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Seven best free agents still on the market


The NBA’s wild July free agent market is winding down. The big names went first — LeBron James switching teams on July 1 — followed by players on the next tiers, and it moved fast this summer with players realizing the market was tight and grabbing what they could. Now, teams are rounding our rosters with their final deals, two-way contracts, and some guys just getting invited to camp.

A few name guys are getting deals — Vince Carter and Devin Harris yesterday, for example — but for the most part the wild summer of the NBA is over.

Still, there are a few notable free agents out there, several few of them restricted, looking for their next contract. Guys who could help a variety of teams. Guys who can get some buckets, block some shots, and just make plays. Most (after the top few) who will sign for minimum contracts at this point).

Here are our top seven free agents still on the market:

1. Clint Capela (restricted). He’s going to be a Rocket next season — other teams are not making offers for him — the only question now is the price. Capela believes he is a max or near-max player (his max from the Rockets is five-years, $148 million). He averaged 13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds a game (with a 24.5 PER), shot 65.2 percent, blocked 1.9 shots a game, plus was a crucial part of the Rockets starting lineup and switching defense. The Rockets were 4 points per 100 better with him on the floor. The Rockets offered him five-years, $85 million, which most years would be below his market value (things feel different in this tight market). Does Capela ultimately take that life-changing money (he has only made $6 million in his career), or does he play for the $4.7 million qualifying offer next season then become an unrestricted free agent in 2019?

2. Rodney Hood (restricted). No free agent to saw his stock fall as far last season as Hood — he went into last season as the expected go-to scorer of the Utah Jazz, and by the end of the season couldn’t get off the bench in Cleveland (and in one case would not get off the bench). With the Cavaliers expected to match most offers (at least realistic ones), no team has been willing to roll the dice on a 6’8” wing who can get buckets, which also in part speaks to his need for an image upgrade. At this point no team is jumping in with an offer, he will remain a Cavalier, the only question is will it be for the $3.4 million qualifying offer or can the sides work out another deal.

3. Jamal Crawford. His age is going to scare some teams off (he’s 38), but the man can still get buckets. Not as efficiently as he once did, but the former Sixth Man of the Year can still score the rock (10.3 points per game last season). He’s also good in the locker room. He would bolster a lot of benches, (the Warriors have long been rumored with a minimum deal, Crawford should have other options as well at that price).

4. Greg Monroe. He bounced between the Bucks, Suns, and Celtics last season. Monroe’s game is old-school — he plays below-the-rim — but in the post he scores efficiently, and he will pull down some boards. It’s not the style a lot of teams are looking for in their big man, but as a reserve center he can help teams. Someone will jump in to grab him soon.

5. Dwyane Wade. He can’t do it every night, he has to be on a program to monitor his knees and get rest, but the man can still dial it up for a stretch and remind everyone he is one of the best two guards the game has ever seen. The question here is does he retire? If not, does he spurn Miami to go play in China (he reportedly has been offered three-years, $25 million by the Zhejiang Golden Bulls)? He could decide to return to the Miami Heat for one more season, a farewell tour.

6. Trevor Booker. He bounced between Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Indiana last season (he fit in and played well for the Nets and Pacers), and it’s a bit of a surprise a team has not picked up a solid rotation player at the four or five. Most of his shots come within 10 feet of the bucket, but he is efficient on those. The Cavaliers reportedly have expressed interest.

7. Nick Young. He played 17 minutes a night for the NBA champion Warriors last season (he didn’t exactly flow in their offense, or play great defense, but he hit some threes, shooting 41 percent from deep, and made some plays). A number of teams (including the Rockets) have expressed interest, just no deals yet. He needs to get one, the league is just more fun with Swaggy P in it.

Chris Paul says he wants to play at least 20 seasons

Thunder star Chris Paul
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CHICAGO – Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta was bellyaching about Chris Paul‘s contract (three years, $124,076,442 remaining). Houston traded two first-round picks and two first-round pick swaps just to go from Paul to Russell Westbrook. The Thunder appeared to prioritize the picks far more than Paul, whom they were reportedly willing to flip to his preferred destination.

A few months later, Paul was making big plays and berating officials in the All-Star game.

It’s quite the resurgence for the 34-year-old who’d missed the last three All-Star games.

Here are the oldest players ever to make an All-Star team after not being an All-Star the prior three seasons:

Chris Paul

Of the players older than Paul on that list, Dirk Nowitzki was placed into the All-Star game by the commissioner, and Michael Jordan came out of retirement after missing three seasons. Only Johnny Green kept grinding before breaking back through.

Feeling revitalized, Paul – in his 15th season – doesn’t sound anywhere near retirement.

“Especially the way that my body feels now, I definitely probably at least want to play at least 20 years,” Paul said.

That’s ambitious. Just seven players have played at least 20 NBA seasons:

  • Vince Carter (22)
  • Dirk Nowitzki (21)
  • Kevin Garnett (21)
  • Kevin Willis (21)
  • Robert Parish (21)
  • Kobe Bryant (20)
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20)

So much can go wrong this late into a player’s career.

But by raising his game, Paul gives himself more runway to decline and remain a viable NBA player. He at least has a chance, which is far more than most players can say at his age.

Kevin Garnett says first choice for 2007 trade was Kobe Bryant and Lakers

Celtics great Kevin Garnett and Lakers legend Kobe Bryant
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Kevin Garnett didn’t have a no-trade clause when the Timberwolves were shopping him in 2007. But because he could either sign an extension with his new team or opt out in 2008, Garnett had massive leverage over where he went. Effectively, he could swing whether it was worth a team’s while to deal for him.

Four primary suitors emerged: Celtics, Lakers, Suns and Warriors.

Garnett’s initial top choice? Joining Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles.

Garnett on All The Smoke:

I’m just being honest with everybody. I wanted to link with Kobe.

Kobe and I had a different connect. When Kobe-Shaq went on their little thing, a lot of people went with Shaq. A lot of people didn’t even f— with Kob. You know, Kob, whatever. One of the very few to just stay with him. I was a neutral guy, anyway. I show everybody love.

I tried to link with him, and I couldn’t get him on the line.

Garnett was working out at the time with Tyronn Lue, who was close with Bryant and encouraged Garnett to call back. Garnett did, but Bryant still didn’t return the call.

This only reinforces the notation that Bryant cost the Lakers stars. As singularly great as he was, Bryant just wasn’t about recruiting.

Bryant and Garnett would have been a fascinating pairing. They definitely had the talent to compete. Maybe the two notoriously intense stars would have meshed over a shared approach. Or maybe they would’ve driven each other crazy, a lack of balance between them.

The Lakers even had a trade framework in place involving Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom.

But Bryant’s unavailability created an opening for Boston.


Danny Ainge flew in, and he just got right to it and showed the vision, the vision he was seeing. You ever have somebody talk to you and as they’re talking to you, you can see what they’re seeing, so much that you’re not even looking at them no more but you see it? That’s how he was painting it. And he was a Picasso. And this is Danny Ainge’s greatness, in him being able to lure you in, his charming ass. You know what I’m saying? I didn’t even know he was finessing me.

Garnett told the Celtics to keep Rajon Rondo, who was apparently initially part of the package going to Minnesota. They did, and it worked out extremely well. Boston won the 2008 title – over Bryant’s Lakers. (The Lakers won the next two championships, including over the Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals.)

What about Phoenix, which – featuring Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion – was the best of the four teams at the time?


I actually called Steve Nash just as a courtesy, and I guess the call he hit me back with was, “Yo, if you come down here, we need you to take a major pay cut.” And I was like, “OK, if I come down there, I’m playing with you and Amar’e right?” He’s like, “Yeah, I think they’re going to give Amar’e up for you and Shawn.” And I said, “So, who is it going to be? Just me and you?”

As for Golden State, which – featuring All The Smoke hosts Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes – had just pulled a historic upset of the top-seeded Mavericks:

I was seeing how y’all was, but I needed a superstar.

Report: John Paxson to remain in power with Bulls

Bulls executive John Paxson
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The Bulls are reportedly looking for a general manager to replace Gar Forman.

But the other half of GarPax – Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson – apparently isn’t going anywhere. And of course neither is president/CEO Michael Reinsdorf, son of owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

A source familiar with the situation told the Sun-Times on Wednesday that there could be multiple people hired, as the power structure is still being determined.

Paxson and Reinsdorf are still running the show, with Paxson still considered to have a valuable seat at the table no matter what title they come up for him.

Even if it appears that Paxson will be taking a background approach, the source said don’t believe it. The Reinsdorfs still have 100 percent faith in him leading the direction of this organization.

Evaluating individual members of a front office can be extremely difficult from the outside.

But Paxson didn’t cover himself in glory when he effectively declared the Bulls, after going 27-55 in 2017-18, were done tanking. Chicago went 22-60 last season and is 19-36 this season.

The Bulls need an honest assessment of where they are. They’re not good and probably not that close to being good. They have a few interesting young players – Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr. But even with a high pick in this year’s draft, Chicago’s young core isn’t strong enough to assume it will rise into a quality team.

Though Paxson has supported Jim Boylen, the Bulls could probably use a new coach.

More importantly, they must understand that remaining at the bottom and securing more high picks is their best path forward. Drafting well would accelerate the process, but drafting is hard. Sometimes, you need more bites at the apple.

Of course, that will require a patience Chicago has rarely shown.

Knicks’ former player, G-League GM Allan Houston could get promotion

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There was a time when former Knicks All-Star player Allan Houston was seen as the rising front office star of the team. Since then, he has risen to assistant GM (before the Phil Jackson era), survived multiple management changes, and bounced around to different roles, most recently as the GM of the G-League Westchester Knicks.

Now he could be seeing a promotion under soon-to-arrive team president Leon Rose, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

As Leon Rose prepares for his imminent takeover, Garden constant Allan Houston has emerged as a candidate for a front office promotion, a league source told the Daily News…

According to a source, Craig Robinson, the current Knicks’ vice president of player development, has already had his responsibilities cut. Robinson, who is Michelle Obama’s brother, was hired by his Princeton buddy Steve Mills to oversee a comprehensive player development initiative…

The future of GM Scott Perry is unknown but it’s worth noting he has a strong relationship with Rose’s confidante, William Wesley.

Nobody knows exactly what the Knicks front office will look like after Rose officially takes the reins (he is still finishing up commitments to his CAA clients before coming over). We know William “World Wide Wes” Wesley will not have a role with the team, staying with CAA, but he will likely still have Rose’s ear. There will be a host of changes.

A deep house cleaning is in order in New York as the Knicks need to change their culture, not just their players. There is a lot of work to be done to develop players and build a foundation that will attract star players — right now the Knicks are not that kind of draw.  Houston apparently is going to get a chance to be part of whatever is next.