NBA

Free Agency Grades: Analyzing Every Deal So Far

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NBA free agency officially began on July 1, with new deals becoming official July 6. Although there are a plethora of sought-after free agents still out on the market, I’m here to analyze every move that’s occurred so far. Below is a running list of all the free agent signings, as well as the respective grades.

LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers (4 years, $154M): After missing out on Paul George (and for now Kawhi Leonard), the Lakers’ brass redeemed themselves by landing the biggest free agency chip this year in LeBron James. The 33-year-old now gets a fresh team and young assets around him to either develop or convince management to deal for better talent. It’s a win-win for James and Lakers management. Grade: A-

Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets (4 years, $160M): Paul played like a top-five point guard this season, averaging 18.6 points and 7.9 assists per game while shooting 38 percent from 3. His contract was warranted, on a Houston team that’s hoping to extend its championship window. However, the issue for both parties will be availability. In addition to missing the two most important games of the playoffs (Games 6 and 7 of the Western Conference finals), Paul missed 24 contests during the regular season. He will turn 34 next May, will his body hold up by the end of the contract?  Grade: B

Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder (4 years, $137M): After years of mutual flirtation with the Lakers, George chose to re-sign in Oklahoma City on a long-term deal without so much as meeting with Los Angeles. Thunder fans should feel a sense of pride in George’s recent move, knowing that the five-time All-Star chose loyalty over individual success. OKC’s championship window remains open with the dynamic duo of George and Russell Westbrook, which is locked up for another four years. Grade: A-

DeMarcus Cousins to the Golden State Warriors (1 year, $5.5M): The rich get richer as the back-to-back world champions signed one of the game’s most powerful centers to the MLE. Mind you, Cousins’ market value was down entering free agency after his ACL tear in early February, so the length was appropriate. All Golden State really needs is 60-70% of Boogie – which is superior to most of the league’s centers – to be successful in next year’s playoffs. Grade: A

DeAndre Jordan to the Dallas Mavericks (1 year, $24M): Three years after one of the more bizarre free-agent sagas of-all-time, DeAndre Jordan is finally a Maverick. The contract is super favorable for Dallas, which doesn’t have to commit long-term money if things don’t work out with the soon-to-be 30-year-old next season. Grade: B

Trevor Ariza to the Phoenix Suns (1 year, $15M): In a stunning twist, Phoenix’s front office added veteran stability to their young and rebuilding core. Ariza, 34, provided stout defense and sharp perimeter shooting in his three seasons in Houston. If anything, the Suns’ free agency move indicates that their eyes are set on the playoffs sooner rather than later. Grade: B

Will Barton to the Denver Nuggets (4 years, $54M): Barton was an integral piece for Denver last season. As injuries to Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap and Gary Harris piled up in the regular season; Barton administered a steady hand to the Nuggets on both ends of the floor. With the recent draft pick of Michael Porter Jr., plus the addition of Barton to its young core, Denver is ready to win now. Grade: B+

Nikola Jokic to the Denver Nuggets (5 years, $148M): Keeping its core was essential for Denver. They envision the promising 22-year-old center to evolve into an anchor on a playoff contender very soon. If they’re successful in doing so, then Jokic’s extension becomes a slam dunk. Grade: A-

Avery Bradley to the Los Angeles Clippers (2 years, $25M): On one hand, you have a wing who’s an established scorer and rebounder to fit a team’s rebuilding needs. And on the other, you have a player who only played in 46 games (six on the Clippers) last season. Considering Bradley’s well-documented injury history, the length and money involved in this deal make sense. Grade: B-

Derrick Favors to the Utah Jazz (2 years, $36M): This deal makes sense for both sides. Favors just came off his first healthy season in three years, performing adequately on the offensive end (12.6 points) and on the boards (7.2 rebounds). Although his skill-sets pale in comparison to center Rudy Gobert, his value is vital to Utah’s success. Grade: B

Julius Randle to the New Orleans Pelicans (2 years, $18M): New Orleans might have lost DeMarcus Cousins in free agency, but they gained the best player available to pair with Anthony Davis. Randle, 23, improved drastically in his fourth season in Los Angeles, excelling in space, in the fastbreak, and in the paint. He’ll stabilize the Pelicans’ front-court in the short-term. Grade: B

Aaron Gordon to Orlando Magic (4 years, $84M): Gordon’s counting stats increased in each of his first four seasons in Orlando. However, will his ceiling ever be a top 20 player in the game? The Magic are paying him top dollar to reach that type of level. It’s tough to foresee him becoming that type of player, though, considering they have two seven-footers in Jonathan Issac and Mohammed Bamba standing in his way. Grade: C+

Tyreke Evans to the Indiana Pacers (1 year, $12M): The Pacers first goal in free agency was to find an up-and-coming guard to play alongside Victor Oladipo. While Evans, soon-to-be 29, doesn’t fit the bill as a young player, he possesses the make-up to be successful in Indiana’s system immediately. Grade: B+

Rudy Gay to the San Antonio Spurs (1 year, $10M): Re-signing Gay does two things to the Spurs. First, it allows San Antonio to be competitive, regardless if Kawhi Leonard stays or goes. And second, his contract provides financial flexibility in the long run. Given that he’ll be 32 next season, this deal appears reasonable. Grade: C+

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the Los Angeles Lakers (1 year, $12M): This signing won’t receive much glamor, but considering the Lakers’ financial situation after signing LeBron, it makes more and more sense. Magic Johnson was able to retain the team’s best shooter and perimeter defender at a justifiable cost. It’s easy to forget he’s only 24 and should fit well in Los Angeles’ rotation once again. Grade: B+

Ersan Ilyasova to the Milwaukee Bucks (3 years, $21M): Milwaukee knew coming into free agency that as transcending of a star that Giannis Antekounmpo is, he needs pieces around him to flourish. The Bucks were able to pick up former Sixer Ilyasova, a versatile forward who can play the 3 and 4, at a reasonable price. Grade: B

J.J. Redick to the Philadelphia 76ers (1 year, $13M): Following the loss of Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli, Philadelphia had no choice but to retain the sharp-shooting Redick. The 33-year-old has shown no signs of regressing and should be another viable piece to the Sixers’ championship aspirations in 2018-19. Grade: B

Rajon Rondo to the Los Angeles Lakers (1 year, $9M): If there’s one rule to follow with any LeBron James led team it’s that space and shooting are key. Unfortunately, the Lakers’ signing of Rondo doesn’t follow any of these principles. With the addition of Rondo, plus Lonzo Ball and Lance Stephenson, Los Angeles now has three ball-dominant guards without the shooting ability to keep defenses honest. Grade: C-

Lance Stephenson to the Los Angeles (1 year, $4.5M): The best part of this deal is knowing that the Lance and LeBron saga will roll on for at least one season. The downside, though, is Stephenson is another non-shooting threat to a team full of non-shooters. Magic Johnson & Co. could’ve done better. Grade: C

Marco Belinelli to the San Antonio Spurs (2 years, $12M): Belinelli reunites with the same organization where he won his only championship in 2014. Now four years later, the Spurs will look for the ageless shooter to bring instant offense on a cheap deal. Grade: B-

Dante Exum to the Utah Jazz (3 years, $33M): Apparently, Exum’s mild breakout last season warranted a three-year extension with Utah. Considering he has yet to average 10 points a game yet and shoot 30 percent from the 3 in his pro career, the length of this deal seems excessive. Grade: C

Doug McDermott to the Indiana Pacers (3 years, $22M): Perhaps Indiana is hoping a change of scenery can fix the 26-year-old journeyman? After all, he’s the same player who was a defensive liability for the Thunder and Bulls and has seen his minutes slowly decline each year. The Pacers are paying him to be an integral piece on both ends of the floor. However, McDermott has shown to be nothing more than a rotation player in his career. Grade: C

Fred Van Vleet to the Toronto Raptors (2 years, $18M): Toronto was able to retain a valuable bench threat in Van Vleet at a discount. The strong-willed point guard with scoring pop fit into every lineup that then-coach Dwane Casey put him in. Expect Van Vleet to do the same and more with incumbent coach Nick Nurse. Grade: A-

Aron Baynes to the Boston Celtics (2 years, $11M): Boston was already faced with financial constraints entering free agency. But Danny Ainge worked his magic by signing Baynes, a valuable big on last year’s Eastern Conference Finalist, to a team-friendly deal. Grade: B

Mario Hezonja to the New York Knicks (1 year, $5.5M): For some reason, the market didn’t appeal to Hezonja’s game, even though he ended this season with a career-high in points, rebounds, and three-point shooting. Regardless, New York found a bargain, as well as an immediate starter. Grade: B

JaVale McGhee to the Los Angeles Lakers (1 year, $4.5M): McGhee proved to be a serviceable 5 in his two championship seasons with Golden State, catching lobs and hunting missed shots during his 10-12 minutes of action. He’s nothing more than a minor rotational player at this stage of his career. However, with Randle gone, the Lakers peg him as the team’s primary threat down-low, which is a problem. Grade: C-

Nerlens Noel to the Oklahoma City Thunder (2 years, 9M): Will Oklahoma City finally be the team to solve Noel? The Thunder invested very little in the 24-year-old center, so if he fails again, it won’t do much damage to their salary cap. Grade: C

Ed Davis to the Brooklyn Nets (1 year, $4.4M): Maintaining financial flexibility is essential for Brooklyn. As they continue its long road back to respectability, hitting on cheap and low-risk deals like this one helps achieve their goal. Davis came off a 5.3 point and 7.4 rebound season and can command a lot in the Nets’ system next season. Grade: B

Glenn Robinson III to the Detroit Pistons (2 years, $8.3M): Detroit desperately needed shooting this off-season, and they found one of the more underrated perimeter threats in the game at a team-friendly deal. A win-win for the Pistons. Grade: B+

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