As we promised yesterday, it’s time for the NBA Free Agency Roundup! We already know about how Kevin Durant ruined the Fourth of July for everyone outside of the Bay Area, but there’s plenty of other moves to review and catch up on, so let’s jump right in. Remember that none of these deals can actually become official until tomorrow, but we’re going to assume that nobody changes their mind like DeAndre Jordan did last summer…
The Lakers kick off Free Agency by signing Timofey Mozgov
Way back in the wee hours of July 1st, the Lakers made the first agreement of Free Agency, and it was to Timofey Mozgov, the center who seemed like he disappeared after playing a key part of Cleveland’s trip to the 2015 Finals. Would you even believe me if I told you that he played in 76 games this season? It’s true. The big lumbering center isn’t exactly a hot commodity in today’s NBA, but the Lakers snatched him up after he went from averaging 10.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in 26.5 minutes a game in the 2015 Playoffs to paltry 1.2/1.6/5.8 averages on those same stats in the 2016 Playoffs. It’s easy to laugh at this signing, and, well, I’m not going to discourage you from doing so. I’m not sure if Mozgov is even going to eclipse Roy Hibbert’s useless 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds a game as the Lakers last starting center. Actually, Mozgov is a better rebounder than that. So, nice move, Lakers.
An actual nice move they made was picking up Luol Deng. The solid veteran is coming off a good Playoff showing, and will provide veteran leadership, defense and 12-15 points a game for the young Lakers. He’s always been a favorite of mine, so it bums me out he’s on my least favorite team, but hopefully he’ll fit into his role nicely there.
The other moves the Lakers made were bringing back Jordan Clarkson, a key cog of their young core, and Tarik Black, a backup big man. It’ll probably be another lowly year for the Lakers next season, but, I think they will actually be better as they start to head in the right direction after a few forgettable seasons.
The Pistons sign Ish Smith
Everybody seems to love Ish Smith, and with a three year deal in place, he’s finally maybe found a home. He’s played for nine teams since breaking into the NBA in 2010, and he’s been used mostly as a backup point guard. However, he finished off last season starting 50 games for Philadelphia, and averaging 14.7 points and seven assists a game. He’ll head back to the bench with Detroit, where he’ll be backing up Reggie Jackson, but this seems like a good spot for him as Stan Van Gundy continues to build a nice little team up in Detroit.
Adding to their bench, they also signed Jon Leuer, who has proven to be a solid backup Power Forward. The biggest move they made, however, was retaining star center Andre Drummond with a 130 million dollar max contract. After making the Playoffs for the first time this decade, and putting up a valiant fight against the Cavaliers in a first round sweep, the Pistons are primed to improve.
Speaking of backup point guards, DJ Augustin is going to Orlando
After spending his first four seasons with Charlotte, Augustin’s been bouncing around the league like Ish Smith, playing for six teams over the past four seasons. By now, you know what to expect out of DJ Augustin, scoring off the bench, and someone you can roll with as a starter if your main point guard gets hurt.
Also joining the Magic is Jeff Green, who unlike DJ Augustin, you never know what you’re going to get. One night, he’ll explode for 40 points, and the next night, he’ll score 4. He’s one of the most maddening players in the league, and one of my least favorite. When he was up here in Boston, I was convinced that he didn’t always care or put in his best effort. Theoretically, he’s a great third scorer at Small Forward, but as far as consistency goes, he’s quite lacking. Have fun with this one, Magic fans.
To counter Jeff Green, the Magic also signed one of my favorite performers from this year’s Playoffs, Bismack Biyombo, who captured hearts with some heroic efforts for the Toronto Raptors while filling in for injured starting center, Jonas Valanciunas. Bismack’s coming off his best season, and established himself as a tenacious rebounder, someone who you could trust in your starting lineup, which the Magic could do, or have him as a great backup to incumbent starter, Nikola Vucevic.
Returning to the Magic will be Evan Fournier, who is coming off a career year in Orlando. He developed into a key component of their team with a career high 15.4 points per game as the starting Small Forward. Will Jeff Green back him up, or move into the starting lineup with Fournier moving to Shooting Guard? With new coach Frank Vogel, who arguably could be Orlando’s biggest offseason addition, it will be interesting to see if the Magic can build off of their promising 19-13 start to last season, or will they revert to the team that stumbled throughout the second half of the season.
Linsanity returns to New York
That’s right, Jeremy Lin is back in the Big Apple, but this time, it’ll be over in Brooklyn with the lowly Nets. Lin’s developed into a pretty good guard to have on your bench, and had a nice first round series for the Hornets in their seven game loss to the Heat. With how bad the Nets are, he might be their second best player.
Joining Lin in Brooklyn is seven-footer Justin Hamilton, a man who was last seen playing in Spain. He’s appeared in just 49 NBA games, averaging five points. Trevor Booker is also signing on to Brooklyn, and he’s another solid backup, who will probably get the most minutes he’s ever played because the Nets are awful. It’s going to be another lousy season in Brooklyn, which is great for the Celtics, because they can swap draft picks with them! It’s astounding how quickly the Nets went from one of the NBA’s super teams, to probably the most depressing team in the league, and that includes Sixers, who at least have Ben Simmons to lead them into the future.
Big Al’s off to Indiana
Al Jefferson, perhaps the last of a dying breed of Power Forwards with slick post moves, is heading to the Pacers, where it seems he’ll be coming off the bench. Many quickly questioned what the Pacers were doing adding Jefferson, a slower player who would have fit in during the 80s, battling in the paint with Kevin McHale, while the team has vowed to play faster. My guess is he’ll be the scorer for the Pacers bench units, and that’s a pretty good role for him at this point. If the bench is struggling to score, they can just dump the ball into Jefferson in the paint and let him go to work while the speedy starters take a break.
Mirza, Dellavedova go to Milwaukee
Mirza Teletovic is joining the Milwaukee Bucks after a solid year off the bench with the Suns, in which he averaged 12.2 points a game. On top of that, they’re adding Matthew Dellavedova, the pesky backup guard from the Cavs. They seem to be trying to build a funky team, rife with matchup problems for their opponents. Will it be enough to get them back into the Playoffs?
Evan Turner’s off to Portland
My Celtics suffered a free agent casualty when Evan Turner departed for Portland. The former second overall pick had always been labeled as a bit of a disappointment until he found the perfect role in Boston, coming off the bench as a calming presence, and providing great, all-around play. In his two years with Boston, he averaged 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game. He became the perfect bench player, and we’ll miss him. It’s a great move for Portland, who improves their already solid team with a guy who will know his role and not disrupt team harmony.
Chandler Parsons opts for grit and grind
The Grizzlies might have finally found the Small Forward they’ve been looking for all these years, as Parsons can score and shoot, something they need down in Memphis. The only issue here is, of course, injuries. Parsons has had issues with them during his two years in Dallas, but if he’s healthy, he’ll give the Grizzlies a good third option behind Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, who has opted to stay, thanks to a mammoth, 153 million dollar max extension, currently the largest in NBA history.
I actually think the Grizzlies are poised to bounce back after their season imploded on them. It’s easy to forget that they were a solid 39-26 before the sheer amount of injuries to their key players overwhelmed them, leading to a yucky 3-14 finish. With Parsons on the team, as long as they can stay healthy, Memphis should go right back to being a tough contender in the West.
Dwight Howard comes home to Atlanta
After a tumultuous year in Houston, Dwight Howard, destroyer of team chemistry and harmony, is heading to the city in which he was born to play for the Hawks. It’ll be interesting to see how his presence impacts a team that had been modeling themselves after the chemistry conscious Spurs. While he’s no longer the dominating force he was in his early days in Orlando, even the current version of Howard is a guaranteed double-double, coming off a season averaging 13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game. The big questions are, can he stay healthy, and will the locker room remain a place of peace and harmony.
Perhaps with locker room peace and harmony in mind, the Hawks are also bringing back Kent Bazemore, a fan favorite coming off a career year, averaging 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds a game. After trading Jeff Teague and replacing Al Horford with Dwight Howard, it will be interesting to see if the Hawks can remain in the top half of the Eastern Conference Playoff teams next season.
E’Twaun Moore & Solomon Hill join the Pelicans, Jared Dudley goes back to the Suns
I guess Moore and Hill are decent players to have coming off the bench? It hasn’t exactly been an exciting free agency for New Orleans, but at least they drafted Buddy Hield!
Meanwhile, Dudley’s returning to the place where he’s had his most success, the Phoenix Suns. Of course, it’s a much different place than it was when he was first there. Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire are long gone, but Dudley’s one of the best guys you can have coming off your bench, so, that’s good for the Suns at least. Other than that, it’s been quiet for Phoenix, but at least they drafted Dragan Bender!
After the boring Pelicans and Suns, we could use a more splashy team, and the New York Knicks are more than happy to oblige. After trading for Derrick Rose, they went and signed his old Bulls buddy, Joakim Noah. He’s coming off two disastrous seasons in Chicago, both injury plagued, and the most recent one saw him coming off the bench, a role to which he did not adapt well to. He’s not very far removed from having established himself as one of the best Centers in the league, an All Star, and even an MVP candidate. Can he bounce back and remain healthy? One thing’s for certain, the Knicks fans are going to love him, so this might actually be the perfect place for him to revitalize his career.
New York also added Courtney Lee, who’s been a solid contributor no matter where he’s played. He’ll make a good backcourt partner for Derrick Rose, and provide some steady defense. In addition to Lee, they added Brandon Jennings to back up Rose at point guard. The former starter has run into some injury issues of his own, but this seems like it could be a solid addition. Maybe.
Returning to the Knicks is Lance Thomas. He’s developed into a key piece off of the Knicks bench, and they’ll need a good bench to back up their star-studded, and injury prone, starting five.
With a starting lineup of Noah, Kristaps Porzingas, Carmelo Anthony, Courtney Lee and Derrick Rose, the Knicks should have a real shot of making the Playoffs. This being the Knicks however, at least three of those guys will have disappointing, injury riddled seasons, and they’re already playing with injury fire with Rose and Noah. They’ll have to overcome more than injuries and their opponents if they’re going to make the Playoffs next season, they’ll have to overcome the yucky Knicks funk that has plagued them for much of the 21st century.
Joe Johnson joins Jazz
The veteran scorer is off to Utah, likely to bolster the Jazz bench. In fact, as long as they stay healthy, the Jazz are poised to be next season’s team on the rise, like the Celtics this past season. After barely missing out on the Playoffs with a 40-42 record, they’ve added Johnson and traded for George Hill. Injuries were a contributing factor to them missing out on the postseason, and everyone is anxious to see what a healthy Jazz squad can do.
The Sacramento Kings added the following players to Basketball Hell
Ah, the goofy, lowly Kings. The team that just can’t figure themselves out. Arron Afflalo will be joining them. I can’t tell if he’s underrated or overrated, but he will certainly add some scoring to their lineup.
After finding a home in Washington, Garrett Temple will sucked into the Kings vortex. He spent the first couple of years in the league bouncing around, including a five game cameo with the Kings in the 2010-11 season. He even spent some time playing in Italy before the Wizards rescued him. He’s a versatile player, able to play both guard positions and Small Forward. After spending the last four seasons with the relatively stable Wizards, I’m sure he’ll feel right at home being back in basketball oblivion.
Finally, Matt Barnes will be joining the Kings, coming over for his second stint with the team. The last time he played there, they went 50-32 and some of his teammates included Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Bobby Jackson, Brad Miller, Greg Ostertag, Peja Stojakovic, and Chris Webber. They went on to lose in the first round of the Playoffs to the Seattle Supersonics. He’ll add toughness, veteran leadership, and plenty of stories to share with the younger players about a time when the Kings were actually contenders, and not a joke, hard though it may be to believe.
The Rockets pillage the Pelicans for shooters
Houston snatched both Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon away from the Pelicans as they stock up on shooters for new coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Anderson’s long been one of the NBA’s best shooting big man, and last year he averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds a game off the bench. The only issue with him is he’s played more than 66 games in a season only once in his career, but when he’s healthy, make no mistake, he’s one of the league’s better scorers off the bench, and if the Rockets can get themselves back amongst the better teams in the league, he could be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
As for Eric Gordon, his path to stardom was derailed by his own injury issues. He’s only played more than 64 games in a season once, and is coming off another injury riddled year. That being said, he’s still a great scorer and shooter for what should be a high powered Rockets offense. I don’t know where they expect to get any defense outside of point guard Patrick Beverly, so expect them to produce some ridiculous high scores next season.
The Celtics actually sign a big free agent
This one’s exciting for me, a big Celtics fan. It was the summer between first and second grade for me when the last major free agent came to Boston. I couldn’t tell you how excited I was to have Dominique Wilkins joining my favorite team. Even as a very young lad, I knew Wilkins was a real star, because I had read his high scoring stats off of his basketball cards. Of course, he spent only one weird season with the Celtics, averaging 17.8 points per game, the lowest since his rookie season, and even coming off the bench for part of the year. Now, the Celtics have scooped up another Hawks star, Al Horford, who heads up to Boston after spending his entire career with Atlanta. Horford gives the Celtics a great big man, something they desperately need, and he can even pop out beyond the arc and knock down the occasional three pointer. For a few fleeting moments, this signing also got New England’s hopes up that Kevin Durant was coming to town as well, but if we can’t have him, Horford’s not a bad consolation prize. For one thing, it bumps the Celtics up from that quagmire in the middle of the Eastern Conference, where they, along with the Heat, Hawks and Hornets, went 48-34, and has hopefully established them as a serious contender for future free agents.
The Mavericks strike out again
Ever since they won a championship in 2011, the Mavericks have entered almost every summer with lofty targets in free agency, armed with Dirk Nowitzki and a reputation as a team that everyone would want to play for. I don’t know where that reputation comes from, because since that championship, they haven’t attracted a single one of their targets, outside of Chandler Parsons, who is now leaving. This year, it was Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside, both of whom remained with their original teams, with Parsons joining Conley in Memphis. So, instead, they’re getting Harrison Barnes, fresh off an atrocious Finals performance. Once upon a time, he averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in 12 Playoff games as a rookie, and this is what the Mavs are hoping to get out of him. With the Warriors, it seemed as if his confidence had crumbled, but now he’s the Mavericks big free agent acquisition, so he better regain that confidence quickly.
They also worked out a trade to bring over Andrew Bogut from the Warriors, perhaps hoping that getting two starters from the 73-win Warriors would deplete them, only to have Kevin Durant sign there. Anyway, Bogut is still a defensive anchor, and is a good enough passer that some offense can run through him. He’s even been relatively healthy the last couple of years, although his injury in the Finals helped contribute to the Warriors embarrassing defeat after their 3-1 series lead.
Sticking with the Warriors theme, the Mavs also signed Seth Curry, brother of Steph Curry. Seth had his moments with the Kings last year, and maybe he’ll have more with the Mavs. Jesus, this is sad.
Coming back to the Mavs is Deron Williams, one of those former big free agent prizes they once whiffed on. After flaming out on the Nets, Williams came back with a decent season as the Mavericks point guard, averaging 14.1 points and 5.8 assists a game. There was once a time when people would argue about whether he or Chris Paul was the best point guard in the league. Unbelievable. That being said, he did have a nice year, and I’m glad he’ll be back on the Mavs.
Last, but certainly not least, Dallas is bringing back the face of their franchise, Dirk Nowitzki, who has repeatedly taken discounts to help the Mavs have the money to sign all of these free agents that they end up missing out on. As always, I’m sure the Mavs will find a way to make the Playoffs, but I can’t help but feel a little bad for Nowitzki. You know, as much as one can feel bad for a multi-millionaire, NBA champion and legend.
The Wizards signed some guys, too!
That’s right, Washington DC, get excited for Ian Mahinmi! He was actually a solid starter for the Pacers last year, but he could be headed back to the bench with incumbent front court starters Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris already in town. They also picked up Andrew Nicholson, a backup Power Forward from Orlando, and Jason Smith, Orlando’s backup Center. Apparently the Wizards felt they needed more depth up front.
The big news out of our nation’s capital, of course, is that Bradley Beal is sticking around, thanks to a 130 million dollar max extension. Beal is a talented player and wonderful shooter, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy over the course of his first four seasons in DC, and was even relegated to the bench at times last season, starting a career low 35 of the career low 55 games he appeared in. If he can stay healthy, Beal forms what is potentially one of the NBA’s best backcourts along with John Wall, and keeping him around is important to the Wizards returning to the Playoffs.
Free agent center Nene has agreed to a deal with Houston, sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 6, 2016
Speaking of the Wizards, their former big man is off to the Rockets. NBA Free Agency doesn’t stop just because I’m in the middle of writing a lengthy opus about it. Nene has always been one of those players who has been great when he gives a damn, but has a tendency to become unengaged at times. Just when the Rockets get rid of Dwight Howard, they bring in the Brazilian version.
Don’t forget about the Timberwolves!
They picked up Cole Aldrich, who had a nice season off the bench for the Clippers as a back up big man. It’s a nice little move for Minnesota, who continue to become more and more intriguing. Once the Jazz realize their potential, the Timberwolves will grab the torch as the proverbial team on the rise.
The Bulls replace Rose with Rondo
Rajon Rondo, who has morphed into maybe one of the least liked players in the league, will be the next Bulls point guard. He is coming off a season that resembles his prime, pre-injury years with the Celtics. He sprung for 11.9 points, six rebounds, a league leading 11.7 assists and two steals a game, but most observers believe that he spent the season padding his stats on that lowly Kings team. It seems like a million years ago when Rondo nearly averaged a triple-double in a legendary first round Playoff series against a rookie Derrick Rose and the Bulls. Now he’ll be running the show in Chicago and frustrating a new fan base with his mercurial ways.
MORE BREAKING NEWS!
Brandon Rush has landed a one-year deal at $3.5 million with the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to his agent Mark Bartelstein
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 6, 2016
Another nice move to shore up the bench in Minnesota. He’ll provide three point shooting, and should get more playing time to make more of an impact than he did with the loaded Warriors.
The Warriors didn’t stop with Durant
Joining the hunt for a ring is Zaza Pachulia, who will be the big man in a starting lineup consisting of him, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. He provides the seven foot rim protector they sorely need, and he’s always been a solid, tough player.
Also coming over is veteran Power Forward David West, who went ring chasing last season with the Spurs, only to have it go awry in the Playoffs. Maybe this will be his year?
Hibbert to the Hornets
Remember when I mentioned “Roy Hibbert’s useless 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds a game” way back at the beginning of this long-ass post? Well, he’ll be taking those underwhelming numbers over to the Charlotte Hornets. It’s unclear if they’ll have him start over Cody Zeller, or come off the bench like they had Al Jefferson doing. Hibbert was an All Star as recently as two years ago, but he’s another big center who has had his impact diminished as the NBA evolves into a pace and space league.
The bigger Hornets news is that they’re keeping Nicolas Batum, thanks to a 120 million dollar extension. He was a big part of the Hornets becoming a fun, 48-win team, averaging 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Also staying put in Charlotte is Marvin Williams, who, like the aforementioned Evan Turner, is a former second overall pick who went from a bit of a disappointment, to finding the right role in the NBA. He was the starting Power Forward for the Hornets, and he fits right into the smaller lineups that many teams strive for. I enjoyed the Hornets last season, so I am glad they’ve kept these key players.
The Spurs get a Gasol!
Replacing David West, or maybe even potentially replacing Tim Duncan, is Pau Gasol, who will be joining the Spurs. He seems like the perfect Spur, doesn’t he? He’s still going strong, too, averaging 16.5 points, 11 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2 blocks a game for the Bulls last year. As always, pencil the Spurs in for 60-something wins, but do they have enough to overcome the Warriors?
The Philadelphia 76ers make a Free Agency cameo!
That’s right. They signed Gerald Henderson, whose father, also named Gerald, played there in the late 80s. The younger, current Gerald, has proven to be a solid contributor both as a starter and off the bench, where he was last year with Portland. If the Sixers are serious about actually starting to try and win basketball games, a move like this, while not at all splashy, is a step in the right direction.
These guys are staying put!
Big extensions were given to handed out to these guys. After the most successful season in their history, the Raptors retained leading scorer DeMar DeRozan with a 139 million dollar deal.
Hassan Whiteside is sticking with the Heat, thanks to a four year, 98 million dollar extension. He’s emerged from basketball obscurity to become maybe the most dominant big man in the game these days, after averaging 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and a league leading 3.7 blocks a game. It’s nice that he’s found a home after a ridiculous basketball odyssey that took him all around the world.
After they realized there was no chance in Hell that Kevin Durant would be joining them, the Clippers scrambled to retain their bench players. Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Wesley Johnson. The Clippers boasted that their bench would be better last season, and it still ended up being fairly lousy, and now, they’ve had no choice but to bring them all back, with the exception of escapees Jeff Green and Cole Aldrich, not to mention the uncertain status of Paul Pierce, who may or may not retire. Sounds like they’re locked in to another disappointing second round exit, and that’s if they can remain healthy.
I believe that does it! That’s all the Free Agent moves so far, unless I missed some, but since we’re over 4,000 words, I think you’ll forgive a missed signing or two. There’s still a few big names hanging around, like Dwyane Wade, so keep your eyes and your ears open, and I’m sure we’ll be back with another all encompassing, way-too-long account of what happens.