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Best Bargain Deals of 2015 NBA Free Agency

Eric Saar takes a look at some of the best bargain contracts from the 2015 free agency period.

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Now that the moratorium is over and NBA teams can finally sign their free agents after the crazy nine days filled with handshakes and at least one broken commitment (as is the case was with DeAndre Jordan), the dust has settled and we can begin evaluating the changed NBA landscape.

The league’s free agency period is filled with an intriguing uncertainty. Everything is determined by those top-tier free agent. Once the premier free agents make their commitments, then everything else follows suit. Some players want the security and agree to the first reasonable deal they come across. Others have the talent and leverage to be patient and pick the best deal available. It all depends on the particular player and where they are in their careers. Some players haven’t hit it big yet and want an expanded role, while some veterans have done that and just want a shot at winning a championship (e.g., David West).

So who are those players that just signed bargain contracts? Which teams got some of the best value deals in free agency? Let’s take a look:

The Spurs hometown discount

Obviously the two “best” contracts are those of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

Getting a still-productive player in Duncan, who is in the conversation (if not leading it) for best power forward of all time, at only $5.25 million for the first year, just seems unfair for the rest of the league. Duncan has a player option in the second year for a fully-guaranteed $5.6 million. He has other incentives on his contract as well. Duncan, age 39, averaged 13.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and a couple blocks per game last year. Even as one of the oldest players in the league he is still pretty dominant on both sides of the ball.

Manu Ginobili is also better than a $2.8 million per year player. He will be taking the room level exception from the Spurs. Ginobili is a borderline hall-of-fame player with all the veteran savvy in the world and is a good player, despite being 37 years old.

Also the Danny Green contract looks pretty good. Four years and only $44.5 million for a great shooter and defender who is still improving and brings a great demeanor both on and off the court. He probably could have gotten a lot more money if he had signed elsewhere as his skill set is envied in this era of NBA basketball.

David West surprised everyone by opting out of the final year of his contract with the Indiana Pacers, passing on $12 million to sign a veteran’s minimum contract with the Spurs. At age 34, West isn’t as effective as he was earlier in his career, but he’s no slouch either. This contract is a bargain for the Spurs.

The backup big-man market

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Brandan Wright signed a three-year, roughly $18 million deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. While the Phoenix Suns clearly didn’t require his services as they agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract with Tyson Chandler, he probably could have gotten more than $6 million per year. He’ll be taking the place of Kosta Koufos who left for the Sacramento Kings. Koufos was backing up recently re-signed All-Star Marc Gasol in the middle for the Grizzlies. Wright most likely preferred to play for a contender and got his wish.

In a similar role with Phoenix last year, Wright averaged 7.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. While those numbers don’t jump out at you, remember the analytics love Wright. His player efficiency rating (PER) is just over 20. The average NBA player is around 15. So last year he had the 34th highest efficiency rating in the league. That’s valuable to teams.

Rockets re-sign Beverley, who spurns Kings

Patrick Beverley signed a four-year, $25 million deal with the Houston Rockets after he and teammate Corey Brewer (along with other players around the league like Wes Matthews, Tobias Harris and Monta Ellis) turned down bigger offers from the Sacramento Kings.

Beverley brings a tenacity to the defensive side of the ball, which allows James Harden to focus on doing what he does best.

Last season, Beverley averaged 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and a little over one steal per game in 30.8 minutes on the court for the Rockets.

Amir Johnson betting on himself

Amir Johnson signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Boston Celtics (second year is non-guaranteed). With this contract, it seems as though Johnson is betting on himself. He gets paid fair compensation in the first year at $12 million, then next year, everything is back up in the air. If he doesn’t play particularly well, the Celtics can cut bait and pay him nothing. Or if he plays well and they pick up the second year, he could make $12 million again in 2016-17.

Johnson brings energy, defense and a little bit of offense to the Celtics at the starting power forward position. In a back-up role for the Toronto Raptors last season, he averaged 9.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 26.4 minutes per game. Those minutes will certainly increase as a starter and as a member of a young Celtics team where he will be a veteran presence.

Robinson searching for the right fit

Thomas Robinson signed a two-year, $2.2 million contract with a player option on the second year at the veteran’s minimum. Robinson has bounced around the league in his three short years in the league, as the Brooklyn Nets will be the fifth team he has played for since he was drafted.

Robinson is a decent player who just hasn’t found the perfect fit. His averages last year were 5.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in only 12.2 minutes per game for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Reuniting with the Dragon

Both Gerald Green and Amare Stoudemire have inked veteran’s minimum deals with the Miami HEAT. They both reunite with Goran Dragic, whom they played with in Phoenix at different times. These are definitely some bargain signings for the HEAT and will help them bolster their bench, potentially vaulting them into playoffs.

Based in Arizona, Eric Saar is an analyst for Basketball Insiders. He has covered the league for several years. He loves to converse about the NBA on Twitter, so follow him at @Eric_Saar. Eric graduated with honors from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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