The NBA 2016 free agency period opened with a bang Thursday night as deals already started sending shockwaves throughout the league. With most of the big name free agents still to find where they’ll play next season, some teams rushed into big moves. Here’s a look at the headlines for the first night of free agency.
1. Knicks prepared to make a considerable gamble on Joakim Noah for a team that has to make them. When Noah was reportedly headed to New York earlier this week, the question was for how many years. Big money, short-term, is one thing, but long-term for a player who has fallen off so much in the past two seasons was the concern.
The Knicks are willing to give him four years.
Look, this is a gamble. And if this gamble fails, the result is not “oh, that’s too bad,” it’s “oh, look, the house is on fire.” Noah getting $17.5 million (roughly) when he’s 35 has a lot of ways it could work out badly. But for the Knicks, with no real young core to build around outside of Kristaps Porzingis, and in need of a veteran center, this is a gamble that could be worth taking. If they get two good years for Noah and he helps put Derrick Rose in the best position possible, that could turn the franchise’s hopes of making a run around, and that’s worth the risk.
The Knicks aren’t getting market value for Noah, but they were never going to. The Knicks have to overpay because their franchise has been a punchline every year for two decades. Noah isn’t some savvy signing, but he’s a player who could be great if the year off has helped his body reset, and a better choice than Dwight Howard. The Knicks could do worse.
You know, like …
2.The Lakers did a cannonball into the free agency pool and hit a Mozgov. Right out of the gate, within the first hour of free agency, the Lakers raced to the front of the line and agreed to a four-year, $64 million deal with Mozgov, who I ranked as the 15th best center in this free agency class alone. He’s a poor fit with a young squad — Mozgov turns 30 this summer. He’s not riding momentum off the Cavaliers’ title victory — he averaged just five minutes per game in the playoffs after falling completely out of the rotation this year. He’s not a good fit for a high-pace, ball-movement offense or next to Julius Randle — he’s nimble but not fast, and Randle can’t stretch the floor to complement Mozgov.
Even if you can get past $16 million per year for Mozgov, which is not that much in the NBA’s expanded salary cap, and even if you can justify the fit somehow and even if you can manage to live with the four years which means he’s making $16 million at age 34, there’s still the fact that the Lakers aggressively pursued and signed a center who fell completely out of the rotation this year on a big-money deal in the first hour of free agency. They didn’t evaluate what potential deals might be out there, they didn’t wait to see if there was a superior option.
The Lakers bull-rushed free agency to get the third-string center for the Cavs at age 30 for $64 million after they reportedly couldn’t get meetings with Kevin Durant or Hassan Whiteside. Not a great start for the hope of a new era in L.A.
3. No word on Kevin Durant. The superstar free agent had a five-hour meeting with the Thunder which reportedly “went well,” but you shouldn’t read too much into it. Durant is set to meet with the Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, Celtics, and Heat over the weekend. Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Durant is expected to make his decision by July 4, and earlier indications were that Durant has already made up his mind by about 90 percent.
Much of the league will wait to see what Durant does before pursuing other options, he’s a big domino for many of the league’s other moves. If he decides quickly, other pieces will start to fall after that.
4. “Sticker shock” is the hot buzz word in free agency so far. Everyone knew the cap raise to $94 million was going to result in stunning deals, but after Noah’s contract (which sets up Dwight Howard to make even more), Mozgov’s contract, and reports that Kent Bazemore could make as much as $20 million (!) per year (!!) have left many stunned. There’s still time for the market to regulate itself, but Chandler Parsons is closing in on a max contract, DeMar DeRozan can’t shoot 3-pointers and made $139 million and we’re not even talking about J.R. Smith or Harrison Barnes yet.
Buckle up, because things are only going to get crazier from here on out.
Courtesy: CBS Sports