Grading NBA Free Agent Signings, Pt. 2

Thomas HalzackAnalyst IJuly 15, 2009

Taking up where I left off in gauging whether a team overpaid, fairly paid, or received a bargain, I move to...

...a free agent who put an ankle-breaking move on the Trail Blazers, spun, and headed for the dunk with the team that best appreciates Euro-style play and players...the Raptors.

The free agent of misdirection, Hedo Turkoglu, verbally accepted terms from Portland, only to get an 11th-hour call from Toronto and changed course, heading to Canada, where there will be a Turkish enclave in his newly adopted city.

Riddle me this...

Will that keep Chris Bosh in the Northern Country? Or will it be the beginning of the Bargnani reign, post-Bosh? That’s to be determined, but Bosh made a call directly to Hedo to try to convince him to come to north. No one knows if the Raptors can convince Bosh to stay beyond next season. Maybe Hedo will be making a return call for the same reason.


Hedo Turkoglu - Toronto

Fairly Compensated: Five years at $50 million. With two teams willing to pay about the same amount, I’ll say that his value is in this ballpark. I’d feel better if it were for about $40 million. I’d feel better if it were a three-year deal.

Turkoglu is 30 years old and has a unique set of skills and some clutch abilities to boot. He can play point forward to give Calderon a breather. The way this league works, you are often underpaid, and then overpaid. It all works itself out.

Toronto moves closer to Euro ball. They thought they had that elusive inside presence with Jermaine O’Neal. Hedo gives them some versatile skills. Playing in the post isn’t one of them. Finding a good fit for the mid-range game of Bosh appears to be harder than it looks.

That the new salary cap and luxury tax numbers are heading south might be the most likely reason Bosh doesn’t look stateside himself next season.


Charlie Villanueva - Detroit

To Be Determined: Five years at $37.5 million. Like former and new teammate Ben Gordon, Joe Dumars is both giving the opportunity and expecting a lot from that generosity, from two players who are expected to play significant roles in the rebuilding of Detroit.

Villanueva is a capable offensive player (47 starts, 29 MPG, 17.7 PPG in ‘09) with modest defensive abilities so far. The fact that defensive-minded Scott Skiles’ team decided to not offer the qualifying offer to retain him says something about their finances...and the player.

Charlie, who will only be 25 next month, will get every opportunity to grow into everything he can be. You can’t ask for more than that. Not an alpha dog in his career so far. I doubt that changes, but you never know.

I remember his final games at UConn. Sometimes he would try to be that crunch time guy and had some success doing it...but not quite enough to change opinions. His NBA career reflects that.

He has pretty much fit my pre-draft prediction, lo those many years ago. He has talent. He needs more confidence and a bit of a nasty streak to move to the next level. Maybe Dumars sees it different or thinks he can get that out of him.

With Rip and Ben as his new teammates, we know who will be taking the big shots anyway.


Trevor Ariza - Houston

Fairly Compensated: Five years at $33.5 million. His value is very high right now. Whether that will translate into more improvement remains to be seen. He is young enough at only 24. I have really liked Ariza as a sleeper-type for a few years. He is no longer under any radar.

He is an excellent defensive player and disrupter. He’s added the three-point shot, just as Bruce Bowen did. But Kelly Dywer made have said it best here. Artest and Ariza traded places...and probably shouldn’t have. But he is proving to be worth that kind of money.


Shawn Marion - Dallas

Fairly Compensated: Five years at $40 million is about right for this versatile, but limited (how can you be both versatile and limited?) player. Taking a beating on the message boards for his erratic play and career since leaving Phoenix, Marion is still a big talent, no what matter what fans think.

That Steve Nash was his "raison d’etre" is incorrect. He was putting up big numbers pre-Nash. He can do it again. I lost respect for him when he wanted to leave such a successful team (Suns) for more personal glory. The funny thing is that he was getting lots of attention in Phoenix. He is sobered now, I hope, and has a more realistic appraisal of himself. Dallas will get a very good player.


Anthony Parker - Cleveland

Bargain: Two years at $6 million after a reasonable contract of $4 million/yr makes Parker a bit of a bargain.

He’s a very capable three point shooter, double-digit scorer, and three-year starter. He also demonstrated some solid, if not flashy, passing skills last season, racking up 21 games with five assists or more. He had multiple games with more than seven assists. His defense is passable to good, depending on his assignment. Primarily a jump shooter who doesn’t go to the hoop much, that will fit in with the Cavs’ LeBron and now Shaq, who will occupy that area.

The word is that he makes Delonte West expendable, and the Cavs may try to move West by the trading deadline in February, if not sooner. At 6′6″ Parker has height and girth that West does not and should be a solid perimeter defender. His game is kind of plain vanilla, but everybody likes vanilla.


Marcin Gortat - Orlando

Overpaid: Five years at $34 million is overpaid for a guy who has only played 12 minutes a game for a single year. But you overpay for size (7′0″) with potential in the NBA. Gortat has both. After their public utterances, I’m just surprised that the Magic are that team.

He played well in Howard’s absence a few times last season, including a winning playoff game against the Sixers. The “Polish Hammer” not only drives the fastest car in the NBA, he is an active big who gave teams trouble throughout the playoffs. What has he proven? Not much more than that, at this point.

While I could see Dallas paying that amount to find out if Marcin is for real, that the Magic matched is eye-opening...and telling. Dallas could offer a chance to start. That won’t happen in Orlando. So you are now looking at a rarity—a guy who just made $34 million dollars who is unhappy. Why? He will continue to be Dwight Howard’s caddy. Well paid, but a caddy nonetheless.

Yet another team goes into luxury tax territory for a chance at winning it all. Keep in mind, though, that the Magic keep an asset and he will be tradable in the future.


Brandon Bass - Orlando

To Be Determined: Four years at $18 million. Hard to call this one. Another undersized power forward. He looks overpaid to me right now. He is an active defender, fair rebounder, and had to play significant minutes at center. That probably explains why his closer shots were blocked at a rate of almost 30 percent.

I like what I've seen of Bass. Has a toughness that Dallas needed. He impacted the game positively with a +2.4 vs. +1.7 when he was off the floor. Yet they let him go for that amount of money. Makes you wonder why.


Those are the biggies and then a few more.

Right or wrong?

There are still a lot of players that have to find a home. We'll (meaning me) report when that happens. (Don’t you love when someone refers to himself in the plural?)

Tom writes the Celtics Central blog on the Connecticut News site, home to four news dailies and 4 weeklies. A variation of this article first appeared there.


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