Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Atlantic Division:

Chris Boucher, Raptors, 28, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $13.5MM deal in 2020

Boucher has a non-guaranteed $7MM salary for next season. The Raptors will have to decide in August whether to retain him. Right now, that decision is a no-brainer. Boucher has been one of the league’s top reserves, averaging 15.6 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 23.8 MPG through 14 games. He ranks third in the league in blocks (2.4) despite his second-unit status. He’s even developed a 3-point shot (48.1%). It will difficult for Boucher to sustain this pace but he’s doing more than enough to convince the front office to prevent him from entering free agency.

Dennis Smith Jr., Knicks, 23, PG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $17.2MM deal in 2017

New coach Tom Thibodeau talked up Smith during training camp, saying “he’s gotten better and better.” That talk quickly died down. Smith has been a non-factor this season, in part because of a quad injury. There’s doesn’t seem to be any path to playing time with Immanuel Quickley establishing himself as one of the league’s top rookies. It’s been a steady decline for Smith, who started 69 games in his rookie year with Dallas and averaged 15.2 PPG. New York would have to extend a qualifying offer of $7MM+ to retain him. That’s not happening.

Furkan Korkmaz, Sixers, 23, SF/SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $3.4MM deal in 2019

An unrestricted free agent after the season, Korkmaz was sidelined by an adductor strain late last month. He just returned to action on Wednesday, scoring seven points in 20 minutes against the Celtics. He made just two of nine field-goal attempts on Friday. As a second-unit player, Korkmaz must reestablish himself as a steady 3-point threat to hold onto his rotation spot under new coach Doc Rivers. He made 40.2% of his shots beyond the arc last season when his role expanded. He needs to get back into a 3-point rhythm quickly or risk becoming a spectator the second half of the season.

Daniel Theis, Celtics, 28, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2019

Theis became increasingly important to the club last season, when he started 64 regular-season games and all 17 of its postseason contests in Orlando. His ability to guard pick-and-rolls and switch make him a key component in the Celtics’ defense. He’ll likely come off the bench with Kemba Walker back in action and Brad Stevens going with a smaller lineup. That didn’t faze Theis on Wednesday, as he racked up 23 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes against Philadelphia. He shouldn’t have any trouble getting a healthy raise in free agency this summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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14 thoughts on “Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic Division

  1. KnickerbockerAl

    Smith has been unable to play. Nttilikina has been unable to play. Has nothing to do with Quickly. He’s just taken advantage of the opportunity given to him. Good for him looks great. Still needs to learn to run offense. IMO Thibs is making sure Smith and Nttilikina are healthy so they can play. They are both gone. So we need to play them to trade them. Both should be back in 2-5 gms. Smith was listed as questionable. I read Frank is working out. Big part of this yr is moving out the excess talent. Both Smith and Nttilikina will do better elsewhere. They are not NYC kind of guys. Even Payton could be moved (Knox ?, Randle). Rivers and Burks are good backups and better shooters.

    • 5-8center

      I agree with u about frank. But man, DSJ was avaliable for the last 5, 6 gms. And he played like 3 minutes against Boston. Imo he is totaly out of picture for us

      • stephenooch

        I agree about DSJ. I’ve never seen him play well in a Knick uniform but Frank…I don’t get it, his defense is good, which you would think we want on a Thibs team. He can shoot the three and he gets to the basket. I wonder what he did to get on the s**t list and stay there?

      • KnickerbockerAl

        He’s got to play him to showcase him. Has to make sure he is healthy. Do not want him back on injury list. With the emergence of Quickly. Their time is up. So best you can do is coach them up, play em and trade em. Payton can finish season as starter. Next yr they’ll draft a PG or get one (FA, trade). Payton could be resigned as backup. IMO both of them will do better in another city.

        • 5-8center

          Imo playing payton just holds the youngs back. Thibs could play quickley, frank (when healthy), or even rivers who is a way better floor spacer

        • padam

          Showcase them for what? A third round pick? It’s not as if they’re going to surprise the league – I think the GMs know the limitation of DSJ and FN. The only reason they’re on the team right now is to satisfy the cap requirement and provide backup if needed. The only thing that can happen here is if some dumb GM is actually willing to make a bad career decision and trade for one of them (both would result in an immediate dismissal).

          What the Knicks should be (and are) doing is playing Payton and seeing what kind of value he could bring at the trade deadline. Same with anyone not named RJ, Robinson, Orbi, or Quickly.

  2. Jeff Zanghi

    If Korkmaz winds up falling out of Doc’s rotation I would imagine other teams would be interested in giving him a shot. I mean he did shoot 40% from beyond the arc last season while averaging 9+ PPG. Just because he got hurt and has since stated out slow out of the gate… I’d imagine he should still have an opportunity to get back in a rhythm… if not then they should trade him because I’d think other contenders looking for bench scoring and someone who can shoot the 3 would be interested.

    • PhillyPhan69

      Kork should not fall out of the rotation unless he is hurt or we make a trade. He is a secondary ball handler for our bench unit (more important than the shot IMO), and a good floor spacer who on the right nights when hot can hit for 20-30 pts. He is still a defensive liability and struggles against good wing teams such as the Celtics.

      • mlbnyyfan

        Both Frank and DSJ and possibly Randle should be moved but for what. Can Knicks get a #1 pick for Randle like Morris last year? I personally think Knox should stay unless Knicks get a lights out shooter and move RJ to small forward

        • padam

          I’d suspect the Knicks could get a #1 for Randle, but due to his contract amount, it’s most likely going to require them to take equal salary back – and it would need to be expiring contracts in order for the Knicks to remain flexible in the off-season.

          As for the others, I’d be amazed if they get a 2nd rounder for DSJ and FN. Knox maybe, but he looks absolutely lost on the court. He may be another bad pick they’ll need to suck up and just move or release.

  3. x%sure

    Smith has been down for some time, so “bout the same” would be the better label, at least since HC Carlisle in Dallas made him tradeable featuring him in his guard-based schemes.
    Thibs is smart for going with Peyton and Quickly… enough waiting & hoping. N’kina will shine in France.

  4. DaBlow216

    I thought this was Gree Agent “Stock” Watch. Well I guess penny stocks are still stocks.

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