind” in Memphis is still on the outside looking in as that team revamps a little. He still is a quality wing defender, although he has started to slow at age 35, and he does not bring much offense to the table. Memphis may well re-sign him after they figure out the JaMychal Green situation, but Allen thought he would get more than the minimum and that seems off the table now anywhere.

3. Dante Cunningham. I could see him as a glue guy who could space the floor and hit threes on the right team — he shot 39.2 percent on his 2.7 threes a game last season, that percentage may regress a little, but he can hit that shot and blend in on units. He’s not a bad defender on the wing, and can play the small ball four. The Bucks, Timberwolves, and Pelicans all have been mentioned as having interest in him.

4. Deron Williams. The former All-Star point guard has lost a couple of steps, and that was exposed in the playoffs with the Cavaliers last season (after he was bought out by the Mavericks). Cleveland hoped he could stabilize their second unit, but that didn’t work out like they expected. He can still dish the ball, hit threes, and be a floor general against regular season second units, and there are teams that could use that. As the stakes go up in the playoffs, his role has to be limited.

5. Thomas Robinson. He’s played for six NBA teams in five seasons, and he brings energy and effort. He is strong on the boards plus was the most efficient scorer he has ever been with the Lakers last season. However, while he can get buckets inside 10 feet but does not space the floor. He was not getting court time on a young team higher on other forwards on their roster in Los Angeles, but they have worked him out again recently.

6. Tyler Zeller. He moves well for a big man, but his inefficiency and limits on the offensive end had him struggling to get minutes on a Celtics team that needed help up front last season. He has an okay midrange game but needs to get easy buckets at the rim again. He struggles defensively in space. However, if he plays to his strengths he could be a decent backup big.

7. Gerald Green. He played decently in inconsistent minutes last season in Boston, but was left in the cold as the Celtics revamped their roster this summer. He is respectable from three (35.1 percent last season) and can play decent defense, plus is a joking veteran presence in the locker room. Oh, and he likes hot chocolate.

8. Matt Barnes. The Warriors brought in Barnes (after a buyout in Sacramento) last season to provide some stability after Kevin Durant‘s knee injury, and he did that for 20+ games. He plays hard, defends, and shot 33 percent from three. In a limited wing or small-ball four off the bench role, he can give a team solid minutes. How much does he have in the tank at age 37?

9. Trey Burke. He’s a score-first point guard who hasn’t made great decisions on when to shoot and when to set up teammates. He didn’t finish well around the rim last season, but on the nights he shot well he put up points (he had two 27 point games in Washington last season). However, on nights he didn’t he hurt the team, and there were more of those nights. Burke struggles to defend at an NBA level. The Wizards brought in Brandon Jennings last season as they decided Utah was right in cutting Burke out. The Knicks and Timberwolves have taken a look at Burke.

10. Anthony Morrow. If he can find his stroke again and get back to being a dangerous spot-up three point shooter he can help teams — he’s a career 41.7 percent shooter from three but hit just 30.8 percent last season. He was a throw-in on the Taj GibsonDoug McDermott trade and went from OKC to Chicago, but never found a rhythm there. He’s not much of a defender, he has to knock down threes to help a team.

Report: Price tag on Phoenix Suns could be more than $3 billion

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In 2004, Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.

When Sarver sells the team now — pushed to do so following the backlash prompted by an NBA report that found an 18-year pattern of bigotry, misogyny, and a toxic workplace — he is going to make a massive profit.

The value of the Suns now is at $3 billion or higher, reports Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

There will be no shortage of bidders for the team, with league sources predicting a franchise valuation of more than $3 billion now that revenue has rebounded following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a new television rights deal and CBA on the horizon. Sarver purchased the team for just over $400 million in 2004.

Saver currently owns 35% of the Suns (the largest share), but reports say his role as managing partner allows him to sell the entire team (the minority owners have to comply, although they would make a healthy profit, too). Sarver also decides who to sell the team to, not the NBA or other owners.

Early rumors of buyers have included Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Bob Iger (former Disney CEO), Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, she has a 20% share of the Washington Wizards), and others. There have been no reports of talks yet, and Sarver does not need to be on a rushed timeline.

Meanwhile, a contending Suns team tries to focus on the season despite the owner selling the team, Jae Crowder not being in training camp and pushing for a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not sound happy to be back with the Suns.

Steve Nash on his relationship with Kevin Durant: ‘We’re good’

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In an effort to gain leverage for a trade this offseason, Kevin Durant threw down a “either the coach and GM are gone or I am” ultimatum.

Now coach Steve Nash (and GM Sean Marks) are back in Brooklyn, on the same team and trying to build a contender together. Awkward? Not if you ask Nash, which is what Nick Friedell of ESPN did.

“We’re fine,” Nash said after the Nets’ first official practice of the season on Tuesday. “We’re good. Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.

“We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year. And also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”

First off, what else was Nash going to say? He knows the power dynamic in the NBA, and Durant has far more leverage than he does — not enough to get Nash fired this summer, but still more than the coach.

Second, Nash could be telling the truth from his perspective. NBA players and coaches understand better than anyone this is a business and things are rarely personal. Grudges are not held like fans think they are (most of the time). Nash saw Durant’s move for what it was — an effort to create pressure — and can intellectually shrug it off, reach out to KD and talk about the future.

What this brings into question was one of the Nets’ biggest issues last season — mental toughness and togetherness. Do the Nets have the will to fight through adversity and win as a team? Individually Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nash and others have shown that toughness in the past, but as a team it was not that hard to break the will of the Nets last season. Are their relationships strong enough, is their will strong enough this season?

It feels like we will find out early. If the wheels come off the Nets’ season, it feels like it will happen early and by Christmas things could be a full-on dumpster fire. Or maybe Nash is right and they are stronger than we think.

Billy Donovan to choose Bulls’ starting PG during training camp

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Speaking at Chicago’s media day, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said he will choose his starting point guard over the course of training camp. Lonzo Ball was expected to reprise his role as the starter, but he recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome knee and raised some eyebrows at media day when he said he couldn’t run or jump. Simply put, there is no guarantee we even see him at all this season.

Donovan is fortunate that he has a plethora of options though, as Goran Dragic, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White will all battle it out. “We’ll have to see how these guys gel and mesh once training camp starts and we start practicing,” Donovan said. “But I think we have enough back there that we can get the job done from that standpoint.”

Dragic is the most “seasoned option” to use Donovan’s own words and would be the safe pick, but at 36 years old, he doesn’t exactly raise Chicago’s ceiling. Plus, Donovan already hinted at managing his minutes throughout the season.

Alex Caruso is Chicago’s best defender and is going to play a massive role whether he starts or comes off the bench, although the latter seems more likely since he’s not a natural point guard.

Coby White showed improvement as a shooter last season, hitting 38% of his triples. However, it’s no secret that his name has been in the rumor mill and the Bulls hardly mentioned him at media day.

With that said, I think Ayo is the dark horse to start after showing some serious promise during his rookie season. In 40 starts, Ayo put up 10.9 points, 5.4 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 triples and 1.1 steals and was one of the best perimeter defenders on the team. Zach LaVine went out of his way to hype up Dosunmu at media day as well, so you have to love his chances of running away with the job.

Anthony Davis says his goal is to play in all 82 games

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Anthony Davis played 40 games last season, and 36 the season before that. Charles Barkley has nicknamed him “street clothes.”

In a critical season for him and the Lakers, the biggest question with Anthony Davis is not his skill set and if he can be elite, but how much can the Lakers trust him to be on the court? Davis said on media day his goal is to play all 82 games (speaking to Spectrum Sportsnet, the Lakers station in Los Angeles).

A full 82 may be optimistic, but Davis saw last season as a fluke.

“Last season, I had two injuries that you can’t really control. I mean, a guy fell into my knee, landed on the foot,” Davis said earlier at media day. “And the good thing for me is that the doctors after they looked at us, they could have been, like 10 times worse.”

Davis talked about his workout regimen, getting his body both rested and stronger for this long season, knowing more will be asked of him. New coach Darvin Ham wants to run more of the offense through Davis, but all the Lakers’ plans are moot if Davis and LeBron James are not healthy and on the court for at least 65 games this season.

“The focus of my game is being available…” LeBron said Monday. “Availability is the most important thing in his league and to be able to be available on the floor.”

Ham has to walk a line of pushing this team to defend better, show a toughness it lacked last season, and make the playoffs in a deep West while keeping his stars’ minutes under control. In a league all about recovery, the Lakers need to prioritize that, too.

“Just being efficient with how we practice, how we manage shootarounds, how we manage their minutes,” Ham said Monday. “I don’t need ‘Bron or Ad playing playoff minutes in October, November, December.”

It’s the first days of training camp, everyone is feeling good, everyone is rested, and everyone is optimistic. The real tests for the Lakers and Davis start in a few weeks — and just how much will the Lakers’ stars play.