Ah, NBA Free Agency is upon us once again… And once again it is fantastically entertaining reveling in each franchise’s triumphs (hello San Antonio) and catastrophic failures (hello Sacramento). And with the cap skyrocketing over the next two years due to a new influx of money from new TV Deals , teams are more unpredictable than ever. Let’s do some rapid fire bullet points discussing some of the latest deals.
- Pat Riley does not lose… Ever. Not only did he lure back Goran Dragic at nearly four million less than his max for the next five years, but he also brought back Wade at a flawless contract for both the franchise and the player. A one year deal keeps Riley’s flexibility for the 2016 free agency (where he’ll try to pull an NBA coup d’etat in the form of Kevin Durant), and also pays Wade more than ever before in the meantime. Wade deserves to be overpaid in the form of a 20 million per year contract due to his plethora of monetary sacrifices to the team, and Riley made the right decision to begin paying up this year. Riley has had the Mona Lisa of offseasons… Plus he scored a meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge, which Aldridge himself requested! The superstars crawl to the Don!
- What the Knicks should have done… Wait a second… Do you hear that? That’s the sound of thousands of Knicks fans softly sobbing at perpetual franchise mismanagement. What a shocker, the Knicks screwed up a again! It is going to take plenty of time before even Phil Jackson can turn this circus around. And he’s made some hefty mistakes in the meantime. The Knicks basically backed up a brinks truck to anyone who would take their money (very few players), and it is going to show on the court.
Here’s what they should’ve done (sticking with the same draft haul):
1. Renounce rights to all free agents (except Jason Smith)– this gives the Knicks a wealth of cap room at around 27 million while ridding themselves of mostly scrubs who should not be in the NBA.
2. Sign Rajon Rondo for one year 12 million dollar contract. I love rookie point guard Jerian Grant’s NBA potential, but the Knicks need a legitimate starter and playmaker at point guard and Jose Calderon won’t cut it. Rondo is that guy. Rondo (as he so embarrassingly showed last season) has a lot of flaws in his game. His outside shot is well, shot, and he showed a horrific lack of effort and intensity on the defensive end last year. But… He’s still one of the best distributors in the league (perfect for the triangle) who doesn’t demand the ball excessively (he’s not a scorer), and when he cares, he plays great defense. If Jackson and Fisher could light a fire under him, he could have a monster year in a system perfect for his game, and do so at a far below market value contract. Plus he’s a great mentor for Grant. The Knicks could likely steal him from the mess that is Sacramento with a modest two million raise, and the promise of playing with Melo in the triangle.
3. Trade Jose Calderon to dump more salary. Calderon is on the decline, and you already have Rondo and Grant. Calderon is very much expendable, and he’ll open up a great deal of cap room with his ugly seven million cap hit. Trade him to anybody willing to take him, and take pretty much nothing in return. This is a salary dump.
4. Sign Robin Lopez again for the same 13.5 million per year over four years. Lopez wasn’t a sexy signing, but he’s a solid, startable center who can play well in the triangle. He doesn’t need to have the ball in his hands often to be effective, and he’s a pretty good rebounder for a team desperately in need of help in that department. Plus he’s pretty young at 27, still going into his prime. He’s being overpaid by about two million, but with the Knicks bad reputation and the cap skyrocketing soon they can live with that. We’re now left with 8.5 million in raw cap space with approximately another 2.5 million left in the form of a mid level exception.
5. Sign Rodney Stuckey to a two year 4.5 million per year deal. Stuckey has long been an underrated and underappreciated player at each of his career stops. But he’s actually a pretty solid shooting guard who due to consistently being overlooked could come at a great price. He averaged twelve points a game last season as a six man while shooting 45% from the field (a career best 39% from behind the three point stripe) and logging roughly three rebounds and three assists per game. That’s production that deserves far more than 4 million a year, but the Knicks can get him dirt cheap. Convince him not to take a minimum from a contender, but instead make decent money on a potential playoff team as a starting shooting guard. He’s the type of player that should have characterized this Knicks free agency- not sexy, not exciting, but a good player on a great contract who can complement the franchise player in Melo. Now we have 4 million in cap space with 2.5 in the mid level exception exception, and we still have the two different trade exceptions- one at 6 million and one at 2.5 million from the JR Smith and Shumpert trades.
6. Trade a Future First Round Pick for Jared Dudley. In other words… Copy the Wizards. Dudley is a talented 3 and D player on the wing who can provide quality depth behind Melo. He’ll fit into the triangle fairly well, and is on a dirt cheap contract for his skills (4.5 million per year). That’ll cut into our 6 million dollar trade exception down to 1.5.
7. Resign Jason Smith for 1 year 2.5 million dollars. Smith was surprisingly decent for the Knicks last year, and while his efficiency definitely needs some work he can give quality minutes at the 5. He’ll be a good backup to Robin Lopez, and his midrange oriented. game will continue to excel in this offense.
8. Sign Thomas Robinson for 2 years 1.5 million dollars per year. Porzingis is the presumptive starter at power forward, but the Knicks need options in case he struggles early on. Robinson is a great choice due to his phenomenal defensive chops. His offensive game is very much a work in progress, but he’s a great defensive stopper and at 24 has time to improve. We’re now out of cap space.
9. Sign Carlos Boozer for the Veteran’s Minimum. Like before, we want a myriad of options at power forward. Boozer will bring a scoring element to the group, and will also serve as a good veteran mentor to Porzingis.
10. Sign Will Barton for the Veteran’s Minimum. Once traded to the Nuggets midway through last season, Barton broke out to the tune of 11 points a game, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. He plays with his hair on fire, noted for his ridiculous game speed. He’ll bring great energy off the bench behind Stuckey.
11. Sign Rasual Butler for the Veteran’s Minimum. We’ve already filled out a pretty decent roster, but it is in need of a little more three point shooting. Butler fits that role perfectly. He’s enjoyed some late career success, and at age 35 he’s purely a floor spacer. But he’s a good one at that. He’ll be a valuable asset on the bench.
12. Sign Jordan Hamilton for the Veteran’s Minimum. Just another body at center. Hamilton is a good young prospect who’d be great in the triangle with his game predicated on big man passing and outside shooting. He’s also a solid rebounder. He’ll be good behind Jason Smith.
That’s a roster good enough for the playoffs in the East. And that’s all the Knicks need. If the Knicks can make the playoffs this year, and hang tight for a series they’ll have all the momentum in the world going into the offseason. This would be a team fitting well in the triangle that would be built around Carmelo, and have a renewed defensive identity. And next offseason they’ll still be flush with cap room (probably over 30 million worth) due to the majority of these deals being on one year contracts. This is what the Knicks should’ve done.
- The Spurs are giving the rest of the NBA nightmares. LaMarcus made the right decision going to the Spurs… This is a downright diabolical team. A starting five of Parker-Green-Leonard-Aldridge-Duncan with Mills, Ginobilli, Diaw, and Andersen off the bench is a filthy team. If they can coax David West into joining the squad at the veteran’s minimum, and sign a solid backup center… This team could be dominant. The rich get richer. Somewhere Greg Popovich is dancing.
- Watch out, Jason Kidd has the Bucks making moves. This Bucks team is going to be surprisingly good next season. Not only has Kidd proven himself to be a tremendous coach, but he’s also looking like a great executive after scoring Greg Monroe over much bigger market teams. They have an impressive collection of young talent, and now that they have a true building block at center they could be a borderline contender in the East this season.
- Once again, the Suns management is drunk. PICK A POINT GUARD, AND STICK TO HIM FOR GOD’S SAKE! There is no reason whatsoever to pay Brandon Knight such a ridiculous amount when you just paid Bledsloe! Enough with this two point guard nonsense! That strategy is fine coming off the bench, but not when you’re playing around with franchise cornerstones. How’d it work out with Isiah Thomas and Goran Dragic? PICK ONE (I SAID ONE) FREAKING POINT GUARD AND STICK TO HIM!
- David Griffin isn’t playing around. He’s not afraid to pay globs upon globs of luxury tax, and Lebron is reveling in it. They’re bringing back practically the entire team, and if they can stay healthy this time, they’ll easily be the favorites in the East. And now that everyone has a year under their belt in Blatt’s system, and now they have more experience going deep in the playoffs… Here’s another potentially dominant team.
- The Clippers are officially screwed. Here’s the thing, when you have a borderline star player at center, and you constantly mistreat and stifle him… HE’LL LEAVE THE TEAM IN FREE AGENCY! How did you not foresee this? After years of dealing with Chris Paul’s bullshit of course he left to the Mavs. And now the Clippers are left sitting on their hands because they have no money to sign a replacement. Without DJ this entire team falls apart. They literally have no one else at center. Small ball with Blake Griffin will be fun, but at some point you need a true center!
- The Kings are a mess, and Rondo made a mistake signing with them. The Kings are a steaming pile of shit at the moment, and you can thank Vivek Ranadive for that. Cousins wants out, Karl wants to send him out, and Ranadive wants him to stay. Ranadive needs to stop being incredibly naive, and just let him go. Cousins is going to leave in free agency the first chance he gets, and they should get something in exchange for him while they still can. Blow it up, and rebuild. And, Ranadive, why the hell did you hire Karl when you knew he’d want to trade Cousins? Stop meddling in what is a general manager’s decision. And why the hell are you signing Rondo? Darren Collison is a perfectly competent starting point guard at a good value! They did this same thing with Isiah Thomas. No wonder no free agents want to go to Sacramento; they’re an utter mess. And they’ll continue to be until Ranadive is gone.
Free agency has been fascinating thus far, and let’s all hope it continues to be. Check back later for more updates.