Welcome back! I’m gonna use this space to give my brief thoughts on all the free-agent deals that go down over the next few days. Stay tuned (this page will be updated)…
Otto Porter — 1 year, minimum (Warriors)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Porter reportedly turned down more money elsewhere to take this deal. If he’s healthy, this should be a home run for Golden State. He’s a plus shooter and capable defender who will solely be asked to shoot and defend for short stretches of games. Of course, he hasn’t been healthy in several years, so I guess we’ll see.
Semi Ojeleye — 1 year, probably minimum (Bucks)
Makes sense for Milwaukee after the departure of P.J. Tucker. I think they’ll need an upgrade in this role eventually but if all you have at your disposal is minimum deals, this is one of the guys that makes sense.
Richaun Holmes — 4 years, $55 million (Kings)
As many have noted, the only way for this deal to get to the reported $55 million is through the trade kicker and it’s likely to settle closer to $46-47 million without it. And just… why do people in the league not think more highly of Richaun Holmes? There wasn’t anybody willing to go higher than this? He’s good! Good for the Kings bringing him back on the (relative) cheap.
Kent Bazemore — 1 year, minimum (Lakers)
At least the Lakers are going after guys that make sense with their minimum deals.
Blake Griffin — 1 year, probably minimum? (Nets)
With Jeff Green leaving for Denver, the Nets needed to bring Griffin back. The next move is finding a way to unload DeAndre Jordan and then, presumably, bringing back Bruce Brown.
Norman Powell — 5 years, $90 million (Trail Blazers)
This is a fully-guaranteed five-year deal for Powell, which is interesting considering [gestures toward Damian Lillard]. It’s a sunk-cost deal for the Blazers after trading Gary Trent Jr. for Powell, and it’s interesting that they both got the same average annual value on their contracts. Powell is older and got a longer deal, but that sort of makes sense given the Blazers’ older core. Portland is still building its perimeter rotation around three very small guards, but at least they have the shooting to make up for the lack of size.
Austin Rivers — 1 year, $X million (Nuggets)
Necessary re-sign for the Nuggets with Jamal Murray likely to miss a significant chunk of the season. Rivers played well for them down the stretch of the season and even occasionally during the playoffs. He’s a low-floor, high-ceiling type who you can ride when he’s hot, and luckily the Nuggets don’t need him to be much more than that.
Devonte’ Graham — 4 years, $47 million (Pelicans)
I like the conceptual fit of putting Graham next to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, but giving up a first-round pick to get Graham via sign-and-trade as opposed to just trying to sign him with cap space is not great asset management. The four years and $47 million is pretty good value, but not so much that it justifies giving up a first here. Woj says it’s a lottery-protected pick in 2022, so either they make the playoffs and give up a late-teens to early-20s pick or they don’t and Zion Watch is officially on.
P.J. Tucker — 2 years, $15 million (Heat)
Shams Charania @ShamsCharaniaFree agent PJ Tucker has agreed to a deal with the Heat, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg are so annoying. Tucker is a really good fit for the just-vacated Trevor Ariza/Jae Crowder role, and this is a decent enough price. They have enough room to fill out their roster with minimum contracts and still duck the luxury tax. Ugh.
Reggie Bullock — 3 years, $30.5 million (Mavericks)
Steep price but the Mavs are clearly going all in on the Luka + Shooters = Profit game plan, and that’s a good one to go all in on.
Daniel Theis — 4 years, $36 million (Rockets)
I like Theis as a player. I think $9 million a year is pretty good value. I’m not sure why the Rockets feel the need to sign him to such a deal, given their team situation. I guess losing Kelly Olynyk next to Christian Wood in the frontcourt made them sweat a bit? Strange fit. Good for Theis to get his money.
Gorgui Dieng — 1 year, $4 million (Hawks)
I don’t think a center would have been my primary target for the Hawks in free agency but Dieng works fine as a third center (or second, if Onyeka Okongwu can’t get healthy) and this isn’t so much money that it hampers them from doing anything else.
JaVale McGee — 1 year, $5 million (Suns)
Perfectly acceptable backup center deal, which the Suns needed with Dario Saric likely out for the season. Nice little pickup here.
Alex Caruso — 4 years, $37 million (Bulls)
Uh-oh level signing for the Lakers. This is a nice get for the Bulls, though. Caruso isn’t much of an outside shooter, but he’s not going to be asked to do that here. He can play with LaVine and/or Lonzo, and he’s another tough defender — which they really need because their team is built around LaVine and Vucevic.
Derrick Rose — 3 years, $43 million (Knicks)
Rose was a great value on his low-money deal last year, but he is no longer making low money and he’s now under contract for three seasons. It is really tough to be enthused about what New York is doing this offseason. Why are all these deals three years? Why are they giving all their bench guys from last season significant raises?
Evan Fournier — 4 years, $78 million (Knicks)
The Knicks are back.
Nicolas Batum — 2 years, $X million (Clippers)
It was very important for the Clippers to retain Batum, given that Kawhi Leonard seems likely to miss most, if not all of this season. He fit in really well as a ball-mover, spacer, and multi-positional defender last year. He’s important for their ability to play big or small, and he fits well with Paul George and Marcus Morris. Assuming they got him on something like the tax mid-level here, this is a good re-signing.
Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington, Dwight Howard — 1 year, prob minimum (Lakers)
Somebody’s (Ellington) gotta shoot. And somebody’s (Ariza) gotta keep LeBron from having to play the 4 when he doesn’t want to. And somebody’s (Dwight) gotta keep AD from having to play the 5 when he doesn’t want to.
Zach Collins — 3 years, $22 million (Spurs)
This is a fascinating (and quite strange) bet by the Spurs. Collins has a ton of talent, and he provides a skill set that none of their current big men bring, assuming he can get back to the version of himself that he was turning into before injuries caused his career to stall out. At less than $8 million, that’s a decent bet… but Collins also hasn’t played in basically two years and I think he might still be hurt and recovering from another surgery? It’s hard to keep track. And again, he hasn’t played in two years and might not play this year and it’s tough to see where else he was getting this much money, or this many years. The Spurs have now spent $64 million over three years on Collins and Doug McDermott and I’m not sure they’re better now than they were an hour and 37 minutes ago.
Gary Trent Jr. — 3 years, $54 million (Raptors)
I love GTJ, man. I think he’s a great fit with OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet, and he should slide in nicely as the 2-guard over the next few years. This should all fit together better than it did last year when the Raptors were dealing with a ridiculous volume of injuries and COVID cases. Trent isn’t as good a defender as his reputation would have you believe but he’s a very good shooter and can attack closeouts quite well. It’s a lot of money, but as mentioned several times below, this is basically the going rate for high-volume, plus-efficiency shooters.
Bobby Portis — 2 years, $9 million (Bucks)
Portis was an important bench piece for the Bucks last year and apparently will remain one for the next couple. His combination of size and shooting works well for them, and they can cover for him on defense by playing him next to either Giannis or Brook Lopez. Just, ya know, don’t throw him out there as the lone big man in playoff games.
Furkan Korkmaz — 3 years, $15 million (76ers)
It’s always seemed like Korkmaz should be able to contribute at a higher level than he actually has. He’s been a solidly above-average three-point shooter the past couple years, though, and the Sixers definitely need as many of those as they can get.
Moe Harkless — 2 years, $9 million (Kings)
I will not pretend to know what the Kings’ overall plan is, but Harkless is a solid combo forward and this is a pretty affordable deal. Nothing to get too worked up about.
David Nwaba — 3 years, $15 million (Rockets)
I kind of like Nwaba. The Rockets aren’t going anywhere anytime soon so this deal is mostly inoffensive, even if I don’t like signing back-of-rotation guys to three-year deals most of the time.
Jeff Green — 2 years, $10 million (Nuggets)
Give Jeff Green credit. He knows exactly what he should be doing at this point in his career. He can play in the frontcourt with any of Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., and Aaron Gordon. Jokic will feed him easy looks from three. It seems like Paul Millsap is on his way out.
Sterling Brown — 2 years, $6.2 million (Mavericks)
Brown’s a capable three-and-D guy and his weaknesses (dribbling, creating, dribbling, doing anything with the ball in his hands, dribbling) are minimized playing next to Luka Doncic.
Chris Paul — 4 years, $120 million
The last year or two of this deal seems likely to be pretty painful, but if that’s what was needed to keep the culture-changing point guard who significantly raises the team’s floor and keeps them in the championship mix, then that’s just what you have to do. Shout out to CP3 for getting bank until he’s 40. Dude has already completely broken the age curve (especially considering his size), and the head of the Players Association wasn’t going to take a discount, even at his age. Point God.
Doug McDermott — 3 years, $42 million (Spurs)
McDermott’s signing in San Antonio was an obvious prelude to the deal we’ll get into right below. The Spurs desperately needed shooting, and they get one of the league’s best shooters here. McDermott has become more willing to attack the rim in recent seasons, which is nice, but this is still a steep price for a likely backup combo forward playing 15-25 minutes per game.
Torrey Craig — 2 years, $10 million (Pacers)
This is an extremely Rick Carlisle signing. Craig is going to defend five positions and play a significant role off the bench, I’d bet. Indiana needed another big wing, too, especially with McDermott out the door and the questions surrounding T.J. Warren’s health.
Duncan Robinson — 5 years, $90 million (Heat)
It pays to be one of the best movement shooters in the league. Robinson remains arguably the Heat’s best find in years, considering he was an undrafted free agent and two-way signing who didn’t get converted until the very tail end of the 2018-19 season. He’s an integral part of their offense and he should only get more open looks now that the Heat have added Lowry. Is $18 million a year a bit much? Maybe. But it’s the going rate for players of Robinson’s archetype.
T.J. McConnell — 4 years, $32.5 million (Pacers)
Solid backup point guard money for a solid backup point guard. McConnell can’t shoot outside of the paint but he also doesn’t really try to. He’s a good defender, very good passer, and and will probably be one of Rick Carlisle’s favorite players on this team, if history is our guide. He’s made a nice career for himself.
Cameron Payne — 3 years, $19 million (Suns)
If Payne plays at a level remotely approaching what he’s done since landing with the Suns, this is an awfully nice contract for Phoenix. He’s just a good backup point guard, and one who provides the team with a much different look than their starter while also having the ability to play next to either Chris Paul or Devin Booker, in certain lineups. I thought Payne would get more than this on the market, but if he wanted to stay in the only organization where he’s found NBA success, that’s good for him, too.
Alec Burks — 3 years, $30 million (Knicks)
Another run-it-back deal for the Knicks, again for more money and on a longer term. Burks played really well for them last year when he was healthy and if no big upgrades were available, this seems fine. His ability to move into a lead ball-handler role will be key as it does not look like the Knicks will be adding one of the better point guard options on the market.
Kelly Olynyk — 3 years, $37 million (Pistons)
It’s not free agency if the Pistons don’t hand out an unnecessary multi-year contract to yet another center. They just paid the Hornets to take Mason Plumlee off their hands and now they do this. Olynyk is a better player but I really just do not get Detroit’s FA plan, two years in.
Nerlens Noel — 3 years, $32 million (Knicks)
Getting Noel on a one-year, $5 million deal was one of the most efficient moves of last offseason. Doubling his salary (and a little bit more) over three years instead of one isn’t as efficient, obviously. Noel is a capable center but this kind of locks the Knicks into once again playing two bigs at almost all times, which figures to hamstring their offense in similar ways. Paying Noel this much does not seem like particularly good news for the Mitchell Robinson era in New York — especially after the team picked up his team option to keep him for this season at a lower cost and risk losing him in unrestricted free agency next summer, rather than declining the option and retaining the right to match any offer he receives this year. It also seems odd that the Knicks made such a concerted effort to maximize every single dollar of their available cap space this offseason if all they planned to do was bring their guys back and maybe add Evan Fournier, as has been rumored.
Jarrett Allen — 5 years, $100 million (Cavaliers)
I wouldn’t really want to give a non-star center a five-year deal. I especially wouldn’t want to do that after drafting what I hope will be my franchise center eventually, last week. I suppose Allen and Evan Mobley can play together and it’s not like $20 million per year is untradeable but it’s not the best use of resources, in my opinion.
Tim Hardaway Jr. — 4 years, $72 million (Mavericks)
Hardaway has proven himself a valuable tertiary scorer for the Mavericks, and he’s an excellent fit in a Luka Doncic-led offense due to his ability to score without dribbling very often. He’s become a better defender over the years, though he’s still not a positive force on that end. It’ll be pretty difficult for Dallas to make significant talent upgrades in the future with this deal on the books, though, so I wonder if there is another move coming to land a point guard complement for them this offseason.
Kyle Lowry — 3 years, $90 million million (Heat)
Miami getting a big upgrade at point guard and with a player who is a perfect culture fit is probably the best move of free agency so far. Now, the Heat just have to hope Jon Horst doesn’t file tampering charges, because the Heat definitely were not the ones who complained about the Bogdan Bogdanovic deal last year. Paying a very small guard $30 million a year deep into his 30s is scary but Lowry (like Paul, mentioned above) has already broken the age curve anyway. His ability to play on or off the ball has tremendous half-court value for a team that likes to run offense through Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and he gives them a big defensive upgrade for the cost of only money (the difference between his deal and that of Goran Dragic), Precious Achiuwa, and a second-round pick.
Mike Conley — 3 years, $68 million (Jazz)
You have to figure that a deal sending Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, or Joe Ingles out the door is coming pretty soon from the Jazz. They were bumping up against the tax line already at the beginning of the offseason and paid a first-round pick to dump Derrick Favors’ contract, because Conley is that important to their hopes. Ryan Smith has talked a big game about spending but pretty much everyone has reported they want to cut this tax bill, so I’m just assuming a cost-cutting move will be coming in the future. Dealing away from the wing seems like an odd choice, but perhaps they can find cheaper options to replicate those players’ skill sets. Either way, getting Conley to come back for just south of $23 million per year is very nice value, even if he declines a bit as he ages.
Will Barton — 2 years, $32 million (Nuggets)
Barton is a key bring-back for the Nuggets with Jamal Murray likely to miss a significant chunk of next season. Their offense really suffered with both players out. Barton figures to start at the 2 between Monte Morris and the Michael Porter Jr./Aaron Gordon frontcourt, and his individual shot creation is a necessary skill for a team playing without its second-best scorer for a bunch of the year.
Lonzo Ball — 4 years, $85 million (Bulls)
The Bulls are acquiring Lonzo in a sign-and-trade for for Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple (on a three-year, $15 million deal with the first two years guaranteed), and 2nd-round pick, if I’m piecing the reports together correctly.
That’s a nice bit of trade business for the Bulls, and Lonzo is an excellent conceptual fit as a backcourt partner for Zach LaVine. They’re going to have great size in the backcourt, Lonzo can fit neatly into his off-ball shooter and mover role in the half-court around the LaVine-Nikola Vucevic pick and roll that should form the basis of Chicago’s offense, and he will help Patrick Williams and Thaddeus Young improve the team’s defense. The price is a little steep for my liking but hey, that’s how it goes in restricted free agency.