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10 players who could benefit from expanded NBA rosters

The NBA plans to expand roster capacity to 17 players, including two-way players, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Team rosters previously had a 15-player maximum before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus. The increase in roster spots allows unsigned players more opportunities to latch onto a title contender.

Let’s look at 10 free agents who could ink a deal with a team for the NBA’s reboot beginning in late-July.

DeMarcus Cousins

Four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason, but never suited up for Purple and Gold after tearing his ACL in the summer. The big man was eventually waived in order for the team to open up space to sign Markieff Morris.

Since Cousins was released and not traded by the Lakers, he is eligible to rejoin the team this season. There are already rumors regarding a reunion between Cousins and the Lakers.

J.R. Smith

An integral member of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, including the 2016 title, Smith has not appeared in a game in over a year. Smith played in 11 games for the Cavs last year, before completely quitting on the young, rebuilding team.

A motivated Smith could help a team in need of shooting. The 34-year-old former Sixth Man of the Year is a career 37.3% shooter from three-point land.

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford has remained unsigned all year after spending the 2018-19 campaign with the Phoenix Suns, averaging 7.9 assists and 3.6 assists per contest. Now 40 years old, Crawford has clearly lost a step.  He was always a defensive liability, but his age has made matters worse. However, the three-time Sixth Man of the Year is a professional scorer who gets buckets when called upon.

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas went from finishing fifth in MVP voting in 2017 and leading to the Boston Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals to unemployed.

Thomas played in 30 games for the Washington Wizards this season, before being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, who immediately released the two-time All Star. Thomas averaged 12.2 points and 3.7 assists for Washington, shooting a career-best 41.3% on 3-pointers.

Similar to Crawford, I.T.’s severe defensive deficiencies could make teams hesitant to bring him aboard. Nonetheless, Thomas would be worth taking a chance on due to his scoring abilities.

Gerald Green

Houston native Gerald Green last appeared in an NBA game with the Rockets during the 2019 NBA playoffs. He re-signed with the team in the offseason, but suffered a broken foot in October and has not played all year. The timeline for his injury was estimated at six months, so he should be ready to go. Green was traded in February to the Denver Nuggets, who waived him days later.

Green registered 9.2 points per game on 40% shooting, including 35.4% on 3’s, last season with the Rockets. The year prior, Green scored 12.1 points per contest, nearly a career-high.

The 34-year-old is not a strong defender, but he can hit shots from the outside and can slash to the hoop if necessary. Assuming Green is fully recovered from his foot injury, he will be atop the wish list of many teams.

Tyler Johnson

Inked to a four-year, $50 million deal with the Miami Heat in 2106, Tyler Johnson is now looking for a new NBA home. He was waived in February by the Phoenix Suns, who traded for him in the offseason. Johnson averaged 5.7 points, 1.7 assists and 16 minutes in 31 games (three starts) this season.

At the time of Johnson’s release, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that teams had interest in signing the point guard.

Iman Shumpert

Iman Shumpert suited up in 13 games with the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season before being waived. The 29-year-old guard/forward is still a lockdown defender and can help teams in need of defensive help on the wing.

Trey Burke

Playing backup point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers this season, Trey Burke produced per-game averages of 5.9 points, 2.1 assists in 13.2 minutes.

The 76ers released Burke after 25 games. Any team in a need of a ball-handler should look into adding the 27-year-old.

Allen Crabbe

Allen Crabbe appeared in 37 games this season, 28 with the Atlanta Hawks and then nine for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who traded for the swingman before ultimately cutting him.

Crabbe, 28, is a career 38.7% three-point shooter, although he only shot 30.3% this season. It was just two seasons ago that he posted 13.2 points per night for the Nets during the 2017-18 campaign.

Anthony Tolliver

Anthony Tolliver played for three teams this season, totaling 47 games. Signed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers last offseason, the power forward appeared in 33 games with the club until being traded to the Sacramento Kings. He suited up for the Kings for nine games, before a contract buyout was reached.

Tolliver joined the Memphis Grizzlies on a 10-day contract, playing in five games. Tolliver’s contract expired, so he is free to sign with whichever team of his choosing. However, the forward indicated he was set to sign a second 10-day contract with Memphis before the suspension of the season, so he could stay a member of the Grizzlies after all. Tolliver logged 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest and shot 32.2% from deep over the course of 2019-20.