Rockets sign C Clint Capela (5 years, $90 million): B- Grade
The Rockets offered Clint Capela a 5-year deal worth $85 million earlier this summer. He turned it down, and his patience was worth it because he managed to get $5 million more out of his team.
This signing is by no means a bargain, but it seems fair. Capela is a talented, 24-year-old center who averaged a double-double last year. He theoretically should continue to improve his game, and it's possible that he'll out-perform his contract.
Having said that, Capela is not an elite player, and giving someone like him a 5-year contract worth so much money could backfire. Capela could get lazy, or he could suffer injuries, and then Houston would be stuck with a bad contract for a long time. That may not happen, but this deal comes with considerable risk.
Cavaliers re-sign F Kevin Love (4 years, $120 million): D Grade
Wow, talk about paying on past production. Giving Kevin Love four years and $120 million several seasons ago would've made lots of sense, but that's not the case now. This is a clear overpay by a desperate Cleveland franchise attempting to stay relevant in an utterly futile fashion.
Love turns 30 in September, and his best days are behind him. He's also missed a quarter of the season in each of the past two years. It would be better to just move on from him and begin rebuilding. By overpaying Love, they're not going to be terrible enough to get a top draft choice, all because they've decided to overpay an injury-prone, aging veteran.
The case could be made for a Vlade ("F"), but I'll give the Cavaliers a "D" grade, as they must be so shell-shocked from the LeBron James departure that it's almost understandable that they're making idiotic decisions.
Mavericks re-sign C/F Dirk Nowitzki (1 year, $5 million): A Grade
With this contract, Dirk Nowitzki will be spending his 21st season with the Mavericks, setting the NBA record for most consecutive seasons with the same team. Nowitzki just turned 40, so it's remarkable that he's still able to be an effective player in the league.
Nowitzki is obviously not nearly the player he used to be, but he still averaged 12 points per game last year. That number will likely dip again in 2018-19, but he can still provide quality minutes. He'll also provide Mavericks fans the dose of 'member berries they sorely need, given how poor this Dallas team will be this upcoming season.
Hawks sign C Alex Len (2 years, $8.5 million): A Grade
Centers, even backups, tend to be overpaid, so it's a bit shocking that a bad team like the Hawks was able to land a capable big man at a very cheap price.
Alex Len has a history of ankle injuries, but he finished this past season on a strong note, recording several double-doubles. He averaged 8.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, and as a 25-year-old, he could continue to improve if he stays healthy. At less than $4.5 million per season on a 2-year deal, this is a terrific signing.
Clippers re-sign F Montrezl Harrell (2 years, $12 million): A- Grade
The Clippers are getting a pretty good deal with Montrezl Harrell. The former Louisville product has improved his game in each of his three seasons since being a second-round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. He averaged 11 points and four rebounds off the bench last year. He should continue to upgrade his game and serve as a strong depth player for the Clippers. At two years and $12 million, this is a good bargain on a short-term deal.
Kings sign F Nemanja Bjelica (3 years, $20.5 million): VLADE Grade
I can't use Millen grades anymore, but I can sure as hell dub "F" signings on the NBA open market as Vlades. This, of course, is named after Vlade Divac, the worst general manager in the NBA now that Billy King is no longer making decisions.
Divac, coincidentally, made this atrocious signing. Nemanja Bjelica is a 30-year-old bench scrub who should be making something close to the veteran minimum. Instead, Divac has decided to pay him nearly $7 million per season. Even worse, Bjelica received a 3-year deal, meaning the Kings will be stuck with this awful contract until the 2021 offseason.
Celtics re-sign G Marcus Smart (4 years, $52 million): B- Grade
Marcus Smart averaged 10.2 points and 4.8 assists this past season, but was most prominent as an energetic defensive player. He was an important member of Boston's playoff run in the spring. Bringing the 24-year-old back is a nice move.
I'm not too crazy about this contract, however. Four years is a long-term deal, and it's possible that Smart could get fat and happy with the contract. Also, Smart is going to play less next year in the wake of Kyrie Irving's return from injury. With that in mind, this seems like a B-/C+ signing.
Bulls sign F Jabari Parker (2 years, $40 million): C Grade
This unquestionably is an overpay. Jabari Parker is a poor defensive player who hasn't been able to stay healthy in the pros. In three of four seasons, Parker has averaged 35.7 games per year. His knees are troublesome, and there's no indication that he'll be able to have a healthy career.
That said, I don't hate this signing. Parker, the second-overall pick from the 2014 NBA Draft, still has potential at age 23. He could turn his career around and finally meet his potential. I'd love it if a team took a chance on him at a reasonable price, but $20 million per season is ridiculous.
Spurs re-sign F Davis Bertans (2 years, $14.5 million): B+ Grade
It was initially reported that Davis Bertans signed a 4-year, $20 million deal. As it turns out, he got $14.5 million over two seasons. While the average per year is more, these terms are better because the Spurs won't be stuck with a potentially bad contract for a while.
That said, this should work out. Bertans didn't play much last year, averaging 14 minutes per game, scoring 5.9 points per contest. However, he's just 25, and he's due for an uptick in minutes in the wake of Kyle Anderson defecting for Memphis. Bertans' stats will increase, and his three-point shooting will continue to be valuable.
Grizzlies sign F Kyle Anderson (4 years, $37.2 million): D Grade
This is the type of signing a loser franchise makes. Kyle Anderson has done nothing to show that he deserves such a large contract over four years. He has never averaged more than eight points per game. Sure, he wasn't a starter for the Spurs, but they're a smart franchise, and they didn't consider matching what Memphis offered for Anderson. That should be a sign that this is a poor signing.
This isn't just an overpay. It's a putrid deal, as the Grizzlies will be stuck with an awful contract for four seasons. It's not an "F" because Anderson has some potential as a 24-year-old, but again, the Spurs didn't value him very much, so why did Memphis?
Pistons sign C Zaza Pachulia (1 year, $2.4 million): B Grade
Zaza Pachulia has been playing since 2003-04, but he turns 35 during the upcoming season. He's not nearly the player he once was, but he can serve some quality minutes as a backup big man. His primary function will be injuring the other centers in the Eastern Conference, so this is a fairly decent, cheap signing for the Pistons.
Hornets sign G Tony Parker (2 years, $10 million): C+ Grade
What a weird signing. I would've expected Tony Parker to link up with a championship contender to play as a backup guard. He'll be a reserve in Charlotte, but won't be playing into May whatsoever. Also, why two years? Parker is mostly done, and he's 36.
That said, this isn't the worst idea. Parker can work as a pseudo assistant coach and help develop the young guards on the team. That's nice, but it won't translate into any immediate wins.
Pacers sign C/F Kyle O'Quinn (1 year, $4.5 million): A Grade
Kyle O'Quinn is a solid backup big man who averaged seven points and six rebounds last year in limited action for the Knicks. He'll serve the same role for a significant team in 2018-19.
This is a great signing. It seems like a bargain at just $4.5 million, and there's no risk for the long term because the contract is for only one season. O'Quinn will help the Pacers perhaps reach the second round of the playoffs.
76ers sign F Nemanja Bjelica (1 year, mid-level exception): A- Grade
The 76ers lost Ersan Ilyasova this offseason, so they needed a replacement forward for the second-string unit. Nemanja Bejlica seems to be a viable substitute on what seems to be a strong signing.
Bjelica doesn't have much NBA experience despite being 30 years old, but played well for the Timberwolves last season, averaging 6.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game off the bench. He also shot 41.5 percent from three. He fills a need for the 76ers at a cheap price, so this is a good move.
Bullets sign C Dwight Howard (1 year, mid-level exception): A- Grade
Dwight Howard used to be a great player in his prime. He's 32 now, however, so he's no longer the player he once was. This makes him very dangerous because he's also problematic in the locker room. It's almost worth it not to have him on a roster at this stage of his career.
That said, I like this risk from Washington. The Bullets - please do not call them the Wizards - need to take a chance to challenge the Celtics to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. If Howard doesn't cause any issues, he can help them do that. I have a feeling this will end poorly, but the Bullets have to take this risk, and it's not even that big of one because this is just for one year.
Jazz re-sign G Dante Exum (3 years, $33 million): BILLY KING Grade
Ladies and gentlemen, our first "F" (Billy King) grade of the 2018 NBA free agency period! This one is quite the doozy, as the Jazz have demonstrated that they do not understand the concept of the term "sunk cost."
Utah selected Exum with the fifth-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He has been a big flop, never averaging more than 8.1 points per game in a season. Even worse, he has missed 166 games in four years. The correct course of action would be determining that Exum is a sunk cost and moving on from him, but the Jazz failed to grasp that concept.
Exum plays good defense on the limited occasions in which he's on the court, but giving him this amount of money is absolutely absurd. It's an embarrassing contract, and whoever gave this deal to Exum should be tested for hard drugs.
Jazz re-sign G Raul Neto (2 years, $4.4 million): B Grade
There isn't really much to say about this signing. Raul Neto is an OK backup point guard, and he'll continue to serve that role in Utah at a cheap price. Neto missed some time last year with a wrist injury, but he's just 26, so no regression is expected. This is a fine move, worth a "B" grade.
Pacers sign G/F Tyreke Evans (1 year, $12 million): A Grade
Tyreke Evans should be fresh considering that he didn't play in the second half this past season. The Grizzlies sat him because they wanted to tank, so he figures to have a strong year for the Pacers.
Evans, who averaged 19.4 points and 5.2 rebounds last year, could start for the Pacers. He also provides no risk because he signed to a 1-year deal. He'll make the team better, and with LeBron James gone from the Eastern Conference, the Pacers can contend to play in the conference finals with Evans in the mix.
Bullets sign F Jeff Green (1 year, minimum): B+ Grade
Now this is a nice minimum signing for one year. Jeff Green is no longer the talent he once was when he played for Oklahoma City and Boston, but he's now a capable backup who can provide some scoring with the second unit. He averaged 10.8 points last year, and he could have a similar output with the Bullets in 2018-19. This is a quality addition, considering the price.
Rockets sign G Michael Carter-Williams (1 year, minimum): C+ Grade
This is probably an overpay. Yes, Michael Carter-Williams is set to make the minimum this year, but it could still be seen as an overpay. That's how bad Carter-Williams has gotten since winning Rookie of the Year in 2013-14. He has regressed every season, and now he's a terrible player who can't shoot or play consistent defense.
I suppose there is some upside, as perhaps the Rockets could finally fix Carter-Williams' shooting problems. If so, this will be a good signing. It's more likely, however, that Carter-Williams' primary function will be handing out Gatorade bottles and warm towels to the other players.
Clippers re-sign G Avery Bradley (2 years, $25 million): C+ Grade
Does any of this matter? The NBA is broken, and Adam Silver refuses to do anything about it. All but three teams should be tanking in the Western Conference right now, which is just sad.
This obviously includes the Clippers, who are handing Avery Bradley $25 million instead. Bradley is a solid player when healthy, but he's had problems staying on the court. He missed 36 games last year and 27 the season before. This isn't a horrible signing because the deal is just for two years, but it's an overpay, given Bradley's health issues.
Warriors sign C DeMarcus Cousins (1 year, $5.3 million): A+ Grade
So much for the Lakers getting DeMarcus Cousins. And so much for all other NBA teams trying to be competitive next year. The Warriors, already the best team in the NBA, just acquired the one thing they lacked, which was an All-Star center.
This is an A+ signing, as Cousins is a great player who will be giving his all in this "prove it" deal. Cousins makes so great that if they try hard every game next year, and no one gets hurt, they could win 75-plus games. Hell, if they give 100 percent each night (which isn't very realistic because the season's so long), 80 victories wouldn't be out of the question. But win totals are effectively meaningless, and what matters is what happens in May and June. And it's likely that the Warriors will be 16-0 or 16-1 in the playoffs next year.
I really think Adam Silver should step in and negate this signing. Having Cousins join the Warriors makes the 2018-19 NBA season incredibly pointless. Why should the other 29 teams even try?
Pelicans sign C/F Julius Randle (2 years, $18 million): A Grade
I suppose this means DeMarcus Cousins is heading to the Lakers. If that's the case, Julius Randle makes for a nice consolation prize, especially considering this contract.
Randle averaged 16.1 points and eight rebounds last year. He did this on a bad team, which increased his statistical output, but he is just 23 and should continue to improve. Randle figures to pair well with Anthony Davis, but even if he doesn't, New Orleans won't necessarily have him rostered for very long. This seems like a great signing, as there is plenty of upside without much risk.
Lakers sign G Rajon Rondo (1 year, $9 million): A- Grade
Is LeBron James making movies or reality TV shows? It appears to be the latter, as the Lakers initially signed the guy who blew sweet nothings into James' ear, then acquired someone who effectively called James a "bi*ch." If you don't know what I'm talking about, do a Google image search of "LeBron is a bi*ch" and see what comes up.
Assuming James can get along with Rajon Rondo, this is a strong signing. The fit is a bit weird because Rondo can't shoot, and James needs to be complemented by shooters, but Rondo can run the offense and play good defense 20 minutes per game off the bench. He'll be a solid reserve and provide quality depth, and he won't hurt the Lakers financially for the long term.
Jazz re-sign F Derrick Favors (2 years, $36 million): B+ Grade
Derrick Favors has been a solid player for the Jazz over the past several seasons. He tends to score double digits most games, and he does some good work on the glass as well. He's not a superstar, or anything close to it, but that's why he's not getting a mega deal.
I think two years and $36 million is pretty fair for Favors. The annual cost might be slightly high, but given that this is just a 2-year pact, the Jazz won't be stuck with a bad contract if Favors gets hurt or suddenly regresses.
Pistons sign G Jose Calderon (1 year, $2.4 million): C- Grade
This seems like a waste of money. Jose Calderon is not even close to the player he once was. Turning 37 prior to the start of the 2018-19 season, Calderon was ineffective for the Cavaliers last year. He could be even worse this upcoming campaign, thanks to his age, so it seems as though the Pistons are basically flushing $2.4 million down the toilet. That may not seem like much by today's standards in the NBA, which is the only reason this didn't garner an "F" grade.
76ers re-sign G J.J. Redick (1 year, $12 million): A Grade
With LeBron James joining the Lakers, there was some fear among Sixer fans that their team would lose J.J. Redick, as he may have wanted to latch on with a better title contender. Those concerns have been quelled, as Redick re-signed with Philadelphia for a 1-year deal.
This is a great signing. Redick is 34, so regression is possible, but he was brought back for just one year, so the 76ers can move on from him if they want next summer. If Redick doesn't regress, he'll once again provide Philadelphia with 15-17 points per game and his trademark three-point expertise.
Lakers sign C JaVale McGee (1 year, minimum): A Grade
With LeBron James on the roster, the Lakers have once again become a team that can sign decent role players to 1-year minimum deals. That's what they're doing here with JaVale McGee. The 7-footer is a solid backup, and he'll serve a role as the Lakers attempt to challenge the Warriors and Rockets.
Speaking of the Warriors, the Lakers' ability to poach McGee away from one of their prime competitors is another reason why this is a strong signing.
Lakers sign F LeBron James (4 years, $154 million): A+ Grade
This is the easiest grade I'll ever have to make on this page. It's an A+ all the way; no questions asked. The Lakers have transformed from an irrelevant, has-been franchise to a championship contender with LeBron James, assuming they get another star like Kawhi Leonard or DeMarcus Cousins. Even if they don't, they'll be a lock for the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
While the Lakers are getting an A+, I have to say that I'm disappointed that James didn't stay in Cleveland. Maybe I just long for the days of the 90s NBA when almost all of the superstars remained on one franchise for their entire careers. You knew Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were on the Bulls, and that Karl Malone and John Stockton were on the Jazz, and that David Robinson was on the Spurs, and that Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton were on the Sonics, and that Patrick Ewing was on the Knicks, and Reggie Miller was on the Pacers, and so on and so forth. The NBA had more personality then, but now seems like a hollow husk of what it used to be. And James is at the center of it, now that he'll be playing for his third team.
Also, it's legitimate to question why James would go to the Lakers, given that he'll have to contend with the Warriors and Rockets in the Western Conference. The Lakers are not better than either team at the moment - we'll see what happens in the coming days - so it'll be way more difficult to reach the NBA Finals again. And yes, I know James wants to make movies, but he's 33. He has his whole life to do that once he's done playing. This decision just doesn't seem all that great, but Laker fans have to be thrilled by it.
Lakers sign G Lance Stephenson (1 year, $4.5 million): B Grade
If LeBron James really wants to make movies, perhaps he can begin with this one, as the plot surrounding Lance Stephenson playing with James really seems like something coming out of Hollywood. Stephenson, of course, is mostly known for blowing in James' ear several years ago. Now, they're teammates, so that begs the question: Will Stephenson continue to blow in LeBron's ear, especially during private locker room sessions?
Stephenson is a decent bench player, so this move is solid, assuming he and James can get along. If not, the Lakers are giving Stephenson a contract for just one year, so there aren't any negative ramifications beyond 2018-19.
Magic re-sign F Aaron Gordon (4 years, $84 million): B+ Grade
There was some thinking that the Magic would have to give Aaron Gordon a max deal if it wanted to retain him. That would be a $114 million contract for a 4-year pact, but it turns out that keeping Gordon involved giving him $30 million less than expected.
With that in mind, this is a strong move. Gordon, the fourth-overall pick from the 2014 NBA Draft, has blossomed into a very good player; he averaged 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds last year, and he's only 22, so he has plenty of room for growth. There's only a small chance this deal comes back to hurt the Magic, so I like this move enough to give Orlando a B+.
Knicks sign F Mario Hezonja (1 year, $6.5 million): B+ Grade
Mario Hezonja is a solid player off the bench. He did well in that situation with the Magic, and he should continue to thrive in role with the Knicks. This is a nice signing, as Hezonja is a young player (23) who wasn't signed to a long-term deal, so the Knicks won't be stuck with a bad contract.
Lakers re-sign G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1 year, $12 million): A- Grade
It's nice that the Lakers were able to pair their King with a Pope. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope performed well for the Lakers last season, averaging 13.4 points per game and hitting 38.3 percent of his threes. He's also just 25, so he should continue to improve.
Retaining Pope on a 1-year deal is a strong move. He'll be a nice role player for the Lakers next year, and there aren't any long-term financial ramifications with this deal.
Pistons sign F Glenn Robinson III (2 years, $8.3 million): B+ Grade
The second year on this deal is actually a team option, so that's a nice perk for the Pistons in what already seemed like a quality signing. Glenn Robinson III barely played last year because of a nagging ankle injury, but he flashed at times the year before. Robinson is only 24, so there's room for growth. He'll be a nice "three-and-D" guy for the Pistons off the bench at a very reasonable price.
Raptors re-signing G Fred VanVleet (2 years, $18 million): B Grade
Fred VanVleet was a strong bench presence for the Raptors last year, and it could be argued that he could have won the Sixth Man of the Year award. He's also just 24, so he has plenty of room for growth.
I think $9 million per season is a bit too much for VanVleet based on past production, but given that he's likely to improve, this contract seems perfectly reasonable. It's also for just two seasons, so the Raptors won't be stuck with bad money.
Knicks re-sign C Luke Kornet (1 year, $1.6 million): A- Grade
It's rare to see the Knicks do an intelligent thing, but this certainly qualifies. Getting a functional big man to take up a roster spot for just $1.6 million seems like a good deal.
Kornet could be more than just a functional big man. He's only 23 (as of July 15), and he posted some impressive performances last year in the wake of Kristaps Porzingis' injury. Kornet scored 17 and 23 in two of his final four games of the season, indicating that he has potential. At the very least, he's a nice insurance policy if Porzingis continues to have health problems.
Thunder re-sign F Paul George (4 years, $137 million): D Grade
Member when the Thunder had Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden? Now, the Thunder have a $300 million roster that won't be anything better than the fourth seed in the Western Conference as long as this group is together.
Playoff choker Paul George is one of the most overrated players in the NBA. This is a loser move by the Thunder front office; the same sort of decision that led to Harden's departure in the first place. This contract will lead to many people being fired.
I'm utterly speechless by how horrible this re-signing is. Well, maybe not "speechless" because this is already my third paragraph, but still. This is just awful. The Thunder is going to be stuck with this horrible contract for four years, so I hope their fans become accustom to mediocrity because that's all they're going to see.
Rockets re-sign PG Chris Paul (4 years, $160 million): B- Grade
Chris Paul is 33 years old, and yet the Rockets just gave him a $160 million contract over four years. Well, I guess it's a good thing that Paul doesn't have a history with injuries. Oh, wait...
Man, this is a risky move. The NBA, unlike the NFL, is a league in which you have to overpay for elite players, and Paul is elite. For now. It's highly unlikely that he'll be playing at this level in two years, so the Rockets are almost certainly going to be stuck with an awful contract. However, getting Paul back for next year gives them a legitimate chance to win the championship, and if they do that, this decision will have been worth it, no matter how Paul performs in two years.
This is a tough grade because it's either going to end up an A+ (if the Rockets win it all) or an "F" (if they don't). I'll say this is a B-, but you could talk me into anything as high as a "B" or as low as a "C."
Nets sign C/F Ed Davis (1 year, $4.4 million): B+ Grade
If the Nets were a relevant team, this would be a more exciting move. Getting a solid reserve big man for just $4.4 million is definitely a nice transaction, and Ed Davis qualifies under that category. Davis has no offensive game, but he rebounds and blocks well, so he'll be a solid role player for the Nets.
Spurs sign G Marco Belinelli (2 years, $12 million): A- Grade
Marco Belinelli helped the Spurs win a championship half of a decade ago, and now he's back on their roster in what appears to be another quality move by this franchise.
Belinelli played well off the bench for the Sixers last year, averaging 12 points per game. The Spurs figure to get a similar output from Belinelli in the same role, making this contract worth $6 million per year worth it. Belinelli turns 33 at the end of the 2018-19 season, but this is just a 2-year deal, so San Antonio won't be hurt financially if he regresses.
Suns sign F Trevor Ariza (1 year, $15 million): D Grade
What an exciting and outstanding move for all parties involved. By bringing in Trevor Ariza, the Suns get to double their win total from four to eight next year. Meanwhile, Ariza gets to steal $15 million from Suns ownership. Everyone should be happy in Phoenix right now.
In all seriousness, this move is as dumb as the Mavericks signing DeAndre Jordan. It's called tanking, Phoenix. The Sixers worked it to perfection. You should have been taking notes.
Thunder re-sign F Jerami Grant (3 years, $27 million): C+ Grade
It's really cool that the Thunder front office is bringing all of its players back. They made such great memories last year with how they lost in the first round. Now, their fans get to re-live that experience with a tremendous encore presentation!
Jerami Grant is a nice, young player who should see more minutes as Carmelo Anthony is phased out. Grant is only 24, so he should continue to improve. However, giving him $9 million per season over three years feels presumptive. It's not a horrible move like the Paul George re-signing, but it's an overpay. It should be clear at this point that the Oklahoma City front office is in way over its head. Ownership will likely make wholesale changes soon.
Celtics re-sign C Aaron Baynes (2 years, $11 million): B Grade
Centers usually command big contracts, so the fact that the Celtics were able to re-sign Aaron Baynes to a 2-year pact worth "only" $11 million seems like a fine decision. It's not a great move by any means, but Baynes will continue to provide quality depth for the Celtics at a reasonable price. Even better, Boston won't be stuck with Baynes (32 in December) for very long because this contract is only for two years.
Mavericks sign C DeAndre Jordan (1 year, $24.1 million): D Grade
I don't understand why the Mavericks are doing. They stink, so shouldn't they be tanking? Why are they signing a solid center for $24.1 million for just one year? It's not like Jordan is going to get them into the playoffs. He'll make them better, which is not ideal because they should be trying to obtain a top-three pick in the draft (go here for our 2019 NBA Mock Draft.)
This is a sort of a move a top-four conference team should be making to potentially put them over the top. Why Dallas is doing this, I have zero clue. It's almost like Mark Cuban was bored and wanted to hang out with DeAndre Jordan, so he paid him $24 million to be his friend for a year.
I'm not giving this signing an "F" because it's for one year, so it won't hurt Dallas for the long term, but it certainly feels like an F-caliber move.
(Note: I've gotten several Facebook comments saying the Mavericks don't have a pick next year because they traded it to Atlanta. This is not entirely true because it's top-five protected.)
Bucks sign F Ersan Ilyasova (3 years, $21 million): C Grade
Ersan Ilyasova has gone back to where he began his career. He played in Milwaukee for seven seasons before bouncing around from Orlando, to Atlanta, to Philadelphia.
I wish I could paint a better picture for this homecoming, but this deal is a head-scratcher for sure. Ilyasova will be a nice presence off the bench - he averaged 10 points per game last season - but he's due to regress soon. He just turned 31, so he'll be in his mid-30s by the end of this contract. At $7 million per season, this is an overpay. I wouldn't mind this contract if it were for two years, but the third could really come back to hurt the Bucks.
Nets re-sign G/F Joe Harris (2 years, $16 million): B+ Grade
Joe Harris has turned into a pretty decent player since being drafted in the second round out of Virginia in 2014. Harris averaged 10 points per game last year, drilling 41.9 percent of his threes in the process.
This is a solid move. Just compare it to the Pacers signing Doug McDermott. Harris is slightly better, and while he's set to earn $1 more million per year than McDermott, it's for only two seasons rather than three, so if Harris regresses, the Nets won't be financially screwed.
Pacers sign G/F Doug McDermott (3 years, $22 million): C- Grade
This seems like too much money. Doug McDermott is a nice player off the bench who can drill threes, but $7 million per season is definitely an overpay. The killer here is that this deal is for three years, so the Pacers will be stuck with a medium-minus contract for three seasons unless they want to get out of it in a couple of years.
This move isn't awful, but it's definitely far from ideal. It's a "C" or C- all the way, as the Pacers should've been more financially responsible.
Spurs re-sign F Rudy Gay (1 year, $10 million): B+ Grade
I can't say that there's anything wrong with the Spurs re-signing Rudy Gay to this deal. Gay is not nearly the player he once was when he averaged 17 or more points per game in 10 consecutive seasons, given that he's now 32 (as of next month). However, Gay is now a solid player to come off the bench, as he provided the Spurs with a nice scoring option on the second unit last season. This move won't hurt the Spurs in the long term, so I'm willing to give this a B+ grade.
Nuggets re-sign G/F Will Barton (4 years, $54 million): B+ Grade
Will Barton is a solid player who averaged 15.7 points per game this past season. It could be argued that he should've been Sixth Man of the Year. Just 27, Barton shouldn't regress anytime in the near future.
With all of this in mind, I think this is a very fair deal for Barton. The Nuggets were wise to retain him, and they should earn a B+ for this decision.
Nuggets re-sign C Nikola Jokic (5 years, $148 million): A- Grade
I'm hesitant to give anything in the "A" range to non-elite players earning this much money. Nikola Jokic is not an elite player, but it could be argued that he's one of the top five centers in the NBA. If not, he should be one soon. Jokic is just 23, and he has a very bright future ahead of him. He averaged 18.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in 2017-18, and those numbers should be even better next year.
I think this should earn an A- grade. There's definitely nothing wrong with this contract, but I like to give "A" grades to great bargain deals, and this is not a bargain despite it being an important move for Denver.
Timberwolves sign PG Derrick Rose (1 year, $1.4 million): A Grade
This has to warrant an "A" grade, right? How can it not? It offers all upside, as it could help Minnesota take the next step - i.e. not getting swept by Golden State or Houston this year - and there's no downside to it either.
Rose most recently played for Cleveland, where he was a bust. He barely saw the court at the end of his tenure there, and the Cavaliers ended up trading him to the Jazz, who promptly waived him. Rose has been unemployed for about a month now, so he'll be itching to play. He had poor chemistry with the players in Cleveland, but that won't be the case in Minnesota because he used to be teammates with Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson in Chicago. He also played for coach Tom Thibodeau. This level of familiarity will make this much different than most other free-agent signings, as Rose can integrate himself right away and be effective.
Rose should be a solid bench player for the Timberwolves at the bare minimum. He also has the potential to contribute more. Then again, he also certainly has the potential to get injured in two weeks, so there's that.
76ers re-sign C Joel Embiid (5 years, $148 million): C+ Grade
This is obviously a huge risk. Joel Oden, I mean, Embiid, has played in only 31 games in his 3-year career. He has barely been able to stay healthy, and I think it's unreasonable to expect that to change.
I get the feeling that this is going to backfire big time. Embiid is most likely to remain injured, so this contract will be an albatross on Philadelphia's salary cap situation in the next half decade. It'll almost certainly hurt them in the long term.
That said, I can't fully hate this move. I understand it. The 76ers have been terrible for so long that they had to take a chance on Embiid, who has the potential to be the best center in the NBA if he can remain healthy. Philadelphia fans can only cross their fingers and hope that Embiid defies the odds.
Thunder re-sign Russell Westbrook (5 years, $205 million): A Grade
It didn't really matter what the Thunder paid Russell Westbrook. They absolutely had to keep him. Westbrook could've asked for a trillion dollars, three dragons and 12 virgins to sacrifice, and Oklahoma City would've done well giving all of that to him.
The Thunder lost Kevin Durant, so it was crucial that the team would retain the reigning MVP. Had Westbrook left, the Thunder would've become irrelevant. Paul George certainly would've left, and then Oklahoma City would've descended into oblivion.
I have no choice but to give Oklahoma City an "A" for this re-signing. The NBA is all about having superstars, and the Thunder managed to retain its own superstar.
Mavericks re-sign Nerlens Noel (1 year, $4.1 million): A- Grade
Nerlens Noel was reportedly seeking a contract worth about $17 million, but he ended up taking less than a quarter of that. The Mavericks would've been foolish to give Noel that sort of money, so they did well to wait him out and get him on a much cheaper deal.
Noel has talent, but hasn't been able to stay healthy. In four seasons, Noel has missed 135 games, which comes out to 33.75 per year. That's a horrible rate, so Noel needs to prove that he can remain healthy for a change. Perhaps this short-term "prove it" deal will provide the motivation for him to take better care of his body.
This is a nice move by the Mavericks, who deserve a high grade for retaining Noel so cheaply.
Cavaliers sign Derrick Rose (1 year, $2.1 million): A+ Grade
It's a shame how Derrick Rose's career has gone. Just 28, Rose should be playing for max contracts, but his inability to stay healthy has ruined his earning opportunity. Rose, however, is coming off a solid year in which he averaged 18 points and 4.4 assists in 64 games for the Knicks. If he can maintain that level of play and only miss 18 games or so, Cleveland will be thrilled.
The major take-away with Rose signing with the Cavaliers is that it allows Kyrie Irving to be traded without a severe downgrade at point guard. Granted, there will be major problems at the position if Rose gets hurt again, but there will be great potential, especially if Cleveland gets something lucrative for Irving.
The Cavaliers deserve an A+ for this signing. Bringing in Rose to a huge contract would've been a nightmare, but there's no risk with this deal. This is all upside, and Rose's presence will allow Cleveland to continue to be the best team in the Eastern Conference, even if Irving is dealt. Looking further, however, LeBron James and Rose could both move to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers after this season, as both players have been rumored to be headed for that franchise.
Bullets re-sign John Wall (4 years, $170 million): A Grade
This is the same type of grade the Warriors have gotten for Steph Curry and the Rockets obtained for James Harden. I have no choice but to give the Bullets an "A" for re-signing John Wall.
Is this an obscene amount of money? Yes. But the Bullets had to pay Wall, one of the best point guards in the NBA, whatever he wanted. Unlike the NFL, the NBA is a star-driven league, and the Bullets will be a contender for the NBA Finals with Wall once LeBron James moves to Los Angeles. If the Bullets allowed Wall to leave, they'd be irrelevant for a very long time.
Clippers sign Willie Reed (1 year, $1.5 million): B+ Grade
I don't understand the NBA sometimes. There are instances where teams pay backups - especially big men - lots of money. Some make $8 million per year or so. Yet, here the Clippers are, signing a viable No. 2 center for just $1.5 million. Why aren't there more contracts like this for reserves?
Reed won't have a huge impact for the Clippers, barring an injury to DeAndre Jordan. However, this is a quality signing, as Reed can rebound well for 15 minutes or so per night.
Pelicans sign Rajon Rondo (1 year): B+ Grade
It's crazy how far Rajon Rondo has fallen. He was once considered one of the better point guards in the NBA, but now, at just 31, he's taking 1-year deals with sub-par NBA teams.
This signing is a curious one, as the Pelicans already have a starting point guard in Jrue Holiday on the roster. I assume they'll play both Holiday and Rondo together, which could be awkward. At the same time, however, the Pelicans are swinging for the fences by hoping Rondo can revert to pre-Dallas form, and there's not much of a risk because this contract is just for one year.
Magic sign Jonathon Simmons (3 years, $20 million): C Grade
Orlando isn't the most competent organization in the NBA, as its front office tends to make perplexing moves at times. This is a prime example of that, as the Magic just signed a bench player who can't shoot or score to a contract worth nearly $7 million per year.
Jonathon Simmons played well in the postseason, but this seems like an example of where a sub-par player from a winning organization goes to a poor team and predictably struggles. Simmons is a quality defender, but he's not worth this sort of money.