Roundtable: Favorite NBA 2018 Free Agency Signings
With free agency nearing it's end, here are a few of the OTG's staff favorite signings of 2018.
Evan Dyal - @EvanDyal
Free agency is all about value.Is the player you signed worth the contract you gave him? I know, duh, but every year we see overpays, shout out to Zach LaVine in Chicago. I could say LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers is the best signing because he is the best player, but that is too obvious. For me it's Julius Randle to the New Orleans Pelicans. Randle signed with New Orleans on a two-year, $18 million-dollar deal. A player of his caliber signing for only $9 million a year is an absolute steal. I love the fit too, Randle can either play alongside Anthony Davis, or back him up at either center or power forward. I am also particular intrigued in the Randle/ Nikola Mirotic pairing, those two should be explosive together, even if they have some defensive issues. Randle is a great rebounder, a sneaky good passer, and a talented scorer. He will fit in with New Orleans high pace offense, and will get tons of easy looks from Jrue Holiday and Elfrid Payton. Randle still needs to learn to shoot and can get better on defense, but there is still upside, and he is still young. Losing Boogie hurt for the Pelicans, but they showed they can play without him, and getting Randle as a replacement is as good as you were going to get on the market. Great job by New Orleans.
Dennis Dow - @dennisdownba
The best free agent signing to me is Julius Randle to the Pelicans. Randle signed for two years and will be paid around $9 million per season. That is an absolute steal for the Pelicans, a team looking to replace DeMarcus Cousins. Randle can provide some of that scoring down low for a fraction of the cost that Cousins would have demanded from the Pelicans. Randle had a breakout season in 2017-18 for the Lakers. He averaged 16 points per game while shooting over 55% from the field in just 27 minutes of action per game. Luke Walton’s rotations and decisions regarding Randle’s minutes could at times be confusing, but Randle has proven that he belongs in the NBA.
The only concern would be the fit. Nikola Mirotic and Anthony Davis were good for the Pelicans last season and it is unclear if Alvin Gentry would attempt to play all three together or allow Randle to serve as the third big. Randle is not much of a shooter, but Mirotic and Davis are good shooters that will give Randle room to operate down low. Randle dominated in the paint last season. Over 50% of his shots occurred at the rim and he finished those shots 72.8% of the time. That number is crazy. Randle is a nice find for the Pelicans, but Gentry has some decisions to make to get the most out of his young front court.
Michael Sanchez - @imlaotino
It was the summer of 2016. The salary cap spiked to over $90 million dollars. Mike Conley signed the biggest contract in NBA history (at the time), Timofey Mozgov signed the funniest (still true), and Chandler Parsons signed the worst (those eyes, tho). Those contracts (among others…Joakim Noah LOL) have forced NBA GMs to become more frugal since (out of necessity, not necessarily out of prudence). That “Summer of the Franchise-Crippling Deal” spawned 2018’s “Summer of the One-Year Deal”. Out of all the one-year deals that have made up nearly half of all the contracts handed out this year, there is one in particular that stands out to me.
The Indiana Pacers signed Tyreke Evans to a 1 year/$12 million contract. It’s the perfect low-risk, high-reward move for a young team ready to contend while still maintaining future cap flexibility. The Pacers were last year’s surprise team led by Most Improved Player and budding superstar, Victor Oladipo. Tyreke Evans had a resurgent year with 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on 45.2/39.9/78.5 shooting splits. He’s the secondary ball handler that the Pacers were desperately missing in the playoffs. He will bring more consistency and explosiveness than Lance Stephenson did to the sixth man role. He has the playmaking ability to lead the second unit and the shooting chops to play off the ball alongside Oladipo. Any concerns about his fit within the team from a chemistry standpoint are alleviated by the fact that it’s only a one-year deal. If he is able to vault the Pacers to the upper echelon of the East, they can resign him; if not, they still have a ton of cap space to add to their young core the following summer.
Kory Waldron - @Kwalhoops
The Indiana Pacers made a jump last season and it was led by newcomer Victor Oladipo. The Pacers were a game away from eliminating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Of course as we know almost winning means nothing, so the Pacers got aggressive in free agency. After signing Doug McDermott, I was concerned (still am but that’s a different roundtable discussion), however, the Pacers followed up that move by freeing up more cap space to sign Tyreke Evans to a 1-year deal. Evans had a terrific year in Memphis on a team that didn’t have many positives. Evans scored efficiently and was able to do a little of everything. His playmaking ability as well as being able to create his own shot will life a huge weight off of Oladipo’s shoulders.
Jac Manuell - @TheJManJBT
Sean Marks’ credibility this offseason has skyrocketed. Every move he’s made has been heralded (#InMarksWeTrust), from the Denver deal to the Shabazz Napier signing. Even people outside of myself and Brooklyn Buzz host, Nick Fay, are starting to notice the expertise of the native Kiwi.
My favorite contract he dealt out though was to former Portland forward/center Ed Davis. As I spoke about in my piece on the ‘Best New Fits’, Davis gives the Nets a heap both on and off the court. He’s an elite rebounder and an even better teammate, his locker room fit is almost worth the $4.4 million he signed for alone.
*in the Damn Daniel voice* “Damnnnn Sean back at it again with the nice deal.”
Jonathan Ebrahimi - @awrashoo
My favorite signing has to be Boogie signing with the Golden State Warriors. The collective shock and horror of the entire NBA community when they realized that the Warriors were now adding a fifth all-star to the mix was both frightening and hilarious. This is no longer a super team… it’s a mega team.
But in all fairness, we can’t blame Cousins for making that move. When the best center in the world doesn’t receive a single offer in free agency, what do you expect him to do? I think the Lakers missed a great opportunity to sign Boogie at the mid-level exception, and use the upcoming season as a way to create a relationship with the big guy, with a long-term deal in mind. They could have gaged how well he gelled with LeBron, and if it didn’t work out, buyout the contract or just let it expire - low risk, high reward.
Alas, it wasn’t in Magic’s plans, so for the time being we’ll just have to wait and see if Cousins signing with the Warriors will create a mega team, or if perhaps Boogie plans to destroy the dynasty from within.
Jonathan Le - @JonLe1986
It might be unoriginal, but my favorite signing has to be LeBron joining the Lakers. This is the most meaningful and impactful free agent signing in NBA history (or at least of my lifetime), above LeBron’s previous free agencies and Shaq’s move to the Lakers in 1996.
LeBron’s move to Miami was about winning, his move back to Cleveland was about a promise to deliver, and this move to LA is about happiness. At the end of the day, happiness is what we all want. Let’s hope he finds it.
Though this move looks like one of the offseason's last, it has the potential to be the most important decision made by any team this summer. The move I’m referring to is Marcus Smart re-signing with the Celtics on a four-year, 52-million dollar deal. Though some might see 13 million per year as an overpay for a player like Smart, I strongly disagree. Smart’s value to the team lies far beyond the stat book, as his hustle and tenacity on the defensive end of the floor is a big part of what makes the Celtics successful. Though Smart is prone to take bad shots at times, his pesky play on the other side of the court more than makes up for it. The Celtics already have a plethora of players that can go get a bucket, including JaysonTatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, and Al Horford at times. Not to mention, perhaps the best of the best in that department, Kyrie Irving.
That being said, even though the Celtics boast this great group of talented players with boatloads of potential, they will never be able to reach their ultimate goal of winning a championship without a player like Smart. If you are going to beat Golden State, you must have a guy like Smart who will run with Steph Curry or Klay Thompson the whole game. You have to at least attempt to make them uncomfortable, and that is exactly what Marcus Smart brings to Boston. Also, the Celtics were able to get him at a price that proves they respect what he is worth, but is still around 4 million less than what he desired. Though this won’t be talked about among the league too much, I see this as the best move of the entire offseason.
Jorge Cantu - @CantuNBA
I may be a little biased, but my favorite free agent signing this offseason was Dwight Howard to the Washington Wizards. I have been a Howard fan for a long time and it was hard seeing him struggle with injuries and earn a bad reputation in several locker rooms, but I firmly believe Washington gives him an opportunity to continue playing well like he did in Charlotte last season.
No matter how tough of a locker room guy Howard is, he is still a starting caliber center and an extremely hard worker. His interior defense – more specifically his rim protection – and rebounding are two areas the Wizards needed to improve on after trading away Marcin Gortat. On offense, he can still bully opposing centers in the post and make his way into the paint for poster dunks. As you can see, I am very excited to see what Howard can do in a Wizards jersey and cannot wait for him to catch every lob John Wall throws his way.