This summer was filled with drama and excitement. While a vast number of familiar stars took their talents to new cities others, were left without contracts. There were also many low risk, under-the-radar signings. These five players in particular, were signed to low risk deals that have the potential to reap big rewards this upcoming season.
5. Derrick Rose
(Cleveland Cavaliers, veterans minimum)
By now it's is highly evident that Derrick Rose is a shell of his former self. The former NBA MVP has been plagued by injuries and has just never seemed to be able to put the pieces of his career back together. However, the opportunity to play alongside LeBron James may be just what Rose needs to salvage what is left of his NBA career. One of the bigger reasons why this deal may lead to a big payoff is the current Kyrie Irving situation. If, and that is if, Irving is eventually traded, Rose is a very capable point guard.
In just 64 games with the New York Knicks in 2017, Rose averaged 18 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game. The Chicago native also scored 20 or more points over 20 times during the 2016-17 campaign and, scored 30 points, a season high, twice. Even if Kyrie Irving does not end up being traded, Rose is still very much a solid backup option at the point guard position for the Cavs. Currently, Cleveland only has Jose Calderon and Kay Felder as their other options at the point. The only potential issue that could hinder Rose from being a significant factor in Cleveland’s chase for championship glory is his health. Although Derrick Rose has gone from making the NBA max to a minimum in just six years, the former NBA MVP may still have much to give.
4. Rajon Rondo
(New Orleans Pelicans, one-year veterans minimum)
Another former All-Star who took the veteran's minimum this past season was Rajon Rondo. At 32 years of age Rondo proved during the 2016-2017 season that he could still produce at a reasonable clip. Although he only played in 69 games for Chicago this past season, Rondo did start in 42 of them. For New Orleans, adding a player of such as Rajon Rondo should help them in many ways. First, if the Pelicans decide to start Jrue Holiday at the point guard position, Rondo is a very good backup option and, will be a good mentor for a young player Frank Jackson. Second, New Orleans ranked 21st in team defense last season and, although Rajon Rondo may not be the best defender in the NBA, he is still a very good defender which, the Pelicans need.
Lastly, Rondo is full of Playoff experience. For the Pelicans, this year almost has to be the year that the team makes a return to the Postseason. DeMarcus Cousins is up for a contract extension and, Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s job could be in jeopardy if the team does not meet expectations. Rajon Rondo is a former NBA champion and this experience will be extremely valuable for a young, Pelicans team. Also, before he got injured in last years Playoffs, Rondo took his play to another level for the Bulls. Many analysts and critics believed that if the 32-year-old had stayed healthy, the Bulls could have beat the number one seeded Boston Celtics. Do not let the amount of money the former four-time All-Star will be making fool you.
3. Jamal Crawford
(Minnesota Timberwolves, two-years $8.9 million)
After being traded by the Clippers to the Hawks, Jamal Crawford was then released and soon after, signed with Minnesota. For the Timberwolves, the former three-time Sixth Man of the Year award winner is a great fit. Although Minnesota added Jeff Teague along with, All-Star Jimmy Butler, the team was still in need of reliable scorers off the bench. At 37 years of age, Crawford has proved season after season that despite his age, he can still be a reliable scorer. During the 2016-2017 campaign, Crawford averaged 12.3 points, 2.6 assists as well as, 1.7 rebounds per game. It is worth noting that Crawford’s 12.3 points per game average was more than any Timberwolves role player in 2017.
For a young and relatively inexperienced Timberwolves team, Crawford will undoubtedly take on a large leadership role. Minnesota is expected to have a big year and, adding Crawford may be the final piece that the team needs. The 37-year-old is chalk full of experience, appearing in 69 career Playoff games. What may be his most impressive statistic from 2017, is that Crawford played in all 82 regular season as well as, 7 Playoff games for the Clippers. However, it remains to be seen if the aging veteran will once again be able to shoulder the heavy workload. Consistency is likely what Timberwolves management is hoping to get out of this signing. If he can stay healthy as well as produce at a reasonable clip, Jamal Crawford should have no trouble being an impact player for the new look Minnesota Timberwolves.
2. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
(Los Angeles Lakers, one-year $18 million)
For Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, this was not the position he was supposed to be in. The former Restricted Free Agent was expected to receive a big money offer from the Detroit Pistons, but that changed once his former team acquired Avery Bradley from Boston. Soon after, Detroit renounced their rights to Caldwell-Pope making him an Unrestricted Free Agent. With his future now in his hands, KCP decided to sign a short term deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Signing KCP was a huge get for the Lakers. After trading D'Angelo Russell and, with Jordan Clarkson’s future role still unclear, Los Angeles lacked a true shooting guard. Although the deal is only for one year, if all goes well, Caldwell-Pope may find himself inking a longer, richer contract with the Lakers next summer. After averaging 13.8 points, 2.5 assists as well as, 3.3 rebounds per game in 2017, KCP will likely have the opportunity to be an impact scorer for the Lakers. During his time in Detroit, the 24-year-old was very streaky when it came to shooting the ball. However, with Lonzo Ball’s passing Los Angeles could be in for many scoring outbursts from KCP. Just one year ago, Caldwell-Pope scored over 30 points twice.
Statistics aside, this signing is big for both sides. For the Lakers, signing a relatively young player with the talent level of Caldwell-Pope to a short term deal helps them in a few ways. First, since it is only a one-year contract, the Lakers are not tied into any long term deal that they could possibly live to regret. Second, Los Angeles still has plenty of room to work with in terms of remaining cap space. Lastly, Caldwell-Pope is just 24 years old which means, that if the team wants to sign him to a long term deal come next summer, he will still likely be in his prime throughout the potential new contract. In the case of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, this one year opportunity gives him the ultimate opportunity to prove to himself as well as, all 30 NBA teams the elite star that he can be.
1. Milos Teodosic
(Los Angeles Clippers two-years, $12.3 million)
One of the most highly regarded basketball players in the world is finally set to step foot in the NBA and his name is Milos Teodosic. Regarded by many as “the best passer in the world”, Teodosic is on the heels of a remarkable career overseas. At 30 years of age, the Serbian native may not be a player the Clippers can build their entire team around, but he will still have a large impact this upcoming season.
After trading Chris Paul, the Clippers were in the market for a point guard. Before we continue, yes, Patrick Beverley is still a very solid option to run the point in Los Angeles. Milos Teodosic has the more polished offensive game whereas Beverly is the better defender of the two. Beverly himself even admitted that Teodosic “might be the best passer in the NBA right now.” The Serbian native may not possess the same star power that Chris Paul has but, the two are highly comparable. They are both pass first players, are the elite passer and, are both very high competitors. Passing aside, Teodosic is also a very formidable scorer. In just 29 EuroLeague contests, he averaged 16.1 points per game. Now, the NBA is much different than that of the game overseas but, Teodosic should still be a reliable scorer at the NBA level.
Another area he is highly regarded in is his pick-and-roll play. This is an extremely good fit for the Clippers as Blake Griffin is also extremely deadly when involved in a pick-and-roll-offensive set. Speaking of Griffin, the screens that the big man sets for his new point guard should and will help free up space for other teammates as well. Finally, after years of speculation, Milos Teodosic is set to make his NBA debut. The 2017-2018 season will mark the year when one of the world’s best basketball players plays in the best basketball league in the world for the first time.