Marcus Smart — Restricted
Smart is the most polarizing player in all of free agency. He’s an elite defender and offensive rebounder, but an all-time bad outside shooter. Mix in some playmaking chops, and you have a player that NBA pundits are completely torn over.
As a restricted free agent, the Celtics have the chance to match any offer Smart receives. Point guard desperate teams like the Suns could sign him to an offer sheet, but is Smart as your starting point guard worth it at $10-plus million? Probably not, but he’s certainly a guy that can help you win a few games here and there.
— The Bright Side (@BrightSideSun) June 27, 2018
The most lucrative option for Smart would be to take Boston’s qualifying offer. He’ll make around $5 million this year, with another chance to hit the open market when teams have more money in 2019.
From a basketball perspective, Smart needs the Celtics more than they need him. Brad Stevens and Kyrie Irving mitigate his weaknesses, and allow him to be the pest and energizer bunny that he can be.
Best Landing Spot: Boston
Most Likely Landing Spot: Boston
Shabazz Napier — Unrestricted
LeBron’s favorite player from the 2014 Draft is coming off the best season of his career. Napier found a niche both backing up and playing alongside the back court duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The former two-time NCAA Champion shot a career high 37.6-percent from three, was excellent defending point guards, and got better as the season wore on.
Although he’s a natural scorer, Napier fits in best as a back-up point on the offensive end. His energy is best used in spurts, and he could benefit greatly from working alongside another playmaker. Getting minutes next to Giannis in Milwaukee or LeBron in Los Angeles would do wonders for Napier’s efficiency and production.
Napier may have played himself out of those two teams payrolls. The Hornets could be looking for a legitimate replacement for Kemba Walker. Walker’s former UConn buddy could be the remedy in Charlotte.
Best Landing Spot: Milwaukee
Most Likely Landing Spot: Charlotte
Kyle O’Quinn — Unrestricted
O’Quinn has plenty of fans across the league. He’s a skilled big man that can do a little bit of everything. His defensive struggles are well-documented, but by all accounts he’s a great locker room guy that could be highly serviceable as a back-up big man.
It would behoove the 76ers to keep Joel Embiid as fresh as possible. The oft-injured big has dealt with ailments his entire career, and seemed to slow down by the time Philadelphia was cast off from the playoffs by an undermanned Celtics squad. They tried the intriguing Richaun Holmes as the second-team center, but at 6’8″ he has clear limitations. O’Quinn is a legit 6’10”, can pass, and is a better rim protector than anybody on Philly’s roster not named Embiid.
A couple of west coast teams will be vying for O’Quinn’s services as well. The Suns could rid themselves of Tyson Chandler and Alex Len this year, and will need a veteran presence to help develop No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton. The Clippers are guard-heavy, and it’s hard to envision Doc Rivers gleefully splitting the nightly 48 minutes between Gortat and Boban.
Best Landing Spot: Philadelphia
Most Likely Landing Spot: Phoenix or Los Angeles (Clippers)
Luc Mbah a Moute — Unrestricted
Mbah a Moute’s injury down the stretch of last year cannot be understated. The former UCLA Bruin helped tremendously in the way of perimeter defense, off-the-bounce playmaking, and spreading the floor.
An improved shooter, Mbah a Moute should have far more suitors than in his previous foray in free agency. Every team could use a 6’8″ switchable defender that can put the ball on the floor and knock down 37-percent of his threes.
Having said that, the Rockets can’t afford to lose Mbah a Moute. With Trevor Ariza fleeing for Phoenix, Houston has a clear need at the wing spot. Mbah a Moute will come at a cheaper price than the $15 million price tag Phoenix paid for Ariza, and is every bit as good defensively. The Rockets need all hands on deck to have any chance against the juggernaut Warriors next season.
Luc Mbah a Moute is a name to keep an eye on for the #sixers. He’s familiar with the organization, fills a need, and would be affordable.
— Michael K-B (@therealmikekb) July 3, 2018
Best Landing Spot: Houston
Most Likely Landing Spot: Houston
Jabari Parker — Restricted
Parker’s tenure in Milwaukee appears to be over. If the positional clash with Giannis wasn’t enough, the scheme fit with newly signed head coach Mike Budenholzer will be the cherry on top. Coming from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree, Budenholzer will look to move the ball, and spread the floor with as many spot-up shooters as possible around Giannis. This plays counter to Parker’s strengths, rendering the skilled isolation player useless.
Parker’s value around the league is up in the air. He can certainly fill up the stat sheet, but how many teams have enough shots to go around? He’s not quite at the level of being a team’s go-to scorer, but a bench role also seems a bit beneath him.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 2, 2018
Before the Jazz inked Derrick Favors to a deal, the fit in Utah made sense. Parker seems like a natural complementary piece to defensive stalwart Rudy Gobert. A gifted finisher around the basket, Parker would also benefit from playing the pick-and-roll with Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio. It could still work, especially if the Jazz envision Favors in a sixth man role.
Parker’s Chicago ties run deep though. He was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2012 while playing for Simeon High School on the South Side of Chicago (Derrick Rose’s alma mater). The team also lacks a true go-to scorer, and could free up some room if they renounce another RFA from the 2014 draft class — Zach LaVine.
Best Landing Spot: Utah
Most Likely Landing Spot: Chicago
Sources: Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports, Twitter/BrighSideSun, Twitter/Thereakmikekb, Twitter/Schultz_Report