Bulls free agency: Scouting, analytics and salary cap analysis of Lonzo Ball, DeMar Derozan and Alex Caruso...

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The Athletic 04 August, 2021 - 08:01am 22 views

Who did the Bulls trade for derozan?

According to Wojnarowski, the Bulls will send forward Thaddeus Young and forward Al-Farouq Aminu to the Spurs, along with a second round pick in the 2022 draft, a 2025 second round pick, and a future first round draft pick. NBC ChicagoBulls Reportedly Acquire DeMar DeRozan in Sign-and-Trade Deal With Spurs

Who did the Bulls get in free agency?

After executing a sign-and-trade to acquire point guard Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans, and adding free agent Alex Caruso, the Bulls are signing DeMar DeRozan to a three-year, $85 million deal through a sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. CBSSports.comNBA free agency: Bulls land DeMar DeRozan via sign-and-trade with Spurs for Thaddeus Young, picks, per report

Is Demar Derozan going to the Bulls?

Demar DeRozan joins Chicago Bulls after sign-and-trade with San Antonio Spurs. The Chicago Bulls have acquired small forward DeMar DeRozan on a three-year, $85m contract as part of a sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs, according to US reports. Sky SportsDemar DeRozan joins Chicago Bulls after sign-and-trade with San Antonio Spurs

Did Demar Derozan get traded?

DeRozan, who turns 32 on Saturday, spent the last three seasons with the Spurs after being traded from Toronto in the Kawhi Leonard deal. ... The Bulls already acquired guard Lonzo Ball from the Pelicans in free agency, agreeing to a sign-and-trade and a four-year, $85 million deal with Ball on Monday. The AthleticBulls add DeMar DeRozan for 3 years, $85M in sign-and trade with Spurs: Sources

Bulls free agency: Scouting, analytics and salary cap analysis of Lonzo Ball, DeMar Derozan and Alex Caruso deals

The Chicago Bulls acquire Lonzo Ball via sign-and-trade from the New Orleans Pelicans for Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple, and a second-round pick. Ball signs a four-year, $85 million contract.

The Bulls sign Alex Caruso to a four-year, $37 million contract.

The Bulls acquire DeMar DeRozan via sign-and-trade from the San Antonio Spurs for Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, a future first-round pick and two future second-round picks. DeRozan signs a three-year, $85 million contract.

Seth Partnow: We had our discussion of the Bulls moves mostly written after the Ball and Caruso acquisitions. The consensus was pretty much wholly positive and then OH NO WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?!

What was a very productive and sensible offseason took a sudden turn with what is, to me, an egregious overpay for DeRozan in terms of both assets sent to the Spurs as well as the contract given to a player who seemed on track to perhaps sign a midlevel deal of some kind with a contender. Guys, can either of you talk me down from my opinion that this is the worst move of the offseason thus far?

Danny Leroux: If you are narrowing our focus to a single part of the Bulls’ offseason, the DeRozan deal (encompassing both the contract and Chicago giving up a first-round pick to get him) is probably my least favorite transaction of the offseason so far. However, the broader context is much rosier for the Bulls and it all deserves our attention here.

Sam Vecenie: While admitting that the DeRozan deal is probably a bit richer than I would be excited to pay both in terms of salary and assets surrendered, I actually kind of love this offseason for Chicago. They’ve gone from outside of the Eastern Conference hierarchy to a clear playoff team, in my view. I think I would bet on them to be a top-six seed in the East right now. The defense is going to be an adventure, but this is a talented team that also has some real upside for improvement given some of the young guys on the roster. The concern is that they’ve topped themselves out a bit by capping out in terms of flexibility and assets, but sometimes I think it’s just worth being good for a while after you’ve been a disaster — does the Jim Boylen era ring a bell to anyone? — especially when you’re in a big market that can attract free agents.

Vecenie: I think my initial question is not in regard to DeRozan’s talent, which I do think is real. Rather, let’s just start here: who do we think Chicago was bidding against? My initial reaction is just confusion on that front. Was Chicago worried about San Antonio bidding against them to keep him?

Leroux: That is the big question to me. While it is true that negotiations are often more complicated and nuanced, it is hard to see exactly where an offer even close to this rich was coming from for the soon-to-be 32-year old. I was actually on board with the Bulls adding DeRozan when it looked like a deal around the midlevel exception, but going three years, $85 million makes the Bulls a very expensive team for a while that does not have the flexibility to pivot, which is a huge problem if Zach LaVine even considers heading elsewhere next summer.

Partnow: With the caveat that this is all speculation, because I’m going to imply the practice of teams and players agreeing to deals in principle well before the official start of free agency to be widespread, I think the Bulls’ misjudgment of the market is a bit more understandable than it originally appeared. By the time news of this deal broke on Tuesday afternoon, the bulk of the league’s available cap space had been spoken for.

However, that probably creates something of a mirage that DeRozan’s market had evaporated before this deal was agreed upon. No matter when each move was actually reported, I suspect the negotiation timelines were overlapping. That’s better insofar as the sheer size of the contract was a misreading of the situation rather than a failure to perform simple cap arithmetic in real time.

Vecenie: I totally agree, Seth. Again, the Spurs are in a space where they had a ton of cap flexibility and easily could have offered up over $20 million per season. Plus, there are overlapping competing offers, and there are probably some sign-and-trade scenarios that we’re not privy to at this point.

Partnow: That said, what the hell? I’m not sure which is more confusing:

To be clear, I think the Bulls will be a better team on the floor next year because of this trade. But to use one of Danny’s favorite expressions, the juice isn’t nearly worth the squeeze. Tell me if you disagree with either my conclusion or my use of your idiom here, Danny.

Leroux: I do not. DeRozan played an important role on the 2020-21 Spurs because they needed someone who could shoulder a lot of the playmaking burden but also had plenty of support defensively. Those dynamics shift dramatically with the Bulls, who now have three very limited defenders in their starting five and a star who has blossomed with the ball in his hands. I totally understand doubling down for the right player, but DeRozan is not that player in overall quality or specific skill set.

Vecenie: Okay, look. I think all of that in terms of the roster-building process is right. I would not have given up as much for DeRozan as they did. It’s bad asset management. The salary allocation issue is real, and the decision to move the first-round pick also really hinders their flexibility moving forward as they can’t move anything before, I believe, their 2027 first-round pick. And in terms of the actual on-court improvement, losing Young to gain DeRozan isn’t quite as big a jump as what their reputations would make you believe. Again: I would not have done this.

But you know what? I think I’m largely in on the on-court fit of DeRozan in Chicago. We’ll talk about the Ball addition in a minute, but DeRozan and LaVine are the exact kind of players you want next to Lonzo in the halfcourt. DeRozan is excellent as a mid-post creator and secondary ball-screen scorer who also makes high-level passing reads. He’s an awesome pick-and-roll player, especially when he’s not the primary option and thus receiving the opposing team’s best defender. That guy will still likely go toward LaVine. Plus, LaVine puts a ton of pressure on the rim and is also a genuine pull-up 3-point threat. Ball is completely unselfish on offense and will be happy to act as the connective tissue between DeRozan and LaVine. On offense, this is as complementary a backcourt trio as you’ll find.

And you know what, I might be a bit higher on the defense than the general public is, at least. It’s not going to be awesome. It won’t be a top-half-of-the-league defense. But Ball is really good off the ball, and they can definitely get some minutes with Caruso, Ball and LaVine out there together with DeRozan at the 4, where he’s much better on defense because he’s good at bodying up and using his physicality (much more so than when he has to navigate complicated off-ball movement from perimeter players). And one thing we’ve seen from LaVine in the Olympics so far is a real commitment to the defensive end. He’s been really good on that end in Tokyo. I don’t know that I would expect him to be the most consistent player in the world throughout an entire season in the NBA defensively, but I have a lot more faith in him stepping up when it matters now after this run with Team USA — especially given that he won’t have to be responsible for creating everything offensively for Chicago now that he has DeRozan, Ball, and Vucevic for a full season around him. LaVine has consistently improved every single season of his career. We’re past the point where we should be considering age curves for him, given his work ethic. He might legitimately just be an All-NBA guy next year if this defensive improvement proves real.

Partnow: I… do not agree with your assessment of the defense we’re likely to see. LaVine will probably be OK simply by virtue of having to do less on offense. But DeRozan has never been a good defender, and moving up the positional ladder just exposes different weaknesses. As a four, he offers very little rebounding and almost no rim protection.

Vecenie: Rim protection is definitely an issue. I have real worries there. But Vucevic and Ball are pretty awesome defensive rebounders for their position. I’m not saying they’re going to kill it on that end, but they might just have to be a non-disaster to be fun.

Partnow: I will agree with you that the Bulls will be solidly in the mix to finish above the play-in spots, but what’s the best-case scenario and how much does it look like the offense-first version of last year’s Knicks? Is this the part where I note DeRozan’s career eFG% in the playoffs is 42.9 or that even with all of his foul-drawing ability, his True Shooting in the playoffs just barely peeps above 50 percent (50.3 to be exact)?

Leroux: Sure, that is a fair point to make, especially since it is tough to buy this Bulls team being favored to win a playoff series during DeRozan’s three-year contract. Defining success is extremely important for owners and front offices alike and it certainly appears that Jerry Reinsdorf and Arturas Karnisovas are on board giving up draft picks and limiting their financial future for a low-end playoff team.

Vecenie: I do think definitional success is important here in regard to what I’m talking about. Again, we’re less than one year removed from the Boylen era still. A 2020-21 Knicksian season for the Bulls seems kind of great to me! Remember how much optimism we had about the Knicks entering this offseason? It was pretty fun while it lasted.

Partnow: Having the advantage of us largely hashing out our thoughts on Chicago’s first two deals before the DeRozan deal was announced, I have a strong suspicion that we all very much liked the Ball and Caruso moves, right?

Vecenie: I think that deal looks about right for Lonzo. It’s on the high end, but to pry him out of New Orleans, the other team was always going to have to pay him based on what he can be versus what he is right now. In the case of the Bulls, I actually love the roster fit for Ball with DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic. He brings a lot of the ball movement, spacing, and quick-decision-making that the Bulls offense has lacked, while those two can make up for his lack of true playmaking ability off the bounce as a creator.

Partnow: This is the kind of deal where having a bit of a crystal ball into the league’s cap future is incredibly useful. If revenues and thus the salary cap were likely to remain mostly flat over the life of this deal, it is likely to be a moderate overpay as it would require him to be a top-50-to-60 player. However, with the cap already expected to rise significantly for next season and presumably continuing in the following years, a $20-21 million annual value is much earlier to justify. On top of that, I agree with Sam that Ball is a very nice fit next to LaVine, with LaVine’s on-ball creativity in the halfcourt addressing a hole in Ball’s game, while Ball’s defensive acumen similarly backstops LaVine.

Leroux: I am a little more lukewarm on those two moves than you guys but broadly, yes. This is a fascinating bet for both the Bulls and the Pelicans. For Chicago, Ball joins Vucevic and LaVine as long-term pieces for the franchise, particularly because the team has very little spending power over the next few seasons unless LaVine leaves as a free agent next summer. At the same time, David Griffin clearly believes he can do better than Ball with his spending power either now (put a pin in that…) or theoretically next offseason depending on what contracts he doles out this August.

Vecenie: Beyond the fit, where are we on Lonzo, guys? I’m a fan and think he profiles really well as a third or fourth starter on a playoff team. But what do you guys think?

Partnow: Because I’m in the thick of the yearly update to my Player Tiers, that taxonomy operates as something of an organizing principle for my thoughts. Quickly summarizing, Tier 1 is the top three to seven players in the world, Tier 2 is the rest of the top 15-20, Tier 3 is the rest of the top 40-50, Tier 4 is the rest of the top 80 and so on. There is a pretty bright line whereby those who are primarily role players don’t generally rise above Tier 4. And for all of Lonzo’s positive traits between his passing, nose for the ball, off-ball defense and catch-and-shoot spacing — Ball has made over 37 percent of a high volume of three-pointers since joining the Pelicans — his limitations as an off-the-dribble creator likely relegate him to role-player status.

Elite role players are extremely useful to teams with championship aspirations. However, a problem is that they tend to be well-compensated, and that compensation can make it hard for their teams to add top-end talent. So I usually say they are better players with which to finish a team than to start one. That is a long-winded way of saying that I think that Ball will help the Bulls, a lot, but also serve to make it more difficult for them to become a truly top-end contender.

LaVine and Vucevic are very good players. But it’s asking way too much to ask them to be the best and second-best players respectively on a team with real playoff aspirations.

Perhaps for an org that has been in a trough for as long as the Bulls have been since trading away Jimmy Butler, getting to “pretty good” is good enough. Between the acquisitions of Ball and Caruso alongside last year’s trade for Vucevic, this is a team trending towards competence at a minimum.

Vecenie: Yeah, I think where the Bulls end up now in the next couple of years all depends on two things, basically. First, what does Patrick Williams become? The only question more important than this one going forward for Chicago is whether LaVine signs his long-term deal with Chicago. Williams has a really high ceiling as both a defender and a shot-creator. And with all of the pieces surrounding him now, he should be able to come along a bit more slowly, which is probably good for everyone as he hopefully gets positive experience in important moments.

Second, is there any ceiling left in Ball’s game? Can he go from where he is now — where I agree with you that he’s basically a high-level role player — surpass the elite role player tier, and move into something beyond that? Is there any evidence he’s capable of it? For that to happen, I think he’d need to get significantly more shifty as a creator and become a much more willing driver.

I built a data set of the 87 lead/combo guards who played at least 700 minutes in the NBA last season. Out of that group of 87, Ball’s 5.7 drives per 36 minutes finished 83rd in the NBA. He just doesn’t play an attack-oriented brand of basketball in half-court settings. Here’s a visual representation of what we’re talking about. The names down around the bottom with him are not particularly inspiring, as they’re a mix of defensive specialists and 3-point gunners.

Funny enough, you’ll also notice the player most similar to Ball in terms of drives per minute is the one the Pelicans acquired after losing Ball, Devonte’ Graham.

Ball just simply doesn’t put any pressure on the rim. Can that change? Can he adjust? Is there a case where this style of play was situational? Honestly, I think it’s more likely that this is who he is. One thing from a scouting perspective that I’ve long noted is that I don’t think Ball has particularly fluid hips as a driver, and has a bit of a high handle. Even going back to his incredible play at UCLA, he was mostly excelling out in transition and with his incredible feel for the game as a passer. Those aspects of his game should continue to be fantastic, and playing next to LaVine and DeRozan will mean he’s not relied upon to be a late-clock shot creator or anything like that. But until he drastically improves as a ballhandler and creator, this is probably who Ball is. Any developmental time he’s putting into his game should go toward this, especially now that his shot is pretty reliable.

Partnow: I agree with all of that, which is why I don’t think there is a ton of “star” upside, however we want to define that. However, the fit alongside LaVine is extremely complementary. While Ball doesn’t much pressure the rim, LaVine averaged 7.1 FGA/GM from 5 feet and in last year. This was eighth in the league and only marginally behind Bradley Beal (7.2) for the top mark among guards. In the half-court offense, this will allow Ball to operate as more of a spot-up shooter, ball mover and entry passer — an oft-overlooked ability that will enhance Vucevic and DeRozan’s effectiveness as well — than an initiator, a role much more amenable to his skillset. Meanwhile, LaVine (and Caruso) will benefit from Ball’s vision and creativity in transition situations. And did we mention the ability to cover for LaVine on defense?

One drawback of the so-called positionless revolution is that players sometimes end up with an odd mix of skills making them hard to build around. In this case, the jigsaw fit between LaVine and Ball is ideal.

Leroux: What makes the LaVine/Ball combination exciting and viable is LaVine’s growth as an on-ball creator. We saw in New Orleans that Ball actually works better in the half-court when someone else takes over the playmaking (long live Point Zion!) and that means his team needs another creator who ideally can hit jumpers. The Bulls had a totally respectable 114.2 Offensive Rating in LaVine’s minutes last season and scored 1.03 points per pick-and-roll possession, again a strong mark despite only having Vucevic a portion of their season. Ball can push the pace in transition but does not need to be the guy the rest of the time, which is a nice dynamic.

Vecenie: On top of that offensive fit, the Bulls shored up one of the biggest weaknesses on their roster: defense from the lead guard spot. Lonzo isn’t awesome at the point of attack, getting clipped regularly on screens. But he’s a great team defender who is always in the right spot rotationally and has a ton of length to not get hit on switches. Then, the team went out and signed Alex Caruso to an immensely reasonable deal. He’s one of the better point-of-attack defenders around from the lead guard spot. Good business all-around to complement what LaVine does well, and what he struggles with.

Partnow: The Caruso deal makes me like the acquisition of Ball more. This is suddenly a very good, synergistically constructed backcourt. In some matchups, I can even see them playing all three together.

Vecenie: Totally agree with you, Seth. I love this backcourt. Let’s not forget Coby White, either. The cool thing about Caruso is that he should take an awful lot of pressure off White on defense during the regular season, something the young guard has really struggled with early in his career.

Leroux: I mean, it sure appears that Karnisovas has forgotten about White, or at least buried him pretty thoroughly.

Vecenie: Yeah, the White aspect of this is difficult to disentangle, because while he hasn’t been incredible to start his career, he’s been pretty good at creating offense for a guy who is still 21 years old. He also showed marked improvement in his passing this season. At the very least, White is an NBA player off the bench given what he’s shown so far, and I still think there might be some room beyond that. Unfortunately, his development will be abbreviated this summer due to shoulder surgery, but I’m still not out on White despite his defensive deficiencies.

But let’s shift the focus to Caruso briefly. I thought he was a completely reasonable vote this year for the All-Defense team. He’s remarkably good on that end of the floor. He does everything you could ask a player to do. He’s terrific at the point of attack. He’s awesome on closeout integrity, contesting while also staying on balance to cut off drives. He’s always in the right spot rotationally. He’s disruptive. I honestly can’t believe the Lakers let him go at this price point. Especially given that he’s made 38 percent of his 3s so far during his career and is a great passer, quickly reading the floor and diagnosing where to put the ball. Again, he can’t drive anywhere or create his own offense, but Caruso is the kind of guy you win games with because of how exceptional he is at processing the game quickly.

Partnow: In some ways, Caruso is an even more extreme version of Ball. Though he’s a better rim attacker, his complete lack of any sort of in-between game — for his career he has shot a ghastly 28.8 percent on two-pointers outside of the restricted area — makes him a poor option as a primary initiator. He has enough ball-handling skill, though, to operate as a secondary or tertiary creator, while his 37.7 percent career mark from three indicates his ability to play off the ball. All of which gives him more than enough offensive juice to allow what you rightly identify as borderline-elite point of attack defense.

Leroux: The Ball deal is a pretty fascinating transaction logistically as well. Structuring it as a sign-and-trade gave Arturas Karnisovas significantly more latitude which they used to acquire both DeRozan and Caruso. For their part, the Pelicans add Satoransky and Temple, the latter signing a new three-year, $15 million contract with a non-guaranteed final season.

Vecenie: One thing all of this does do, Danny, is take the LaVine re-negotiate-and-extend option off the table, right? Is there a way to time the sign-and-trades to do that? I think getting that done would have been my No. 1 priority this summer, so if I’m making statements on where I think mistakes were made here, that’s my pick.

Leroux: It sure appears that way, because there is not a path I can see for the Bulls to create cap space. Burning room to secure LaVine long-term would have limited the 2021-22 squad but they are taking a gigantic risk waiting until unrestricted free agency. At the same point, it is possible if not probable that Karnisovas knew LaVine was not interested in the renegotiation-and-extension before making these other moves.

Vecenie: Where do the Bulls go from here? The most obvious thing to me at this point is to use the restricted free agency rights of Lauri Markkanen to try to get frontcourt or wing defensive help.

Leroux: Moving Markkanen and/or White are options but both feel higher-upside than the players the front office would get for them. Depending on what other teams offer for Markkanen and what he wants in this thinning market, starting next season with both on roster and seeing how things go is a totally justifiable course of action.

Vecenie: I know I sound like a broken record, but do you guys remember the Jim Boylen era? Do you remember how bad that was? Do you remember how completely unwatchable those teams were outside of LaVine? Do you remember how much we used to laugh at the way they played? Do you guys remember the “I’m gonna develop this bench” era? It’s been less than a year since Boylen was fired. For them to go from where they were then to where they are now is a gargantuan step forward.

I wouldn’t have made the DeRozan move, but I just can’t get all that upset about it when all of their moves this summer will result in them being so much better than they were a season ago. It’s more than I would have been comfortable paying, but it’s also not my money and the Bulls should be a fun team to watch now, and a pretty competent one. Now, they just need to hope they win this year so LaVine stays happy and sticks around to grow with this core. Because if that doesn’t happen, they’re screwed. That genuinely puts a lot of pressure on this situation.

Partnow: Everybody seems to think they’re the next Phoenix Suns. That’s my critique. I don’t see how you talk yourself into the cost in both outgoing assets and cap flexibility expended on DeRozan without convincing/fooling yourself that this is a conference-finals-level core. I understand and respect the desire to be respectable after many seasons of being… not. But this isn’t a midsized market looking to grind out an existence as a frisky six seed every year.

If you told me the Bulls had to trade two second-rounders and Thad Young to add DeRozan for something like three years at $55 million, I wouldn’t like it. But would understand Sam’s viewpoint on it. If the Bulls braintrust is right and that’s a pretty good team, you can build on the pretty goodness. But doing this, even in the best plausible scenarios, this isn’t a contender-level roster for the next two seasons, and doesn’t have much in the way of avenues to become one.

Leroux: It is genuinely jarring to see a front office commit this intensely to a roster with so little upside. Even the biggest Bulls optimists would have to agree that they are outside the top four of the East at full strength and I would be genuinely surprised to see them win a playoff series with LaVine, Vucevic and DeRozan as their best players. That said, there are lots of ways to define success and it is entirely possible for Bulls management to see making the playoffs and losing in the first round as a sufficient upgrade off their prior situation to take the plunge. That would not be my approach to running a team but Karnisovas has stayed on the same course from the Vucevic trade all the way through Tuesday’s DeRozan deal. Hopefully, he sees something bigger than I do here and turns out to be correct because the Ball/LaVine/DeRozan/Williams/Vucevic starting lineup will definitely be compelling to watch this season.

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NBA Free Agency deals tracker, Day 2: Grades and analysis for every move, from DeRozan to a John Collins stalemate

The Athletic 04 August, 2021 - 11:58am

NBA Free Agency deals tracker, Day 2: Grades and analysis for every move, from DeRozan to a John Collins stalemate

Day 2 of 2021 NBA Free Agency was definitely less eventful than the madness we saw in Day 1. Nearly 60 transactions in Day 1. Down to roughly a couple dozen transactions in Day 2, but we still saw some pretty significant names come off the board. We also had a max extension for a two-time MVP and a stalemate between a restricted free agent seeking the max and his incumbent team trying to avoid paying just that.

We’ve got the big moves, the expected re-signs, head-scratchers, signings of great value, signings that could turn ugly and a lot more. We’ll get through all of them from Day 2 with grades for some and emojis for others.

Here’s the deal for DeRozan to get him from San Antonio to Chicago. The Bulls are sending Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, a protected first-round pick and two second-round picks to the Spurs. On top of that, DeRozan gets nearly $30 million per season over the next three years. That’s a significant commitment from the Bulls to bring him into the fold. It also makes the social media hopes that DeRozan might take the midlevel exception or even as low as the taxpayer’s midlevel exception look like the bargaining stage of grief. DeRozan was never going to take $5.9 million for one year with an offer like this possible somewhere. DeRozan went for the money and now he finds himself in a pretty intriguing situation.

I’m just trying to figure out if intriguing means good. The Bulls are really trying to put something together. They’ve given two different players this week (DeRozan and Lonzo Ball) $85 million each. For Ball, it’s going over four years. For DeRozan, three. And it cost them yet another first-round pick in the process. So to bring in Nikola Vucevic, Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls sent out three first-round picks, Wendell Carter Jr., Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, Otto Porter, Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple and three second-round picks. Is that a good swap?

From a name standpoint, absolutely. Vucevic is an All-Star. DeRozan has been an All-Star. Ball is very good. But that’s mortgaging the future of your draft for a team that should make the playoffs. Do we feel like they definitely make the playoffs though? I like the individual pieces of Zach LaVine, DeRozan and Ball. Do those guys fit together? Can you get by defensively with a lineup of Ball, LaVine, DeRozan, Patrick Williams and Vucevic? Again, a lot of these individual moves make sense on their own. But put them together and I have my concerns.

We also have to go into dissecting this move with the knowledge that LaVine expects to get maxed out next summer. This isn’t a bad move, but it’s not an absolutely great move when you get past the names being good names.

There was a tiny bit of curiosity over the last year or so on whether or not Curry would explore other options when it comes to his future in this league. Curry is one of the most dynamic and electric players we’ve ever seen. He’s nearly the entirety of this Warriors team and that’s a team with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson on it. Losing Curry would be devastating. Good thing for Golden State, they were able to offer him $215 million over four years. Curry took the extension and signed the second $200 million contract of his career. That’s a record. This is a no-brainer. Curry hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down at the age of 33. He just had arguably his best individual season and now the Warriors can get the band back together healthy this coming season.

This is the easiest decision for the Warriors and a very easy decision for Curry.

More: Read Marcus Thompson’s exclusive one on one with Steph

At least for now, Bruce Brown Jr. is making things easy on the Brooklyn Nets. By not bringing in a big offer sheet, or even a decently sized one, Brown helps out with the luxury tax bill for the Nets. Last season, he proved to be a very valuable role player. Almost playing like a guard center at times, especially in the playoff run. His defense was a huge bright spot for the Nets. He’s so versatile and he’s able to score in the middle of the paint with that floater. He can’t shoot from the outside, but they don’t need him to be another Joe Harris. Brown bets on himself and we’ll see what kind of decision that looks like a year from now. For the Nets, this is great in the short term, but there has to be a little concern that not signing him long-term could lead to him not being with them past next season. He’ll now be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Once the Los Angeles Lakers committed to having a Big 3 of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, we knew Horton-Tucker and his agent were licking their chops. By becoming a team with three max stars and not a lot of roster spots already filled, THT’s leverage in negotiations became so strong. We’ve seen him blossom into a role player Frank Vogel trusted at times last season. For a 20-year old on a championship defending team, that’s not a normal thing to see. His game has really resonated with fans and the front office loves him. Getting over $10 million per season isn’t something he’s likely to justify this year, but the idea of him outperforming the contract within three seasons doesn’t seem crazy. Still plenty he needs to work on, but the Lakers needed to make this signing happen. Especially after losing Alex Caruso on Monday.

Nobody is surprised that Gibson is coming back to a Tom Thibodeau team. Gibson played well for the Knicks last year and he’s going to continue to be someone that Thibodeau trusts. And he should. Gibson doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and he’s a good, tough-nosed veteran to have in your frontcourt. I’m not sure how much he moves the needle. Ideally, he’ll be behind Obi Toppin this season in the depth chart, but that’s not a given. That’s just what you hope Toppin ends up earning consistently if you’re a Knicks fan. But this is an easy re-signing right here.

Why would I put a backup center’s one-year minimum signing in this section? Do you guys remember the “feud” between Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond? The Lakers and Sixers just participated in an episode of Backup Center Swap, debuting this fall on ABC. Dwight Howard left Philadelphia to go back to the Lakers. Drummond left the Lakers to go join up in Philadelphia. I’d imagine this small deal doesn’t happen unless Embiid says he’s fine with Drummond being on the team. But Drummond was also the target of his social media and television ridicule for years as a competitor. What are the odds that Embiid gets Drummond to regret this decision after a week of training camp? Also, on top of that, Drummond just hasn’t been very good consistently for years.

I really like this signing by the Jazz. Gay has become a very reliable four/small ball five. He played a lot bigger than he’s supposed to often throughout his San Antonio career. His 3-point accuracy is still all over the place from year to year, but he’s still able to score in a variety of ways. I like the idea of the Jazz deciding he’s their backup 5 more than I like the idea of them trying to make something else work. Udoka Azubuike probably won’t be ready. They signed Hassan Whiteside for some ungodly reason. Throwing Gay at the five makes a lot more sense than their other options. He’s going to provide more of that veteran leadership they need in tight moments. This feels a lot like when they signed Joe Johnson out of nowhere a few years ago, except it’s cheaper this time.

I know we’re used to waiting until George Hill gets traded at the deadline to a hopeful contender before we care about George Hill, but this small signing by the Milwaukee Bucks to bring him back is a great value. Hill is a good team defender. He doesn’t usually get too careless with the ball. And he knocks down shots, The Bucks aren’t asking him to save them from Eric Bledsoe minutes anymore. They’re just asking him to back up Jrue Holiday and be better than Jeff Teague was at the end of last season. Hill is a perfect backup point guard at this point in his career. Great value to jump on this signing right after he was waived by Philadelphia.

Considering the value of Ish Smith and what ended up happening with Devonte’ Graham in free agency on Monday, I think the value here is spectacular. Smith isn’t nearly the shooter from the outside that Graham is. But Smith is better in every other part of the game. Graham ended up getting $47 million over four years in the sign-and-trade to New Orleans, plus it cost the Pelicans a first-round pick. I’d rather have Smith at $4.5 million for one year with that protected pick than overpay Graham. Smith will come in and run the show when LaMelo isn’t on the floor. He’ll be able to play alongside Ball, as well. He can pair nicely with Terry Rozier. Smith is the veteran presence the Hornets need in the backcourt. It’s a brilliant value for them.

The story of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James finally getting to play together is fun. Even for most cynical people, you should be able to find some small joy or appreciation in that. What that means for the Lakers is interesting though. We’ve seen Melo completely revamp his outlook in Portland the last two seasons. He accepted his role, knocked down a hair under 40 percent of his 3-pointers and provided a nice scoring boost off the bench. Melo will get that chance with the Lakers as well. He’s not going to defend and keeping the ball moving can be tricky. But they’ll need him to space the floor and keep the defense honest. We know LeBron will trust him at the end of games, so he’ll get plenty of chances to close. Just needs to keep making shots.

Assuming the Brooklyn Nets are losing Spencer Dinwiddie (which they are), bringing in Mills as a short-term option in the backcourt is almost a perfect move. It probably stands as realistically a one-year deal. Every contender around the NBA wanted him because of his fearless nature scoring, the way he can shoot the ball and because of his championship experience. His job will be to come into the game, drop some bombs from the perimeter on the defense and to screw up their rotations and defensive attention to free up spacing for better players. The Nets were really missing a guy like him in the playoffs because James Harden played on one leg, Kyrie Irving hurt his ankle and Dinwiddie was out injured.

Malik Monk finally came around this year and it was a long time coming for Hornets fans. That’s what makes this signing with the Lakers so promising. Monk is one of the few young options the Lakers will bring in this summer and he’s coming off a year he hit 40 percent from deep. Monk is a natural scorer, which has made his career so frustrating. Maybe he just starting hitting shots in an attempt to make a run at a contract year. But regardless, he’ll be in another contract year this time around too. Monk delivering for the Lakers will get him paid next summer. This is as low risk, high reward as it gets for the Lakers. Monk just needs to produce.

Let’s be honest. This signing for Robin Lopez is probably more about him getting to go to Disney World than it is about him wanting to be on the Orlando Magic. But what an amazing value play this ends up being for the Magic. Lopez was phenomenal for Washington last season, becoming a very reliable scorer in the post. Lopez can be a veteran presence on a rebuilding team. The Magic will be bad this year in the first year of their rebuild. Lopez can help Jalen Suggs get acclimated as a big man to set him screens, and if things go great for him, he’ll help develop Mo Bamba before getting traded at the deadline to a contender… if he wants that.

Head-scratchers aren’t necessarily bad deals from free agency, but they also do leave you wondering a little bit more about what the process was for these signings. Some of the head-scratching has to do with the team that signed them or the player deciding to sign there.

Sam Amick dropped this in our Free Agency Live Blog earlier and I found it fascinating, so I’m including it in the head-scratcher section. Collins is in restricted free agency with the Hawks. Collins turned down a $90 million extension back in the latter parts of 2020. He believed he should be considered a max player and bet on himself to prove just that. Then the Hawks ended up in the Eastern Conference finals. Collins was a big part of that and a lot of people wondered if that was enough to get him his max deal this summer. But now we’re in a bit of a game of negotiating chicken.

According to Amick, Collins has been offered $125 million over five years by the Hawks. That’s their offer to him at the moment, $35 million more than what they tried with the extension. Collins still wants the max and I’m sure the playoff success didn’t deter him at all. The problem with that is being a restricted free agent can really limit the market you want to set for yourself. If he had been an unrestricted free agent this summer in some alternate universe, I bet he gets that max from somebody. But he’s not.

Oklahoma City and San Antonio are the only teams that can get in the mix with Collins on significant cap space. It will take a max offer sheet or something close to it to get the Hawks to reconsider bringing him back. So if that’s the scenario for Collins, how realistic is it to hold out? He has a couple of options. He can take the five-year deal from the Hawks, get crazy paid for his services (even though it’s not a max), and maybe even work in the final season of the deal as a player option so he has some flexibility. Or he can take the one-year qualifying offer from the Hawks instead. It would pay him nearly $8 million this season. Then he’d be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

While I would never want a player to fail to cash out in a situation, he should take the $125 million here. It’s a great contract. It’s not a max, but it’s a great contract and an insane amount of money. It’s also a massive increase from the extension offer last year.

Level of confusion in emojis: 🤔 🤔 🤔 🤔

No offense to these teams and their respective signings, but we’re deeming these simply worthy of a quick sentence or two, followed by an emoji to deem it yay or nay as a move. Thumbs up means good. Two thumbs up means great. Thumbs down means bad. Two thumbs down means terrible. Handshake is neutral.

I don’t know how much Johnson still has left in the tank, but the Nets grabbing him on a one-year deal is going to be a nice value. They’re going to hope he can slide in for the departed Jeff Green and most importantly he’s done a commendable job in his career of defending Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Yay or nay? 👍👍

This is a very good signing for the Lakers to help add depth to the backcourt. Nunn had his restricted free agency withdrawn by the Heat, allowing him to sign with the Lakers and he will be a decent replacement in the rotation for what they lose with Alex Caruso to Chicago.

Yay or nay? 👍

I really like this signing for the Bucks, but even as a Hood guy, I need to recognize this isn’t going to be a definite win. However, getting Hood on a small deal to prove his worth when he should be really in the swing of things following that Achilles’ injury a couple of years ago should result at least in him being a 3-point threat again.

Spurs reunite with a familiar face in Forbes, but they’re going to try to add him to a backcourt that is still pretty crowded. The question is whether or not he can bring something that isn’t just outside shooting.

I do not understand the appeal or the point of the Jazz signing Whiteside here. Even on a one-year minimum, there’s really no point in having him be in the rotation as a small-time backup, or to have him in that locker room.

Yay or nay? 👎👎

I like this signing for the Sixers, simply because he’s a shooting wing that Daryl Morey will love. Niang isn’t much of a defender, but he’ll stretch the floor and make smart enough plays.

Yay or nay? 👍

Are we buying Morris as a big contributor at this point? He’s probably more of a “break glass in case of emergency” for the Heat here, but they’ll definitely need him to knock down shots if he’s going to find his way into the rotation.

Yay or nay? 🤝

Snell is just a good veteran wing to have on the roster, but at the same time, you never know what kind of production you’re going to get from him. The Blazers will have him as a safety net in their rotation and he’ll be able to defend some.

Yay or nay? 🤝

Nader didn’t play a ton for Phoenix last season, but he’s turned himself into a wing the Suns wanted to keep around. It’s a small sample but he’s been a very good shooter from 3-point range the last two seasons.

Yay or nay? 🤝

Bjelica isn’t the defender the Warriors would like to have, but he should help their second unit figure out how to score. The Warriors were mediocre on offense last season and Bjelica will be a shot-maker and a playmaker on the floor.

Yay or nay? 👍

Dekker is one of those athletic wings who is supposed to be a shooter. One problem is he’s not a shooter at all at the professional level. If he doesn’t end up knocking down 3-pointers for the Raptors, this will be a wasted signing.

Yay or nay? 👎 👎

Sykes is a small point guard who has played all around the world, but he’ll get his chance to stick in the NBA for the first time since 2015. That’s when he played for the Austin Toros in the G League.

Aussie big man Landale is coming off leading his team to the NBL championship and he’ll hope to add to the Spurs big man rotation of Jakob Poeltl and Zach Collins. Landale can score, rebound and move the ball a bit in the half court.

Yay or nay? 🤝

Louzada is a pretty decent Brazilian scoring guard from the Australian league. Pelicans had his draft rights and bringing him over on a small four-year deal gives them the chance to see if he can find his way into the rotation.

Yay or nay? 🤝

San Antonio Spurs: Updated roster, depth after crazy Tuesday

Air Alamo 04 August, 2021 - 10:30am

It's safe to say the San Antonio Spurs have finally chosen a solid direction this offseason. After being over-reliant on their veterans last season, GM Brian Wright and the front office have said goodbye to three of them.

First, Rudy Gay agreed to a 2-year deal with the Utah Jazz. Then, Patty Mills agreed to a 2-year deal of his own with the Brooklyn Nets. Both signings give the veterans a shot at an NBA title in the near future.

Meanwhile, the latest development saw DeMar DeRozan heading east to the Chicago Bulls. The sign-and-trade deal netted the Spurs Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, a future first-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick, and the Bulls' 2025 second-round pick.

There will be plenty to dissect over the next few days, and chances are high San Antonio isn't quite done making moves yet. For now, though, it looks like the Spurs will be fully embracing their young core of Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker, Derrick White, and Devin Vassell. Gone are the times when the Spurs just give the ball to DeMar or Rudy and watch them go to work late.

With the keys now firmly in the hands of the young guns, here's a Tuesday afternoon look at where the roster sits now, although it likely will change again soon. Note: The depth chart is projected but will likely change.

The Spurs started off free agency with a bang, and don't be surprised to see this updated with more movement very soon.

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DeMar DeRozan Says His Style of Play Is a Direct Result of Not Having Cable as a Kid: ‘That’s Who I Gravitated to Early On’

Sportscasting 04 August, 2021 - 10:30am

The first-round pick the Bulls will send to the Spurs in the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade will be top-10 protected in the first year and top-eight protected in the second and third years if it doesn’t convey immediately, reports John Hollinger of The Athletic.

That pick will tentatively be the Bulls’ 2025 first-rounder, but that’s conditional on Chicago sending its 2023 pick to Orlando. If the 2023 first-rounder falls in its protected range (top four) and the Bulls keep it, the Bulls would have to wait until at least 2026 to send a first-rounder to the Spurs in order to avoid running afoul of the Stepien rule, which prohibits teams from trading back-to-back future first-round picks.

Here’s more from around the East:

Starting to wonder if Danny stepped down to show everyone that it wasn’t his fault but Brad Stevens why they s*cked he’s clearly out of his depth being president

As for Brad I won’t to thank him for wasting another season of Tatum and Brown what a clown

He’s new to the job, maybe he didn’t realize it was free agency, he sure didn’t act like he knew.

What did you want them to do? They have no cap room. They made trades instead.

Point guard is they’re need. They went all in for kemba and it didn’t work out. So, they’re still searching for a PG.

Pretty sure Danny was the one who let Hayward sign with Charlotte and proceed to trade for Kemba, sign TT, let Rozier go, and waste all of their first round draft picks like Grant Williams, Langford, Nesmith, Guerschon Yabusele (remember him? 16th pick 2016), Robert Williams (although he is showing his worth finally) etc. etc. Don’t blame Brad for Danny’s mess.

Ay at least Yabusele is killing it in Euroleague. It seemed like the 82 game season was way too much basketball for him.

I was joking it’s both their faults they both should’ve been fired not promoted or able to step a way on his own terms they screwed this team

Now Stevens banking on getting Beal next year what if he doesn’t you can kiss Tatum and Brown good bye they’ll go build another super team with the Knicks or a west coast team

The Big problem was a b*tch name Kyrie not pick #16

“What we want to work to is position-less basketball.”

They should’ve signed Dinwiddie I stead of Fournier

Celtics been looking to next yr. For three years now. So again

Good thing for Cavs to let McDermott go, but, FAs are going. Strike Nader from Fedor’s linked list for wings Aug3:

“James Ennis, Isaac Bonga, Tyler Dorsey (a 6-foot-5 bomber who is ready to come back from overseas and was with head coach J.B. Bickerstaff in Memphis)…

“At this point, the trade market is much more robust and all-around better. The belief is Terrence Ross, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic, Kyle Anderson, T.J. Warren, Jeremy Lamb, Tobias Harris, Harrison Barnes and Cam Reddish could all be had at the right price.”

Unfortunately that price is likely a 2022 first and/or Nance.

Take a flier on Oladipo or Sirvidas, Darious Miller 31 or Paul Millsap 36.

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