2019 NBA Free Agency: Best Low-Key Signings
Buried underneath the avalanche of celestial movement in the NBA galaxy this wild free agency frenzy were a lot of low-key signings; underrated players signed on great value deals, who could make a real impact by potentially boosting playoff hopes and bolstering championship aspirations.
Here are five of the best low-key signings that (if they work out as well as one might hope) could spell the difference in a wide open title race next season.
Jordan Bell (Minnesota Timberwolves - 1 year/$1.6 million)
Despite winning a championship in his rookie season with the Golden State Warriors and flashing a glimpse of his tantalizing potential, Bell decided to walk away after two seasons in the Bay in search of a more prominent role elsewhere. Turning away offers from the likes of the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets, the 24-year old former second round pick instead chose the young Minnesota Timberwolves instead, where he felt he could grow and earn the playing time he covets. Playing next to Karl-Anthony Towns could unlock his potential, and if that happens, the Wolves might have gotten away with the biggest bargain of this summer’s free agency; one that might help them get over the hump in the crowded Western Conference.
Wesley Matthews (Milwaukee Bucks - 1 year/$2.5 million)
Desperate for depth after losing Nikola Mirotic and Malcolm Brogdon, the cash-strapped Milwaukee Bucks brought in 10-year veteran Wesley Matthews for quite the bargain. Despite losing a bit of his step after a string of injuries - including a dreaded Achilles injury in 2015 - the 33-year old sniper remains one of the deadliest shooters in the game when he’s healthy. Last season, he who stepped up for the Indiana Pacers when star Victor Oladipo was declared out of the season, averaging close to 11 points per game while shooting 37.2 percent on his outside shots. He’s a tailor-made fit for the Bucks’ pace-and-space offense and a low-risk, high reward player; the caveat is that he’s only played a total of 25 games in the last two seasons. If he manages to be injury-free next season, he’ll serve as an adequate replacement for the rock-steady Malcolm Brogdon.
Jeremy Lamb (Indiana Pacers - 3 years/$31.5 million)
Seven-year veteran Jeremy Lamb is out to build on a career season with a new team as he will hold the fort while Indiana Pacers’ lead star Victor Oladipo continues to recover from a knee injury. Lamb can stretch the defense with his ability to hit the three-point shot and he can also create his own shot within the pick-and-roll. But what really sold him to the Pacers is his defensive tenacity, which really fits coach Nate McMillan’s style of play. In his four-year stay with the Hornets, he’s morphed into one of the better two-way players in the league. He had a career-high 2.0 defensive win shares last season while also putting up 15.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists on the offensive end. The Pacers were able to lock him up in the next three seasons, during what will be his prime years in the league. At 27, he’s the fourth-oldest member in the young Pacers’ core, with only a few months separating him from fellow 27-year olds Oladipo, T.J. McConnell and Doug McDermott.
Mike Scott (Philadelphia 76ers - 2 years/$9.8 million)
Seen as a throw-in from the Tobias Harris trade, Mike Scott was able to carve his own niche under coach Brett Brown. He emerged as their stretchy sixth man, even starting some games when the need arose – remember when Jimmy Butler was tossed out in Game 4 of the first round series against Brooklyn? Scott closed out the game and delivered the dagger three that kept the Nets from tying the series. In a nutshell, he’s the Sixers’ low-usage Swiss army knife; since his arrival, Scott has averaged 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 41.2 percent from deep. He’s a guard in a forward’s body, and another floor spacer for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The 43rd overall pick in the 2012 draft looks like he’s found a home in Philly. After Butler’s departure, fans have celebrated how the Sixers were able to reconstruct their starting unit with Al Horford and Josh Richardson. But re-signing Scott keeps that shooting and toughness on their bench, and that has to be the most underrated move made by GM Elton Brand this offseason.
Avery Bradley (Los Angeles Lakers - 2 years/$9.8 million)
Avery Bradley brings more shooting and defense to an already much-improved supporting cast for LeBron James in what is expected to be a bounce back season for the Lakers. The 28-year old guard had a rough stretch after he was traded by the Boston Celtics in 2017, but he has since regained his footing in the league especially after a February trade-deadline move to the Memphis Grizzlies last season. In 28 games with the Grizzlies, he averaged 16.1 points, hitting two triples per game on a 38% three-point clip, while adding 3.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.0 steals. While he’ll be expected to contribute from long-range in the Lakers offense, he’ll be far more valuable on the defensive end; With the Lakers planning to use James more as point guard, playing Bradley next to him could be their best option to take on an opposing team’s elite guard on defense.
Ed Davis (Utah Jazz - 2 years/$10 million), Jeff Green (Utah Jazz – 1 year/$2.5 million), Austin Rivers (Houston Rockets - 2 years/$4.5 million)