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The Yay’s, Nay’s and WTF’s of the First Two Weeks of NBA Free Agency

The free for all that is NBA Free Agency is nearly two weeks old. There’s been contracts that make sense, some that are a little confusing, and a few that have made me physically ill, honestly.

These are just some of the highlights. If you’re looking for the full list of signings and trades, this helpful tracker from r/nba on reddit has every single transaction of the NBA off-season to this point.

THE GOOD

Philadelphia 76ers sign J.J. Redick for one-year, $23 million.

(Yes. I’m starting with my own team. So, I’m a homer. Whatever.)

When the clock struck 12:00:01 on Saturday morning for free agency, every NBA fan, writer, player, and executive knew that Redick was the prime target on the Sixers scope. The Sixers have been devoid of a knock-down three-point shooter for what seems like eons. With a starting lineup that presumably featured Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington and 2017 #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, getting a floor spacer made perfect amounts of sense.

Enter Redick — a guy who is known for just that (making three pointers rain like dollar bills similar to DJ Khaled at a strip club in Miami). His three point percentages over the last three years have been 43%, 47%, and 43% while taking no less than five threes per game during those seasons. Redick was going to come at a high price tag no matter what team signed him. Teams would likely have to overpay. The Minnesota Timberwolves reportedly offered Redick a long-term contract, but Sixers General Manager Bryan Colangelo opened the vault and put $23 million in a duffel bag and dropped it on the table.

Redick accepted. This deal is an experiment. If the former Duke Blue Devil continues his penchant for draining deep shots, this could lead to another long-term deal next off-season. If Redick’s trend doesn’t continue or the Sixers suffer setbacks (god forbid), that’s fine. The deal is only for one year. Redick gets a lump sum of $23 million, and it’s on to the next shooter. It’s win-win.

Toronto Raptors sign Kyle Lowry (three years, $100 million) and Serge Ibaka (three years, $65 million).

The fear that I had with the Toronto Raptors was this. The organization felt it was necessary to “over-thank” Lowry for what he’s done since being traded there from Houston. If GM Masai Ujiri signed Lowry to a five-year max contract, there’s nothing wrong with that. Lowry is worth it, but would you want to be paying Lowry $33-36 million for the last two years of that deal? If Toronto isn’t in playoff contention or beginning a rebuild, it’ll be hard to move him.

This deal and the three-year deal for Ibaka signifies one thing. The Raptors officially have a three year window to at least REACH the NBA Finals. If Toronto can’t do it in three years, both Lowry and Ibaka’s contracts come off the books, and Ujiri can try and formulate an exit strategy and plan for the next phase of Raptors basketball.

Golden State Warriors re-sign Kevin Durant for two years, $53 million.

*Sigh*

Damnit. The rich just get richer. So, the Warriors won the NBA Championship last year, and they probably had the best off-season, too. I hate that I can’t hate this team because they’re all so damn likable. (Yes, even Draymond.)

The Warriors gave Steph Curry the pay upgrade he’s deserved for at least two seasons. Curry’s new deal is $201 million over five years — which is a substantial raise from the four year, $44 million he signed in 2012. Golden State could’ve easily gave the same kind of deal to Durant, and that would’ve been worth it as well.

Durant took less money to keep the team together and dominant. Durant’s discount contract allowed the Warriors to do the following:

Andre Iguodala: three years, $48 million
Shaun Livingston: three years, $24 million
Omri Casspi: one year, minimum deal
Nick Young: one year, $5.2 million
Zaza Pachulia: one year, $3.5 million

Let me get this straight. The Warriors gave big money to Steph Curry, kept Durant, re-signed Iguodala, Livingston, and Pachulia while improving their bench? It’s official. The Warriors run the NBA. Everyone else is just paying rent.

(HONORABLE MENTION #1: Nuggets sign Paul Milsap for three years and $90 million. It’s a short deal for big money, but while Milsap is with the Nuggets, it makes Denver very intriguing as a fifth or sixth seed in the playoffs.)

(HONORABLE MENTION #2: The entire San Antonio Spurs off-season to this point. Patty Mills signed for $50 million over four years, and Rudy Gay signed for $17 million over two years. If the Spurs get something of merit for LaMarcus Aldridge in a trade, Spurs fans everywhere will need new undergarments.)

THE BAD

Minnesota Timberwolves sign Jeff Teague for three years, $57 million.

This deal wasn’t bad as much as it was confusing. Is Teague what’s going to make the Timberwolves make that next leap into a playoff spot? Maybe. I would argue that trading for Jimmy Butler would do that. Adding Butler to the mix allows Wiggins to play shooting guard — where I feel he’s better.

Rubio, Wiggins, Butler, and Karl-Anthony Towns would have been fine. Have the Timberwolves finally tired of Rubio’s inability to make shots outside of five feet from the basket? Maybe, but Teague isn’t a knock-down three point shooter, either. If the Timberwolves wanted to add that dynamic to the starting lineup, they should’ve opened that same wallet for Patty Mills or give that same deal to George Hill — who signed with Sacramento. Either of those point guards would’ve been a better option.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Jeff Teague. He’s an okay point guard, but I like Rubio better for two very important reasons. First, he’s two-years younger than Teague. Second, and most importantly, his contract is $33 million less over the next two years. The Timberwolves are clearly in “win now” mode, but this move could come back and bite them.

Sacramento Kings sign George Hill for three years for $57 million.

When both Minnesota’s contract for Teague and Sacramento’s contract for Hill were signed within three days of each other, I told Jovan Alford, our editor, this. If these contracts were flipped, I’d like them both a whole lot better. As they stand, they’re just confusing. The Sacramento Kings drafted Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox with the fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft. That’s your point guard. Give him the keys. Let’s drive.

Obviously, there’s the idea of mentorship, but Fox went to the University of Kentucky. Kentucky Wildcats are usually very NBA ready. The closest NBA comparison Fox gets all the time is John Wall. I’m not sure George Hill is the right mentor for someone whose thing is speed. Hill is much more controlled and calculated — which could aid in improving Fox’s basketball IQ to mensa level proportions.

Outside of that, the only thing George Hill has to look forward to in Sacramento is cheers and the wanting by fans in Sacramento to simply give Fox the rock.

Very confusing, Sacramento.

(HONORABLE MENTION #1: New Orleans Pelicans re-sign Jrue Holiday for five years, $126 million. I get it. The Pelicans HAD to re-sign Holiday, but if they had done it for three years, not five, I would have felt a lot better about the contract. New Orleans might lose DeMarcus Cousins AND Anthony Davis, so without any kind of guarantee that at least Davis definitely doesn’t want out of New Orleans, I’m not sure I like a five-year deal for Holiday.)

(HONORABLE MENTION #2: Boston Celtics sign Gordon Hayward for four years, $128 million. By itself, this deal wasn’t bad, but having to trade away Avery Bradley — the team’s best perimeter defender — instead of Jae Crowder makes this deal bad. It’s also kinda bad because Boston has a serious hole in the front court when it comes to rebounding.)

THE UGLY

Los Angeles Clippers re-sign Blake Griffin for five years, $173 million.

Sweet. Merciful. Jesus, Clippers. What are you doing?

When Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets, one thing should have been clear: blow it up. Get what you can for Blake. See if anyone is willing to give a first round pick for DeAndre Jordan’s expiring contract. Let Austin Rivers run the point and ensure a lottery pick for the 2018 draft.

What should not have happened was giving a five-year deal to a guy who has missed over 100 games in the last three seasons. The offense will finally run through Blake Griffin — which will be fun — but if Griffin goes down like he annually does, that’s game over for Los Angeles.

When he’s healthy, Griffin is one of the 20 best players in the league, but much like Joel Embiid, there’s a key phrase, there. This contract will account for 410 regular season games. If the Clippers get half that (205), I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The Clippers made a reasonable deal with Danilo Gallinari (three years, $65 million), but that thought and reason did not come into play with the Griffin deal. A three year deal for Blake would’ve been perfect. Five years is crazy-town.

New York Knicks sign Tim Hardaway, Jr. for four years, $71 million.

My notes on this column were all done and ready to go. The formal creation of this column on the Total Sports Live website was taking place, and I was confident that I had not forgotten anything nor would there be anything significant to add.

STOP THE PRESSES!

Nothing brings me more joy than watching the Knicks shoot themselves in the foot. I cannot explain it in a way that makes sense to anyone else. Trying to do anything with Carmelo Anthony has failed to this point. The rumors about trading Kristaps Porzingis before Phil Jackson quit the team was Knicks hilarity at its finest. I didn’t think anything could tickle me more than what has already happened.

Leave it to the Knicks to keep me in hysterics. This is a short list of players that Tim Hardaway, Jr. makes more money than from an overall contract standpoint: Klay Thompson, James Johnson (better than Hardaway, in my opinion), Dion Waiters, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant. Granted, new Thompson, Durant, and Cousins deals will correct that, but Waiters and Johnson make less than Tim Hardaway, Jr., and both are far better players.

I love you, New York Knicks. Don’t ever change.