Best Bargain Buys Still Available in NBA Free Agency
By no means are these guys scrubs. Players such as Brook Lopez, Julius Randle and Derrick Rose all took minimums or mid-level exceptions last summer before turning them into eight-figure contracts now.
The following guys should be available by either mid-level exception ($9.3 million), tax-payer mid-level ($5.7 million) or veteran minimum contract.
All can fill a specific role and should come at a value price.
Tyson Chandler, C, 36
2018-19 Key Stat: 12.3 rebounds per 36 minutes
Tyson Chandler gave the Los Angeles Lakers some good minutes as their backup center following a buyout from the Phoenix Suns last season.
The 18-year-veteran shouldn't be considering retirement just yet, as he averaged 3.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 15.9 minutes per game with the Suns and Lakers while converting 61.6 percent of his shots.
At this stage, Chandler knows what his role is. He can give a contender 10 to 15 minutes per night off the bench while rebounding at a high level, offering some rim protection and setting solid screens. He also brings a championship ring and 75 games of playoff experience in nine total trips to the postseason.
"For me the place I am in my career, I enjoy it all," Chandler said in March, per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. "To be quite honest, of course the losing part is tough. I'm a competitor. But I don't take for granted being in the locker room; I don't take for granted being able to help young players and competing while I'm on the floor."
While signing a vet minimum contract with a contender seems like the most obvious path, Chandler could also bring a veteran presence to a young locker room in search of guidance.
Teams That Should Be Interested: Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics
Seth Curry, SG, 28
2018-19 Key Stat: 45.0 percent three-point shooting
Having now played for six teams in his five-year NBA career, it's time for Seth Curry to find a home.
The 28-year-old shooting guard was a key contributor off the Portland Trail Blazers bench this past season, and he should be getting multiyear offers from teams that need shooting.
While he came into the league as a combo guard, Curry is best utilized as a spot-up three-point shooter. He nailed nearly half (49.7 percent) of his catch-and-shoot threes in 2018-19, utilizing the space created by Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to his advantage. Whatever team signs Curry should also have multiple shot-creators who can get him the ball in his spots, as he was a far better standstill shooter than when pulling up on his own (37.6 percent).
The Lakers are already in pursuit of Curry, per Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
Having netted just $10 million thus far in his career, it's also time for Curry to get paid.
Teams That Should Be Interested: Philadelphia 76ers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors
Kenneth Faried, C, 29
2018-19 Key Stat: 16.2-point, 10.5-rebound double-double average as starting center
Kenneth Faried had a career revival coming to the Houston Rockets from the Brooklyn Nets in January, serving as the team's starting center for over a month while Clint Capela was injured.
In 13 starts, he put up 16.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks and shot 58.8 percent from the floor. His 19.0 points and 12.4 rebounds per 36 minutes were also a career high.
Faried serves a valuable role as a rim-running center, bringing energy on every possession and finishing pick-and-rolls.
"I get to show that I am still capable of starting in this league," he said, per Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle. "I am not a player who is sitting at the end of the bench and doesn't get any minutes. I am not washed up. My mindset was to come in and grind, to play the game that I have been playing forever."
Whether teams view Faried as a full-time starting center or a big-minutes reserve, his time with the Rockets proved he's capable of either role.
Teams That Should Be Interested: Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers
David Nwaba, G/F, 26
2018-19 Key Stat: Plus-7.7 on/off rating
David Nwaba was a Swiss Army knife for the Cleveland Cavaliers defense last season. Some possessions he'd be asked to lock down the opponent's star shooting guard. Others, he would be matched up with the opposing power forward, refusing to be backed down.
On a wretched defensive team overall, Nwaba was perhaps the one bright spot—one that may no longer be back in Cleveland. The Cavs did not make him a qualifying offer, and as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com wrote, "Nwaba, who bypassed an offer from the Indiana Pacers last summer to play in Cleveland, wasn't interested in playing this upcoming year under the $1.9 million qualifying offer and is seeking a multiyear contract."
While Nwaba also stated he wanted to come back to the Cavs, Cleveland is officially in rebuild mode. He should be on a contender's bench, playing smart, physical defense while looking to get to the rim as much as possible on offense.
Although he's not much of a scoring threat (career 7.2 points, 32.6 percent from three), his defense and versatility are enough to keep him on the floor. His sparkling on/off rating of plus-7.7 was nearly identical to that of Kevin Love's (plus-7.8).
Teams That Should Be Interested: Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets
Elfrid Payton, PG, 25
2018-19 Key Stat: 7.6 assists per game
Elfrid Payton was overlooked with all the Anthony Davis trade drama in New Orleans last season, yet he flashed the ability to affect the game on multiple levels when healthy.
Over the final 23 games of the season (all starts), Payton averaged 11.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 9.1 assists and 1.0 steal in 32.1 minutes. While his outside shot needs work (30.2 percent for his career), he has done a nice job of using his size (6'4", 185 lbs) and vision to become one of the NBA's top assist men.
"His basketball IQ is really high," teammate Frank Jackson, per Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com. "He's a very good point guard. He knows where guys are going to be on the floor and makes passes before you even get to the spot. There have been a couple times where I come off a screen, a pindown or a curl and the ball is already there, unexpectedly and in a perfect place."
Payton's five straight triple-doubles in March pulled back the curtain on what he could become, and at just 25 years of age, his development is ongoing.
Teams that need a point guard with some upside should see what kind of money Payton is asking for, as his services could be used by contenders and rebuilders alike.
Teams That Should Be Interested: New York Knicks, Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks