6 of the Best NBA Free Agent Signings
Even though it will be hard to match the buzz of the recently announced Kawhi Leonard- DeMar DeRozan blockbuster trade, the 2018 NBA offseason is still plenty alive with restricted free agents like Rockets center Clint Capela and Cavs guard/forward Rodney Hood still available and plenty of possible trade activity. Nevertheless, most of the teams around the Association have completed most of their free agent activity, with only Atlanta and Sacramento having open cap space to make further free agent moves. So it seems appropriate to start sorting through the signings. Since I’m an optimist, we’ll keep it positive with six of the free agent signings I felt were the best moves for the teams involved.
DeMarcus Cousins (duh)-Golden State Warriors, 1 Year, $5.3 Million
The timetable on when Cousins will actually suit up for the Warriors is unclear at this point, but even if he doesn’t play until 2019 this deal was a coup for the Warriors. Signing an All-NBA big man for the mid-level exception while only losing All-NBA dingus JaVale McGee is as good as it gets for an NBA team, and any opportunity cost of using the exception on a player who could miss a significant portion of the season is totally offset by the sheer potential of having five all-stars in the starting lineup. Last year around this time, some pundits were calling it a win when the Cavaliers gave up Kyrie freaking Irving to get Isaiah Thomas, who was in a similar contract and injury situation as Cousins is in, so getting him for nothing on a one-year rental is an undeniable win for the most detestable team in the league.
LeBron James (duhhhh)-Los Angeles Lakers, 4 Years, $154 Million
Getting the best player in the world is never not a win. Getting him to commit for the maximum four seasons after years of James keeping the Cavaliers in a limbo with his one-year contracts makes all of the Lakers post-Kobe free-agency and on-court shenanigans worth it. The Lakers may not have been able to lure Paul George to his hometown and might miss out on Kawhi but bringing on a man who has led his teams to eight consecutive Finals onto a promising young roster still signifies a massive victory in itself. James’ talent and his allure in bringing other stars to Los Angeles make this signing the greatest accomplishment of the Magic Johnson era thus far.
Deandre Jordan-Dallas Mavericks, 1 Year, $24 Million
No hostage situation this time. The Mavericks finally brought the Texas native to Dallas after the debacle of his last free-agency. Jordan gives the Mavericks the rim runner and protector they’ve been searching for since Tyson Chandler left after the 2011 title run and fills the role Nerlens Noel failed so miserably in last season. Jordan’s presence in the middle could allow Dallas to go smaller and start Harrison Barnes at the power forward spot with Wesley Matthews, Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. manning the perimeter, or allows the Mavs to continue starting Dirk since Jordan can cover some of his defensive deficiencies. The best part about this deal is that while it should help make Dallas playoff contenders next season, the one-year pact also gives the Mavs great flexibility for a talented 2019 free agent class if the pairing doesn’t work ideally.
Tyreke Evans-Indiana Pacers, 1 Year, $12 million
While most of the Eastern Conference playoff teams have been severely limited in their free agent signings due to limited cap space this offseason, the Indiana Pacers entered free agency with enough cap space to add an impact player to hopefully catapult them into the upper half of the conference, and Tyreke Evans could be just that player. Evans is coming off a career year in terms of efficiency, and while he’s never going to become the star it seemed he was destined to be after his Rookie of the Year earning debut in Sacramento, he should be a huge addition to Victor Oladipo’s burgeoning squad. Evans has always been an elite ball handler and penetrator, but he has worked on his jump shot to the point that last season he shot a solid 39% from deep on five and a half attempts a game, giving him a well-rounded offensive game that should make him the team's second leading scorer. His addition, along with internal development from incumbents and contributions from new-comers Kyle O’Quinn and Doug McDermott should make the Pacers a contender in the wide-open Eastern Conference.
Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton-New Orleans Pelicans, 2 years, $18 Million and 1 year, 42.7 Million
I absolutely love both of the big offseason pickups for the Pelicans, who pivoted from the risky plan of spending bigger money on DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo and instead found younger, cheaper replacements who could be just as valuable as the players they’re replacing next season. Randle gives New Orleans a physical presence to bang down low when fellow Kentucky alum Anthony Davis needs a breather or play with him as a switchy and active big man tandem. Another 2014 draftee, Elfrid Payton never lived up to his pedigree with Orlando, but following a midseason move to Phoenix Payton showed alluring flashes that could pay off for New Orleans is he can harness them consistently. These two might be poor-man’s versions of the players they’re replacing, but Randle represents a safer bet and possible better fit as a frontcourt partner for Anthony Davis than DeMarcus Cousins, while Payton has a much higher ceiling than new Laker Rondo.
Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks- 1 year, $3.4 Million
I for one am shocked the Lakers didn’t attempt to keep Lopez, as their big man rotation looks awfully thin right now. Lopez is slightly overrated as a shooter, as his consecutive seasons of shooting under 35% can attest, but he’s still an extremely proficient scorer who is just two years removed from averaging 20 points per game for the Brooklyn Nets. Lopez gives the Bucks another floor spacer around Giannis Antetokounmpo and provides new coach Mike Budenholzer with exactly the type of shooting big man he loves while hopefully replacing most of the offensive output lost by Jabari Parker’s departure.
All stats are via https://www.basketball-reference.com/