NBA free agency is only a few days old, but all the major names got a new contract as fast as possible. The weekend wasn't even over before LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George and Chris Paul were all off the market. However, the majority of NBA fans knew their teams had no chance at those stars. What they really care about is improving their own rosters.
About 80 percent of the NBA is projected to be above next season's salary cap, according to RealGM, which means there aren't many realistic competitors for potentially high-priced free agents like LeBron James and DeMarcus Cousins. Basically, unless you're the Lakers, Pacers, Kings, Mavericks, Bulls or Hawks, you've probably got to set your sights a little lower on the totem pole.
With that in mind, we decided to take a look at more affordable alternatives to top-tier free agents. We can't call them "poor man's" versions because nobody playing in the NBA is poor, but how about "poorer man's?"
Now, in no way are we saying that the cheaper alternatives are just as good, but they're similar players who can, in theory, be acquired for a more reasonable price. So if your team signs one of the guys below instead of your favorite free agent target, maybe don't throw your phone across the room just yet.
You can't afford JJ Redick, so how about ...
Redick made $23 million last season. Ellington made $6 million. While Redick is one of the elite shooters in the NBA, don't sleep on Ellington, who is basically the same size and averaged more points per possession coming off screens (1.20) than Redick (1.16) last season. Ellington can't do as much off the dribble as Redick and isn't as capable of a defender, but if you're looking for an affordable sharpshooter, Ellington could be your guy.
Alternatives: Seth Curry
You can't afford Julius Randle, so how about ...
Known as a hustler-rebounder for his first two NBA seasons, Harrell showed an ability to score in bunches last year as a Clippers reserve, averaging a career-high 11.0 points per game. Randle is more refined offensively, but Harrell runs the floor in a similar fashion and is a better rim protector, averaging 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes compared to Randle's 0.7. A restricted free agent, Harrell -- who's only a year older than Randle -- might be attainable at a relatively cheap price if the Clippers don't see him as part of their future plans.
You missed on DeAndre Jordan, so how about ...
The No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 draft has fallen off the radar of most NBA fans since he was dropped from Philly's "Process" and never really got a real shot with the Mavericks due to injuries and seeming disfavor from head coach Rick Carlisle. Noel reportedly turned down a $70 million offer form the Mavs last summer to bet on himself ... needless to say the bet didn't pay off. He'll probably be available for cheap this offseason, and brings a lot of the same things to the table that Jordan does -- rim-running, lob-catching and shot-blocking. It's way too early to give up on Noel as an impact rotation player, given that he finds the right situation.
Alternatives: Amir Johnson,
You missed on Paul George, so how about ...
Obviously Bradley is not Paul George, but he could be a serious bargain for a lucky team this summer. Bradley's value has dropped after an injury-plagued 2017-18 season, but not too long ago he was considered one of the best two-way wings in the NBA. If you need a 3-and-D threat with an emphasis on the defense, Bradley could be the discount version that you're looking for.
Alternative: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
You can't afford Jabari Parker, so how about ...
Parker has all sorts of untapped potential, but Scott has proven that he can do one thing in this league: get buckets. While Parker averaged 18.9 points per 36 minutes last season coming off his second ACL tear, Scott averaged a career-high 17.1 points per 36 in a reserve role for the Wizards. At 6-8, Scott shot 41 percent from deep, and also proved that he can perform under the bright lights, scoring 10.8 points per game and making 7-of-11 3-pointers in a six-game opening-round loss to the Raptors. If you're looking for a four man who can put the ball in the basket, you could do a lot worse than Scott.