With Clint Capela out of limbo and Carmelo Anthony expected to sign with the Rockets any day now, most of the major players to be had this offseason are off the board. But while sights are already being set on the start of the 2018–19 season, the free-agent market hasn’t closed just yet. Here are some of the best remaining free agents, ranked by how much they may be able to help a contending team.
1. Rodney Hood
Paolo Uggetti: Isaiah Thomas’s fall from financial grace was in the cards once his hip injury flared up, but what’s happened with Rodney Hood this summer was less predictable. Hood had a chance to make himself some real money last season. Instead, he was supplanted in Utah’s starting lineup by Donovan Mitchell, and then traded to Cleveland to be part of LeBron’s final Cavs supporting cast. He flopped. He was benched. He refused to come into a playoff game.
Hood is a restricted free agent, and on paper, he should be an appealing option for any team. The 6-foot-8 swingman has shot 37 percent from 3 in his career and can create his own shot. But his disappointing fourth season and the lack of teams with cap space has left him without a market. It’s why the Cavaliers, who are apparently still looking to remain in the East playoffs after extending Kevin Love’s contract, are reportedly interested in signing Hood to a three-year deal way below what he expected to get heading into the season.
The Cavs have also extended the $3.4 million qualifying offer to Hood, according to Cleveland.com, which would make the 25-year-old an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Now that LeBron is gone and Kyle Korver is reportedly drawing interest from other teams, Hood would be bound to get more playing time with the Cavs. But is betting on himself the best option after the season he just had?
2. Dwyane Wade
Haley O’Shaughnessy: When Wade returned to South Beach last season, it seemed like he would stay there for good. Fifteen seasons in, he was back to where it all began after a year and a half away; the Heat had his seat warmer on and ready next to Udonis Haslem. Wade filled his role as vice president of the Old Head Committee, but also filled in where Erik Spoelstra needed him. Though 36, he was still a spark off the bench.
Miami’s postseason was Wade’s Throwback Thursday. He didn’t start any of the five games against Philadelphia, but led the team in scoring twice. On a micro level, it was a reminder that he’s still got it; zoomed out, his performance raised the question of whether an aging Wade is still Miami’s best offensive option in crucial moments. As another offseason passes with the Heat locked into the same team, bringing Wade back becomes even more important for the franchise — not just for the sake of legacies, but because they still lack a clear-cut scoring option in crunch time.
3. Jamal Crawford
Uggetti: Crawford has never met a pull-up jumper he didn’t like. The question this offseason, as the 38-year-old heads into his 19th season in the league, is whether any team out there is willing to take the bad that comes with the instant offense he can provide.
Crawford should still be good to average double-digit points — he hasn’t averaged fewer than 10 since his sophomore season, in 2001–02 — but he hasn’t cracked 42 percent from the field in five years. Efficiency isn’t his strength, but he can still energize any team, especially one with the infrastructure to allow for a little more volatility.
Enter the Warriors. It was rumored around the start of free agency that Golden State (as well as Philadelphia) was interested in bringing in Crawford on a veteran’s minimum deal, and that Crawford was interested. Draymond Green and Kevin Durant both reportedly implored the Warriors to sign Crawford. Instead, they signed DeMarcus Cousins. Not bad. But Crawford remains out there, and the Warriors could still nab him. Can’t you see it now? A tight playoff game between the Warriors and Rockets heads into the fourth quarter, Golden State’s bench enters to buy some time for the starters, and Crawford goes off for eight quick points to pull away. Crossover, pull-up, game over — cue Marv Albert. “Yes! He’s still got it!”
4. Greg Monroe
O’Shaughnessy: That Monroe, 28, is ranked below Crawford and Wade is a comment on positional value. After signing with the Bucks in 2015, Monroe soon became a must-dump contract, eventually moving to the bench full time before getting traded to Phoenix last season. The Suns waived him after 20 games. Monroe signed with Boston in February. And on a team in desperate need of bodies in the postseason, he played less than 10 minutes a game.
Monroe is being linked to the Raptors, who need a stand-in for Jakob Poeltl. (Purely from a nickname standpoint, Moose would be a good fit in Toronto.) The market is limited for the Raps; unfortunately for them, “limited” is also an accurate descriptor for Monroe. When given the minutes, he can still be a nightly double-double. But he’s been a career-long liability on defense, which is now one of the primary requirements a big man needs to stay on the court.
5. Trevor Booker
O’Shaughnessy: Booker made more noise among real estate agents than he did on the court last season. After Brooklyn traded him to Philadelphia in December, Booker lasted in the City of Brotherly Love only for two months before getting waived and signing with Indiana. The biggest contribution he made on any team was with the Sixers, by helping them finally move on from Jahlil Okafor.
Despite a year on the go, the 30-year-old Booker is a solid veteran to have around. He’s a turn-the-volume-all-the-way-up kind of player — he’ll set a hard screen, he’ll leave a rebounding scrum last, he’ll be the first to dive for a loose ball. Booker is a Tom Thibodeau wet dream: religiously devoted to defense, can finish at the rim, and is inept from 3.
6. David West
Uggetti: It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Warriors probably will not bring back West for a third season given the team’s glut of bigs and the addition of Cousins. West played only two seasons in Golden State. But in that time, he became an integral part of their success — he was sometimes a bench scorer, sometimes an enforcer, and always a veteran presence.
Golden State never needed West on the court — he averaged 6.8 points last season on 13.7 minutes a game. But in the locker room, and with the media, the 37-year-old grabbed the spotlight. For instance, after a Finals sweep of the Cavs, West offered a quote that left everyone in suspense: “We dealt with some things internally. When you guys find out about that [stuff], y’all are going to trip. I’m serious,” he said. “Y’all are going to trip.”
If or when West chooses to retire, I’m sure there will be a book deal waiting for him that will make us all “trip.” Unless he was trolling us all along, which would be the most David West thing ever.