Jul. 10, 2015
Hostages, Girlfriends, And Your Typical NBA Free Agency
From DeAndre Jordan to Iman Shumpert, we're here to recap one of the most bizzare starts to free agency in recent memory
Written by Jake Elman
If someone that you know ever says to you in a conversation that _____ is the best free agency of any sport, but NBA isn't where that blank line is, you should question their knowledge of sports.
In the past week and a half, the NBA offseason has seen everything from hostage situations to the pure definition of CREAM -- Cash Rules Everything Around Me. With that said, we're here to break down some hot takes from start of free agency, from trades to major signings to Billy King not destroying the Brooklyn Nets just yet.
Keep in mind that this is not only a reaction to the events of July 9th, 2015, but this is also me wondering about other players and teams for the rest of this NBA offseason. Without any further waiting, let's begin before something else crazy happens.
* Well...the DeAndre Jordan saga is a story that most films can't even make up, and I don't even think the guys from Cinema Sins could have come up with a better plot. Just imagine a movie where a big name player verbally commits to his rival team, and on the eve of contracts being official, all of the power players from his old organization show up at his house and basically keep him hostage. Even the team's star player and face of the franchise, who our protagonist, DeAndre, had beef with, shows up and starts getting emotional. Then, when the team that DeAndre had verbally committed to tries to get in contact with him, the organization holding him hostage doesn't let him pick up the phone.
At the same time, in the world of social media, everyone is going absolutely crazy at this news. Reporters are talking to their sources, people are filming meltdowns of themselves, and the question is clear -- where will DeAndre go? Then, when the time comes for DeAndre to sign the contract, he has to make a choice: keep his word about the verbal commitment, or return back to the old team. Depending on what type of movie you're going for -- one that shows loyalty, or one that shows the truth of what money can make a man do -- the ending is up to the producer, and here, the producer went for the one that was a major middle finger to the Dallas Mavericks.
* If the NBA is smart, and you know they are, they'll make that first Mavs-Clippers game a primetime, TNT game in Dallas. The atmosphere there, after the stunt that Jordan and the Clippers pulled, is going to be like a playoff game, and the NBA would be smart to have that game as a primetime event on TNT in the middle of November. You know what? Turner should treat it like a playoff game -- have the Inside the NBA guys do the show from Dallas, give it the broadcast feeling of a game seven playoff game, and watch as the defense the Clippers played on July 8 is non-existent in that game.
* So, Dallas walks away with former Blazer Wesley Matthews -- not at all a bad signing, I might add -- and the Clippers bring back Jordan in addition to acquiring Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce. Who won this offseason between the two? Well, I guess the answer to that question be solved with...another question. Who makes it further in the postseason this year?
* Taking a break from the Dallas-Clippers saga, how about the Milwaukee Bucks landing former Detroit Piston Greg Monroe? I'm the first person to admit that this signing completely shocked me, seeing as I was convinced Monroe would land in New York with the Knicks, but a three-year, $50 million contract with the improving Bucks? The biggest thing that Monroe really wanted was to go to a winner, and on an Eastern Conference team with Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton, Michael Carter-Williams, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, there's likely going to be a lot of winning. With that single move, the Bucks went from a six-eight seed to a potential top four team, which is a real shame for the city of Milwaukee if Jason Kidd's team ends up leaving for Seattle.
* The Cavs re-signing Kevin Love to the max? I'm fine with that. The Cavs bringing back Mo Williams? The Cavs giving Tristan Thompson a five-season, $80 million contract? I don't know if I'm really alright with that just yet. What the Cavaliers did here was they took a third big man and gave him sixteen million dollars a year after a fantastic postseason when, if David Blatt is smart, he'll play Timofey Mozgov at the center position while bringing Thompson off the bench. The only way this move makes even the slightest bit of sense is if there's a team out there willing to deal a pick or two for Thompson's services, but the Cavaliers keeping him around as a 16 million per year bench player?
* Like the Monroe signing, I thought Hawks forward Paul Millsap was headed someplace else, but him staying in Atlanta is a nice fit for both him and the organization. Now, do I think a three year, $59 million contract might be a bit too much for Millsap? Maybe, but after DeMarre Carroll took his talents to Toronto, it was vital to keep Millsap by any means possible. Would I have given almost twenty dollars a year to a big man who averaged 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game if losing him meant potentially no playoffs? I probably would, and that's why I can't give the Hawks too much hate for this move.
* I never thought these words would come out of my mouth as long as Billy King was general manager, but the Brooklyn Nets have had a lowkey, but solid, offseason so far. Between re-signing Brook Lopez to a three-season, $60 million contract (with a player option for that third season) and Thad Young to a four-year, $50 million contract, I like the moves that the Nets have done, and that's not even factoring in the addition of former Mavericks point guard Shane Larkin on a two-year, three million dollar contract. Well done, whoever is making these decisions, because I know for a fact it's not Billy King.
* Bulls fans, I'd like for you to meet your new face of the franchise: shooting guard Jimmy Butler, who got paid 95 million dollars by Chicago in hopes that he'll remain healthy and not need a new knee...I mean, in hopes that he can bring a title back to the Windy City. Between that and the Mike Dunleavy signing ($14.4 million contract across three years), Chicago's had a very good offseason to firmly remind us that the Eastern Conference isn't just the Cavaliers' to take.
* He may be old, but Tyson Chandler landing in Phoenix for 52 million dollars over four seasons is a nice signing. I may not be sold on the Suns as a playoff team yet, but this is a good addition for an organization on the brink of being among the 'best sixteen' in the league...meaning playoff teams, even though we know that the sixteen teams that make the postseason aren't always the best.
* Damian Lillard got a max contract, and though it's fair to argue if he deserved it (I still believe the answer is no), the Blazers are making a big, big mistake by trying to build the team around their star point guard. First off, giving a five-season, $120 million contract to a point guard that has been a product of the system and having very solid players around him was a move I feel Portland did as a means of pressing the panic button; once they realized LaMarcus Aldridge wasn't coming back, the Blazers figured giving Lillard a huge contract meant that he was elite and the possible savior. Hey, maybe the Blazers might even win a title by building around Lillard, the front office thought. Here's the truth: when was the last time prior to this past season that a team won the NBA Finals after building around an elite, truly great, point guard that was making a ton of money?
The Spurs won with Tony Parker, but I don't know if I'd call him elite because, with all due respect, he's the type of player that just fits well in San Antonio's offense. Miami never won with an elite point guard, and while Jason Kidd and Derek Fisher were both solid for the Lakers, both were older and well past their prime. Boston won their title in 2008 with a still young Rajon Rondo, and the one team that I figure somewhat falls under the exception were the Pistons with Chauncey Billups, and even then, it's debatable if they built around him. Oh, and Lillard put up the numbers he did because of what was around him, but I'm pretty sure LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, they're all gone.
* Speaking of point guards, Rajon Rondo to the Kings is an interesting, under-the-radar signing that puts Sacramento right back into the playoff race if they keep DeMarcus Cousins. On a one year-deal for 9.5 million, Rondo gets a chance to play well and regain his value on the market, while the Kings get to have an experienced point guard with a chip on his shoulder. How can you go wrong with that?
* I don't understand why the Miami Heat keep giving Dywane Wade one-year contracts every season, so if someone wants to explain it to me, go ahead. This is your franchise player, so wouldn't it make sense to just give him a multi-year deal with the latter years of the contract up to Wade if he wants to play? Imagine if the Bulls kept giving Michael Jordan one-year contracts before his second retirement and think about how silly that sounds.
* The Boston Celtics, on the other hand, seem to perfectly know what a multi-year contract is, seeing as they gave Jae Crowder a five-year one for 35 million dollars. Did I read that right? Though I've become a fan of Crowder and the fact he's an all-around player that will give you everything in the tank, five years for thirty five million? Did Danny Ainge also get Billy King's logic when the Nets gave up all the future picks (if the answer is yes, I won't be disappointed in the slightest).
* 2015's Sixth Man of the Year, Lou Williams, gets to take his two girlfriends to Los Angeles with him after he signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Lakers. All things considered, with Williams likely to play the sixth man role again, this wasn't the worst contract we've seen a team make this offseason...
* While it wasn't the worst contract, because that's yet to be seen, Cleveland giving Iman Shumpert 40 million dollars across four years is a head-scratcher that makes me wonder who came up with that call. Was it LeBron? Shumpert's value is at max eight million a season, but ten million to play Three and D?
* Monta Ellis ends up a Pacer, and Indiana ships out Roy Hibbert to the Lakers. If you look at that like the Pacers traded Hibbert for Ellis straight-up, then it's a solid move. When you realize that Ellis is the missing piece that the Pacers have needed all along, the move looks even better.
* What's there to say about the Spurs' offseason that hasn't been said? Kawhi Leonard gets a max, LaMarcus Aldridge joins the team, and the big three stays put. Yet again, San Antonio is a threat to win it all, and the only thing that can truly stop them at this point are themselves.
* Last week, I made ten bold predictions for the NBA offseason and mentioned I'd say in October how many of them I got right. Well, I'll do the same thing for what's happened so far. From everything I put on the list, I've correctly guessed that LeBron re-upped with Cleveland but not on a max contract and Roy Hibbert found a new home...that's it.
* And, of course, LeBron James stays in Cleveland. If you're surprised by that, I don't know what to tell you.
What are your thoughts on the NBA offseason so far? Make sure to chime in on the conversation by tweeting me at @JakeElman