NBA Free Agent Signing Grades

David Kay’s Free Agent Signing Grades

Recent NBA Free Agent Signing Grades
By Mike Elworth. Follow Mike @MikeElworth24. For site updates follow @walterfootball.

Sacramento Kings fire coach George Karl

The Kings fired George Karl in a move that was expected. He is an excellent NBA coach and a Hall of Famer, but he is just another coach who couldn’t work with DeMarcus Cousins, and it’s basically Sacramento haveing to choose between its franchise player and its coach. The Kings are a joke and have had numerous coaches since drafting Cousins, but their owner has no clue what he is doing and their GM is Vlade Divac, who doesn’t know what a GM is actually expected to do. I wanted to give this an F, but Cousins is one of the best players in the NBA, and we know they are keeping him, so they might as well have a coach he likes.

Grade: C+

Cavaliers sign Dahntay Jones for two seasons

The Cavaliers had a spot on the roster to sign somebody for the team’s quest for a title, and they have signed shooting guard Dahntay Jones. He has a team option for next season, but this is about getting a solid shooter and defender who can help them on the court and may actually play as they have injuries at guard. The contract is for $2.3 million if Jones is on the roster next season and although signing him is a very small move, I like the Eastern Conference Title favorites adding another solid role player.

Grade: A

Washington Wizards fire coach Randy Wittman

Randy Wittman had his job a few seasons too long, as it was well-known he wasn’t much of an NBA head coach, but the Wizards were doing well, so they kept him. With them missing the playoffs, their one reward was being able to fire Wittman. They did have injury issues this season, but this team should have made it. Regardless, they can now find a coach to get the most from their excellent young roster, and although they won’t be signing Kevin Durant – yes, Brandon I am talking to you, man-, they can at least hire a strong coach. If I were Washington, I would go for George Karl or Mark Jackson.

Grade: A

Memphis Grizzlies sign guard Ray McCallum

Ray McCallum is one of the best NBA players you probably haven’t heard of. Yes, the Spurs just cut him, but they were signing Kevin Martin, a 20-point scorer to do so, so it wasn’t because McCallum wasn’t doing his job. McCallum is productive when he actually plays with per-36-minute averages in the NBA of 12 points, four rebounds and four assists, and in his rookie season, he had an incredible run as Sacramento’s starting point guard when Isaiah Thomas was injured. The Grizzlies are getting a baller point guard, and they need one as with Mario Chalmers missing the season and starting point guard Mike Conley missing the next month. Memphis has signed one who can start and help the team win games to keep it in the fifth seed. Excellent job by the Grizzlies staff.

Grade: A

Spurs sign guard Kevin Martin

The Timberwolves just agreed to buy Kevin Martin’s contract and Martin will join Andre Miller as the second of Minnesota’s players who signs with the Spurs this week. San Antonio is one of the two best teams in the NBA, my pick to win the title and has just signed a 20-point scorer off the scrap heap. Normally, this would be an A+, but Martin hasn’t had much of a season, missing 20 or so games, and he’s played less than mediocre when on the floor. He will help on offense and gives the Spurs more shooting, but Martin is a pathetic NBA defender and the Spurs are the best defensive team in the league, so if I’m Gregg Popovich I see little reason to give him the minutes of any player who has played for him this season. Yes, Martin helps the Spurs on paper, but I don’t see why they signed him.

Grade: B-

Thunder sign center Nazr Muhammad

Nazr Muhammad is ancient, and I assumed he had retired as he wasn’t on a team all season. However, now he has a chance to win another championship – won with the Spurs -, as he was signed to be the sixth big man on the NBA’s fourth-best team – I only see one of four teams winning a title. He provides defense and toughness, but he is mostly there for his character in the locker room, which the Thunder need. I wrote on twitter – click my link; 126 is pathetic – yesterday that what the Thunder are missing is role players, meaning they just don’t have what Cleveland, Golden State and San Antonio have on their benches, and although he won’t fix Oklahoma City on the court, I like that the team is improving the locker room, which isn’t the best in the NBA. The Warriors and Spurs are near perfect in that regard, while the Thunder have to improve there.

Grade: B

Pacers sign guard Ty Lawson

When Ty Lawson was in rehab this offseason, Houston traded for him in what was thought of as a steal as the Nuggets just wanted to get rid of the man who was their franchise player. Well, the Nuggets won that trade as Lawson was cut by the Rockets after basically a half season. The man who was expected to make the Rockets a stronger contender is now with Indiana, but I have one question; why? The Pacers are a solid Eastern Conference Playoff team with excellent chemistry, defense and guards, but they don’t need Lawson on the court. At best, he won’t hurt them in the locker room. The Pacers aren’t contenders and Ty Lawson isn’t making them one, they know this, so Larry Bird, what the hell man?

Grade: Isiah – the NBA Millen

Rockets sign guard Andrew Goudelock

This is an interesting move. Goudelock played one season with the Lakers, another in the D-League and has been playing international ball for three years now; however, I like this signing. He is a ridiculously talented shooter and scorer, but he has point guard size and isn’t a point guard. Goudelock is kind of just a bigger Jimmer Fredette. I don’t know if Goudelock is going to be in the rotation or play a single minute, but I like his potential and he could help them.

Grade: B+

Rockets sign forward Michael Beasley

I don’t know what the hell is going on with this team. Less than a year ago, the Rockets were a few games from winning the West, then they signed Ty Lawson in rehab, fired their coach in Week 3 of the season, traded for Josh Smith, tried to deal Dwight Howard, cut Lawson and are now signing Michael freaking Beasley. This team has no chemistry, is a joke, and is now signing a guy, who although he is an elite talent, wasn’t in the NBA all year.

Still, Beasley has averaged all-star numbers per minute in the NBA, is just 27 and this team is screwed this season regardless, so although it is an odd move, I kind of like this. I just don’t have any clue what Houston is doing this season.

Grade: B-

Hawks sign power forward Kris Humphries

The Atlanta Hawks will sign former Kardashian Kris Humphries for the season. Humphries was traded from the Wizards to the Suns in the Markieff Morris trade and was then cut by Phoenix, so he will be on his third team in a couple of weeks. Humphries is actually a strong NBA player – an elite rebounder and a solid scorer who can shoot – but he doesn’t fit this team. This is the Hawks trying to find another big after losing Tiago Splitter for the season, but they will need him to play center, which he can’t. They want defense from their fives and he simply cannot defend. Humphries is another shooting big man for Atlanta, but the team has four already, so he isn’t needed him. He’s solid, but if the Hawks wanted another big, they should have found a true center.

Grade: C

Spurs sign point guard Andre Miller

Andre Miller is 39, but he is still a solid second point guard, and for the Spurs, gives them an excellent fifth guard with size, experience and elite play-making ability. He won’t play much, but he will give San Antonio another veteran for its locker room and will help when given minutes. A contender has gotten stronger, and as the Spurs are one of the four NBA contenders, this is an excellent signing. I don’t love that they cut Ray McCallum to sign him, as they don’t have much young talent on this team, but it makes a contender stronger this season, which is all that matters for this franchise.

Grade: A

Wizards sign power forward J.J. Hickson

The Wizards traded for Markieff Morris, but they still had poor depth in the frontcourt that Hickson will help. Hickson can play the four and five, and with Morris, Marcin Gortat and Nene, Washington has a nice four-man big rotation. Hickson is a solid scorer and a strong rebounding big who really helps the Wizards’ rotation, which is now actually pretty solid in. They are in a 10-team fight for the playoffs in the East, and although they are 10th, I think they will make it and Hickson will play a role in that. A number of teams should have gone after Hickson, but I love it for the Wizards, who must make the playoffs.

Grade: A

Nets hire Sean Marks as GM

I don’t know much about Sean Marks, but he is a Spurs guy who is now the GM of a rebuilding team, which normally works. The Spurs are the best-run team in professional sports, and Marks will bring the Spurs’ style to Brooklyn. As the team has few assets and no picks, the Nets need somebody smart to rebuild with, and I think they hired the right executive for their team. This is the best move the franchise has made since, well, moving.

Grade: A

Knicks will sign Jimmer Fredette to a 10-day contract

The Knicks won’t be making the playoffs this season, and although some think this is a move just to give people a guy to talk about, Jimmer Fredette is much more than just a celebrity, he is perfect for the Knicks. Playing the Triangle Offense, you need shooting and ball movement, which are the two parts of the game where he thrives. The best player in the D-League, and one of the best NCAA athletes in history, Fredette fits the Knicks, and he could prove himself to be a player for them going into next season. Fredette won’t be elite, but he can be an excellent NBA role player. Smart.

Grade: A+

Warriors sign center Anderson Varejao

The Cavaliers traded Varejao for Channing Frye at the deadline, and the veteran center was cut immediately. However, the Warriors, Spurs and I am guessing most playoff teams wanted to sign Varejao, as he is a veteran rebounder, defender and an excellent teammate, but the champion Warriors have signed him (or will in the next few days) for the season. They have cut Jason Thompson to do so, but with Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, their elite center duo, struggling with injuries, Varejao is a perfect guy to have on the bench to give them 10 minutes a game and play big minutes if Bogut and Ezeli are hurt. The champions, who have lost just five games, are now stronger, it isn’t fair.

Grade: A+

Mavericks sign David Lee

David Lee was cut by the Celtics after they couldn’t trade him, and so the former two-time all-star has signed with the Mavericks for the season. It is an interesting choice for him, as the Mavericks aren’t contenders, but he wants minutes, and he can help the Mavericks, who will likely be the fifth seed in the West Playoffs. I actually love the fit as Lee is an excellent veteran player who scores, rebounds and distributes; however, he is a pathetic defender, so I don’t know how much he can play with Dirk Nowitzki or in small-ball units. Regardless, for 20 minutes a game, he could give the Mavericks nine points and nine rebounds a gamem and he makes them a stronger team. This was a smart signing by one of the smartest franchises.

Grade: A+

Bucks – will – sign forward Steve Novak

Novak was traded to the Nuggets from the Thunder and was cut by Denver this week. Normally, this means a role player – Novak is one of the league’s best shooters – will go to a contender or somewhere to find minutes, but he is signing with the Bucks, who don’t need him and aren’t making the playoffs. Yes, he went Marquette, but for half a season of being close to home (from Chicago area) and his college, why? I don’t get it, but I don’t hate the move for the Bucks, who are young and only one of their starters – Khris Middleton – is a shooter. However, they do have a lot of shooting on the bench, and if I was running the team, I would use Novak’s spot on the team to get somebody from the D-League. There is real talent there right now who could become a part of this team for more than just the next 30 games. Regardless, this is fine for the Bucks.

Grade: B-

Los Angeles gets: Jeff Green
Memphis gets: Lance Stephenson and a 2019 first-round pick

I said the Grizzlies would make more trades, and I was right, as they dealt another veteran for an asset. With their franchise player Marc Gasol injured, they are trying to get assets in a season where they will not win anything in the playoffs, which is smart in theory. However, it’s crap. Yes, they got a first-round pick, but that selection (which is in three years) and Lance freaking Stephenson is not fair value for Jeff Green. I would rather have the pick and a hot dog. As for Green, he is an excellent scorer, a solid rebounder, a terrific athlete, plays the three and four and is arguably the best player traded today.

This was the biggest trade of the day, and the Clippers nailed it. I love that they are trying for a title and that they kept Blake Griffin (it would have been a franchise-level mistake to trade one of the league’s 10 best players who is just 27). As for the Grizzlies, Lance Stephenson has been one of the most useless players in the league since signing with Charlotte two offseasons ago. He has an attitude and well, he sucks. He is an incredible talent who just doesn’t get how to help a team, and as this is his fourth squad in three seasons. I know Memphis wanted a first for Green, but if I were them, I would have kept him and tried my hardest to make the playoffs. Their chances went 90-10 to 50-50. I love this trade for the Clippers and hate it for the Grizzlies.

Grade For Clippers: A
Grade For Grizzlies: F

Trail Blazers get: Brian Roberts and second-round pick
Heat Get: Money

With this trade, the Blazers took a contract, as they had cap room and needed to hit the minimum salary. They also got a pick and a solid reserve guard in return. A nice trade. The Heat were able to get themselves into the green and won’t be a tax team, which is big for them, as it took three deals for them to get there. A simple trade, but these two franchises did well.

Grade For Trail Blazers: A
Grade For Heat: A

Pelicans get: Jarnell Stokes and cash
Heat get: Second-round pick

I am a big fan of Stokes. He was a monster in college as a scorer and rebounder, and I thought he was one of the 20 best prospects in the 2014 NBA Draft. He has been traded twice already though, from the Grizzlies, to the Heat and now to the Pelicans. However, the 35th pick in said draft may have found a home. He has only played about 60 minutes in his 1.5 NBA seasons, but with a lot of playing time in the D-League, he has been the same monster he was in college. He just needs minutes, and the Pelicans can give them to him. This is a smart trade by the Pelicans, basically getting a first-round talent rookie. As for the Heat, it cuts the luxury tax more (they actually don’t have any after their third deal), but I really think they should have kept Stokes. They don’t have much youth, and cheap talent with potential has a lot of value.

Grade For Pelicans: A
Grade For Heat: C

76ers get: Second-round pick and Joel Anthony
Rockets get: Nothing

This is the 76ers again taking on salary (about $4 million this season and next season) for a second-round pick. Philly is basically the third franchise in the Detroit-Houston Donatas Motiejunas-Marcus Thornton trade. I like it for the Rockets, as they want to be spenders in free agency and get $2.5 million more to spend next offseason. However, I am sick of Philly doing this; it doesn’t hurt them, but it’s just boring and shows they really aren’t changing, which is sickening. They are like that friend who has a hot girl come to him as a shoulder to cry although he is in love with her and has to hear about all her guy problems. That’s what Philly is. They are the shoulder for teams to cry on.

Grade For 76ers: F
Grade For Rockets: A

Suns get: First round pick, Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair
Wizards get: Markieff Morris

I love this trade for the Suns, basically because Markieff Morris is a douchebag who just went at his own teammate, has wanted a trade for a year, and has acted like an idiot. Yet, the Suns still got value for him! A first-round pick and two role-player big men with small, fair contracts is excellent value. I didn’t think they could get half that. They are also now a lesser team, which will help them get a stronger pick, as they are one of the 3-4 weakest NBA teams.

Morris may be a douche, but he is a talented douche who should really help the Wizards. They were desperate for frontcourt help, and he can start for them at the four and give them strong scoring and rebounding. Although the Wizards did trade value, this deal fills their biggest need and will help them make the playoffs. Morris has an excellent contract at just $8 million per season. He needed to be on another team and start fresh, and if he acts like a professional, this will be a steal for this franchise.

Grade For Suns: A
Grade For Wizards: A

Hawks get: Kirk Hinrich
Bulls get: Second-Round Pick

As the Bulls see themselves as contenders in the East by not trading Taj Gibson or Pau Gasol, I don’t know why they decided to deal Kirk Hinrich when their depth is poor. However, with E’Twaun Moore becoming a key part of the rotation, they didn’t really need Hinrich. They are also helped financially, and they get a pick, so it’s a solid trade. As for the Hawks, they traded Shelvin Mack, their third point guard, for a second-round pick this morning, so I don’t know why they traded for a lesser point guard for a second-round pick later on. That makes no sense to me.

Grade For Hawks: D+
Grade For Bulls: B

Nuggets get: Steve Novak, D.J. Augustin and two second-round picks
Thunder get: Randy Foye

This is a solid trade for these two franchises. For the Nuggets, they are trading a veteran role player for $6 million in expiring contracts and two second-round picks, which is incredibly wise for a rebuilding franchise. As for the Thunder, they need to win now to keep Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and this makes one of the NBA’s five true contenders a stronger team. Foye has had a poor season, but he is a strong scoring and shooting combo guard who will bolster their excellent bench. I have no problem with a contender trading little assets to try and win a title.

Grade For Cavaliers: A+
Grade For Trail Blazers: A+

Cavaliers get: Channing Frye
Trail Blazers get: Anderson Varejao and a 2018 first-round pick
Magic get: Jared Cunningham and a second-round pick

This is a big win for these three franchises. I love it. The Cavaliers stole Channing Frye from the selling Magic for two players who were not in the rotation, and Frye makes the East’s best team much stronger. He is an elite stretch four – something they didn’t have – and he also rebounds, which is nice for them. He also has an excellent contract, where they will be paying him basically $8 million per year for three seasons. They also get money in this trade, as they cut $10 million from their tax bill.

The Trail Blazers had a ton of cap, so they were able to trade for Anderson Varejeo’s contract. When a team takes a big contract as part of a trade, they are rewarded for it. Their reward is a first-round pick. They will cut Varejao, but this was an incredibly wise trade by them.

The Magic are sellers, as they have a lot of cap coming in the offseason. As they have traded Frye and his $8 million contract, they will have about $45 million to spend this summer, making them one of the biggest players in free agency. As an added bonus, they also get another pick. They will cut Cunningham.

Grade For Cavaliers: A+
Grade For Trail Blazers: A+
Grade For Magic: A+

Jazz get: Shelvin Mack
Hawks get: 2nd Round Pick

This is a win-win trade for these two teams. Utah was desperate for a point guard with Dante Exum injured and Trey Burke and Raul Neto mediocre. Although Mack isn’t a starting NBA point guard, he might just be the best they have. Per minute, he a strong scorer, although inefficient, but a solid distributor who has played well with big minutes. They were considering trading Burke for Ty Lawson, but I like this trade a lot more, as they are filling a big need for just a 2nd round pick. For the Hawks, they had no need for Mack, who was their third point guard, and they are getting a pick and $2.5 million in cap this offseason. This is a simple grade.

Grade For Jazz: A
Grade For Hawks: A

Pistons get: Marcus Thornton and Donatas Motiejunas
Rockets get: Joel Anthony and a protected 1st Round Pick:

This is a very interesting trade to me. I love that Detroit is trying to improve its mediocre depth, but I didn’t expect Houston to be sellers, although it makes sense, as they aren’t winning much this season. However, I really like this trade for these two franchises.

The Pistons are losing a pick, but their depth was porous and they now have two solid role players on the bench who fit. Marcus Thornton becomes the scoring guard they needed after their Brandon Jennings trade and Donatas Motiejunas is a stretch four, which is vital to the Detroit offense and as they traded Ersan Ilyasova for Tobias Harris. This also helps replace one of the players they have traded. They wanted to improve, and they did. I won’t fault them for that; I actually really like who they got. I don’t like how the two players are free agents, as a first-round pick is valuable, but the Pistons want to be a playoff team and this should keep them there.

As for Houston, the team is getting a first-round pick this offseason, which should be in the teens for two role players with expiring contracts, so the value is excellent. I doubt Joel Anthony plays though. Darryl Morey is one of the best general managers in the NBA, and that pick will help them make more deals, so I love this trade for this team.

Grade For Pistons: A-
Grade For Rockets: A

Three-way Trade among Memphis, Charlotte and Miami for Players and Picks

Grizzlies Receive: Chris Andersen, P.J. Hairston and four second-round picks
Hornets Receive: Courtney Lee
Heat Receive: Brian Roberts

There is so much to this deal it hurts my head, but to make it simple, Memphis must know that Marc Gasol will miss the season as this is a classic seller’s move that says to the league that they will make more; the Heat wanted to shed luxury tax and find a point guard; and the Hornets wanted to find somebody to replace Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

I will start with the Grizzlies, as it’s simplest. The Grizzlies have lost Marc Gasol, and although they can make the playoffs, they are starting to trade veterans for assets as they are now incredibly mediocre. P.J. Hairston is a recent first-round pick, although somewhat of a problem, but talent is talent; regardless, this is all about the four picks. I like Chris Andersen, who brings some size and is a physical-Memphis-like player, but you think the team could have gotten more for Lee, at least a first-rounder.

As the Hornets lost Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the season, a starter at the three, they traded for three-and-D specialist Courtney Lee, who will help them try for the playoffs. He gives them a lot more shooting than Kidd-Gilchrist, but they will miss his versatility, rebounding, size and defense, but for their third point guard, a young player they didn’t want and two second-round picks, it’s not a poor trade. However, I don’t like it, as the Hornets aren’t winning a playoff series if they do make it, which I don’t think they will, and it seems a lot to trade for a half-season rental who isn’t actually a small forward (Lee is a 6-foot-5 two). I know why Charlotte made it, but I don’t like it.

The Heat made this trade for two reasons, to cut their luxury tax, which they did by trading Andersen and for help at guard. Their tax is now almost half, and they were actually improved as a team with Brian Roberts. Having traded Mario Chalmers and Shabazz Napier, Miami was already hurting for depth at guard, and with Tyler Johnson injured, the club had to find a guard, and Roberts is an efficient and strong scorer with some point guard talent, who will help them more than Andersen was. I think the Heat are the winners of this trade.

Grade For Grizzlies: B-
Grade For Hornets: D+

Grade For Heat: A

Tobias Harris To Detroit

Pistons get: Tobias Harris
Magic get: Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings

A lot of people are giving the Pistons a lot of credit for this trade, which they should, but this isn’t the steal people are saying. Yes, Detroit won the trade, but this helps Orlando as well.

As for the Pistons, they get the go-to-perimeter scorer they needed in a starting small forward who can also play the four, which is big, as Stan Van Gundy loves to have versatile players. Detroit was starting Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova at the forward spots, but they are actually two stretch fours, so now this team has a much stronger starting five. The Pistons are losing depth, which was already a problem, but they have filled their biggest need.

Harris isn’t an excellent shooter, but he makes one a game and is an efficient scorer and an elite rebounding forward. They also have him locked into a four-season contract, and although it is $16 million per season, for a third scoring option, that is fine.

A starting five of Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Harris, Marcus Morris and Andre Drummond is young and excellent, and this also helps Detroit’s playoff chances. The club’s core of Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson and Harris is young and excellent, and when the front office re-signs Drummond this offseason, they will all be locked into contracts.

As for the Magic, I get why they are making this trade. They just drafted an elite small forard prospect in Mario Hezonja, and with Jennings a free agent and Ersan Ilyasova only having one more season, they will have $7 million more to play with this summer and another $7 million in two summers. Orlando also has so much young talent with Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon and Hezonja, so this is just losing an expendable, although talented, player from the roster with a big contract. It makes sense to me. The Magic just have to make sure they aren’t using this money on lesser players this offseason, which would hurt the grade to me.

Grade For Pistons: A
Grade For Magic: B

Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

I thought Derek Fisher was having an excellent season, as the Knicks went from pathetic to fighting for the No. 8 seed, although they are mediocre. I loved his rotations, how he handled Carmelo Anthony, developed Kristaps Porzingis, and how he mixed veteran and young players. I think Fisher was doing a hell of a job.

Regardless, of how well he did for the Knicks this season, a five-game losing streak isn’t why he was fired. Phil Jackson isn’t that impatient or dumb; Fisher was fired because the coaching market is suddenly incredible with former Jackson player Luke Walton the most prized coaching free agent I can remember and with Tom Thibodeau; he is apparently drooling for this job. This is why New York made the change, to be able to get a coach who is superior to what Derek Fisher is now.

The only problem is that Jackson has a tough choice: Hire Tom Thibdodeau now, or try for Luke Walton after the season, as he is staying on Steve Kerr’s staff for the season. I think it’s simple: hire Tom Thibodeau now. Yes, I understand how appealing Luke Walton is, but he was coaching with a Warriors team that is so talented it could coach itself.

So why Thibdodeau? He’s one of the best coaches in the league, will have the Knicks winning, will have them playing elite defense, knows Carmelo Anthony from being a Team USA assistant coach and knows how to work with superstars and their egos, as he dealt with Derrick Rose and his crap for years. This was odd timing, but it makes perfect sense. The Knicks know they aren’t winning a title this season, so they are making a move for tomorrow, and that takes guts. This is a win for Jackson.

Grade: A

Suns fire Jeff Hornacek

The Suns are porous, but they are missing their best player for the season (Eric Bledsoe). Regardless with the roster’s talent, Phoenix should still be playing .500 basketball and not looking like one of the weakest teams in the NBA. Therefore, I get why the Suns fired Jeff Hornacek, as they are pathetic right now, but I wouldn’t have fired him. We all know this team was built on their two-point guard system of Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, who were averaging about 40 points and 10 assists a game, and the duo worked to perfection with Hornacek. I want to know if the next coach can do the same, because if not, Phoenix will have to trade one of them and retool the roster.

Although the Suns are losing, I have loved the player development of Hornacek, as all of their young players were playing well – some excellently – and I think the Suns should have given him one more season to see if these young players and a heathy Bledsoe can win, which they were with Eric Bledsoe healthy.

Yes, Hornacek was only doing half of his job by making his players stronger, but losing most games, however, I also have to blame management. The Suns’ roster is a mess. Their best forward Markieff Morris wants a trade and has acted like a moron since the offseason and is a problem they should have solved in the offseason. If you don’t know the story, he lost it when they traded his twin brother Marcus to Detroit, and they should have bought his contract or traded him by now. Also, why did they sign a mid-30s center (Tyson Chandler) to a big contract when one of their best young players (Alex Len) is also a true center, so they can’t play together and this team is one of the NBA’s youngest rosters? That signing was pointless, and Phoenix should also be trying to trade Chandler; I think management is.

Regardless, this is not an easy grade because I can see why the Suns fired him and why they should have fired him, but he was given an odd roster, he was getting so much from his young players and his best player is hurt. This team is a mess no matter your feelings on the firing. Suns owner Robert Sarver really needs to sell the club to somebody who knows what the hell they should be doing, because he has no clue. Phoenix’s fans are excellent and deserve more than this.

Grade: C-

Josh Smith To Houston

Houston Rockets Get: Josh Smith, cash and the rights to Serhiy Lishchuk
Los Angeles Clippers Get: The rights to Maarty Leunen

This seems to be just the Clippers losing a headache in Josh Smith and the Rockets trying to gain a piece who knows the team, is talented and could make them stronger. Houston really wants to try to be one of the best in the West, which it was in 2015.

Smith is talented, but look at the trade, it was the Clippers trading him, money and a guy who isn’t going to play in the NBA, for another guy who isn’t going to play in the NBA, meaning the Clippers really, really wanted Smith off their team. I would like to say that I gave his minimum signing an F in the offseason and got some comments that said I was an idiot, but look who is smart now … me!

As for the Rockets, I get that they want to try to improve, and they know they can control him, so it makes sense. It helps that Smith is tight with Dwight Howard and played well for Houston in its recent playoff run. Regardless, Smith isn’t going to make the Rockets stronger than the fifth or sixth team in the West, which they already are; they just lack the talent, but he has a cheap one-season contract, and they can cut him if there are problems. It was a smart choice though, and I like it. I like that the Clippers, who are excellent, are trying to improve their chemistry and that the Rockets are trying to become excellent; this was a strong trade for the two franchises. Smart.

Grade For Houston: A
Grade For Los Angeles: A

Cavaliers fire David Blatt

We all knew that LeBron James didn’t like Blatt and that this is James’ team, so this happened. It sucks for Blatt, but he wasn’t going to win against LeBron James. The Cavaliers should have fired him after the season if there were problems, and the timing is ridiculous, as they have the third-best record in the NBA and are first in the East (30-11). The club is making it sound like this isn’t James interfering, and although that is probably a lie, Blatt wasn’t much of an NBA coach, so I don’t mind him being fired; I actually said the Cavaliers should have fired him last season. If you are the coach of a team with LeBron James and four players with near max contracts, you have two jobs as coach: make the players like you and keep them liking you. This is the NBA; players run the league and with Blatt spending most of his career in Europe, he likely didn’t get the memo, as he and LeBron just didn’t become close in their 1.5 seasons. I hate the timing, but I like the decision and the guy who the team hired, their assistant coach Tyronn Lue.

Grade: B+

Cavaliers hire coach Tyrone Lue

Tryonn Lue has been a respected assistant for years, and the former point guard, who is just 38 years old, is perfect for this team. Why? The players like him and he doesn’t have to do anything. LeBron James is basically the coach of this team. Don’t laugh it’s true; James is the man in Cleveland, but he and Lue should work well together, which is the only thing that matters with this job, so I like it.

Grade: A

Nuggets extend GM Tim Connelly’s contract

Uh, why? The Nuggets seem to have no idea what they are doing, and they have showed it again giving somebody who is doing a porous job more seasons to keep doing it. Yes, Connelly has made the right decisions in the draft and was smart when he traded Ty Lawson (although for peanuts), but he has given Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari ridiculous extensions, and he should be re-building, but won’t. If that is his boss telling him not to, that isn’t his fault, but the Chandler and Gallinari extensions for about $100 million shows me that he has no idea what Connelly is doing. The Nuggets will not be winning anytime soon if this guy is running the team. I don’t get this.

Grade: F

Brooklyn Nets reassign (fire) GM Billy King

Well, this was smart. I don’t know why King had a job. He traded for Joe Johnson and his contract, gave a ridiculous contract to Deron Williams, traded three first-round picks to the Celtics, which means the Nets cannot rebuild via the draft and has Brooklyn as the weakest franchise for the next three seasons. King was bold, but dumb, and he deserved to lose his job. The Nets have a nice market and money to spend, and somebody, not Billy King, should be the person to spend it.

Grade: A+

Brooklyn Nets fire coach Lionel Hollins

Lionel Hollins is an excellent NBA coach, as he showed with the Grizzlies and the Nets. Hollins made the playoffs with a mediocre roster in his first season and almost beat the No. 1 seed, and his team at least tried this season with the least amount of talent in the NBA. I don’t know how a coach like Hollins only gets a little more than one season, it’s ridiculous. The Nets are a joke franchise.

Grade: F

Ish Smith To Philadelphia

Philadelphia 76ers Get: Ish Smith
New Orleans Pelicans Get: Two Second-Round Picks

This was a weird trade, as I had to look twice. Usually the 76ers are trading their players for second-round picks, but they have actually made a trade to become a stronger team, which is the first in three years or so. Ish Smith isn’t well-known, but Philadelphia fans know him, as he was their starting point guard in 2014, but he was having a solid season for the Pelicans. New Orleans had a lot of injured guards to start the season, so he started and was actually excellent, averaging 14 points and eight assists in his starts. On the other hand, when Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Norris Cole were all healthy, the Pelicans had three expensive guards they had to play first, so Smith’s minutes were cut to about 10-15 a game. New Orleans made the right choice to trade him now for value, as second-round picks are more valuable now with the talent internationally and in college seemingly stronger recently; numerous second-round picks have become rotation players and starters this decade.

As for the 76ers, although I like Smith and that they made a trade to help the team or at least try to, I have no clue what they are doing. The organization already had Kendall Marshall, T.J. McConnell, Isaiah Canaan and Tony Wroten – four similar guards – and was forced to cut Wroten, who might be the best of those to make the trade, so I don’t think it helps the team. Smith is a fine second point guard, but he isn’t going to become the 76ers’ franchise point guard and will take minutes from McConnell and Canaan, who are young, and Marshall, who I like more, and the 76ers traded picks to do make this happen. I’m not a fan, but I like that Philadelphia is trying to become a stronger team. The Pelicans win this one though.

Grade For 76ers: B
Grade For Pelicans: A

76ers give coach Brett Brown a two-season extension

When Jerry Colangelo was hired, the first thing reported was that the 76ers would give their coach two more seasons on his contract. It may seem odd for a coach whose team is 1-23, but the 76ers have the talent of a normal Kentucky college team and Brown’s players actually play hard for him. He has developed Philadelphia’s young talent and gotten a lot from players who wouldn’t play on most teams. With Brown’s coaching the 76ers have improved their young foundation, and he deserves job security. I would love to see what Brown can do with a real NBA roster.

Grade: A+

76ers hire Jerry Colangelo as chairman

There are few people who dislike Sixers’ GM Sam Hinkie more than I. He has made his team lose for three straight seasons to tank for picks and traded all his talent for, you guessed it, picks. It seems that the owner is as sick of it as the fans (the attendance is pathetic, and the 76ers are historically weak), as he has hired the guy who runs the USA Men’s Basketball Team, Jerry Colangelo to be the team’s chairman. Colangelo knows all of the NBA’s best players and is a basketball genius who will get this team right. It is said that Hinkie will still have the say on basketball decisions (with help from Colangelo), but there is no doubt to me that the most embarrassing team in professional sports has itself another boss; one who is one of the best in the business. This is one of the best moves any franchise has made in years. Nice job, Philadelphia; you won’t win 10 games, but this is the biggest in years. As for now? The 76ers might have four first-round picks and Jahlil Okafor is a star, so things are looking solid for this franchise.Grade: A+

Sign Center Ryan Hollins to a likely one-season minimum contract

The Wizards have an aging frontcourt that is also mediocre, and although Ryan Hollins is in his 30s, they had to find depth because they aren’t just talented at the four or five. Hollins is a solid second center who will give them rebounding, shot-blocking and points, and gives them another option to DeJuan Blair, Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries. I don’t mind this.

Correction: A previous grade for Hollins to the Wizards has been removed.

Grade: B

Charlotte Hornets give coach Steve Clifford a three-season extension

This is difficult. Steve Clifford is the best coach this franchise has had (yes, including Larry Brown) and, right now, has his team playing excellent ball. He has Kemba Walker playing like an all-star and Nicolas Batum, who has fit into his rotation perfectly, also playing like one. However, as well as those two are playing, the Hornets haven’t won a playoff game to date, and although they are playing stronger than expected, his player development has been poor to me. I like that Michael Jordan and company want the franchise to be stable, but this team could start losing at any time and they may not like the fact that they re-signed him so willy-nilly (yes, I said that) when they are hot.

I don’t hate the move, in fact I like it, but I don’t see much potential with Clifford. He can get Charlotte in the playoffs, but can he win when there? Also, will the Hornets’ young talent start developing as they should? I will give the organization credit for keeping something that is working, instead of going for something different that could make the team stronger. I could see him fired in two years or so, but this was probably the right choice.

Grade: B

The Houston Rockets fire head coach Kevin McHale

What the hell? This team just won two playoff series and were three games from winning the Western Conference and they just fired their coach. I know they are 4-7 and having trouble, but they are trying to get Ty Lawson going, which is hard as he was in rehab this offseason, and have a much different rotation this season. The effort was questioned constantly, but it’s 15 percent into the season and a legitimate contender has fired its coach. For Walt, I am giving this a Millen, I don’t care about the sport.

Grade: Millen

Grizzlies Acquire Mario Chalmers as Part of Four-Player Swap

Memphis Grizzlies Receive: Mario Chalmers and James Ennis
Miami Heat Receive: Beno Udrih and Jarnell Stokes

For the Grizzlies, I love this trade as they are desperate for offense and Chalmers gives them a strong sixth man, which they lacked. He is a strong athlete who can run an offense, shoot, score and defend, so he fits the Grizzlies well. They see themselves as title contenders, however, they have no chance if they don’t start scoring, which Chalmers will help them with. Losing Stokes I don’t love, but he isn’t in their frontcourt plans, so it doesn’t really matter. I doubt Ennis is on this team in a week; they just don’t need him and his contract isn’t guaranteed.

For the Heat, this was about trying not to be a tax team, and although they are still a tax team, it cuts the tax for now. However, I don’t like a team that considers itself a contender trading its sixth man for money. Beno Udrih gives the Heat a solid second point guard to replace Chalmers, but he won’t give them the offense that Chalmers does, but I really like Stokes, who could help this team. The Heat need youth, and Stokes could play a role for them, as he is an excellent rebounder and can score the ball. If given minutes, he can help Miami and is a cheap asset, as he is just 22 and has a second-round pick’s salary. The Heat wanted to trade Chalmers, and so they did, and although I don’t hate what they got, I just don’t like trading him; he did win two titles as a starting point guard for them and played the sixth man role well for them.

Grade For Grizzlies: A-
Grade For Heat: C

Denver Nuggets sign Kostas Papanikolaou to a likely one-season, minimum contract

In an odd signing, the Denver Nuggets have signed Greek small forward Kostas Papanikolaou, who they cut in the offseason. He was given to the Nuggets in the Ty Lawson/Houston trade and was cut because he had a large non-guaranteed contract. But although Papanikolaou didn’t play for the Nuggets at all, they must have liked him or they wouldn’t have signed him, and that is signified more as they cut second-year guard Erik Green to sign him.

Papanikolaou is just 25 and in his one NBA season showed a versatile, although inefficient, game, and while that is fancy talk for a talented player with poor numbers, he really is versatile and talented. Those factors mean Denver can use him more than Green, as the roster features a lot of talent at guard. He can shoot, score and distribute, and for a small forward, it isn’t exactly a common skill set. And since one season probably won’t define an NBA career, I think Papanikolaou can help Denver, and I like this signing. He has more potential than the guy whose job he is stealing. The Nuggets need to keep finding young talent like Papanikolaou.

Grade: A-

Toronto Raptors re-sign Terrence Ross to a three-season, $33 million contract

As I have said, the league average will be about $7 million in two years because of the TV deal the NBA signed, so contracts are going to look ridiculous. Basically to judge any contract now, you have to think of it as about 40 percent less to really see the value when compared to current contracts, and looking at this like a $6.5 million contract, I like it. He shouldn’t be a starter as he was, but he is playing very well as a sixth man this season and is a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year. He isn’t versatile, but he is a shooter and scorer who will give you big numbers in limited minutes. His game is made for the bench.

In his fourth season, Ross is averaging 10 fewer minutes than when he was as the starting three for the Raptors a season ago, but per minute, his numbers are at a career best in all statistics. His three-point shooting, which is still a respectable 35 percent, and his 18 points per-36 minutes are excellent for any player. You have to think Ross will only keep improving in his sixth man role and so grading this as pre-TV deal money, it is standard for an excellent sixth man, which is exactly what he is, and he has the potential to improve as well. Nice job, Toronto.

Grade: A+

Charlotte Hornets re-sign SG Jeremy Lamb to a three-season, $21 million contract

How nice of the Charlotte Hornets to decide to keep drinking after Halloween, as this is the only thing I can think of that would make them want to give Jeremy Lamb $21 million.

Yes, in two years a $7 million salary will be league average, and I know they are banking on the potential of the 12th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, who they traded for this offseason, but this is ridiculous. I had no words when I saw this on twitter, and I still don’t.

Lamb was a lottery pick, as I said, and is just 23, and he did win a National Title with franchise point guard Kemba Walker at Connecticut, which is nice for familiarity, but in the two seasons Lamb actually played for the Thunder (only six minutes per game for them as a rookie), he averaged 8.5 points with mediocre shooting percentages and 6.3 points with less than mediocre percentages. Per minute, the scoring numbers are strong, but they mean little if his efficiency isn’t stronger.

I get that role players with potential are getting paid right now, but why spend this money on somebody who is one of dozens of role players in this league who can score inefficiently and aren’t excellent at anything on the court? I don’t get it. The only reason this isn’t an F is because he has talent and can become something for Charlotte.

Grade: D-

Point Guard Toney Douglas signs a one-season, (likely) minimum contract

With so many injuries at guard – Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole are all hurt – the Pelicans have decided to sign Toney Douglas, who was cut by the Pacers a week ago. Although New Orleans have a different coach this season, this team knows Douglas who was just with the Pelicans. Douglas is a defender who can score, and although when the team is healthy he shouldn’t play more than 10 minutes per game, this is a nice depth signing as the Pelicans really only have Ish Smith right now at the point.

Grade: A-

Dallas Mavericks give Rick Carlisle a five-season extension

I love this choice by Marc Cuban. Rick Carlisle to me is the second-best coach in the NBA after Gregg Popovich and giving Carlisle, arguably the Mavericks’ best long-term asset, a five-season extension means he is going to be the coach into the next decade.

In seven seasons with the Mavericks as their head coach, he has picked up the franchise’s only title, won at least 49 games in five of his season seasons – his team was 36-30 in the CBA-shortened season five years ago – and only missed the playoffs once, though the Mavericks were still .500. Basically, he has consistently been excellent, won the most random title I can remember (nobody expected it) and won a lot of games lacking a non-Dirk Nowitzki superstar for seven years. I can see some being concerned, as Dallas hasn’t won a playoff series in four seasons, but the team just hasn’t had the talent needed. He is an incredible coach who gets the most out of his players and has earned the right to spend the rest of his career with the Mavericks. Nice job, Cuban.

Grade: A+

Cleveland Cavaliers re-sign PF/C Tristan Thompson to a five-season, $82 million contract

I should give this an A just because this annoying drama has been resolved. Tristan Thompson has LeBron James’ agent, so the agent tried to get a max contract for a guy who isn’t a max player, or a even starter for the team, and thought he would win because he is LeBron’s agent and it is LeBron’s team. Thompson wanted $95 million, which is what Chicago All-Star and franchise player Jimmy Butler got from the Bulls, but again, Thompson is isn’t a starter.This isn’t to say I dislike Thompson; he is an elite rebounder, can play the four or five well, can score and defend, was excellent in the playoffs and would start for most teams. But you don’t give bench players, no matter how important, $16 million per season, you just don’t. However, Thompson is a key player for the franchise, so I don’t hate the contract. The Cavaliers also didn’t pay him what he wanted and wouldn’t let LeBron’s agent win, so it’s a hard grade. Thompson is versatile, excellent at what he does and incredibly valuable to his team, and Cleveland got him for what it was willing to pay him all summer, so this works out as a B-.

Grade: B-

New Orleans Pelicans sign Nate Robinson to a one-season, veteran’s minimum contract

With Jrue Holiday constantly injured and second point guard and sixth man Norris Cole injured this week, this is a smart depth signing for the Pelicans. I don’t know how Nate Robinson wasn’t signed, as he is one of the best bench scorers in the league and can score 20 points in 10 minutes some games. This is a very smart signing for need and makes a playoff team stronger.

Grade: A

Milwaukee Bucks re-sign C John Henson to a four-season, $45 million contract

Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson wants $95 or so million, but I would rather have John Henson, and he signed for half. The Milwaukee big man is one of the NBA’s best shot-blockers and a strong rebounder and scorer. Henson isn’t a starter for the Bucks, but he plays when it matters and would start on a lot of teams. I really like the signing though because he isn’t a free agent, and with a big season could have made another $15 million per season as a restricted free agent. This is another strong move in an excellent offseason.

Grade: A

Denver Nuggets sign Mike Miller to a one-season, minimum contract

Mike Miller was traded to the Trail Blazers in a Cavaliers’ salary dump trade, but the re-building Blazers had no need for him and have bought his contract, meaning that Miller is now signing with a contender. Umm, or not. Mike Miller for a minimum contract is more than fair value, as he is an excellent veteran role player, but I have no clue why he isn’t with a contender. The Nuggets are likely one of the five weakest teams in the NBA, have no chance at the playoffs and are re-building. They already have mentors on this team, like Jameer Nelson, and Miller will just take minutes from Gary Harris, who is an excellent young talen. I don’t get this signing.

Grade: C-

Toronto Raptors re-sign Jonas Valanciunas to a four-season, $64 million contract

If Jonas Valanciunas had a big 2015 season, he could have made as much as $50-70 million more than what he is making on this contract, but for some reason, he decided that he wanted to get his money now. I have no idea why, as he is set to have a big season and is a franchise center, but the Raptors have to love this choice, as they now have their young center signed to a contract that will be far less than his value in the next couple of years. He hasn’t had his signature season yet, but he is a big-time performer in international play, and I see this as the season where he will become one of the best centers in the NBA. His numbers are strong, but they can become elite, and this is one of the best contracts of the offseason.

Grade: A+

Toronto Raptors sign PF Anthony Bennett to a one-season, minimum contract

Anthony Bennett should not have been the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. We all knew this when it happened, and now, he is on his third team in three seasons. It is a shame what has happened to Bennett. He was traded to Minnesota in the Kevin Love trade, but with so many big men, the Timberwolves had no use for him. In the end, they bought his contract, and he is now signing with the Raptors. It isn’t fair that the Cavaliers took him No. 1 overall, as he just wasn’t that type of talent, and while that stigma will stay with him for his career, this is the best possible team for him to sign with.

First, Bennett is a Canadian and will get to play close to home, while second, the Raptors have a big need at power forward in the short and long term; he can become a foundation player for Toronto. The Raptors had only veteran Luis Scola and stretch four Patrick Patterson at power forward, but no have signed someone who can be an excellent starter in this league. Still just 20, Bennett played some of his best basketball for Team Canada, and although he is a four, showed the potential to be a solid small-ball five, and I think he will be an NBA starter. I love this signing, and I can see him starting for the Raptors sometime this season with Jonas Valanciunas.

Grade: A

Minnesota Timberwolves sign Tayshaun Prince to a 1-year, minimum contract

The Minnesota Timberwolves have the best young roster in the NBA. They have two likely elite NBA players in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, two more potential all-stars in Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine, and a group of ridiculously talented young role players in Tyus Jones, Gorgui Dieng, Anthony Bennett, Adriean Payne and Shabazz Muhammad. Minnesota also has two talented starting veterans in Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, who I think should be traded to get more young talent.

I also think the Timberwolves should spend the next three seasons trying to get their young team to become a contender, which they have the talent to be. This is why I don’t get why they keep signing veteran players like Tayshaun Prince. They already have Kevin Garnett and Andre Miller, so I really don’t know what they are doing with Tayshaun Prince, as they already have excellent mentors in the locker room. Also, if Prince plays, he is just taking minutes from Wiggins, LaVine and Muhammad, who should get as much playing time as they can give them. They really don’t need Prince.

Grade: C-

Denver Nuggets re-sign Darrell Arthur to a two-season, $5.82 million contract (player option)

Arthur is likely to be the Denver Nuggets’ fourth big man after Kenneth Faried, Jusuf Nurkic and J.J. Hickson, and play 15-20 minuets per game like he has for the Nuggets for two seasons (17.1 and 17), but there are far more productive big men Denver could have signed for the minimum. His numbers may look nice, averaging 12.4 points and 13.9 points per 36 minutes in his two Nugget seasons, and he is a big man whi can shoot threes, but there are few bigs who are as inefficient as him. Arthur is a big man who has shot 39.5 and 40.4 percent from the field during his two seasons in Denver, and he just took four threes per 36 minutes and shot 23.6 percent. He is also a poor rebounder, as he was averaging about eight per 36 when he got into the league and just averaged 6.2. Arthur’s defense is solid, as he gets a lot of steals and can block shots, but if he isn’t hitting his threes, he has little value on offense. Arthur has value on defense and is making less than $3 million a season, but there was stronger value on the market. He shouldn’t have gotten more than the minimum.

Grade: C+

Los Angeles Clippers sign Pablo Prigioni to a 1-year, minimum contract

The Clippers had to find a stronger distributor for their second unit than Austin Rivers, who is a scorer first, and they got an excellent one in Prigioni, who should give them a solid 10-15 minutes a game. He is a sneaky defender, too, but he isn’t much of a scorer. However, this was a smart signing by Doc Rivers, who has fixed the Clippers’ pathetic bench this offseason, giving them one of the most talented second units in the NBA.

Grade: A+

Denver Nuggets re-sign Will Barton to a three-season, $10.6 million contract

Barton was traded to the Nuggets in the Arron Afflalo deal and was excellent in the 28 games he played for Denver. Barton came into the league as a scorer, and in Portland, he showed the ability to be a strong sixth man, but he wasn’t able to get minutes with the Trail Blazers. However, in the 28 games he played for the Nuggets, he was given 24.4 minutes per game in a sixth man role and averaged 11 points on 44.3 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.5 blocks. Per 36 minutes, that is a ridiculous 16.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals. The shooting percentage is the most important number to me, because although teams knew he could score the ball, he was rather inefficient and as he is a poor shooter, he has to be efficient if he wants to have a big role. Regardless, Barton is an excellent rebounder, gets a lot of steals, can distribute and he can be an elite sixth man, which is why they are paying him. At the very least, he will be a strong fourth guard.

Grade: A+

Brooklyn Nets sign Donald Sloan to a one-season, minimum contract

Sloan had a really nice 2014 season for Indiana, and I think he earned himself more than the minimum. I have no clue why the Pacers didn’t re-sign him, as their depth at point guard is poor and they chose a lesser player in Toney Douglas, but the Nets have benefited from this and made another very smart minimal signing. For once, Brooklyn is actually making smaller signings, which is keeping the team competitive as it brings more talent to its Brook Lopez-Thaddeus Young foundation. Sloan is little more than a solid second point guard, but with no Deron Williams, the Nets’ starting point guard, a sixth man (Jarrett Jack), and their second point guard proving little in his first two seasons in the league (Shane Larkin), Brooklyn has another option for its mediocre guard rotation. After playing for five teams in his first two seasons, Sloan found his niche in Indianapolis as a strong, although inefficient scorer and a strong and efficient distributor. The distributing is more important, as the Nets are really lacking play-makers; Joe Johnson may be their best. Regardless, I like this signing.

Grade: A

Celtics Acquire David Lee in a Three-way Trade

Boston Celtics Get: David Lee
Golden State Warriors Get: Jason Thompson, Chris Babb
Philadelphia 76ers Get: Gerald Wallace, draft assets

This was techincally two different trades, but I made it a three-team deal, as it basically is. The Celtics traded the expiring contract of Gerald Wallace for the bigger expiring contract of David Lee, and then Golden State traded Wallace for Jason Thompson. I will start with the Warriors because what they did was incredible. They had to lower their tax bill and were able to shed millions with the first trade and get a rotation big man with the second. The Warriors won this trade, although they did have to cut Babb’s guaranteed contract and Thompson has two seasons on his contract, so the team loses some cap next offseason.

However, Thompson is a nice fit. Boston was basically able to trade the big contract of a useless veteran for the big contract of an excellent veteran. Lee is arguably the Celtics’ second-best player and should start. Philadelphia did what Philadelphia does best and became a lesser team, but the 76ers have an expiring, instead of a two-season contract, and get some sort of draft asset. These trades (or one big trade) was the right choice for all three franchises.

Grade For Boston: A
Grade For Golden State: A+

Grade For Philadelphia: A

Trail Blazers acquire Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller

Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Brendan Haywood’s non-guaranteed Contract, Mike Miller and two second-round picks
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Two trade exceptions

Brendan Haywood had a $10 million non-guranteed contract, so the Trail Blazers was able to just cut him and by taking Mike Miller’s small, one-season contract, they were able to get two second-round picks, which is an easy trade to make as they are rebuilding. The Cavaliers were able to cut their luxury tax, but more importantly, two trade expecptions that they are able to use for the next year and absorb contracts in a trade and not lose any assets. Cleveland is a championship contender that can add two rotation pieces from non-playoff teams and not have to trade any players. The Cavaliers won this trade, but this was a smart trade for Portland as well.

Grade For Portland: B
Grade For Cavaliers: A

The Cleveland Cavaliers re-sign Matthew Dellavedova to a one-season, $1.2 million contract

Matthew Dellavedova became a playoff hero for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he had some nice games off the bench, became a starter with Kyrie Irving injured and had a big, big game in the team’s Game 3 win against Golden State, giving the Cavaliers a 2-1 series lead in a series where nobody gave them a shot. He became a famous underdog. Dellavedova went from an undrafted player from Australia who was a fan favorite, but rather unknown, to one of the most popular players in the NBA in a matter of days. Yes, he had his big games for the Cavaliers in the playoffs and had a solid regular season, but he was also exposed against the Warriors.

Matthew Dellavedova isn’t made to start in this league, or play 30 minutes per game, and although he played strong defense against Stephen Curry, the league MVP, Curry still got his 25 points a game, and after his excellent game 3, he shot only 5-26 in the next three. As famous as Dellavedova got, we saw who he is in this league: a strong defender, a solid distributor and a hustle guy. What he is in the NBA is a mediocre second point guard. The Cavaliers thought so, too, as they signed Mo Williams in free agency. The free agent market also didn’t help him much, as Dellavedova isn’t actually signing a contract; he is signing the offer Cleveland gave to him, so he would be a restricted free agent and the franchise could match any contract.

The Matthew Dellaveova saga was nice, it was a much shorter version of Jeremy Lin’s run in NYC, but do you have any clue where Lin is now? He signed a two-season contract for a little more than $4 million dollars to play on Charlotte’s bench. Like Lin with the Knicks, it was fun, but with the spotlight and minutes, this league will show you for what you are, and Matthew Dellavedova is just solid NBA role player who should play 10-20 minutes per game. I like the guy, but he isn’t an All-Star or a starter, and his value isn’t too much more than the $1.2 million he will get next season. Dellavedova’s value is probably $3-4 million a season, and if he wasn’t a restricted free agent, he probably would have signed with a team for that, but being restricted and his team spending ridiculous amounts of money to re-sign its core, we learned that the Cavaliers value their money more than him. It’s a bargain of a contract and excellent value, but a reminder of how fickle fame can be.

Grade: A

Utah Jazz sign Tibor Pleiss to a three-season, $9 million contract

The 7-foot-2 center was drafted 5 years ago, but is only 25 and per minute has averaged ridiculous numbers in Spain. He just averaged 15.3 points on 62 percent shooting, 10.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes, and gives the Jazz another freakishly tall, potentially excellent center to go with Rudy Gobert. I can see him getting 10-15 minutes a game with the Jazz and being their second center this season.

Grade: A

Indiana Pacers sign Jordan Hill to a one-season, $4 million contract

This is one of the best contracts of free agency. Jordan Hill is likely to start for the Pacers, he is an excellent defender and scorer, and should be a solid defender with Frank Vogel as his coach. Hill just had his best season, averaging 12 points, 7.9 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in just 26.8 minutes per game – starting most of a season for the first time. He is still just 27, and finding a starting big man was a big need for the Pacers, but $4 million for a starting big man is ridiculous value.

Grade: A

Charlotte Hornets sign Jeremy Lin to a two-season, $4.3 million contract (player option second season)

With the Hornets losing Mo Williams, they had to find a second point guard and managed to sign a solid starting point guard for less than $3 million per season. Jeremy Lin isn’t the Jeremy Lin of the Knicks, but he is still a strong distributor and scorer who will make a big difference for the Hornets on the bench. This is easily one of the best values of free agency.

Grade: A+

Milwaukee Bucks sign Chris Copeland to a one-season, $1.1 million contract

The Bucks may have 14 forwards on the roster, but I am a fan of Copeland, who can play the three or four and is just a gifted shooter and scorer. He won’t play too much, but when he gets minutes, he will give Milwaukee points. This is a playoff team finding a role player to fill a need; scoring and Copeland’s value to me is 4-5 times this.

Grade: A+

Sacramento Kings sign Seth Curry to a two-season, $2 million contract

As I have written, I love seeing less famous brothers make it in this league, and it may have taken a couple years, but the current MVP’s brother has a guaranteed multi-season contract in the NBA. Seth Curry isn’t, and won’t be, his brother, but Seth Curry is ridiculously talented, as he is an elite shooter and scorer, and if he can become a better distributor, he could become one of the best sixth men in the league. If given minutes, Curry will score a lot of points, and as the Kings said they would give him minutes, they have a rotational player with true offensive gifts making just a little more than the minimum. This is my favorite contract of the offseason. Curry scored at Duke, at Liberty, in the D-League and in the Summer League, and now he will score for the Kings. I love Sacramento’s offseason.

Grade: A+

Cleveland Cavaliers sign Richard Jefferson to a one-season, minimum contract

Most thought Jefferson would re-sign with the Mavericks, but playing with LeBron James and going to the East’s best team is the most likely way for him to win a ring, so with Cleveland, he signs. Jefferson is a veteran, but he is still an effective on-court player, an excellent shooter and a strong scorer who should give the Cavaliers a solid 10-15 minutes per game. For the minimum contract, he’s a steal for the Cleveland.

Grade: A+

Houston Rockets re-sign K.J. McDaniels to a three-season, $10 million contract

This is fun. McDaniels refused to sign a multi-season rookie contract, as he was a second-round pick and thought his value was much more than he would be making. Instead, McDaniels took a one-season contract for the minimum, taking less security for a chance at a bigger payday, and he got one. McDaniels has strong defensive talents. and if he can become a better shooter, he can be an excellent Three and D player. There aren’t many 6-foot-6 players who average nearly two blocks per 36 minutes. I like McDaniels, and this is a solid contract that could be a bargain if he can find his three-point shot in the next three seasons.

Grade: B+

Denver Nuggets re-sign Danilo Gallinari to a three-season, $45 million contract (player option third season)

Yeah, I don’t know what to say. Denver re-signed one veteran perimeter player who wasn’t a free agent to a $46 million contract and now a second player to a bigger contract (the first was $11+ million per season). Technically, this is just for two seasons and $31 million, as Gallinari was already signed, but the Nuggets will now give him $14 million this season, which is more than he was signed to make. Yes, Gallinari might be their best scorer, but his value isn’t close to $15 million per season, and he hasn’t stayed healthy in Denver. This team should be rebuilding, not signing veterans to ridiculous contracts. I actually like the Lawson trade, but this team has no clue what it is doing this offseason.

Grade: D-

Utah Jazz sign Raul Neto to a three-season, $2.8 million contract

Neto is a talented young point guard who is a Brazilian and played in Spain. He is an inconsistent shooter, but the 23-year-old is a solid distributor and scorer who already has four years of professional expereince, so he can play now for the Jazz. If they are keeping Dante Exum at the point, he will likely be their third point guard, but he has the talent to help them and should be a solid NBA role player. For a minimum contract, I like it.

Grade: A

Dallas Mavericks re-sign J.J. Barea to a four-season, $16 million contract

The Mavericks have Deron Williams, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton, and although Barea won a title with the Mavericks and fits with the team, they just don’t need him. Additionally, he is already 31, so his numbers are likey to fall a little as he ages. I like Barea and $4 million per season is fine, but again, Dallas just doesn’t need him.

Grade: C+

Denver Nuggets re-sign Jameer Nelson to a three-season, $13.5 million contract

The Nuggets want a veteran mentor for Emmanuel Mudiay, who could become an elite NBA point guard and should become their franchise player, but what other team was going to give Nelson $4.5 million per year? Or three seasons? He isn’t close to the player he was, and really all I see is the Nuggets paying a veteran mentor too much money.

Grade: D-

Ty Lawson To Houston

Denver Nuggets Get: First-round pick, Nick Johnson, Pablo Prigioni, Joey Dorsey and Kostas Papanikolaou
Houston Rockets Get: Ty Lawson and a second-round pick

For the Nuggets, this is about two things: getting rid of Ty Lawson, who is in legal trouble again, and giving the starting job to their first-round pick – and their next franchise player – Emmanuel Mudiay, who should become an All-Star. Although Lawson was Denver’s best player, there are issues with him, and that the team was able to trade a guy in rehab for assets, get rid of a headache and give itself franchise to Mudiay is incredible. As for who the Nuggets actually got in the trade, only Nick Johnson and Joey Dorsey have guaranteed contracts, but for just $2 million, and Johnson is a promising young guard himself. Kostas (I’m not spelling his name again) and Prigioni have non-guaranteed contracts for about $6.5 million; it seems that Prigioni is gone, and I doubt the Nuggets will keep Kostas for almost $5 million. This was the right trade for Denver to make, although the franchise traded an elite player for just a couple of assets.

As for Houston, it landed a starting point guard and a second excellent distributor to go with James Harden, and is left is with one of the best guard duos in the league. Lawson is likely to be the Rockets’ third offensive option, and they traded very little to get him, plus he will make just about $25 million over the next two seasons, so he has an excellent contract. On the other hand, Houston does have to be a little troubled trading for a guy who just went to rehab and who is going from a first option to a third option. Regardless, this is a smart trade for the Rockets, as they now have a roster that can play with the best of the West. This are a better team and have a better chance at a title because of this trade.

I love this trade for these two franchises.

Grade For Denver: A-
Grade For Houston: A

Los Angeles Lakers sign Brandon Bass to a two-season, $6.1 million contract (player option second season)

I actually thought this was a one-season, $6 million contract, and I would have given that a B+, as Bass just started for a playoff team, but this is ridiculous value for a guy who, well, just started for a playoff team. He also just averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in only 23.5 minutes per game, and as the third big man for the Lakers, he will give them similar numbers. I don’t know how the Lakers got Bass for this cheap.

Grade: A

Miami Heat sign Amar’e Stoudemire to a one-season, minimum contract

This is one of those “excellent former all-star who wants to win a title signs for a minimum contract” contracts. Stoudemire is still a very strong big man scorer and rebounder when healthy, as he just averaged a ridiculous 23.5 points and 8 rebounds per 36 minutes while playing 16.5 minutes a game for the Mavericks. He should be the Heat’s third big man and give them about 20 minutes per game and somewhat similar per minute numbers if healthy. Health is the question with Stoudemire, but if he is healthy, this might be the best contract of the offseason, as he makes a contender better and is so ridiculously cheap.

Grade: A

Washington Wizards sign Alan Anderson to a one-season, $4 million contract

With no Paul Pierce, the Wizards had to find shooting and scoring on the perimeter. Although Alan Anderson is no Paul Pierce, he shoots and makes a lot of threes and for $4 million, that’s about what you buy in this league.

Grade: B-

Los Angeles Clippers sign Josh Smith to a one-season, minimum contract

Josh Smith for the minimum is a bargain of a contract. He is as a strong two-way player who is an elite shot-blocker and a strong distributor. However, his shot-selection and shooting are among the poorest in the NBA and his character is a big question. As the team has a lot of personality, I don’t think he is a fit, regardless of his talent. The Clippers can just cut Smith if he isn’t working, but they don’t actually need him; they need role players and already have too many shooters on the roster. I don’t see the fit on the court or in the locker room. This is a guy the Pistons gave about $30 million dollars to just so he wouldn’t be on their team, only 6 months ago. I don’t like this move by Doc Rivers, however, I don’t like most of the choices he makes for his team.

Grade: F

Toronto Raptors sign Luis Scola to a one-season, $3 million contract

The Toronto Raptors already needed a power forward when they had Amir Johnson, but with him in Boston, they simply had to sign one. Fortunately, Toronto just landed a starter or a strong third big man with experience who can give the team a go-to big man scorer for just $3 million. This is one of my favorite contracts of the offseason because Scola is cheap, a fit and helps a playoff team, which makes this contract an easy A+ for Toronto.

Grade: A+

Miami Heat sign Gerald Green to a one-season, minimum contract

Look at Green’s numbers per minute; they are ridiculous. What’s more ridiculous though is his three-point shooting, which tracked from 30 percent to 39 to 31 to 40 to 35 in five seasons. You just don’t know what you will get with him. It’s important because half of his shots are threes. Regardless, Green will score, and although he doesn’t help much after that, for a minimum contract, does it really matter? Nope.

Grade: A-

Los Angeles Clippers sign Cole Aldrich to a two-season, minimum contract

This is a bargain. Aldrich isn’t a starting center, but per minute, he works hard and performs. Aldrich rebounds and blocks shots, plus he can actually score. He just had a nice season for the Knicks, and the Clippers got themselves an excellent second center for the minimum. For 10-15 minutes per game, Aldrich will replace DeAndre Jordan, give them solid play, and they really won’t lose much with Jordan on the bench. Aldrich also gives the Clippers much needed depth.

Grade: A+

San Antonio Spurs re-sign Matt Bonner to a one-season, minimum contract Matt Bonner is tall and shoots, that’s it. He’s just a system player for the Spurs, but fans love him, and Gregg Popovich knows what he will get from him, so having him as your 12th man for $1.4 million isn’t a problem.

Grade: B+

Cleveland Cavaliers sign Mo Williams to a two-season, $6.5 million contract

This is one of the best contracts of the offseason. The Cavaliers had little to spend, yet they were able to get one of the best sixth men and second point guards in the NBA – each a big needs – for half of his value. With guards like Cory Joseph, Louis Williams and Rodney Stuckey getting at least $7 million per season, this is a ridiculous bargain. Mo Williams also knows LeBron well, which will make any Cavalier grade better.

Grade: A+

Sacramento Kings sign Caron Butler to a two-season, $3 million contract (player option second season)

The Kings continue to bring players to the roster to fit with DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo, and they have signed Caron Butler, a veteran, for a cheap contract. Butler is aging and just had a porous season, but he is still a strong three-point shooter, and he should be a nice mentor to have on the team, which is nice given the odd group of characters in Sacramento.

Grade: A

Houston Rockets sign Marcus Thornton to a one-season, minimum contract

There really isn’t much to say about minimum contracts, but I won’t grade them harshly if there are no character issues. Thornton is actually an excellent piece for this franchise as he can come off the bench, shoot threes and score. I have no complaints.

Grade: A

Los Angeles Clippers re-sign Austin Rivers to a two-season, $6.5 million contract (second season player option)

Rivers had a pathetic first 2.5 seasons in the league, but he played really well for his father in L.A. I didn’t think it would work, but Austin Rivers had some big-time games, can play the one and two, is a solid scorer, defends and has the potential to get a lot better. He is a pure scorer who has changed his game to be a role player, but I can see him becoming an elite sixth man. It seems Rivers will be the second point guard and fourth guard for the Clippers next season and should play about 20 minutes per game. I really like Austin Rivers, but there are better guards who have signed for less this offseason, and the team didn’t have to give him this much.

Grade: B-

Denver Nuggets re-sign Wilson Chandler to a four-season, $46.5 million contract.

This is one of the oddest grades of free agency, mainly because Chandler wasn’t a free agent, but the Nuggets re-signed him for some complicated CBA reason. I honestly don’t care why, because you simply don’t give Wilson Chandler $11.5 million per season. He is a solid starting perimeter player, a strong shooter and rebounder, but $11.5 million per season is too much cash. Aren’t the Nuggets re-building? Also, who are they bidding against? The answers are yes and nobody. There were poorer contracts in free agency, but this just doesn’t make sense to me.

Grade: C-

Brooklyn Nets sign Andrea Bargnani to a two-season, minimum contract (player option second season)

Andrea Bargnani won’t become the player the Raptors thought he might be when he was drafted first, but he has become a solid role player and just had an excellent season for the Knicks. I thought he would get at least $5 million per season, but getting the minimum is a bargain. Bargnani is a very talented stretch four, who knows how to score the ball, and he has also averaged a block a game in the NBA. His scoring is almost all you will get from him, but he is much better than people say. If he wasn’t a former No. 1 pick, you would be able to say he’s had a nice run in this league.

Grade: A+

Oklahoma City Thunder re-sign Enes Kanter to a four-season, $70 million contract

Oklahoma City re-signing starting center Enes Kanter wasn’t a secret; the team just wanted to let the market say how much money it would take to sign him, as the organization could match with him being a restricted free agent. The Trail Blazers said Kanter deserved a max contract, and although I don’t necessarily agree, they had to keep him. If the Thunder want to keep Kevin Durant next offseason, they have to show him that they are going to pay to win and won’t have another James Harden – losing an elite player by being cheap. Kanter played excellent basketball for the Thunder after being traded from Utah, averaging 18.9 points and 11 rebounds per game, and is a perfect fit with Serge Ibaka. The combination gives Oklahoma City one of the best big man duos in the NBA and an elite offense-defense pair, plus Kanter fits as the third offensive option too. Is his value today $17.5 million per season? No, it isn’t, but the Thunder had to keep him; he fits, is still very young and is an excellent, possibly elite offensive big man.

Grade: B+

Roy Hibbert to Lakers

Indiana Pacers Get: Second-round pick and money
Los Angeles Lakers Get: Roy Hibbert

Yes, the Pacers didn’t want Hibbert and there weren’t too many takers, but he was an all-star less than two years ago, has made it twice, is an elite defender and a solid rebounder and scorer. The Pacers are trying to make the playoffs in a much-better Eastern Conference, but a thin frontcourt got a lot thinner. They are a lesser team for making the trade and got zero value.

The Lakers had no center, but they have one now; one who should make their defense much better and is actually a strong fit with Julius Randle, who should be their starting four. L.A. gave no real assets for Hibbert and now has a solid starting center and a $15 million expiring contract.

Grade For Pacers: D+
Grade For Lakers: A+

Zaza Pachulia to Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks Get: Zaza Pachulia
Milwaukee Bucks Get: Second-round pick

The Mavericks needed a center, and although Pachulia is best as a strong second-unit five, he played very well for the Bucks and should be a solid starter for Dallas this season. All the Mavericks traded away was a second-round pick, and they filled a big need, so this was a nice move for the franchise; although he is no DeAndre Jordan.

As for the Bucks, I don’t know why they made this trade. Yes, their cap has $5.5 million less on it next season, but they are a playoff team, and although they have Greg Monroe, they lost veteran big man depth and only got a second-round pick for him.

Grade For Dallas: A
Grade For Milwaukee: D

Tiago Splitter to Hawks

Atlanta Hawks Get: Tiago Splitter
San Antonio Spurs Get: Georgios Printezis (not in NBA) and 2017 second-round pick

Tiago Splitter with a bigger role is something I have wanted to see, because his per-minute numbers are very strong and he is a talented defender. Splitter is likely to be Atlanta’s third big man as he can play with Paul Millsap or Al Horford, but he will play when the team goes big or needs defense, so he should have a 25 minute-per-game role. The Hawks needed an actual center, and now they have one.

Although the Spurs got no real value, they were able to use the money they gained from this trade to get all they wanted from free agency, and because of free agency, they have one of the three best rosters in the league. As little was traded from the Hawks to the Spurs, this is a trade where two teams are better for making it.

Grade For Atlanta: A
Grade For San Antonio: A+

Ray McCallum to Spurs

Sacramento Kings Get: Second-round pick
San Antonio Spurs Get: Ray McCallum

Right when you think the Kings might be getting better, they trade a cheap, excellent young second point guard for a random second-round pick just because they had two better. I have no clue why the Kings made this trade; it literally makes no sense to me, but the Spurs are the Spurs, and as normal, the Spurs are just the smarter franchise.

McCallum has started in this league, just averaged 12.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.1 steals per 36 minutes, and is a reliable and strong second point guard. San Antonio needed a point guard losing Cory Joseph and just robbed Sacramento of one.

Grade For Sacramento: F
Grade For San Antonio: A+

San Antonio Spurs re-sign Tim Duncan to a two-season, $10 million contract

Tim Duncan will play at least one more season with the Spurs, and it isn’t just about signing their franchise’s best player, as he is still one of the best big men in the NBA, and he and LaMarcus Aldridge will be the best big man duo in the NBA next season. On the market, Duncan could have made $15 million per season or more, so $5 million per year is a ridiculous bargain, but that’s who Duncan is. The Spurs have had the best free agency I have seen in years; what an incredible job by GM R.C. Buford and coach Gregg Popovich this offseason.

Grade: A+

New York Knicks sign Derrick Williams to a two-season, $10 million contract

Derrick Williams isn’t going to become the all-star who many expected him to become as the second pick in his draft, however, he has become a solid role player, is getting better and isn’t yet 25. He seems to have found a position in the NBA, an athletic stretch four, but he has stopped rebounding and isn’t a shot-blocker, which is odd because he is so athletic. Actually, being tall, athletic and shooting are his only talents, but he can help the Knicks and share the stretch-four job with Kristaps Porzingis. Five million dollars per season is actually a solid contract, Williams still has the ability to become better than he is and should be a nice fit in the triangle, so I don’t mind this contract.

Grade: B+

Dallas Mavericks sign Deron Williams to a two-season, $10 million contract

Deron Williams isn’t the all-star point guard he was; he got pretty fat and his numbers have fallen, a lot, but I think he could have played better and just didn’t like Brooklyn. Regardless, $5 million per season is a bargain for Williams, Texas is his home, he is still only 31 and I expect better play from him. He is still a strong shooter and distributor, and as the starter in Dallas, playing with three excellent offensive players: Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Wesley Matthews, he could average 7-9 assists per game. There isn’t a single thing I dislike about the Mavericks signing Deron Wiliams.

Grade: A

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