Wade had a strong season in 2016 with the Heat, playing over 70 games for the first time since 2011 and averaging 19 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists, and he was masterful in the playoffs as he nearly led the Heat — despite injuries to Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside — to the Eastern Conference finals.
The grade: C-
This makes no sense for the Bulls. Yes, Wade is a transcendent star, and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. But he’s 34 years old (he’ll turn 35 in January) and is a player whose lack of shooting will make it more and more difficult for him to remain as effective as he was last season as he ages. Then there’s the fact the Bulls will have three perimeter starters — Wade, Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler — who all are below average three-point shooters, compromising Chicago’s spacing. Add in that Wade and Rondo are exactly the kind of huge personalities likely to make it difficult for Coach Fred Hoiberg to put his stamp on this team for a second straight season and it’s hard to understand why the Bulls wanted to make this move.
The deal: Two years, $40 million with the Dallas Mavericks
The analysis: In a deal everyone knew was coming at some point, the Mavericks quickly moved to lock up Nowitzki after going on a quick spending spree over the weekend, locking up Deron Williams and Harrison Barnes and trading for Andrew Bogut.
Even as he’s moved into the twilight of his career, Nowitzki remains an impressive performer. He played 75 games last season, averaging 18 points per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range, and remains one of the league’s best-shooting big men.
The grade: A
No, Nowitzki isn’t a superstar anymore. But the 38-year-old is loyal to a fault, and had no interest in leaving the only team he’s ever played for. And after the Mavericks failed to land the big fish they’d hoped to in free agency once again, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban did the right thing by ponying up to give Nowitzki a huge raise from the roughly $8 million he made last year, when he was on an extremely team-friendly contract to give the Mavericks as much cap space as possible. It also seems likely Nowitzki will have a player option on this deal, allowing him to opt-out and give the Mavericks flexibility again next summer if he so chooses. Dallas may not have gotten a star this summer, but it kept its future Hall of Famer and took care of him. That’s a win for everyone involved.
The deal: Two years, $54 million (second year is a player option) with the Golden State Warriors
The analysis: So this happened. After three days of meetings with six teams – his now former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, plus the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers – Durant decided to alter the course of NBA history and sign with the Warriors.
Now Golden State has a quartet of superstars – Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – plus key role players Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. That’s a team, even with fillers around them, that will be the favorite to win the title.
The grade: A+
What else could it be? Durant going to Golden State not only keeps the Warriors atop the NBA for what should be years to come, but also erases any small chance Stephen Curry would consider leaving next summer. Golden State now has a chance to be a dynasty, and to put together one of the great runs in league history. It’s hard to do better than that with a free agent signing.
The deal: Two years, $30 (second year is player option) with the San Antonio Spurs
The analysis: With Tim Duncan seemingly headed toward retirement, the Spurs pivoted from Durant’s decision to go to Golden State by coming to an agreement with Pau Gasol on a two-year deal, including an option for the second.
Gasol put up big numbers last year in Chicago, and will be a seamless fit into San Antonio’s ball movement heavy offensive system. Defensively, though, he could cause issues, and is nowhere near the defender Duncan has been the past few years.
The grade: C-
This doesn’t help San Antonio as much as many might think. While Gasol is still a skilled offensive player, he isn’t athletic and isn’t a strong defensive player – which are the two things the Spurs needed to add to their roster. On top of it, the Spurs most likely have to trade Boris Diaw to make it work. Gasol will fit nicely into San Antonio’s offensive system, but that won’t make up for the deficiencies he’ll bring to the roster, or to the opportunity cost for the Spurs getting more athletic to compete with their chief rivals in Oakland.
The deal: Two years, $30 million with the Chicago Bulls with a mutual option on year two
The analysis: Rondo went and did what he usually does with the Sacramento Kings – namely create a lot of assists – and then left. But while his market looked scarce, the Bulls turned around and signed him to a two-year contract (though there’s a mutual option for the second year) to replace Derrick Rose after trading him to the New York Knicks last week.
Rondo shot a career-best 36 percent on three-pointers last season with Sacramento, but still was a liability at the foul line (58 percent) and hasn’t regained his athleticism after blowing his knee out a few years ago in Boston.
The grade: C
Initially, this was reported as a two-year deal that was fully guaranteed, which was a hard one to figure out. But for a Bulls team that had one glaring need – a point guard – and had to this point sat out of the escalating free agency market to protect its 2017 cap space, a mutual option allows them to get out after one year, and makes the deal far more palatable.
It’s still a strange fit on several levels – a pairing of Rondo and Jimmy Butler in the backcourt could be a combustible one, while it’s also hard to see how coach Fred Hoiberg would handle Rondo after struggling to control a veteran locker room featuring Butler, Rose and Joakim Noah last year. But only being committed to one year for Rondo makes all of that a worthy gamble for a team clearly hoping to still remain at least relevant in the Eastern Conference next season.
The deal: Three years, $42 million with the Los Angeles Clippers
The analysis: Crawford was initially upset after the Clippers offered him a one-year deal worth around $12 million. But once the Clippers came back to him with an improved offer (including a reportedly partially guaranteed third year) Crawford was ready to rejoin the team he’d spent the past four seasons with.
Crawford is 36, but still capable of getting off his own shot. He was the NBA’s sixth man of the year last year, averaging 14.2 points and shooting 40 percent from the floor and 34 percent from three-point range in 79 games.
The grade: C-
The Clippers gave themselves a chance to avoid some punishment in the third year of this deal by partially guaranteeing it, but like with Austin Rivers on Saturday this is a deal that reeks of a team desperate to repair its prior mistakes. Because the Clippers have put themselves in such a difficult salary cap situation, they had no choice but to overpay Crawford in order to have any chance to fill out their bench. Now they’re close to being hard capped and still don’t have a backup center, among other needs.
The deal: Four years, $50 million restricted free agent offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets
The analysis: Still hoarding more than $30 million in salary cap space even after signing guard Jeremy Lin and forwards Justin Hamilton and Trevor Booker Saturday, the Nets dipped back into their cap space to give Miami Heat point guard Tyler Johnson a back-loaded offer sheet.
Johnson has only played in a combined 68 games the past two seasons (he signed midway through 2014-15 out of the NBA’s Development League, and then missed a large chunk of this season because of shoulder surgery) but at 6-foot-4 and having shot 38 percent from three-point range, he’s an intriguing talent as a 24-year-old on the market – even as a restricted free agent.
The grade: B
This may wind up being an overpayment, but it’s still the kind of move the Nets need to be making. For a team without many draft assets, they needed to keep trying to find as many young players with upside that they could. And in Johnson, the Nets have a young point guard who can play both behind and with newly signed starter Jeremy Lin. Plus, if Johnson’s deal isn’t matched by the Heat (and it’s hard to see Miami matching it) Nets would have Johnson signed through his age-27 season, which is the prime area for growth and improvement in players.
The deal: Four years, $53 million with the Houston Rockets
The analysis: Gordon’s talent has never been in question. But after spending the last few years dealing with a series of injuries, it was unclear what his market would be this summer.
But that didn’t stop the Rockets — under new Coach Mike D’Antoni — from locking up a pure shooter Saturday evening, getting the career 38 percent three-point shooter locked up for four years to go with sweet-shooting power forward Ryan Anderson, who the Rockets signed earlier Saturday.
The grade: C-
The Rockets gave Gordon more guaranteed money ($53 million) than games played last year (45). That’s usually not a great way to go about your business in free agency. If Gordon can stay on the court, he should be able to fit nicely into D’Antoni’s pace-and-space system and give James Harden more room to operate on the court. Staying healthy, however, is an open question, given his history.
The deal: Three years, $35 million with the Los Angeles Clippers
The analysis: Rivers, the son of Clippers Coach and General Manager Doc Rivers, is back in Los Angeles after briefly surveying free agency over the first couple days of the summer.
Rivers may not be quite as bad as people have said — he’s athletic and a decent defender — but he’s a backup point guard who can’t really create for others and isn’t a good shooter (career 33 percent from three-point range).
The grade: D
This is more of a problem with the situation the Clippers find themselves in, as opposed to the actual contract itself. Because of how Los Angeles has built its roster under Doc Rivers, the Clippers have no flexibility to go out and improve the roster. That’s why they now have to overpay someone like Austin
Rivers just to keep him on the team. And with Jeff Green already out the door and Jamal Crawford possibly about to follow him, the Clippers could take a step back in 2017.
The deal: Four years, $50 million with the New York Knicks
The analysis: The Knicks came into free agency looking for two things: a starting center and a starting shooting guard. They picked up Joakim Noah Friday to fill the center spot, and then moved to get Lee to become their starting shooting guard Saturday.
Lee is durable, a good spot-up shooter (career 38 percent from three-point range) and a good defender. In other words, exactly what the Knicks needed.
The grade: B+
There was a lot of talk about the Knicks going after Gordon, who is injury prone and not a strong defender. Lee, on the other hand, is a much better fit for the Knicks’ roster — and also came in at a cheaper contract, by a few million, than Gordon. Noah might not have been a great contract, but this is one of the better values of the first two days of free agency.
The deal: Four years, $64 million with the Washington Wizards
The analysis: After the Wizards fell just short of getting Al Horford, they quickly turned around and came to an agreement with Mahinmi, a rugged but athletic big who spent last season with the Indiana Pacers, on a four-year deal.
Mahinmi is a solid defender, with enough athleticism to guard pick-and-rolls and protect the rim, and was good as a roll man to the tune of a 59 percent field goal percentage.
The grade: B-
This smells like a value play for the Wizards. They obviously would’ve loved to get Horford, who would’ve fit perfectly as their starting power forward. Instead, they grabbed arguably the best available big man on the market. He can’t play that often with Marcin Gortat, though; so, perhaps this is a precursor to
a trade? Regardless, it’s a good player on a solid contract, which Washington needed to start doing.
The deal: Four years, $94 million restricted free agent offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks
The analysis: Barnes has been much maligned during his time in Golden State as he’s approached free agency, when he was certain to be paid more than teammates Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
But Barnes is capable of manning either forward spot and playing credible defense at both, and also is a solid three-point shooter. That’s the kind of player everyone is looking for in this market as teams try to transition to playing small ball.
The grade: D+
This reeks of a desperation move for the Mavericks, who have struck out time and again through the opening two days of free agency and now are throwing a big offer at Barnes to try and lure him from Golden State. If the Warriors get Kevin Durant, the Mavericks will be overpaying for a new starting small forward. If the Warriors don’t, the Mavericks will spend the next week waiting to use the money they have earmarked for Barnes on something else.
The deal: Four years, $113 million with the Boston Celtics
The analysis: The Celtics finally have their star. After years of chasing various options, Boston landed Horford Saturday night, giving them one of the league’s most versatile big men — one who should be a great fit in Coach Brad Stevens’s egalitarian offensive system.
Horford will be a massive upgrade on options like Amir Johnson and Jared Sullinger in the middle for the Celtics, giving them a credible three-point shooting threat and ball handler at one of their big spots.
The grade: A
Boston has long been dogged as a place players aren’t willing to sign as a free agent. That case goes away now that Horford has decided to go there. He also gives the Celtics some extra ammunition to sign Kevin Durant, with whom they met Saturday afternoon. Horford’s last year or two of this deal might not look great, but for a team that needed to show it meant business in free agency, this was an impact signing of an impact player.
The deal: Four years, $80 million with the Houston Rockets
The analysis: Anderson is exactly what new Coach Mike D’Antoni is looking for in a power forward: he can stretch the floor. The 6-foot-10 forward shot 36 percent from three-point range on over five attempts per game last season with New Orleans — right in line with his career averages — and averaging 17 points per game.
Anderson will now slot in next to Clint Capela on Houston’s frontline, as Houston tries to get as much shooting as it possibly can to give star guard James Harden room to operate.
The grade: C-
Ryan Anderson is a terrific guy, and he’s a very good shooting big man. But he struggles on defense, and he’s been injured for stretches of each of the past three seasons. That makes paying him an average annual value of $20 million through his age 31 season could be a risky proposition. This is what happens, though, when a team like Houston strikes out on several options it would prefer to come up with, instead.
The deal: Four years, $54.4 million with the Charlotte Hornets
The analysis: Williams remains in Charlotte after the 30-year-old agreed to come back to the Hornets on a team-friendly deal. Williams is a combo forward who can shoot from three-point range and defend some — in other words, the kind of player teams are dying to get.
Now Charlotte has to figure out who is going to start for them, and how they’re going to play. But Coach Steve Clifford has several options on the wings that are appealing — a position every team is trying to find depth in at the moment.
The grade: A-
Williams was thought to be a similar player to Luol Deng in this market, and Charlotte was not only able to retain him, but was able to while also paying him 25 percent of what Deng got from the Los Angeles Lakers earlier Saturday. For Charlotte to keep him, and at a good number, is a second straight good day for the Hornets.
The deal: Two years, $25 million with the Sacramento Kings
The analysis: The Kings needed a shooting guard, and Afflalo needed a home after opting out of the second year of his contract with the New York Knicks.
This then became a deal that made plenty of sense, as Afflalo gives the Kings some much needed shooting, as well as another veteran in a locker room that could use some stability.
The grade: B-
This deal was fine. The Kings filled a need and did so without committing any kind of huge money to it over the long-term — something they’ve had issues with doing in the past. It also prevents the Kings from doing something like giving Dion Waiters a long-term, expensive contract, when Afflalo will likely offer similar production with more stability.
The deal: Four years, $72 million with the Orlando Magic
The analysis: After Jonas Valanciunas sprained his ankle against the Miami Heat in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Biyombo stepped in and had several hugely productive games as the Raptors advanced to their first Eastern Conference finals.
He then parlayed that into a massive contract with the Magic this summer — just a year after signing a one-year deal with the Raptors after he didn’t get a qualifying offer from the Charlotte Hornets.
The grade: C
People from several teams predicted Biyombo would wind up being overpay this summer. An athletic big who can rebound and protect the rim was always going to be valuable this summer, but Biyombo came with significant risk after spending this season as a bench player until that Valanciunas injury.
And while the contract is right about the going rate for big men this summer (Joakim Noah, Timofey Mozgov) for a younger player, it’s a weird fit for an Orlando team that already has Serge Ibaka, who it just traded for, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic.
The deal: Four years, $72 million with the Los Angeles Lakers
The analysis: Deng, one of the best combo forwards on the market, proved he’s capable of being a stretch four last season with the Miami Heat — where the longtime small forward played after Chris Bosh was lost for the season with a recurrence of blood clots. Deng looked like a terrific player, knocking down three-pointers and attacking bigger players off the dribble.
Now he’ll go to Los Angeles, where he can be a veteran mentor to a young and inexperienced Lakers locker room, and where he can help shepherd fellow Duke product Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, through the beginning of his career.
The grade: B-
Like several deals signed Friday, it’s possible this contract won’t look great in its third and fourth years. But the Lakers needed to start making moves to prove they are a competent franchise again, and this is one of those. Deng is as true a professional as there is in the league, and gives the Lakers some additional shooting – something this team really needed.
The deal: Two years, $22 million with the Utah Jazz
The analysis: Johnson began last season in Brooklyn before eventually getting bought out in February and going to the Miami Heat. Now 35, Johnson isn’t the player he was in his prime, when he was a primary scoring option on the wing.
But he’s still capable of being an effective player, particularly as a spot-up shooter, as he showed by shooting 41.7 percent from three-point range after going from Brooklyn to Miami. He’s also proven to be an effective option as a stretch four, given his 6-foot-7, 240-pound frame that made him such an imposing option at shooting guard earlier in his career.
The grade: B
The Jazz have too much money to know what to do with it, and so they went out and addressed a need by getting another scorer off the bench in Johnson. Paying him this salary is fine, and Johnson’s strengths – good three-point shooting, the ability to play either forward spot and knowing how to score late in games – will come in handy as the Jazz try to get back into the playoffs.
The deal: Four years, $70 million with the Atlanta Hawks
The analysis: Bazemore was thought to be looking for something in the neighborhood of $18 million per season when he entered free agency, and that’s what he wound up getting.
The Hawks appear to have chosen Bazemore over Al Horford, surrounding newly signed center Dwight Howard with as much shooting as possible.
The grade: B-
This is one of the contracts people were going to go, “Huh?” about. Bazemore is a role player who had made $5 million total in his career. But as a “three and D” player in a market devoid of them, he was destined to make big bucks. And he certainly did, getting multiple offers in this range before deciding to stay in Atlanta.
The deal: Three years, $30 million with the Phoenix Suns
The analysis: Dudley, one of the best locker room figures in the entire league, now gets to go back to Phoenix, where he began his career, and mentor a young Suns locker room featuring nine players under 25.
Dudley was one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA last year, and is capable of playing at both forward spots – the kind of player every team in the NBA is looking for these days.
The grade: B+
Dudley is a perfect fit with the Suns. Not only is a he a combo forward, but he’s the kind of veteran presence a young team – and, let’s not forget, a young coach in Earl Watson – needs to show guys how to do their jobs the right way. On top of it, the Suns brought Dudley back on a very affordable contract.
The deal: Four years, $72 million with the New York Knicks
The analysis: From the moment the Knicks traded Robin Lopez to the Chicago Bulls as part of a package for Derrick Rose last week, they’ve been looking to replace Lopez with a free agent center. Enter Noah, the bombastic and fiery big man who is close friends with Rose after spending the last eight years playing with him and is a New York native to boot.
The Washington Post first reported the two sides were headed toward an agreement for a contract in this range Wednesday evening – only reinforcing a rumor that had been rampant around the NBA that Noah to the Knicks was all but a done deal. By agreeing to a deal Friday, the two sides confirmed that.
The grade: D
It’s impossible not love Noah as a player and as a person. He’s a terrific competitor, one who will give everything to be on the court with his teammates and wears his heart on his sleeve. But Noah played 29 games before being lost to season-ending shoulder surgery, and averaged four points a game. He has said he’ll never be the same after knee surgery a couple years ago, and the knee is not thought to be in great shape. He’s 31, and has logged a ton of minutes and miles. A two-year deal would’ve been manageable. A four-year deal? That spells trouble.
The deal: Five years, $153 million with the Memphis Grizzlies
The analysis: When Conley was in the room recruiting Chandler Parsons to come to the Grizzlies, there was little chance he was then going to turn around and leave. And, once Parsons and his contract were finalized, it didn’t take long for Conley to follow behind and get his deal done, too.
Conley hasn’t made an All-Star team in his career, but is one of the better all-around lead guards in the NBA. A tenacious competitor at both ends, he’s become synonymous with the “grit ‘n’ grind” identity the Grizzlies have created.
The grade: B-
Look, there’s little doubt the back-end of this deal is going to look rough. But the Grizzlies also didn’t have much of a choice. They had to give Conley the chance to stay there – especially after he helped recruit Parsons, the biggest free agent signing in franchise history. If Marc Gasol can come back fully healthy from a broken foot, the Grizzlies will be right in the mix in the Western Conference next season.
The deal: Three years for $70.5 million with the Atlanta Hawks
The analysis: Howard is headed home. After bouncing from one team to another the past few years, the enigmatic star center agreed to a three-year deal to go back to his childhood hometown. Howard has his detractors, but he’s still a very good player, and at this value — just a few million more per year than Joakim Noah and Timofey Mozgov — it’s hard to argue with grabbing him.
The grade: B+
There may not be many Howard fans, but it’s hard to argue with the value Atlanta got on this deal. He arguably will be as or more productive than Horford over the next three years, and could make significantly less. He also gives Atlanta a dimension the Hawks haven’t had, as both a rim protector and rebounder defensively and a hard roll man in pick-and-rolls offensively.
The deal: Four years, $52 million with the New Orleans Pelicans
The analysis: After Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird declined to pick up Hill’s fourth year rookie option, the 2013 first round pick then went on to have an impressive playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, and set himself up as an attractive free agent because of his ability to hold up as a small ball power forward. New Orleans decided to cash in on that potential, grabbing Hill on day one of free agency — though paying a premium to do so.
The grade: C-
Here’s the thing: Hill averaged 4.2 points and shot 44 percent overall and 32.4 percent from three-point range in 2015-16. He had a good playoff series for the Pacers against the Raptors, and his option should’ve been picked up, but it’s not like he lit the world on fire. Now he’s going to a Pelicans team that seems likely to play him as much at small forward as power forward – despite the fact he’s a bad fit as a small forward, given his shooting woes. Having a hard worker is worth something, and the hope is he can push on from what he did in the playoffs, but there’s a lot of risk with signing Hill for this number.
The deal: Three years, $30 million from the Milwaukee Bucks
The analysis: Mirza Teletovic loved playing for Jason Kidd two years ago in Brooklyn, and he’ll get a chance to do so again. One of the better shooting power forwards in the NBA, Teletovic is a great fit for the Bucks, a spacing-starved team that needs all the shooting it can get. The fact Teletovic has been brought in on a very fair contract in this inflated market only adds to the benefits of the deal for Milwaukee.
The grade: A
This is a perfect marriage of player, team and need. Teletovic loved playing for Kidd, and on a Bucks team with a bunch of so-so to bad three-point shooters, his spacing gives Milwaukee the kind of room for Giannis Antetokoumnpo and Jabari Parker they desperately need. Grabbing Teletovic and Matthew Dellavedova gives Milwaukee a pair of 40-percent three-point shooters at power forward and point guard – the single-biggest need Milwaukee had. Teletovic being on a great contract is icing on the cake.
The deal: Five years, $85 million with the Orlando Magic (player option on the fifth year)
The analysis: Fournier was expected to get a ton of interest as a restricted free agent wing this month, all the way up to a possible max contract. But then Orlando managed to not only keep him, but convince him to give the Magic a fairly steep discount by agreeing to a contract about $40 million lower than what the total payout over five years could’ve been.
The grade: A
Hard to see this as anything but a win for the Magic. Instead of Fournier going out and getting a much bigger deal on the open market, he instead was willing to take on a contract for the same annual value as Evan Turner – despite being a far superior shooter on the wings, something every team is desperate to find these days. Fournier has his issues – he’s not a good defender and he isn’t much of a creator for others – but he should make up the value on this deal over the next four years with his scoring ability. Plus, at that price he could easily be moved in a trade.
The deal: Four years, $38 million with the Milwaukee Bucks
The analysis: Dellavedova couldn’t find himself a long-term offer last summer, so he took the one-year qualifying offer to stay with Cleveland and make himself a restricted free agent this summer.
Even after being benched for the final few games of the NBA Finals, Dellavedova was able to find a strong deal on the market from the Bucks, as his ability to defend point guards and hit three-pointers (he shot 41 percent from behind the arc) makes him a nice fit next to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is expected to be Milwaukee’s primary ball-handler.
The grade: B-
Dellavedova isn’t anything special, but he’s a serviceable backup point guard who fits nicely with what Milwaukee is trying to do. It seems unlikely Cleveland will match at this price, though, and Dellavedova is a better fit for what Milwaukee needs than the player he’s replacing, Jerryd Bayless, who received a similar contract from the Philadelphia 76ers.
The deal: Four years, $94 million max contract with the Memphis Grizzlies
The analysis: This is a banner day for the Grizzlies as a franchise. Not only did they finally go out and find the secondary creator and shooter this team has so desperately needed for years, but Memphis also managed to convince a max player to come there and play for the Grizzlies.
Parsons isn’t a player who they overpaid to come to Memphis. He was a guy with multiple competitive offers, and chose to be a member of the Grizzlies. That’s a big deal for a small market team like this.
The grade: A-
The only reason this isn’t an A is because of the injury concerns that come with Parsons. He’s had multiple knee surgeries the past two years, and if he can’t stay on the court this deal could become problematic for Memphis. But on the court he’s an ideal fit: a second creator and terrific shooter who can finally give the Grizzlies the extra offensive space they’ve needed for years. It also is a strong sign Mike Conley will return – another reason to like the deal.
The deal: Four years, $70 million with the Portland Trail Blazers
The analysis: Portland went into Friday afternoon seeking to try and reunite longtime friends Chandler Parsons and Dwight Howard. But once Parsons decided to take Memphis’ four-year max offer instead, the Trail Blazers instead turned to Turner, quickly locking up the former No. 2 overall pick to a long-term commitment instead.
Turner played well as a secondary creator for the Celtics, averaging the two highest assist totals of his career, but still posted far below 30 percent shooting numbers from three-point range – a common theme on a Boston team starved for space.
The grade: D
Turner carved out a nice role for himself in Boston, but as a decent defender and ball-handler who is also a terrible shooter, he makes himself a difficult fit for teams as a perimeter player. But teams around the NBA were shocked when the terms of this deal came out. Now, Portland – which The Vertical says is trying to chase Pau Gasol – will either not be able to add any more significant free agents, or will have to renounce one of their three prominent restricted free agents (Allen Crabbe, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard) to sign Gasol or another prominent player.
The deal: Three years, $27 million with the Philadelphia 76ers
The analysis: The Sixers desperately need ball-handlers. On a team full of big men – and, after the draft, pretty well stocked on the wings, too – they needed someone who could bring the ball up the court.
Enter Bayless, who agreed to a deal Friday and could wind up being Philadelphia’s starting point guard. Bayless isn’t anything special, but he shot over 43 percent from three-point range last season, and will be signed through his age 30 season.
The grade: C+
Philadelphia is stuck in a bit of a bad spot. The Sixers have to spend over $40 million just to get to the salary floor, and they desperately needed guard help. So signing Bayless to a deal worth about $9 million a year isn’t a bad way to go. Philly might have been better off going after someone like Jeremy Lin and trying to overpay him instead. But given the situation the Sixers are in, getting Bayless at reasonable money isn’t a terrible way to go.
The deal: Three years, $30 million with the Indiana Pacers
The analysis: The Pacers have gone out and made several moves – including trading for Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young – to try to play faster and add scoring to their lineup. Going out and adding Jefferson, a big, lumbering center, would seem to run counter to that.
But having Jefferson playing behind Myles Turner, one of last season’s many impressive rookies, and torching second units as a low-post scorer makes a lot of sense … assuming that’s what Indiana is signing him to do.
The grade: C+
This could come down to a couple factors:
1) What Jefferson’s role is. If he’s starting in front of or alongside Turner, that would be bad. If he’s coming off the bench for 20 minutes per game and being a scoring hub for the second unit, that would be good.
2) What the third year of the deal looks like. If it’s a team option or partially or non-guaranteed, that would be good. If it’s fully guaranteed or a player option, that would be bad. For now, we’ll give it a C-plus.
The deal: Four years, $98 million with the Miami Heat
The analysis: Whiteside’s remarkable transformation from castoff to max player is officially complete. He was going to get a max offer this summer, and within hours of free agency beginning the big man had two: one from the Heat, and another from the Dallas Mavericks.
After sleeping on it, Whiteside agreed to a four-year deal to stay on South Beach with the team that rescued him from the NBA scrap heap last season.
The grade: B+
Signing Whiteside to this kind of deal certainly comes with some risk. There’s a reason he bounced around the world before eventually finding a home with the Heat, and it had nothing to do with his massive frame or talent. Still, the thought was Whiteside would wind up working out if he stayed with an organization like the Heat, with plenty of infrastructure around him. By agreeing to remain in Miami, he’s assured that will happen.
One other thing that brings this grade up a hair: Whiteside, per multiple reports, is willing to be flexible to help bring Kevin Durant to Miami. That could help the Heat quite a bit.
The deal: Three years, $36 million (including player option for the third season)
The analysis: This was one deal that made too much sense not to happen. The Nets were in desperate need of a starting point guard, and Lin was said to be intent on finding a starting job. Combine the fact he can be a marketing sensation for a Nets team in need of attention and Lin’s longstanding relationship and affection for new Coach Kenny Atkinson, and this had to happen.
The grade: A
Just like the marriage itself, this deal is a great one for both sides. The Nets got a steal getting Lin to come to them at about $12 million per season, given he’s arguably the second-best point guard available and they so badly needed a starter. But Lin getting a player option after the second year will allow him to get back into the market at 29 if he so chooses — making this a good deal on his end, too.
The deal: Five years, $128 million
The analysis: This deal was always going to happen. When Beal and the Wizards didn’t come to an agreement on a max contract extension last fall, the expectation was they’d get one done once free agency began, as that would net the Wizards an extra several million dollars in salary cap space. So it came as no surprise when, early on the first day of free agency, the two sides hammered out an agreement for a full max contract for the 23-year-old shooting guard.
The grade: B
For the reasons stated above, this deal was always going to happen. The Wizards did well to not give Beal any kind of option on the end of the deal, so presuming he’s healthy they’ll have him locked up all the way through his mid-20s – the ideal time to have a player under contract. Because it comes with some risk, though (Beal has only played 70 or more games once in his four year career) this can’t get a top grade, though.
The deal: Five years, $128 million (early termination option on the fifth year)
The analysis: Like Beal, this was always going to happen. Drummond, an all-star center and one of the best young big men in the game, is the centerpiece of Detroit’s rebuilding project under Coach Stan Van Gundy, and has a close relationship with owner Tom Gores. This was just a matter of getting the deal done.
The grade: A
The only thing that could take this down from an A grade, given Drummond’s age and stature within the league, is the early termination option. But the Pistons gained about $15 million in space to improve the roster around him by waiting from the fall until now, making that trade off worth it. Now we’ll see how Detroit uses the extra money at its disposal.
The deal: Five years, $120 million with the Charlotte Hornets
The analysis: For the past month, the recurring word about Batum’s free agency was he was going to eventually agree to a five-year deal to return to the Hornets, who had traded for him a year ago and watched him lead them into the playoffs.
It had seemed Batum might be more interested in surveying the market after agreeing to meet with the Mavericks and phone conversations with a couple of teams Friday morning, including the Washington Wizards. But Batum and the Hornets eventually came to an agreement on a five-year contract and took the French guard off the market before sunrise.
The grade: A
This deal couldn’t have gone better for Charlotte. Everyone knew the Hornets needed to hang onto Batum after they dealt away a former lottery pick in Noah Vonleh to get him from the Portland Trail Blazers last June. But not only did the Hornets hang onto one of the most sought-after free agents on the market, they also convinced him to take about $30 million less than the maximum over the life of the contract. Those savings could help the Hornets keep Marvin Williams and Courtney Lee, their two best free agents they’re likely able to keep. Charlotte would love to keep Jeremy Lin, but he’d like a starting job – something he can’t get with the Hornets. That combination of getting a must-do deal done and saving money at the same time makes this an easy grade.
The deal: Four years, $50 million with the Los Angeles Lakers
The analysis: Clarkson was one of several restricted free agents who was never expected to leave his current team. And, just a few hours after the start of free agency, the Lakers made sure he stuck around– locking up Clarkson to a four-year deal to keep one of their young core pieces in place for years to come.
Clarkson may become a Jamal Crawford-like presence off the bench in Los Angeles as a scoring guard, but he’s been a home run of a selection as the No. 46 pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Along with D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, Clarkson is part of what Los Angeles hopes will become an attractive core to free agents next summer and beyond.
The grade: B-
This contract is fine, and right about what Clarkson was supposed to get if he got a back-loaded offer sheet in free agency. If the Lakers had allowed him to receive one of those offer sheets, they would’ve had Clarkson locked in at an artificially low contract this year and next, giving them more salary cap space to spend. But the per-year rate won’t be terrible on this deal, and the Lakers won’t have to deal with a massive salary cap spike in the back half of the deal now, either.
The deal: Five years, $139 million with the Toronto Raptors
The analysis: Toronto gets its man. DeRozan will now be in position to shatter just about every franchise record after agreeing to return to the team he’s spent his entire career with since being the No. 9 pick in the 2009 NBA draft.
DeRozan has his flaws. He’s not a great shooter, and he’s not really capable of guarding small forwards. But he’s excellent at getting to the foul line, is a good midrange shooter and is a leader of this Raptors team alongside Kyle Lowry. After Toronto put together the best three-year stretch in franchise history, bringing back DeRozan is a sign the Raptors will carry the success they’ve had into the next few years.
The grade: B+
Five years for DeRozan isn’t ideal, but he’s now locked up for his age 27-31 seasons – basically covering the rest of his prime. And because he gave Toronto a bit of a discount, to the tune of about $13 million over the life of the deal, the Raptors may find a way to also bring back their other prominent free agent, Bismack Biyombo. Considering this was expected to be a five-year max, though, the Raptors did well to get him for less.
The deal: Four years, $64 million with the Los Angeles Lakers
The analysis: The Lakers wanted a meeting with Kevin Durant, but couldn’t get one. The Lakers wanted a meeting with Hassan Whiteside, but couldn’t get one. So they went after Mozgov, locking him up within an hour of free agency beginning early Friday morning.
Mozgov never got on track last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers after struggling to recover from offseason knee surgery. He spent much of the postseason on the bench as the Cavaliers won Cleveland’s first championship in more than 50 years. But instead of his market value taking a hit, he wound up with a similar deal to the one he would’ve likely nabbed if he’d been a free agent a year ago –after helping to carry Cleveland to within two wins of a title despite missing Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving with injuries.
The grade: C-
The Lakers got their man, and Mozgov will likely wind up being a better deal than, say, the contract Joakim Noah is closing in on with the Knicks for the same number of years and more money despite him being two years older. But even in the inflated cap environment the NBA finds itself in, this feels like an overpay. After mostly striking out the past couple of years in free agency, it’s understandable why the Lakers would need to overpay to get someone they want. And if Mozgov can regain his form from the 2014-15 season and postseason, this deal will look all right.
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