The first day of the 2012 NBA Free Agency period has concluded and there have already been some notable deals that are nearly finalized. Portland figures to make a dent in free agency and has already offered a max contract to Roy Hibbert. Houston signed Omer Asik to a $25.1 million offer sheet in Darryl Morey’s pursuit to stockpile assets. Kevin Garnett, unsurprisingly, will return to Boston.
As for the future: Steve Nash figures to be a central figure this offseason. Toronto has become increasingly desperate and they’ve reportedly offered him a three-year, $36 million contract. The Deron Williams saga may not pick up steam until today when he makes formal visits with Dallas and Brooklyn.
Roy Hibbert, Portland Trail Blazers* — four-years, $58.4 million
Instead of sending an offer to their own restricted free agent Nicholas Batum, Portland has decided to utilize their cap space to acquire the best big man on the market, Roy Hibbert (restricted).
Hibbert, 25, made noticeable improvements across the board this season — namely in his shooting and rebounding efficiency while cutting down on turnovers. This kind of contract is palatable for a guy that is quickly developing a formidable post game. Hibbert is already good enough to be considered among the best centers in the league and thus, regardless of how you feel about this contract, will likely produce enough to justify an average annual salary of $14.6 million. Centers are typically overpaid anyway. I wouldn’t mind “overpaying” Hibbert.
Gerald Wallace, Brooklyn Nets — four-years, $40 million
Now this deal is a lot less justifiable. Trading a 2012 first-round pick (top-3 protected) for one-year of Wallace was a desperate, misguided move that was intended to lure Dwight Howard to Brooklyn. But Brooklyn badly misjudged the value of their pick in a good draft — which turned into Weber State point guard Damian Lillard — and the Wallace’s declining athleticism. They could’ve left their mistake at that. Pursuing cheaper alternatives like an Ersan Ilyasova would make more sense given their limitless amount of cap space.
Instead they chose to compound their mistake by offering Wallace a $40 million contract. By the end of this deal Wallace will be 34 and, if this year was any indication, he’ll be even more inefficient then. Relying on athletic guys at the end of their careers is an easy way to get burned. San Antonio made a similar mistake on Richard Jefferson. Wallace isn’t worthless (why else would get this amount of money?) but in two years, Brooklyn will feel the heat of another poor contract.
Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics — three-years, $34 million
Simple. Boston merely re-signed their best player for an accurately valued contract. Garnett is an elite pick-and-roll defender and without his presence the Celtics’ defense wouldn’t be the same.
Omer Asik, Houston Rockets* — three-years, $25.1 million
There is varying schools of though on Asik’s contract. I felt that John Hollinger accurately assessed the value of Asik’s deal (Insider).
That’s a bit of an eye-of-the-beholder question. Asik’s advanced stats support the subjective viewpoint that he’s one of the five or 10 best defensive players in basketball, and defense in general tends to be wildly underrated in the free-agent market (although weirdly, not in the draft). He is also, objectively, a monstrous rebounder, with his 20.1 rebound rate ranking sixth in the NBA last season.
I will admit that I was shocked that Asik netted an average annual salary of $8.4 million. I didn’t think a player who is generally useless on the offensive end could be worth that amount of money. But after analyzing further, I’ve changed my stance slightly. I still think Asik is worth less than his contract suggests but his defensive numbers quell his other deficiencies.
Andre Miller, Denver Nuggets — three-years, unspecified
All we know currently is that Miller signed a three-year deal with Denver. The rest is unspecified. I’m expecting this deal to be worth $10-14 million which isn’t a bad investment on Denver’s part. Miller’s primary attributes — lob passes, post game, awareness — haven’t waned. He’s still the same plodding, but efficient, weapon that he’s always been.
Lavoy Allen, Philadelphia 76ers — two-years, $6 million
Philadelphia is feeling the consequences of their curious decision. Instead of offering Allen two non-guaranteed deals at the tail end of his rookie contract, as is standard protocol for a second-round pick, they allowed Allen to become a free agent two years earlier than normal. Well, Allen made the most of a limited opportunity and worked himself into a nice contract. Philadelphia didn’t overpay but they did use a portion of their midlevel exception, lowering their chances of signing a free agent via MLE.
Other free agency tidbits
— Toronto reportedly offered Steve Nash a 3-year, $36 million contract, a report that Marc Berman of the New York Post refutes. Nash’s top two teams are Toronto and New York. It’s expected, though, that Nash visits Dallas as well.
— Boston is prepared to offer unrestricted free agent Ray Allen a two-year, $12 million deal. Miami can only offer the mini-midlevel exception at about $3 million per year. Memphis has also joined the chase for Allen, offering their full midlevel exception over two years.
— Atlanta turned down a Josh Smith-Pau Gasol deal because the Lakers asked for too much.
— Key: * = restricted free agent. Hibbert and Asik aren’t technically members of their teams yet. Indiana and Chicago have three days to match their offer sheets.