Who remains? The 10 best NBA free agents still available


Through two days of free agency, there have been 58 new contracts and nine contract extensions with an estimated net value above $2.8 billion. (From the brilliant Keith Smith, via Mark Stein.)

But there are still a lot of quality free agents on the board — a lot of players who can help teams.

As of Saturday at 4 Eastern, here is our list of the Top 10 free agents still available (with comments).

1) James Harden

While he is technically still available, Harden is going to re-sign with the 76ers on a three-year deal and the sides are meeting this weekend to work out the details. No other teams are targeting him.

2) Deandre Ayton

If Kevin Durant is headed to the Suns, then Ayton is almost certainly headed to Brooklyn on a sign-and-trade that will get the former No. 1 pick the money he wants (and the Nets can build around Ayton and Ben Simmons). However, if Durant ends up anywhere else, the max contract — or even near max — offers from outside Phoenix for Ayton may have dried up. If Durant is not headed to Phoenix, it may be time for the Suns and Ayton to patch up their differences and agree to a short-term deal that keeps Phoenix as contenders.

3) Miles Bridges

He has been arrested for felony domestic abuse in Los Angeles for what, based on comments from his wife, is a very disturbing case. While he is technically a restricted free agent who would normally be in very high demand, no teams are making offers for his services. There are rumblings that the Hornets may pull his qualifying offer and let him walk for nothing as an unrestricted free agent. Until his legal case is settled, no team is going near him.

4) Collin Sexton

Sexton only played in 11 games last season due to a torn meniscus that required surgery, which slowed offers coming in. Sexton can get buckets — two seasons ago he averaged 24.3 points per game for the Cavaliers — but his ball-dominant style frustrated teammates and had some viewing him more as a sixth man. There has been buzz about Dallas having interest, but so far there is nothing official on the table he likes. Most teams picture him in the $10 million a season range.

5) T.J. Warren

If he’s healthy, Warren could be a steal. The last time we saw him play, in the bubble, he averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. Over the course of that entire season he averaged 19.8 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 40.3% from 3. However, he has played just four games the past two seasons because of stress fractures and other foot issues. There’s a risk, but a relatively minor one at below the mid-level exception, and the reward could be very high.

6) Caleb Martin

The Miami Heat wing is a restricted free agent who stepped up in every aspect of his game last season and was a quality part of the Heat rotation, averaging 9.3 points a game in just less than 23 minutes a night. He shot 41.3% from 3 for the Heat and finished well around the rim. There had been buzz about interest from the Timberwolves, but with all their recent moves it’s unclear if that interest is still there. Caleb’s twin brother Corey just got locked up by the Hornets on a four-year, $32 million deal, that much money may not be there for Caleb but he brings value.

7) Dennis Schroder

A team looking for some backup point guard depth will snap up Schroder, he averaged 13.5 points a game last season split between Boston and Houston. Teams noticed that when the Celtics shrunk Schroder’s role and gave Marcus Smart more point guard responsibilities, the team improved, Schroder is not moving the needle for a contender. However, he is an NBA-level rotation point guard who can pass, shoot the three well enough (34.4% last season), and give a team a decent 20 minutes a night. He will play somewhere in the Association next season.

8) Montrezl Harrell

The former Sixth Man of the Year will bring energy, set good picks, roll hard to the rim, and give a team a solid 20 minutes a night off the bench. He averaged 13.1 points and 6.8 rebounds a game last season coming off the bench in Washington and Charlotte. Harrell is an innings-eater, a big man who can help during the regular season and who fans will love for his hustle, but his lack of defense means he fades out of the rotation in the playoffs. There is a team with a role for him.

9)DeMarcus Cousins

He showed in Denver last season that he can be a solid backup center, he steadied the Nuggets’ second units when Nikola Jokic was on the bench. For at or just above the veteran minimum, Cousins can bring that to another team and help with their front-line rotation. The Nuggets may re-sign him, but Cousins should have options as teams look at their font line rotations and figure out they need one more center.

10)Frank Jackson

He gave the Pistons 10.6 points in 22 minutes a game when healthy last season, but with Detroit focusing on its higher-upside young guards Jackson is out with the Pistons. If a team can help him find his 3-point shot again — it was over 40% two seasons ago and dropped to 30.8% last season — there is value in him as a third guard who can play on or off the ball. He’s a good locker room guy, works hard on defense and has an NBA role to play.

Wembanyama scores 37 Scoot Henderson 28, both make case to go No.1


The NBA league office hates tanking — the action, the word, the mere suggestion of it.

But there is going to be some serious tanking in the NBA this season, and anybody who watched the Victor Wembanyama vs. Scoot Henderson game Tuesday (also known as the G-league Ignite vs.  Metropolitans 92 from France) knows exactly why.

What. A. Show.

Victor Wembanyama, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, showed why he is a true 7’4″ unicorn who can do seemingly anything. He finished the game with 37 points, hitting 7-of-11 from 3, with five blocks, showed off some handles and even brought the ball up court a couple of times.

This play sums him up well: at 7’4″ Wembanyama is the ball handler in a pick-and-roll, looks smooth, and when the defender goes under the pick casually drains a 3.

Scoot Henderson, expected to go No.2 in the next draft, flashed his explosive athleticism to the tune of 28 points, nine assists, and five rebounds.

Ja Morant was impressed.

There was a lot for fans, scouts, and GMs to be impressed with.

For all his shooting an offensive game, Wembanyama was just as impressive on defense. His length and mobility forces players to change their driving angles to the rim. He also showed a fearlessness in going after the big block.

Henderson showed high-level athleticism and an ability to get to the rim at will, but he also set up teammates and an improving shot. Henderson is a dynamic athlete and a season playing against the men of the G League is only going to sharpen his skills.

Henderson made his case Tuesday to be the No.1 pick — scouts say he has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone point guard, a top-10 player in the league, and he looked it in this game. He showed no fear, even going at Wembanyama a few times.

However, Wembanyama will go No.1 because he just breaks the mold, there is nobody like him. Anywhere. He looks like a generational talent, even if there is some work to do to realize it. Wembanyama started to show that Tuesday night.

These two teams face off again on Thursday night in Henderson, Nevada.

Royce O’Neal on Durant, Irving trade rumors: ‘That was the summer’

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets
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The Brooklyn Nets are trying to move on from a turbulent, awkward summer where their two best players tried to get tradedone throwing down a “me or the coach and GM” ultimatum — and they are tired of talking about it.

It sounds like they have moved on from the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving drama in the locker room, at least based on what Royce O’Neal told Michael Scotto of Hoopshype.

“That was the summer. Nobody cares about it now. We’re all here, and we’re going to make it work. We have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to go. That’s what we’re focusing on.”

No doubt that is the mantra in the locker room, and it’s easy to do during the carefree, optimistic days of training camp or even the first preseason games. The players believe they have moved on.

The real question about these Nets is what happens when adversity hits? And it will hit, it does every team. How will Ben Simmons handle the stress? Irving? Can coach Steve Nash keep the Nets all on task, or will the finger-pointing start, and will the locker room get split?

Those questions are why everyone is finding it hard to predict these Nets — they could win a ring, they could have Durant demanding a trade again by Christmas. Most likely they land in the middle somewhere, but every possibility is on the table.

Speaking of teams being broken up, Scotto also asked about O’Neal’s former team, the Utah Jazz, and Danny Ainge’s decision to trade Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell this summer. Ainge said “this team didn’t believe in each other,” but that’s not how O’Neal saw it. He was surprised the team was blown up.

“I was definitely shocked. I had been there for five years. The team we had for a couple of years fell short. I thought we were going to build on it. Things happened, so keep it moving.”

The question is will the Nets keep moving when things get hard?

Collin Sexton expects to start for Jazz once he gets back to full speed

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After the blockbuster trade that was centered around Donovan Mitchell sent Collin Sexton to Utah, the immediate expectation was that he would start for the Jazz and have the ultimate green light.

However, that wasn’t the case in their first preseason matchup with Toronto on Sunday. In 18 minutes off the bench, Sexton finished with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting (3-for-4 on 3-pointers) to go along with one rebound, two assists, two steals, and two turnovers.

It came as a bit of a surprise to most viewers that Sexton didn’t get the starting nod, but he told Sarah Todd of Deseret News that he expected to come off the bench for this game. He acknowledged that it was because he hasn’t played much since his meniscus surgery, but he expects to start once he gets back to full speed.

Utah hit the reset button by dealing away four of their five starters from last season. They’ve ushered in a new era that is centered around Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Jarred Vanderbilt, and a ton of first round picks. Sexton has talked about wanting to improve on his assists numbers this season, which we should definitely see him get the opportunity to do.

The Jazz have cemented their place in the center of the Victor Wembanyama race, so they’ll have no problem letting their young guys learn through trial and error. Sexton averaged 4.4 assists per game for Cleveland just two years ago. However, he won’t be playing alongside another young guard like Darius Garland, so Sexton should have the ball in his hands more than he ever has in the NBA.

Ben Simmons looks fine in return, is ‘grateful just to be able to step on that floor’


Ben Simmons played in an actual, live basketball game on Monday night.

It’s preseason, sure, but the Nets rolled out their likely starting five — Simmons, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Joe Harris, and Nic Claxton — and had Simmons initiating a lot of the offense early.

The results were not bad. Fine. Good in flashes. Simmons ran the floor well and finished with six points on 3-of-6 shooting, five assists and four rebounds. He missed both free throws he took and all three of his makes were at the rim, his three missed shots were all in the paint and included an ugly skyhook-like thing and a turnaround that missed. There was clear rust.

The Nets got him a lot of touches, having him initiate the offense early. Whether that is something that carries over into the season remains to be seen, the offense moved better with the crisp passing and decisions of Kyrie Irving.

Simmons sounded comfortable after the game, quotes via Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“I’m grateful just to be able to step on that floor,” Simmons said. “Step on an NBA floor again. I had a lot of fun out there.”

“That’s the one thing, I thought I was going to be nervous,” Simmons said. “But I wasn’t nervous. I was excited.”

Simmons pushed for a trade off these 76ers a year ago, then sat out all last season due to mental health concerns. Having him back on the court for 19 minutes over a couple of shifts was enough for the Nets.

The 76ers sat Joel Embiid and James Harden for the night, but Tyrese Maxey was the best player on the floor with 20 points in 14 minutes and showing a confident 3-point stroke.

Furkan Korkmaz, another player coming off an injury, added 15 His play will add depth to the Sixers roster.

Claxton ran the floor hard and finished with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting (all at the rim), while Durant led the way with 13 points.