Top 5 Free Agent Bargains
We’ve heard a lot about teams overspending on free agents over the course of the last week or so, but mostly because that’s what grabs the headlines. It’s easy for us to say that Nicolas Batum doesn’t deserve $45 million, for example, or that no general manager in his right mind would match a three-year, $25 million offer sheet for Omer Asik.
But there really have been some good deals agreed to since July 1st, particularly from the perspective of the teams making them. In fact, some of them could actually be considered bargains. Here are the best free agency agreements of the season so far:
Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers, 3 years, $15.7 million – This one’s hard to gauge because there are also reports that the deal is for four years and $25 million, and an extra year plus an extra $9.3 million for a 32-year-old shooting guard isn’t quite the same value as the numbers in bold font above. But a little over $5 million a season is just as good a bargain this summer as it was last summer, when the Blazers nailed him down for a two-year, $10 million contract that included the player option allowing Crawford to test free agency again this summer. He averaged 13.9 points last season in only 26.9 minutes a night, but he should see an expanded role with the Clippers, where he’s expected to start. You wouldn’t get a much better talent for that kind of cash.
Jason Terry, Boston Celtics, 3 years, $15.6 million – While it hurts to lose Ray Allen, at least Boston is getting a serviceable guard at a reasonable price to come in and take his place. Terry averaged 15.1 points last season in Dallas as a sixth man, and that should go a long ways towards filling the Allen-sized hold left behind at the two guard spot. He’ll still come off the bench as long as Avery Bradley’s healthy, but for just a little over $5 million a year, he’s exactly what the team needed if they were going to lose Allen.
Jason Kidd, New York Knicks, 3 years, $9 million – Kidd is the oldest player in the league, and he’s nowhere near as good a player as he used to be. But for $3 million a year, he can mentor Jeremy Lin and bring stability to the Knicks’ locker room. Those seem like reasonable services for the price.
Andre Miller, Denver Nuggets, 3 years, $9 million – There is no reason to believe that Miller’s role as a backup to Ty Lawson will change next season in Denver, but considering he averaged 9.7 points, 6.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds in only a little over 27 minutes a night, he’s easily worth the money he was given. His wasn’t a splashy signing, but as far as value is concerned, the Nuggets should get a reasonable return on their investment the next few seasons.
The Top Five:
#5 – Mirza Teletovic, Brooklyn Nets, 3 years, $9 million – Considering Brooklyn was reportedly ready to offer Teletovic an extra $6 million over the life of his contract before realizing that would mean they couldn’t even try to acquire Dwight Howard, this one has to be considered a bargain. Teletovic has been one of the stars of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague the last couple of seasons, averaging 22 points and 6 rebounds per game last season, and now he’ll bring that talent to Brooklyn for what really amounts to a pretty paltry sum. We don’t know yet how his game will translate to the NBA, but for $3 million a season, I’ll call that a fair gamble.
#4 – Nick Young, Philadelphia 76ers, 1 year, $6 million – If you factor in the Elton Brand amnesty dollars required to make this deal happen, then Young probably ended up costing the Sixers quite a bit more than $6 million to acquire. But Philly might have cut Brand loose, anyway, and looking at this deal in a vacuum, it’s a pretty good one. No one can really ever call a one-year deal completely awful, especially at that dollar amount, but Young averaged 16.6 points in Washington last season before seeing his minutes drop after a trade to the Clippers. The year before, he averaged a career-high 17.4 points, so this is obviously a kid on the up-and-up just looking for the right opportunity. He’ll get it in Philly, and for $6 million, the results should be good for everybody.
#3 – Brandon Roy, Minnesota Timberwolves, 2 years, $10 million – Nobody has any idea what Brandon Roy has left in his tank at this point, but considering he is a former All-Star that just took a year off to rest his knees, this deal was low-risk, high-reward. I imagine they’ll use Roy relatively sparingly to save his legs for the postseason, but just having a guy like that on your roster is worth the $5 million all by itself. He’ll bring confidence and experience to a T-Pups team that really needs it, and if he ends up being even 60% of what he was in his prime, he’ll way out-earn his paltry contract amount.
#2 – Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers, 3 years, $27 million – Nash is the most expensive guy on this list at $9 million a year, but Toronto set the market value for him by offering him those same three years at $36 million. So the fact that L.A. ended up with him for $9 million less than the market dictated is a steal, especially for a game-changer like Nash. Kevin Garnett, another older player looking for the last deal of his career, got over $11 million a season from the Celtics, and Tim Duncan is likely to get something similar from San Antonio. At $9 million, Nash came at 25% off, and that’s a coupon any team would love to cash in for a two-time MVP starting point guard.
#1 – Ray Allen, Miami HEAT, 3 years, $9 million – Ray Allen is the best three-point shooter of all time, and however you feel about him skipping town in Boston to play with the defending champion Miami HEAT, you can’t deny the fact that $3 million a season for Allen—even at ages 37, 38, and 39—is a steal. He’s not as athletic as he used to be, and he’s seriously slowed down when it comes to attacking the basket, but when it comes to knocking down open corner threes he may be the best the league has ever seen. The man is a professional, and there’s a reason Boston was willing to double Miami’s offer to try and keep him in Beantown. Allen took less for a shot at a ring, though, and that means a great free agent value for the HEAT.
All of these deals have been agreed to, but not signed, thanks to the moratorium that gets lifted at 12:01am on July 11th. Many other free agents will sign with teams after the big dominoes officially begin to topple, and as payrolls fill up we’ll see some bargains start popping up because there will be too many good players left in the free agent pool and not enough money to sign them all to big dollars.
So keep your eyes peeled for more free agency steals; they’re on their way. In the meantime, soak these up, and braces yourselves for the second wave of signings likely to occur once players start signing dotted lines.