NBA Free Agency Report Card

The NBA salary cap has officially risen to $94.1 million, a 34.5% increase from the 2015-2016 season.

As you know by now, the amount of money that free agent players are receiving from franchises this Summer has been unprecedentedly enormous.

Taking into account that a $16,382,979 contract under the $70 million salary cap from 2015-2016 is now the equivalent of a $22,000,000 one this season, let’s grade the verbal deals that have been agreed to thus far:

WHO: Timofey Mozgov

Mozgov

WHAT: 4 Years/$64 Million

WHERE: Los Angeles Lakers

WHY: Your guess is as good as mine. This deal feels like the Lakers are somewhere between “It’s almost midnight on New Year’s Eve and I haven’t found anyone to kiss yet” and “I have 5 minutes to get to the next terminal before my flight leaves” levels of desperation. 64 million divided by 4 years means Mozgov is going to make $16 million per season.

He scored a total of 15 points during the 2016 playoffs. Who the hell are you bidding against at this length and size of deal?

Don’t let that be a knock on his potential, however – he’s actually a nice piece to have on your roster and can be a serviceable NBA center if put in to the right situation for a limited amount of minutes – but for $16 million a year and 15.94% of your total salary cap? Good lord, Mitch Kupchak, what are you doing?

GRADE: F

WHO: DeMar DeRozan

DeMar-DeRozan-1_1

WHAT: 5 Years/$139+ Million

WHERE: Toronto Raptors

WHY: Unless there is a new rule that says you have to pay your players one dollar for every missed shot during the playoffs, I’m not entirely sure how or why DeRozan is worthy of a max contract in today’s NBA. Despite his best regular season as a pro (21.5 Player Efficiency Rating), DeRozan has gotten progressively worse each year he’s been in the playoffs (18.2, 15.7, 14.2 PER per postseason), posted a team worst Net Rating of (-14), team worst box score +/- average of -3.4 amongst rotation players, all while leading the Raptors in usage (an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor) at 30.9%.

On the contrary, the Toronto Raptors made the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history – and DeRozan was the spearhead of the team’s success … thus, maybe numbers don’t justify the impact DeMar has on the team + city and he is being compensated for his accomplishments more so than the future.

Long story short: this volume shooter who is a walking, breathing pit of ball movement quicksand now occupies ~20-25.72% of the franchise’s cap space for the next half decade – and I’m not sure how beloved he will be moving forward if this downward trend of productivity continues during his insanely-lucrative contract.

GRADE: C-

WHO: Nicolas Batum

WHAT: 5 Years/$120 Million

WHERE: Charlotte Hornets

WHY: No “Ok, he’s on our team now and now we have a chance at the championship” superstar is going to sign with the Charlotte Hornets in the near future, so, when you are a mediocre team who has the opportunity to retain the services of a very good NBA player who was vital to your franchise’s success in making the playoffs – you do it – regardless of the price.

GRADE: B

WHO: Jordan Clarkson

WHAT: 4 Years/$50 Million

WHERE: Los Angeles Lakers

WHY: The jury is still out on just how good Clarkson can be, but, when you’re the Lakers and can’t even get free agents to respond to your text messages let alone call you back – you take this fair deal for a fair player all day every day.

GRADE: B

WHO: Hassan Whiteside

whiteside.jpg

WHAT: 4 Years/$98 Million

WHERE: Miami Heat

WHY: Hassan Whiteside is a phenomenal basketball player who is arguably the most daunting defensive presence in the NBA – when he chooses to be. When he doesn’t or checks out of a game mentally, he is a liability on both ends of the floor unlike anyone else in the league. Until we see if this giant amount of cash retains Hassan’s inner, super-efficient Dr. Jekyl mentality we saw during the playoffs or unleashes the Mr. Hyde that’s made the entire 305 area code want to tomahawk electronics through their window the past couple of seasons, this deal cannot be graded.

GRADE: INC

WHO: Ish Smith

WHAT: 3 Years/$18 Million

WHERE: Detroit Pistons

WHY: One day, the fastest on-ball point guard in the league will develop a jump shot – and when he does: Ish Smith won’t be the best kept secret in the NBA any more.

GRADE: A-

WHO: DJ Augustin

WHAT: 4 Years/$29 Million

WHERE: Orlando Magic

WHY: Does this mean the Magic are throwing in the towel on the Elfrid Payton project? Hello, waiter … I’ll please have one of whatever the 2016-2017 Orlando Magic are having. Thank you.

GRADE: C

WHO: Jeremy Lin

jeremy lin 3

WHAT: 3 Years/$36 Million

WHERE: Brooklyn Nets

WHY: The steal of the offseason was made by … the Brooklyn Nets? And they didn’t trade away their next century’s worth of draft picks to get him at this price? This can’t be right.

GRADE: A

WHO: Bradley Beal

WHAT: 5 Years/$130 Million

WHERE: Washington Wizards

WHY: Bradley Beal is good enough to be a max player in today’s NBA – as long as you press pause, scroll down the menu options, and turn off injuries before playing every game. He’ll continue to be a perfect outside shooting compliment to John Wall, for as long as he can stay healthy…to be determined.

GRADE: INC

WHO: Al Jefferson

WHAT: 3 Years/$30 Million

WHERE: Indiana Pacers

WHY: I hate to be the turd in the punch bowl here, but, everyone is calling this “the signing of the Summer”. While I do agree that $10 million per season for only 3 years is as perfect as a contract gets under the new salary cap numbers, did anyone watch Al Jefferson play last year? Coming off a season in which he recorded the lowest PER rating (18.2) he’s had since 2005-2006, I’m sorry to break this to Pacer Nation, but: “Big Al” is just “Al” now. He looks old, debilitated by his injuries the past couple of years, and his position of ‘traditional on the block big man’ is nearly extinct in today’s style of ‘smallball’ play. Hey, maybe he’ll prove me wrong! Regardless of the outcome, there is a whole lot of potential reward here for nearly no risk.

GRADE: B

WHO: Andre Drummond

WHAT: 5 Years/$130 Million

WHERE: Detroit Pistons

WHY: “Pay the man. Pay that man his money….”

If this dude can ever learn how to make free throws at a percentage better than 60%… we may be looking at this generation’s Shaquille O’Neal.

GRADE: A

WHO: Mirza Teletovic

WHAT: 3 Years/$30 Million

WHERE: Milwaukee Bucks

WHY: 3 years, $30 million for a player who lives beyond the three-point line. Seems pretty appropriate if you ask me.

GRADE: C

WHO: Evan Fournier

WHAT: 5 Years/$85 Million

WHERE: Orlando Magic

WHY: I’m sorry but which front office executive’s spouse did Mario Hezonja sleep with to deserve this type of neglect? #FreeSuperMario

GRADE: D

WHO: Evan Turner

Evan WTurner

WHAT: 4 Years/$75 Million

WHERE: Portland Trail Blazers

WHY: Harvey Dent said it best: “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Welcome to the Evan Turner Experience, Portland, enjoy the ride.

GRADE: C+

WHO: Chandler Parsons

WHAT: 4 Years/$98 Million

WHERE: Memphis Grizzlies

WHY: Remember that time Dirk Nowitzki took a pay cut to get this guy and his injury-riddled body on the Mavericks? Big gulps, huh? Welp, see ya later!

GRADE: C-

WHO: Solomon Hill

WHAT: 4 Years/$48 Million

WHERE: New Orleans Pelicans

WHY: Oh look it’s someone new for Tyreke Evans to not pass to.

GRADE: C

WHO: Matthew Dellavedova

WHAT: 4 Years/$38.4 Million

WHERE: Milwaukee Bucks

WHY: I’m sorry which of the other 29 teams were going to bid even half of this?

GRADE: D

WHO: Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard

 

WHAT: 3 Years/$70.5 Million

WHERE: Atlanta Hawks

WHY: I can’t believe it, but, a transaction involving Dwight Howard may have actually been a … brace yourselves … GOOD IDEA!? Dwight Howard is what he is: a superstar on the decline who has notoriously not gotten along with nor gelled with any team he’s been on in the past 5 years. He’s a terrible free throw shooter who refuses to use his super-human physique to dominate the paint. He’s lazy, he shows signs of not giving a crap about anything important, and is a consistent underachiever. With all of this said, he’s still Dwight Howard. If the overwhelming, dominant Dwight Howard from 2009-2011 so much as peeks its head out of its shell for so much as a minor portion of this contract – it’ll be worth it, because the Hawks are right there. This feels like the NBA equivalent of Custer’s Last Stand, he’s either going to succeed and be the hometown Atlanta sports hero everyone thought he’d be, or, he’s going to die on the same hill he’s been defending since being traded to the LA Lakers. At a reasonable 3 Years/$70.5 Million – I don’t blame the Atlanta Hawks for giving one last chance to a potential all-world player for this price … and if he’s ever going to be a relevant championship contender again, the best chance is at home where he’s likely most comfortable.

GRADE: B+

WHO: Mike Conley

Mike Conley

WHAT: 5 Years/$153 Million

WHERE: Memphis Grizzlies

WHY: Where were you on July 1st, 2016? We’re going to tell our grandchildren about the time the NBA’s biggest contract ever was given to a player with a season-ending Achilles injury.

GRADE: C-

WHO: Jeff Green

WHAT: 1 Year/$15 Million

WHERE: Orlando Magic

WHY: I still have absolutely no clue what the Orlando Magic are doing, but, expiring contracts in the NBA are sometimes as much of an asset as the player themselves are – so, best-case scenario: the old “WTF did you see that? That was amazing.” Jeff Green shows up for more than just one game a week again and provides a much-needed spark to a dormant Magic offense, or, worst-case scenario: this doesn’t work out and they trade him at the deadline and/or let him walk after the season.

GRADE: B

WHO: Justin Hamilton

WHAT: 2 Years/$6 Million

WHERE: Brooklyn nets

WHY: The city is under new management.

GRADE: C

WHO: E’Twaun Moore

WHAT: 4 Years/$34 Million

WHERE: New Orleans Pelicans

WHY: Congratulations to the New Orleans Pelicans for signing every free agent under the sun that everyone, who doesn’t watch NBA League Pass consistently, has to google to find out who they are.

GRADE: C-

WHO: Jared Dudley

WHAT: 3 Years/$30 Million

WHERE: Phoenix Suns

WHY: If you disregard the fact that Jared is a completely mediocre NBA basketball player, this is a decent signing!

GRADE: D+

WHO: Kent Bazemore

WHAT: 4 Years/$70 Million

WHERE: Atlanta Hawks

WHY: From only being known because he was really good at celebrating on the bench … to a $70 million contract … Kent Bazemore’s climb to a desirable basketball asset contract is one of the better stories of the NBA season. Is he worth 17.5 million per year? I mean we’re talking borderline “all-star” numbers here. Maybe, maybe not … but he’s only getting better, and there’s no reason to doubt his high level of play that got him to this point will cease.

GRADE: A-

WHO: Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah

WHAT: 4 Years/$72 Million

WHERE: New York Knicks

WHY: Why? Because Derrick Rose is on the team now, they’re blood brothers, and they are a package deal. It’s the only explanation that a broken down, injury-plagued 31-year-old center who just came off a 29-game appearance season averaging 4.3 points/8.8 rebounds per and a career-worst PER of 14.1 gets a contract of this magnitude. It’s not even the money that’s the problem here, it’s the number of years. Think about it for a second: Joakim Noah won’t be off the books for the Knicks until the Summer Olympics begin … IN TOKYO … AND there is another presidential election going on. He will be THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OLD! That is social security age in the NBA. I get that Joakim Noah was once great and so great that he even finished fourth in the MVP voting once-upon-a-time…but those days have come and gone, and you have to seriously question who would have signed Noah to a deal remotely close to the one New York gave him if the Knicks didn’t come calling. What exactly is the purpose of this transaction? All the max salary cap spots are gone and any chance at signing Dwyane Wade is gone. I’m gonna be honest: I just don’t get this. At all.

GRADE: D+

WHO: Joe Johnson

Miami Heat v New York Knicks

WHAT: 2 Years/$22 Million

WHERE: Utah Jazz

WHY: Wait a second … HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN? This is way too good to be true. Joe Johnson was arguably the best player on the Miami Heat during the playoffs last year (not named Dwyane Wade) and the Utah Jazz are in dire need of a wing player who can not only create their own shot, but, spread the floor with a legitimate outside shooting threat. The Utah Jazz got JOE JOHNSON to sign a contract for LESS YEARS and LESS MONEY than SOLOMON FREAKIN HILL. We’re done here. Ladies & Gentlemen: Your “Signing of the Summer.”

GRADE: A+

WHO: Luol Deng

WHAT: 4 Years/$72 Million

WHERE: Los Angeles Lakers

WHY: Is he past his prime? Yeah. Is this deal a little rich for a player of Deng’s caliber? Yeah. But the Lakers and their Lord of the Flies island of misfits desperately need a veteran presence in their locker room – and they just got one of the best in Luol Deng. His game may not be worth this money anymore, but, if you include all of the intangibles Deng brings to the table: this is a very fair deal for both parties.

GRADE: B+

WHO: Jon Leuer

WHAT: 4 Years/$42 Million

WHERE: Detroit Pistons

WHY: Haters will say this is fake.

GRADE: D

WHO: Arron Afflalo

WHAT: 2 Years/$25 Million

WHERE: Sacramento Kings

WHY: Congratulations, Sacramento, you just did the impossible – you completed a transaction that made the one the Knicks had last season look like the steal of the century. If this deal is any indication, the Kings are going to Kings and there is nothing you and do to stop it.

GRADE: D

WHO: Bismack Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo

WHAT: 4 Years/$70 Million

WHERE: Orlando Magic

WHY: If Biyombo doesn’t have the amazing series he had vs. the Miami Heat, what does this contract look like? One digit less, that’s what. The Magic just did the basketball equivalent of giving an Academy Award to a film that’s only released its trailer. Someone please take away Orlando’s keys and call them an Uber because this is getting ridiculous.

GRADE: D+

WHO: Trevor Booker

WHAT: 2 Years/$18 Million

WHERE: Brooklyn Nets

WHY: What is the opposite of the saying “When in Rome…”? Because that probably applies here.

GRADE: C

WHO: Ryan Anderson

WHAT: 4 Years/$80 Million

WHERE: Houston Rockets

WHY: At first glance, $20 million per season is kind of ludicrous for Ryan Anderson – despite his impressive shooting abilities – but then you remember Mike D’Antoni is the coach of this team and any big man who can knock down threes is going to thrive … so, despite the high price tag, this might actually work.

GRADE: B

WHO: Marvin Williams

WHAT: 4 Years/$54.5 Million

WHERE: Charlotte Hornets

WHY: Because Marvin Williams is apparently a valuable commodity. I guess you learn something every day.

GRADE: C-

WHO: Courtney Lee

WHAT: 4 Years/$48 Million

WHERE: New York Knicks

WHY: The defensive-minded, versatile, three-point shooting wing player who the New York Knicks so desperately needed – and hey would you look at that, he’s not overpaid! Who says there isn’t a first for everything!

GRADE: A-

WHO: Ian Mahinmi

WHAT: 4 Years/$64 Million

WHERE: Washington Wizards

WHY: From thinking they had a shot at Kevin Durant to 4 years $64 million of Ian Mahinmi. Life has never come at you so fast.

GRADE: F

WHO: Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers

WHAT: 3 Years/$35 Million

WHERE: Los Angeles Clippers

WHY: Hey give Doc credit at least he’s not even trying to hide it anymore.

GRADE: F

WHO: Eric Gordon

WHAT: 4 Years/$53 Million

WHERE: Houston Rockets

WHY: As always, the acquisition of Eric Gordon is always a good idea – as long as you’re ok with him playing half the games, shooting all of the shots, and refusing to play defense unless you’ve got a member of his family held hostage as ransom. Combine this with the fact that he’s on a team with James Harden and coached by Mike D’Antoni — he’ll fight right in!

GRADE: C

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