Top 10 Offseason Free Agent Signings

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moneyWith transactions reduced from a torrent to a trickle, the NBA is now truly in its offseason.

Yes, there’s still a few prominent names out there – Lamar Odom, Corey Maggette and Tyrus Thomas among them – but no one who is going to crash our list of the top 10 free agent signings. 

From a player standpoint, the top signing this summer was undoubtedly Keith Bogans. Last season, Bogans made $1.23 million while playing 74 games for the Brooklyn Nets. He became a free agent July 1 and figured to get another one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum.

Then the Nets started talking to the Boston Celtics about Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and needed another player to put in the deal to make the salaries match. That player was Bogans, who got a three-year, $16 million contract from the Nets before being shipped to the Celtics.

Who cares that the final two years aren’t guaranteed? Bogans got a 500 percent raise after a season in which he averaged 4.2 points on 38 percent shooting. Find me the guy who did better than that.

But this list is from a team standpoint. Below are the 10 best signings by teams this summer, with three teams hitting the exacta with a pair of super signings.

10. Dorell Wright, Portland (2 years, $6.14 million): He definitely topped out in 2010-11, when he averaged 16.4 points in 38.4 minutes for a defenseless Warriors squad. But he should have no problem replicating the roughly 10 points and four rebounds per game he has averaged the last two seasons while shooting 37 percent from the arc. He needs to use his dribble-drive game more but costs roughly the same amount as the combined salaries of Victor Claver and Luke Babbitt, who spent last season proving they have no idea how to play.

9. Jeff Teague, Atlanta (4 years, $32 million): His numbers have improved dramatically through his first four years and should take another jump with the departure of Devin Harris. Teague has shown that he is highly durable (two DNPs over last two seasons) and his career per-36 numbers are comparable to John Wall, Jrue Teague v George HillHoliday and Ty Lawson, all of whom make considerably more money. He also has played in more playoff games than any of those three point guards and will still be on the right side of 30 when this deal expires in 2017.

8. Gerald Henderson, Charlotte (3 years, $18 million): There are six shooting guards who have averaged better than 15 points per game in each of the last two seasons – Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Henderson, who is the only one in the bunch making less than eight figures per year. Some folks believe he has reached his ceiling, but he shot a career-high 33 percent from the arc last season and figures to get better looks with Al Jefferson being double-teamed in the post and the continued maturation of point guard Kemba Walker.

7. Mo Williams, Portland (2 years, $5.6 million): Last season, the Trail Blazers tried to support rookie point guard Damian Lillard with Ronnie Price and Eric Maynor. Lillard ended up leading the NBA in minutes played, and Price and Maynor were not re-signed. For about $1 million more than it paid that duo, Portland brought in Williams, a former All-Star who has averaged at least 12.1 points and 3.1 assists in each of the last eight seasons. For his career, he has shot 38 percent from the arc and 87 percent from the line. His presence assures Lillard will be fresher, more likely to make distance shots and less likely to make mistakes.

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  1. I assume your rankings are a combination of “players that will add to team wins” and also “bargain salaries”, but you don’t say if it is 50-50 weighting.

    Do you also count players that re-signed with their same teams for bargain prices?
    In that case, Andray Blatche should be near the top of list. Having watched every Nets game last season, he probably added at least 7-8 wins, over Nets taking a backup Center who was left on the market at this time last year (he was signed in September 2012). He re-signed for 2.8 million over 2 years using the non-Bird rights. He just celebrated his 27th birthday. He will likely opt out of 2nd year for an Early Bird contract of up to 25 million over 4 years. Because of his age, he may have more future value than Kirilenko. He allows the Nets once again to have the best Center combination in NBA and because he is also a natural PF, Nets can survive limited injuries to Lopez or KG on route to a championship run.

    By same token Knicks re-signing KMart (Vet Min) and JR Smith (Early Bird) were also good signings, although KMart is due for more injury time, and JR needed surgeries and also has disease of the mouth.

    Also, Houston re-signed Garcia for a 2 year Minimum, after declining his 6 million option year a couple of weeks earlier. Morey deserves credit.

    I can’t consider Jack, Barnes or Redick that highly, for what teams paid for them. Howard is a franchise player, so I’m OK with his Max Salary, despite coming off injury.

    • Jerry,

      Totally agree that Blatche, KMart and Cisco were good signings. Was trying to stay away from vetmin deals because they are almost always great bargains. Just think guys like Barnes, Jack etc. will provide a bit more.

      I don’t think Smith was a good signing, especially since he took an eight-figure advance. For what? My guess is not to invest in the stock market. Thanks for reading. CB

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