Aaaahhhh, the advantages of living on the west coast. When the clock struck midnight on the east coast, all hell broke loose in the NBA. While die hard fans back east struggled to stay up, looking to catch every Woj bomb, I was relaxing on my couch with my computer and dog.
So far we’re looking at 5/9 on the free agent predictions. Granted the 5 that we hit on are lay ups, you’ve got to take the gim’mes when they present themselves. We didn’t see Ariza to the Suns at all. Barton re-upping with the Nuggets was always a possibility, but it puts the pressure on the Nuggets to now unload the contracts of Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur, and Kenneth Faried. Rudy Gay re-upping with the Spurs is something I should have seen coming, but when he opted out of the last year of the deal, I didn’t see him coming back on a one year deal. And lastly Paul George returning to OKC had been the rumor de’jour that I ignored in favor of the glitz and glamour of la la land.
The lay ups were 4 re-signings (Baynes, CP3, Rose, and Durant), and a re-do on a signing with DeAndre Jordan agreeing to a deal with the Mavericks, part deux.
Lets run through real quick the 23 reported signings in the first 13 hours of free agency.
TREVOR ARIZA – Phoenix offered one year, $15 million in this economic environment and Ariza pounced like it was a loose ball with an open lane for the dunk. This is a great veteran signing for the Suns who already have youngster wings Josh Jackson, Devin Booker, and Mikal Bridges in place. This is a big loss for the Rockets though. Ariza, Tucker, and Mbah a Moute provided a defensive spark for the Rockets with Ariza also providing an offensive skill set that the others can’t match. It’ll be interesting to see how GM savant Daryl Morey fills this spot.
WILL BARTON back to the Nuggets was always a possibility. And Denver certainly opened up the checkbook to show that they consider him part of their nucleus moving forward. He’ll continue to provide instant offense off the bench for the Nuggets.
ARON BAYNES, owner of the only acceptable man-bun on the planet, returned to Boston as expected, and as expected the Celtics didn’t have to break into their MLE piggy bank to keep him. All things considered, fit, money, player, team, this was a great signing.
MARCO BELINELLI apparently could not forget the Alamo and is returning for another stint with the Spurs. The 2 year $12 million deal is a seemingly fair deal for the veteran scorer on a team that will be looking more and more towards youngsters like Dejounte Murray, and Lonnie Walker IV on the perimeter.
OMRI CASSIPI to the Grizzlies on a minimum deal is a yawner of a move that will likely pay dividends in the doldrums of January when he comes off the bench one night to drop 20 in a win.
ED DAVIS to the Nets for one year $4.4 million is a bargain. He’s nice insurance against any stalled development of Jarrett Allen, and should help mentor the youngster. The fact that Portland let him walk for that amount, especially when Lilliard and McCollum have gone on record wanting him back is a bit of a head scratcher.
KEVIN DURANT back to the Warriors was a no-brainer, especially when Durant said repeatedly that he was returning. That its a 1-1 deal, which is a 1 year deal with a second year player option is a bit interesting. It means that he can be a free agent again next year when there is more available cap space (also when there will be a lot more free agents as Durant and his agents are not the only people of this upcoming event). I mean its easy to understand how a superstar like Aron Baynes managed to finagle a 1-1 deal, but Kevin Durant? The Warriors must be crazy.
RUDY GAY opted out of his deal and then re-signed with the Spurs on a 1 year deal with the Spurs, essentially he got a slight pay bump is all that happened. With Dejounte Murray, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Danny Green, Rudy Gay, Lonnie Walker IV, Pau Gasol, and LaMarcus Aldridge all set to return they should remain competitive for a playoff spot in the west, regardless of how the Kawhi saga plays out. Toss in retaining the right to match offers on Kyle Anderson and Davis Bertans, the Spurs will be deep and well coached, if not star studded.
After allegedly telling the Pacers that he intended to bolt for La La Land when he hit free agency, PAUL GEORGE reversed face and re-upped with the Thunder for 4 years. Its been mentioned by others that after the catastrophic injury he suffered earlier in his career that he may have been more inclined to go for the security of the 4 year deal over the 1-1 or 2-1 deals that have been en vogue for NBA superstars. This is a coupe for Sam Presti and the Thunder to retain George, and could offer hope to those looking to trade for Kawhi Leonard.
JERAMI GRANT a versatile wing for the Thunder was thought to be a long shot to return before the George news broke due to anticipated interest around the league, it became almost a forgone conclusion that he’d be gone when George announced at Russell Westbrook’s party that he was coming back (Where was my invite Russ? That’s cold man, cold). Then Sam Presti pulled another rabbit out of his hat, and poof, Grant returns on a 3 year, $27 million deal. The next anticipated move is jettisoning Carmelo Anthony, presumably via the stretch provision… but let me suggest a trade to Houston for Ryan Anderson. The Thunder then buy out Anderson to save the money and the Rockets obtain a small forward to replace Ariza (though certainly not the same style small forward) while only having to pay Melo for 1 year instead of Anderson for 2.
Speaking of small forwards for the Rockets, GERALD GREEN, who was a perfect fit for D’Antoni’s system last year in Houston agreed to re-up for a veteran minimum deal to stick with his gulf coast roots. A nice scoring piece off the bench for the Rockets sticks around. I believe this will turn out to be a very underrated signing.
JOE HARRIS returns to Brooklyn. Harris is just a solid, well coached player with a really nice shooting touch from the perimeter. The Nets have now made it past the debacle of the Celtics trade and can now move forward with their rebuild full tilt. Sean Marks has done an incredible job to put them in a position to field a competitive team, and the Harris and Davis signings show that players and agents around the league recognize the opportunity in Brooklyn. Remember when the Clippers had lob city going strong while the Lakers were floundering during the Kobe wheel chair years, and it was asked for the first time ever who the marquee team in town was? The Nets are in position to absolutely steal the lights of Broadway and become the toast of the town.
ERSAN ILYSOVA can probably tell you off the top of his head how much the one way Southwest Wanna Get Away rate is from Philly to Milwaukee as he keeps bouncing back and forth. The steady vet presence that the Sixers benefited from in last year’s playoff run is what the Bucks are looking to tap into, while also getting a player capable of playing that stretch 4 position should they find Jabari Parker’s asking price too high.
NIKOLA JOKIC back to Denver was a forgone conclusion. The Nuggets only risk in not picking up his option this year was if he decided to sign the 1 year qualifying offer deal, thus becoming an unrestricted free agent next year. They were prepared to match any offer tossed his way to keep the young unicorn. That being said there is no doubt there was a wink, wink, nudge, nudge agreement in place where they knew he’d be re-signing for the max when they declined the option year.
DEANDRE JORDAN quickly agreeing to a deal with the Mavericks was no surprise. It was assumed that is where he’d land when he opted out of his deal with the Clippers. The surprising part isn’t enough that he recouped the $24 million he left on the table. The surprising part is that he got it in one year. I figured he’d end up on a small average annual salary, but with more security moving forward, like a 3 year $45 million type deal. There will not be any last minute intervention with Doc Rivers, Chris Paul, and Blake Griffin. Though I’d like to picture Mark Cuban rounding up his crew, Donnie Nelson, and Mike Procopio and going to knock on Jordan’s door with Rivers, Paul, and Griffin masks on, just to mess with everyone.
LUKE KORNET back to the Knicks is a move that only a Knicks fan could love. Kornet it insurance so that the Knicks have bodies to survive the year while Porzingis rehabs. Nothing interesting to see here.
DOUG MCDERMOTT to the Pacers is an interesting move. 3 years, $21 million is real interesting, it shows they see him as a rotation player, and not just a roster filler guy they took a flyer on. Personally the best part of this whole thing will be seeing the Dougie McBuckets Hickory jerseys. I still hold out hope that McDermott, if given the consistent chance can become a consistent 15-17 points per game contributor, and apparently Kevin Pritchard holds my mindset. Hey, he was right about Oladipo.
CHRIS PAUL is getting his $40 million a year, and the Rockets won’t be giving it to him 5 years from now. Probably a win-win all around. The concern is still will he be worth it in years 3 and 4, as well as how do you make this payroll/cap space work with this deal and Harden’s, but that sounds like a tomorrow problem. For now the Rockets will run back most of the team that provided the Warriors with the most difficult challenge.
DERRICK ROSE re-upped with Minnesota for a one year, vet minimum deal. On the surface anyways. In reality, his having an NBA contract, being in the league, equals a $14.5 million payout from Adidas for his signature shoe. A nice little payday for the former MVP who found new life, sporadically, in Minnesota last year under old coach Tom Thibodeau.
NIK STAUSKAS joins the Trailblazers squad that declined to offer qualifying offers to Pat Connaughton and Shabazz Napier. Coming into the league that hope was that Stauskas would develop into a Kyle Korver type player. Thus far he hasn’t. Its a short term, short money deal though, so its worth the risk for Portland.
FRED VAN VLEET returns to Toronto on a 2 year, $18 million dollar deal. Seems to be a chance, with all the noise that no one on the Raptors roster is untouchable, that Van Vleet could replace Kyle Lowry sooner rather than later.
DERRICK JONES JR. moved on up. He was with the Heat on a 2 way deal last year, and signed on for a full time gig next year with Miami.
GLENN ROBINSON III returns to the state of Michigan, seemingly displaced in Indiana by McDermott. Robinson got a 2 year deal for just north of $8 million total. The potential for Robinson to be a nice scorer off the bench is there, and a fresh start, with a new team, and new coach, in a state that already adores him seems like a nice match.
- By Jason Sullivan
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