July 7, 2019, 11:49 pm
We’re about 10 days into the craziest free agency that I can recall and updates will be sparse from here on out. I’ve ignored some end of the bench signings and at 12,000 words and counting I’m not too worried about that. I’d love to do an overall team grade but we’re building out some serious stuff here at HB and B150 research starts in about a week. #priorities
PLAYER: JABARI PARKER
DEAL: 2 years, $13 million
NOTES: This is an easy deal to pick at because Parker hasn’t distinguished himself at all from better players who got less money this summer, but he’ll get this money because he has a big name that can sell some tickets and also because the Hawks have money to spend. He does, however, fit on a team that should probably take some of the burden off of Trae Young so the sophomore can properly level up, and also because the Hawks are trying to outscore you more than they are trying to stop you. In the end, it’s a smaller deal at a position of need and his 24-28 mpg are money well spent for a team that needs vets.
PLAYER: KEMBA WALKER
DEAL: 4 years, $141 million
NOTES: The Hornets have had a rough offseason and their loss is Boston’s gain, as they have stopped the bleeding a bit and bring in one of the league’s most exciting point guards to fix what Kyrie broke, basically. He’ll mesh better with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown but now the Celtics have to figure out their frontcourt if they want to compete in the East. Given their potential to completely screw up a nice hand, this deal is a massive win for them.
PLAYER: ENES KANTER
DEAL: 2 years, $10 million (player option second season)
NOTES: Kanter gets to play for his next deal and the Celtics get a desperately needed interior scoring and rebounding option. The big man showed very well for the Blazers late last year and throughout the playoffs and is easily worth this number, though the lumbering big market is pretty saturated and soft these days, hence the numbers you see. To address a position of need this cheaply is a nice silver lining for the Celtics on Day 2 of free agency.
PLAYER: DANIEL THEIS
DEAL: 2 years, $10 million
NOTES: All of a sudden the Celtics are short players and Theis gives them some continuity with a hint of versatility, as well. He’s not dead money but there are definitely questions about whether he can be effective in more than 18-22 mpg, so this signing isn’t moving the needle for Boston but it’s probably a good idea.
PLAYER: KEVIN DURANT
DEAL: 4 years, at max or near max
NOTES: It doesn’t matter what the terms are when it comes to Kevin Durant, or about the Achilles injury that will keep him out of next season. The Nets have undergone an amazing transformation after the ill-fated Boston trade, and you can pick apart the KD-Kyrie dynamic all you want, but to be in the vicinity of this deal is a major accomplishment. That they got it done is just a massive win for this franchise.
PLAYER: KYRIE IRVING
DEAL: Four years, $142 million
NOTES: Irving couldn’t handle the leadership role in Boston, bar none, and if he doesn’t get that figured out he’ll go down on a long list of players that had great individual talent but couldn’t plug it into a team setting the right way. He lands with another player who has had those issues, but they’ll cross that bridge two seasons from now. There are few players with his talent level on offense and defensively he has a gear he can find when he wants to, but now we’ll have to see if he can find progress in humility. Regardless, any time you add a player like Irving it’s a good day and especially if you’re the Nets.
PLAYER: DEANDRE JORDAN
DEAL: 4 years, $40 million
NOTES: Jordan’s decline has been precipitous over the last two seasons and he’s now a target on defense in many ways. Offensively, because of decreased athleticism he isn’t putting much vertical pressure on the defense and the progress he made on that end has disappeared along the way. It’s largely believed that he’s getting this deal as a friend of both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Though Jarrett Allen probably isn’t ready for real starter’s minutes, the Nets just complicated things by getting a player who isn’t as good as him, but will be handed minutes. This is where the hidden cost of the Durant-Irving acquisition really starts to show up, as acquiring Jordan shouldn’t really be a priority but here we are. The money isn’t as bad as the years and the intangibles. You take the good with the bad to give yourself a puncher’s chance at an NBA title.
PLAYER: GARRETT TEMPLE
DEAL: 2 years, $10 million
NOTES: Temple’s knee issues have stolen away what was a DPOY type campaign during his first season in Sacramento. Considering the Nets added two of the league’s most complex personalities, having Temple’s calming influence in the locker room is worth the price of this deal alone. If he can contribute in any way on the floor it’s icing on the cake.
PLAYER: WILSON CHANDLER
DEAL: 1 year, veterans minimum
NOTES: You’ll see a lot of talk about Chandler that seems to have forgotten what the last few years have looked like. In Philly he looked overweight and he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. In fairness, he has had a lot of mid-body injuries throughout his career and that’s just hard to come back from when you’re his age (32) and have his mileage (10 seasons). One can’t really argue with the price or the role, but you do hope if you’re a Nets backer to hit on all of these roster fill-ins. To that end, you probably wish you had a bit more live of a wire.
PLAYER: TERRY ROZIER
DEAL: 3 years, $58 million
NOTES: Rozier has always been on the radar as a possible overpay candidate but a muted season amidst the Celtics logjam was supposed to keep the market cool for Scary Terry. Enter the Hornets, who decided not to offer a max deal to Kemba Walker and then did the ol’ gotta have a replacement move. It’s an unenviable position for Rozier to have to fill those shoes, especially at this price, but it looks like he’ll have the car keys and he should put up big numbers.
Whether he can make this work comes down to whether he can settle down, which can sometimes happen when a player gets paid. There are a lot of ways a deal can spin south at this price, and with plenty of similar options at a much lower cost, it’s really hard to justify whatever upside potential there is here.
PLAYER: THADDEUS YOUNG
DEAL: 3 years, $41 million
NOTES: The Bulls need a vet and Young will give them serviceable minutes in the 24-28 mpg range unless they allow him to cut into the minutes of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. Young teams need guys like this so while the money isn’t great, it at least somewhat fits here.
PLAYER: TOMAS SATORANSKY
DEAL: 3 years, $30 million
NOTES: The Bulls have been trying to get out of the Kris Dunn business and they add Sato and top draft pick Coby White to pair next to Zach LaVine. Satoransky makes sense next to LaVine, since he doesn’t want to shoot and that’s all LaVine wants to do. The money is good here for a player that can give you a solid 25 mpg in a bench role and step in when needed as a starter. This and the Thad Young signing are bringing some nice stability to a place where that’s not really customary.
PLAYER: LUKE KORNET
DEAL: 2 years, unknown amount
NOTES: Kornet is coming in close to the minimum for sure, but let’s not let that obscure the bigger story and that’s that the Bulls have made some smart plays this offseason. Sure, none of them are moving the radar, but that they’re not stupid plays is a nice buoy for a struggling franchise.
Kornet combined for 1.5 steals and blocks per game last season in just 17 mpg while hitting 1.5 treys per contest, and those numbers weren’t out of nowhere, either. Expert fantasy leaguers have been monitoring him since two seasons ago and stats aside, it’s clear he isn’t dead money and he has a bunch of upside in today’s NBA as a stretch five.
PLAYER: RYAN ARCIDIACONO
DEAL: 3 years, $9 million
NOTES: Arcidiacono survived in a bigger role than he expected in his rookie season and it wasn’t always pretty, but he earned respect around the league as a solid backup prospect. The Bulls probably spent a bit too much here after drafting Coby White and signing Tomas Satoransky, signaling that they really really want out of the Kris Dunn business. Chicago has had a nice offseason but if they struggle trading Dunn they’ll wish they hadn’t telegraphed their intentions with him, but as far as players and prices go this is a solid signing, nonetheless.
NONE SO FAR
PLAYER: KRISTAPS PORZINGIS
DEAL: 5 years, $158 million
NOTES: No surprise here after the Mavs dealt for him and he’ll be the cornerstone of the franchise for the foreseeable future. Despite the injury, it was a fine risk to take by Dallas.
PLAYER: DWIGHT POWELL
DEAL: 3 years, $33 million (starting in 2020-21)
NOTES: Powell got eye rolls for his last contract but not this time around, as he finally got a bit more chance to spread his wings last season, and ended up being one of the most efficient low-volume 3-point shooters we’ve seen in a while.
His versatility is his calling card and with Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber, the Mavs match up extremely well in today’s NBA on the defensive side, with Powell and Kleber giving you just enough offense to make the trio interesting. At this low rate, it’s a steal for the Mavs and a sign of good management that they both cultivated the asset and secured it before the league caught up.
PLAYER: MAXI KLEBER
DEAL: 4 years, $35 million
NOTES: While Kristaps Porzingis is all sorts of risky and expensive, the players the Mavs are surrounding him with are neither. Kleber might be the most exciting of the bunch if we’re tracking cash-to-value upside, as he can block shots and hit threes while providing an impressive level of defense and athleticism. Along with Dwight Powell and Porzingis these three should give teams hell defensively because of their ability to both cover and switch. When you’re paying so much for the star, to be able to lock up the backups so cheap is textbook.
PLAYER: SETH CURRY
DEAL: 4 years, $32 million
NOTES: Firstly, Curry isn’t here for your niceties about his brother. That chip on his shoulder has powered Curry into this deal, and if you watched him last season and especially in the playoffs you know that he’s dangerous. If you squint hard enough you can actually see some of the dynamic pressure that Steph is known for, with a shooting and playmaking combo that is efficient while making teammates better. Like his brother, he competes on defense. There is some injury risk here but not much risk at all on the basketball side. The Mavs continue to pick up quality players at lower costs.
PLAYER: J.J. BAREA
DEAL: 1 year, veteran minimum
NOTES: The Mavs probably don’t sign him if he has nothing in the tank and because he possesses both corporate knowledge and a unique skillset, he is a logical player to retain for the end of the bench.
PLAYER: DORIAN FINNEY-SMITH
DEAL: 3 years, $12 million
NOTES: The Mavs have given him minutes and now they’ve given him a little bit of payback with the guaranteed money. Rick Carlisle loves him and anytime you can have that at this price you’re doing something right as a team.
PLAYER: BOBAN MARJANOVIC
DEAL: 2 years, $7 million
NOTES: How can Boban play for the Mavs when he was killed by John Wick? Or, did he somehow avoid death and get signed on for John Wick 5: In the Wick of Time? He’s a specialty player and all around great guy so this deal does more than one might think it would. SLOBs and BLOBs can get harder real fast when Boban enters the game to cover the inbounder. If you can’t exploit him he can get a tiny bit dominant in 12 mpg. Having that club in the bag is well worth the money.
PLAYER: DELON WRIGHT
DEAL: 3 years, $29 million
NOTES: Wright has waited his turn and is ready to give significant minutes in what has emerged as a solid Mavs haul this offseason. As a secondary playmaker and defender he’ll profile very well next to Luka Doncic and he has more upside as a shooter than folks give him credit for. With his defense alone he’ll make this deal worth it and we’ll be looking back at this deal 18 months from now and talking about what a steal it was.
PLAYER: JAMAL MURRAY
DEAL: 5 years, $170 million
NOTES: This came at the end of a long, busy and maybe even the biggest day of free agency we’ve ever seen. I’m not quite sure the Internet has fully realized that the Nuggets gave Murray this much money, so soon. Clearly, they’re looking at the roster and view he and Nikola Jokic as mandatory building blocks, but this points more toward fear of a typically chilly free agent market than it does tight, aggressive planning.
Murray will have to trend away from injury magnet, improve his defense and really unlock his overall shooting/playmaking package, which could easily remain elite through the duration of the deal. On the other hand paired with Jokic their lack of athleticism as a duo is also concerning.
I don’t typically defend hedges and especially for franchises that struggle in free agency, but Murray is only 22 years old and has a pretty high floor. He’s not likely to torpedo the Nuggets over this deal, so while the money’s not great and I’m not a fan of markets playing the overpay game, the Nuggets maintain a chance to be contenders in the West. But their margin for doing so just got a little tighter.
PLAYER: DERRICK ROSE
DEAL: 2 years, $15 million
NOTES: The Pistons needed a point guard and getting Rose at this rate is good business. If he doesn’t live up to last year’s surprising level of play, it won’t leave a mark. If he does, he’ll outplay this deal. There were other stronger options in the FA pool but making sure they didn’t come up empty was important.
PLAYER: MARKIEFF MORRIS
DEAL: Estimated 1 year deal, $3.6 million
NOTES: Do the Morrii brothers send Marcus back to his old digs as a joke? You can’t really argue with the price, though we don’t know how Morris is going to bounce back from an injury-plagued season. The other issue is that the frontcourt is already crowded, but you can hear Dwane Casey laughing at that assessment as I type this.
PLAYER: TIM FRAZIER
DEAL: 1 year, $2 million
NOTES: The Pistons do need point guard help and Frazier has made it his thing to bounce around the league and get these kind of jobs. He isn’t dead money out there and that’s really all you’re looking for here if you’re the Pistons and don’t want to pull the trigger on something bigger.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
PLAYER: KLAY THOMPSON
DEAL: 5 years, $190 million
NOTES: Klay was on his way to a Finals MVP if he had stayed healthy and the Warriors had beaten the Raptors. The way he and Kawhi Leonard battled was some of the highest-level basketball that I’ve ever seen. This was a no-brainer move for the Warriors regardless of the injury.
PLAYER: D’ANGELO RUSSELL
DEAL: 4 years, $117 million
NOTES: This was the stunner of the night and as of Sunday night the strategies and motives aren’t too clear, but Russell lands in San Francisco with Andre Iguodala heading to Memphis to make the numbers work. Do the Warriors view this as a long-term fit? If they do it’s a pure talent play and nothing more, as nothing about Russell’s game screams Warriors offense.
Defensively, he and Steph probably aren’t a great look in high leverage situations.
As for Russell in a vacuum, his half-season of big shots show upside potential but one has to use a Men in Black pen to forget about his entire career of boneheaded play. This is a big bet and the only thing that makes it somewhat palatable is that he’ll be a legit high-end shooter for the rest of his career. It feels like there should be another shoe to drop here but I’m gonna rate the deal as if they’re trying to win with it.
Update: It sounds like that next shoe will drop (a trade) sometime either this summer or within the year, so this deal becomes less important to the Warriors and becomes more about extracting assets. I’m going to grade it as such until we learn more.
PLAYER: KEVON LOONEY
DEAL: 3 years, $15 million
NOTES: Looney won folks over during the playoffs by playing through serious injury and holding up defensively in the process against Kawhi Leonard and Co. He has been consistently good at doing what he’s asked to do and with this deal, he’ll continue to be a great value for them going forward.
PLAYER: WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN
DEAL: 1 year, slightly above minimum
NOTES: Cauley-Stein is as enigmatic as any player in the NBA. Entering the league he was billed as a rim-running, defensive superstar and he has morphed into an offensively-driven player that struggles rebounding and on defense. And while his offensive development has been praiseworthy, the shift taps into the thing about Cauley-Stein that frustrated coaches, fans and Kings management the most, which is that Cauley-Stein very much marches to the beat of his own drum.
Some of that is a good thing and some of it is a bad thing. You want players to be curious and not pigeon-hole themselves, but Cauley-Stein’s push to become a viable offensive threat has cut against the grain throughout his time in Sacramento.
This summer it cost him a reasonable contract.
The offense just isn’t consistent or threatening enough to justify the soft play and lapses, not to mention that negative energy it puts on the basketball court.
The question now is what he looks like with the Warriors and I have a feeling it’s going to look pretty good. Cauley-Stein has skills in the short roll and with quick, decisive forays to the hoop. He’ll put vertical pressure on defenses and his role should be very defined playing next to superstars. The game will be simplified for him. He’s going to learn a ton. And he’ll be asked to rebound and play defense as a prerequisite for the minutes he is getting, whereas in Sacramento they didn’t have the fortitude or the horses to pull him off the court for bad play.
Especially if he takes the situation personally or otherwise comes to camp in great shape — and even if he just shows up as he normally would — the Warriors did extremely well here to fill the roster with some depth that can physically contribute in high leverage situations.
PLAYER: GLENN ROBINSON III
DEAL: 2 years, money unknown, player option second season
NOTES: Robinson lost all of his momentum in Detroit with injuries and poor play but go back a few years and folks were moderately excited about his future as a rotation guy. The Warriors can use warm bodies at this point and they can also use serviceable wings, so Robinson is an interesting bet for them to make. If he can turn the page and step back into some of that upside, they’ve done pretty well here, and if not then they’ll regret not recruiting a safer play. With Klay Thompson’s injury in play next season, it’s possible they feel the need to gamble more and especially at this position.
PLAYER: ALEC BURKS
DEAL: 1 year, unknown
NOTES: The Thunder let Burks out of their deal with him once their direction changed and the Warriors end out digging up a nice find for a team needing pop off the bench, and especially on the wing. The fact that he’s a credible offensive threat is good enough to be an improvement over some of the options they’ve been trotting out in recent years.
PLAYER: AUSTIN RIVERS
DEAL: 2 years, veteran minimum, player option in second season
NOTES: Rivers isn’t worried about money and he wants to play in big games so he’s taking less to stick around in Houston. A common target both inside and outside of the league for jokes, Rivers has grown up at least a little bit and his game has matured at the very least. His shot selection has been pretty good playing next to James Harden and Chris Paul, all while maintaining an impressive level of confidence and aggression. If he’s your backup point guard he’s one of the best in the league and for a Rockets squad that needs players in the worst way, this is the best news they could get.
PLAYER: DANUEL HOUSE
DEAL: 3 years, $11 million
NOTES: The Rockets need warm bodies with their cap situation and House is basically that. He had some decent moments last season but his athleticism really took a dip toward the end of the year. There might have been better targets in the low-end market, but securing one of your own has its advantages.
PLAYER: GERALD GREEN
DEAL: One year, money unknown
NOTES: As noted, the Rockets just need to keep their players at this point and Green gives them a known quantity to turn to for 3-point shooting.
PLAYER: MALCOLM BROGDON
DEAL: 4 years, $85 million
NOTES: Brogdon ended up turning into one of the belles of the free agency ball and he’s now ‘properly rated,’ though you’ll hear plenty about him being underrated on broadcasts for a year or two. This is a lot of money for a player that has largely escaped the radar, but don’t mistake that for him not being worth it. Brogdon can play both guard positions very well and gives the Pacers a safer hedge against the risk presented by Victor Oladipo’s injury situation. Because his game is so fundamental, and a very known commodity, this is the type of aggressive, but necessary play smart front offices have to make.
PLAYER: JEREMY LAMB
DEAL: 3 years, $31.5 million
NOTES: This is one of the most solid deals of free agency, not because it’s going to tilt the balance of power or anything like that, but because it’s just so obviously good. Lamb is more than proven as an adequate scorer and he’s a plus rebounder, with great length to offset a limited instinct on defense so far. At worst, he plays up to the value of this deal and if the organizational shift helps him — Charlotte never seemed to be all-in — then there is a nice amount of upside packed in here at the price.
PLAYER: EDMOND SUMNER
DEAL: 3 years, $6.5 million (third year not guaranteed)
NOTES: Sumner gets some guaranteed money and the Pacers get a steal on a player with nice upside, especially defensively. They were very high on him last year, too, giving him enough minutes to show that he belongs (and he does). This is the type of signing that good front offices make.
PLAYER: T.J. MCCONNELL
DEAL: 2 years, $7 million, team option second season
NOTES: I’ve always felt that McConnell gets hit with a sort of reverse backlash on the obnoxious ‘gritty high IQ’ thing. With so much of that flying around it’s easy to get annoyed with what appears to be overrating while doing some underrating to compensate. The reality is that McConnell can play and he can hold down a 20 mpg role for any team no problem. The only problem with this deal is that the Pacers have crowded their backcourt rotation and that’s always a recipe for bad things to happen. Locking down a player that can fit in and handle backup minutes at this price gets a good grade, regardless.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
PLAYER: PATRICK BEVERLEY
DEAL: 3 years, $40 million
NOTES: The Clippers were still pursuing Kawhi Leonard on Sunday night when this deal was announced, but after so many free agents went off the board they probably felt they had enough variables figured out to pull the trigger here. What that says about getting Kawhi is anybody’s guess, but probably not great, and rumors were percolating from guys like Chris Broussard that the Lakers were pulling into the lead. Take that for whatever it’s worth. Beverley deserves this kind of money even if he’s an injury risk, as championship contenders need to have the dynamic he brings.
PLAYER: RODNEY MCGRUDER
DEAL: 3 years, $15 million
NOTES: The Clippers did well to retain McGruder by acquiring him via waivers into a trade exception they had lying around, which allowed them to hold the rights to his restricted free agency. They made him a qualifying offer and ultimately a deal that they knew he’d sign before money dried up around the league, made possible by teams not wanting to get tied up on a lower-end RFA. In McGruder they get a success story of the Heat culture and a real contributor for that team throughout the past two years. That he was able to fight his way into playing time on a team with so much rotational depth speaks to his skill level, and at this price it’s a very good deal even if folks probably want to peg McGruder as a minimum guy. He’s just not.
PLAYER: MOE HARKLESS (TRADE)
DEAL: 1 year remaining, $11 million
NOTES: The Clippers get a first round pick from Miami for jumping into the Jimmy Butler-Sixers-Heat trade math. Sure, there wasn’t a huge market for Harkless at $11 million as he has struggled with knee issues and consistency issues throughout an otherwise nice career arc in Portland, but he showed in the playoffs that he can compete at a pretty high level. If you’re trying to pitch overall team talent and there aren’t angles on other players, you could do worse than adding Harkless here. This might not look great on paper because of the money, but it’s the kind of opportunistic play that you want to see your front office make.
PLAYER: JAMYCHAL GREEN
DEAL: 2 years, $10 million
NOTES: The Clippers obviously have a few things cooking in the backcourt and on the wing but it’s the frontcourt where they’re going to be tested and with the cap math what it is, keeping a guy like Green for this price is about as good as it gets for Ballmer and Co. Green hasn’t been able to stay healthy and he hasn’t broken down any doors when given the opportunity in this league, but he’s also in his prime and might have another rung up the ladder to go in him. Even if he doesn’t, he’s giving you credible minutes for at least 20 mpg if not more.
PLAYER: IVICA ZUBAC
DEAL: 4 years, $28 million
NOTES: Zubac was handed away by the Lakers and immediately that looked dumb as he put together semi-serviceable 15-20 mpg outings down the stretch for the Clippers. If he can really cash in on his potential, the Clippers are looking at a big that can get them 20-24 mpg in high leverage situations. Even if he falls short of that he can plow through regular season minutes at a cheaper rate. I’m not a huge fan of the money and duration of the deal in aggregate, but if you’re going to commit to that long you might as well get the discount, and when you’re looking for cheap ways to add talent now that you have two massive contracts in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George — this cap friendly deal grades out well.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
PLAYER: ALEX CARUSO
DEAL: 2 years, $5.5 million
NOTES: Back when he was terrorizing Summer Leagues it was clear that Caruso was going to make it to the NBA at some point. Offensively, he has plenty of what it takes to be a nice contributor in the Association. Defensively is where I have question marks about holding up in a 20-plus mpg role over the long haul. But if you’re fine with giving up a little bit on that end to grease the wheels for your offense, and especially at this price, I’d rather spend my money on Caruso than a number of players in this situation.
PLAYER: DEMARCUS COUSINS
DEAL: 1 year, $3.5 million
NOTES: Cousins’ story is well-known right now. The injury sapped an already questionable athletic package and all of the bad habits that he has gotten away with made him unplayable for a lot of the time. Somewhere in there, though, was a realization of his NBA mortality — I believe — and I thought I saw some good things in his play in the playoffs for the Warriors. Namely, in the midst of getting embarrassed he held on to the rope and made some plays when he was seriously outclassed by the action on the floor. In fairness, he was returning at the end of the year after a major injury. I thought I saw more humility than I’ve seen in the past, and being around the Warriors definitely had its benefits.
Unfortunately he’s heading to the Lakers, Rajon Rondo, instability and the things he needs — discipline, efficiency and some polish on his post game — those will be a lost priority somewhere between handling LeBron’s aging and gravitational style of play, an expected coup on the sidelines and whatever happens when things don’t end up working out. It’s a good deal for the player he became during the playoffs in Golden State, and even if it doesn’t work out on the floor he’ll be a good teammate in the locker room while things are blowing up. The odds would be better on a good outcome in just about any other place.
PLAYER: RAJON RONDO
DEAL: 2 years, unknown
NOTES: The deal won’t be for much but this is a classic situation of players thinking more highly of Rondo than any rational analyst. It’s been the better part of a decade since he has been any good, outside of a few fluky playoff moments that were instantly overrated by people that think assist and rebound hunting is cool. Outside of LeBron the Lakers have a who’s who of folks that will defer to him, including Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and basically that just empowers the all-encompassing, draining and ultimately misguided brand of ball that Rondo plays. Add in whatever you want to call the coaching and organizational drama and this has shit show written all over it.
PLAYER: AVERY BRADLEY
DEAL: 2 years, $9.7 million
NOTES: Bradley represents everything that a superstar-driven franchise wants when chasing a title. Name value (eye roll) and willingness to defend top the list and that he can shoot a little bit from three all blend into something that LeBron and Co. want to work with. Could the Lakers have done better here? Sure, but once you decide you’re going all in with LeBron and Co. the most important thing is getting somebody that they want to play with, and by all measures Bradley is a fine target in that regard. At this price, it’s hard to argue that he can’t fill 20-25 mpg effectively.
PLAYER: QUINN COOK
DEAL: 2 years, $6 million
NOTES: Cook performed in some big-time playoff minutes, within reason of course, but that’s a threshold that isn’t easily crossed and it’s exactly what you want out of your backup role players. Unfortunately, Cook lands in a place where his skills won’t be appreciated the way they would elsewhere. He’ll have to deal with Rajon Rondo’s presence, let alone better players like Alex Caruso and Avery Bradley, and barring an injury or two he probably won’t see the court much. This deal doesn’t make sense for either party.
PLAYER: TROY DANIELS
DEAL: 1 year, $2.1 million
NOTES: The Lakers need minimum players and Daniels fits the bill, with one bankable skill (shooting) and not much more to go on.
PLAYER: JARED DUDLEY
DEAL: 1 year, $2.6 million
NOTES: That Dudley got into Ben Simmons’ head in the playoffs says more about Simmons than it does about Dudley, at least in terms of where Dudley is at in his career. He can talk the talk and everybody knows how good he is in the locker room, which is how he has stuck in the league this long. Going to L.A. to play with stars is a great way to maximize Dudley’s ability to hit a few shots, stand in the right places and win on the details — but let’s be clear — if he’s on the floor and the other team isn’t exploiting it, it is 100 percent entirely their fault. Altogether, it’s a good deal even if Dudley doesn’t touch the floor.
PLAYER: JONAS VALANCIUNAS
DEAL: 3 years, $45 million
NOTES: You already know everything you need to know about JV. He’s going to be exposed in high leverage situations (i.e. playoffs) because of his lack of footspeed, but everything else he does he does it well and you know exactly what you’re getting out of him. Typically even in today’s smallish NBA, big bigs end up getting taxed heavily in the marketplace. That’s been dialed back a bit but even so this is a very good deal for a Memphis franchise that will struggle to attract players.
PLAYER: JIMMY BUTLER
DEAL: 4 years, $142 million
NOTES: People started to pile on Butler after the Minnesota fiasco and the early results in Philly weren’t great, either. But then he and the team settled in and by the time the playoffs rolled around Butler was back to hitting big shots and generally being an alpha along with Joel Embiid. The Sixers don’t ever have appeared to be in the plans, though, and it sure sounds like the Heat were always on his radar. It really is a nice match as the Heat have needed somebody with exactly the type of moxie that Butler brings, and that’s the kind of role Butler is still looking for at this stage of his career.
PLAYER: MEYERS LEONARD (TRADE)
DEAL: 1 year remaining, $11 million
NOTES: Leonard shows up in Miami after the Heat gave up a first round pick (and got rid of Hassan Whiteside) to get the cap space necessary for the Jimmy Butler deal. How high Miami is on him remains to be seen but they probably view him as a better player for their team than Whiteside was, so the juice was definitely worth the squeeze for them. He’ll give 10-20 mpg in a backup role and isn’t a lock for a rotation spot, but given his shooting ability he’s not dead money for them. The Heat have been looking for a true No. 1 player like Butler for a while so that alone justifies this deal.
PLAYER: KHRIS MIDDLETON
DEAL: 5 years, $178 million
NOTES: What a payday for Middleton, who entered the league without fanfare and worked his way into one of the more consistent shooter/playmakers in the league. He actually dipped a bit during the regular season as he struggled to fit into Mike Budenholzer’s new role for him, but showed his value in the playoffs with some very important and effective play against Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors. Players with his size, skill and shooting at the 2-3 slot don’t come around very often. With Giannis around and playing for championships, making sure he had a high-level teammate with Bird rights was a no-brainer.
PLAYER: BROOK LOPEZ
DEAL: 4 years, $52 million
NOTES: Ranked as my No. 1 center in the Cash-to-Value ranks, Lopez inks a team-friendly deal here, giving the Bucks a weapon that can go nuclear for stretches. His 3-point shot is virtually impossible to block when he gets airspace and he has a comfortable stroke from 4-5 feet behind the line. That’s some serious stretch from your five and physically, he moves his feet well enough to not be DOA when caught in pick-and-rolls. There will be some matchups that just aren’t good for him, but at $13 million AAV who cares. Sticking a move like this goes a long way toward keeping the type of team that a superstar like Giannis will want to stick around for.
PLAYER: GEORGE HILL
DEAL: 3 years, $29 million
NOTES: Hill was reportedly on his way out until he wasn’t and the Bucks retain him at an affordable rate, which is nice since he showed he had a pulse in the playoffs and if that is the case, his length and athleticism make the Bucks tough fast. That’s the key question though as he has faded for most of the past three seasons seasons, and though this isn’t big money it’s enough money to impact the Bucks’ report card in handling a superstar like Giannis. In other words, they have to win at a high level and they’re already running into cap pressure, so they can’t afford to make mistakes.
PLAYER: ROBIN LOPEZ
DEAL: 2 years, room exception, player option for second season
NOTES: Writers will universally proclaim their excitement over the Lopez twins being united in Milwaukee of all places, where Giannis is also a beloved figure so watch out Planet Earth’s favorite team is going to get so much love that everybody eventually hates them. It’s the circle of life. Lopez is pretty duplicative here but he is also a quality player for the end of a bench. I’m gonna get sort of harsh with this grade because there is so much attention on how the Bucks perform for Giannis. Using limited resources on duplicative players just isn’t a good look.
PLAYER: WESLEY MATTHEWS
DEAL: 1 year, veteran’s minimum
NOTES: Matthews wants a chip and he’s going to go for less than market value for a shot at it. Playing well in some high leverage games will give him better contract odds anyway, so it’s smarter for him to bet on himself than lock in a bad deal right now. He’ll give the Bucks experience off the bench but his game has deteriorated pretty badly since the Achilles injury. This is what veteran deals for contenders are made of, though, clearly benefiting both sides.
PLAYER: JAKE LAYMAN
DEAL: 3 years, $11.5 million
NOTES: Layman is truly a Summer League wonder, rising high for dunks well before he was a rotational guy for the Blazers and showing off a serviceable 3-point stroke at the same time. Physically and athleticism-wise, one finds themselves wondering why he doesn’t play more, and the answer to that is because he lacks in all the other areas of the game — but he’s improving. Last year’s run as a consistent rotational player for the Blazers showed a player that deserves more minutes and he’s going to get them in Minnesota. He’s not going to break down any doors with his play but when you’re getting a guy that can be good in 20-plus minutes per game, with some upside beyond that, you’ve done well.
PLAYER: JORDAN BELL
DEAL: 1 year, $1.6 million
NOTES: Bell’s trajectory has taken a major hit and it’s fair to wonder how seriously he has taken his game since exploding on the scene as a rookie. He looked lethargic at times and mentally he was exposed throughout the season and playoffs, with Steve Kerr not wanting to play him for long stretches throughout the year. If he can get whatever is holding him back figured out, there’s upside, and at this price you can’t argue with it if you’re the Wolves.
PLAYER: NOAH VONLEH
DEAL: 1 year, $2 million
NOTES: There is Vonleh fatigue in the marketplace and it’s a tiny bit surprising after his best season in the Association. He developed better range and became more of a basketball player and less of just an athlete playing basketball. It still hasn’t translated into anything bankable and the Knicks did a good job of obscuring how good his season was. The Wolves did a good job here to pick the right player off the top of the scrap heap.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
PLAYER: J.J. REDICK
DEAL: 2 years, $26.5 million
NOTES: This is the first David Griffin move that caught my eye as *not* a no-brainer. Redick can shoot and everybody loves that but he has looked dangerously close to losing the proverbial step. He has already turned to an arsenal of kamikaze moves that are predicated on full commitment by the offensive player, and in doing that he can continue to get his shot off (and make it for the most part). That’s always the tell-tale sign of a player on their last rung, though, so while we have no concern about his ability to drain open shots it’s the cash-to-value situation that stands out here the most. The Pelicans are also going to be a little bit crowded with Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday and Josh Hart also in the backcourt, so spending this money just to lock down a shooter/vet isn’t going to win any awards.
PLAYER: DERRICK FAVORS
DEAL: Traded from Jazz for two second round picks (2021, 2023, GSW)
NOTES: The Pelicans continue to add assets and getting Favors on the board to nail down their top big ‘big’ is another one of those good moves. We’ll have to see if the Pelicans rework his deal and at what terms.
PLAYER: DARIUS MILLER
DEAL: 2 years, $14.5 million
NOTES: This is a bit more than I expected to see him signed for but it’s reflective of his ability to shoot the three and the quality minutes he has given as an under the radar contributor. The Pelicans are definitely cooking with gas here as they know how they can fit him under the cap and he’ll basically step into a very good situation with all the new players they have.
PLAYER: NICOLO MELLI
DEAL: 2 year, $8 million
NOTES: The 28-year-old Italian played for Turkey’s Fenerbahce last season, shooting 38.5 percent from deep and leading the team in scoring during the EuroLeague Finals. It’s a nice, low-cost gamble for the Pelicans, who will be looking for a stretch four with Darius Miller potentially headed elsewhere.*
*I stole all of this analysis from our editor Mike Passador
NEW YORK KNICKS
PLAYER: JULIUS RANDLE
DEAL: 3 years, $63 million
NOTES: You can’t fault Randle for taking the money and he’ll get a bunch of opportunity to line up his next deal while he’s at it. As it stands, the Knicks will be bad and Randle’s frenetic style might not be the best complement to Kevin Knox and R.J. Barrett, and there will be plenty of bad shots to go around. Still, nobody wants the Knicks’ money under James Dolan so you might as well spend it on a player with upside while you perpetually tank. And since that bar isn’t getting raised anytime soon, this deal works just fine, even if they also added Taj Gibson in a culture play.
Update: That or Dolan is just reading names on a piece of paper. The Knicks were already pushing it by creating a logjam with Randle and Gibson. Now they’ve added Bobby Portis. I’m keeping the Randle grade the same but dinging them on Portis and Gibson’s grades. Classic Knicks.
PLAYER: TAJ GIBSON
DEAL: 2 years, $20 million
NOTES: Gibson doesn’t have much left in the tank and sure, he can be a good veteran to have around a young team. The problem is that David Fizdale didn’t do anything to inspire confidence in managing rotations last season, and now he just added three power forwards to this squad and two of them in Julius Randle and Bobby Portis have no problem getting up bad shots. It’s a mess and this is a bit much to pay somebody to babysit.
PLAYER: BOBBY PORTIS
DEAL: 2 years, $31 million
NOTES: Portis is such an obvious example of a player that would get overpaid in free agency. He hasn’t been consistent or shown sustained upside, but he’s young enough and has had enough notoriety and sporadic success to get a nice bag. Also, he is attainable and that brings out multiple suitors and that’s a bat signal for the Knicks, who are desperately trying to show something, anything to a beleaguered fan base and the proverbial audience of one.
To be clear, Portis at this rate isn’t indefensible. If he plays at his current level he’s not crippling a team with this deal. What is indefensible out is the logjam of players they’re turning over to David Fizdale, who didn’t have a good year managing minutes — whether he was fumbling along on his own accord or at the discretion of way too many cooks in the kitchen.
Given that the deal appears to have been agreed upon after the Taj Gibson and Julius Randle deals, this makes it pretty damn dumb.
PLAYER: REGGIE BULLOCK
DEAL: 2 years, $21 million
NOTES: Bullock didn’t have the greatest run after being traded to the Lakers, which isn’t the kind of thing folks should overvalue given the laundry list of issues he stepped into, and for that reason he looked like he might be an even bigger bargain than this. The Knicks zeroed in on him pretty intently and given their bunch of similarly sized players, who are also similarly effective, this is a hard one to grade. Bullock is worth this money as a rock solid 3-point shooter with nice defensive chops, but the Knicks could totally screw this up and it’s an odd arrangement nonetheless. I’m gonna cut them a tiny bit of slack because of the nice Cash-to-Value rank.
PLAYER: WAYNE ELLINGTON
DEAL: 2 years, $16 million
NOTES: Like some of the other Knicks deals the money isn’t bad one just has to wonder what they’re going to do with all these players. Coaches that play everybody 24 mpg don’t really exist because they quickly advance to playing guys different minutes every night and then that pisses everybody off and things typically implode. For what it’s worth they’re not quite as packed in the backcourt as they are in the frontcourt.
PLAYER: ELFRID PAYTON
DEAL: 2 years, $16 million
NOTES: The Knicks probably needed somebody to compete with and/or backup Dennis Smith Jr. and Payton is a fine selection as a backup, but as mentioned it’s just morphing into a potential disaster with David Fizdale yanking everybody’s minutes around. The money is probably a tiny bit rich unless you think you’re the team that’s going to turn it around.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
PLAYER: MIKE MUSCALA
DEAL: Terms unknown as of late Sunday
NOTES: Muscala can be a quality backup in this league and if you were theoretically getting rid of Steven Adams, who has seen some smoke clear over the last 24-48 hours, then Musky might have a shot at filling 24-26 mpg without getting brutalized every night. It’s doubtful that he got some monster deal, so this probably ends up being a decent pickup.
PLAYER: NERLENS NOEL
NOTES: This deal was on and then it was off and then it was on again. Noel did great last year in 15 mpg role, flying around with reckless abandon for steals and blocks playing behind Steven Adams. Until we know the salary number it’s hard to grade this deal, but it’s probably not much and that will make this a fine signing. Screw it, let’s just grade it right now.
PLAYER: NIKOLA VUCEVIC
DEAL: 4 years, $100 million
NOTES: Vucevic cashed in with a contract year in a sweet situation where he was needed at full usage and then some every night. When he’s being asked to be an offensive hub he’s filling the box score and leaning into his value proposition, and you can live with the defensive issues at that rate. Now, at this contractual rate, he’s going to need to bring the offense throughout the duration of this deal, because it’s only downhill in terms of defense and athleticism. The Magic, for their part, have a logjam in the frontcourt now with Vucevic, Mo Bamba, Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac. They still lack playmaking and perimeter explosion. They essentially locked themselves into mediocrity for fear that they’d fall back into tanking territory. You hate to see it.
PLAYER: TERRENCE ROSS
DEAL: 4 years, $51 million
NOTES: Ross is more solution than question in Orlando, where they relied way too much on Nikola Vucevic and Ross was one of the few that could consistently help with the lifting. The deal is pretty much in line with the market and considering he should be a better bet than most to make good on expectations, the Magic did well to keep him on board. Adding Al-Farouq Aminu and basically getting the same band back together are questions for other grades.
PLAYER: Al-FAROUQ AMINU
DEAL: 3 years, $29 million
NOTES: It’s a fine price for the player here but I’m not quite sure what the Magic are doing here. They don’t need any further crowding of the Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba logjam but here they are doing exactly that. They did have depth problems last season because Jonathan Simmons didn’t pan out and they had a dearth of talent, regardless. This looks like your classic acquiring players just to show you’re acquiring players bit.
PLAYER: MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS
DEAL: 1 year, probably the minimum
NOTES: Carter-Williams can provide credible defense in spurts and for that reason he’ll get another look this season.
PLAYER: TOBIAS HARRIS
DEAL: 5 years, $180 million
NOTES: It’s a ton of money and the Sixers needed to hang on to one of their two big trade acquisitions from last year. Harris showed he can be a potent, big-game player and some of the concerns over his weight and defense have slowly eroded. He rebounds and at 27 years old there is plenty of prime left in his career. With Joel Embiid’s window stuck on ‘now’ and ‘soon please’ the Sixers didn’t have to think hard on this one, and Harris didn’t need to either.
PLAYER: Al HORFORD
DEAL: 4 years, $109 million
NOTES: Horford’s free agency stories was one of the funner storylines heading into Sunday as there was a mystery team that nobody could figure out, and at one point in time folks thought it was the Celtics. At 33 years old, this deal shows how all-in the Sixers are and it makes sense given Joel Embiid’s career arc feels like something you shouldn’t mess around with. Horford’s athleticism doesn’t make it on to highlight reels, but the fact he moves so well at his age is truly a testament to his natural athletic ability. How he mixes with not just Embiid but also the Sixers’ newfound, massive starting lineup including Ben Simmons, newly acquired Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris, is really the ballgame. As for the Sixers, it’s better to take a shot as they have, even if it’s risky, versus never taking a shot at all.
PLAYER: BEN SIMMONS
DEAL: 5 years, $168 million extension
NOTES: This hasn’t been agreed to yet but it will be. Simmons is one more bad season away from losing blue chip status in the public’s eye. For wonks, we want to know if he can be a primary ballhandler in high leverage situations. The shot, or lack thereof, is a mushroom cloud-sized problem. And there’s a leadership and maturity issue, too. Simmons was too easily dragged into the mud by Jared Dudley in the playoffs last year, and he can be both schemed and mentally taken out of games.
Defensively, he has real potential to be special but he’ll need to continue working on his toughness to make that happen. Offensively, if he sees his role scaled back because his own team knows they can’t depend on him in the playoffs due to scheming, there should be questions about what that looks like in terms of chemistry.
At this price, with his on-court impact on how the game gets played, you wonder if there was a way to get a reasonable offer and get out of the Simmons business if you’re Philly. There’s always one team that thinks they can be the one that taps into all the value. Instead, Philly will ride their bet out and eat the loss if it goes bad. And even though they’ve correctly reloaded to match Joel Embiid’s timeline, it doesn’t seem like Simmons fits in. I don’t like bets that seem like dogs right out the gate.
PLAYER: JOSH RICHARDSON (TRADE)
DEAL: 3 years remaining, $33 million
NOTES: The Sixers got kind of lucky that a team like Miami, who had been courting Jimmy Butler for a while, was legitimately in need of a true No. 1 player. Otherwise, the value swap could have gotten ugly fast. As it stands, Philly gets a very team friendly contract and a very good emerging player in Richardson. And given their acquisitions and projected lineup — he might be the most important player on their roster as he will likely be tasked with defending opposing point guards while Ben Simmons gets two guards.
Richardson’s defensive ability makes all of that possible and his offense may not have the ceiling that the Heat had hoped for last season, it is easily good enough for the Sixers to be very dangerous with him functioning as a No. 3, 4 or 5 option. Essentially, they gave up Dario Saric and Robert Covington to make this happen and given each players’ respective issues and struggles, the Sixers are actually going to profit quite nicely from their escapade.
PLAYER: MIKE SCOTT
DEAL: 2 years, $9.8 million
NOTES: If you squinted you could see enough improvement on the defensive end to where Scott stopped being the butt of immediate jokes. His offense was there, of course, and he had some nice moments in high leverage situations. This is a nice small signing for the Sixers.
PLAYER: KYLE O’QUINN
DEAL: 1 year, veteran minimum
NOTES: O’Quinn won’t see the floor on nights in which Joel Embiid and Al Horford are playing, but if one of them gets hurt or needs a night off he’s a capable 15 mpg player.
PLAYER: SHAKE MILTON
DEAL: 4 years, unknown amount
NOTES: Wait is Sam Hinkie back again? These four year deals are always interesting as Milton projects as a guy that would make the roster, but with no way to really make his case for a bigger deal he went for the guaranteed money on the front-end. These team friendly contracts are always a good grade, and that Milton can defend a few positions and isn’t dead money just adds to the flavor.
PLAYER: JAMES ENNIS
DEAL: 2 years, $4.1 million, player option second season
NOTES: Ennis got the most pub of his career this past season, including some playoff minutes, but I thought he looked heavy during his run with the Sixers. We’ve been tracking him forever since he was running around dominating pro games in Australia, and then to the Heat and eventually he would mop up minutes at just about every stop. The Sixers keep a contributor and they do so at a nice price and they’re not threatened by that option at all. If Ennis can keep his weight down and hit a few more shots he’ll be able to get paid 2-3 times this number next year, so he wins too.
PLAYER: RAUL NETO
DEAL: 1 year, veterans minimum
NOTES: Neto has way more cred with NBA Twitter than I’d have guessed but the reality is that he just can’t hang, even in a backup role. The athleticism is there but everything else comes up short, but if you’re looking for third or fourth point guard depth he definitely can function in that capacity.
PLAYER: RICKY RUBIO
DEAL: 3 years, $51 million
NOTES: This is too much money and it’s going to be hilarious watching Devin Booker get frustrated with somebody else holding the ball, but the Suns desperately need good basketball people at all levels of the organization and Rubio brings that to them. It’s not going to work very well on the floor but we’ll let the Suns have their moment here before getting too wrapped up in all that.
PLAYER: FRANK KAMINSKY
DEAL: 2 years, $10 million
NOTES: Imagine being the Suns and letting Richaun Holmes walk so you could get Frank Kaminsky for the same amount of money.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
PLAYER: HASSAN WHITESIDE (TRADE)
DEAL: 1 year remaining, $25 million
NOTES: The Blazers get some Jusuf Nurkic insurance and as a similarly sized player the team won’t have to change the way they play much when he’s on the floor, at least in terms of pure athletic considerations. Whiteside’s immaturity is truly legendary but it’s possible after being sufficiently humbled in terms of value around the league that he gets it together under strong veteran leadership in Portland. The Blazers lose Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard, which isn’t nothing and especially in the case of Harkless, and as two separate expiring contracts theoretically they’re easier to move than Whiteside’s. However, when Nurkic returns later in the season they could easily liquidate Whiteside’s value on his own expiring deal and theoretically get better ROI if he takes advantage of this opportunity. In the end, this is an easily defensible deal, without much downside and plenty of upside and utility for the Blazers.
PLAYER: RODNEY HOOD
DEAL: 2 years, $12 million
NOTES: Hood can be, um, good when in the right settings. For the Blazers, that meant stepping up with some much-needed offense in the playoffs. Showing he wasn’t dead money, at this rate you can’t go wrong at all if you’re the Blazers.
PLAYER: MARIO HEZONJA
DEAL: 1 year, minimum
NOTES: Hezonja should theoretically have a marketplace but he’s such a bonehead on the court that he’s down to getting minimum deals from squads that could really use him. And who knows, maybe that’s why he took it. The Blazers need depth and they turned to Rodney Hood as a much-needed producer in the playoffs, so things have been pretty rough for them in that department.
Maybe he thinks he can play his way into a better deal. His career trajectory and free agency decisions have been fairly baffling, so this is already too much ink trying to figure that out. Hezonja had some nice moments when the Knicks were forced to use him, and even won a matchup with LeBron on one random late-season night. At this price it’s a really nice get for the Blazers, who need to hit on some of these down-the-roster plays.
PLAYER: ANTHONY TOLLIVER
DEAL: 1 year, $2.6 million
NOTES: As long as Tolliver can still hit open threes and slide his feet a little bit he’s going to stay in NBA locker rooms because he’s such a good dude. The Blazers need a big his size and there is no downside to this move at all.
PLAYER: TREVOR ARIZA
DEAL: 2 years, $25 million (partial guarantee in second year)
NOTES: The Kings continue to look for small forwards of yesteryear but Ariza will be able to give them minutes there — the question will just be how effective he will be against today’s quicker threes. He turned into a chucker in Phoenix and really hurt that squad with his on-court decision-making and attitude, but it’s Phoenix so you have to downplay that a tiny bit. Regardless, it didn’t look great and then in Washington he got a gift playing big minutes for veteran-loving coach Scott Brooks, who would still put Kendrick Perkins in a playoff game today no questions asked.
There’s not a lot of risk for the Kings in this deal but as usual with them it’s about opportunity cost and whether they could have found better options. How they manage both Ariza and Barnes as they trend toward being smallball fours, while having two fours in Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles, will be a decent-sized subplot to their season.
PLAYER: HARRISON BARNES
DEAL: 4 years, $85 million
NOTES: This deal was hashed out before the Kings traded for Barnes last season and they did their best to optimize it, setting it at a decreasing rate so they aren’t as hamstrung by it in Years 3 and 4. Yes, it’s an overpay for a player that is basically average. The biggest knock on it is that he’s not really a small forward and they have two players in Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles that profile as fours currently, though Bagley will look great in limited minutes at center and Giles can probably be slotted in at the five for backup minutes against certain teams. Dave Joerger got let go in part because he didn’t want to play Barnes at small forward.
Dewayne Dedmon probably plays in the 24-26 mpg range, so you’re necessarily forcing Barnes to play a position that he hasn’t logged a majority of his minutes at in nearly five years. And if the team does something silly and gives Nemanja Bjelica minutes, then the situation worsens and that’s before you consider that Trevor Ariza is also trending toward power forward minutes, himself.
There wasn’t any real competition for this contract, and along with being a positional reach, the overpay here mirrors much of the Kings’ free agency. They’ve paid a pretty premium for mediocrity, stayed out of major salary cap trouble and avoided the big mistake. Whether they gave themselves a chance to truly set themselves apart, giving future crops of free agents a no-brainer target destination, is really the ballgame here.
A more surgical approach would have been to get some of the better players that were available (check it out here), saving their dollars for higher-end players that become available at a later time. That’s how you have to play when free agents aren’t knocking down your door every year.
If you’re playing for championships, that is.
PLAYER: DEWAYNE DEDMON
DEAL: 3 years, $41 million (partial guarantee in third season)
NOTES: There aren’t too many folks around the league that know how good Richaun Holmes was, so you’re not going to hear much if any pushback on this pick for that reason. Holmes, because of his elite pick-and-roll defense, plus rim protection, dunking, fast-breaking and surprisingly serviceable offense, would have been the perfect piece for this Kings squad. But that was never in the cards and the next best thing for them was Dedmon.
Unlike several other expensive, ill-advised options that were linked to the Kings, this deal is relatively cap friendly and allows them to slowplay Marvin Bagley’s move toward the center position. He’s a low-usage player for a team already using up most of its shots, can stretch the floor, keep Bagley from taking on additional wear and tear and provide a general defensive boost.
It will seem oversimplistic and we have yet to find out what deals they wanted to make but couldn’t — we’re just one year removed from Zach LaVine after all — but it says something that they were able to show restraint and fit a deal inside the correct portion of a timeline. This resembles normal decision-making and the more of that the league sees, the more players and agents will be willing to give them a chance.
*Update: The Kings added Holmes, which is pretty amazing. See below for more.
PLAYER: RICHAUN HOLMES
DEAL: 2 years, $10 million
NOTES: I’ve been covering the Kings for a very long time and this is the first time that I can recall they went with one of my suggestions. They also weren’t linked to him at all and there was zero behind-the-scenes chatter. So they pulled off grabbing a piece that is so perfect for them that I’ve said multiple times if they did add him, that they’d be a top-4 seed in the Western Conference.
Here’s why. A Kings defense of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, X, Marvin Bagley and Holmes is long, athletic, vertical and tenacious. Add in Harrison Barnes or Trevor Ariza’s experience and what they lack in explosion doesn’t stand out so much anymore. They get to use their experience to exploit opposing teams that are sped up and stifled. The Kings might not run as much with Barnes and Bagley never afraid to run iso, but if they do want to keep that very smart identity Holmes is a guy that can run the floor as well as any big man in the league.
As if the defense and running weren’t enough — Holmes is also a mean pick-and-roll player. He sets powerful screens and is a legitimate higher-end threat on the lob, with playmaking and finishing skills for short rolls and other forays to the rim. This play type is so desirable for teammates that when he’s on the floor his teams tend to get into a nice rhythm running the same action over and over again, leading to better and more efficient offense. A Fox-Holmes pick-and-roll with Hield spacing on the other side should be a nightmare for opposing teams. His mechanics are funky but he can also shoot a tiny bit.
We’ll see if the Kings sit on this an erroneous amount of time, or do something hilarious like give Nemanja Bjelica minutes, but theoretically he could split minutes with Dewayne Dedmon and allow the Kings to go big like they’ve been saying they’re going to go with Barnes at small forward. He’ll easily push Dedmon right out the gate, and either way whether they bring him along slowly or do this stupidly and only give him 12-14 mpg, they just got the steal of free agency.
PLAYER: CORY JOSEPH
DEAL: 3 years, $37 million (partial guarantee in third season)
NOTES: The Kings have two guards in De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield that will both play 32-33 mpg, and Bogdan Bogdanovic isn’t a great option at small forward so this is kind of a mess. That said, Joseph brings hard nose defense and will be a lower-usage guy, so he fits on those levels. If the Kings found a way to reduce some of this clutter, it would be a better deal, but it’s a nice get in their quest to make the playoffs.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
PLAYER: DEMARRE CARROLL
DEAL: 3 years, $21 million
NOTES: This is a classic Spurs deal, taking on a veteran that can still play at an affordable price and he’ll probably have a bounce-back season, assuming he can stay healthy. UPDATE: The original deal was 2 years, $13 million and somehow it got bumped up so hooray for Carroll’s agent. This isn’t a terrible turn of events for the Spurs and obviously they’re fine with it, but getting tied up into another year for a guy who has had both injury and effectiveness issues isn’t great. I’m moving the grade from B- to C+.
PLAYER: MARCUS MORRIS
DEAL: 2 years, $20 million
NOTES: Morris has delivered in an understated way for his squads, or overstated when you consider he doesn’t get many accolades but he definitely leaves a mark. Sure, Pop probably doesn’t want to deal with young players and/or rebuilds but this seems like a decent chunk of change that could be spent in other ways when you have LaMarcus Aldridge, Jakob Poeltl and Rudy Gay already logjammed into the 4/5 slots. Factor in the mileage and signs that Morris is really only capable of defending the five well these days, and you’re already forced by Aldridge and Poeltl to defend there, and the choice is clearly more about adding win-now guys, culture and experience at any cost.
PLAYER: RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON
DEAL: 1 year, unknown
NOTES: Hollis-Jefferson dealt with injuries and really struggled last season in what was supposed to be a tiny bit of a breakout year. Extra ballhandlers for the Nets took away the touches he was accustomed to but he just didn’t have any snap to his game, as perhaps the PF minutes he was logging sapped him of his strength over the last 12-18 months or so. Regardless, he doesn’t have any major path to minutes but being a versatile player that can defend 2-4 he is a security blanket of sorts for Toronto, at what is probably a pretty low rate.
PLAYER: MATT THOMAS
DEAL: 3 years, $4.2 million
NOTES: Thomas is a 24-year-old who played his college ball at Iowa State and appeared in the 2017 Summer League with the Lakers. Last season he shot a blistering .485 from behind the arc and was a big part of Valencia’s EuroCup title. In his two years in Spain, Thomas has hit 47 percent of his threes on 4.9 attempts per game. He’ll provide affordable backcourt depth for the Raptors, who need to fill out the bottom of the roster as they wait for Kawhi Leonard’s decision.*
*The great Mike Passador, Hoop Ball editor, provided this analysis
GRADE: C (Passador: A++)
PLAYER: BOJAN BOGDANOVIC
DEAL: 4 years, $73 million
NOTES: The money on this doesn’t scream bargain and it’s probably a bit too much, but Bogdanovic entered free agency as a possibly undervalued target following a solid season that didn’t get much pub. The Jazz lack playmaking and he’ll bring that to the mix — along with Mike Conley they’ve really helped themselves out in an area that has killed them in the playoffs. It’s going to crowd the rotation a bit and there is already talk that Joe Ingles will come off the bench, but these two will play the forward slots down the stretch and they’ll rely on Rudy Gobert for the size they’ll be lacking. There is a question of whether they have enough overall athleticism in the frontcourt as Gobert lacks quickness and both Bogdanovic and Ingles are ground-bound. This move has some flaws in the price and it’s not perfect, but the Jazz have to strike in their current window so you can live with the rough edges.
PLAYER: ED DAVIS
DEAL: 2 years, $10 million
NOTES: Davis rebounds and then rebounds some more. It was sort of funny when Woj promo’d him by saying he was a physical big that could play next to Rudy Gobert, but he’s a solid tool for any coach’s bag and the Jazz do need a backup center with Derrick Favors on the way out. He also gives the Jazz some needed agility in the frontcourt. At this price being able to fill out a rotation slot is your proverbial three yards and a cloud of dust.
PLAYER: JEFF GREEN
DEAL: 1 year, $2.5 million
NOTES: Green got the veteran player treatment by Scott Brooks in Washington last year which meant he wasn’t going to be taken off the floor. And for what it’s worth, Green provided average play while trying to stabilize a tough situation surrounding John Wall and the team’s trajectory. The Jazz need a player with his length and athletic profile, and to get him at this rate knowing he can probably handle 20 mpg pretty well is a nice get.
PLAYER: EMMANUEL MUDIAY
DEAL: 1 year, unknown
NOTES: Mudiay is getting near the minimum and steps into a situation where the Jazz are definitely trying to win now and they’re definitely targeting him as a backup point guard that can successfully handle 15 mpg. The good news is that he probably can. He didn’t stand out in New York and I’m not going to put it on the Knicks management — this was just a scenario of a player not having enough goods to carve out his own full-time gig. In his limited minutes he cleaned up some of the eyesore stuff with turnovers, bricks and shot selection. It’s very possible that he has been seasoned enough to do well in the role he’s being brought to Utah for, and this is a sneaky good pickup for them as they’re making their run.
PLAYER: THOMAS BRYANT
DEAL: 3 years, $25 million
NOTES: Bryant made us money around here in fantasy leagues by simply being efficient and mopping up minutes. He has the makings of a pick-and-pop game with just enough offense to make the lack of defense palatable. It’s questionable how long he can keep from being too much of a liability on that end, as he’s stiff and he won’t be getting any younger, but if you’re the Wizards it’s a fine deal and price-point. He can give backup minutes at an historically expensive position and maybe you can sneak away with something more than that, while gearing up toward more forward-looking options in the interim.
PLAYER: ISH SMITH
DEAL: 2 years, $12 million
NOTES: It feels like there is another shoe to drop because he’s the easy bet to start with Tomas Satoransky headed out and nobody else on the radar to compete with. If he was slated to get 26 mpg or more, it would typically come with a bigger number as management would want to boost the signal a bit. Regardless, this is exactly what you want to spend when you’re looking at a backup and Smith profiles as one of the better backups in the league. Solid signing.
PLAYER: ISAIAH THOMAS
DEAL: 1 year, veterans minimum
NOTES: There wasn’t much money to this deal and Thomas probably doesn’t care — he just wants to play and he lands in a spot where he’ll get a shot at that. This is all about the injury for him. If he can get enough explosion to split pick-and-roll coverage, absorb contact and get extension on his jump shot, he has a shot at some semblance of his former play. The hard part is that the degree of difficulty for him in each of those areas is so tough that a decline in any can have serious adverse effects. With as much time off as one is going to get, if it’s going to happen for him it’s now or never.