Day one of NBA free agency was bonkers. If we learned one thing, it’s that the salary cap damn well better go up as much as teams think it will, because money was being dished out left and right. Even players that initially thought they wanted to sign short-term deals were jumping on the cash once it was throw in front of them.
In all, (as of around midnight EST) we had 25 players sign for just about $1.5 BILLION on July 1 in the NBA. Here’s a grade on each of those contracts/extensions.
Anthony Davis – Pelicans: 5-years/$145 million
New Orleans wasted no time with this one, breaking the news right at 12:01 AM. A record-breaking contract for what figures to be a historic talent. Can’t lose with this deal. NOLA should be ecstatic to lock AD up. He’ll be worth every penny.
Damian Lillard – Blazers: 5-years/$120 million
Not quite a Davis type talent, but Lillard is a star. With Aldridge seemingly on his way out the door, Damian is the face of the franchise now, and he’ll be paid like it. The rest of the team is in flux, but a lot of other teams would kill to have a guy like Lillard to build around. He’s going to break out even further next season.
Kevin Love – Cavaliers: 5-years/$110 million
I’ve made it no secret I prefer Tristan Thompson to Love when we’re talking about fitting in with a LeBron James Cavs squad. This deal is a TON of money for a guy that’s going to be on the bench many fourth quarters, but obviously, Love isn’t useless either. Expect him to gel better with another year in Cleveland under his belt and be a huge contributor. Nobody can beat the Cavs in the east, so as long as their willing to pay top dollar, they’ll be in the Finals until LBJ declines.
Tristan Thompson – Cavaliers: 5-years/$80 million
So to recap, the Cavs spent $190 million on power forwards today when the league is trending towards small-ball, Timofey Mozgov and Anderson Varejao are both under contract, and LeBron is technically the power forward on the floor with a lot of units. It sounds crazy that way, but Thompson is just so valuable. His offensive rebounds in the playoffs alone are worth the majority of his contract. Getting those extra possessions for LeBron in tight games are going to directly result in playoff wins. I’d but much happier if I’m the Cavs to see Love back on a 1-year/$16 million deal and Thompson on a 5-year/$70 million, but can’t knock them for being all in on winning.
Iman Shumpert – Cavaliers: 4-years/$40 million
It’s not a horrible deal, but I just don’t see it with Shump. Is he that good? Solid defender … ok on offense. I know the money is getting bigger, but if you’re looking for a 3-and-D guy, Avery Bradley is probably superior and just signed for 4-years/$32 million last summer. People will disagree with me on this. Just calling it how I see it. What we don’t disagree on is that Cavs’ owner, Dan Gilbert, opened up his damn wallet. Good luck stopping the Cavs once they find a taker on Brendan Haywood’s non-guaranteed contract and are able to add another $10 million player outside of free agency.
Draymond Green – Warriors: 5-years/$85 million
We all knew this was going to happen. There’s no way Golden State was letting the heart and soul of its team leave town (especially with him restricted). Green has talked like a star for a while and now he’s paid like one. The Warriors will be back in full force next season.
Jimmy Butler – Bulls: 5-years/$95 million
Before you flip out, I love this signing. It’s paying the right price for an up and coming star who deserves every last bit of the money. With that said, the Bulls blew this. Butler wanted a 4-year/$48 million extension before the season started an the Bulls wanted to pay $40 mil. Know your personnel. Chicago missed out on one of the biggest steals in the league.
Kawhi Leonard – Spurs: 5-years/$90 million
Can’t bash this one either, much like Lillard and David. Kawhi is an NBA Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. There’s nothing not to like about him. He’s the future of the Spurs and San Antonio got him at a more than fair price.
Goran Dragic – Heat: 5-years/$90 million
I can’t give an A here because we need to see how things work out. If Wade returns to South Beach and Dragic fits with the full core (he didn’t play with Bosh last year) then it’s a win. When healthy, Dragic/Wade/Deng/Bosh/Whiteside could be the second best team in the east and they have a young Justise Winslow now coming off the bench.
Brandon Knight – Suns: 5-years/$70 million
Might sound a little overpaid, but that’s where the TV money comes into play. Knight had a breakout season and if he continues to improve, this will be a great contract. The Suns paid a price to get him to Phoenix, might as well pay the man.
Khris Middleton – Bucks: 5-years/$70 million
I get it. Middleton had a good season. But put him next to Knight and who are you taking? Middleton’s good at his job. He’s good at being Bruce Bowen. But Bruce Bowen isn’t going to carry you and isn’t needed on a team like the Bucks. He’s needed on a team like the Spurs.
DeMarre Carroll – Raptors: 4-years/$60 million
Carroll is going to make almost double next season what he’s made in his entire career. Good for him, but that probably means the Raps overpaid. This just isn’t a next level type signing to me. He’s an ok player that’s not going to take them anywhere. This team depends on a solid backcourt of Lowrey and DeRozen, but not much else. Carroll will be replacing Amir Johnson at the 4 and Toronto will be playing small-ball. They are still looking for a SF in free agency. This keeps them in the middle of the pack in the brutal east.
Brook Lopez – Nets: 3-years/$60 million
Brooklyn pretty much has to re-sign their own guys because they’re too far over the cap to sign anyone else. Lopez is solid, but let’s see what he can do in a fully healthy season. If he has a career season, and the Nets are able to get their hands on some players next summer, then I like this signing a lot more.
Thaddeus Young – Nets: 4-years/$50 million
See Lopez, Brook.
Paul Millsap – Hawks: 3-years/$59 million
I like this deal a lot for the Hawks. Carroll is gone (Tim Hardaway likely fills in), but they added Tiago Splitter in a deal from the Spurs trying to clear cap space. Now with Millsap back, they’ll try not to miss a beat. Not sure why Millsap was unable to get 4-years/$80 million like the Magic offered him. At 30-years old he should want to sign long-term.
Tyson Chandler – Suns: 4-years/$52 million
This one surprised everybody. A lot of money for a guy that will be 33 when the season starts, but centers that protect the paint are always in demand. The Suns now have a pretty nice team, but they’re seeking a larger prize.
Danny Green – Spurs: 4-years/$45 million
Not much to say here. Great signing. Pretty much Khris Middleton for less money, oh and Green actually fits the right role here. After retaining Green and Leonard, the room for Aldridge is still there. That’s a win for the Spurs.
Paul Pierce – Clippers: 3-years/$10 million
Pierce was set to make $6.6 million with D.C. next season, so this is clearly what he wanted. He reunites with Doc Rivers in his hometown with a chance to try and finish his career by winning another ring. Selfishly, I wanted him in Boston. But you can’t ask for a better scenario than this for Pierce.
Brandan Wright – Grizzlies: 3-years/$18 million
Solid deal. Was surprise Memphis didn’t draft a big to come off the bench. Here he is.
Kyle Singler – Thunder: 5-years/$25 million
I don’t see what he brings to the table. Feel like he started games last year and would play under 10 minutes. But it’s a tough contract not to live up to, and it’s also very tradeable in the future. Would have liked to see Enes Kanter get done first.
Al-Farouq Aminu – Blazers: 4-years/$30 million
Seems like Portland overpaid, but Aminu does have potential. Will have to wait and see how he fits in his new role, but there are some encouraging signs this will work out.
Alexis Ajinca – Pelicans: 4-years/$20.2 million
Not a big name player at all but he plays big. Has great numbers on the floor with Anthony Davis, so has great value in New Orleans.
Mike Dunleavy – Bulls: 3-years/$14.4 million
Good job to bring back a starter on a cost controlled contract. LeBron wanted Dunleavy, but it seems they spent enough, so Chicago will have to do.
Amir Johnson – Celtics: 2-years/$24 million
Like the player and the fit, but he’s being paid to much. Not like it’s a 5-year deal, though. I can understand this for just two seasons. Should thrive in his role in Boston as a defender and rebounded.
Jonas Jerebko – Celtics: 2-years/$10 million
Jerebko is a nice player. Contract seems like they might be paying for what they expect rather than market value. I get the feeling the C’s are just trying to spend to the floor and wait and see if something happens. Frustrating, but I commend their patience.
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