This free agency period will rightly be dominated by stars, but there are few lesser-known players who, given a few more minutes can make a big impact and make their new teams look very smart.
There is a lot of potential in Moore, especially as a shooter off the bench. The 45 percent clip he shot from deep last season probably isn’t sustainable, but even if he’s close he will be very valuable. On defense, Moore is a little too undersized to guard most shooting guards, but his handle is good enough that he might be able to play a little backup point guard and guard opposing one’s. Chicago probably needs him, but he could leave if a team makes a big enough bet on him.
Johnson missed the end of the season with a shoulder injury that allowed Josh Richardson to shine, but Johnson has similar talents. He’s a great shooter and works hard on defense. He is a restricted free agent and the Heat have early bird rights, but Miami may be so focused on getting a star that Johnson falls through the cracks.
Hill is a tweener forward who seemingly fits with almost every roster in the league. He failed to hit jumpers during the regular season, but going 11 for 19 in the playoffs will probably make him a decent chunk of change, especially after teams are forced to move on from the top-tier of combo forwards.
Hill gives a strong effort on defense, though he struggles against bigger forwards and has almost no chance against centers. He can definitely create mismatches on second units and may play a big role in playoff team’s rotation next year.
The Blazers stole Harkless from the Magic last summer for close to nothing and turned him into their combo forward.
He can’t shoot well enough yet to truly own that role, as the Warriors showed by giving him the Tony Allen treatment in the playoffs. But he’s 6-foot-9, with tons of length and athleticism. Oh, and he’s only 23. It may take a huge offer sheet to pry away from the Blazers (something like $12-15 million a year) but Harkless can be an awesome player if he nails down that shot and continues to progress as a defender.
Nicholson might make it two straight years with a former Magic player becoming an interesting player somewhere other than Florida. Orlando declined to offer Nicholson a qualifying offer, making an unrestricted free agent.
The biggest thing making Nicholson intriguing is his three-point shooting. He nearly tripled his number of attempts from deep last season and connected on a more than respectable 26 percent of them, including 42 percent on corner threes. He likely lacks the athleticism to be a great defensive four and is too undersized to play center, but guys who can shoot can potentially improve an offense dramatically.
The Spurs’ hulking big man quickly became an internet sensation last season, but he’s much more than just something to gawk at. He’s a surprisingly skilled big man who can both roll to the rim and finish with a soft touch.
His size makes it harder for him to keep up on defense, but he can do an adequate job of walling off the paint and disrupting shooters with his size. He probably needs at least another season before we know if he can be a starter, but making him a third or fourth big would at least score big points with #NBATwitter.