Free agency is one of the three times in the year that the NBA landscape is dramatically changed (alongside the draft and trade deadline). Although free agents leave much less than projected, this is the year of player movement. Butler, George, Paul, and Cousins have been traded. Players like J.J. Redick have utilized their contractual freedom and changed landscapes. So I, putting on my 9th-grade English teacher hat (which definitely exists), am going to grade every signing.
Every trade. Every time the Woj bomb explodes, I’ll be here. And it will be glorious. Well, probably not. But that doesn’t mean I won’t still do it!
FREE AGENCY GRADES: J.J. Redick
The Parameters: JJ Redick agrees to leave the Clippers to sign a 1 year/$23 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philadelphia 76ers: A+
The Sixers needed a sharpshooter to spread the floor around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Yes, The Process can shoot, but he does most of his work in the post. Fultz can shoot as well, but he is best when he also has space to drive. Redick gets to play on maybe a playoff team, and definitely gets to play a large role as a veteran influence.
The main thing is that they still have $27 million in space. Sure, some of that will go to renegotiating Robert Covington’s deal, but that is still a lot of money. They get a perfect fit for their team.
JJ Redick: A
Congrats Redick, you got yourself to a perfect situation. You will be the primary shooter, the veteran starter on an up-and-coming team. $23 million? That’s way more than he was projected, and he’ll be back on the market next year.
The only downside is a serious injury or bad year that hamstrings his market value, but even if it does, It’s worth it to bet on himself-especially for that money.
FREE AGENCY GRADES: Andre Iguodala
The Parameters: Andre Iguodala agrees to a three-year/$48 million deal to remain with the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State Warriors: A
The Warriors needed Iggy back. Would they have still been favored without him? Sure. But he is an integral piece to their best lineup and the centerpiece of the second unit. Losing him would have been crushing, if not devastating. The fact of the matter is that they needed Igy more than Iggy needed them. And from a team’s standpoint, that is dangerous. They didn’t have the leverage, Iggy did. Planted stories about Houston, taking deals with other contenders (SAS, HOU), as well as teams that could pay him & play him (SAC), all these put the ball in Andre’s court.
The Warriors gave him $16 mil/yr, which- if it truly was what was needed to bring him back- was great. It was around market value, and he was of more value to them than anywhere else on the market. They “retained the asset”, and unlike Portland last year, they didn’t spend big for small talent. They spent decent for good talent. And that, Twitter GMs, is what you want to be doing.
Andre Iguodala: A
You have to assume this is what Iggy wanted all along (The contract, not the nickname). He got paid, and much more than his second-unit running mate Shaun Livingston. Not only did he double Shaun’s money, but it was also fully guaranteed. Good job, mate (I say in an Aussie accent that immediately offends Ben Simmons, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes, Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellevadova, etc. Not Joe Ingles though, he’s cool with it.).
You got boatloads of guaranteed money over three years for the title favorites? And they just happen to be in San Fran, instead of, uhh, other places. (cough, Cleveland, cough). Think of all you could do with $48 million dollars. You could buy 9,792 square meters in Cape Town. Heck, you could probably buy Lil’ Yachty’s Little Yacht! Great deal for Iggy.
FREE AGENCY GRADES: Serge Ibaka
The Parameters: Serge Ibaka signs a 3 year/$65 million deal to remain with the Toronto Raptors.
Toronto Raptors: D+
Well, this is definitely not an overpay (Note the sarcasm). By Bobby Marks’ estimates, there are 100 players left on the FA board. Is Ibaka really worth $21.67 mil/year? Well, I suppose that hinges on their bringing back Lowry. But even so, with money drying up, this is a massive overpay. Did they need him back? Yes. But this number is far too high for my liking. If this is why they didn’t re-sign PJ Tucker, that only makes it worse.
Serge Ibaka: A
Wow, Serge got PAID. Not even just a little bit, but a lot. If you told me someone else was offering him this, I wouldn’t believe you. And not even short-term either; He got three years! He is pretty much just a good two-way wing, but he is their third-best player, and the results of letting him walk would have been catastrophic. Regardless, I couldn’t see anyone else offering this kind of money for a guy who has largely been a disappointment the last couple of years.
FREE AGENCY GRADES: Kyle Lowry
The Parameters: Kyle Lowry signs a 3-year/$100 deal to remain with the Toronto Raptors.
Toronto Raptors: A+
There was a lot of speculation that Lowry would receive a 5-year max from Toronto- at the very least, four. The fact that they could just give him per year over three that which they would’ve given over four is an absolute coup. Small point guards don’t age well, and Lowry is currently 32. Paying him into age 35 rather than 36 or 37 is absolutely incredible.
He is one of the best players in his Conference (and in the league at his position), but will likely stop being that by age 34, and being good by 36. Maybe before that, maybe after, you never know- but however it goes, Toronto will most likely have him for the rest of his great/good years.
Kyle Lowry: B
Well, if Lowry still doesn’t like Toronto at this point, he could buy 1,000,000 square feet of beach house. No, he didn’t get 4/5 years, which is a huge disappointment, but $33 mil/yr is always great. Could he have gotten more years elsewhere? Probably. But the money wouldn’t have been significantly enough as to make it worth it to not get back on the market at age 35. Will he get another big deal then? No. Will he get a four-year deal then? Of course not, that violates the over-38 rule. He got paid, but there is no assurance that that will happen again. And he couldn’t get that fourth or fifth year.
FREE AGENCY GRADES: Paul Millsap
The Parameters: Paul Millsap signs a 3-year/$90 million contract to leave the Atlanta Hawks and join the Denver Nuggets. Denver has a team option on year three.
Denver Nuggets: A++
HOLY CHICKEN NUGGETS, THIS IS A PERFECT FIT. The Nuggets, a team that just missed the playoffs last year, are incredibly young. When Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried are the two runaway 2nd- and 3rd- oldest players on the team, you know that it’s probably nap time. Additionally, the team is built around Nikola Jokic: a do-it-all offensive whiz with maestroic tendencies (That follows all grammatical laws and formalizes maestro into the desired situation. Deal with it.), but may have a few, er, defensive shortcomings.
Paul Millsap, on the other hand, has no such limitations. He can cover a lot of Jokic’s errors while still providing offense, something that Denver’s other stretch fours- Trey Lyles, Tyler Lydon, Jauncho Hernangomez, Danilo Gallinari (?) - don’t. Sure, they have Kenneth Faried, but he can’t play offense and is really just a hustle guy. Darrell Arthur is always injured. Millsap, on the other hand, will immediately be the best defensive player on the team. And don’t say Gary Harris. He will be better, but he isn’t as experienced. Not only does Millsap haave D, he has an incredible versatile and varied offensive game as well.
Picture this: Jamal Murray, Will Barton, and Gary Harris spot up. Jokic stands at the three-point line, high post, or low post, facilitating the ball, with Millsap at one of the other spots. Beautiful, really. That would utterly destroy defenses, and when the defense gets too bad, you can put in Chandler for Barton. Millsap and Jokic can both post up, both shoot, both pass, and one can play lockdown D. Great young perimeter pieces surround them, most of whom can shoot. And Millsap, he consummate vet that he is, can teach these young bucks a thing or two about defense. The main issue most people had with a Millsap signing was the years. He’s 32, so an Atlanta 5-year deal would’ve been through age 37. 4 would be through 36. Instead, they got three, and an ETO? They could be out by 32! Incredible job by the folks down at- up at?- mile high.
Paul Millsap: B-
Millsap goes to the perfect situation fit-wise, that much is clear. The question is whether or not he had a market. He seemed to, when he had Atlanta, Minnesota, Phoenix, Denver, and Sacramento pursuing him. But then Schlenk admitted that he’d get better offer elsewhere. One of five gone. Sacramento isn’t really where a vet who wants money + playoffs to go. Two down. Then Phoenix dropped out. Two left. Then Minnesota signed Jeff Teague. Sure, they could still get Millsap, but it wouldn’t be at $30 mil+ like Denver. So then it was one, just one team that could really get him what he wanted: Denver. Playoffs, another star, good role players, money. But two years? Team option on year three? You’d think he could at least get flat three, even if he had to give up a few mil each year.
I had a B+ based on the original Shams Charania (AKA Woj 2.0) report, which gave no mention of an ETO. I gave Denver an A+. But when CBSSPorts broke the ETO news, I was shocked and saddened. Millsap could’ve gotten more, should’ve gotten more. But he didn’t, and 34-year-old Paul Millsap will probably go ring-chasing. Guess that’s how it goes.