Plus, five great under the radar moves
The NBA news cycle is finally dying down. From the stunning finals, to the draft, free agency, and summer league play, things should be pretty quiet until training camp starts in October. With that in mind, I thought it would be good to look at some of the craziest moves in NBA free agency, that make you go “Huh?”
1. Timofey Mozgov signs 4 year, $64 million contract with Lakers
Someone needs to explain this one to me. The Lakers, crippled by poor spending and the Kobe Bryant contract, have not been good since Dwight Howard was on the team in the 2012-2013 season. While getting younger through the draft, they have created a nice core with Brandon Ingram, DeAngelo Russel, and Julius Randle. But free agents, notably Kevin Durant, refuse to even meet with them even as a courtesy. For years, free agents would hear pitches from the Lakers, simply because “They are the Lakers.” With no marquee free agents wanting to come to LA, the Lakers thought it was in there best interest to spend a ton of cap space on a plodding seven footer who could not find any playing time on a championship team. Mozgov may have been a powerhouse in the 2015 finals, but in 2016 he was nowhere to be seen. He is flat footed and cannot stay in front of smaller guys, and his knee injury he suffered at the beginning of the year seems to have shot his confidence. Will he ever be the guy he was projected to be? Why did the Lakers, on day one, blow nearly all their salary cap on a guy who can’t stay on the floor as the league goes smaller and smaller?
2. Bradley Beal signs 5 year, $128 million contract with Wizards
Bradley Beal is a very good shooter. He is also 23 years old. But the big knock on Beal is of course that he is always injured. I mean, always. In his first four seasons in the league, Beal has missed 26, 9, 19, and 27 games due to various injuries. That means in nearly 1/3 of all games Beal has been in the league, he has been in street clothes. Beal seems like a good guy who obviously can play, and I understand that the Wizards did not want to let a young talented player leave for nothing. It’s just insane to me that he’s making so much money. Somewhere, you know John Wall is upset over that.
3. Joakim Noah signs 4 year, $72 million contract with Knicks
Hello, Knicks fans! The offseason began with smart, calculated risks; trading for Derrick Rose and hiring Jeff Hornaceck to be the head coach were good gambles on the Knicks part. The problem was that in trading for Rose, the Knicks gave up their starting center, Robin Lopez, who may not be a superstar but is a solid guy to have on your team. So in need of a center, the Knicks reverted back to the Knicks of old, signing a guy way past his prime for way more than he’s worth. Noah has struggled mightily the last two seasons, due to injury and an ever decreasing offensive game (Which was never his calling card to begin with). While Noah brings fantastic intangibles to the team such as heart, toughness, leadership, at this stage in his career he will likely never be the player he was in Chicago. He’s already 31, and his skills will decline more and more each year in his contract. I feel like the Knicks definitely could have had him for way cheaper or less years. Not a fan.
4. Dwight Howard signs 3 year, $70 million contract with Hawks
Ugh. Terrible contract for a terrible person. Howard is a bowling ball of discord, bringing chaos to every team he plays for. He melted down a promising Orlando team. He destroyed a daring Nets team. He burned the bright lights out in LA, and exploded a solid Houston team. Good luck in Atlanta, where players like Teague and Horford are now gone. What has made the Hawks so good these last few years, aside from a balanced roster, is how they put their egos aside for the team. With Dennis Schroeder, Paul Milsap, Kent Bazemore all getting promotions, will the team stay grounded and focused? Let’s let Dwight answer that: hell no. Dwight is one of the most entitled players to ever play, whining constantly, as his once dominant skills erode year after year. Some GMs thought he would be lucky to get a vet minimum deal with his toxic attitude. It’s shocking he was able to command so much in what will surely be a big mistake contract very early. Nice knowing you Atlanta.
5. Harrison Barnes signs 4 year, $94 million contract with Mavericks
Poor Dirk. Since the storied 2011 championship run, the Dallas Mavericks have trotted out woeful and awful rosters to surround their best player. Harrison Barnes is the latest free agent to get paid who doesn’t deserve it. While playing on the NBA’s best team, the Golden State Warriors, Barnes would often be invisible in big moments. His offense leaves much to be desired, and when he was able to shine, many believed it was due to the strong roster around him. Without such a loaded squad, will Barnes be able to carry the load on a much poorer team that definitely needs his scoring? All signs point to no.
Five Under the Radar Moves that will Pay Off
1. Jeremy Lin signs 3 year, $36 million contract with Nets
Don’t let my Nets homerism fool you, this was a great move for whatever team got him. Lin could have commanded way more money, but instead settled for a very team friendly contract. Lin brings stability to the NBA’s worst backcourt, and he’s still only 27. He will never be one of the best point guards in the NBA, but he provides competent play at a nice, affordable rate.
2. Courtney Lee signs 4 year, $50 million contract with Knicks
Great signing by the Knicks. Starting shooting guard was definitely an area of need, and after paying Noah $18 million, Carmelo $25 million, and Rose $21 million, there was not a lot of pie to go around. Courtney Lee is a great scorer and a solid defender, capable of hitting the three and scoring ten or so points a night. He also won’t demand the ball as much as Melo, Porzingis, or Rose will, but he will be able to get buckets when his number is called upon, all at a decent price. I like 4 out of 5 Knicks starters a lot.
3. Evan Fournier signs 5 year, $85 million contract with Magic
The Magic are having one of the most WTF offseasons of any team, but the Fournier signing was a steal. Orlando retains their young wing player at under the max deal, and locks him up through his prime. Fournier will be asked to carry a lot of the scoring load next season and all indications point to him being able to answer the call. Plus, he was signed for less than the max, which is terrific (See Beal, Bradley). Now if only any of Orlando’s other moves made any lick of sense.
4. Joe Johnson signs 2 year, $22 million contract with Jazz
After finally being lifted from “That contract,” one of the most infamous in NBA history, “Iso Joe” is finally able to lift his burden and not play like the max player his contract said he was. At 35, Johnson cannot play nearly the same amount of minutes as he had in the past, and by going to the Jazz he gets to back up one of the most promising young wing players in Gordon Hayward. With Hayward playing the bulk of the minutes, Johnson can feast on second units, providing a scoring punch to a bench mob that desperately lacked scoring. He will also bring a quiet professionalism and leadership to a young squad who are looking to make their first playoff push since the 2011-2012 season.
5. Mirza Teletovic signs 3 year, $30 million contract with Bucks
The Bucks have been a very solid defensive team the last few years under Jason Kidd. With long armed players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, and Jabari Parker, the Bucks have been frustrating opponents on that end. However, scoring has been a concern, especially on bench units, and Teletovic comes at a bargain. A stretch four known for his ability to hit the three, what Teletovic misses on defense he more than makes up for on offense. And, with the rest of his team being so good on defense, that frees Teletovic to fire away from 3. This is a great cheap deal and a perfect fit for both sides.