There is just over a month left until the start of the new NBA season. In one week, teams will be able to play preseason games outside the United States and training camps will officially begin in two weeks. However, not all teams have yet completed their roster formation and there are still several notable players among the free agents.
Key dates and events:
The NBA has published the current schedule for the 2023/2024 season. What can we expect?
Here is a list of the top six players still available on the market. This status, by the way, does not mean a total lack of demand; many of them probably simply did not accept minimum contracts.
I would like to point out that Kelly Oubre would definitely be included here, but less than a day before the material was published, Adrian Wojnarowski pleased us with the news: the player would sign a one-year contract with Philadelphia. Christian Wood and PJ Washington, the longest remaining free agents, were signed shortly before this.
Statistics in the 2022/2023 season (29 games in Brooklyn, 16 games in Phoenix): 7.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists in 16.4 minutes
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
TJ Warren missed nearly two years recovering from surgery on his left foot. He returned to the court last December, but is nowhere near the level he had before the serious injury. And in the eyes of NBA teams, this, of course, makes the 30-year-old forward a pretty risky acquisition.
In his last full season (2019-2020), Warren averaged 19.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals on 40.3% shooting from behind the arc. And Suns fans will long remember his 53 points against Philadelphia in the bubble.
But given his height, he’s not exactly a very good rebounder or defender, although in Phoenix he showed flashes of both when regularly coming off the bench. That said, Warren can still be useful on offense. He became famous for his ability to make difficult shots, especially from the middle, without at the same time having a great need for the ball. He can certainly provide the new team with a veteran presence on the bench while he plays on a minimum contract.
Statistics in the 2022/2023 season (Phoenix, 48 games): 10.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists in 20.2 minutes
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
On September 11, the 29-year-old defenseman was released from San Antonio, where Phoenix sent him and cash compensation in exchange for a protected second-round pick in 2024. According to inside sources, Payne will now try to sign a contract with a team contender who is ready to give him a bigger role on the court.
Cam spent quite a bit of time on the bench over the previous two seasons, but showed flashes of decent offensive play in the middle, both as a scorer and playmaker. So, in Chris Paul’s absence last November, Payne started 14 straight games, averaging 15.1 points and 7.3 assists on 39.1% from behind the arc.
He’s a fairly average defender, but a versatile offensive player (despite questionable shooting decisions) who can be a threat off the bench or a decent starter in a limited lineup, as well as adding depth at the point guard position. At the same time, Payne is one of those guys who gives energy to his teammates, which definitely creates a more positive atmosphere both on the court and in the locker room.
Statistics in the 2022/2023 season (40 games in Washington, 16 games in Toronto): 6.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists in 17.7 minutes
Photo: Mark Blinch/Getty Images
For more than seven years, Will Barton has been an important part of Denver. But on the eve of the team’s championship season, he was traded to Washington and from there to Toronto. And away from the Nuggets (and, in particular, Nikola Jokic), things are not going well for Barton.
In the 2022/2023 championship, Barton showed the worst field goal percentage of his career (37.9%) and the lowest performance since 2013. Although during his stay in Denver he averaged 14.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game and shot 36.5% from long range.
Part of the reason is that Barton played only 17.7 minutes last year after playing most of the season with Washington, a team that wasn’t the best in the league. But even there there were basketball players who eventually took him out of the rotation. Sounds pretty sad, right?
Will has never been a top-notch defender and doesn’t have a high basketball IQ, but he started 71 games for the Nuggets last season, averaging 15 points, five rebounds and four assists. It’s possible that Barton could still remain in the NBA for another year or two, providing a veteran presence like many others on this list. He will soon train with the Pelicans.
Statistics in the 2022/2023 season (42 games in Orlando, 21 games in Phoenix): 8.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 21.1 minutes
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
In February, Ross agreed to terminate his contract with the Orlando Magic, where he had played since 2017, and moved to Phoenix as a free agent. His contract was valid until the end of the 2022/2023 season, and the Suns did not renew the player.
Throughout his career, the 32-year-old winger has earned the nickname “The Human Torch” for his habit of going up in flames on offense and sending one ball after another into the opposing hoop. But Ross depends a lot on these flashes, because after them, according to tradition, two or three games follow with 2/10 of the game.
Scoring off the bench is probably the only thing Terrence brings to the table. He can make a nice pass from time to time, but nothing more. Ross goes out onto the court to shoot the hoop. He’s athletic, makes open 3-pointers and is a career 36.2% shooter from beyond the arc, and he can stretch the floor. If someone in the NBA suddenly needs a veteran to come off the bench and lead the offense, Ross would be one of the best options available.
Statistics in the 2022/2023 season (Detroit, 56 games): 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists in 17.8 minutes
Photo: Harry How/Getty Images
This summer the contract that Hamidou Diallo signed with the Pistons two years ago came to an end. He was forced to end early both last season and the season before, both times due to injuries. But the 25-year-old winger can still prove his worth in the NBA.
Diallo is a very athletic and energetic player, a good defender and finisher who moves well without the ball. Last season, he was the second-best small forward in the entire league according to RAPTOR’s defensive metrics. On offense, Hamidu “reads” the court well and can capture timely rebounds, but his shooting problems prevent him from becoming a serious candidate for a spot in the rotation of top teams.
With all due respect, Detroit is not the place where Diallo could really shine. He has a rather unconventional style of play: despite the lack of shooting, which can be a real death sentence for a perimeter player, he puts a lot of emphasis on the little things, making the opponent feel his presence in court.
Yes, in five years in the NBA, Hamid hasn’t improved when it comes to three-point shooting. But last season he finished with a field goal percentage of 57.3%, an elite result for his position. And it is surprising that Diallo remains without a team to this day.
Statistics in the 2022/2023 season (Minnesota, 65 games): 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists in 19.3 minutes
Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Nowell spent all four seasons in the NBA playing in Minnesota, which decided not to give him a new contract this summer. There are other young players with a higher ceiling on the team now, but Jaylen remains unemployed.
Nowell lacks defensive skills and is in dire need of a 3-point shot, but his 3-point shot has fluctuated wildly over the course of four years: 11.5%, 33.3%, 39.4% and 28.9%, respectively. The significant drop last season compared to the previous year is the main reason why Nowell remains a free agent.
As a bench player who receives limited minutes, Jaylen can provide offensive value to his team, just as he did for Minnesota last season. But to get back to this level, he desperately needs to improve his long-range shooting situation. And this task is not considered impossible, especially considering that Nowell only turned 24 in July.