7/29 Sign Maurice Evans
7/30 Sign Randolph Morris
8/8 Re-sign Josh Smith
8/11 Sign Thomas Gardner and Othello Hunter
8/13 Sign Flip Murray
At the end of the day, the Hawks avoided the worst case scenario–that Smith would take a one-year qualifying offer in order to set up a run at unrestricted free agency in 2009. It seemed that Smith wanted to leave Atlanta pretty badly but not badly enough to risk injury or decline that could kill his market value in 2009. Smith is a young athletic leaper so I thought the risk wasn’t inordinate but $58 million is hard to turn down.
7/23 Re-sign Tony Allen and Eddie House
8/22 Sign Darius Miles
8/26 Sign J.R. Giddens
9/10 Sign head coach Doc Rivers to a contract extension
Allen and House both got two years deals for $5 million total. That’s a pretty good deal for House, a proven shooting specialist. Allen was less impressive but is a bona fide NBA bench player. Keeping Allen at this price certainly is probably better than giving James Posey a big deal. But the Celts are still short a small forward from the bench because Allen can’t shoot as well as Posey and is stretched to guard small forwards. The only other alternative now is Brian Scalabrine, which doesn’t seem like a great one.
It’s with this thought in mind that the Celts are also taking a shot on Miles. We wrote his NBA career obit only a few months ago and now he’s back? I’m a bit skeptical but I suppose it’s a riskless investment.
7/25 Re-sign Ryan Hollins
7/31 Re-sign Emeka Okafor
8/6 Sign Shannon Brown
8/11 Acquire a 2009 second round draft pick from Oklahoma City for Kyle Weaver
Was Okafor worth six years and $72 million? He really isn’t quite an All-Star but he is a useful big man (13.8 ppg, .534 FG%, 10.7 rpg, 17.4 PER last year) and he’ll only be 26 in 2008-09. Throw in the fact that the Bobcats aren’t exactly big spenders and re-signing Okafor at this price was defensible, if not a little high. The interesting question is whether the Bobcats could’ve squeezed him down a bit to about $65 million. We aren’t privy to the negotiations but Okafor got a million more a year than Josh Smith and even an extra year on the contract. There were obviously other forces at work in the Smith contract but it is a little surprising that Okafor could outdo him at this point in their careers under normal circumstances. Nevertheless, Okafor is good player and should retain his value over the next six years.
7/31 Re-sign Luol Deng and waive JamesOn Curry
The Bulls were also in a tough spot with Deng. He (and the team) regressed this year and it wasn’t clear he was going to the superstar they thought he might. Deng’s number, however, were not quite as down as we’ve seen. Check his last two seasons viewed together:
On a per-minute basis, Deng was essentially the same player, except for the fact that his shooting percentage fell a bit. Actually, .517% in 2006-07 seems to be the anomaly here because Deng’s career shooting percentage in .480% right now. Moreover, Deng is quite versatile but can’t really shoot threes (only 8-22 last years and is 61-224 for his career for .272% shooting). Having established all this, would you pay Deng six years and $71 million? Well, if Deng doesn’t develop, this is not a good deal. On the other side, Deng is only 23 and certainly could grow as a shooter and a player. This is the same quandary the Nets had with Richard Jefferson and the Sixers now have with Andre Iguodala. Athletic small forwards are hard to predict.
8/4 Sign Tarence Kinsey
8/13 In a three-team trade, Cleveland acquires Mo Williams from Milwaukee for Damon Jones and Joe Smith, and Milwaukee acquires Luke Ridnour and Adrian Griffin from Oklahoma City for Joe Smith and Desmond Mason
9/5 Lorenzen Wright and Darnell Jackson
From the Cavs perspective this is a clear win. Williams provides an above average starting point guard for the first time since Andre Miller in 2001-02. Since trading Miller, the Cavs have gone with Smush Parker, Jeff McInnis, Kevin Ollie, and Eric Snow for the most part. Williams is a step up from that crew (though Snow was pretty good in his younger days in Philly). The issue to consider here is whether Williams fits with what the Cavs are trying to do. The Cavs have the ball in LeBron’s hands most of the time and the guards feed off him with open jumpers.
That type of synergy didn’t work great with Larry Hughes, a dribble and penetrate guy. Hughes dropped from an 18-22 ppg with the Wizards to a 14-15 ppg guy. Hughes shot the three decently but his field goal percentage suffered by the fact he wasn’t getting the same easy two pointers he got as an offensive focal point in Washington. Similarly, I wonder how Williams will mesh with LeBron. I know the Cavs want to take the pressure off of James but Williams will lose touches here and will be shooting more open jumpers. I would take you through how LeBron affected McInnis, Ollie, and Snow but they are pretty unique. Ollie and Snow shoot poorly in any context and McInnis’ stats were affected more by the fact that he didn’t defend well. So, meshing a bona fide scoring point like Williams is really virgin territory. In the end, this is a net gain but there is a chance it won’t be the huge gain it seems to be on paper.
8/25 Re-sign Devean George
When George used his leverage to temporarily submarine the Jason Kidd I was sure that his next job would be in Siberia. But I guess George’s veteran presence has made an impression on Team Cuban that allows him to stick around despite his refusal to cooperate and having pretty much the worst season of his career (3.7 ppg on .357% shooting in 15 mpg) since he was a 23-year old bench player. The terms are cheap (two years and $4 million) but shouldn’t George really be working on one year deals at this point? At the very least, we do know that Mark Cuban doesn’t hold grudges (unless your name is Don Nelson).
As for George’s value going forward, I’m not exactly bullish. Hopefully, he can step it back up to his more useful 2006-07 stats (6.4 ppg, .395 FG% in 21.4 mpg). But even that doesn’t really help that much at this point.
7/24 Sign Chris Andersen
7/28 Acquire Renaldo Balkman and cash from New York for Taurean Green, Bobby Jones and a 2010 second round draft pick
7/30 Sign Dahntay Jones
8/22 Re-sign J.R. Smith
The most significant move here is the Nuggets decision to continue riding the J.R. Smith rollercoaster. He takes bad shots and he has some issues with authority but the man can score (23 points per 36 minutes last year). Moreover, Smith’s reputation accrued to Denver’s advantage to the extent that they got him rather cheap (three years and $15 million) when the market for him would’ve been much higher otherwise. Smith isn’t riskless and George Karl has wanted to strangle him a couple of times but the risk here is low and this guy could be a starting shooting guard for several years. In fact, if Smith shows that ability, trading an older Allen Iverson would not be a crazy move at all.
As for the smaller moves, Andersen and Balkman represent cheap attempts to replace Marcus Camby. On the energy front, Balkman matches up with Camby but he is much smaller and does not block shots or board nearly as well. Andersen actually could block shots on Camby’s level but was not near the defender. Andersen is older now and we don’t quite know what he has left. In his five game cameo, Andersen still blocked shots well but showed little else. We assume the core blocking ability is there but there are a lot of questions. Assuming Andersen is still as energetic as he was in his younger days before he was suspended, here’s how his peak compares with Camby of 2007-08 on a per/36 minute basis:
-Andersen 2004-05 (age 26): 12.9 pts, .534 FG%, 10.3 rebs, 1.8 asts, 0.4 stls, 2.5 blks, 1.6 tos, 3.6 fouls, 12.9 pts, 18.5 PER
-Camby 2007-08 (age 33): 9.1 pts, .450 FG%, 13.1 rebs, 3.3 asts, 1.1 stls, 3.6 blks, 1.5 tos, 2.7 fouls, 9.1 pts, 17.2 PER
Assuming Andersen still retains the same skills, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to stay out of foul trouble as he averages 4.1 fouls per 36 minutes for his career and 2004-05 stands out as the peak. Still, there is some core ability that can help a team if everything breaks right. Even so, Nuggets fans would probably prefer the certainty of Camby over an Andersen/Balkman tandem next year.
7/30 Sign Will Bynum
8/3 Sign Kwame Brown
8/6 Sign Walter Sharpe
8/11 Re-sign Walter Herrmann
The surprise here is Kwame’s two year $8 million deal. This is not super large money for a back up forward in the NBA but I’m a little skeptical. Brown has demonstrated pretty clearly to be a decent banger with bad hands. With the emergence of Jason Maxiell and the potential emergence of Amir Johnson and plenty of incumbents (Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, and Tayshaun Prince), what do you need to spend $4 million on Brown? Joe Dumars generally does a pretty good job but this move doesn’t make sense unless one of the forwards is going to be traded.
Golden State Warriors
7/19 Sign Ronny Turiaf
7/24 Re-sign Monta Ellis, sign Richard Hendrix and match offer to Kelenna Azubuike
7/28 Re-sign Andris Biedrins
9/9 Sign Dion Dowell, Rob Kurz and DeMarcus Nelson
Golden State is a bit of a mixed bag. They’ve lost Baron Davis but kept a lot of the young talent: Ellis (six years and $66 million), Biedrins (six years and $62 million), Azubuike (three years and $9 million). You also thrown in Turiaf (four years and $17 million) and the core is locked until the middle of next decade. Ellis was obviously the marquee name and will be the scorer this year–assuming he recovers from his ankle injury. Yes, Ellis started out his big contract by engaging in some contractually prohibited activity that may give him problems (motorcycles?). Assuming Ellis returns to form from the ankle, we should see him develop into a nice undersized scoring two guard. I don’t think Ellis is a super unique talent but should be an 20 ppg scorer through most of his contract.
I’m more bullish on Biedrins a young active big man who was re-signed well under market price for a player of his age and ability. He doesn’t quite fit into Don Nelson’s schemes but he is useful when he does play and Nellie probably won’t be here for most of the contract anyway. I expect Biedrins to continue to rebound and block shots going forward.
As for the role players, Azubuike is precisely the type of young player to lock in off the bench. He’s no star but has some room to grow and would be an asset even if he remains a designated shooter that he’s been so far. Turiaf is also young but his contract is a little rich. Despite the fact that he is quite visible in the paint when he plays, Turiaf doesn’t actually rebound that well (7.6 rebs per 36 minutes last year) and is a hacking machine (a career low 4.9 fouls per 36 minutes last year). Turiaf should be decent during the contract but four years is a long time to be paying any tepid player who is really on the Scott Williams career path.
8/6 Acquire the right to exchange second round picks with the Clippers in 2011 for Steve Novak
8/14 Acquire Ron Artest, Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing Jr. from Sacramento in exchange for Bobby Jackson, Donte Greene and a future first-round pick
8/25 Acquire D.J. Strawberry from Phoenix for Sean Singletary
8/29 Acquire the rights to Frederic Weis for Patrick Ewing Jr.
Ever wonder how a good team jumps to the next level? A good way to do it is to get a very good player for ostensibly nothing. Here, Donte Greene’s theoretical upside (and there is some) didn’t interest the Rockets who are in win now mode until Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady can’t be stars anymore. Adding Artest, makes the Rockets much more formidable and he fits the team quite well. Artest gives the team another scorer and allows Shane Battier to go to the bench where he is much more effective. Is there any downside here? Not really. We all know Artest is nuts and that he tends to get too shot happy but commitment here is minimal (one year) and the Rockets have lost anything from their already good team. The chances of Artest imploding or starting a riot are larger than you’d like but he makes the Rockets a title contender and that’s worth the risk under the circumstances. There may be hard choices to make next summer on Artest but flags fly forever.
Los Angeles Clippers
7/17 Sign Kelenna Azubuike to offer sheet
7/23 Acquire Jason Hart from Utah for Brevin Knight
7/28 Sign Ricky Davis
7/30 Waive Josh Powell
7/31 Sign Brian Skinner
8/6 Acquire Steve Novak from Houston for the option of Houston to swap second round picks in 2011
8/7 Sign Jason Williams
8/18 Re-sign Paul Davis
Let’s see…Baron Davis, Cuttino Mobley, Ricky Davis, and Jason Williams? Not sure that is a good backcourt but you can’t say it’ll be boring. Williams and Davis also reunites the legendary backcourt of the 2007-08 Heat. But both players are not bad. Williams was down quite a bit last years as a shooter (.384%) but he has really cut down on his turnovers (a career low on a per-minute basis). He’ll make a perfectly fine back up for Baron. Ricky Davis also had a bad year by his own standards, with his scoring down markedly. I assume that both Williams and Davis looked worse than they were because they were playing for an awful Heat team. Still, even a diminished Davis better than Mobley at this point.
Los Angeles Lakers
7/28 Re-sign Sasha Vujacic
8/1 Sign Dwayne Mitchell
8/14 Sign Josh Powell
8/25 Sign Sun Yue
8/27 Sign Joe Crawford
In an interest juxtaposition, Vujacic got the exact same three year and $15 million deal that J.R. Smith signed. Vujacic doesn’t likely have any upside like Smith but he was also quite good in 2007-08. Vujacic hadn’t shown much before last season and one’s opinion of him really depends on how real you think his shooting improvement was. Check Sasha’s stats in 2006-07 versus 2007-08 on a per/36 minute basis:
As one can seen, the points are way up and three point shooting is more frequent and much higher and that encompasses much of the improvement. Vujacic is still young but I don’t think he can consistently shoot this well. This is not to say that Vujacic will shoot poorly or that he won’t have value but I expect a little regression in the shooting department next year.
8/28 Sign Hamed Haddadi
I am surprised how quickly Haddadi received State Department approval to play in the United States but it’s nice to see that international politics haven’t prevented his opportunity. In terms of what he can do for the Grizz, Haddadi is active and could be a nice low post scorer off the bench. In short, a nice little gamble to take.
8/21 Re-sign Dorell Wright
9/2 Sign Jamaal Magloire
9/3 Waive Stephane Lasme
Wright hasn’t met Pat Riley’s expectations but young players rarely do. Wright has demonstrated some ability and giving him a two-year deal to see how develops until age-25 works. Signing Magloire and cutting Lasme, however, makes no sense. Magloire is so beyond done that he’s beef jerky at this point. I don’t know if Lasme has a real future in the NBA but he’s an active shot blocker and much more likely to help an NBA team beyond 2008.
7/17 Sign Tyronn Lue and Malik Allen
8/13 In a three-team trade, Cleveland acquires Mo Williams from Milwaukee for Damon Jones and Joe Smith, and Milwaukee acquires Luke Ridnour and Adrian Griffin from Oklahoma City for Smith and Desmond Mason
Aside from Mo Williams, we just see a shifting of a lot of spare parts. The tale of the tape really is in salary commitments. Let’s take a look at who owes what:
So, Cleveland gets Williams, the best player in the deal and the Bucks get to pare long term obligations (Williams is locked in until the summer of 2013 if he exercises his option). OKC (I really don’t want to call them the Thunder) saves the injured Ridnour’s 2009-10 salary. Of this group, Milwaukee seems to have gotten the short straw. Cleveland gets the best player, OKC gets the most money saved this year and in the future, while the Bucks are paying more in salary after the trade than OKC in both 2008-09 and 2009-10 (about $10 million more). Presumably, the Bucks think Ridnour may be able to play a bit, which would make the trade defensible. I think betting on Ridnour isn’t a great idea, as he’s a solid point guard if healthy, and not much more but it isn’t a huge risk.
7/17 Re-sign Craig Smith
7/23 Re-sign Sebastian Telfair
7/28 Re-sign Ryan Gomes
The T-Wolves were bad but Smith and Gomes had some use as undersized power forwards. Smith is a better defender and rebounder and low post guy while Gomes has some diverse offensive ability. They both are young and two year deals at $3 million ranges are eminently reasonable. The risk of them bottoming out is low and they could help as both bench players or starters and very fungible.
Telfair also got a nice short deal ($5 million for two years plus a player option for $2.7 million). Telfair is still quite young but has shown little development. His best asset is that his passing and turnover ratios has improved a bit (career high 5.9 rpg with his lowest turnover rate). Telfair still can’t shoot (career best .401% from the field and .281% from three) and you wonder if he’ll ever be able to do so. Basketballreference.com links him to several players with some promise who never quite made it (fellow-New Yorker Khalid Reeves, Rumeal Robinson, Marcus Banks). I think the upside here is that Telfair turns into a solid starter or above-average back up. Telfair is still young (23 this season) and there are a few point guards who didn’t blossom but the expectations are more modest than Portland had when they drafted him a few years ago. At the very least, he’ll get a shot to start next year in Minny, as there really isn’t any better option right now.
New Jersey Nets
7/21 Acquire Keyon Dooling from Orlando in exchange for cash considerations
Speaking of expectations on a young point…Dooling is a nice illustration of what Telfair’s future might hold. Dooling is very quick but is not a great shooter or passer. He has been a relatively good player off the bench and made a big jumping in shooting percentage (career high .468% from the field) without getting a boost from the threes (he was .338% from three). For the Nets, Dooling is a nice back up but I have some doubts that he can keep his shooting percentage spike, especially on the Nets.
New Orleans Hornets
7/23 Sign James Posey
8/11 Re-sign Ryan Bowen
8/22 Sign Devin Brown
8/28 Sign Sean Marks
It’s hard to have perspective on a guy like Posey who has been so helpful to title winning teams but how good is he really? With the exception of his age-27 peak with the Grizz, Posey has been a very average player. In fact, he’s beery similar to Mo Peterson, whose playing time he’ll cut into. Check their per-36 minute stats from last year:
Pretty close comparison and they are even both the same age (30). There is a convincing argument that Posey is better player when you throw in defensive versatility (a better defender and an ability to swing to power forward for some stretches). But is this difference enough to justify $27 million for Posey from age 31-34? Put another way, the Hornets have locked in about $11-13 million for Peterson an Posey–not to mention the $13-15 million that Peja Stojakovic will make over the same time. Don’t you think settling on only one of Peterson or Posey and signing a young unproven guy makes some more sense here? The Hornets are not in horrific cap bind yet but flexibility can disappear quickly.
New York Knicks
7/24 Sign free agent Anthony Roberson
7/28 Acquire Taurean Green, Bobby Jones and a 2010 second round draft pick from Denver for Renaldo Balkman and cash
7/29 Waive Taurean Green and Bobby Jones
8/29 Acquire Patrick Ewing Jr. from Houston for the right to Frederic Weis
Do you think it felt good to make one of those meaningless yet symbolic trades like getting a Ewing and dumping a Weis? In practical terms, the Ewing Jr. probably won’t stuck. As a senior he was a role player (6.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg in 21.6 mpg) but this is the kind nepotism that will at least make you smile a bit.
Oklahoma City Thunder
8/11 Acquire Kyle Weaver from Charlotte for a 2009 second round draft pick
8/13 In a three-team trade, Cleveland acquires Mo Williams from Milwaukee for Damon Jones and Joe Smith, and Milwaukee acquires Luke Ridnour and Adrian Griffin from Oklahoma City for Smith and Desmond Mason
We already ran through this trade several times but it’s a nice little coup for the Thunder (a feel a little dirty saying that name). They continue to cut salary and have a ton of cap room and some nice young players going forward. In fact, HoopsHype.com has OKC as having a payroll under $20 million for 2009-10 right now. They won’t be good this year but the future is quite interesting here.
7/21 Send Keyon Dooling to New Jersey in exchange for cash considerations
7/29 Waive James Augustine
8/2 Re-sign Adonal Foyle
Not much in Magic land…they jettisoned Dooling to save a little money and kept Foyle, who looks like he’ll last forever even though he can absolutely not score at all. Foyle is down to under 10 minutes per game but he actually played in 82 games for the first time in his 11-year career. Expect another late model Tree Rollins season from Foyle.
7/28 Sign Royal Ivey
7/29 Sign Kareem Rush
8/4 Re-sign Louis Williams
8/18 Re-sign Andre Iguodala
8/20 Sign Theo Ratliff
9/2 Sign Donyell Marshall
8/8 Agrees to a contract extension with head coach Maurice Cheeks
Ultimately, the Sixers had to re-sign Iguodala, even if it wasn’t cheap (six years and $72 million). He’s too linked to this team no to see if he can be a corner stone of the turnaround. I don’t expect him to get much better than he is right now but that’s still a pretty good player unless see somehow learns to shoot three. Even if he doesn’t improve an iota, Iguodala has been healthy and above average and he makes the Sixers pretty good in the short term.
7/22 Sign Matt Barnes
8/14 Sign Louis Amundson
8/25 Acquire Sean Singletary for Phoenix for D.J. Strawberry
Barnes couldn’t get the big deal he was looking for after his hot 2006-07 season so he played the market by gambling on a one-year deal and the results weren’t great. Barnes showed he was a bona fide NBA reserve but he could not match his hot three point shooting and it put a crimp on his value. Now Barnes is taking a $1.2 million one year offer from Phoenix, essentially doubling down on the gamble he took in the summer of 2007 (I know he might not have a choice this time). Barnes should fit in well in the role that James Jones filled a few years ago and will work fine for the Suns.
Putting ourselves in Barnes’ shoes, the question is whether Phoenix will continue the break neck pace they had under Mike D’Antonio. If not, it’ll hurt Barnes’ superficial stats going into another free agent season. I suspect that the Suns will slowdown a bit but we’ll see.
8/27 Sign Luke Jackson, Steven Hill and Jamaal Tatum
Some trading camp fodder in Portland comes with one familiar name in local college star Jackson. The roster is pretty deep and it doesn’t look like there is much room for Jackson to make the team here.
7/25 Sign Bobby Brown
8/14 Acquire Bobby Jackson, Donte Greene and a future first-round pick from Houston for Ron Artest, Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing Jr.
For the Kings, Artest was acquired for little (Peja’s expiring contract) and he helped them try to stay competitively. Ultimately, Artest was just a stop gap and the Kings finally realized that they had to move on and try to really rebuild. The haul for Artest wasn’t that much but Greene is a young player with some potential. The alternative of having Artest come to camp was just going to be so tough. Artest had taken the unique and somewhat unreasonable tact of exercising his option for 2007-08 and then almost immediately demanding a trade and the Kings figure to be bad enough that Artest might feel free to be a distraction.
Could the Kings have gotten more this summer? Possibly but the Kings are only in the market for young players and cap flexibility and someone like Lamar Odom does nothing to help that plan. So, getting essentially a first round draft pick in Greene works in this context.
San Antonio Spurs
7/22 Re-sign Kurt Thomas
7/23 Sign Anthony Tolliver
8/22 Re-sign Michael Finley
Finley and Thomas are back on two-year deals. Finley is getting $5 million total and Thomas $8 million. Finley is still competent but he is turning into pretty much a three-point guy. He shot three he has set a career high in three-pointers per minute in each of three years in San Antonio, while also setting career lows in free throw rate in those seasons. Finley’s number will continue to slide but has enough left in the tank to be a decent secondary player. Thomas also looked like a solid player last year, perhaps even a starter if need be.
Both players have shown a steady decline pattern and will probably continue to do so. They can help the Spurs and are not bad signings in a vacuum. You can’t help but notice that the roster is older and slower than last year, when they weren’t exactly spry. Someway, somehow, the Spurs have to address this issue.
7/28 Sign Will Solomon
Solomon’s been bouncing around Europe and the minors since his cameo with Memphis in 2001-02. He’s looked good abroad and Toronto has been a good home for other ex-pats who returned to the NBA but Solomon’s chances are slim.
7/23 Acquire Brevin Knight from the Los Angeles Clippers for Jason Hart
I’m pretty sure that Jerry Sloan will love Knight. BK isn’t John Stockton but embodies everything that Sloan likes in reserves, a good defender who rarely makes mistakes. He’ll fit very well as the Howard Eisley to Deron Williams’ John Stockton this year.