The sixth day of NBA free agency in 2017 was really the first day of NBA free agency in 2017. The moratorium was lifted, and contracts could finally be signed, sealed and delivered. The Paul George trade was officially completed, Jrue Holiday is officially wildly overpaid, and so on and so forth.
The lifting of the moratorium also signaled the onset of restricted free agent madness. Two lucrative offer sheets were signed, with more surely to come on Friday.
Oh, and quite possibly the greatest passer in the entire world is finally coming over to the NBA from Europe.
All that and more in our daily roundup:
GRADING THURSDAY’S DEALS
Dirk Nowitzki will take a pay-cut — a very, very large pay cut — to re-up with the only NBA team he has ever known. Nowitzki is re-signing with the Dallas Mavericks. That is about as unsurprising as can be. But the price is a stunner: Two years, $10 million, according to ESPN’s Tim McMahon.
That’s $5 million per annum for a player who made $25 million last season and who, even at 39, is probably worth more than three times the salary he took. But Dirk is Dallas and Dallas is Dirk, and this is what the Mavs legend wants. He wants to give the franchise an opportunity to build something around him in his 20th NBA season.
The issue is that, for the Mavericks, the pay cut is more enabling in theory than in practice. There isn’t a whole lot of potentially season-altering talent left on the market, and Dallas only has roughly $11 million of cap room to spend on it. They could waive that up to around $17 million, but even still, a player like JaMychal Green or Bojan Bogdanovic won’t lift the 2017-18 team’s ceiling that much higher.
That said, could the money Dirk essentially returned to GM Donnie Nelson’s pockets be used on a player that could pull Dirk’s Mavs into the playoffs one final time? Maybe. And that would be wonderful for Nowitzki, wonderful for the game of basketball, and wonderful for all of us.
Dallas Grade: A+
Kelly Olynyk will get paid in Miami: He agreed to a four-year, $50-plus million deal with the Heat.
The Heat will also re-sign James Johnson … and he’ll bring in $60 million over four years, if he doesn’t opt out of his fourth-year player option, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick.
Miami has now given $162 million in guaranteed money to three fairly average players over the last 36 hours. That $40.5 million per year will go toward making the Heat a playoff team. But that’s just about the upper limit of their upside, isn’t it?
Pat Riley has earned the benefit of the doubt, but the salary numbers here are puzzling. Of the three signings, Olynyk is the easiest to get behind because there’s an outside chance that a wealth of potential was trapped on Boston’s bench, ready to be unleashed on South Beach. But we know what Johnson is. We think we know what Dion Waiters’ ceiling is. The Heat now have a lot of money tied up in five players, and those five players aren’t getting them anywhere near the top of the East.
Miami Grade: C-
The Clippers are signing “the best international player not in the NBA”: Milos Teodosic. Get to know the name. He’s a former EuroLeague MVP, he’s an international basketball legend, and he is finally coming to the NBA. The 30-year-old point guard agreed to a two-year, $12.3 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, according to multiple reports Thursday afternoon. Teodosic will have a player option for the second year.
And now the fun part: a cursory look at Teodosic’s game. It’s as enthralling as any you’ll encounter in Europe.
Clippers guard Patrick Beverly, who previously played with Teodosic at Olympiacos in Greece, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that his new teammate “might be the best passer in the NBA right now.” That’s high praise, but it is in no way unsubstantiated. You’ll be in awe less than a minute into a single highlight tape:
And, while you’re at it, have a second:
Are there concerns about how Teodosic will adapt to the NBA game? Absolutely. He isn’t a world-class athlete, he’s famously spotty on defense, and while he’s big for a point guard, he’s never experienced anything remotely like the physical, 82-game grind that is an NBA season. He’ll also have to gel with a revamped roster.
Even so, at just over $6 million per year, this signing has a lot of upside. At the very least, it brings intrigue and a hint of flair to the post-CP3 Clips. Oh, and it brings lobs. A lot of lobs back to Lob City.
Clippers Grade: B+
Rudy Gay is heading to San Antonio … And he’s heading there to win. Gay turned down a $14.3 million player option, and will ultimately sign a two-year, $17.2 million contract in San Antonio. But Gay took the financial L to pick up some on-court Ws. He hasn’t exactly developed a reputation as a winner throughout his 11-year career, but that almost certainly has more to do with the talent around him than any aspect of Gay’s game or personality. He’s only played in one playoff series over those 11 years. He could double that total — at least — in 2017-18, and could quadruple it over the span of his Spurs contract.
As for the San Antonio perspective, Gay’s tendencies don’t exactly fit seamlessly with the Spurs’ offensive system. But he’s a talented scorer and decent wing defender and rebounder whom Gregg Popovich will hope to mold into a two-way force. At this price — San Antonio’s mid-level exception — it’s a nice gamble with limited downside.
San Antonio Grade: B
Vince Carter is the latest veteran to join the Kings: He’s headed there on a one-year, $8 million deal as the third Sacramento signing aged 31 or above. There isn’t much short-term value here — Carter, at 40, is limited on the floor, and the Kings won’t compete for a playoff spot in 2017-18 — but the Kings are making sure their youngsters learn from the best. That’s valuable. And if you’ve got cap space to expend, there’s no harm in it whatsoever.
Sacramento Grade: B
The Wizards and Nets are waging a petty war over Otto Porter: Brooklyn officially delivered Porter’s offer sheet to Washington, and the offer is not only a four-year, $106.5 million max contract; per reports, it includes a fourth-year player option, a 15 percent trade kicker, and an odd provision that requires 50 percent of Porter’s salary to be paid in advance before October. Why? Because such an offer allows Brooklyn to either pilfer Porter from Washington, or be a prickly thorn in the Wizards’ side.
The Wizards, though, are retaliating. They’ll match the offer, and will wait the full six days to do so, cap-tying Brooklyn for the time being. So, in the end, both franchises come out of this struggle worse off.
Washington Grade: C+ Brooklyn Grade: C Washington and Brooklyn Petty Grade: A++
The Knicks signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to an offer sheet: That offer sheet is worth a whopping $71 million over four years. The fourth-year player option would pay Hardaway $19 million. The deal also has a 15 percent trade kicker. That’s for a player, mind you, who was originally drafted by the Knicks, and was subsequently traded away for Jerian Grant. Grant was then traded for Derrick Rose. Rose will now be renounced to make way for Hardaway. Hardaway, meanwhile, was twice assigned to the D-League during his first year in Atlanta, and has never started more than 30 games in an NBA season. Is Phil Jackson still running the team via AOL Instant Messenger from his lakeside ranch in western Montana? (How does he even get internet out there?!)
Knicks Grade: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
THURSDAY’S RUMORS AND REPORTS
Remember when the Rockets made all those tiny trades for the most random players in the NBA? They used some of those contracts as makeweights in the Chris Paul trade. They’re now trying to use the rest to acquire real assets, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
A host of teams are interested in Heat center Willie Reed: Per TNT’s David Aldridge, among them are the Clippers, Warriors, Hawks, Sixers and Pacers.
Mutual interest between Jamal Crawford and the Lakers has died down, according to ESPN’s Marc Spears. But, per Spears, if Crawford can reach a buyout agreement with the Hawks, among the teams interested in signing him could be the Timberwolves, Cavaliers and Wizards. Crawford has reportedly spoken with LeBron James, and is especially interested in finding a way to get to Cleveland.
TOP 10 BEST AVAILABLE (via The Vertical’s Fab 50 Free Agents)
1. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
2. Nerlens Noel, C
3. Derrick Rose, PG
4. Pau Gasol, C
5. Mason Plumlee, C
6. Bojan Bogdanovic, SF
7. JaMychal Green, PF
8. C.J. Miles, SG
9. Alex Len, C
10. Tony Allen, SF
Friday: Grading the Paul George trade, the Blake Griffin signing and more
Saturday: Grading the signings of Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, J.J. Redick and more
Sunday: Grading the signings of Paul Millsap, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and more
Monday: Kevin Durant takes a pay cut and Gordon Hayward nears a decision
Tuesday: Gordon Hayward heads east, while two West playoff teams strengthen
Wednesday: Dion Waiters gets paid, and Nick Young goes ring-chasing
BDL Roundtable: Choosing the winners and losers of the first week of free agency