Wizards sign Brandon Jennings for the remainder of the season
Brandon Jennings is one of the most talented sixth men in the league, when healthy, and for many games this season, he was the best point guard for the Knicks, despite them having Derrick Rose making $20 million. The Wizards made a trade to get Bojan Bogdanovic to improve their pathetic bench which I liked - they also got Chris McCullough - but they were very weak at guard after their two star starters and Trey Burke, who is at least mediocre as a second point guard, so there is no doubt that Jennings is an improvement for their bench. He should be able to provide Washington with 15-20 minutes and 10-12 points a game. The Wizards are somehow the third seed in the East, and although they have no chance to win the East, I like the moves they are making to fix their putrit second unit
Bucks sign Terrene Jones for the season
Terrence Jones is a scoring four who can shoot and is an excellent shot-blocker for his size. He is a smart role player who can help the Bucks replace some of what they lost with Jabari Parker, and I can see them re-signing Jones. I really like the fit.
Hawks sign Jose Calderon for the season
I like Jose Calderon, who was signed and cut by the Warriors in two hours, which is incredible, as he is an efficient shooter and distributor who is perfect for any second unit. He will help the Hawks, but if Calderon wanted a ring, he should've picked another franchise. The signing itself I have zero issues with as with these signings, teams are signing rotation players for less than $500 thousand to help them win games, which is normally a win.
Warriors sign Matt Barnes for the season
This is the a very interesting signing. The Warriors signed Calderon, but missing Durant made them desperate for another forward, so they signed three-and-D specialist Matt Barnes. He brings hustle, emotion and energy to the roster, too, but with Draymond Green, I don't know how much more emotion the Warriors need. Personally, I would have kept Calderon, but the Warriors can cut Barnes immediately if there are any problems, so I have no issue with the signing. I would've picked Calderon, which is why the grade is basically average, but Barnes can help.
Thunder Get: Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson and a Second-Round Pick Bulls Get: Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne
As a known biased Bulls fan, I am going to use this to direct my anger at this trade. What the hell, Pax? McDermott and Gibson are literally the two players the Bulls shouldn't have thought about trading - although Robin Lopez and Denzel Valentine should also have stayed. Gibson was the most liked guy in the locker room and Doug McDermott was the team's third-best scorer and best shooter. Also, Gibson should have gotten the Bulls at least a first-round pick, and McDermott although inconsistent, was still their best young player, so I am sure they deserved at least a pick and a starter for them. The Thunder hit a home run, but who did the Bulls get?
I must admit I was a big fan of Cameron Payne, the second-year point guard from Murray State. He was recently one of my favorite NBA prospects, and apparently, people think he can be a starting NBA point guard, and although I am one of them, he's had a crap season. The Bulls, meanwhile, already have young point guards in Michael Carter-Williams and Jerian Grant, who they got in two trades made in the last year. They also have Isaiah Canaan and Rajon Rondo. Also, as Jimmy Butler basically is the point guard, the Bulls don't really need one, and they really don't need 11. I do like the French big Lauvergne as well as he is a solid scorer and shooter, but the Bulls already have a solid stable of bigs and he doesn't give them anything they are missing. Morrow is a shooter he can't shoot this season, so "yay" for him too. The Bulls traded two NBA starters for a guy who could become one and two guys that aren't and traded a pick to make it happen, I just don't get it. I don't care if they weren't going to re-sign Gibson; in fact, not realizing how important Gibson is just as big of a mistake as this trade. I was a John Paxson-Gar Forman supporter for a long time, but with the Jimmy Butler trader rumors - you don't trade one of the 10-best players in the NBA in his prime on a ridiculous steal of a contract - and this trade, I know that the brass don't get what this team should be. At least Chicago still has its franchise player.
This was actually two small trades by Darryl Morey that I decided to break down as a three-team deal, as it's simpler. Desperate to have money to sign players like Andrew Bogut who get cut, the Rockets traded a couple of young guys that they did not need and got themselves almost $4 million to spend. If they don't spend it, then they lost two young players for less than a hotdog, but as they are a championship contender trying to improve. I cannot give them too much grief for this trade.
I actually liked the Lakers' side of this most as they traded a mid-30s reserve point guard for a talented third-year guy who may just need minutes to improve. For a rebuilding team, it doesn't get easier to make a trade, plus Huertas is already a free agent.
The Nets also are winners in this as they had the money to absorb McDaniels' contract, and like I said, I like young teams acquiring assets. In this case, the Nets got themselves a talented forward who has played well in this league. They only have to pay him because they didn't trade anything. I get why all three franchises made this trade.
Grade For Rockets: B
Grade For Lakers: A
Grade For Nets: A-
Hawks Get: Second-Round Pick Suns Get: Mike Scott
With the Hawks trading for Ersan Ilyasova, that meant Mike Scott had no role on the team, and I like them getting some value for him. As for the Suns, I am not a fan of Mike Scott and his character concerns on a very young team, especially since they have talent at forward and don't need him, plus they aren't winning anything this season. I really don't get why the Suns made this trade; yes, they don't have Dragan Bender, but with T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss, Alvin Williams and Jared Dudley, they had no need for another forward. The Hawks are getting an A- and not an A because they are a playoff team losing depth, but they know as well as us that they have no chance to win more than a playoff series this season; depth is important to a playoff team.
Grade For Hawks: A-
Grade For Suns: D
Raptors Get: P.J. Tucker Suns Get: Jared Sullinger
I love this trade for the Raptors. They needed depth at the three after trading Terrence Ross for Serge Ibaka, plus more shooting and defense, and Tucker gives Toronto all three. The Raptors weren't using Jared Sullinger, and the picks are going to be in the 50s, so getting a rental in Tucker to help them try to win the East was smart. As for the rebuilding Suns, getting two picks for a player who they didn't need is a home run too; I don't care what numbers they are.
Grade For Raptors: A
Grade For Suns: A
Cavaliers sign Deron Williams for the season
Deron Williams isn't a star in his 30s, but he is still a strong starting point guard who is an incredible improvement for Cleveland's bench. LeBron James has wanted another point guard, and the Cavaliers didn't just get a nice reserve; they got a guy who can actually help them win a title.
Cavaliers sign Andrew Bogut for the season
This crap is not fair. The Cavaliers got another strong starter for a playoff run - one with a ring and one who knows the Warriors well - which gives them an advantage when they meet for a third time. Bogut is constantly injured, but when healthy, he is one of the best defenders in the NBA. The Cavaliers' second unit in the playoffs is now Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye and Andrew Bogut. Wow.
Nets Get: Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and a First-Round Pick Wizards Get: Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough
This is a relatively simple trade, as the Nets are desperate for picks and the Wizards needed help on the bench; I like this trade for these two franchises. For the Nets, they get a second first-rounder, which helps in their rebuild, although they owe the likely No. 1 pick to the Celtics. Regardless for a player about to be a free agent who they apparently weren't going to re-sign, that's solid value. The one odd part of this trade is that Brooklyn gave one of its young players, Chris McCullough as fodder. I have no clue why the Nets, who are building on mid- to late first-rounders like McCullough, traded him, but they did - I dislike it. As for Nicholson, he is a rotation big man, is young and is on a cheap multi-season contract, so I like him being included. Thornton is already a free agent.
The Wizards had one of the NBA's weakest benches, so getting a shooter and scorer like Bogdanovic for their sixth man is a nice find. Regardless, this in no way makes the Wizards a contender in the conference - I don't care what their record is - so they have to re-sign him or this is a waste of a pick. Lucky for them, he is restricted. If they do sign him and McCullough develops some, this will be a big-time trade. With this trade, Washington's chances of winning a playoff series have increased.
Grade For Nets: B
Grade For Wizards: B+
76ers Get: Tiago Splitter and a Second-Round Pick Hawks Get: Ersan Ilyasova
The 76ers have collected another second-round pick! Really though, that is the trade. The 76ers had a veteran player on an expiring contract who they didn't need, and as he is one of the best shooting power forwards in the NBA and helps a playoff contender, a pick is tossed into the trade for the lottery team. Splitter hasn't played this season and will likely be cut. As for Ilyasova, he gives the Hawks a really nice bench piece; they love shooting, and as the third big man, he will give them 12-15 points a game.
If you see the grades, you may wonder why the team that gets the best player wouldn't get the stronger grade, but the 76ers are rebuilding and get another asset while opening 30 minutes for Dario Saric and Timothe Luwawu, and as Ilyasova was one of their best players, they will be a lesser team, meaning a nicer draft pick. As for the Hawks, yes, they will be the fifth seed in the East, but we all know who they are and they can only win one series in the playoffs at most. If they lose Ilyasova, who will be very expensive, then that second-rounder will be a wasted asset; if not, this would be an A-.
Grade For 76ers: B+
Grade For Hawks: B
Nuggets Get: Roy Hibbert Bucks Get: Second-Round Pick
Hibbert started the week a Hornet, then went to the Bucks and now is in Denver. Regardless, the only reason I am writing about a pick for a reserve trade is that it looks like the Nuggets could be looking at Mason Plumlee, who they just traded a lot of assets to get, as a four, not the five he played in Portland. I gave the Nuggets a lot of grief for that in the Plumlee trade, and so if they make it work, kudos to them. Hibbert isn't the star he was, but he can still defend, and for a team that wants to make the playoffs, a player is a lot nicer than a pick. The Bucks don't need him, so a pick is fine for them.
Grade For Nuggets: B
Grade For Bucks: B
76ers Get: Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and Two Second-Round Picks Mavericks Get: Nerlens Noel
This was a very interesting trade. I love the fit of Nerlens Noel on the Mavericks, as he gives them the young and athletic defender they have wanted at center for years, plus Noel is a stud talent who wasn't used right in Philadelphia. He can be an elite defender and an excellent rebounder who actually puts the ball in the basket more than many players of his ilk. He is a franchise center and looking at what the 76ers traded, there is no doubt they will sign the restricted free agent. I love the fit, as he is perfect with Dirk Nowitzki in the frontcourt, and with Harrison Barnes and Wes Matthews fits the young, athletic mold the Mavericks seem to be building. I love it.
As for the 76ers, with Nerlens a free agent, they were not going to re-sign him. They had to take the best deal given, and this was it. This is technically a first-round pick that becomes two second-round picks if its not one of the first 18 picks, but as that has almost no chance of happening; let's just say it is two second-rounders and stop pretending. Two picks is nice and so is Justin Anderson, a third-year guard/forward and former first-rounder, who is a three-and-D talent and a young guy the 76ers can use. Bogut will be a free agent in a few days.
Grade For 76ers: B
Grade For Mavericks: A-
Bucks Get: Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert Hornets Get: Miles Plumlee
This is an odd trade. Milwaukee just recently re-signed Plumlee to a four-season, $50 million contract he didn't earn and have already traded him. When he plays, he has that value, but he sometimes didn't get minutes for the Bucks, who have a ton of bigs. I get them trading this contract, but they shouldn't have signed him to it. So although I like the decision, they only get a C for a questionable first decision. The Hornets only gave the Bucks' cap relief as there is just $6 million owed to Hawes next season.
The Hornets found themselves a young and athletic big man, which they needed in their front court, which is one of the most mediocre in the NBA. Plumlee can start or give them minutes as a third big man, and if given minutes, this money for a strong big man isn't a big deal, as $50 million means little in today's NBA. I actually like the move for the Hornets as they want to win and he will help them much more than Hibbert and Hawes.
Grade For Bucks: C
Grade For Hornets: B
Magic Get: Terrence Ross and a First-Round Pick Raptors Get: Serge Ibaka
This is an interesting trade. At first, it seems that the Magic are getting fleeced, but Serge Ibaka is a free agent, who they obviously weren't going to sign in the offseason, and they are getting a solid scoring two-three in Ross and a first-round pick for it. Ross has a rather ugly contract, making $11 million a year for a few seasons, but I get why they made the trade. I would have asked the Raptors for Norman Powell or one of their young bigs as well, but again, it makes sense.
The Raptors want to win, and now with Ibaka, they have filled their weakest position. They can be declared the biggest threat to Cleveland in the East and have a much stronger chance to win the conference with Ibaka. I doubt Toronto can afford him in the offseason, as the team has to re-sign Kyle Lowry to a $100 million contract, but I don't care if it is a rental; the Raptors have improved their chances to win a title, and for a team that was one player from saying that, making the trade and only trading a player who can be replaced by talent on the roster and a draft pick is a home run.
Grade For Magic: B
Grade For Raptors: A
Trail Blazers Get: Jusuf Nurkic and a First-Round Pick Nuggets Get: Mason Plumlee and 2018 Second-Round Pick
At face value, this is a swap of a traditional center - Nurkic - for a non-traditional one - Plumlee -, and although Plumlee is the far more valuable player, I get this trade. The Trail Blazers simply couldn't afford Plumlee in the offseason after the brutal contracts given to Crabbe and Turner in July and the $100+ million deals given to Lillard and McCollum. Instead, Portland gets a talented center in the third season of his rookie contract - Nurkic will be a free agent after next season - and a first-round pick. The Trail Blazers are a pathetic defensive team and had no chance to win anything this season despite their elite guard duo, so this is a smart trade. I didn't think they would trade their best big man, but Plumlee is going to get a contract of at least $70 million in the offseason and they don't have the money, plus Nurkic has ridiculous offensive potential. Portland clearly won this trade.
I don't get this trade for the Nuggets. Their best player, Nikola Jokic, is a center, which is why they traded a very talented center in Nurkic who could not play with him. Plumlee can as he is a unique big man, but this trade says to me the Nuggets are going to re-sign him; however, I can't help but ask if they need him. They are asset rich, so the price isn't a big deal; the why gets me. I know Denver wants to build the team with Jokic, Harris and Murray and could, and should, trade veterans Faried, Chandler and Gallinari - three forwards -, so I do not see why the team couldn't have made a deal with the same pieces for a young starting forward. The need doesn't meet the value to me as much as I like Plumlee.
Grade For Trail Blazers: A-
Grade For Nuggets: D
The Lakers hire Magic Johnson as President of Basketball Operations and fire Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak
The Lakers had to find another person or group to start making decisions as Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak - more the former - just could not get the Lakers right, so hiring the best Laker in franchise history who knows the city, the team, basketball as a business, and business itself is the best choice I can think of. Jeanie Buss firing her brother is awkward, but she is in charge of the team; she gave him a timeframe to right the team, and he and Kupchak failed. Thanksgiving may suck for the Buss family for a bit, but this is an excellent day for the Lakers.
Hiring Grade: A
Firing Grade: A+
Mavericks sign Yogi Ferrell to a 2-year, minimum Contract
Any basketball fan who saw the tiny Yogi Ferrell as a Hoosier knew that he was an NBA player, regardless of his height, but he went undrafted. He was signed by the Nets, but he was waived a few weeks ago, and the Mavericks took a chance on him. He was so solid that the Mavericks did what few teams do, signed a player on a 10-day contract to a multi-season contract. He has played well as a starter and a reserve, but he could become one of the best offensive reserves in the league, as he has shown big-time scoring, shooting and distributing talent. Ferrell is also a pesky defender who is playing for a coach who utilizes small players as well as any coach in the league in Rick Carlisle; Ferrell is a keeper. He has already won Dallas a game.
Rockets Get: Lou Williams Lakers Get: Corey Brewer and a 2017 First-Round Pick
The Lakers needed to trade Lou Williams, their veteran sixth man, who is the best in the NBA this season at scoring the ball, as he is just too valuable of a trade chip with his offense and friendly contract; he just wasn't a fit for the rebuilding Lakers. A first-round pick and an expiring contract is fine value, and I say "fine" because a pick in this summer's draft somewhere Nos. 26-28 is basically just an expensive second-round pick. I think the Lakers should have been able to find more. Obviously, I wasn't in the room with Magic Johnson making the trade, but Williams has one of the NBA's best contracts and is averaging almost 19 points a game, and I think if he tried harder, Johnson could have gotten one of Houston's young talents like K.J. McDaniels or at least a second-round pick as well.
Houston is the third- or fourth-best team in the NBA and one of the four teams that can win a title this season - with Cleveland, Golden State and San Antonio. Additionally, the Rockets' offense, which was already one of the best in the league, and their bench, which was one of the most potent in the league, are now improved. Golden State does not want to play Houston I can tell you that. This was an incredible trade by Darryl Morey, who to me is the best GM this season. I don't hate this for the Lakers; I am just skeptical on what they could have gotten.
Grade For Rockets: A
Grade For Lakers: C
Kings Get: Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, First-Round Pick and Second-Round Pick Pelicans Get: DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi
I may have to change my Isiah grades to Divacs, as Vlade Divac is the most comically dumb executive I have seen, but he shouldn't have gotten the job; we all know this, plus their moron owner has far too big of a say in the decisions Divac makes. Regardless, the Kings basically traded their franchise player for a rookie, money, a mid-first round pick and a mid-second round pick.
Buddy Hield has had a mediocre rookie season, but I love his game and I would bet money he becomes an excellent NBA starter, and the Kings' trade does give them a real chance at one of the first five picks in the 2017 NBA Draft as they will win no more than five games the rest of the season, but we are talking about one of the 10 best players in the NBA. I mean this: As a trade, this is the least amount of value for a player I have seen in the seven years I have written about this league.
As for the winners of the trade deadline, the Pelicans now have the two best big men in the NBA, who know one another, who played at the same college for the same coach, and can actually play together. The Pelicans now should get into the eighth seed in the playoffs, but with a little time together and if they add pieces to the roster - they must re-sign Jrue Holiday this offseason - they have a legitimate shot to be a title contender in two years or so. The caveats are that Cousins will be a free agent after next season and there is a risk in trading for a player and not having his word on re-signing, plus Cousins' attitude is erratic. Still, New Orleans made a franchise-altering decision, and it didn't cost much, really just Buddy and a first-round choice. If Cousins walks, so be it. If he causes some locker-room drama, who cares? It's DeMarcus Cousins; you take his crap because he is so damn talented; it's worth the crap if you have talent with him a la Anthony Davis.
Grade For Kings: Isiah On Crack
Grade For Pelicans: A
Pelicans sign Donatas Motiejunas to a 1-year, minimum contract
Donatas Motiejunas signed an offer sheet from Brooklyn, and had it matched by Houston, but instead of $37 million, Motiejunas will be making about $1 million this season. He couldn't agree with the team that drafted him on specifics, so he was told to take a walk. I feel sorry for him, but take your freaking physical, kid. As for the Pelicans, he is a perfect fit with Anthony Davis, as Motiejunas has the ability to shoot, yet also play the five. For the minimum, this is a steal, as his value is the $9 million per season he signed for.
Cleveland Cavaliers Get: Kyle Korver Atlanta Hawks Get: Mike Dunleavy Jr., Mo Williams and a 2019 First-Round Pick
I hate when rivals make trades that help one team become a stronger contender, but the Hawks know they aren't winning anything with their roster, so they are making trades to start to build around Dennis Schroder, their two rookies, their immense cash stock and draft picks. This trade is just about Cleveland getting Kyle Korver, one of the NBA's truly elite shooters and one of the best in history, and the Hawks getting a first-rounder. Mike Dunleavy is likely to be traded again and Mo Williams is retired, so they won't be helping. This is an easy "A" for the Cavaliers, as they have improved and needed a replacement for J.R. Smith. While this is just a rental in the end, the Cavaliers are a stronger team and have improved their odds at another championship. As for the Hawks, although Korver is a free agent and they weren't going to re-sign him, they could have at least gotten a pick and a prospect for Korver, so I don't like this trade. Also ,it was two years ago the Hawks played the Cavaliers for the East Title, so helping them now is just a kick in the gut for Hawks fans and for the Eastern Conference
Grade For Cavaliers: A
Grade For Hawks: D+
Grizzlies sign guard Toney Douglas for one season
The Grizzlies are missing Mike Conley for at least another month and don't have the best depth at guard, although they are getting big play from second-year point guard Andrew Harrison and three-point marksman Troy Daniels. The Grizzlies also have had injury problems with Tony Allen, and first-round pick Wade Baldwin IV isn't playing a big role, so another guard was needed. Mike Conley is one of the best defenders at guard in the NBA, so Memphis signed Douglas for one purpose: defense. I have no problem with a depth signing that helps a need.
Rockets sign forward/center Donatas Motiejunas to a 4-year, $36 million deal
Brooklyn signed injured restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas to this contract, but Houston matched it, which was expected. The problem is that Motiejunas doesn't want to play for the Rockets anymore and didn't go to his physical. Regardless of whether they trade him or keep him, Motiejunas - when healthy - is a consistent big man who is just 26 and is a strong scorer who can shoot, rebound and can play two positions. He isn't exactly needed with Clint Capela, Montrezl Harrell, Ryan Anderson and Nene, but Nene only signed for one season and this contract was just too much of a bargain. Because of the injuries and the fact Motiejunas likely wants to move, I cannot give this contract the A- it deserves, but I do like it.
Jazz re-sign Rudy Gobert to 4-year, $102 million contract
Rudy Gobert is one of the NBA's elite defenders, shot-blockers and rebounders. He is also one of the tallest people in the league and the key to Utah's excellent defense. Gobert was going to get a max contract from some team, so I have no problem with the Jazz giving it to him now. They now have to re-sign Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, but this was a nice start to keeping their excellent trio together. Gobert is the definition of a franchise center, and in today's NBA, this is fair value, but given just how much money the contract is for, it just makes it impossible for me to give it an A. The Jazz were smart to pay him now because they were going to pay him regardless.
Thunder re-sign Steven Adams to 4-year, $100 million deal
Alright, I love Adams' game and his facial hair is epic, but really? I know the Thunder feed on his energy, defense and mustache, but $25 million for a strong starting big man who won't become an all-star just makes no sense. I know they are trying to keep Russell Westbrook pleased by keeping them competitive and Adams is just 23 and improving, but this just isn't his value. $20 million would be fine, but a max? I don't get it. I'd rather have Joakim Noah, and he signed for 70 percent of this. Oklahoma City had to keep Adams, which is why this isn't an Isiah or a D, but I just don't get this.
Thunder re-sign Victor Oladipo re-signs to a 4-year, $84 million contract
This is a Thunder contract I like a lot more. Oladipo is still just 24, is a solid scorer, can play the one and two, can run an offense and is a strong distributor. He could become an elite shooting guard and has the chance to become the second fiddle next to Russell Westbrook. With a big season, Oladipo would have gotten the max from somebody, so this is smart negotiation. Yes, it's more than his value today, but I thought he would get a max, so I actually really like this contract. If he becomes a stronger three-point shooter, he will be an all-star. I'd actually rather have him than Bradley Beal, who just signed for more than $100 million.
Hornets re-sign Cody Zeller to a 4-year, $56 million contract
This is the second-least ridiculous signing of the day, but it may be my least favorite. Zeller is an average NBA rebounder and shot-blocker for a big man, isn't a shooter and is an efficient, but average, at best, scorer. He is athletic, young and has talent, but he hasn't earned $14 million a season and you could get similar results in a big man for half this amount. I really like what the Hornets are doing, but they could have easily signed him next offseason as a restricted free agent; there was no point to do it now and for this much. I'd rather have Tyler Zeller, honestly.
Timberwolves re-sign Gorgui Dieng to 4-year, $64 million contract
This is my favorite of the deadline signings. I didn't expect it, but I love the value. Dieng is a very strong rebounder and defender who fits with Karl-Anthony Towns well in the starting five as Dieng can score at the basket, but also has a decent jump shot, although he isn't a three-point shooter. Dieng may not be a franchise big man, but is an excellent starting center, and for $16 million a season, that is a bargain in today's NBA.
Hawks re-sign Dennis Schroder to a 4-year, $70 million contract
I am not the biggest Dennis Schroder fan. I love his game as a sixth man, as he is wild and plays so hard, but as a franchise point guard? I, for one, wouldn't want him. Regardless, by trading all-star Jeff Teague, the Hawks made Schroder their franchise point guard, and considering they are paying him to be that guy, this is fair value. That is smart too, as Schroder is a free agent in the offseason, and if he has a big season, he could possibly have made as much as $25 million per year starting this summer. I personally wouldn't give this contract, but for what Atlanta is paying for, it's strong value.
Bulls sign R.J. Hunter for one season
I was one of Hunter's biggest fans when he was drafted and thought it was ridiculous that he fell to 29th in the 2014 NBA Draft after an incredible run at Georgia State. He was one of the best shooters in that draft, and I thought Hunter could play as a rookie, but the Celtics had so many guards that finding minutes was too difficult and he was cut after two seasons. The Bulls, who are desperate for shooting are lucky though, because they have found themselves a potential elite bench piece. The problem is, however, that Hunter hasn't shot well in the minutes he has played in the NBA in his two seasons, but minutes for the Bulls could change that. This is Chicago finding another nice young player for the bench.
Chicago Bulls Get: Michael Carter-Williams Milwaukee Bucks Get: Tony Snell
This is a trade of 2013 first-round picks who have one season remaining on their rookie contracts. Michael Carter-Williams to me is an all-star talent who wasn't able to put things together in Milwaukee after having two big seasons with the 76ers. He is a big point guard who defends and is an excellent distributor, but he cannot shoot. Carter-Williams is easily the best player in this trade, but with Rajon Rondo and Jerian Grant, who Chicago is already trying to groom into a starting point guard I just don't see where he fits. With playing time, Carter-Williams would help the Bulls, and I can see them re-signing him, but I just don't see how he can possibly get into their rotation. They didn't need Snell, so this is a win for the Bulls, but I don't think he makes a difference for Milwaukee. He does give the Bucks a solid trade chip though to go with the several they already have. This is a Chicago taking advantage of a team which needed to make a trade for a small forward. The Bulls just keep adding assets.
With starting shooting guard/small forward Khris Middleton injured, the Bucks have been looking for help at the two and three, and Snell is a poor man's Middleton as he is a strong defender and can shoot. So, he can help the Bucks, but they simply could have gotten more from a Carter-Williams trade. Milwaukee should have kept him to start the season so that he could show teams that he is an asset to trade for. The Bucks didn't need him anymore, so getting a player who fits a hole on the roster makes sense, but Snell isn't much of an NBA player, while Carter-Williams is a strong starting talent who just needs to be in the right offense. This was not a smart trade.
Grade For Bulls: B+
Grade For Heat: D+
Cleveland signs J.R. Smith to a 4-year, $57 million contract
If this were another team, it would be an Isiah, simple. Regardless, Smith has asked for $15 million all offseason and the Cavaliers knew that Smith's value was closer to $10 million and wouldn't budge. However, the 76ers hilariously were going to give him a big contract - because what's nicer for a young rebuilding team than giving Smith $15 million -, so the Cavaliers gave it to him. I am no fan of Smith, but he fits the Cavaliers perfectly and helped them win their first title, so I have no problem giving him a fair multi-season contract, but this is too much, by at least $3 million per season. The numbers look big - and they are -, but this is really a 3-year, $45 million contract with a $12 million team option. The Cavaliers have their starting shooting guard again, which is nice as LeBron James loves Smith, and the Cavaliers are really thin at guard, but they paid too much.
Knicks sign Lou Amundson for one season at the minimum
Amundson has been in the NBA for nine years, as he is a strong rebounder and shot-blocker as an 11th man. He spent 29 games with the Knicks a season ago, playing solid ball for them, and although he gives them next to zero on offense, for a fifth big man, I have no problem with Phil Jackson re-signing somebody who has been with the franchise and can play a role.
Knicks sign Marshall Plumlee to a minimum rookie contract with one season guaranteed
I have decided to write about the undrafted free agents who have signed, and I will start with my favorite: The third Plumlee center from Duke in a less than five years. Marshall Plumlee isn't as skilled as the eldest brother Mason - starter for Portland - or the physical and athletic monster of the middle brother Miles - reserve for Milwaukee -, but I am a big fan of Marshall Plumlee. He is a 7-footer with size and athleticism who is also a strong defender and rebounder, as well as being of incredible character. I considered him a first-round prospect, and I could see him becoming the second center for the Knicks this season. Them giving him a guaranteed contract shows they must love his talent, as they could have just signed him to a camp contract this offseason.
Bucks re-sign Giannis Antetokounmpo for four seasons, $100 million
Although still raw, Giannis Antetokounmpo is Milwaukee's franchise player and an incredible talent who can play four positions on offense and arguably five on defense. He is an athletic marvel, who can play the point on offense and then guard a big man. He is a strong scorer, distributor and an excellent defender and rebounder, who is a daily triple-double threat. If he can become a league-average shooter, he will be one of the 10-best players in the league. This is actually a five-season contract, as Antetokounmpo still has one more season on his rookie contract, and so this contract will actually look like a bargain in a year. Oh, he's just 21 too. I love this signing, as Antetokounmpo could have made a lot more next season and I just love his talents.
Pelicans sign Lance Stephenson to a 1-year, minimum contract
I thought Stephenson would re-sign with the Grizzlies because he played strong basketball for them in the second half of the season and he fits their physical culture on the court. But as they didn't, I have to assume he wasn't a fit in the locker room, which is a big deal as he hasn't really fit in any locker room since Indiana; I'm not sure if he actually fit there. Stephenson is a versatile player, but he doesn't fit the Pelicans, as he is too similar to Tyreke Evans and as they are basically re-building. I don't like the fit in the locker room.
Grade: D- Raptors extend GM/President Masai Ujiri
Ujiri isn't the elite basketball mind that some call him, as he is a very poor drafter, but he makes strong personal choices and has the Raptors the best they have been as a franchise, so I have to call this a smart choice for the Raptors. He has built an excellent team, but Toronto is still one player from being a contender.
Thunder sign Ronnie Price to a 2-season, $5 million deal
I honestly think it's miracle that Price is still in the NBA, as he has been a fringe player for years and his numbers are pathetic, but teams seem to like him in a reserve role. As the likely third point guard to Russell Westbrook and second-year sixth man Cameron Payne, Price won't play much, but if Payne has trouble he can give the Thunder 15 minutes. Regardless, a dime more than the minimum for him is too much to me.
Kings sign Ty Lawson to a 1-season, likely minimum contract
Ty Lawson was a star recently, but legal trouble and playing for multiple teams have ruined his career, for now. Regardless, he showed in Indiana at the least he can be a solid reserve and he isn't ancient, so he could become a starter again. But Sacramento is a cesspool, and I don't think having Lawson in that locker room is the right choice for this tean. This is an A- signing and an F situation for the Kings.
Bucks re-sign Steve Novak to a 1-season, likely minimum contract
Steve Novak is one of the NBA's best shooters, but that's about it. Regardless, for a young team, getting a strong veteran for the locker room and a player with one big skill is normally a win.
Lakers sign Yi Jianlian to a 1-season, $8 million contract
Yi was the sixth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, but in five NBA seasons, was crap. He matured in China, however, becoming the best Chinese player in the world and now comes to the NBA as an excellent offensive big man who could play a shooting big man role for the Lakers. At 28, this could be a nice signing, and Jianlian could help the Lakers for years, but there is debate about his age as many think he is in his 30s - he says he is 28. Regardless, I love this deal, as there is so much potential and the already incredibly popular Lakers will make some more fans now in China - they loved Kobe Bryant.
Bucks sign Jason Terry to a 1-season, likely minimum contract
Jason Terry should have signed with a contender, but I don't think he could find one. Regardless, this is a nice signing, as the Bucks are so young and he is an excellent veteran. I don't know how much Terry will play, if at all, but if the Bucks signed him to be a locker-room guy and not a player, than this is fine by me.
Pacers sign center Kevin Seraphin to a 2-season, $3.6 million deal
This is a steal of a contract. Indiana needed a defensive big man and have found a young guy with potential who has played well in this league. He can score efficiently, rebound and is an excellent shot-blocker, who, at just 26, could have signed for triple this amount.
Cavaliers re-sign James Jones to a 1-season, veteran-minimum contract
Jones is one of LeBron James' best friends, so I knew this was going to happen; it was just about when. Jones is one of the league's best shooters, but that's basically it. Regardless, it's a minimum signing for a 12th man.
Clippers sign Alan Anderson to a 1-season, veteran-minimum contract
I like this move. Anderson can really score the ball, but he's not the most efficient player; however, I seem him giving the Clippers solid numbers as he is going to have a lot of easy shots playing with three stars in Los Angeles. He is a nice piece at the 2-3 for the club's bench, and I like this signing.
Cavaliers sign LeBron James a 3-season, $100 million deal
When a team signs the best player in the NBA, no matter the circumstance, it is an A+. This is really just a 2-season, $64 million contract as James has an option he is going to use in Year 3 to sign what could be his last contract. We knew this was going to happen, and we know his talent, so no more needs to be said about this grade.
Thunder sign Álex Abrines to a 3-season, $18 million contract
What a move by Oklahoma City, signing Abrines, who is one of the best European prospects and on the Spanish Olympic Team. This is just another move to get the young Thunder more talent. The shooting guard has played for one of the best teams in the world since he was a teenager, and this is a steal of a contract. This is like getting a second lottery pick; I think he is going to be a stud scorer.
Thunder re-sign Russell Westbrook to a 3-season, $85 million deal
The season's biggest mystery now is solved, Westbrook will be with the Thunder for at least two more years. This contract starts this season - he had one more on his deal - and the third season is an option, meaning that this is a 2-year contract, as after he can get the 10-season max contract; he will likely sign the biggest contact the NBA has seen then. The money isn't a factor as his value to the Thunder cannot possibly have a number and they remain a player in this league; at least for now. I don't think he would sign this contract if he didn't want to stay in Oklahoma City for his career, but it could just be a middle finger to Kevin Durant- joke.
Oklahoma City won't care though because the franchise now has the man who will have one of the best season's in history next season, signed. I have talked about a team where he was the best player for years with friends and as I said on Facebook the other day, he has to be the MVP favorite. I can see him averaging 30+ points, 7-9 rebounds and 10-12 assists a game. I honestly thought he was going to be a Celtic by midseason, but wow, nice job, Sam Presti. He is one of the best GMs in the game.
Trail Blazers re-sign Moe Harkless to 4-season, $42 million deal
Harkless just had his best season, is a strong defender and can score, but shooting was his weakness. However, that changed as in 2015 he shot 34 percent from three and started all 11 games in the playoffs for the Trail Blazers. You have to think he will just continue to improve; he's had the talent and he seems to a developing three-and-d stud. Harkless could have gotten a lot more as a restricted free agent, so I don't mind this contract. I don't love it, but I love that the Trail Blazers have re-signed all their young talent.
Cavaliers gives Ty Lue a 5-year, $35 million extension
Some people had no clue, but the Cavaliers actually didn't have a coach all offseason, as Lue did not sign his contract during the season. Remember, the team fired David Blatt and promoted Lue a few months into the season. Lue did agree to a 3-season, $9 million contract when promoted, but he didn't actually sign it; lucky for him, because winning a title changes things and the Cavaliers have now made him one of the most expensive coaches in the league. Let's be honest, Lue isn't one of the elite NBA coaches, but LeBron James obviously loves him, and that's what it takes to be James' coach. Since money doesn't matter with coach and GM contracts, I'll give this an A because it looks like Lue will be James' coach a long time and will improve as a coach as well.
Heat sign Dion Waiters to a 2-season, $6.2 million contract (Player Option)
I am no fan of Dion Waiters. He is a strong shot creator and ball handler, but he isn't a distributor and doesn't score half as well as he should. He is also a small two guard with an ego and hasn't developed. Waiters does has a ton of talent though, and Miami needed some youth and talent at guard, so I don't mind this for so little. This could become a big steal if he plays to his talent. I assumed some team would give him at least $12 million a season, so this already is a market steal.
Trail Blazers re-sign C.J. McCollum to a 4-season, $106 million contract
McCollum isn't a free agent for another year and this is a ridiculous amount of money, but he was going to get a max contract, so Portland is just being smart and doing this now. He had a mediocre first two seasons, but during his first season as a starter, he was incredible. McCollum showed that he is one of the NBA's best scorers and shooters along with having the ability to run the offense. With Damian Lillard, he forms one of the best guard duos in the league, and that focus is how the Trail Blazers are building ther roster; now, they now have both signed for the next five years. I am not a fan of Portland's offseason, but I like this choice.
Warriors re-sign Anderson Varejao to a 1-season, minimum deal
The Warriors don't have money, but they continue to sign role players for their bench for cheap, and this is another strong signing. Varejao is a defender and rebounder who works his butt of on the court, so although he is aging, he is still a viable role player, and as the second center playing 10-15 minutes, he will give his all to the Warriors.
Bucks re-sign Miles Plumlee to a 4-season, $52 million contract
What the hell? Plumlee isn't a starter and just played 14.3 minutes a game for the Bucks, but they re-signed him for $52 million. I have no idea who they were bidding against for the restricted free agent, but this contract makes little sense to me. The Bucks like to play one big at a time, and Plumlee was third in the rotation and could lose minutes to rookie Thon Maker. Plumlee's per-minute numbers say he deserves to get paid, and he had one excellent season as a starter for the Suns, but his value to the Bucks is not $13 million per season; his value to no team is $13 million per season. If the Bucks do trade Greg Monroe, their starting center, this contract will look less porous, but right now, this contract is ridiculous. I gave it an Isiah at first, but looking at the numbers and considering his big Phoenix season, I don't hate this contract; I just don't get it.