Seven NBA veteran free agents still available: Hart, Markkanen, more

Pelicans guard Josh Hart
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NBA free agency is basically over.

While the attention of the basketball world turned to Tokyo and then NBA Summer League, teams rounded out their roster and now most are down to offering a few minimum contracts.

Still, there are some quality NBA veterans who can help a team — particularly a contender — still available. Here are seven top free agents still available right now.

1) Josh Hart (Restricted)

Hart is this season’s prime example of the leverage teams have with restricted free agency. Plenty of teams could use Hart as a quality backup wing — he averaged 9.2 points and eight boards a game off the bench for the Pelicans last season — but all those teams knew the Pelicans would match any reasonable offer, so no offer sheets have arrived. There have been some rumors about Hart being a key piece in a sign-and-trade between the Pelicans and Kings that would bring Buddy Hield to New Orleans, but so far that has been more smoke than fire. Hart could up back in the Big Easy.

2) Lauri Markkanen (Restricted)

Markkanen wants a fresh start somewhere far away from Chicago.

The Bulls — who have his rights as a restricted free agent — would be happy to give Markkanen that fresh start through a sign-and-trade. Markkanen appears to have misread the market, he wanted around $14 million a year and a larger role than he had with the Bulls, but neither of those things are now (or have been) on the table for him. A lot of rumors about the Pelicans bringing him in as a backup stretch four, and with their $17 million trade exception they can just sign him to an offer sheet the Bulls don’t want to match. Or, the sides can figure out a sign-and-trade. Minnesota also remains interested.

3) Paul Millsap

Millsap is a four who can defend, hit threes, and is strong on the glass — he could help teams in a limited role off the bench, but so far nothing has come together. Last season he averaged 9 points and 4.7 rebounds a game in Denver, hitting 34.3% from 3. He is 36, so it is likely a one-year deal, but he can help teams. There have been rumors about a return to the Hawks, with the Warriors and Celtics mentioned in some quarters, but no deal has yet been struck.

4) James Ennis

Long Beach State’s own Ennis (Go Beach!) started 37 games last season in Orlando, scoring 8.7 points a game, shooting 43.3% from 3, and is a serviceable defender — he is a solid NBA rotation player at a position of need on the wing. There has been talk about the Lakers bringing Ennis back to Southern California, but so far neither that nor anything else has come together for the seven-year NBA veteran. This is a good pick-up for some team on a minimum contract.

5) Avery Bradley

Bradley never quite found a comfort level last season in either Miami or Houston due to a calf strain, and for the season averaged 6.4 points per game, shooting 32.7% from 3, both below his career averages. The Rockets chose not to pick up his $5.9 million option. Still, a good on-ball defender at the two guard, there is a role for him in the NBA. Rumors of a return to the Lakers and Celtics have floated around, and he would make sense as a veteran bench player on a contender rounding out its roster.

6) J.J. Redick

He may be 37 and may have lost half-a-step, but the man can shoot the rock — 7.4 points per game on 37.1% from 3 last season — and that remains a very valuable skill. Plus, he’s strong in the locker room. He battled injuries last season, which makes teams hesitant, and he wants to play closer to home in New York, which would limit his offers. Redick himself said on his podcast that he is likely to join a team once the season is underway.

“I would say, pretty much definitively, like, I won’t be in a training camp to start the season. That’s not gonna happen. So, you know, I’ll join a team at some point this season and finish the year and try to go get a chip. That’s the plan.”

7) Wesley Matthews

Matthews saw his offensive numbers drop last season with the Lakers — down to 4.8 points per game — but part of that was the constantly changing roles he faced on the Lakers. Matthews will turn 35 early next season, but he’s still a solid on-ball defender who can hit some threes and play within a system. A few teams could use him, but like Redick this may be a case where Matthews is not in a training camp but gets a call early in the season from a team seeking veteran help.