With NBA free agency wrapped up, I went through all the signings and picked out my favorites. Here’s those 12:
Mirza Teletovic, three years, $30 million with the Bucks
This was the most Buckiest signing ever. Milwaukee is putting together this team of long athletic guys who can shoot and defend. They’re not totally worrying about position, which is the way the league is going.
Mirza Teletovic was one of my favorite Suns. He nailed threes when it mattered, and could come off the bench and flat out score. However, Jared Dudley is his replacement, so I won’t be too disappointed.
Milwaukee has a lot of guys that could start elsewhere, but that also means they have a really deep bench. Teletovic only adds to it.
Nicolas Batum, five years, $120 million max contract with the Hornets
One of the running jokes heading into free agency was the max contract Nicolas Batum was gonna get from someone. It was known by people in the league and on Twitter that it was actually gonna happen, but to a common fan, it was unbelievable.
Sure enough, it did. But as insane as it is, it also makes sense. Charlotte was the one team who viewed Batum as a max guy, considering he was their best player. Therefore, its not all that surprising.
Losing Batum would have been fatal to the Hornets’ playoffs chances next season. He’s their playmaker on offense. Turning the ball over to Kemba Walker isn’t very smart.
So yeah, even though Batum got the max, he’s worth it to Charlotte. And again, since the cap was up 35% this Summer, contracts were too. And that applies to everyone.
Jordan Clarkson, four years, $50 million with the Lakers
Jordan Clarkson is one of my favorite young players in the league. He’s super crafty and makes stuff happen. I felt like it was necessary for the Lakers to re-sign him. Him leaving would slot Lou Williams in at shooting guard, which would be a odd with a young team like this (Sounds like a Byron Scott move).
I think the contract he was given was perfect, though I was surprised that no one else made an offer to him. Perhaps no one wanted to pay that much?
This Lakers team has a friskiness element to them now. A lineup of Russell-Clarkson-Ingram-Randle-Mozgov isn’t all that bad. Yes, the Timofey Mozgov signing was really aggressive. But the Lakers have a good coach now. That itself will take this team so much farther this season.
Trevor Booker, two years, $18.5 million with the Nets
The Nets have had a great offseason. New GM Sean Marks has gave this team knowledge of the league, and has halted them from being one of the dumbest teams we’ve ever seen.
Even though they lost Tyler Johnson to Miami, Brooklyn is getting better. This signing proves that (Jeremy Lin’s too). Trevor Booker is essentially their Thaddeus Young replacement, who is now in Indiana. This team is finally showing interest in being competent again, in the front office and on the court.
Booker will help take the pressure off of Brook Lopez down low, which is great since Lopez is always hurt and is exiting his prime.
Mike Conley, five years, $153 million max contract with the Grizzlies
The sheer massiveness of Mike Conley’s deal took many by surprise, expectedly so as its the most lucrative NBA contract ever. But its not like Memphis chose those numbers. The team and player don’t negotiate max contracts. The player tells the team he wants the max, and the salary cap and its max-parameters figure out how much money the contract will be worth.
Even though Memphis didn’t put this contract together, its possible they would have. Losing Mike Conley, one of the most underrated players in the league, would have sent Memphis into a rebuild. It would have left them with Zach Randolph, who’s slowly becoming the type of player who doesn’t fit in the league anymore, and Marc Gasol, one of the best players in the league. He certainly would have been shopped.
Instead, Memphis spent everything they had on Conley, and signed Chandler Parsons to help with shooting that they’ve desperately lacked the past two seasons. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Parsons signing, mostly because he’s too unreliable and got max numbers, but it fills a need for the Grizzlies.
Tyler Johnson, four years, $50 million with the Heat
It looked like Tyler Johnson was headed to Brooklyn early in the free agency period, because no one believed Dwyane Wade would actually leave Miami. When that happened, it forced Miami to pay Tyler Johnson.
I was at a Heat-Timberwolves game last November when I was introduced to Johnson. Me and my Dad fell in love with him. It was a classic “Who’s that guy?’ moment.
I figure that Johnson is now the starter at shooting guard for the Heat; his contract fits a starter’s bill.
Johnson’s a lot different than Wade. He’s not gonna iso like Wade did, or take bad shots. Johnson’s gonna go the basket, similar to a point guard.
The Heat have a big shift coming, as two new starters will have to fit in. Johnson and Justise Winslow seem to be taking over at 2 and 3 this upcoming season. Its gonna be a transition, as expected when you lose someone as key as Dwyane Wade.
Anthony Tolliver, two years, $16 million with the Kings
Like the Nets, the Kings making smart NBA decisions is a new phenomena. Actually, I’m not ready to say that the Kings are smart yet. They still have the same management. But this is a smart signing.
Sacramento has lacked shooting in past years, and Anthony Tolliver is a guy who can come in and knock shots down. He’s not gonna do a whole lot else, but this fits a great need for the Kings.
Its a pretty average contract for this market. There’s no way he makes this much last Summer, but again, the inflation we’ve seen this Summer applies to everyone.
Sacramento didn’t stop there with adding shooting. The Matt Barnes and Aaron Affalo signings didn’t make this list, but they were both smart moves too.
Zaza Pachuila, one year, $2.9 million with the Warriors
Its hard to imagine what Zaza Pachuila would have made in this market if he chose to chase the money. My guess is a Timofey Mozgov-like deal. Instead, Zaza chased winning, and took an enormous pay cut to play for the Warriors.
This made many teams around the league upset, much more upset than Kevin Durant signing there. But those teams have to realize that 1) This is the culture the Warriors have built, and they can easily attract guys this way. 2) This is also the salary cap’s fault. Pachulia can take a contract much less than what he’s worth. If there were no cap, its much more likely that Pachulia takes his full value.
Basketball-wise, Pachulia is the Warriors’ new Andrew Bogut, but I have doubts that he will start. I think the new-and-improved death lineup will be the starting one, but Pachulia is going to be the Warriors true center, so he’ll definitely get a lot minutes.
Langston Galloway, two years, $10 million with the Pelicans
Langston Galloway has become one of my favorite young players in the league the past two seasons. He’s electric and a scorer, exactly what the Pelicans need.
New Orleans has lacked stability for so long. At least now, they have guys who they can lean on. They aren’t stars (Besides Anthony Davis), but they’re at least viable NBA players, unlike Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans.
You just hope that Alvin Gentry plays the young guys, and forms a starting lineup around these players they’ve signed and drafted this offseason.
Meyers Leonard, four years, $41 million with the Trail Blazers
Meyers Leonard is another one of my favorite young players in the league. He was fantastic for Portland last season, and would have made the Trail Blazers-Warriors 2nd round playoff series a lot more interesting had he not been hurt.
I think Leonard’s contract is very fair. He definitely benefited from the cap boom, but he’s not a star, and wasn’t really gonna get overpaid.
He’s on this list because I like him, and he would have been great anywhere not just Portland.
He should start next to Festus Ezeli, a fit that had me concerned at first, but its growing on me.
My worry is that Ezeli, who has a new, big contract, is gonna be want to be fed. Big men like to fed down low, as Dwight Howard always lets us know.
Thats gonna take away from Leonard, who is a stretch-4-type player. He can shoot!
Ezeli has plenty of confidence, as we know from Golden State. I think there’s a chance it hurts Leonard on the court, and takes away his production.
Brandon Bass, one year-minimum with the Clippers
I like this cheap signing for the Clippers because there’s a chance that Blake Griffin is traded (Or, more likely, injured, like last year.) at some point, and Bass would be a great interim replacement. He can space the floor more than Griffin. He can hit an occasional three. Griffin has no jumpshot. Its been one of the most criticized aspects of his game.
The Clippers still have the same issue as last year, and thats at small forward. They still have no viable option there. Yikes!
Aaron Brooks, one year, $2.5 million with the Pacers
Before the Bulls decided to construct a team made for 2010, I thought they should have turned the point guard reigns over to Aaron Brooks. He was their point guard when Derrick Rose was hurt the past four years. And he was dang good. Brooks has command. He can control an offense, unlike Rose (and his injuries) weren’t able to do.
Instead of rebuilding, and letting Brooks take over point guard while Jerian Grant develops, Brooks signed in Indiana, while the Bulls signed Rajon Rondo. Brooks will be backup to Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis. Thats suddenly a real nice backcourt the Pacers have put together. Plus, if Ellis is hurt, Brooks can step in and not be a huge drop-off in production.