With 2016 NBA free agency winding down, here’s a look at the five best players remaining on the market.
Halfway through July, the 2016 NBA free agency period is all but settled. Kevin Durant is joining the Golden State Warriors, Al Horford is heading to the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade is, of course, heading to the Chicago Bulls (wait, what?).
Other than LeBron James, who is expected to re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers after bringing them their first championship, the major names have already been taken off the board.
Most of the role players and value plays are gone, leaving us with only the truest bargain bin options remaining.
As the NBA focus shifts to Summer League, deals will trickle through far more slowly. But in the interest of being thorough, here’s a look at the five best remaining free agents and what they bring to the table — excluding King James, since his return to Cleveland is all but assured.
5. Lance Stephenson
The perennial fixer-upper, this notorious bad boy is veering further away from “I think I can change him!” into “This is just an abusive emotional roller coaster and I need to get out now” territory. That being said, the fact that he hasn’t been scooped up yet means he might not be a costly acquisition for the right team.
After the Memphis Grizzlies declined his $9.4 million team option, it felt like a sad moment for the Born Ready era. He had somewhat rebuilt his reputation in the muck of grit-n-grind, averaging 14.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game on .474/.355/.815 shooting splits with the Grizz.
Okay, so maybe that 26-game sample size is small, and maybe it ignores how he quickly flamed out with the Los Angeles Clippers in his 43-game stint there, but at 25 years old, Stephenson still has a lot of basketball left to play in his career.
After matching on Tyler Johnson, the Miami Heat may no longer be a great fit for Born Ready, but teams like the Brooklyn Nets or even his old Indiana Pacers would be wise to at least consider trying to scrape together a manageable deal.