If you missed Part 1 from earlier on Sunday, you can catch up and read it here. Let’s jump into Part 2.
Darius Miller and Julius Randle (New Orleans Pelicans) – 29 and 24 years old
- Starting with Darius Miller, who won’t be anywhere near as popular as Julius Randle, but could still net himself a tidy deal. Resigning with the Pelicans is probably his best bet, especially after his three-point percentage plummeted from 41.1 percent last season to 36.5 percent this past year. The Pelicans hold Miller’s Early Bird Rights, so they can sign him against the cap if need be. Now that Anthony Davis has been shipped out for a flock of fresh young talent, the need for a veteran three-point specialist off the bench might not be a priority for them. The Pelicans will have cap space to spend this summer and plenty of assets to work with. Depending on how quick the franchise decides to act on its treasure chest of assets could determine if the Pelicans want Miller back. There will be teams that could use Miller’s services as a deep threat, but his inability to contribute much else on the floor will limit his potential playing time on playoff-bound teams.
Teams to watch for: Pelicans, Pacers, Grizzlies, Magic
- As for Randle, he’ll have half the NBA hitting his line the second teams are allowed to contact him. Out of all the upcoming free agents in the BBNBA, Randle is the prize. Not DeMarcus Cousins or Enes Kanter (more on him shortly), but Randle. Once the Pelicans draft Zion Williamson, the front office will have to decide if they want to move forward with two players who play in similar styles. Randle and Williamson are both massive brutes who stand around 6-foot-7 to 6-foot-9 with worrisome outside jumpers. Williamson will likely begin his NBA career playing the same position as Randle – an undersized four who helps bring the ball up the court. After adding in Brandon Ingram from the Lakers, bringing back Randle to mix in with Williamson and Ingram might not be the best idea from a stylistic standpoint.
- He also won’t come cheap. Randle recently declined his $9 million player option for next season in order to become a free agent. He knows he’s worth more and there are plenty of teams that will gladly pay him. But it might not be on a team immediately looking at making a playoff appearance.
Teams to watch for: Knicks, Bulls, Mavericks, Hawks, Celtics, Pelicans, Nets
Nerlens Noel (Oklahoma City Thunder) – 25 years old
- Nerlens Noel wouldn’t even be in this situation had he just accepted the four-year, $70 million deal the Dallas Mavericks offered him in 2017, but here we are not even two years later with an unexciting free agency period ahead for him. Not to be confused with his overall value, though, because Noel will garner attention from plenty of teams. But he had a legitimate shot not that long ago to one day be a max contract type of player. I’m betting the Mavericks are content with Noel’s decision. Noel agreed to a two-year deal last offseason with OKC and currently has a player option this summer listed at the minimum salary of $1.8 million. If he declines that, he can become an unrestricted free agent where he should expect to at least triple that yearly pay.
- Somewhere in the $5 million per year range should be what Noel is looking at. The limited availability of backup big men who can actually make an impact is slim, but Noel fits into that category. Which is why he could be a popular name with teams looking to go at a title – and the Thunder will surely be one of them. He played only 13 minutes per game in OKC last season but stuffed the stat sheet every time he took the court. He’s a guy a team can depend on to make hustle plays and do everything in his power to win.
Teams to watch for: Lakers, Trail Blazers, Spurs, Thunder, Heat
Enes Kanter (Portland Trail Blazers) – 27 years old
- Enes Kanter wasn’t expected to contribute as much as he did in Portland last season. It was mostly circumstantial after Jusuf Nurkic broke his leg before the playoffs, but the Trail Blazers don’t get to the Western Conference Finals without Kanter. That stretch of basketball alone will earn him a deal this summer. After being benched by the Knicks, waived, and picked up the Blazers, Kanter had a career resurrection of sorts. He finally found himself in a winning position, something he had been desperate for, and he thrived. Kanter averaged 11.4 points and 9.7 rebounds during the playoffs while shooting over 51 percent from the field. He did most of this while fasting for Ramadan and playing with a dislocated shoulder, too. There aren’t many players in the NBA as mentally or physically strong as Kanter.
- At 27 years old, teams know what they’ll be getting with the former Kentucky big. His ability to score around the hoop is second-to-none. He’s an outstanding rebounder and an underrated passer. His defense is always going to be a mess and will continue to get him played off the court. As a starter on a playoff team, his status is questionable. As a valuable role player on a playoff team is where his value skyrockets. But after everything he went through last season, would he be willing to play off the bench or for a bad team? Odds are he won’t be able to both win and start. It’ll be a choice of one or the other. Kanter might have the most unpredictable landing spot. The $18 million he earned from the Knicks last season might be the last time he sees that type of money.
Teams to watch for: Jazz, Suns, Rockets, Bucks
Willie Cauley-Stein (Sacramento Kings) – 25 years old
- Willie Cauley-Stein, like Trey Lyles, is set to be a restricted free agent this summer. Meaning the Sacramento Kings – the team that holds his Bird Rights – have priority to sign him before any other team. After a breakout season from the Kings in this past year, the future of this team has been expedited just a bit. Sacramento doesn’t have any of its core players entering free agency this summer, but they need to begin to think about how they’re going to keep De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, and Buddy Hield once that time does arrive. And it’s approaching quickly. Ideally, the Kings would like to keep Cauley-Stein, but only at a value that doesn’t complicate future contracts.
- Sacramento could have a significant amount of cap space depending on what happens with Harrison Barnes’ $25 million player option (I’d bet he opts in) but still might not be willing to commit a large chunk of money on a non-shooting big man. Cauley-Stein is a premier rebounder and solid defender, but a limited offensive player. With Bagley and Harry Giles showing signs of promise in 2019, hope for Cauley-Stein from the front office could be at an all-time low.
Teams to watch for: Kings, Bulls
Jodie Meeks (Toronto Raptors) – 31 years old
- NBA Champion Jodie Meeks averaged only five minutes per game in the playoffs as a member of the Toronto Raptors and failed to register a single minute in the NBA Finals, but we still get to call him NBA Champion Jodie Meeks, so that’s what we’re going to do from now on. The Champ is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer with a small market value. At 31 years old, Meeks is well past his prime. He appeared in only eight regular season games last year (a chunk of that due to a failed drug test leading to suspension) and averaged fewer than 15 minutes per game the year before as a member of the Washington Wizards. He shot only 34.3 percent from deep that season, but his career mark stands at 37.3 percent. If any team does decide to take him on, it’ll be for the league minimum.
Teams to watch for: Raptors, Warriors, Cavaliers, Suns, Kentucky, literally anyone