We’re six weeks into the NBA’s 2019 free agent period, and the market has been just about picked clean. None of our top 50 free agents of 2019 remain on the board, and news of free agent signings within the last couple weeks has focused primarily on non-guaranteed training camp invitees.
Still, our list of remaining 2019 free agents features some interesting names. Roster spots around the NBA are becoming scarce, but a number of unsigned players could help out contending teams. Some of these players could sign in the coming days or weeks, while others may have to wait for injuries to open up opportunities.
In a series of posts, we’re taking a closer look at some of the most noteworthy free agents still on the board, breaking them down by position. That series started last Thursday when we focused on a handful of the best free agent guards available, and continued on Friday as we turned to the top free agent wings. Now we’re closing things out by examining some of the most intriguing veteran big men on the open market.
Let’s dive in…
- Nene: After he made the surprising decision to turn down his $3.8MM player option for 2019/20, Nene hasn’t had any luck finding a new contract on the open market. He also hasn’t indicated that he plans to retire, despite some rumors that he might end up going in that direction. The big man will turn 37 in September, so we’ll see if another NBA deal is in his future.
- Amir Johnson: Johnson logged minutes in 51 regular season games for the Sixers last season, but had fallen out of the rotation by the playoffs. He’s a smart, heady player and he’s still just 32 years old, so I doubt we’ve seen the last of him in the NBA. Still, the fact that he doesn’t thrive in any one particular area – such as protecting the rim or shooting three-pointers – may hurt his market.
- Joakim Noah: Noah was surprisingly effective in 42 games for the Grizzlies last season, averaging 7.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.1 APG in just 16.5 minutes per contest. That performance hasn’t earned him an NBA job yet, but he’d have options overseas if he’s interested — a club in New Zealand was said last month to covet him.
- Kenneth Faried: Faried experienced a renaissance in Houston last season, averaging 12.9 PPG and 8.2 RPG in 25 games for the Rockets. He’s also been working on adding an outside shot to his game. At age 29, Faried can still be a solid contributor for an NBA team, and I’d be surprised if he’s not on a roster by opening night.
- Ryan Anderson: This would have been the fourth and final year of Anderson’s four-year, $80MM contract, which he signed in 2016. Instead, he’s back on the open market. His ability to stretch the floor from well beyond the three-point line is valuable, but it doesn’t always make up for his poor defense. On top of that, he wasn’t even making shots last season, knocking down just 9-of-40 threes (22.5%).
- Marcin Gortat: Gortat started 43 games at center in 2018/19 for the Clippers before being waived at the trade deadline. While he has talked in the past about wanting to join the Magic to finish his NBA career, Orlando’s frontcourt is pretty crowded at this point, and the veteran big man had also suggested earlier in his career that the 2018/19 season might be his last. There’s no guarantee he’ll return to an NBA team.
- Zaza Pachulia: At age 35, Pachulia’s NBA days may be numbered, but he appeared in 68 games for the Pistons as a backup center last season.
Jonas Jerebko would be an intriguing target for a team seeking frontcourt shooting, but last we heard, he was close to signing with a Russian team. (Update: Jerebko’s deal with Khimki is now official.)
Justin Patton is 22 years old and is just two years removed from being drafted 16th overall. If he can get – and stay – healthy, he might be worth a flier. Health hasn’t been an issue for Marquese Chriss, a 22-year-old who was a lottery pick in 2016, but he has yet to develop into a positive contributor. Perhaps a new club could get more out of him.
Another former first-round pick, Jarell Martin, doesn’t have Patton’s or Chriss’ upside, but was a regular rotation player as recently as 2017/18 and is still just 25.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.