The buzz around the 2021 NBA free agency has died down but that doesn’t mean we’ve run out of contracts. There are still a fair amount of quality players hanging in the balance, uncertain about their immediate future and what franchise it lies with.
So let’s explore what I consider to be the best three free agents left, taking into account their abilities, experience, availability, and cost into account.
In an alternate universe, Dennis Schroder would be at the beginning of a four-year contract worth $84 Million as the Los Angeles Lakers’ starting point guard.
However, he turned that deal down and demanded a nine-figure salary instead, to which the Lakers responded by signing everyone else but Dennis Schroder.
How do you say “you played yourself” in German? Google says it’s “du hast dich selbst gespielt.” Sorry, Dennis.
As a result, Dennis Schroder is still unattached after two weeks into NBA free agency, which is not a fair reflection of his talent. He may have over-priced himself out of Los Angeles but Schroder is still a valuable player, capable of starting for half the league and a backup point guard for the other half.
An unrestricted free agent that averaged 15.4 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.8 rebounds last season should not have this much trouble finding a home. He’s most likely going to take a short deal with a contending team to prop up his value either as a starter or a reliable sixth man.
#Celtics have offered Dennis Schroder a one-year deal – at the taxpayer $5.9M MLE – per league sources. The current hold up for Schroder is twofold: He wants the full MLE – which is $9.5M – and also seeks a second-year player option. Boston doesn’t want to be hard-capped. — Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) August 10, 2021
Word on the streets is the Boston Celtics are in pole position to sign Schroder for a ridiculously low fee as well.
24-year old Lauri Markkanen is still available as a free agent and he’s far from finished contrary to what his nationality suggests. Although a restricted free agent, Markkanen has made known his desire to leave Chicago and the feeling seems mutual.
Bulls restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen tells Finnish journalist @AJ_Sipila he wants out of Chicago: “We have offers from several different teams. I want a fresh start to my NBA career somewhere else.” — Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 6, 2021
The Chicago Bulls are at liberty to match any offers for Markkanen (which at this point wouldn’t be bank-breaking) but they look like they’ll be just fine without him.
The young big is undoubtedly talented, but injuries and inconsistency have made him slightly less attractive to potential suitors. However, he’s definitely going to get signed anytime soon, he’s too good to remain unattached much longer.
Very few players his age can shoot, pass and rebound at Lauri Markkanen‘s level… when he’s in the mood.
Paul Millsap is a 36-year old, 15-year veteran so he may already be on his way to the Lakers but he’s officially still an unrestricted free agent.
Despite being in the twilight of his career, Millsap showed that he still has a lot to offer with his performances in Denver last season.
He averaged nine points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on 47.6% shooting while playing roughly 20 minutes per game for the Nuggets. Millsap’s efficient numbers along with his experience will make him a valuable part of a contending team.
Paul Millsap's Nuggets tenure ends. He brought professionalism, leadership and a defensive mindset to a young and inexperienced locker room when he signed in 2017. He was absolutely instrumental in the Nuggets' rise. Millsap was the right player at the right time for this group. — Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) August 3, 2021
An effective shooting wing who can defend, is desperate for a championship, and is available for cheap, Millsap is Laker material.
In conclusion, all three of these guys will most likely get signed before the season starts, it’s a matter of when not if. There are many other NBA-calibre free agents but I consider these three the best of the available lot in my learned opinion.
Featured Image via Mark J. Terrill/AP Images