NBA's Early Report Cards for Free Agent Signings: The Good and Questionable
We are now fully under way in the 2010-11 NBA season and if you're anything like me, you've been feeling like a kid at the candy store.
As you already know, this past offseason came with many major changes in personnel and players. The question is, have those changes made any improvement?
Joe Johnson received a six-year, $119 million contract from the Hawks, LeBron James and Chris Bosh went to Miami, Amar'e Stoudemire went to the Big Apple, and Carlos Boozer went to the Bulls, but who is showing signs of living up to their high expectations?
In this article, I will be breaking down each big-time free agent/re-signed player in the league and whether they're performing at the level they need so far. I know it is only a couple weeks into the season, but these players will constantly be the center of attention around the league, for obvious reasons.
With that, here are 11 big-time free agent/re-signed players and an analysis on their performance and how much they can help their teams down the road.
No. 12: Tracy McGrady
Tracy McGrady, at one time was an all-star guard. He could do everything ranging from driving and finishing at the hoop, to being a deadly mid-range shooter.
He is now with the Detroit Pistons and has agreed to a veteran-minimum contract for $1.35 million. Now I know that everyone is questioning this move by the Pistons, but they have merely taken a risk and reward-type move by acquiring a once superstar quality guard in Tracy McGrady, a.k.a T-Mac.
He hasn't done much so far, but you never know if T-Mac could somewhat come back to his glory days, as a role player for this team.
For that reason, I do not mind this pick at all, considering it was not expensive, and there really isn't anything to lose. Time will show us if T-Mac has any gas left in the tank.
No. 11: Ray Allen
As an NBA veteran, Ray Allen will always be remembered as one of the best pure shooters in NBA history. In this day and age, when someone thinks of a shooter, they think of good ol' Ray Ray.
This offseason, Allen agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract with the Celtics. Even though some people have been questioning Allen's performance in the last couple of years, there has never been a moment in my life where I have doubted his shooting ability even for a minute.
Now, it is a fact that he is getting old, but this year will just be another way to prove NBA viewers wrong once again. The Celtics made a great decision to keep Allen and I truly believe that he will be worth every penny, not only in the short run, but in the long run.
No. 10: John Salmons
The Miami Heat made a great move with LeBron and Bosh and the Celtics did well by re-signing Allen, but I'm not liking the Bucks' move to re-sign shooting guard John Salmons.
He recently agreed to a four-year, $39 million contract with Milwaukee and though his performance is exceptional, Salmons is definitely not worth roughly $10 million a year for the next four years.
Salmons is currently averaging 10.9 points, 3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game, but like I said, he isn't going to be worth all that money in the long run.
When you're playing for the Bucks, and you have two very good players in Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut, a player like Salmons whose main game is shooting jumpshots should be averaging close to 15 points a game and should be racking up many more rebounds, especially with that althetecism.
Like I said, Salmons may be playing exceptionally well, but when you take a look at his contract, you'll think twice about whether the Bucks made the right decision or not.
But hey, I'm not a fortune teller. Who knows, maybe Salmons will prove us wrong, or maybe he won't—only time will tell.
No. 9: Mike Miller
If I were an unfair person, I'd say that the Heat made a mistake by signing Miller; yes, I'm talking about his current injury status.
But because I'm not unfair, I'm going to go ahead and say that the Heat made a great decision to sign veteran sharpshooter Mike Miller.
Every team needs a good spot-up shooter and with Miller, the Heat will have the luxury of having someone who can hit open shots when Wade, Bosh or LeBron is double-teammed, which is all the time.
Miller recently signed with the Heat for a five-year, $25 million contract. He hasn't played a regular season game yet, but when he returns, I fully expect him to be the great outside shooter that he is.
I hate to say this, but when Miller comes back, the Heat could really start live up to their hype. Kudos to the Heat for this deal.
No. 8: Carlos Boozer
If there was such a thing called "pickup of the offseason," I'd go with the Chicago Bulls signing Carlos Boozer. With the Bulls on the rise, adding a premier forward like Boozer will only add to their deadly arsenal of players.
When Boozer comes back from injury, the Bulls will be a team to reckon with. I mean they do have all of the tools to be a great team: great point guard in Derrick Rose, good shooter in Kyle Korver, and a great down-low prescence with Boozer and Joakim Noah.
It may seem like I am a Bulls fanatic, but I am merely speaking the truth, wouldn't you agree? Now I'm not stubborn, I know Boozer has had the reputation of being a "weasel" type of player, but considering he's in a good organization that has the potential to make some noise in the next couple of years, I truly believe that Boozer will try hard to behave—at least for a couple of years.
Boozer agreed to a five-year, $80 million contract and there is no doubt in my mind that the Bulls won't look back. He will provide a great down-low prescence along with Noah, and Boozer will just be another threat that other teams will have to look out for.
No. 7: Rudy Gay
After returning with a gold medal from the 2010 FIBA World Championship, Gay has to feel proud and ready to go for this season, and his performance has been great early on. He's averaging: 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Gay recently agreed to a five-year, $81.6 million contract, and some have questioned if this was too much. But so far I'd say the Grizzlies actually knew what they were doing, unlike when they traded away a guy named Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown and some other assets.
Even though I agree with the re-signing, I will have to evaluate the money part of the deal—but for now it has looked great for the Grizzlies.
For this season, it looks as though Gay will once again be the leader of this team and he will also continue to be the great scorer that he is, not only this season, but for years to come. Once again, good decision by the Grizzlies to do all that they could to keep Gay in Memphis.
No. 6: Joe Johnson
This may have beenthe most ridiculous deal of not only this year's offseason, but for this era. The only players who should even be considered to be paid $120 million should be Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo, Wade, or Durant—not a player like Joe Johnson.
On the topic, Johnson agreed to the infamous six-year, $120 million contract this offseason and though it was way too much, Johnson has peformed at a high level, which isn't anything new.
This is why this deal bothered me: Johnson has played very well in the last couple of years, but I don't understand why the Hawks would even dream of offering that much money to anybody, let alone Johnson. I guarantee that he would have taken a much less radical deal and if for whatever reason he didn't, well he just wasn't a good fit for the Hawks, let alone any NBA team, because no player should be that arrogant.
Only because of the amount of money.
No. 5: Amar'e Stoudemire
I hate to say it, but the Knicks made a great move to get Amar'e, for two reasons: He is a good player and because he could potentially bring in other superstars like Melo, CP3, or someone else—who knows?
Amar'e recently agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract, and though this was also a large amount of money, he may be worth it in the long run.
For now, the Knicks will just be a mediocre team in the East, but if we get to see a Melo or CP3 come to the Big Apple to join Amar'e, that $100 million will seem like a minor issue.
I have no idea if Knicks GM Donnie Walsh planned for someone else to come in the near future, but I can easily see it happening.
In his early games, Amar'e has played his usual game and it has been fun to watch, but we will have to wait and see if this will work out. The only reason why I question this deal in any way is because of the realtionship between coach Mike D'Antoni and Amar'e, and because of the recent history of Knicks basketball.
No. 4: Dwyane Wade
Of course I was going to include Miami's new big three; hopefully you guys already figured that out.
Dwyane Wade, leader of the Miami Heat, has been nothing short of great for the Heat early in the season, averaging 24.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
It was another no-brainer for the Heat to re-sign Wade and I doubt anybody thought otherwise. I mean, Wade has been the face of this franchise ever since he arrived from Marquette.
I feel silly saying this, but the Heat made a great decision to keep Wade and we all know what Wade can do when he is healthy.
No. 3: Kevin Durant
I would have had all three of the Heat players in a row, but we can't forget about arguably the best player in the game—Kevin Durant—can we?
Durant has continued to improve his game every year and after leading a young U.S. team to a gold medal in this year's FIBA World Championship, he has to be feeling good about himself.
Durant is currently averaging 26.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. This offseason he extended his contract with a five-year, $86 million deal, which isn't anything worth talking about really.
Once again, I feel silly even having to mention this, but extending Durant was a great move for the Thunder, because they just might have the best player in the world in their hands.
No. 2: Chris Bosh
Now this was an interesting move by the Heat. We all know what Wade and LeBron will do, but I for one am starting to question exactly what Bosh's role will be on this Heat team.
Yes, he is doing well, currently averaging 14.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Those are some solid stats, but we are only a couple of weeks into the season and I don't think Bosh has really found his true role on this team yet—the keyword being yet.
Though I am somewhat questioning Bosh's future, I am not doubting his ability to play the game, and if he can manage to find a way to be the third wheel of this explosive Heat team, the Heat won't have any trouble living up to the hype.
No. 1: LeBron James
Surprise! Coming in at No. 1 is...wait for it...LeBron James! Wow, isn't it a great surprise?
Of course LeBron comes in at the top spot. I mean he did help me by hosting the now very infamous, "The Decision," at a local Boys and Girls Club—how could I resist talking about such a person?
Anyways, lets get back to being serious. LeBron recently signed the mere five-year contract that everyone has probably freakishly memorized already, so I won't go into the details.
We all know what LeBron can and can't do and we all know that LeBron will most likely average close to a triple-double this season and yes, he may even three-peat, no not with championships, but with his precious MVP.
Of course this was a great move by the Heat and it will prove to be worth it, but championships will be the measuring stick in this deal. As always, time will be the only indicator of whether or not all this hype was needed.
"I have decided to take my talents to South Beach."—LeBron James
Sorry, I just had to throw that in.