NBA training camp starts in about three weeks, and most teams are almost done filling out their 20-man training camp rosters. There are some surprising names, however, who have yet to sign NBA deals, names that have long been fixtures in the league.
Dennis Schroder – G – Houston Rockets
Things haven’t been the same for Dennis Schroder since he turned down a four-year, $84 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, only to have the worst possible sequence of injuries, illness and poor playoff performance. After turning down the bag, Schroder only made the mid-level exception worth $5.9 million from the Boston Celtics last season. But he’s far from a middling player — in fact there were stretches during that season in Los Angeles where Schroder was the toughest, toughest player on the floor. He may not secure anything close to the max anytime soon, but every team can use a backup of his caliber.
Carmelo Anthony – F – Los Angeles Lakers
Melo showed he still has something in the tank, averaging 13.3 points on 44% shooting from the field and 37.5% shooting from downtown last season. But has father time passed him by? Teams are ditching the aging generation of score-first, ask-questions-later players — like Melo, Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas and others — for more well-rounded players who can fit multiple roles off the ball. Will Carmelo Anthony be on an NBA roster in training camp? Despite Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both pushing for the Nets to sign him, the front office opted to go in the direction of a more versatile Markieff Morris.
Eric Bledsoe – G – Los Angeles Clippers
It’s approaching the five-year anniversary of one of the most infamous public trade requests in NBA history: Bledsoe’s tweet — “I don’t want to be here” — coupled with a canned excuse that he was talking about being in the nail salon. The Suns didn’t believe that was true and traded him to the Bucks almost immediately. Bledsoe’s numbers have been on a steady decline since Year 1 in Milwaukee. His Achilles heel has always been suspect shooting from downtown, but Bledsoe is still a serviceable point guard who can shoulder a heavier load if a player is injured.
Hassan Whiteside – C – Utah Jazz
There were moments for the Jazz last season when Rudy Gobert walked off the court and Hassan Whiteside didn’t miss a beat. And there were times when Whiteside got extended playing time that Gobert couldn’t check in quickly enough. Whiteside’s days as a dominant center may be behind him, but he remains one of the league’s top defenders and should at least be on a practice squad roster.
DeMarcus Cousins - C – Denver Nuggets
Like Whiteside, Boogie Cousins has long since moved on from his days as a perennial All-Star. An Achilles injury followed by an ACL injury is tough to bounce back from, even for the best stars. Cousins, however, has reinvented himself as a star in his backup center role. Boogie scored 19 points in 15 minutes against the Golden State Warriors in his final playoff game last season and also had 17 double-digit games during the regular season. It gives you toughness, rebounding, buckets, and some underrated five-point defense. Cousins should be on a roster come training camp.
Jarrett Culver – G/F – Memphis Grizzlies
The Timberwolves selected Culver sixth overall in the 2019 NBA draft, but if you replayed that year’s draft class, he might not even have been a first-round pick. That’s the unfortunate case with Culver – he was probably drafted too high and also hit with a rash of ankle injuries that required season-ending surgery. However, he is only 23 years old with significant defensive upside. Is that move up worth it, though, for a 25% three-point shooter?
Ben McLemore – G – Portland Trail Blazers
Once known solely for flashy dunks, McLemore has been on a multi-year crusade to transform himself into a repairable 3-and-D wing. The three is there – both in volume and efficiency – and the defense has come a long way. In a minimum deal, McLemore offers quite a bit of bang for the buck.
Jordan Nwora – G/F – Milwaukee Bucks
Minutes are few and far between for a championship contender, but Jordan Nwora always seems to make the most of his opportunities. Which begs the question: Why hasn’t another team made an offer to him yet? Nwora could accept Milwaukee’s qualifying offer — a one-year deal that allows him to hit unrestricted free agency next summer — because that appears to be the only deal on the table right now.
Of course, not all notable unsigned players are playing. There are names like Jamal Crawford, who could have something to offer if the right team comes along to bring them out of retirement, but otherwise he’s out of the league. And there are more extreme cases, like that of Miles Bridges, who faces felony domestic violence charges and two counts of child abuse stemming from an incident in late June and appears unlikely to play in the majors again. Rajon Rondo is in a similar situation. The mother of his two children, however, filed for an emergency protective order against Rondo and said she was “extremely afraid” for both her safety and that of her two children, whom she accused him of physically abusing. It’s unclear whether or not a team will sign Rondo to a deal this offseason, even if his skill set fits a team’s needs.