NBA Free Agency 2012: Grades on First Day Free Agent Moves
With Friday being about Kevin Garnett's return, Sunday was all about restricted free agents visiting with teams and signing offer sheets that their current teams can match.
With Monday being the day that Deron Williams will meet with both the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks according to ESPN (via New York Daily News), the first day of NBA free agency pales in comparison to the big deals that occur on opening days of the NFL and NHL free agency.
That being said, there were still plenty of happenings today, and I have graded each team's moves regarding a free agent, whether it would be signing them to a contract, offer sheet or deciding not to.
Gerald Wallace Returning to the Nets
With the Nets beginning their inaugural season in Brooklyn, management needed to keep as many enticing pieces as possible to make Deron Williams re-sign in Brooklyn.
The first move in that direction has been made, as the New York Post and Yahoo! Sports reports that Wallace and the Nets have reached a verbal agreement on a four-year, $40 million contract (via ProBasketball Talk).
Wallace will turn 30 in July, but he is a player capable of getting a double-double any given night. And he's one of the wing players in the league that can defend players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, superstars that Brooklyn will have to play and win against if they plan to be a consistent championship contender, assuming Deron Williams is leading them. I am not sure Wallace would have gotten the same offer anywhere else, but the Nets are going for broke after they traded the No. 6 pick in this year's draft for him. They couldn't afford to offend him by giving him a low-ball offer, as then the D-Will situation would turn from a coin flip to almost guaranteeing themselves losing Williams.
Brooklyn has done what they had to do with Wallace, but they should try and see if they can add another potential star player like Ersan Ilyasova, O.J. Mayo or even try to facilitate a trade to get Joe Johnson, which they are in discussions to possibly do, according to Yahoo! Sports. Wallace's contract may go one or two years beyond his prime and is about a million per year higher than his value, but it was the right decision.
How right of a decision remains to be seen, as without Deron Williams, Gerald goes from a No. 2 option at best to a No.1, not exactly what Brooklyn has in mind.
Portland Trailblazers Offer Max Deal for Roy Hibbert
Indiana's future could hinge on whether Roy Hibbert returns to the Pacers.
For fans who hope he does, today did not bring good news, as Indiana did not offer a max deal, but the Portland Trailblazers did at four years, $58 million, and according to SI.com, Hibbert is leaning toward signing the Blazers' offer sheet (via ESPN's Chris Broussard). If Hibbert signs, the Pacers would have three days to match it.
Though Hibbert hasn't said anything public yet, the fact that Indiana didn't offer him a max deal could have easily offended him, as it could feel like a low-ball offer. While there are other good players for the Pacers, Hibbert is the glue because he can defend the paint as well as any big man in the game, and his offensive game is only getting better.
For Portland, this is a great idea because you do not want Meyers Leonard starting as a rookie, and having a veteran like Hibbert teaching him the ropes is a best-case scenario. Plus, it will allow LaMarcus Aldridge to play power forward nearly all the time, and give the Trailblazers the center they thought they were going to get in Greg Oden.
Indiana may have a lot of ego massaging to do with Hibbert if they do end up matching the offer sheet, and have now let the market dictate Hibbert's value, which you never want to do when you have restricted free agents of high caliber. Portland, meanwhile, has put itself in position to maybe get the unexpected steal of free agency.
Grade for Pacers: F
Grade for Trailblazers: A+
Lavoy Allen Re-Signs with Philadelphia
After giving out enormous contracts to Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala in past years, the 76ers appear to be willing to let players go to the free-agent market and then try to sign them for bargain-basement deals.
That is what is happening with Lavoy Allen, Lou Williams and Spencer Hawes. According to Yahoo! Sports, Allen re-signed with the 76ers on a two-year, $6 million contract, an extremely good deal for a great defensive big who started 15 games and is continually developing his offensive game.
He was clearly a better matchup player against the Boston Celtics in terms of covering Kevin Garnett, and was a great complement to Spencer Hawes' range at the center position. With Hawes an unrestricted free agent, the 76ers can let him search the market for some sort of deal without having to worry about deciding about whether to match an offer sheet.
In other words, if a team gives Hawes an offer that sweeps him off his feet in terms of money, then Philadelphia saves some cash. If he can't, then the 76ers can give him the price he was given on the open market and pay him his true value.
The 76ers appear to be better at drafting and handling free agency than they have been in the past, and that is a scary thought for the rest of the Eastern Conference.
Grade for 76ers: A+
Omer Asik Agrees to Offer Sheet by Rockets
The contract contains a third year that would count $15 million against Chicago's cap, making it nearly impossible to commit that much money with Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah all making eight figures each. Houston needed a Center after trading away Samuel Dalembert and could very well get one who is a seven-footer, will only be 26 by the time the season starts and is a great defensive presence.
Houston, though they want to get a big piece like Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol, have so many talented forwards that they have the ability to play four on five offensively because of the multi-faceted abilities of their forwards. Plus, with all of their assets and cap space, the Rockets will find more than enough firepower to offset the lackluster offense they would get from Asik.
The Bulls are in a tough position because they will enter the dreaded luxury tax if they retain Asik, and will be in huge trouble by the third year of his contract. They have no one to blame but themselves due to overpaying fellow big men Noah and Boozer, and it could cause them to lose Taj Gibson at some point as well. Houston took advantage of that fear and acted on it, so give General Manager Daryl Morey a lot of credit for being able to find enough talented players through the draft and trades to have the ability to both shop players like Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin and Luis Scola and sign free agents this offseason.
Grade for Bulls: F
Grade for Rockets: A+
Andre Miller Returns to Denver
According to Yahoo! Sports, Andre Miller has re-signed with the Denver Nuggets on a three-year deal.
Miller, 36, had sought a contract for $3 million a year, so if Denver signed him for that type of deal then they got him and his veteran leadership for a bargain. Ty Lawson and Miller allow Denver to keep going up-tempo with any point guard, and to be versatile with their entire lineup.
Denver made a great small move that gives them a pair of veterans in Miller and Al Harrington to be the leaders of a young and developing team. With what Derek Fisher did for the Thunder this season, a veteran point guard who knows how to win is even more of a valued asset, especially for a team on the cusp like Denver.
Grade for Nuggets: A+
Nicolas Batum Offered Deal by Timberwolves
According to Comcast Sportsnet Northwest, the Minnesota Timberwolves have offered Trailblazers restricted small forward Nicolas Batum a four-year contract worth $45-50 million.
With the Trailblazers going after Roy Hibbert, Minnesota pounced at the opportunity to force Portland to choose between Batum and Hibbert, as Batum could be a great small forward for the Timberwolves and a perfect fit with his ability to shoot perimeter shots and defend. With Derrick Williams and Wesley Johnson having been underwhelming at the 3 position, there is no question that these two could be on the trading block along with the non-guaranteed contracts of Martell Webster and Brad Miller.
Minnesota could be a top-six, if not a top-four team in the West if they land Batum, sign a competent shooting guard and Ricky Rubio comes back healthy. Don't forget about them getting another possible star like Pau Gasol, either.
Hibbert is a better player than Batum, so Portland is making the tough but right choice if they don't match Minnesota's offer due to cap constraints.
Grade for Timberwolves: A+
Grade for Trailblazers: B-