The bulk of free agency has passed with just one big shoe left to drop: Kawhi Leonard. Nobody knows when he’ll , but in the meantime, names big, small and in between are . So far, here’s a look at 10 reported deals that look like high-value signings.
1. Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors (3 years, $15M)
When the Warriors turned the loss of Kevin Durant into a sign-and-trade for D’Angelo Russell, and reportedly agreed to give him a four-year, $117 million max contract, it hard capped their 2019-20 payroll at $139 million, meaning they can’t exceed that number next season under any circumstances — even to re-sign their own players. In Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Russell alone, Golden State has almost $120 million invested in just four players, leaving them with less than $25 million to fill out the rest of the team.
Everyone assumed Kevon Looney was a goner. Instead, the Warriors get him on a three-year, $15 million deal, which is somewhere between high value and downright unbelievable. People who only pay attention to the glamour of the Warriors have no idea how important Looney has become. He gets them extra possessions on the offensive glass. He defends. He rebounds. It is not an exaggeration to say he is perhaps the difference in them remaining a title contender, and they got him for $5 million a season? It is shocking nobody offered him more than that, or if they did, that he didn’t take it. Either way, the Warriors win huge with this one.
2. JJ Redick, New Orleans Pelicans (2 years, $26.5M)
The Pelicans are not rebuilding after the loss of Anthony Davis. They’re not reloading either, because they weren’t loaded to begin with, even with Davis. What they’re doing — which is to say what David Griffin and newly hired GM Trajon Langdon are doing — is teaching a master class in how not just to recover from the loss of a superstar, but actually somehow come out better in the short term.
We know the Pelicans are stacked for the future with all the picks the Lakers have them, but look at this roster right now. Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Derrick Favors, Josh Hart, E’Twaun Moore, a quietly useful Jahlil Okafor, rookies Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and now you add Redick’s shooting and leadership to the mix? This is a potential playoff team on paper, even in the Western Conference.
Redick is going to thrive in Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo offense with transition 3s, and New Orleans suddenly has a plethora of wing options to mix and match lineups. Shooting could’ve been an issue for this team, but Redick goes a long way in covering that up. Last year Redick got $23 million from Phllly for one season. The Pels get him for two years for $26.5 million.
3. Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons (2 years, $15M)
Forget what Rose used to be or what he was when he looked like he was barely hanging onto a job in the league. What he is right now is a guy who just averaged 18 points and four assists on 48 percent shooting, including 37 percent from 3. He is a reliable jump shooter, as crazy as that sounds, and a lot of his burst his back. He’s smart. He’s experienced. And the Pistons got him on a two-year, $15 million deal. That’s eighth-man money. If Rose does what he did last year, a top-six seed is in striking distance in a deeper-than-you think Eastern Conference for Detroit.
4. Rodney Hood, Portland Trail Blazers (2 years, $16M)
Hood took his game to another level in the playoffs last year, at times carrying the Blazers’ offense for stretches and making huge shots. As a result you would’ve thought he’d be in fairly high demand this summer. Maybe he was and decided he wanted to remain with the Blazers, who either way got Hood in a two-year, $16 million deal. Hood will likely be Portland’s starting small forward at an average annual salary of $8 million. He could easily average 15 points a game starting in that system. That’s worth more than Portland is paying him.
Utah is out here doing work. First they trade for Mike Conley. Then they sign Bojan Bogdanovic. Then, in the shadow of those deals, they quietly add Davis on a two-year, $10 million deal that is terrific value for a guy who complements this Jazz roster perfectly. For starters, he had the second-best defensive plus-minus in the league last year. The only player with a better mark than him was Rudy Gobert, his new twin-town teammate.
DRPM is a messy stat and Davis only played 18 minutes a game, but that’s about what he figures to log for Utah, too. He keeps the Jazz as an elite defensive team when Gobert goes off the floor without having to change the way they operate. Davis also racked up almost nine boards a game, a terrific number on a per-minute basis.
Davis doesn’t bring the offense of Derrick Favors, who Utah lost to New Orleans, but suddenly offense is not what Utah needs with the additions of Conley and Bogdanovic. His second-unit defense and rebounding alone makes this a super high-value signing, even if no one is talking about it.
6. Jeremy Lamb, Indiana Pacers (3 years, $31.5M)
Lamb, who averaged 15 points and five assists as the second option on the Hornets, goes to Indiana on a three-year, $31.5 million deal. Lamb is a good shooter, he’s long defensively, and he’s a capable secondary creator next to Victor Oladipo and newly signed Malcolm Brogdon. Ten million annually is a good deal for a guy who can score 20 any night and gives you the versatility Lamb can bring, particularly on an Indiana team that needs scoring.
7. Willie Cauley-Stein, Golden State Warriors
Suddenly the Warriors go from the prospect of having Damian Jones as their starting big man to Kevon Looney and now Cauley-Stein, who averaged 12 points and eight boards last season in Sacramento. People will tell you he’s all stats and little substance. Don’t listen to them. All of this stuff is situational.
In Sacramento, yes, Cauley-Stein never delivered on his No. 6 overall draft spot and the team was never good enough for him to just fill a role with his length and athleticism and be considered valuable. That’s exactly what he can do with Golden State. This is JaVale McGee all over again — cast off elsewhere, freed up to turn his athleticism and size loose with the Warriors.
Cauley-Stein can block shots and catch lobs and just be a size and defensive presence on a team that won’t need him to do anything else. He’s very talented, and he comes to Golden State for reportedly slightly less than the league minimum. Steal.
8. Tomas Satoransky, Chicago Bulls (3 years, $30M)
The Bulls get Satoransky on a three-year, $30 million deal, and he’ll likely be their starting point guard until Coby White is ready. The Wizards were better with Satoransky than they were with John Wall, and while nobody thinks Satoransky is the talent Wall is, the mere fact that you can have that debate tells you Satoransky can play.
He’s a total Euro-style player, keeps the ball moving, pushes in transition, knocks down shots. He’ll be big in creating flow for Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Wendell Carter Jr., and he can play alongside a score-first point guard in White. You wish the Bulls were better, because Satoransky isn’t going to lift a bad team. But he’ll further steady the ship and allow some of these young Bulls to really see what they can do in a rhythmic setting.
9. Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets (2 years, veteran’s minimum)
Rivers is reportedly returning to Houston on a two-year veteran’s minimum deal at a little over $2.1 million per year. That is couch-cushion money in the NBA for a very solid player. Rivers likely could’ve tripled this money on the open market, at least. He plays hard. He’s a defender. He can create offense off the bounce and is a more threatening 3-point shooter than his low-30s percentage would indicate. To me, Rivers is something of a Marcus Smart light. Incredible value on this deal for Houston.
10. Wesley Matthews, Milwaukee Bucks (2 years, veteran’s minimum)
The Bucks let Malcolm Brogdon go because they flat-out couldn’t pay him what the Pacers gave him, and its a loss, no question. But Eric Bledsoe was paid like an All-Star point guard and if he plays that way, Brogdon’s loss won’t be crippling. Beyond that, Matthews quietly keeps Milwaukee’s wing depth intact after Nikola Mirotic also left to return to Spain. Matthews can still shoot it and defend at an All-Star level. He’s not going to completely change Milwaukee’s fortunes by any means, but he’s coming on a two-year minimum deal. He should play way above that.