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Top-10 remaining NBA free agents: Ideal landing spot for each player

Vincent Frank

NBA free agency is winding down with most of the big-name players off the market. Instead, the trade block continues to make news.

Even then, there’s a number of high-profile players available who could make an impact. That includes Phoenix Suns star restricted free agent Deandre Ayton. He’s joined by other big men such as Dwight Howard and DeMarcus Cousins still on the NBA free-agent market. Below, we look at the ideal landing spot for the 10-best players still available.

Related: Top 2022 NBA free agents

Deandre Ayton, center, Phoenix Suns

nba free agents: deandre ayton
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  • Deandre Ayton stats (2021-22): 17.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 63% shooting, 37% 3-point, 21.9 PER

Even after drafting Jalen Duren and trading for Nerlens Noel, Ayton still remains a perfect fit for Detroit. He’d start at the five with Isaiah Stewart getting play at the four. This would round out a tremendous starting five of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Stewart and Ayton. It would also give the Pistons depth with Cory Joseph, Killian Hayes, Marvin Bagley, Noel and Duren coming off the bench.

Ideal Deandre Ayton landing spot: Detroit Pistons

Collin Sexton, guard, Cleveland Cavaliers

nba free agents; collin sexton
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
  • Collin Sexton stats (2020-21): 25.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.4 APG, 48% shooting, 37% 3-point, 19.5 PER

Sexton’s 2021-22 season was cut short by injury. It couldn’t have come at a worse time with the former lottery pick having performed at a high clip the year prior. It also has Sexton still on the restricted free agent market with limited interest.

Right now, it seems that a sign-and-trade should be in the cards. If so, the Dallas Mavericks make sense as a landing spot. They lost fellow guard Jalen Brunson earlier in NBA free agency and need to give Luka Doncic more help. Perhaps, Dallas offering up someone like Davis Bertans, young wing Josh Green and a protected future first-round pick could get this done.

Ideal Collin Sexton landing spot: Dallas Mavericks

Related: Top 50 NBA players of 2022

Thomas Bryant, center, Washington Wizards

nba free agents: thomas bryant
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
  • Thomas Bryant stats (2021-22): 7.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 52% shooting, 16.6 PER

Having played in a total of 37 games over the past two seasons, Bryant is an obvious injury concern. With that said, he’s still only 24 years old and has proven to be effective when on the floor. That includes averaging 11.0 points and 6.2 rebounds on 59% shooting since the start of the 2018-19 season.

As for a fit, Charlotte needs anther big man to go with Mason Plumlee. It has been linked to Myles Turner in trade talks. With Miles Bridges’ future up in the air, it might make more sense for the Hornets to avoid exhausting the capital to pull off a trade of that ilk while banking on Bryant returning 100% during the 2022-23 NBA season.

Ideal Thomas Bryant landing spot: Charlotte Hornets

DeMarcus Cousins, center, Denver Nuggets

nba free agents: demarcus cousins, denver nuggets
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
  • DeMarcus Cousins stats (2021-22): 9.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 46% shooting, 30% 3-point, 18.2 PER

The defending champs will have to add veterans on minimum deals if they’re going to have the depth to hold up throughout a full season. Golden State lost Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II in free agency.

While adding Donte DiVincenzo out on the perimeter was a good move, more depth inside makes sense. Having already played with Golden State during his NBA career, Cousins would be the perfect fit. He’d come in behind Kevon Looney and act as an insurance policy should James Wiseman’s injury-plagued ways continue.

Ideal DeMarcus Cousins landing spot: Golden State Warriors

Related: Golden State Warriors interested in Kevin Durant trade

Kemba Walker, guard, Detroit Pistons

nba free agents: kemba walker
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
  • Kemba Walker stats (2021-22): 11.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.5APG, 40% shooting, 37% 3-point, 13.9 PER

Following his trade from the New York Knicks to Detroit, this four-time All-Star was bought out. While Walker is a shell of his former self, he could act as a nice bench option for a contending NBA team.

That’s where the Lakers come into play. Even if they are able to flip Russell Westbrook for Kyrie Irving, getting more backcourt depth makes sense. Walker can play both guard spots and would provide veteran leadership.

Ideal Kemba Walker landing spot: Los Angeles Lakers

T.J. Warren forward, Indiana Pacers

NBA: Indiana Pacers at San Antonio Spurs
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  • T.J. Warren stats (2019-20): 19.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 54% shooting, 40% 3-point

Warren, 28, is now looking at a minimum contract in free agency. The former first-round pick of the Phoenix Suns has played in all of four games over the past two seasons. He’s a major injury concern.

What we do know is that Warren showed out in his last extensive playing time in the Orlando Bubble to conclude the 2019-20 NBA season. He averaged 34.3 points in five regular-season games. The dude can score. Now that Minnesota has pulled off the blockbuster trade for Rudy Gobert, it needs more depth. Adding Warren out on the wing to go with the recently-signed Kyle Anderson would be ideal.

Ideal T.J. Warren landing spot: Minnesota Timberwolves

Related: 2022-23 NBA Playoff and championship predictions

Dennis Schroder, guard, Houston Rockets

NBA: Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers
Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
  • Dennis Schroder stats (2021-22): 13.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.6 APG, 43% shooting, 34% 3-point

James Harden can play point in a pinch. But Philadelphia would rather have him in an off-ball situation next to stud young guard Tyrese Maxey. Short of Philadelphia pulling off a blockbuster trade for Kyri Irving, a signing of this ilk could be in the cards.

From 2017-21, Schroder averaged 17.3 points to go with 5.0 rebounds while shooting 44% from the field. He’d give Philadelphia another strong second unit presence to go with the recently acquired De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House.

Ideal Dennis Schroder landing spot: Philadelphia 76ers

Blake Griffin, forward, Brooklyn Nets

NBA: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
  • Blake Griffin stats (2021-22): 6.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 43% shooting, 13.7 PER

To say that Griffin is a shell of his former self would be an understatement. Injuries and age have caught up to the six-time All-Star with regression in each of the past three seasons.

With that said, he can still be an effective veteran off the bench. The big man can knock down the outside shot and still has plus-level passing ability. This is something the Lakers’ second unit is missing in the frontcourt.

Ideal Blake Griffin landing spot: Los Angeles Lakers

Related: Los Angeles Lakers to pull off Kyrie Irving trade?

Serge Ibaka, forward, Milwaukee Bucks

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Oklahoma City Thunder
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
  • Serge Ibaka stats (2021-22): 6.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 50% shooting, 37% 3-point

Another player who has taken a step back recently, Ibaka has been linked to the defending NBA champions. For good reason. The Warriors still need depth at the three and four behind the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Jonathan Kuminga.

Ibaka would provide that in more ways than one, giving the Warriors a ton of shooters on their second unit to go with Jordan Poole, Moses Moody and the aforementioned Donte DiVincenzo.

Ideal Serge Ibaka landing spot: Golden State Warriors

Related: 2022 NBA offseason calendar

Dwight Howard, center, Los Angeles Lakers

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
  • Dwight Howard stats (2021-22): 6.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 61% shooting, 18.2 PER

If the Suns do indeed lose Ayton, they’ll need to find more depth at center. Phoenix just recently acquired a deep bench option in Jock Landale and has veteran journeyman Bismack Biyombo on the roster.

At the very least, Howard would be able to provide 15-20 minutes per game of above-average ball at the five.

Ideal Dwight Howard landing spot: Phoenix Suns