1. David Nwaba
As the most (potentially) expensive player on this list, David Nwaba is, with all due respect to Morgan and Bell, the most tantalizing free agent option.
In the event that David Nwaba opts for a championship contender over a bigger payday this offseason, Brooklyn should wait for their prodigal son with open arms.
Nwaba has played with Brooklyn before. In the 2019-20 season, he averaged 5.2 points, 0.4 assists, and 2.4 rebounds in 20 games. At the time, he was in the final year of his contract and rehabbing an ACL tear, so it made sense to part ways. Now, the Nets might be realizing they made a mistake in letting him go to Houston.
In another lifetime, Nwaba would have been a key piece of a Rockets team that still had James Harden and Mike D’Antoni. Based on last season, he’s playing better than the Rockets can afford and will be sought out by winning teams (ahem, Nets) who desperately need a defensive wing.
As a rugged 6-foot-5 player with a wicked wingspan, Nwaba has been the saving grace of Houston’s defense with the highest defensive rating on the team (108). He’s produced meagerly on offense with nine points, one assist, and one steal in 23 minutes per game, but for a player back from a torn ACL, that’s not bad at all. He only played in 30 games, and at face value it seems his injury hasn’t completely devastated Nwaba’s speed and explosiveness. Keep in mind the Rockets signed Nwaba in the 2019-20 season when he was still recovering from the tear. That’s a feel-good player-stays-with-franchise story in the making: the Rockets had enough faith to sign an injured Nwaba and hope to keep their amicable relationship intact for next season. But is goodwill enough?
Nwaba has all the instincts of an elite and athletic defender who also serves as a threat in transition. But he’s not really a player the franchise can build around. The Rockets might be willing to fork over more money to offensive-minded stars in their quest to return to respectability.
If Nwaba values the maximum minutes more, the 28-year-old might as well stay at Houston. But if he wants even just a taste at a championship, he can come back to the city. The Nets should have Nwaba at the top of their stack this offseason and be ready to return his call.