By Glen Ivol
This is the time of year the NBA gets wild. Teams are still recovering from the 2016 spike cap where spending was crazy, leaving this offseason more important than ever. With LeBron James, Paul George, Chris Paul and other superstars entering free agency, what role players are available? The Rockets showed the value of good role players and bench through their signings last season (P.J. Tucker & Luc Mbah a Moute), so who are those types are players teams could look to? Here’s a few ideas:
Trevor Ariza – SF – Houston Rockets
Trevor Ariza has turned himself into a valuable commodity in today’s league. Since the 2012-13 season, his first with the Wizards, Ariza has been at least 35% from three each season and has always been an above-average defender. The Rockets should want to keep him around, but he could have multiple contenders calling him for his services. It wouldn’t surprise if his price rises too high for the Rockets to pay, considering the luxury tax is already in effect and Clint Capela hitting restricted free agency.
Will Barton – Guard – Denver Nuggets
The player Damian Lillard was still hurt over losing, Will Barton will be a free agent this summer. The Nuggets can go over the cap to keep him, but it seems unlikely that will happen unless they can move a contract. Barton is the perfect sixth man in today’s NBA, able to come in and put up points in a hurry. I look to him a slightly less version of Lou Williams, but he will probably make more money given his athleticism and younger age. He has a tendency to take contested jumpers but is a creator with the ball in his hands and should get his chance to take a bigger role than the Nuggets gave him.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Guard – LA Lakers
Last offseason did not go to plan for KCP, as he settled for one-year overpay later in free agency. In the beginning of the season there was rumors he could looking at a max deal but never saw that materialize. Still only 25, KCP is an aggressive defender and a shooter who can get hot in a hurry. He is also coming off his best shooting season since coming out and should be a valuable piece to add. Any contender should be interested, but I think the Pacers should be calling his phone to play next to Victor Oladipo.
Joe Harris – Guard – Brooklyn Nets
The Nets should want to keep Harris around as he is the perfect fit in Kenny Atkinson’s system and is coming of a career year. However, don’t be surprised if contenders come after Harris as is a lethal shooter at a premium position on the wing. He can space the floor and makes threes at better than a 40% clip and has played with LeBron, who was a big fan of Harris… Just saying, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Harris pulled away from the Nets.
Nerlens Noel – Center – Dallas Mavericks
After getting stuck in Philly and benched in Dallas, Noel is looking for a new home. There are reports that he is a locker room problem and has poor work ethic, however he is still just 24 that should have untapped upside. He is quick on his feet, making him able to guard the perimeter and leads to his high block and steal rates. If the Wizards miss on DeMarcus Cousins, or decide they would rather keep Otto Porter, Noel could be the perfect fit in his offense.
Mario Hezonja – Wing – Orlando Magic
The Magic declined to pick up Hezonja’s option earlier this season, which was total reasonable at this time, but they might be kicking themselves after his second half. Hezonja became more confident is his offense but is still lacking on defense. A team willing to be patient with Hezonja could find it worth their while to take a flier here. Or a team that has a history of getting the most out of European players… looking at you San Antonio.
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