NBA PM: Best Value Signings of the Offseason

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Last summer, several NBA teams handed out enormous contracts to some very fortunate free agents. With the salary cap exploding, there was an abundance of money available across the league, and several front offices couldn’t resist the temptation of going on a spending spree.

This led many to believe that this summer’s free agents were in line for a mega payday as well. Unfortunately, the reality is that there was much less money available this offseason than anticipated, which has forced some players to accept smaller deals than they were expecting. Under these circumstances, some franchises managed to sign or re-sign some free agents at team-friendly rates. Here are some of the offseason’s best value signings.

Patrick Patterson, Oklahoma City Thunder
Contract: Three years, $16.4 million

Patterson signed a three-year, $16.4 million deal with the Thunder this offseason. The 28-year-old power forward has seven years of NBA experience and has developed into a solid four that can knock down three-pointers and defend effectively.

The Thunder were in need of a power forward last season and heavily relied on Domantas Sabonis and later Taj Gibson. Each player had their moments but Patterson is likely a better fit, especially alongside newly acquired superstar forward Paul George. Patterson is strong enough to defend bigger players in the post and mobile enough to guard effectively on the perimeter. He is an intelligent defender who understands his role and executes it consistently. He doesn’t put up huge box score numbers, but it was clear that the Toronto Raptors were a better team last season when he was on the court.

Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City Thunder
Contract: Three years, $30 million

Roberson is an elite perimeter defender and terrible shooter. That sort of player generally can get good, but not star-level money in free agency. However, Roberson is such a versatile and effective defender, it was believed that he would get a deal beyond what the typical defensive-specialist gets in free agency. This is especially true considering Roberson had previously turned down a four-year, $48 million extension.

With NBA teams short on spending power, Roberson was unable to leverage his skill and reputation into a big offer sheet, which put the Thunder in the driver’s seat. At age 25, Roberson still has room to grow and refine his offensive game. However, even if he simply remains as one the best overall defensive players in the league without improving his offensive output, this will still be a bargain deal for the Thunder over the next three years.

Omri Casspi, Golden State Warriors
Contract: One-year, $2.1 million

NBA front offices are seemingly obsessed with scooping up long wing players who can guard multiple positions and knock down three-pointers. This is especially true when that player can be acquired on a below-market rate contract. With this in mind, it is perplexing that these front offices repeatedly overlook Omri Casspi.

Casspi, age 29, stands at 6-foot-9 and has proven himself to be a versatile defender. He doesn’t put up huge box score numbers, but he has shot over 40 percent from three-point range in two seasons, is a low usage player that rarely plays outside of his role and is a better passer than most people think. Any NBA team could benefit from having a player like Casspi on the roster. The Golden State Warriors recognized this and snatched him up with a veteran’s minimum contract.

Luc Mbah Moute, Houston Rockets
Contract: One-year, Veteran’s Minimum

Last season, Mbah Moute shot a career-high 39.1 percent from beyond the arc and was the Los Angeles Clippers’ best defensive player on the perimeter. Yes, Chris Paul was on the team too and is a great defender as well. But Paul is so important on offense that he wasn’t able to play top-level defense all the time. Mbah Moute had no such limitation and put in optimal effort on defense the vast majority of the time.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers called on Mbah Moute to guard elite point guards like Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard, premier forwards like Paul George and LeBron James, as well as elite big men like Anthony Davis and LaMarcus Aldridge. Mbah Moute took each assignment and always made things difficult for his opponent, regardless of their position. The Rockets add exceptional defensive versatility and seemingly reliable three-point shooting on a veteran’s minimum deal. Not bad, Houston.

Tyreke Evans, Memphis Grizzlies
Contract: One-year, $3.3 million

In his rookie season, Evans averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. At 6-foot-6 and with the playmaking skills of a point guard, Evans was thought to be a star in the making. However, declining production, injuries, a shaky jump shot and a less than ideal culture in Sacramento has dropped Evans’ stock around the league. The result is the Grizzlies get a talented playmaking guard on a team-friendly contract.

Evans may never match his peak production, but his ability to create shots for others and to attack the rim are valuable, especially for a team like the Grizzlies. His jumper is still problematic, though Evans has shown some improvement. Health is usually an issue with Evans as well. But if he can stay on the floor and make the most of his playmaking abilities, Memphis will get great value out of this deal.