We are getting closer to the 2021 NBA trade deadline, which means teams will soon have to make decisions about the future of their rosters.
That kind of critical thinking surrounding roster construction impacts players around the league. So as front offices continue to look inward and examine if they will be buyers or sellers when the trade market heats up, executives are also thinking about who they plan to re-sign or let walk during the offseason.
As part of our ongoing series at HoopsHype, we are looking at whose free agency stock has gone up – and down – over the last several games.
Statistics accurate as of games before February 25, 2021
Stock up: Jarrett Allen (Cleveland)
The Cleveland Cavaliers sent out Dante Exum, as well as Milwaukee’s first-round pick in 2022 and a future second-round pick, to land 22-year-old big Jarrett Allen earlier this season.
Allen, who was selected by the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, has exploded onto the scene since joining his new team. During his game against the Houston Rockets on Feb. 24, the center had one of the best performances of his career.
He recorded 26 points, connecting on 10 of his 11 field-goal attempts, and he grabbed 18 rebounds during the contest as well. Allen also added four blocks without committing a foul, showing impressive defensive awareness.
Jarrett Allen (26 points, 17 rebounds, 11-11 shooting) is the 8th player in NBA history to reach 25+ points and 15+ rebounds while shooting 100% from the field.
The other 7:
Wilt Chamberlain (7x)
Walt Bellamy pic.twitter.com/EpXOiok2ss
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) February 22, 2021
The big has been one of the most accurate scorers in the league, shooting 8-for-9 on Feb. 19 against the Denver Nuggets and 11-for-11 on Feb. 21 vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Overall, the former Texas Longhorns standout has impressed enough that Cleveland has opted to remove the league’s reigning rebounding champion, Andre Drummond, from the rotation.
He is solidifying himself as a foundational player in the frontcourt for the Cavaliers. When he hits restricted free agency, the organization is surely going to do what they can to secure him as a long-term piece and could be lined up for a contract worth around $90 million.
Stock down: Derrick Rose (New York)
When the New York Knicks traded for 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose, they added a veteran who could set an example for young players like Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett.
Rose has long paired well with Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, but it’s unclear if he makes sense as a long-term piece for the franchise. Shortly after the move, our own Michael Scotto spoke to four NBA scouts about the role Rose would play on Quickley’s development, which you can read here.
The early results have been a mixed bag. The good news is that New York is outscoring opponents by a dominant 15.2 points per 100 possessions during the 116 minutes that the two have played alongside one another.
But the bad news is that Rose has had some rough nights in the process. He was 1-for-10 from the field on Feb. 17 against the Orlando Magic. The guard then followed that up by shooting 1-for-8 on Feb. 21 when facing off against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
New York may have won three of the first four games they played after they landed Rose. However, if his shot continues not to fall, it’s going to be a lot harder to justify re-signing him and taking minutes and attempts away from the young core.
Stock up: Norman Powell (Toronto)
Toronto Raptors wing Norman Powell is averaging a career-best 17.3 points per game this season, but he has been particularly effective of late.
Powell has a player option in his contract this offseason and he can opt-in to receive $11.6 million in 2021-22. However, at the rate he has been playing, it may be in his best interest to strike while the iron is hot and explore the open market to secure a long-term deal with the Raptors or elsewhere.
Norman Powell is going to find himself as one of the top free agents this offseason.
$11.6M player option for 2021/22
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) February 19, 2021
Powell scored 29 points on Feb. 18 against the Milwaukee Bucks and 31 points the next night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was able to connect on a career-best six three-pointers during the win over Minnesota.
But he has done more than just provide help as a scorer for the Raptors. He recorded a career-best six assists on Feb. 23 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 27-year-old wing moved into the starting lineup for the Raptors on Jan. 22 and it has helped the team turn their season around for the better. They are 12-8 (.600) with Powell in the first unit and 4-9 (.307) when he is not.
Those kinds of numbers will make him an incredibly appealing player if he is interested in becoming a free agent.
Stock down: Lou Williams (L.A. Clippers)
Clippers veteran Lou Williams is still an incredibly valuable leader. He is one of the players most respected by his peers because they know he is capable of dropping 30 points on any given night. But this season, thus far, those outings have come a bit less often.
The 34-year-old is averaging 12.3 points per game, which is the lowest scoring rate he has had since 2013-14. The guard has also connected on 0.8 three-pointers per game, which is the fewest he has made since 2007-08.
The Clippers had a tough stretch on their schedule last week, facing the Utah Jazz and the Brooklyn Nets. He was an inefficient 6-for-18 (33.3 percent) on Feb. 17 during an 18-point loss against the Jazz, recording five turnovers in the game. A few days later, Williams was then just 2-for-11 (18.2 percent) from the field on Feb. 21 against the Brooklyn Nets.
Head coach Ty Lue gave Williams the night off on Feb. 23 and 24-year-old Terance Mann perfectly filled the role of a sparkplug scorer off the bench in Williams’ absence. He was 5-for-7 from the field and he connected on both of his three-pointers.
Mann doesn’t provide any of the veteran experience that Williams provides. At this point, he certainly yet doesn’t make the three-time Sixth Man of the Year expendable.
Williams still deserves a solid contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. But at this point in his career, especially after signing Luke Kennard to a lucrative deal, executives in Los Angeles have to seriously consider how much money they can afford to spend on their bench depth.
Stock up: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Dallas)
Hardaway has started the majority of the games he has played for Dallas since he joined the team back in 2019. While he moved out of the starting lineup on Feb. 1, he has thrived since moving into the second unit.
The Mavericks have won six of their last seven games and Hardaway’s sparkplug scoring as a sixth man has helped make a significant difference. Hardaway was 7-for-11 when shooting three-point range on Feb. 22 during a victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
So, uh, Tim Hardaway Jr. has entered the Sixth Man of the Year conversation, right? Right now it's Jordan Clarkson's award to lose, but Hardaway has been excellent since moving to the bench.
— Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) February 23, 2021
Since Jan. 4, he has connected on at least seven three-pointers during three different games. These kinds of performances have helped solidify Hardaway as a potential candidate for NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
When he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason, there will be a lot of interest in the 28-year-old wing, who could provide scoring productivity as a floor spacer alongside Luke Doncic in Dallas or with another franchise.
Stock down: Ben McLemore (Houston)
After firing off a six-game win streak between late January and early February, the Houston Rockets have plummed back to Earth over the last couple of weeks.
Houston has now lost nine games in a row and Ben McLemore, who was a mainstay in their rotation earlier this season and was one of the better players on the Rockets last season, has now seemingly fallen out of favor in the eyes of head coach Stephen Silas.
Ben McLemore seems to have completely fallen out of Silas’ rotation. I remember a time when we all thought we needed McLemore because our shooting was so bad.
Tells you two things about this team:
1. Very deep rotation
2. Silas values defenders and more skilled players
— Aqib Gazi (@Aqib_Rockets) January 31, 2021
McLemore averaged 22.9 minutes per game between Jan. 4 and Jan. 23. But he was held scoreless against the Dallas Mavericks during the game. He has since had six more games in which he failed to connect on a single attempt from the field.
During the last three games that he has played, the three-point specialist has been able to hit just 2 of his 18 three-pointers. Considering that McLemore is someone who historically does not provide much value on the defensive end of the floor, either, it seems highly unlikely that he gets back on the floor any time soon.
Houston is certainly fielding offers from rivals about a potential trade for the 28-year-old wing. While another team may give him another chance and he could re-sign there, it doesn’t look promising for McLemore in free agency this offseason.