Ranking the Best Value Contracts of NBA Free Agency
More often than not, NBA free agency is about teams overpaying talent that ends up not being as productive or competent as expected.
While there's been no shortage of that during the 2012 offseason, with players like Brook Lopez and Eric Gordon signing lucrative max contracts, there have been a number of value contracts that will be extremely valuable during the 2012-13 season.
With players like Antawn Jamison, O.J. Mayo and Randy Foye signing contracts worth less than they deserve, teams certainly found the diamonds in the rough this offseason.
Ahead is a ranking of the best value contracts of 2012 NBA free agency.
10. Jerryd Bayless: Two Years, $3 Million in First Year
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Contract Details: Two years, $3 million in first year—as reported by ESPN's Marc Stein (via The Commercial Appeal).
Jerryd Bayless has never reached his potential, but that's in large part because he's spent the last two years of his career playing for the lowly Toronto Raptors.
With the Memphis Grizzlies, Bayless will finally be able to play legitimate minutes with talented players like Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay. Bayless thrives in the half court, and that's where the Grizzlies' strength is.
The Grizzlies certainly needed backcourt production coming off the bench, and getting average production of 11.4 points and 3.8 assists per game for just $3 million next season is certainly a steal.
Signing Bayless could be the move the Grizzlies need to get over the hump in the Western Conference, and that's worth the small financial investment they made in him.
9. Marco Belinelli: One Year, $2 Million with the Chicago Bulls
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Contract Details: One year, $2 million—per CSN Chicago.
The Chicago Bulls were surprisingly quiet during the 2012 offseason. That was until they pulled the trigger on Marco Belinelli.
Belinelli averaged 11.8 points per game on 41.7 percent shooting last season, and while that isn't going to set Chicago on fire, it's certainly going to be an increase in production from what they had at the 2-guard spot last season.
The Bulls didn't overpay for production on the wing, and that's why this move is such a win for them. They couldn't afford to overpay anyone with the massive contracts they have in their books, and they managed to avoid doing that by signing Belinelli.
If Belinelli pans out, the Bulls can work out a long-term deal with him, but if not, the Bulls can focus on developing their young talent or look for another free-agent guard in next year's free agency. By signing Belinelli the Bulls bought flexibility, and that's exactly what they needed.
8. Kirk Hinrich: Two Years, $6 Million with the Chicago Bulls
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Contract Details: Two years, $6 million—as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago Bulls needed to find a replacement plan for Derrick Rose until he's able to return next season, and they managed to do that by signing Kirk Hinrich.
Signing Hinrich to a deal worth $3 million per year adds toughness to the Bulls roster, and it also adds depth to an otherwise unimpressive backcourt.
While some will argue that the Bulls should've gone with C.J. Watson at the point, the veteran experience and mentoring that Hinrich will be able to bring to the court will be more than worth the $3 million per year they've invested in him.
Hinrich will be able to help the Bulls remain relevant in the East until Rose returns next year, and getting that safety net for a deal worth $6 million over two years isn't bad at all.
7. Randy Foye: One Year, $2.5 Million with the Utah Jazz
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Contract Details: One year, $2.5 million—as reported by ABC 4 Salt Lake City.
The Utah Jazz desperately needed to add some backcourt production to their roster for the 2012-13 season, and instead of inking an untested player to a max deal, they got one of the best value contracts of this offseason.
Randy Foye came to life last season and showed why he was deserving of a long-term contract this offseason, with averages of 11 points, 2.2 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game.
The Jazz are basically leasing Foye for the upcoming season. If he produces at a competent and efficient level, the Jazz will certainly sign him to a long-term deal at the end of the season. If Foye fails to develop into a next-level guard, the Jazz will be free to find a player who better fits into their system.
The Jazz made a very wise decision by acquiring Foye, because it didn't tie up a large amount of cash and gives them solid options at the end of the 2012-13 season.
6: O.J. Mayo: Two Years, $8.5 Million with the Dallas Mavericks
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Contract Details: Two years, $8.5 million—as reported by ESPNDallas.com.
O.J. Mayo entered the 2012 offseason with hopes of signing a max deal that would result in a big payday. That didn't happen, but signing with the Mavericks gives Mayo the fresh starts he needs, and it gives him an opportunity to show that he is truly worth the max contract he's still looking for.
Mayo will certainly be the Mavs' starting shooting guard, and he'll have the chance to be an integral part of their offense, which couldn't be said of his time in Memphis.
The kind of potential that exists in Mayo's game is well worth the $4.25 million he is due each year, and if he actually reaches his potential, the Mavericks will have found their next franchise player.
5. Brandon Roy: Two Years, $10.4 Million with the Minnesota Timberwolves
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Contract Details: Two years, $10.4 million—as reported by the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).
Sure, Brandon Roy has degenerative knees, but I highly doubt he decided to return to the NBA without consulting numerous medical experts on whether he'd be able to be productive and successful while staying healthy.
Roy had the same blood spinning in his knees as Kobe Bryant had this past season—as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports—and if it helps Roy as much as it helped Kobe, the Timberwolves will have made the steal of free agency.
Paying $5.2 million per year for a player with a lot of questions surrounding him certainly is questionable. But if Roy is able to return to his All-NBA team form within the next two years, the T-Wolves will have found the best player available in 2012 free agency.
Roy fits extremely well into the Timberwolves' system, whether it's in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, and he will be at the foundation of why the T-Wolves make the playoffs next season. For Minnesota, that's certainly worth $5.2 million per year.
4. Ray Allen: Two Years, $6 Million with the Miami Heat
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Contract Details: Two years, $6 million, with player option in second year—as reported by the Miami Herald.
Ray Allen is hands down the best three-point shooter in the NBA, and adding that kind of talent to an already deep Miami Heat team makes them that much more dangerous.
The fact that the Heat were able to get him for just $3 million a year makes adding Allen that much sweeter.
Allen was reportedly seeking a three-year, $27 million deal with the Boston Celtics, and while he was overvaluing himself, there's no doubt that the production he can bring off the bench for the Heat will be worth around that.
Adding a championship-caliber player like Allen for such a minimal financial commitment is a huge win for the Heat, and that's why it's so high on this list.
3. Elton Brand: One Year, $2.1 Million with the Dallas Mavericks
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Contract Details: One year, $2.1 million—as reported by NBA.com's David Aldridge.
The Dallas Mavericks started the 2012 offseason off rather slowly, but they picked up some steam after signing O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman and most recently Elton Brand.
Last season, Brand made over $17 million, and he didn't earn that money with averages of just 11.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
Paying $2.1 million for that kind of production, though, is an absolute no-brainer, and it gives the Mavericks something they haven't had in a very long time—depth in the frontcourt coming off the bench.
The Mavericks have gone from 2011 NBA champion to big losers of free agency and now back to a team prepared to compete for a playoff appearance next season. It's been a tumultuous offseason for the Mavs, but signing Brand to such a cost-effective deal has helped save their franchise for the time being.
2. Rashard Lewis: Two Years, $2.6 Million
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Contract Details: Two years, $2.6 million, with $13 million in buyout from New Orleans after he was traded from the Washington Wizards—as reported by ESPN.com.
Rashard Lewis has fallen a long way since he signed his $118 million deal back in 2007, but he's finally found his way onto a team that is actually prepared to win games and compete for a championship.
Let's not forget that 20-plus points per game just five years ago. While he's certainly not the same player he once was, there's no doubt that Lewis can increase his production closer to where he was a few years ago.
Acquiring Lewis' talents for just $1.3 million per year, considering the fact that he was getting paid nearly $20 million this past season, is a major steal for the Heat. This signing will help the Heat become even more dominant, and that should be terrifying for every other team in the NBA.
1. Antawn Jamison: One Year, $1.4 Million with the L.A. Lakers
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Contract Details: One year, $1.4 million—as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Antawn Jamison made $15-plus million last year, and he certainly earned that money with averages of 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Acquiring that kind of talent for less than $1.5 million per year is absolutely amazing, and that's what happens when you can offer players a legitimate shot at an NBA title.
It's clear that Jamison is chasing that elusive NBA title, and the Lakers made a wise move by giving him a chance to be a productive piece of a championship-caliber team.
If the Lakers represent the Western Conference in the 2013 NBA Finals, the main focus will be on how Steve Nash helped them get to that point. The reality, though, is that Jamison will be at the core of their success, as he will bolster their bench and will do so for under $1.5 million per year.