After two weeks of free agency, just about all the big-name moves have been made. Now is the part of free agency—the part which is my personal favorite—where teams look to add depth and make moves to round out their rosters. Although these moves generally don’t receive a lot of attention, moves like the ones being made currently are sometimes moves that can have the biggest impact upon a team’s title hopes.
Knicks Wheel and Deal
The Knicks have wasted no time spending money this offseason in order to replace players lost, or seemingly about to be lost. For starters, the Knickerbockers signed the 38-year old Jason Kidd and the 39-year old Marcus Camby, in what appears to be gambit by James Dolan to own the oldest team in the league next season. Additionally, New York re-signed two key perimeter pieces in swingman J.R. Smith and sharpshooter Steve Novak. Novak led the league in three-point shooting last season, dropping bombs from distance at a 47% clip. Alongside their signings, the Knicks acquired point guard Ray Felton as a part of a six-player deal with Portland, bringing Felton back to New York after he spent half a season with the Knicks before being shipped to Denver as a part of the Carmelo Anthony deal in 2011. In exchange for Jared Jeffries, Dan Gadzuric, the rights to a pair of players still playing overseas, and a second-round pick, the Knicks were able to land Felton and Kurt Thomas, a 39-year old forward. The acquisitions of Kidd—6 ppg, 6 apg in 2011-12—and Felton—11ppg, 7apg—likely were made to ensure the Knicks would have some sort of insurance in the event their offseason reached Threat Level Midnight, which right now seems to be on the verge of happening. Speaking of which…
Jeremy Lin to Houston?
It sure looks like it. With the July 17, 11:59 pm deadline fast-approaching, the Knicks seem less and less inclined to match the Houston Rockets’ offer to the restricted free agent with every minute that passes. On the subject of said offer, the Rockets currently have a three-year, $25 million offer on the table. That deal prompted Knick star forward Carmelo Anthony to call it “ridiculous”. Just think about that for a minute…
Anyway, the fact of the matter remains that arguably the league’s highest profile free agent seems to be almost a day away from leaving the place where “Linsanity” began, and Daryl Morey is about to make the biggest mistake of his career as an NBA executive.
Pacers Retain RFA’S
Despite a scare early on that Roy Hibbert might bolt for Portland, the Pacers matched the Blazers’ offer sheet to re-sign arguably the best center in the game not named Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum. At 25-years old, the Pacers will have four-year vet out of Georgetown for another five years on a max deal. The deal will keep Hibbert in Indiana throughout his prime, which he looks as if he is about to dive into headfirst after posting his best season statistically in 2011-12 with 13 ppg, 9 rpg, and 2 bpg. Indiana also re-signed point guard George Hill, and by trading away Darren Collison to Dallas, have cleared the way for Hill to be the Pacers’ full-time floor general. Last season, Hill only started nine games in the regular season, but averaged 10 ppg and 3 apg in only 26 mpg, and started all 11 of Indiana’s games in the postseason where he posted similar numbers.
Suns Bolster Front Lines
Although the Suns have no intention of spending money just to spend it, as general manager Lon Babby said, Phoenix does have a lot of cap flexibility and, so far, has used it to strengthen their post presence. Luis Scola, waived via the amnesty clause by Houston as a part of their efforts to acquire Dwight Howard, was awarded to the Suns and locked up for three years at a total of $13.5 million. Not too bad, considering Scola averaged 16 ppg on 49% shooting and pulled in 7 rpg last season. At the center position, Phoenix also made their qualifying offer to Robin Lopez, an offer that will likely ensure he stays in Phoenix. Although Lopez doesn’t put up big numbers—he only put up 5 pg and 3 rpg last season—he provides a tough interior presence for a Suns team that needs all the help it can get on the defensive end.
Hornets Re-sign Gordon, Acquire Anderson
After scoring the prize of the NBA Draft in Anthony Davis, New Orleans has also taken steps to further the notion they may contend next season. First, although to the possible disappointment of Eric Gordon, the Hornets matched the Suns’ offer sheet and made sure Gordon would stay in New Orleans. Gordon, who missed all but nine games of last year’s lockout-shortened 66-game schedule, brings his career average of 18 ppg back to the Hornets after being dealt there as per the Chris Paul trade—the second one, anyway—that sent CP3 to Los Angeles. Alongside Austin Rivers, the Hornets have a pair of young guards that could develop into one of the best backcourt tandems in the league and provide a scoring punch on the outside while Davis mans the paint. In addition to keeping Gordon, New Orleans sent Gustavo Ayon to the Orlando Magic in a sign-and-trade for last season’s Most Improved Player, sharpshooter Ryan Anderson. Anderson, who averaged 16 ppg and 8 rpg last season, will be with the Hornets for the next four years at a total of $36 million as the 24-year old enters his prime. Anderson will have a similar role in New Orleans next to Anthony Davis as he did in Orlando, where he spread the floor for Dwight Howard and prevented teams from being too aggressive on double-teams and spread floor for his offensive teammates.
Aaron Brooks to Sacramento
A name many people haven’t heard in a while, Aaron Brooks signed with the Sacramento Kings for two years at $3.3 million per year. The reason for Brooks’ disappearance from the NBA spectrum is due to his absence from the United States itself, as he spent the last season playing in China. However, after his qualifying offer from the Suns was rescinded so they could retain Lopez, the Kings jumped at the chance to improve their point guard situation. Although Isaiah Thomas posted 11 ppg and 4 apg as a rookie, the Kings signed Brooks who could turn out to be the most underrated signing of the summer. Brooks lost his starting job in Houston two years ago, and then was traded to Phoenix to back-up Steve Nash. But he is only 27-years old, and a few seasons removed from when he averaged 20 ppg and 6 apg for the Rockets in 2009-10. If Brooks puts up anything close to those numbers this season, he will be the biggest bargain among all free agents of 2012.
Lou Williams Signs in Atlanta
Williams, who led the Philadelphia 76ers in scoring last season at 15 ppg off the bench in only 26 mpg, agreed to a multi-year deal which will likely give him almost all of Atlanta’s $5.3 million exception for the duration of the deal. With the departure of Joe Johnson via trade to Brooklyn, Williams will likely start alongside Jeff Teague for coach Larry Drew, and could see time at point guard while the Hawks’ first-round draft choice, shooting guard John Jenkins, sees time on the floor himself.