NBA free agency has entered a quiet phase. The biggest names like Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry are off the board, having agreed to deals with the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat respectively. The supposed mid-tier free agents, like Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, are also locked in. Both Ball and DeRozan will head to the Chicago Bulls. Even aging veterans have been inking one-year minimum contracts. Just look at the Los Angeles Lakers roster.
However, there are still players looking for deals as they hope to keep their NBA careers going. Here are the six best free agents remaining in the 2021-22 offseason, with their previous team in parentheses.
Lauri Markkanen, PF - Restricted free agent (Chicago Bulls)
Markkanen reportedly has several offers on the table, but the power forward wants to leave the Bulls after being phased out of his role last season. Given his limited defensive abilities, it’s tough to envision Markkanen fitting well with Nikola Vucevic if the Bulls were to pair the big men.
However, the Bulls can match any offer Markkanen signs and they can go over the cap to retain him. The forward averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, but his biggest asset is his 40.2 percent clip from behind the arc. Having a 7-footer who can hit threes at that rate is huge, especially one who is still only 24. Markkanen’s potential was on display early last season, when the forward averaged 19.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in 10 contests before suffering a shoulder injury.
The Charlotte Hornets are reportedly a team pursuing the forward, but the Bulls have to think about bringing him back or executing some sort of sign-and-trade deal to get a draft asset in return.
Dennis Schroder, PG - Unrestricted free agent (Los Angeles Lakers)
Schroder is one of the most perplexing players left on the market. His talent is undeniable, but he may misjudge his own abilities and try to play above his skillset. The point guard reportedly turned down an extension close to $84 million with the Lakers, betting on himself and the market.
That market has essentially shut Schroder out, leaving him to likely take a one-year deal with a contender and try to improve his play before hitting free agency again. The point guard was reportedly looking for a deal averaging $20-25 million per year, but that’s obviously no longer a possibility.
Schroder averaged 15.4 points and 5.8 assists per game last season but failed to make an impact as a shooter and had issues with turnovers. He didn’t fit perfectly in LA’s offense and often tried to do too much when Anthony Davis and LeBron James weren’t on the floor. It’s unclear which teams will make room for him, even if it’s for one season.
Paul Millsap, PF - Unrestricted free agent (Denver Nuggets)
Millsap is a veteran power forward who can be utilized as a center in small-ball lineups likely looking for the right deal with a contending team. He’s not going to command major money, but fit is the key here.
The forward had some productive seasons with the Nuggets after joining the team in 2017 on a massive contract. Millsap helped Denver’s young players grow and experience playoff basketball, but it’s unlikely he returns to the franchise this offseason. He averaged 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season as his role diminished over the course of the year.
Still, Millsap can give any team a solid rotation big man with lots of experience. The power forward has played 129 career playoff games, something contending teams will like.
Avery Bradley, SG/SF - Unrestricted free agent (Houston Rockets)
Bradley is only 30, but fits a mold similar to Millsap when looking for his next team. He could serve a veteran rotation player on a contender but will likely have to take a minimum contract to do so.
The wing opted out of the Orlando bubble with the Lakers, but has 39 career playoff games under his belt with the Boston Celtics. Even though his production has significantly declined over the last two seasons, Bradley could be a useful presence on any roster.
Josh Hart, SG - Restricted free agent (New Orleans Pelicans)
Hart was a surprising addition to the Anthony Davis trade given his potential fit as a shooter next to LeBron James, but the guard ultimately was sent to New Orleans. Hart struggled to replicate his rookie performance with the Pelicans and saw his role diminish as the team added more lottery picks and veterans.
As a restricted free agent, the Pelicans can match any offer on Hart. It appears teams are staying away from the young guard, who can still provide solid two-way play in limited minutes. The biggest hurdle for Hart joining a contender is his status as a RFA. The Pelicans will match smaller offers and no contender has the space to put together a larger contract.
JJ Redick, SG - Unrestricted free agent (Dallas Mavericks)
Redick is up there in age at 37, but remains one of the most prolific shooters in league history. He shot 42.8 percent from deep over the last two seasons and can certainly find a role off the bench on a contending team. The Heat and Warriors are two intriguing options for Redick.
The shooting guard has bounced around the league in recent years, playing for four of his six career teams in the last five seasons. Redick is likely weighing his options with minimum contract offers and should make a decision ahead of training camp.
Other notable names
Dante Exum, Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina are former lottery picks looking for new homes. Wesley Matthews, Patrick Patterson and Jared Dudley are veterans looking to join a contender. Aron Baynes could garner some interest as well.