It's that time of year again, except this time around most players will walk away with their wallets a little heavier than usual. NBA free agency 2016 has easily been the most memorable free agency period in the history of the league, as many big names have been involved and the salary cap has never been higher. After signing the new TV contract with ESPN and Turner Sports in 2014, the NBA took off financially like never before and now, as we sit here in 2016, we are beginning to finally understand the significance behind the new TV deals and what these financial factors really all mean for the NBA and its players. Now that almost a week has gone, we can finally take the time to reflect on some of the bigger winners and loser this year in NBA free agency.
Now, when compiling this list, we tried to stay away as best we could from players re-signing max deals with their home teams. Mike Conley, DeMar DeRozan and Andre Drummond have all made headlines for either the right or wrong reasons, but these situations are all different. These teams are backed into a corner where they face the reality of losing an extremely valuable asset for nothing, or succumbing to the invisible hand of the market. These deals are easy to criticize on the surface, but really aren't as bad as fishing out $95 million for guys who may not even make it past January. These are the deals that we seek out to expose or on the flip-side, give some props to. Keep in mind also here, that the salary cap went up a whopping 34% ($70 million to $94 Million) from last season, so numbers will of naturally seem inflated. To solve that, we can apply what we like to call the 34% rule, in which you can take the players inflated contract value, multiply it by .34 and then subtract that number from the contract in order to find out what that player would be paid back down here, on planet earth.
15 Best - Mirza Teletovic, Milwaukee Bucks (3 Years/$30 Million)
14 Worst - Ryan Anderson, Houston Rockets (4 Years/$80 Million)
The Houston Rockets have lately been one of the circus acts of the NBA. After coming a few games away from the NBA Finals in 2014-15, the Rockets digressed significantly last season, barely making the playoffs and quickly being eliminated by the Warriors. With the team looking to remodel itself, Ryan Anderson is the perfect fit....on one end of the floor. Houston has lived and died by the three point shot the past few seasons and also possess arguably the best dribble penetration player in the league in James Harden. Harden's ability to get to the bucket and collapse the defense will make Ryan Anderson a massive threat on the wing, as he has been a 37.7% three point shooter over his career.
13 Best - Rajon Rondo, Chicago Bulls (2 Years/$28 Million)
Say what you want about Rajon Rondo. He is a bit of an odd character, has said some pretty outlandish things over the years and may or may not be the best guy to be around every single day. Regardless, Rondo is a GOOD point guard. In fact, he is one of the better pure point-guards in the NBA today (minus his ability to shoot the basketball, whoops). In all seriousness, Rondo will help out a team that was in desperate need of point guard play. Rondo led the league in assists last season with 11.7 per game and also averaged 11.9 points, marking the fourth time that the four time All Star has averaged a double-double throughout a full season.
12 Worst - Bismack Biyombo, Orlando Magic (4 Years/$72 Million)
11 Best - Nicolas Batum, Charlotte Hornets (5 Years/$120 Million)
10 Worst - Evan Turner, Portland Trail Blazers (4 Years/$75 Million)
Evan Turner had a pretty solid season last year for an overachieving Celtics team, but he for the most part has underachieved to this point in his career. After being taken second overall in the 2010 NBA draft, Turner has been nothing more than an adequate role player in each season that he has played to this point. Throughout his career Turner has averaged a modest line of 10.7/5.2/3.8 in points, rebounds and assists, but lacks a reliable three-point shot that would at least help to rationalize this inordinate amount of money.
9 Best - Courtney Lee, New York Knicks (4 Years/$48 Million)
8 Worst - Ian Mahinmi, Washington Wizards (4 Years/$64 Million)
7 Best - Al Jefferson, Indiana Pacers (3 Years/$30 Million)
While every team began frantically withdrawing their chips, trying to meet the standards of the unparalleled free agency market of 2016, the Indiana Pacers calmly picked up the phone and made sure not to burn any holes in their pockets that may be too big to repair. The Pacers after making moves to acquire PG Jeff Teague from Atlanta and F Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn and have also added big man Al Jefferson for the conservative price of 3 Years/$30 million.
6 Worst - Harrison Barnes, Dallas Mavericks (4 Years/$94 Million)
Championships really do pay the bills. Harrison Barnes is a very good player, don't get us wrong. It's just that if we ever constructed a team of dudes whose careers benefited the most from playing on an elite team or with an elite group of players, Harrison Barnes would probably get a spot in the starting lineup. Even in a system where there are an inordinate amount of max contracts given out, it still doesn't seem as though H-Barnes falls into this list. He is a solid defender, a long and athletic body and a good three point shooter, but lies well outside the category of elite NBA players.
5 Best - Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers (4 Years/$50 Million)
How the Lakers were able to hand Timofey Mozgof the money that they did (don’t worry, we’re getting there) and steal Jordan Clarkson for 4 Years/$50 Million is totally beyond us. Clarkson was the lone bright spot in Lakerland outside of Kobe’s charade throughout the 2015-16 campaign. Now that Kobe has finally retired, the attention will return back to the basketball court where Lakers fans don’t take kindly to losing.
4 Worst - Chandler Parsons, Memphis Grizzlies (4 Years/$94.4 Million)
3 Best - Al Horford, Boston Celtics (4 Years/$113.3 Million)
2 Worst - Timofey Mozgov, Los Angeles Lakers (4 Years/$64 Million)
If you win a championship (even from the bench), go talk to a desperate team who are feeling sorry for themselves and beginning to feel a shift in the NBA's tide. The Lakers were shaken coming into free agency, barely able to get meetings with many of the leagues top free agents. Kobe has shied free agents away from the LA market ever since the debacle with Steve Nash and Dwight Howard and now that he is gone, the Lakers really have no selling point, as Kobe was a double edged sword.
1 Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors (2 Years/$54.3 Million)
Now, we're not sure that this is the best thing for the game itself, as many basketball purists are fully against a bunch of All Stars getting together in the name of a dynasty. On the surface, it is kind of lame. KD has put the slogan “if you can’t beat em, join em” into full-effect. This, however, is beside the point. The signing is #1 on the list for a variety of reasons. The Warriors. although arguably being the favourite, had to compete with other contenders such as OKC and the San Antonio Spurs in the process of landing Kevin Durant.
The term itself is pretty good when you consider that the Warriors let Harrison Barnes walk and he is now being paid just $4 million less than Durant over in Dallas. This is the first time ever that back-to-back MVPs have played on the same team and also may be the first time ever that four of the league’s top 12-15 players will all be on the same team. It is simply incredible. A 73 win team being able to immediately go out and sign another top three talent in the league is unprecedented. Whether you believe in the dynasty dream or not, what has happened here is absolutely historical and it will be exciting to see how this dream team pans out in November.
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