The 2016 NBA free-agency period has reached the nitty-gritty stages.
The buzz over players such as Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Dwyane Wade is gone. For the most part, the drama of whether teams will match the offers for their restricted free agents has also passed.
Now, teams are scouring the market to find what value they can add to their roster. The best available talents are an eclectic mix of aging veterans, rotational players looking for a big contract and young players with some remaining untapped potential.
Here’s a look at the top free agents remaining on Bleacher Report’s Free-Agency Big Board along with a closer look at some available players with some buzz surrounding them.
|B/R Rank||Player||Old Team||Predicted Team|
|45||Maurice Harkless||Trail Blazers||Trail Blazers|
It’s usually customary that restricted free agents cash in big time in the offseason. If teams want any chance of snagging one from their original team, the offer sheet has to be for enough money that the original team wants no part in matching.
In order for that to happen, though, there has to be enough of a market to get that big offer sheet. Dion Waiters is hoping that market starts picking up as he’s now one of the top talents (with playoff experience to boot) left remaining on the market.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, one team considering Waiters is the Brooklyn Nets after losing out on some restricted free agents already:
“For the Nets, one possibility on the market could be a run at Oklahoma City Thunder restricted free-agent guard Dion Waiters, league sources said. The Nets have given some consideration to an offer but will likely evaluate that in the next few days, league sources said.”
Waiters makes sense as an option for the Nets. Both Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, who they missed out on as restricted free agents, are 2 guards and Waiters is now the best one on the market.
The Nets also have to get creative to add assets to their roster. With no first-round picks in the next two seasons they can’t add young assets through the draft. Waiters is still just 24 and could conceivably still develop.
The likelihood that Waiters is still on the Nets radar is dwindling, though. Since Wojnarowski’s report, the Nets have signed Joe Harris and Caris LeVert.
Philadelphia had previously been bandied about as a destination for Waiters. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Sixers were interested in signing the guard to a two-year deal with a team option for the second year.
Pompey also reported that Oklahoma City is prepared to match any offer that Waiters receives.
Maurice Harkless is another restricted free agent who has to be wondering when he’s going to get an offer. The combo forward has put up solid numbers as a rotation player in Portland and is still only 23 years old with four years of experience in the league.
Harkless just watched his teammate Allen Crabbe sign a four-year, $75 million deal to stay with the Trail Blazers.
The fact that Harkless could become an unrestricted free agent next summer makes this an interesting move for him. By taking the one-year offer he could bet on himself to improve on his numbers this season and set himself up for an even bigger payday when the cap number continues its skyward trajectory.
At just 23 years old, Harkless still has youth on his side. With very little suggestion that other teams are preparing a big offer, he would be wise to wait until he can truly create a market where teams aren’t worried about the Blazers matching their offer.
One free agent not on the big board that could be a key contributor on a contender is Larry Sanders.
He won’t be found on any list of top free agents because he hasn’t played since the 2014-15 season when he decided to step away from the game at the age of 26. If his social media presence is to be believed, he’s looking to make a comeback.
With limited cap space to improve a roster that should win the East, but they now have a loaded Warriors team to compete with, so Sanders should be getting a call from Cleveland.