This NBA offseason was always going to be tricky for a number of free agents.
Before any deals were even signed, the amount of available cap space throughout the league was far more strained than it typically is.
New post-draft spending power update:<br><br>Cap space teams include Pistons ($34-45M), Spurs ($29-37M), Magic ($27.5M), Pacers ($26.5M), and likely Knicks currently at $16M with room to grow.<br><br>Thunder STILL have $23.4M in cap space available to them through June 30. <a href=""></a>
That meant that most players would have to be re-signed using Bird rights (when an incumbent can go over the cap to bring back its own guys), signed with limited exceptions or moved in a sign-and-trade.
Those mechanisms got a lot of players paid, but a number of potential difference-makers remained free agents after the dust settled.
Though the spending power is almost entirely gone now (as seen in HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan’s cover photo),

there are still some landing spots that make sense (from both a basketball and financial perspective) for the five best free agents on the market.

Of all the players still available, Collin Sexton likely expected the biggest raise.
He’s 23 years old, one year removed from a season in which he averaged 24.3 points per game and looked on track for a decent second contract.
Then, an injury cost him most of the final year on his rookie deal, teammate Darius Garland’s stock exploded and none of the few teams with cap space made the restricted free agent an offer (at least not that we know of).
And the team he last played for, the Cleveland Cavaliers, doesn’t look eager to sign him with Bird rights.
According to’s Chris Fedor, “…talks between the Cavaliers and Colin Sexton’s camp—led by ruthless, player-friendly negotiator Rich Paul, the CEO of Klutch Sports—have not been contentious but remain at a standstill, with the two sides far apart on valuation.”
Those prospects don’t sound good, but there remains an avenue for Cleveland to help Sexton land his next deal.
In mid-July, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer

reported that the Utah Jazz had “explored a sign-and-trade scenario that would send veteran point guard Mike Conley to Cleveland in exchange for restricted free agent Collin Sexton.”
Such a deal would make sense for both sides, especially if Utah leans all the way into the rebuild by trading Donovan Mitchell. Earlier this month, we learned the Jazz and New York Knicks are still engaged
on a potential Mitchell deal. And if he’s gone, Utah will surely be eager to jettison the other veterans (like Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson) and stack up losses for next summer’s draft lottery.
Once (or if) the Mitchell domino falls, the framework of a Conley-Sexton sign-and-trade will make even more sense. Utah would get a promising guard who’s 11 years younger than Conley and obviously much closer to the Jazz’s upcoming developmental timeline. Cleveland, meanwhile, gets a steady-handed 1 to pilot second units.
The signing of Ricky Rubio does make that a little trickier, but if the Cavs have a four-guard rotation with him, Conley, Garland and Caris LeVert, they may be able to make the minutes work.

At 6’7″, Montrezl Harrell is undersized for his position, and that has long caused him problems on defense.
But the amount of focus on that end of the floor might actually be making him a little underrated.
For his career, Harrell has averaged 21.6 points per 100 possessions, and among the 92 players since 1973-74 (as far back as per-possession data is tracked) who match or exceed that average, Harrell’s 62.0 field-goal percentage ranks first.
That’s an absurd combination of volume and efficiency born of Harrell’s relentlessness and touch around the basket.
In the right role (heat-check big off the bench), he can absolutely help someone, and the Brooklyn Nets are a team that could use a big.
Of course, the remainder of their offseason will be clouded by whether or not they trade Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but if they can convince both to stay, Harrell would raise their offensive ceiling.
Brooklyn has two open roster spots, and the only real centers on the roster are Nicolas Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe.
Using some or all of the taxpayer mid-level exception that the Nets have at their disposal ($6.5 million) on Harrell would make sense (again, assuming the stars remain).

In March 2021, Dennis Schröder reportedly turned down a four-year, $84 million extension offer from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Less than two years later, there’s no guarantee he’ll be on anyone’s roster for the upcoming season.
Like everyone else here, the unique circumstances of the 2022 offseason certainly contributed to Schröder’s stunning spiral in value around the league, but his lack of range and defensive upside hurt too.
Still, Schröder finished second in Sixth Man of the Year voting in 2020. And on the right team, his attack-first game could lift a second unit.
The Charlotte Hornets, who still have access to the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($10.5 million) might be that team.
Right now, LaMelo Ball is the only real point guard on the roster. And with his 6’7″ size, he could probably share the floor with Schröder for stretches.

He’d have to sign for the veteran minimum, but being on a contender like the Los Angeles Clippers might be worth it for 33-year-old Hassan Whiteside.
L.A. has a solid starting 5 in Ivica Zubac, and they’ll certainly play a lot of small ball with players such as Nicolas Batum or Marcus Morris as the nominal center, but a bona fide rim protector wouldn’t hurt.
Whiteside bought into a backup role with the Utah Jazz last season and finished top 60 in box plus/minus. He averaged 17.0 points, 15.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per 75 possessions, with a 66.2 true shooting percentage.
Even if the Clippers only needed him for 50-60 appearances and 10-15 minutes per game, that kind of production could affect the team’s bottom line.

Like Hassan Whiteside, DeMarcus Cousins may have to take a small role and a veteran minimum contract to stay in the league, but he showed a willingness to do both in 2021-22.
In 31 games with the Denver Nuggets, Cousins averaged 23.6 points, 14.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per 75 possessions. And he took that second unit from disaster to respectable.
Prior to Cousins’ debut, Denver was minus-12.5 points per 100 possessions when Nikola Jokic was off the floor. After that, it was minus-2.2.
Cousins could provide a similar stabilizing effect as the backup to Jokic’s chief rival, Joel Embiid.
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