NBA Free Agency 2012: Grades on 3rd-Day Moves of Free Agency

Robin LalisseCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2012

NBA Free Agency 2012: Grades on 3rd-Day Moves of Free Agency

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    The Brooklyn Nets were again the headline-makers in NBA free agency, making two small moves and keeping their franchise player, making the third day of free agency the charm for them.

    But division rivals Boston and New York were also involved in the big moves of the day, although it was the Celtics for good reasons and the Knicks for bad. All in all, it appears as though the Atlantic Division in the East could become the toughest division in basketball if certain moves are made, as three legitimate contenders at minimum could emerge after this offseason. 

    The Phoenix Suns made possibly the most puzzling and disrespectful move of the entire free-agency period to date, and may have set their franchise back two or three years at the least because of it. The Dallas Mavericks' decision to let Tyson Chandler go last offseason in order to add potential All-Stars may have completely backfired, but they still have chances to make up for it somewhat. They will have to if they don't want to risk wasting another year of Dirk Nowitzki's suddenly dwindling career. 

    Tuesday's six 2012 NBA free-agent moves are graded in the following slides, so comment below if you agree or disagree.

Phoenix Suns Give Steve Nash Low-Ball Offer of the Century

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    After the Toronto Raptors offered Steve Nash a three-year, $36 million contract, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Phoenix Suns had their chance to convince him to stay in Arizona. 

    But they blew that chance with an insulting two-year, $12 million offer, according to Paul Cavlvisi of KSTAR radio in Phoenix. With Toronto offering twice that much per year for three years, you would think that the Suns are wasting Nash's time by even suggesting such a low offer. 

    This is an incredibly dumb and disrespectful move by the Suns front office, and it will hurt their reputation with veteran free agents not just this summer, but in the future. Everyone knows that Steve Nash is one of the best point guards in the game, a consistent All-Star and a very loyal player, so many guys will be instantly turned off by the idea of Phoenix being a free-agent destination from now on. 

    Grade for Suns: F

Little-Known Bosnian Forward Gets Full Mid-Level Exception from New Look Nets

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    With the Nets drafting two international forwards in last week's draft, it appears as though Nets Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov knows and is making sure that the organization knows about the hidden gems in international basketball. 

    With power forward being a weak position for the Nets, Brooklyn made two big moves at the position today. One was getting a verbal agreement from Serbian League forward Mirza Teletovic on a three-year, $15.675 million contract that uses the Nets' mid-level exception, according to ESPN's Chad Ford. Teletovic will turn 27 in September, and is listed at 6'9'' and 254 pounds. He averaged 22 points and six rebounds per game for Caja Laboral in the Euroleague this season. 

    Teletovic's shooting ability makes him a stretch forward, which, with Gerald Wallace being a sensational rebounder, will not be huge for Brooklyn. This is really another move by Brooklyn to essentially ensure Deron Williams returns.

    Whether Brook Lopez or Dwight Howard is the center of the future for the Brooklyn Nets, by bringing in shooters who can take advantage of teams packing in the paint to stop the pick-and-roll game of Deron Williams, the Nets are planning to create a more complete team than what many people envisioned was possible. This is a make-or-break move for Brooklyn, as its success or failure could determine whether or not this team wins a ring. 

    Grade: C+

Toronto Tries to Take Knicks out of Nash Running in Unique Way

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    Landry Fields has been a huge disappointment for Knicks fans since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony. Yet his departure could dampen the hopes of Knicks fans while elevating the potential of an Atlantic Division rival in more ways than one. 

    According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Toronto Raptors have reached a verbal agreement with Knicks restricted free-agent guard Landry Fields on a three-year, $20 million contract with a backloaded third year similar to the one the Houston Rockets used on Chicago Bulls restriced free-agent center Omer Asik. The Knicks have three days to match the offer.

    According to Sport Illustrated's Sam Amick, Toronto's signing of Fields also hurts the Knicks' chances of getting Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns because New York has very little assets to trade away besides Iman Shumpert, who they hold in high regard. 

    Fields would be a great fit with the Raptors because of his ability to shoot from the perimeter in an offense that likes to move the ball, and he could possibly be the starting shooting guard or small forward depending on where DeMar DeRozan plays. Once Shumpert comes back from injury for New York, he will most likely be the starting shooting guard, and that would put Fields in the rotation doghouse assuming bench scorer J.R. Smith returns.

    The Raptors are doing a great job of getting rid of potentially their biggest competitor for Nash while also taking away a valuable piece from a division rival. If Nash and Fields come to Toronto, the Knicks may not only have to worry about the improvements of the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics. Plus, it may force the Knicks to make a decision on Jeremy Lin, considering that Lin is visiting the Houston Rockets today, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard.

    Grade for Raptors: B+

    Grade for Knicks: D

The Jet Could Replace One of the Three Amigos

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    The "Jet" may be taking the final flight of his career to play in Boston.

    According to Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears, the Boston Celtics will use their mid-level exception to sign Jason Terry to a three-year, $15.6 million contract. While Doc Rivers is still holding out hope that the team re-signs Ray Allen as well, according to Spears, the Celtics have made a pre-emptive strike in case Allen does not return. 

    Terry, besides Dirk Nowitzki, was the player who really helped Dallas defeat Miami in the 2011 NBA Finals with his perimeter shooting. The Larry O'Brien Trophy tattoo on his arm expresses his confidence, and his overall ability to make clutch plays. Assuming Avery Bradley is healthy and ready to be the starting shooting guard, Jason Terry will be ready to be the backup as he has played the sixth-man role as good as any player in basketball throughout the past few seasons. He definitely is a better fit for that role than Ray Allen. 

    While he is not as great of a shooter as Allen, Terry is deadly from long-range as well. He is also two years younger than Allen and is much more durable, as he has missed only 16 regular-season games in the last five years compared to Jesus Shuttlesworth missing 20 games last season. Terry has played some point guard in his career and is an excellent ball-handler, so there are situations where he can run the offense. 

    The one downside in Terry potentially replacing Allen is that he is 6'2'' while Allen is 6'5''. But considering his durability, athleticism and versatility, along with his experience against Miami two NBA Finals ago, taking Terry for a contract of three years for $1 million less per year than the two-year, $12 million offer by Boston to Allen, reported by ESPN, is a smart move. Plus, with Allen visiting the Miami Heat Thursday and the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, along with several other suitors making offers according to ESPN, it may be best to make sure to sign Jeff Green and/or Brandon Bass, and hope for the best on the Allen front, though it seems bleak for him returning. 

    Grade for Boston Celtics: A-

Reggie Evans Is the Next Guy Going to Brooklyn

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    Now the Brooklyn Nets have two power forwards on their roster. 

    According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets signed Reggie Evans to a three-year, $5 million contract after acquiring him in exchange for a future second-round pick, and also using a $3 million trade exception to acquire him. Evans averaged 1.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 13.8 minutes over 56 games last season, and is believed by many to be the best offensive rebounder in basketball. 

    With little other cap space, Brooklyn needs to build a good bench in order to compete with Miami and Boston in the Eastern Conference, and signing Evans is the first step toward doing that. His toughness and contributions will make him a fan favorite at the Barclays Center, and he will perfectly complement the addition of Mirza Teletovic at the power forward position, as Teletovic is a stretch-4. 

    Grade for Nets: A

Deron Williams Returns to the Nets

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    After two minor moves today following a blockbuster trade yesterday, Brooklyn retained the man they wanted all along. 

    According to ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo, Deron Williams tweeted just after 7 p.m. ET, "Made a very difficult decision today ..." along with a link to a photo of the Nets' logo, saying that he chose to return to the Brooklyn Nets after agreeing to a five-year, $98 million contract. Though Nets fans would like to have a "Big Three" of D-Will, Joe Johnson and Dwight Howard along with Gerald Wallace, the fact is that because Williams is paired with two All-Star-caliber wing players, the Nets already do have a "Big Three." Although it is one that doesn't completely compare with that of the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics. 

    However, the supporting pieces will certainly be better than Miami if Gerald Green, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Brook Lopez and a veteran point guard are on the Brooklyn Nets' roster for next season. Anytime you add an All-Star point guard to a contract that runs from the beginning to the end of his prime, and one that puts your team in position to be a top-four team in your conference, it is about a good a move as you can make.  

    The Brooklyn Nets have had arguably the best offseason of any team in the NBA since the Miami Heat in 2010, and the grade for this move confirms that assertion. 

    Grade for Brooklyn Nets: A+

Suns Offer Best Restricted Free Agent on Market Max Deal

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    According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, New Orleans Hornets restricted free-agent shooting guard Eric Gordon has received a four-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns that would bring the biggest piece of the Chris Paul trade over to Arizona. 

    While the Hornets still have three days to match the offer, Gordon feels comfortable in moving on and going to Phoenix:

    "After visiting the Suns, the impression the organization made on me was incredible," Gordon told ESPN.com. "Mr. (Robert) Sarver, Lon Babby, Lance Blanks, the front office staff and Coach (Alvin) Gentry run a first-class organization, and I strongly feel they are the right franchise for me. Phoenix is just where my heart is now."

    Although the Hornets appeared ready to match any offer for Gordon according to nola.com, Broussard writes that "with Gordon preferring to play in Phoenix, the Hornets may choose to cut ties with him." With Austin Rivers being a shooting guard, along with Xavier Henry, it may be best for the Hornets to let a player go who doesn't even want to be there. They may become so bad this season that they will build with top five lottery picks the way that the Oklahoma City Thunder have. 

    That may be a tough pill to swallow, but general manager Dell Demps will have to make a tough decision either way. New Orleans' extremely bright future just hit a massive speed bump, but Phoenix appears to be going young. They have Kendall Marshall and potentially Gordon in the backcourt, along with former No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley being courted as another potential addition, according to azcentral.com

    Plus, convincing Gordon to play there after low-balling Steve Nash earlier in the day is a great accomplishment in and of itself. The move for Gordon and getting him to want to come to Phoenix is something I never saw coming. 

    Grade for Phoenix Suns: A