Two Rational Deals in the Irrational Free Agent Market

Free agency is one of the most exciting times of the NBA year-long season. The private jets. All of the free dinners. Team pitches from teams that have no chance. Fake Woj accounts. Usually, every offseason, there’s at least one WTF contract. Something like the Jodie Meeks deal. Or the more recent Thabo Sefolosha deal signed by the Hawks today.

Teams that feel their only piece away will overpay for their last piece to the puzzle that’s not really the last piece to the puzzle. Teams just trying to stay above water will throw cash around. It all gets confusing to the casual fan. For one of the only times in the season, we get to see a player’s true value in the eyes of the league. Even though a player’s salary isn’t always indicative of his value. And a lot of times, just because one team is willing to drastically overpay a guy X amount of money does not make that player worth that in the open market. Sure, the Pistons gave Jodie Meeks $20 million, but if the Pistons traded Meeks tomorrow, they’d probably only get a second rounder back, maybe two at best. Continue reading

Grading the Deals Made on the First Day of Free Agency

Nearly all of the focus on this free agent season surrounds the Heat. How much less money will Wade and Bosh take? Is LeBron really going to take the max? Are they going to add some second-tier free agents? For now, all we really know is that their roster will look significantly different next season. For now, let’s focus on the deals that have been made. There were three deals today worth examining.

1. Wizards re-sign Marcin Gortat for 5 years/$60 million.
Washington had its hands tied. They had been so irrelevant since the departure of Gilbert Arenas, until last season. Reaching the second round and taking two games from the Pacers, the Wizards finally had a taste of success. The Wiz pretty much had to re-sign expiring Gortat in order to keep any momentum going. Gortat is firmly in his prime right now, 30 years old, and complements Nene well. And the East is weak enough to make plenty of barely-above-average teams feel like contenders. The Wizards are not winning an NBA championship with a Wall-Beal-Ariza-Gortat nucleus. They can contend in the East, but that is much different than contending for a title, as we saw in the Finals when San Antonio whooped Miami. This may be a deal that looks pretty bad on the back end when Gortat is 33 or 34. Right now though, good centers are hard to come by, and Gortat is one of the few guys who can do this. Are the Wizards deluding themselves into thinking they’re a legitimate threat to the title? Yeah, probably. Is this a move purely to stay falsely relevant? (Nodding nervously.) But, if the move keeps the Heat from poaching Gortat, then I’m all for it. Continue reading

Day 1 of Free Agency Is Every NBA Fan’s Worst Nightmare

In the NBA, free agency is supposed to be the time of delusion. The time where bad teams convince themselves if they can just sign that one guy, they’ll be contenders. Those teams rear their ugly heads and leak out rumors that their aim is to sign LeBron and Carmelo, with promises of multiple titles. Teams make ridiculous sales pitches that will obviously never happen. But it’s really too entertaining to dismiss. The crazy rumors. The ridiculously overpaid contracts. The insanity of it all inevitably leaves indelible stains on some franchises’ futures. Just ask the Magic, who were still paying Gilbert Arenas over $20 million last season for him to sit on the couch and troll Roy Hibbert.

Imagine how crazy free agency can be. Now magnify it a couple million times. That’s what happens anytime LeBron is a free agent. LeBron is good enough to make whatever team he’s on a contender. So, when he’s a free agent, the league collectively loses its you know what. Hell, Vegas won’t even put up its 2015 title odds, until it knows jersey LeBron will be wearing.  Continue reading

The 15 Best Free Agents Not Named LeBron or Carmelo

NBA free agency starts at midnight tonight. Almost all of the free agent talk so far has been focused on LeBron and Carmelo. Where will LeBron end up? Will he take a pay cut? (No.) Will Carmelo join or create a Big 3? Is he headed to Miami? (Just stop.) Chicago? (Hmmm.) Rockets? (They certainly want him.) New York? (Sorry Knicks fans.) Let’s put aside the LeBron and Carmelo talk for just a second, and rate the rest of the free agents. This free agent class is by no means loaded once you get past LeBron and Carmelo, but there are still some very attractive free agents this summer that could alter the NBA landscape.

A Few that Didn’t Make the Cut

A couple guys didn’t make this list, but will be targeted by several teams. Patty Mills had a stellar run in the Finals and is bound to be overpaid by someone in the league. Plenty of teams will only remember how well he shot the ball in the Finals and be willing to offer Mills the starting job and a salary raise. His speed and pace gave the Heat fits. Speaking of the Heat, they will have to figure out what to do with the Big 3. Obviously, the Heat will do all they can to keep the Big 3 together and make another run at the Finals. There’s no way they’ll let Dwyane Wade go. He’ll probably play his entire career in Miami, and the Heat will offer him a Kobe-like extension, based on what he did for the franchise in the past, not what he will do in the future. Wade could be in this list based on previous ability and his name, but in terms of ability, he doesn’t belong on the list. He looked finished in the Finals. The Heat breezed through the weak East, beginning with their first round sweep of the upstart Hornets. The Hornets look like an up-and-coming team in the East and are trying to keep their point-forward Josh McRoberts, one of the best passing big men in the league. Michael Jordan loves McRoberts and calls him a “connector”, basically meaning Jordan would’ve loved playing with him since McRoberts only passes the ball. A connector is just another word for a glue-guy, and McRoberts is that. Continue reading

Raptors and Hawks Make a Trade: Free Agency Implications

Two Eastern Conference playoff teams made a trade last night. The Hawks sent streaky scorer Lou Williams and Brazilian big man Lucas Nogueira to the Raptors for John Salmons. It’s a classic NBA trade, really. It’s essentially a ‘contributor for cap space’ deal. The Raptors acquire another piece that they think will help them reach the next step in the Eastern Conference, and the Hawks receive John Salmons, whose contract has a team option that the Hawks will promptly decline. The deal will give the Hawks around $4.5 million extra cap space this summer, since waiving Salmons’ contract has a $1 million buyout. Lou Williams had his worst season in over five years, coming off his ACL tear from the previous season. He didn’t ever make an impact in Atlanta, like he had in Philadelphia, where he finished second in the 6th man of the year award voting in 2012. He was second only to James Harden, one of the best players in the league. The bigger loss, in the Hawks’ eyes, is last year’s first round pick Lucas Nogueira, a 21 year old project big man from Brazil. With REALLY COOL HAIR. Continue reading

A World Cup Roster of NBA Players

Ever imagine how good the United States would be at soccer if the country’s best athletes decided to focus on soccer, instead of soccer or basketball? I know, it’s a popular talking point for Americans, who try to defend their country’s relatively weak soccer team. Don’t get me wrong: US soccer has made great strides. We’ve gotten out of three of the last four group stages, but imagine how good we could be if our best athletes were soccer players. Without even considering the NFL, let’s construct a World Cup roster from the current players in the NBA, who are American.

Goalie: LeBron James
LeBron would be the idea goalie, center defender, center-mid, and center striker. He would be perfect no matter where you put him. In goal though, he would never lose a ball in the air, and he’d be stronger than any striker he encountered on corner kicks. He’s also agile enough to dive and make quick stops. You can count on clean sheets with LeBron in goal. Continue reading

Top 75 NBA Trade Value (Part 3)

Here is part 1 and part 2 of the series.

Group M: “Come on! You Know This Guy Is One Of Our Cornerstones. Stop Laughing!”

48. Victor Oladipo
Usually the top rookies shoot up the trade value rankings. There’s almost always a few rookies who look good enough to be deemed untouchable by their team after the season. This past year’s rookie class may not really have anyone in that category. There are not any true stars. There were hardly any guys who will start for the majority of their careers. One of the only rookies to look halfway decent was Oladipo. He put 13-4-4, not exactly stellar. And he’s the same age as Favors and Valanciunas. He was the most athletic player in last year’s class, so that gives him a fair amount of potential. Hopefully the Magic won’t screw it up though, playing him at point guard any longer. Continue reading

One Free Agent could save the Heat (Hint: His name is not Carmelo)

As soon as the Heat were on the ropes against the Spurs, rumors began to circulate that Carmelo Anthony could possibly come to Miami and create a Big 4. If Carmelo joined the Heat, they would immediately become the title favorites, at least according to Charles Barkley. Off talent alone, many would jump to anoint the Heat as favorites to win the title, but then again, lots of people rushed to claim that the Nets would challenge the Heat for the Eastern Conference when they got Pierce and KG.  Carmelo would add a much-needed scoring punch to the Heat, but he wouldn’t fix what doomed them: poor point guard play and lack of rim protection. Rather than go after Carmelo, the Heat would be better off targeting arguably the second best unrestricted free agent this summer, Kyle Lowry. There is apparently mutual interest on both sides. Lowry was one of the biggest All-Star snubs and seems perennially underrated, but perhaps no more, after leading the Raptors to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Anyone who watched the Raptors take on the Nets could see that Lowry is better than Deron Williams, despite not receiving nearly as much attention as the other top point guards.

Continue reading