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Seven top remaining NBA free agents

Kurt Helin runs through his thoughts on the NBA's hierarchy for the 2022-23 season, with the Warriors atop the list and the Clippers regaining their spot among the league's elite.

The pace of NBA free agency has slowed to a crawl, with rosters largely set and teams rounding out the end of their bench or offering Exhibit 10 — training camp — contracts. Of course, huge shakeups of Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving/Donovan Mitchell trades loom, but at this point things are slow enough on that front for us to project ahead to the coming season.

And there are still some rotation-level free agents on the market teams still could add to their mix.

Here are the seven top remaining free agents still available. None of them are true changers, but there are players that will help over the course of 82 and make a team better.

[Note: I have not put the Hornets’ Miles Bridges on this list. He has been charged with felony domestic abuse and child abuse. While he is technically a restricted free agent, no team is going near him — including Charlotte — until his criminal case is resolved, and likely for a long while after that.]

1) Collin Sexton

Despite only playing in just 11 games last season due to a torn meniscus that required surgery, Sexton thought he would get starter-level guard money (at least $18 million a season, likely north of $20 million). Sexton believed the 24.3 points per game he scored for the Cavaliers two seasons ago carried more weight than it proved to with teams (reports he frustrated teammates with his ball-dominant play didn’t help).

The Cavaliers reportedly have made an offer in the three-year, $40 million range, and it’s hard to picture a team coming in far enough over the top of that number that the Cavaliers wouldn’t just match (most teams valued him at about that range). Sexton could play for the qualifying offer — $7.2 million — and become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

2) Dennis Schroder

Point guard is a critical position, and a team will snap up the veteran German before the season starts. He averaged 13.5 points a game last season, beginning the campaign in Boston and getting traded to Houston midseason. Boston gave him too big a role and things looked better without him (and with more Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum), but Schroder can help a team in a backup role. He’s an NBA-level rotation point guard who can pass, shoot the three well enough (34.4% last season), and give a team 20 minutes a night.

3) Montrezl Harrell

He has his own legal troubles to deal with — police found three pounds of marijuana in a car he was driving — but a team will likely sign the former Sixth Man of the Year. Harrell went out and made his case this past weekend, showing up to the Drew League in Los Angeles and dropping 31.

Harrell can help a team over the course of 82 games — he plays hard, set good picks, rolls aggressively to the rim, and can give a team 20 solid big man minutes a night. He averaged 13.1 points and 6.8 rebounds a game last season coming off the bench in Washington and Charlotte. Long a fan favorite because of his hustle, he’s a great innings-eater big man — he helps in the regular season but his defensive struggles mean he fades out of the rotation in the playoffs. Still, there is a place for him.

4)DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, Cousins just wanted the chance to prove he still belonged in the NBA, and he did that with his play in Denver. Cousins steadied the Nuggets’ second units when Nikola Jokic was on the bench and was a solid part of the rotation. Cousins brings depth to a front-line rotation for the regular season at the cost of the veteran minimum. The four-time All-Star should get a chance somewhere.

5) LaMarcus Aldridge

While at age 36 he faded from the Nets rotation toward the end of the season, he still averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game for Brooklyn and proved a solid bench player. He can score in the post or the midrange, and can pass out of those areas and keep the ball moving. For a playoff-bound team looking for a guy who can give them 15 minutes a night along the front line, the seven-time All-Star is a fit. Aldridge is still chasing his first ring and would prefer his age 37 season be with a title contender.

6)Carmelo Anthony

He averaged a solid 13.3 points and 4.2 rebounds a game last season for the train wreck that was the Los Angeles Lakers, accepting a bench role and playing solidly for them. He could do that for another team, providing some bench scoring and a popular locker room player for a team looking to make a deep playoff run. There had been some buzz about the Lakers bringing him back (they have one open roster spot), but Los Angeles likely wants the Russell Westbrook situation resolved before making any more roster decisions.

7)Frank Jackson

A team looking for a solid third point guard should give Jackson a call. He averaged 10.6 points in 22 minutes a game last season for the Pistons, and while Detroit likes him, it is a team focusing on its higher-upside young guards. Jackson lost his 3-point shot last season — it was over 40% two seasons ago and dropped to 30.8% last season — but if he can find it again he brings real value as a third guard who can play on or off the ball. He’s a good locker room guy, works hard on defense and belongs in an NBA rotation.

Honorable mention: Jordan Nwora

The Milwaukee Bucks restricted free agent wing is still out there and no team has tried to poach him. That’s mildly surprising because Nwora is athletic, is switchable defensively, and has a career 37% rate from 3. He’s still a bit of a project and other teams likely felt the Bucks were going to match any reasonable offer, and Nwora is a little raw to be giving him unreasonable offers. Still, the potential is there, and it should be tempting to a team with a good development program. The smart money is he will eventually work out a deal with the Bucks. Nwora played in 62 games for Milwaukee last season, averaging 7.9 points a game.