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NBA free agency 2021: 9 best remaining free agents right now


NBA free agency got off to a furious start from the moment the moratorium window opened on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET. Within minutes, Lonzo Ball was going to the Chicago Bulls, Kyle Lowry was going to the Miami Heat, Mike Conley Jr. was back in Utah, and Chris Paul had up to $120 million more in his bank account.

The second day of free agency didn’t provide nearly as many fireworks, but it did give us Carmelo Anthony to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Bulls’ polarizing sign-and-trade for DeMar DeRozan. The highlights of day three included John Collins’ $125 million extension with the Atlanta Hawks, and the completion of Spencer Dinwiddie’s sign-and-trade to the Washington Wizards. We’re tracking every signing here. It looks like the top free agent, Kawhi Leonard, is re-signing with the Clippers and continues to negotiate a deal, per Chris Haynes.

Who is still available on the free agent market? Glad you asked. Here are the nine best players available in free agency right now. We will update this list as players come off the board.

1. Dennis Schröder

Schröder is probably not having a great time right now after reportedly turning down an $80 million contract extension from the Lakers (he was reportedly seeking $100-$120 million). We know he won’t be back in LA after the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook and added some more depth to their backcourt headlined by Malik Monk and Wayne Ellington.

The rest of the big name point guards are off the board, so Schröder should be next to go. It will be fascinating to see if he takes the most money possible, or a short deal to rehab his value next offseason. The Celtics are reportedly eyeing him.

2. Josh Hart

Hart is another wing in the 3-and-D mold who came over to the Pelicans in the Anthony Davis trade with the Lakers. He was a nice piece next to Zion Williamson in New Orleans, but his shooting fell off a bit with a 32.6 percent mark from deep. Hart tore a ligament in his thumb in April and missed the rest of the season. He is a restricted free agent, so New Orleans could match any deal.

3. Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen initially looked like a cornerstone of the Bulls’ rebuild, but he failed to make meaningful improvements through his first four years in the league. The 7-foot big man finally lived up to his reputation as a shooter last season, making 40.2 percent of his triples from behind the arc on 5.8 attempts per game. He struggles defensively and can’t create his own shot, but a team with a high-level facilitator (Markkanen never played with one in Chicago) might be able to unlock some of the upside once seen in the former No. 7 overall draft pick.

He’s also a restricted free agent, meaning the Bulls have the right to match any deal.

4. Paul Millsap

Millsap turns 37 years old in Feb., but he’s coming off another solid season with the Denver Nuggets. Millsap started 36 games this past year and provided tough interior defense, rebounding, and some floor spacing in his 20 minutes per night. His recent turn into a dependable three-point shooter — he hit 34.3 percent last year, and 43.4 percent the year before — has helped extend his career. He can still a nice bench piece for an aspiring contender or a veteran presence for a young team looking to level up.

5. DeMarcus Cousins

Injuries robbed Cousins of his superstar status in the prime of his career, but he can still play a role as a reserve big man off the bench. Cousins scored in double-figures three times during the Clippers’ trip to the conference finals this past season, and had a few big games with the Houston Rockets earlier this year. He feels like a likely fit on another contender.

6. James Ennis

Ennis has clawed his way to a nice career since being a second round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but he’s yet to find a stable home, already playing for seven NBA teams. Now 31 years old, Ennis is a 6’6 3-and-D wing who hit 43.3 percent of his triples on 104 tries last year for the Magic. He’s one of the few rotational wing options left on the market.

7. Isaiah Hartenstein

Hartenstein is a 7-foot, 250-pound big man who has bounced around the league since being a second round pick by the Rockets in the 2017 draft. He had a run of double-figures scoring performances for the Cavs in April while also providing a bit of rim protection. Still only 23 years old, Hartenstein feels like he has more upside left than most of the other available bigs on the market.

8. Svi Mykhailiuk

Mykhailiuk was a second round pick out of Kansas in the 2018 draft who provides value as a 6’7 wing shooter. While his shooting numbers were down last year — hit had 33.4 percent of his threes on 4.8 attempts per game — he did hit 40.4 percent on 5.1 attempts per game in 2019-2020 with Dtroit in 56 games with 27 starts. He’s still only 24 years old.

9. Garrison Mathews

Mathews went undrafted out of Lipscomb, but turned into a reliable three-point gunner in his second season with the Wizards last year, shooting 38.4 percent on more than three attempts per game from deep. Still only 24 years old, the 6’7 forward can slot into a bench shooter role next season.



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