Ranking the Biggest 2013 NBA Free-Agency Re-Signings so Far
NBA fans love when their team adds a big new player. It's fun, it's exciting and it often feels like they could be that one piece that pushes the team back to the top. Be honest, we've all been there.
With that being said, sometimes it's better when your favorite team re-signs a player rather than adds a new one. Re-signed players know their role, they know the system and most importantly, you know what to expect from them. There's something comforting about that.
There's an obvious answer as to who made the biggest re-signing of the offseason, but almost everything else is up in the air. So who did the best job handling their players? Let's take a look.
Brooklyn Nets: Andray Blatche (one year, $1.4 million)
Andray Blatche enjoyed the best season of his career in 2012-13, and there's no reason to think anything will change now that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have joined the squad. Blatche put up 20 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes on 55 percent true shooting last season (per Basketball-Reference). An absolute steal.
Washington Wizards: Martell Webster (four years, $22 million)
Martell Webster isn't the most versatile player, but he knocked down 1.8 threes per game at a 42 percent clip last season, an elite rate for an NBA wing. He's also a plus defender and has a decent off-the-dribble game. Surrounding John Wall with a dangerous cast of shooters is nothing but a good idea.
Los Angeles Clippers: Matt Barnes (three years, $11 million)
Matt Barnes isn't elite in any facet of the game, but he's a decent shooter, a scrappy defender and provides more hustle than 98 percent of the league. The perfect guy to bring off of what's looking like a dangerous bench.
No. 9: Atlanta Hawks—Kyle Korver
The deal: four years, $24 million
Kyle Korver may not be the biggest name on the docket, but he provides elite shooting at a decent price, and you can't ask for much more than that.
Korver, whose signing was reported by the Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports) is one of the best spot-up shooters in the league, knocking down a whopping 46 percent of his threes on almost six attempts per game last season.
He has no real off-the-bounce game to speak of, but he'll continue to provide the Atlanta Hawks with floor spacing and will be a reliable kick-out option for Al Horford and Paul Millsap.
If that wasn't enough, Korver's also a solid defender. He's no lockdown wing by any means, but he held opposing small forwards to an 11.7 PER last season, and the Hawks' defensive rating improved by almost two points per 100 possessions when he was on the court.
Very underrated signing for Atlanta.
No. 8: Memphis Grizzlies—Tony Allen
The deal: four years, $20 million
If Tony Allen had a jump shot, he would be way higher on this list. Maybe as high as No. 2.
With all due respect to Paul George and LeBron James, Allen is the league's best perimeter defender, and it's not even all that close. Allen's quick, he's strong enough to battle with bigger wings, he fights through screens like none other and no player in the league seems to frustrate elite scorers more.
The Memphis Grizzlies' defense was nearly seven points per 100 possessions better when Allen was on the court, roughly the difference that exists between their second-ranked defense and the Los Angeles Lakers' 20th-ranked defense (per Basketball-Reference).
That's a massive swing, and it shows just how valuable Allen is on that end of the court.
The problem is that Allen has no outside shot to speak of—he hit 13 percent of his 24 three-pointers last season—and that often gums up the Memphis offense. It's not uncommon to see Allen's man cheat off him and break up possessions, killing the Memphis offense for long stretches.
Last season, the Grizzlies juggled Allen and sharpshooting wing Quincy Pondexter, and it will be interesting to see how they handle the minutes spread this year.
Even without a jumper, Allen has tremendous value, and he exemplifies the toughness and “grit and grind” mentality of the Grizzlies. And in the unlikely event that he does start hitting from outside...look out.
No. 7: San Antonio Spurs—Tiago Splitter
The deal: four years, $36 million
This re-signing would be ranked a little higher if not for the fact that $9 million a year is a bit much for Tiago Splitter. It's clear the San Antonio Spurs who announced the signing on their website, are trying to go for broke over the next few years. While there's nothing wrong with that, it makes this signing slightly worse in a vacuum.
With that being said, Splitter is a terrific player (despite how he looked in the NBA Finals) and the perfect fit in a very complicated Spurs system.
The best things about Splitter are that he doesn't try to do too much and he makes the most of his fairly limited opportunities. His base numbers (10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game) aren't overly impressive, but he ranked seventh in the league in true shooting percentage (per Basketball-Reference), and the Spurs are nearly eight points per 100 possessions better when he's on the court.
Splitter is a terrific defender in the Marc Gasol mold. He's not a stellar athlete and won't make many highlight-reel plays, but he's smart, he's quick on his feet and he perfectly understands how to play defense within the Spurs' system.
He's always in the right place at the right time. It's that simple.
There was no way the Spurs were going to find a better fit than Splitter on the open market this season, and they did well to re-sign him, even if he was a tad overpriced.
No. 6: Miami Heat—Chris "Birdman" Andersen
The deal: one year, $1.7 million (via the Associated Press, courtesy of Newsday)
Most underrated signing of the entire offseason. No question.
The future of the Miami Heat is very murky, but what is clear is that the Heat still have a very good chance at a title this coming season.
And to take another title, they needed Chris “Birdman” Andersen.
Andersen's not one of the league's premier centers, but he's a very good rim protector and rebounder. Andersen ranked as the second-most efficient offensive player in the league last season and third-best in the pick-and-roll (per Synergy Sports Technology). That's incredible, and it's all because Andersen never tries to do too much.
Andersen's also the perfect complement to Chris Bosh's pick-and-pop excellence, and perhaps most importantly, he gives the Heat a good option at the 5 when they need to stray away from smallball.
The Heat are clearly best when they're playing small and surrounding LeBron James with shooters, but that's simply not practical against every team in the league. There are times when they have to go big to match up with bigger teams. Andersen gives them a very efficient, cost-effective option when that happens.
It's not a stretch to say that the Heat couldn't have won the title without Andersen last year, and re-signing him for cheap was essential. Mission accomplished.
No. 5: Atlanta Hawks—Jeff Teague
The deal: four years, $32 million
It may not be what both sides wanted, but Jeff Teague is going to be suiting up as an Atlanta Hawk next season. And to be honest, Atlanta made the right move in this situation.
Teague is unlikely ever to be a star point guard, but he’s young and has improved every season he’s been in the league. Last year, Teague averaged 15 points and seven assists per game and bumped his assist rate up to an impressive 36.1—good for 11th in the league (per Basketball-Reference).
There’s no doubting that Teague has some problems. He’s a poor pick-and-roll player (120th in the league last year per Synergy Sports Technology) despite playing with some talented bigs—a huge deficiency considering the importance of the pick-and-roll in today’s NBA.
Teague is also a fairly poor finisher at the rim, which is problematic considering how many of his shots come from that area (just check out his NBA.com shot chart).
However, as mentioned before, Teague is talented and improving. Today’s NBA is a point guard-driven league, and securing even a league-average point (which Teague certainly is) is crucial. Considering how thin the point guard market is, the Hawks made the right call in retaining theirs.
No. 4: New York Knicks—J. R. Smith
The deal: four years, $25 million
This is a surprisingly good deal for the New York Knicks.
J.R. Smith's contract is probably a little bit under market value when you consider what similar players received. There is some risk to the deal—Smith is notoriously flaky—and signing him for the long haul is definitely a gamble. But Smith seems to love New York, and most importantly, he adds some variety to a Knicks offense that often becomes stagnant.
Barring some divine intervention, Smith will probably always struggle with shot selection. But his off-the-bounce ability negates some of his more questionable jumpers. The Knicks' offense is basically an endless string of pick-and-rolls, three-pointers and Carmelo Anthony isos, and when those go sour, Smith is the one guy on the roster who can add some unpredictability.
Smith's ability to get to the rim and finish is very real, and when he's cooking, the Knicks can beat anybody. Few wings have the ability to stay in front of Smith off the bounce, and he's one of only a handful of guys who can turn the tide of an entire game by himself.
Maybe the Knicks regret this deal in three or four years, but at the moment, they should be commended for the way they locked up the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.
No. 3: San Antonio Spurs—Manu Ginobili
The deal: two years, $14 million
The San Antonio Spurs nailed it here. It's clear that Manu Ginobili doesn't have all that much left in the tank, but he should be able to give the Spurs one (and maybe two) more productive seasons. And as he proved in the NBA Finals, he still has a few virtuoso games in him.
At this point, you know what Ginobili brings to the table for the Spurs.
But let me add one thing. Much like with J.R. Smith and the New York Knicks, Ginobili gives the Spurs a healthy dose of unpredictability.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are all-timers, but neither of them has the flair and creativity of Ginobili—hardly anyone in the league does, really. When Ginobili's at his best, there's no one in the NBA who's more fun to watch. Not even LeBron James. Watching Ginobili improvise on the court is akin to a religious experience in the basketball world. He's a genius of the highest order.
Manu's back, ladies and gentleman.
No. 2: Indiana Pacers—David West
The deal: three years, $36 million
David West came with a fairly hefty price tag, but he meant far, far too much to the Indiana Pacers for them to let him get away.
West is one of the NBA's more understated power forwards, but he's also one of its best and a perfect fit for what the Pacers do. Unlike most teams in the league, Indiana has (mostly) ditched playing small and stuck with trying to demolish opponents down low.
And West is a big reason why it works.
Not only is West a strong post player in his own right (he ranked 18th in the league last season per Synergy Sports Technology), he's also capable of hitting the all-important mid-range jumper required of the best bigs in the league. West hit 49 percent of his shots from 15-19 feet last season, one of the top marks in the NBA (per NBA.com).
West's proficiency from the mid-range allows the Pacers to isolate Roy Hibbert on the block, and it also drives a very strong pick-and-pop game between West and Paul George. There are very few good two-way bigs in the league, and West is one of them—the Pacers were nine points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season.
West is getting up there in years, but you could make the case that he's the Pacers' second-best player after Paul George. Indiana needed him if it was to be a true title contender. Great signing.
No. 1: Los Angeles Clippers—Chris Paul
The deal: five years, $107 million
Come on. You all knew this was coming.
Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league, and by almost any measure, its third-best player. He's a superb passer, scorer, defender and runs a pick-and-roll better than just about anyone. The Los Angeles Clippers traded for a new coach just to keep him. That enough for you?
Say what you will about Paul's subpar (for now) postseason record. There are maybe six or seven franchises in the league who have a guy good enough to be the best player on a championship team. You'd pay any amount of money for one of those players. The Clippers have Paul.