Mighty Moke’s Top 25 Remaining Free Agents – July 11 Update

kirilenkokirilenko1Haircut of the summer? We have a winner!

Andrei Kirilenko, who opted out of a $10.2 million payday with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the hopes landing a three- or four-year deal, has agreed to join the Brooklyn Nets for a shade less than $3.2 million.

How many millions did he sacrifice? To paraphrase you know who: “Not four, not five, not six …”

No word yet on whether Mickhael Prokhorov slipped a bag of diamonds under the negotiating table. We wouldn’t put it past him. Prokhorov was formerly Andrei Kirilenko’s employer when the Russian forward played for CSKA Moscow from 1998 to 2001.

But this we know for sure: The Brooklyn Nets have absolutely loaded up this summer, landing Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and now Kirilenko, one of the most versatile offensive and defensive players in the league. He will presumably be the backup to Pierce at small forward, split time with Andray Blatche backing up Garnett at the 4 spot.

It is an astoundingly great pickup for the Nets, who will be the favorites to win the Atlantic Division this season. Moreover, it’s fair to say this was the best bargain buy in Brooklyn since the yuppies took over DUMBO 15 years ago.

 

On Wednesday, the news of the day was Andrew Bynum’s signing a partially guaranteed two-year deal to become a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Dan Gilbert took a calculated risk in inking the 25-year old Bynum to a two-year deal worth $24.5 million. Some reports say that just $6 million is guaranteed, while some other seems to suggest that $12 million is guaranteed.

And on the second day after the moratorium has been lifted, we finally have some news on Atlanta Hawks restricted free agent, Jeff Teague. Teague has signed a four-year offer sheet worth $32 million with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks, it would seem, prefer Teague as the team’s point man over incumbent, Brandon Jennings. Jennings, also a restricted free agent, apparently told the Bucks that he would re-sign in Milwaukee for $12 million per year—more money than both Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo are signed for.

The Bucks, it seems, are not prepared to pay Jennings so much. That, as well as the fact that Teague’s coach from the Hawks, Larry Drew, has recently been hired as the head man in Milwaukee probably have something to do with the offer sheet being tendered to Teague.

Though Teague has let it be known that he would prefer to move on from Atlanta, Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has let it be known that the franchise values Teague and has not committed to letting him walk. Teague provides good value at $8 million per year, so we would not be shocked to see the Hawks match the offer. We will find out shortly.

In other news, Chauncey Billups has decided to return to the site of his best basketball accomplishments—Detroit. Billups agreed to sign with the Pistons yesterday to the tune of two years, $5 million. The Pistons, obviously, are not in contention this season, so the guess here is that Billups is re-signing in Detroit as a precursor to eventually landing on the team’s bench as an assistant coach or in the front office.

Another guard we have kept close tabs on—and perhaps the top free agent on the market since Nikola Pekovic is returning to Minnesota—is Monta Ellis. Ellis has not received much love on the free agent market, but that may be about to change. After amnestying Tyrus Thomas, the Bobcats created enough salary cap room to sign Al Jefferson to a three-year deal worth $41 million, and could still manufacture enough room to ink another free agent to a deal beginning around $10 million if the club opts to not re-sign restricted free agent Gerald Henderson.

The Bobcats are considering doing just that after reaching an impasse with Henderson, and have let Ellis’ camp know that they may be interested.

As for Bynum, he has found a new home, and if he is simply able to take the court in a single game for the Cleveland Cavaliers, he will have enjoyed a more successful tenure with Kyrie Irving than he did with Jrue Holiday and the Philadelphia 76ers.

If he can, LeBron James may have even more incentive to consider the Cavaliers if he opts out of his Miami Heat contract after this coming season.

The deal for Bynum cames on the same day we learned that Nikola Pekovic would be re-signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves to the tune of four-years, $50 million. While Pekovic’s deal is not officially inked yet, it should just be a matter of time.

And now, we will continue to wait for Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to make a splash this offseason. Word is, Samuel Dalembert and Greg Oden are the two big men on the Mavericks radar at the moment.

The nice thing about the scrap heap of free agency is that there are still quite a few available players who can help a team. Greg Stiemsma found himself off of the market, thanks to the New Orleans Pelicans one-year offer for just north of $2 million. Aaron Brooks, Gary Neal and even Beno Udrih still provide good value for a GM’s dollars, and Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert, Byron Mullens and even Dejuan Blair have something meaningful to contribute.

Think of free agency as a fantasy league draft. In round one and round two, you get anchors for your team, but the sneaky signings in the middle rounds are what can lead one to a league championship. It is somewhat similar in real life, as well.

Today, the NBA’s moratorium on free agent signings has been lifted and Dwight Howard will soon officially a member of the Houston Rockets, Andre Iguodala has been officially been signed-and-traded to the Golden State Warriors and Al Jefferson will soon team up with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and attempt to make the Charlotte Bobcats final season as the “Bobcats” a bit more successful than last season’s 21-61 campaign.

Chris Paul and David West opted to stay put with the Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana Pacers, respectively, while Josh Smith (Detroit Pistons), Tyreke Evans (New Orleans Pelicans) and Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks) will don new uniforms for the first times in their careers.

Though a number of guys are getting close, three of the top 10 free agents in our Top 50 list are still officially unsigned, though we expect that to change soon, especially after seeing nine shooting guards (none of them are named “Monta,” though) sign for about $254 million.

Gerald Henderson, Gary Neal and Nick Young are all hoping for similar treatment.

What is more likely, though, is that the bulk of remaining free agents will receive a team’s mid-level exception, taxpayer mid-level exception, room exception, or veteran’s minimum exception.

The eight figure contracts, for these guys, may be few and far between, but that does not mean their contributions will not be meaningful to the teams that sign them.

Here are the updated rankings…

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