Although NBA free agency is now two weeks old, plenty of viable contributors remain on the market. The protracted decision-making processes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have kept the July pace largely stagnant, with activity opening up only after both resolved their own situations.
Consequently, a few difference-makers are still mulling over their options. With teams' financial situations starting to clarify, these remaining middle-class free agents might cash in as teams look to spend the surplus they saved up for the big fish.
For all the rumors on the best remaining free agents, as well as predictions for their ultimate landing spots, check out the latest developments below.
Two for Stephenson?
Controversial shooting guard Lance Stephenson once seemed like a shoo-in to receive an eight-figure contract. However, following Indiana's season-ending malaise and Stephenson's bizarre antics in the Eastern Conference Finals, it appears that his market is starting to dry up.
Previously, Sean Deveney of SportingNews.com reported that only three teams were seriously considering inking Stephenson:
According to the source, the remaining serious suitors for Stephenson are expected to be Charlotte, Dallas — if and when the Rockets match the Mavs’ offer sheet for Chandler Parsons — and Indiana. Several teams mentioned in connection with Stephenson, including Boston, Chicago and the Lakers, have not been serious in their pursuit, the source said, while others could register late interest.
Though Deveney did mention several teams that could loom as dark horses for the Pacers guard, Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin seemed to confirm that the bidding had narrowed:
Report: Dallas, Charlotte only other serious suitors for Lance Stephenson so far outside Indiana http://t.co/NDx0MXDMgq— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) July 13, 2014
Of course, those reports came before the Houston Rockets decided not to match on Chandler Parsons' three-year, $46 million offer sheet. That move evaporates the Mavericks' cap space, as ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon notes that Dallas can only offer the $2.7 million cap-room exception (as well as minimum contracts). Thus, it appears the Mavs are out of the running for Stephenson.
Houston's decision to not match on Chandler Parsons will have ripple effect to Indy, and Lance Stephenson. Lance was next up on Mavs list.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 13, 2014
Even though he declined Indiana's earlier five-year, $44 million offer, Stephenson appears to have lost money over the second half of the year. Though 23-year-old free agents with as much talent as Stephenson are exceedingly rare, his dubious behavior will likely place a firm cap on whatever Charlotte and Indiana are willing to offer.
Predicted Landing Spot: Charlotte Hornets
Allen Still Deciding
LeBron James' return to Cleveland will have massive ripple effects throughout the league, one of which could affect his former Miami teammate Ray Allen. However, news surrounding Allen has been relatively light because the soon-to-be 39-year-old shooting guard is uncertain whether he wants to play what would be his 19th NBA season:
Heat free agent Ray Allen isn't pressed to choose a team because he isn't certain if he still wants to play or retire, source told Yahoo.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 14, 2014
Allen averaged a career-low 9.6 points per game last season and shot below 40 percent from three-point range for the first time since the 2009-10 season. At this stage, Allen is little more than an offensive rotation piece off the bench.
Still, even with Cleveland's backcourt logjam, Allen would undoubtedly be an invaluable mentor for the likes of Dion Waiters and Andrew Wiggins. And if the Cavs consummate a much-anticipated Kevin Love deal, several of those young pieces would likely be included, thereby opening up playing time for someone like Allen.
The NBA's three-point king will likely command no more than a minimum deal. It's hard to imagine him signing anywhere besides Cleveland; at that price, he still represents a bargain.
Predicted Landing Spot: Cleveland Cavaliers
Miller in Demand?
Another former LeBron sidekick may have considerably more suitors. After playing 82 games for the first time since his rookie season and emerging as an invaluable reserve for the Memphis Grizzlies, the price tag for Mike Miller was steadily rising, per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:
Market price for free agent Mike Miller is rapidly rising, sources tell Yahoo. Memphis. OKC. Denver. Yes, Cleveland. $4-4.5M per year.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
The 34-year-old small forward could be ticketed for Cleveland eventually, but if he demands a salary effectively equivalent to the mid-level exemption, that opens the door for many more suitors. Indeed, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported that a Western Conference sleeper had emerged as the front-runner for Miller's services:
Denver currently the frontrunner to land Mike Miller, source told ESPN. Houston and Cleveland also in mix, but Nuggets offering best deal.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 14, 2014
The Nuggets have been on the periphery of the action thus far, as their biggest move has been trading for shooting guard Arron Afflalo. With $71.2 million in salary commitments for next season already, per ShamSports.com, Denver is not necessarily in a position to outbid other suitors.
Denver could certainly use more wing depth, as promising young prospect Evan Fournier left for Orlando in the Afflalo trade. Considering that Danilo Gallinari missed all of last season recovering from a torn ACL, the Nuggets could be dangerously thin at small forward, with Wilson Chandler looming as the only proven reserve.
The Nuggets have refused to embrace tanking in the post-Carmelo era, and acquiring Miller at above market value would perpetuate that philosophy. Thus, a reunion with LeBron in Cleveland appears far from certain.
Predicted Landing Spot: Denver Nuggets