5. Dwight Howard Signs with the Atlanta Hawks
The Contract: $70 million over 3 years. Dwight was asking for around $24 million per year and most thought that a number like that was crazy. Apparently, the Hawks thought different. Aside from the money aspect, Howard fits well with the Hawks. Al Horford was never a true center and he always wanted to be a power forward, but with Paul Millsap playing next to him, he couldn’t. The Hawks grab a true center and one of the best defenders in the NBA. Getting a defensive force like Howard could help to propel them back to one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, like they were during their historic 2014 season.
Howard fits well with the Hawks because of the way they can space the floor. Millsap is solid from mid-range and they have one of the best three-point shooters in the league in Kyle Korver. They have other players who can excel from beyond the arc as well. Why is floor spacing so important? If you go back to the Dwight Howard on the Magic, he excelled in that system because they were one of the best three-point shooting teams ever, and they boasted many threats from beyond the arc. If the Hawks can replicate that, then this Howard signing will turn out to be fantastic and he should be able to turn back the clock and lose his attitude.
4. Jordan Clarkson Re-Signs with Lakers
The Contract: $50 million over four years. Jordan Clarkson has been a key piece to the Lakers roster over the past few years and retaining him was a great move for the franchise. This move is about the total opposite of the Mozgov deal (more on that later). Clarkson will be a key piece of the Lakers backcourt for years to come and he should only improve with his partner, D’Angelo Russell, becoming a great point guard and drawing attention away from him. Combine that with the rising salary cap and Clarkson’s improvement, could actually make him one of the most underpaid players in the league in a few years.
Probably the best part of this deal is that the Lakers snatched him up quickly before he could field any offers from other teams. As a restricted free agent, he would probably receive offers from teams that would give him more money than $12.5 million a year and the Lakers would want to match that hypothetical offer. The fact that the Lakers were able to sign Clarkson for so little was a huge win for the future of the franchise.
3. Rajon Rondo signs with Bulls
The Contract: $28 million over 2 years. After coming off of a season in which he posted a career high in assists, Rajon Rondo is once again a free agent. He is now with his fourth team in the last three seasons, which is concerning, but after a fantastic season with the Kings, Rondo looks like he has a few good years left in him.
That is the first great part of this contract: It is only two years long. Rondo will probably drop off as a starting-quality point guard after two or three seasons, so the Bulls won’t have to commit to him long-term and eventually have to overpay him.
The other fantastic part of this contract is how Rondo fits with the team. After the Bulls traded away Derrick Rose, everyone was wondering if the Bulls were going to get a starting-quality point guard to run the floor for them. Jerian Grant doesn’t seem like he is ready for the big role yet. Spencer Dinwiddie and Jose Calderon are not capable of being starters either. Rondo comes in and can immediately do what Rondo does: help give other players more open looks. This is especially important for the Bulls as they have a young superstar in Jimmy Butler. By replacing Rose with Rondo, Butler will get more touches as Rondo rarely shoots and would rather find an open man than attempt a shot. I expect Butler to average over 25 points next season, and if the Bulls can somehow become one of the top teams in the East with Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, and Pau Gasol gone, Butler could be in the running for the MVP Award next season. This would only come because of Rondo ability to maximize his teammate’s abilities.
2. Al Horford to the Celtics
The Contract: 4 years and $113 million. The Celtics started to look like they were going to be in rebuilding mode for years like their rivals, the Lakers, but with the emergence of Isaiah Thomas, the rebuilding process looks like it’s almost over. With the addition of Al Horford, the Celtics already look like they could compete to play in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Horford is an established veteran hat gives the Celtics exactly what they need, a solid big man who can lock down the paint on defense and can give them a big offensive boost. While Horford may not be a true center like a Dwight Howard or a Hassan Whiteside, he is still able to play the position at a high level like he did for the Hawks for several years.
It felt like the Celtics were a good team that needed one superstar to start to become a threat in the league. The Celtics got that superstar in Horford. While they really wanted to win the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, they got the next best thing in Horford. Horford is already thirty years old, so he will probably have a good four or five years of quality play left in him. This is still enough time for Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart (Maybe) to develop into the superstars that they are expected to be.
1. Kevin Durant to the Warriors
The Contract: 2 years $54 million. This is an obvious one and I will elaborate on this deal a lot more in another article, but for now I will just explain why this deal is the best one so far, although it is pretty obvious as to why.
This will go down as the most famous deal in NBA history, simple as that. The fact that the Warriors were able to get a future Hall of Famer and a current Top-5 NBA player after coming off of the best regular season that the NBA season has ever seen has me wondering if this is a video game or real life. I mean, you might as well just give them the Larry O’Brien Trophy right now because their only competition is the Cavaliers and they already seem like they would beat them by double-digits no matter how much LeBron wills his team on.
Actually, getting Durant for $27 million is the biggest steal of this year’s free agency. DeMar DeRozan and Mike Conley are making more money than him. I expected Durant to get at least above $30 million and the Warriors would have to clear some cap space after, but they a Top-5 NBA player (Maybe Top-3) for far less than he is worth.
Even if they paid Durant what he deserves, this would still be the best deal because never has such a great player gone to a team that is one of the best of all time.