The first full day of NBA free agency was … actually quite uneventful. The madness of Friday afternoon and evening gave way to the calm before the second storm. Saturday was full of meetings and discussions, teams trying to wade through the market, players and agents trying to gauge and leverage interest.
But there were plenty of smaller deals agreed upon during the day, one lucrative contract settled early in the morning, and another big piece of news late at night. There were also plenty of rumblings that could affect the league’s landscape on Sunday and Monday, and thus there is plenty to sort through in our second nightly roundup of the free agency period.
We begin with the grades:
GRADING SATURDAY’S DEALS
Andre Iguodala re-signs with the Warriors: Iguodala spent the first 24 hours of free agency toying with Golden State. He reportedly met with the Spurs, Kings and Rockets early Saturday, then cancelled the rest of his meetings and took Houston’s offer with him to the Bay. The Warriors had little choice but to give Iguodala what he wanted, and that ended up being a three-year, $48 million deal to stay with the reigning champs. Iguodala hilariously broke the news himself in the third person:
Sources close to Andre Iguodala reporting agreed to terms to return to the bay….
— Andre Iguodala (@andre) July 2, 2017
Owner Joe Lacob reportedly wavered because of the heft of the luxury tax hit he and the franchise will take in coming years, especially as repeat taxpayer penalties potentially kick in down the line. But the Warriors are immensely profitable, and will continue to be so as long as they are competing for, and likely winning, championships.
Iguodala, at 33, has reached the downward slope of his career parabola, but his value to Golden State is higher than that of any realistic replacement. It therefore always seemed likely that Golden State would cede to Iguodala’s demands, despite reports that he seriously considered leaving. In the end, he decided to keep the Dubs’ core intact. The Warriors remain heavy favorites for the 2018 NBA title.
Golden State Grade: B+
Jrue Holiday re-signs with the Pelicans: New Orleans had backed itself into a no-win situation and, well, it didn’t win. It gave a middle-of-the-road point guard a five-year contract that includes $126 million guaranteed, with the total sum potentially rising to a whopping $150 million based on incentives. The deal pushes the Pelicans’ payroll up to around $115 million for 2017-18 with DeMarcus Cousins on the final year of his (relatively cheap) deal. And remember, this team might not even be any good! They weren’t last year. And now they’re more or less locked into the current roster. It can’t change; something else will have to if this Holiday deal is to ultimately make any long-term sense.
New Orleans Grade: D
P.J. Tucker signs with the Rockets: Houston swiped Tucker away from the Toronto Raptors with its mid-level exception, and in doing so added the ideal piece to complement a James Harden-Chris Paul backcourt. Tucker is limited offensively, but is a rugged, tenacious defender, and will be Houston’s top stopper on the wing. The terms are reasonable: Four years, $32 million. The fit is outstanding. The Rockets look more and more dangerous by the day.
Houston Grade: A-
J.J. Redick signs with the Sixers: The Sixers needed a shooter; Redick is one of the best in league history. The Sixers needed veteran leadership; Redick has over a decade of NBA experience. The Sixers had ample cap space; Redick wanted a payday. The Sixers only wanted to hand out one-year deals; in the end, Redick was OK with that, and agreed to a $23 million contract to spend 2017-18 in Philly. The fit, both on the court and off it, was simply too perfect.
Philadelphia Grade: A-
Amir Johnson signs with the Sixers: Hours after securing Redick, Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo secured his second and likely final free agent of the summer. Johnson will head to Philly on a one-year, $11 million deal to add another veteran presence and frontcourt depth. The interesting note here is that the Sixers reportedly floated the idea of a sign-and-trade for Johnson that would have involved Jahlil Okafor. With Johnson on board, it seems increasingly likely that Okafor will be dealt. If he’s not, there might not be any room in the rotation.
The Sixers will likely use their $15 million of remaining cap space on an extension for Robert Covington.
Philadelphia Grade: B-
Joe Ingles re-signs with the Jazz: Paying $52 million over four years for a 30-year-old role player is, in a vacuum, probably not very intelligent. But Utah’s offseason is entirely predicated on retaining Gordon Hayward, and if re-signing Ingles helps on that front, this is an A+. Hayward and Ingles are reportedly best buds; they also share an agent. It’s anybody’s guess as to whether Ingles will help sway Hayward. But hey, nobody can accuse the Jazz of not pulling out all the stops.
Utah Grade: B-
Michael Carter-Williams signs with the Hornets: The Hornets needed some depth at point guard behind All-Star Kemba Walker, and decided Carter-Williams was worth a try. The Syracuse product will receive a one-year deal worth $2.7 million, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports.
The 6-foot-6 guard won 2013-14 Rookie of the Year honors in Philadelphia, but has largely stagnated since. If he can bounce back from the knee and wrist injuries that ailed him last season and straighten out that stroke, he could be a nice bargain-bin pickup. If he can’t, he might find securing further NBA employment difficult this time next summer.
Charlotte Grade: C — Dan Devine
Langston Galloway signs with the Pistons: Detroit will pay Galloway $21 million over three years, which is a fine price for a decent third guard. The problem: The Pistons are hurtling into the NBA abyss with no brakes to hit and no flexibility to change course. The Galloway signing simply confirms that. Detroit is now hard capped, and can do nothing else in free agency aside from matching an offer for restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Talk about a franchise with no direction …
Detroit Grade: C
Jose Calderon signed with the Cavaliers (one year, minimum)
David West re-signed with the Warriors (one year)
German forward Daniel Theis signed with the Celtics (two years)
Chinese center Zhou Qi signed with the Rockets (multiple years)
SATURDAY’S RUMORS AND REPORTS
Gordon Hayward’s recruitment: Hayward took the first of three visits Saturday, meeting with an eclectic cast of Heat characters in Miami. The team hung photoshopped banners of Hayward in a Heat jersey outside of American Airlines Arena. A recruiting squad that included Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, Alonzo Mourning, Hassan Whiteside, Udonis Haslem and Juwan Howard then made their pitch to Hayward. The Ringer‘s Kevin O’Connor cited sources who said that Miami might actually be a surprise favorite in what appears to be a three-team race:
Three league sources sense the current favorite for Gordon Hayward is Miami. Reasons: better lifestyle, Spoelstra, "feature scoring role."
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) July 1, 2017
But Boston (Sunday) and Utah (Monday) will have their say. Hayward’s final destination is still up in the air. To cap off the night of Hayward alluring, Jazz center Rudy Gobert incited an emoji war that captivated NBA Twitter for the better portion of an hour:
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) July 2, 2017
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) July 2, 2017
— Hassan Whiteside (@youngwhiteside) July 2, 2017
Does anybody want to pay Paul Millsap? Apparently not. The Suns reportedly terminated their interest in the former Hawks power forward. Later in the evening, Minnesota also reportedly backed out. The Kings’ interest hasn’t materialized into anything, either, leaving Denver as the lone suitor. The Nuggets met with the 32-year-old All-Star Saturday night, but the meeting ended without an agreement in place.
The Raptors and Kyle Lowry … are reportedly close to a deal. USA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt mentioned three years and $27 million per season as the possible terms of the contract. It would not be at all surprising to see Lowry agree to return to Toronto on Sunday. There doesn’t seem to be much of a market elsewhere for the best available point guard.
Rudy Gay met with Oklahoma City … as confirmed by a cryptic tweet from Thunder big man Enes Kanter:
League sources tell Enes Kanter: pic.twitter.com/PJFyboVP42
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) July 2, 2017
The Cavs are in talks with the Rockets … about a trade that would send Iman Shumpert to Houston, according to The Vertical’s Shams Charania and several other reports. The Rockets remain on the hunt for defense.
Remember when Nene re-signed with the Rockets? Well, apparently that didn’t happen. The original agreement — four years, $15 million — was not legal under the new CBA. Nene is essentially 18 days too old to get such a deal because of the “Over-38 Rule,” which ESPN’s Bobby Marks explains in detail here.
Instead, Houston must offer Nene a three-year, $11 million deal that does not extend past his 38th birthday. That offer is understandably less attractive to the Brazilian center, and it’s unclear what the resolution will be.
TOP 10 BEST AVAILABLE (via The Vertical’s Fab 50 Free Agents)
1. Kevin Durant, SF
2. Gordon Hayward, SF
3. Paul Millsap, PF
4. Kyle Lowry, PG
5. Serge Ibaka, PF/C
6. George Hill, PG
7. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
8. Otto Porter, SF
9. Dirk Nowitzki, PF
10. Danilo Gallinari, PF