It’s nearly September, which means the vast majority of offseason transactions have already taken place. While there are a few notable players that have yet to sign new contracts, such as Rodney Hood and Dwyane Wade, the dust has cleared enough for us to look back and evaluate which teams landed the best value contracts of the offseason (or the best online sportsbooks).
- Ed Davis, Brooklyn Nets (One Year, $4.4 Million)
When it was reported that Davis agreed to terms on a one-year, $4.4 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets, there was a lot of confusion from Trail Blazers fans. Portland’s fan base had an appreciation for Davis’ contributions on the court and wondered why the team wouldn’t match or beat Brooklyn’s offer. Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, they are carrying a huge payroll, which makes even a value contract such as this one too costly to afford.
Brooklyn took advantage of this situation and landed a quality backup center who can slot in as a starter when needed. The backup center position is a low priority for teams these days, but Davis is a solid defender, stays within his role and is comfortable doing the dirty work that other players shy away from. Davis’ offensive game is limited but he doesn’t demand the ball and is an opportunistic scorer. Brooklyn had one of the best overall offseasons and Davis is a big part of that.
- Greg Monroe, Toronto Raptors (One Year, $2.2 Million)
In the 2015 offseason, the Milwaukee Bucks signed Monroe to a three-year, $50 million contract. At the time, the signing was seen as a coup for the Bucks, who have struggled to sign marquee free agents in the past.
Since that time, Monroe has played for the Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics and now has agreed to a one-year, $2.2 million deal with the Toronto Raptors. Monroe’s value across the league has fallen as the league continues to collectively move away from traditional centers who are unable to space the court from three-point range and are not lockdown defenders. Monroe is a gifted scorer near the basket and an underrated passer, but he is not a reliable shooter and, even at his best, is a limited defender.
When Monroe receives playing time, he does fill up the box score. Last season with the Boston Celtics, Monroe averaged 19.2 points, 12 rebounds, 4.3 assists, two steals and 1.2 blocks per 36 minutes. However, teams now give less credence to basic box score statistics and value players that make a clear positive impact on the court in ways that sometimes don’t show up in basic statistics. Monroe will have to show that he can do more than fill up the box score this upcoming season if he wants any shot of rehabilitating his free agent value for next offseason.
- Seth Curry, Portland Trail Blazers (One-Year, $2.79 Million)
Seth Curry missed all of last season with a fractured tibia that required surgery. Curry has been cleared to play for several months but did not find a robust market for his services this offseason. Portland wisely jumped at the opportunity to bring Curry in on a one-year, $2.79 million contract.
In 2016-17, Curry averaged 12.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 42.5 percent from three-point range. Curry has improved his game significantly since going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. He looks to pick up where he left off by teaming up with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in Portland’s talented backcourt. Curry struggles on defense, but his offensive skillset could be a nice addition to a Portland team that heavily relies on the offensive production from its lead guards. And while there are concerns regarding his injury history, there is essentially zero risk for Portland under this one-year contract.
- Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks (One Year, $3.3 Million)
Brook Lopez signing a one-year, $3.3 million contract is surprising even considering how deflated contracts for centers have become in recent seasons. Lopez, unlike Monroe, has expanded his offensive game and is now a reliable three-point shooter. However, this alone wasn’t enough to convince a team to make the kind of offer that Lopez might have hoped for.
Playing a limited role for the Los Angeles Lakers last season didn’t help Lopez’s cause, but he has established himself as a quality starting-caliber center over his 10-year career. Milwaukee is the beneficiary of a cold free agent market and now has a talented veteran center who can impact both ends of the court. Lopez lacks the speed or mobility to keep up with the Bucks’ athletics guards and wings in the open court but he is long and effective in the half court.
Over his career, Lopez has averaged 17.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.
- Isaiah Thomas, Denver Nuggets (One-Year, $2 Million)
This year’s free agent market was difficult for point guards, and Isaiah Thomas may have been negatively impacted more than anyone. Thomas’ recent hip issues have limited his game and flat lined his value across the league. Thomas was a legitimate MVP candidate in 2016-17 when he was the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics. But with his defensive limitations and injury concerns, Thomas wasn’t able to land anything more than a one-year, $2 million deal with the Nuggets.
With all of that said, Thomas finds himself in a nice situation to rehabilitate his value. The Nuggets feature an explosive offense and isn’t a team known for its defensive culture. Thomas won’t help the Nuggets’ defense, but he won’t receive a disproportionate amount of blame for the team’s defensive struggles either. Key players like Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray struggle on defense as well and will also shoulder any criticism the team may receive if their defense falls below the league average this upcoming season.
If Thomas can overcome his injuries, win the starting point guard position and lead the Nuggets’ potent offensive attack, he could see his value rise in next year’s free agent market.
- DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors (One-Year, $5 Million)
This contract has the potential to be the best value contract of the offseason. However, it all comes down to how long it will take for Cousins to return to action after tearing his Achilles tendon last season and how effective he will be when he returns. If Cousins misses the vast majority of the regular season and is limited in the postseason, then obviously there won’t be much value in this contract. But if Cousins does return relatively early into the season and can perform anywhere close to his former level of play, this will easily be the best value contract of the offseason.
Cousins is arguably the most talented center in the NBA and a capable defensive player (though he often lack effort and takes plays off). Cousins doesn’t necessarily fit within Golden State’s offense and his bad habits may be exasperated by the team’s free flowing style of play. However, the opportunity to bring in a player like Cousins with this contract was too good of an opportunity for the Warriors to pass up.
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