Where will the last remaining NBA free agents sign this summer? Few teams have cap space left, but several potential impact players have yet to find teams.
Some players, such as Nerlens Noel of the Dallas Mavericks, are likely to return to their original teams, but the circumstances of many others are more up in the air.
Let’s examine the uncertain situations of Ian Clark, Tony Allen and JaMychal Green, then make predictions for where each of them will sign.
Clark has improved steadily as a fringe rotation player for the Golden State Warriors in the past two seasons. Now, he’ll have to prove he can continue that development away from the most ideal team situation in the NBA, as the Warriors have already filled out their roster for 2017-18.
No team has picked up the 26-year-old combo guard yet. However, per the Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson, the Miami Heat are interested in Clark and have a $4.3 mid-level exception available to offer him. This is a far cry from the $8 million annual salary he has been seeking this offseason, according to Jackson.
The money Clark’s camp is asking for seems unrealistic, given that he was merely solid in a perfect offensive situation in Golden State and just OK on defense. According to Golden State of Mind’s Dean Campbell, “he’s not really known as a strong defender on the ball, though he has the quickness to improve in that area.”
The Heat could be a nice fit for the 6’3″ Clark, if he can blossom as a point guard. Miami already has a crowded rotation at the shooting guard position.
Expect the Heat’s mid-level exception to be the top offer Clark gets and for him to sign with Miami. The Heat are locked into a lot of long-term contracts right now, so they would likely make Clark’s just a one-year deal.
Prediction: Heat sign Clark to one-year, mid-level exception deal
Tony Allen is old (35 years old) and can’t shoot (just 121 made three-pointers in his 13 seasons). Those negatives seem to be outweighing his relentless defense and overall hustle play in free-agent negotiations thus far.
ESPN’s Tim McMahon did report two weeks ago that a couple of Western Conference squads have shown interest in the longtime Memphis Grizzlies swingman:
However, the market has almost completely dried up. Per ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson, Allen has already rejected a minimum contract offer from the Los Angeles Clippers, but he might not be able to get much more than that from anyone else.
Where will he go? Allen would be a helpful piece off the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ bench (who can also only offer the minimum), but the decision is still mostly his. If his camp relents and finally decides he will be receptive to minimum offers, he should have suitors lining up for his services.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have not been linked to Allen during this offseason, but the fit makes a lot of sense for both parties.
Cleveland badly needs more defensive-minded players to improve a group that allowed the ninth-most points per 100 possessions (108.0) in the NBA last season. The team could pitch the veteran on him being an integral part of its defense.
From Allen’s perspective, he could join a squad that has an excellent chance at making the Finals (despite the uncertainty around Kyrie Irving‘s situation) and potentially getting him his second championship ring.
Prediction: Cavaliers sign Allen to a two-year, veteran minimum deal
After what happened last year with restricted free agents, most people assumed Grizzlies RFA JaMychal Green would sign a massive offer sheet early on in July. He was the No. 19 free agent in the league this summer, per Bleacher Report’s Adam Fromal, and is a versatile 27-year-old power forward.
It’s almost August, and Green hasn’t signed any offer sheets. The Grizzlies also haven’t made him an offer of their own above the qualifying offer.
Virtually no teams in the league have the cap space to offer Green an offer sheet for what his market value is (somewhere between $12 million to $15 million per year), but there’s also the option of a sign-and-trade. In that case, he could just settle for the amount of money the Grizzlies offer and move to another squad.
Neither of those seems like the most ideal scenario, however. If no team signs an offer sheet and the Grizzlies don’t want to offer him anything more than the qualifying offer (worth $2.8 million for next season), Green can also just accept that number and hope the market is more receptive to his skill set next season.
That may be the smartest move for Green. He should have a great opportunity to prove his worth in 2017-18 with fellow power forward Zach Randolph now a member of the Sacramento Kings—expect him to post career highs in most statistical categories with the Grizzlies, if he stays.
Prediction: Grizzlies sign Green to the qualifying offer on a one-year deal
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