2019 Offseason Crunch

Yesterday I outlined a method to accurately grade offseason moves based on an analysis of the cost of wins in the NBA, the relationship between performance and salary, and a rubric to help the grades make sense. Today, I’m presenting the first annual NBA Offseason Data Crunch, in which I evaluate every move made by every team this summer. Before you dig in, there are two caveats:

  • In what follows I will evaluate all acquisitions in terms of the player’s value relative to the value of his contract. This means that for trades, we are not interested (right now) in figuring out which team won or lost the trade. There is a time for evaluating trades in that manner, but today’s analysis will consider moves purely in terms of cost efficiency.
  • The data crunch will deal only with players who are likely to impact winning or losing NBA games this year, and players whose impact we are able to reliably estimate. Rookies and future draft picks, as they do not have any NBA data, are difficult to forecast with the same accuracy as existing NBA players, so I will leave them aside for now.

Los Angeles Lakers trade NOP for Anthony Davis

          Let’s start with the easiest transaction to grade. Acquiring AD was a home run for the Lakers. Davis is projected to make over a little over $27 million next season, followed by a player option for 2020-21. In the three seasons prior to last year, Davis averaged 12.6 wins per season. At that rate, we would anticipate AD to generate roughly $118.3 million worth of value, meaning that the Lakers are getting a 91 million dollar surplus from trading for AD. Of course, they did have to give up something to get him …

GRADE: A+

New Orleans Pelicans trade LAL for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and four first round picks

          Lonzo Ball will make $16.2 million over the next two seasons before likely signing a post-rookie contract extension with New Orleans. Despite missing time due to injury in both years, Ball has already accumulated 6.2 wins in only two NBA seasons. If he only matches his total production from the last two seasons over the next two seasons, Ball will be slightly overpriced ($10.9 mil value for $16.2 mil). Brandon Ingram’s play has been uneven, though he has notched 9 wins total in his three seasons (nearly half of them in 2017-18 season). Ingram will be an even value next year ($5.3 mil value / $5.8 mil salary), but then he will come up for an extension. Ingram’s next contract will be a very big decision for the Pels, who have to decide if they are willing to pay up to keep him with the rest of their young core. Josh Hart has produced 4.8 wins in two seasons, and is expected to produce over $3.3 million in surplus value in the next two seasons. Since we don’t know what players New Orleans will select with the draft picks yet, all we can say with certainly is that they will get decent value from the players acquired in the Anthony Davis trade. If any of the players play more minutes than they have, or play better than they have, this could be a good haul for New Orleans

GRADE: B

Washington Wizards trade LAL for Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones

          Washington received the Lakers’ three other movable contracts in order to create another max salary slot. Since all three were rookies and did not play much, it is probably too early to grade this deal. Mo Wagner looks like the best bet to this point.

GRADE: C

Utah Jazz trade MEM for Mike Conley

Conley has averaged 7.3 wins per season in his last three healthy seasons. He should be worth about $63.9 million over the next three seasons; unfortunately, his contract will pay him over $97.5 million during that time. From a purely financial point of view, the trade is a losing move for the Jazz. In reality, Conley is likely the best player Utah could acquire. They know that they need a third star to go with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert to have a chance of truly contending. Utah is unlikely to ever be able to attract a high-grade free agent, so trading for an aging star on a rebuilding team is probably their only avenue to attaining a top-shelf veteran.

The trade is really more about Donovan Mitchell than it is about Mike Conley. What this trade says is that Utah believes Donovan Mitchell can become good enough to carry them to a title if surrounded with a good secondary offense creator, possibly the best defender in the league, and a sufficient cast of role players. Time will tell whether or not that bet pays off, but for the time being we can only say that the trade will cost Memphis more than it will be worth.

GRADE: C

Memphis Grizzlies trade UTA for Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen, and two first round picks

          Kyle Korver has been traded and then bought out, and Jae Crowder is destined to be traded for a draft pick or picks, so the primary present asset Memphis received in the trade is second-year guard Grayson Allen. Allen produced only 0.8 win last season with a dreadful 39% efficiency, so it is far from certain that he will provide value for the Grizz. On the other hand, Allen is only making between 2 and 2.5 million in each of the next three seasons, so it should not be difficult for him to outperform his pay. Given that the other assets gained in the trade (draft picks) will also be on cheap contracts, and thus likely to provide excess value, it is possible to forecast Memphis getting a good return on the dollar for the assets acquired in the trade.

GRADE: C

Milwaukee Bucks trade DET for Jon Leuer

          Leuer has been responsible for 1.9 wins per season in the last four years, and has not operated at an efficiency greater than 50% during that time. Leuer has not established himself as reliable rim defender, but is scheduled to make $9.5 million next year, leaving a deficit of $5.8 million.

GRADE: D

Detroit Pistons trade MIL for Tony Snell and a first round pick

          My analysis is a little lower on Tony Snell than Milwaukee’s front office is. I value Snell at 2.1 wins per season since 2015-16, meaning that $3.9 million per year would be a fair salary. Snell is signed to make just under $11.4 million in the coming season, followed by a player option at $12.2 million in 2020-21. Not only do the Pistons receive a bad contract, but they receive an even worse contract than they sent out in the trade. On the other hand, they did get the number 30 pick as compensation for taking on the extra financial obligation.

GRADE: D

Indiana Pacers trade Phoenix Suns for T.J. Warren and a second round pick

          Warren is a decent enough player, averaging 2.2 wins since 2016. The problem is his contract, which will pay Warren $35.2 million over the next three years. Warren is well short of being an $11 million a year player, though betting on a versatile 25-year-old wing is not the worst move a team could make. Still, the numbers don’t quite put the Pacers square on this deal.

GRADE: C-

Phoenix Suns trade Minnesota Timberwolves for Dario Saric and a first round pick

          Saric’s career average value is 3.8 wins, the equivalent of $6.4 million per season. His salary for 2019-20, the final season on his rookie contract, is just under $3.5 million, meaning he will provide substantial value this year. Phoenix will also have the prerogative to retain Saric in restricted free agency next summer, potentially adding even more value. With Saric assuming T.J. Warren’s role in Phoenix, I look for him to match his career highs of 4.6 wins at .097 wins per 48 minutes from 2017-18.

GRADE: B

Washington Wizards trade with PHI for Jonathon Simmons and a second round pick

          Jonathon Simmons clawed his way into the NBA the hard way, and earned a three-year contract with Orlando after a playoff run with the Spurs. His performance has been up and down, and last season’s down year brought his career averages to 2.1 wins and just under $4 million per year. If Washington does indeed retain Simmons until his contract becomes fully guaranteed, he will need to match his best performance to be close to the value of his salary. Since this is the final season on his contract, the outcome will not hurt the Wizards much in any event.

GRADE: C

Portland Trailblazer trade ATL for Kent Bazemore

          Bazemore is going to be significantly overpaid next year, to the tune of a $12.3 million overage. Bazemore is certainly a decent enough player, and the contract is about to expire, so some will applaud the move. Indeed, given the losses of Mo Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu this summer, it was important for Portland to add a legitimate starter-quality wing player.

GRADE: C+

Atlanta Hawks trade POR for Evan Turner

          The other end of the trade is also pretty hairy. Turner will make almost $18.6 million next year, while only providing $5.9 million of value. So, Atlanta should anticipate a deficit of about $12.7 million. Financially, neither side really “won” or “lost” the trade; both teams received a player on an inflated expiring contract who is likely to under-perform the contract by approximately $12 million. On Atlanta’s end, though, there was no discernible incentive to make the move. It does not give them any more salary cap flexibility than they had, nor improve the team’s on-court performance for 2019-20.

GRADE: D

Kemba Walker signs with Boston Celtics for 4 years/$141 million

          Kemba’s contract is reported to be for four years and $141 million, averaging out to $35.25 million per year. He has averaged 8.2 wins per season since ’15-’16, though his three most recent campaigns have fallen between 7 and 8 wins. At his average performance level, Walker would be worth “only” $28.5 million a year, though his 2105-16 performance was worth 10.1 wins (the equivalent of $52.6 million). So, although his average production will leave the Celtics with an approximately $7 million overage, his peak performance is a great value. This type of contract basically includes the price of doing business in the NBA. There are more max contract openings that here are max contract players. Players at the top of the second tier are going to get max contracts somewhere; if you’re the Celtics, you can either spend the money to replace Kyrie Irving or save money and win fewer games.

GRADE: B+

Dwight Powell signs extension with Dallas Mavericks for 3 years/$33 million

          Powell has racked up 14 wins over the past four seasons, an average of 3.5 wins per season. For his average performance, we would expect Powell to command a salary of $6.2 million per year, which would indicate that this extension was an overpay. Last season, however, Powell was responsible for 5 wins ($10.1 million worth of value). Given that Powell is now 27 years old, it seems reasonable to assume that his career season last year is a better indicator of his probable performance in his age 28, 29, and 30 seasons. Taking account of the fact that Powell is in his prime, I anticipate this deal to be roughly equitable.

GRADE: B-

Jonas Valanciunas signs with Memphis Grizzlies for 3 years/$45 million

          JV has been responsible for 23.1 win in the last four seasons, which works out to 5.8 wins per season and a yearly salary of $13.1 million. Since Valanciunas declined his $17.6 million player option in order to sign a deal for $15 million a year, the Grizzlies got a relatively fair deal. At his best, JV has been worth as much as $22.7 million in a season. Valanciunas is a sign of the times; he established himself as a traditional rim protector just as the three-point revolution shifted into high gear. Teetering on the verge of irrelevance, he extended his jump shot range to breathe new life into his career.

GRADE: B

Damian Lillard signs extension with Portland Trailblazers for 4 years/$196 million

          Dame has average 10.4 wins in the past four seasons, establishing his baseline annual value at $58 million. In his extension, Lillard will make an average of $49 million per year. Lillard has two years and $61 million left in his current contract, which means that we can anticipate the Blazers getting loads of surplus value in the immediate future.

GRADE: A+

Garrett Temple signs with Brooklyn Nets for 2 years/$10 million (1+1 Team Option)

          Temple is an established journeyman who has averaged 2.6 wins per season on slightly below average efficiency, which he means that he could reasonably command an annual salary of $4.6 million. Temple’s signing is a team-friendly, short-term move to fortify Brooklyn’s bench.

GRADE: B-

Brook Lopez signs with Milwaukee Bucks for 4 years/$52 million

          Lopez has averaged 6 wins a season over the last four years, although last year was his lowest efficiency level during that time. At his current level of performance, Lopez would be worth approximately $14 million. His new contract, however, will require Lopez to maintain a similar level of performance through the age of 34. At an average annual salary of $13 million, the Bucks are likely to get some surplus value from Lopez early in the contract, but will find themselves on the negative side of the ledger in three years as Lopez’ skills decline.

GRADE: B-

Kevin Durant signs with Brooklyn Nets for 4 years/$164 million

          KD has average 11.3 wins during the last four seasons at a fantastic level of efficiency, particularly during his time with the Warriors, which would be valued at just under $77.6 million. I consider Durant likely to return to his peak level with the Nets when he is once again carrying more of the offensive load, and the Slim Reaper version of Durant is worth every penny of the 4 year, $164 million contract. But … we don’t really know how long it will take KD to return from his gruesome injury. We don’t know for absolutely certain that he will be able to return to same level, even if it feels like a safe bet. It’s tough to nitpick with signing one of the best players in the league, but there is just a lot that we don’t really know.

GRADE: A

Kyrie Irving signs with Brooklyn Nets for 4 years/$136 million

          Kyrie has racked up 29.4 wins since 2015-16, though 24.3 of them have come in the last three campaigns as Irving has established himself as an All-NBA player. In a market where supply and demand were balanced, Irving’s contributions would be worth $27.5 million per season over the last three years. Since the demand for players worthy of a max contract is substantially greater than the supply of said players, however, it ends up costing $34 million a year to acquire Irving.

GRADE: B

DeAndre Jordan signs with Brooklyn Nets for 4 years/$40 million

          Jordan has dropped off in the last two seasons, falling from a fringe star player as recently as 2016-17 to contributing 5.9 wins in ’17-’18 and a mere 3.0 wins last season. Since Jordan was worth only $5.3 million last year and is in decline, there is a chance that the contract proves to be a lemon. If Jordan can regain his previous form, however, the deal could be a good one.

GRADE: C+

Terry Rozier signs with Charlotte Hornets for 3 years/$58 million

Scary Terry got his payday, and I for one am happy for him. But, this contract is a hard pill to swallow. Rozier’s average value in the last three seasons has been $6.8 million, with a peak value of $11.5 million in 2017-18. Clearly, this contract has a lot to do with Rozier’s performance in the 2018 playoffs as a starter. Rozier has many strengths, and they can be unfairly overshadowed by his weak shooting percentages, but I am not sure what Charlotte is trying to accomplish here. They would not offer Kemba the max, but were willing to offer a far inferior lead guard $19 million a year. If they’re trying to rebuild, how does tying up that much money on Rozier help them?

GRADE: C-

Khris Middleton signs with Milwaukee Bucks for 5 years/$178 million (4+1 Player Option)

          Middleton has contributed 20 wins in his last three full seasons (6.7 wins per season, worth $17.5 million). His contract calls for Middleton to make an average of $35.6 million per year. While I evaluate Middleton as a burgeoning star since 2015-16 and consider him to be a borderline All Star-level player, the cost to keep a player on that level is almost always going to exceed the value they provide. Like Kemba Walker’s contract, Middleton’s deal says more about the marketplace of the NBA than it says about a direct dollars-to-wins comparison.

GRADE: C-

J.J. Redick signs with New Orleans Pelicans for 2 years/$26.5 million

          Redick has generated an average of 6.3 wins per season in the last four years, which would earn $15.4 million per year in a perfectly balanced marketplace. As such, I expect Redick to provide about $2.2 million worth of excess value per season. This is a good signing for the Pels.

GRADE: B+

Harrison Barnes signs with Sacramento Kings for 4 years/$85 million

          Harrison Barnes is a cypher; his first season in Dallas saw him contribute 5 wins, while his final season in Golden State was his most efficient season (in a more limited role). Now as a prospective third option on offense, but in a league tilting more and more toward his strengths on defense, Sacramento is banking on Barnes to be able to produce more value than he has thus far. Barnes has been worth 3.7 wins per season since ’15-’16, equivalent to $6.6 million worth of value. In his best season, he was worth $10.1 million; as such, Barnes will need to significantly exceed his previous performance level to redeem this signing. I anticipate Sacramento losing $15 million of value per season on this contract.

GRADE: D-

Derrick Rose signs with Detroit Pistons for 2 years/$15 million

          If you discount 2017-18, D Rose has put up 3.5 wins per season in his last three “full” seasons (though his efficiency has been poor). He would be worth $6.2 million at that rate, though with significant caveats: 1) Rose cannot generate that much value with average efficiency, and 2) he may not be healthy enough to generate that much value in one or both of the seasons. If you include his 2017-18 campaign, Rose’s per-season average drops to 2.8 wins and $5 million, which is even further from the value of his contract

GRADE: C-

Terrence Ross signs with Orlando Magic for 4 years/$54 million

          Ross has contributed 4.1 wins per season in his last three healthy seasons, though his performance has fluctuated significantly from season to season. Last year was his best season, with Ross accounting for 6 wins. Ross’ average level of production would be worth $7.5 million per season, which is far less than the annual salary on his new deal ($13.5 mil/yr), though his performance last year in Orlando is in excess of even the new contract. If he can maintain his performance level from last year (6.0 wins, $14.0 million), he could provide the Magic with a little surplus value. I think this is at least a break-even deal for Orlando, but there is some risk involved.

GRADE: C

Al-Farouq Aminu signs with Orlando Magic for 3 years/$29 million

          With Portland revamping their roster in the wake of their Conference Finals run, both starting wings moved on to new homes. The first to go was Aminu, who was been worth 4.4 wins per season. In terms of production, Aminu is worth $8.3 million a year; unfortunately for Orlando, he has been above average in efficiency only once in the last four seasons.

GRADE: C+

Danuel House Jr. signs with Houston Rockets for 3 years/$11.1 million

          House was worth 1.9 wins last year in his first true season in the Association, and contributed $3.7 million in value for the Rockets despite being sent down to the G League during the middle of the season for reasons dependent on his contract rather than his performance. Since House’s per-minute production rate and efficiency were both nearly league average (.094 wins per 48 minutes, 49% efficiency), it is likely that Houston will get quite a bit of excess value on a contract paying him $3.7 million per year in seasons when he is likely to play more minutes and improve.

GRADE: B

Bojan Bogdanovic signs with Utah Jazz for 4 years/$73 million

          Bogdanovic has improved substantially in each of the last four seasons, from 2.8 wins in 2016 to 3.4 wins in 2017, to 4.3 wins in 2018, to 5.6 wins last year, yielding an average annual value of $7.3 million. As Bogdanovic enters his age-30 season, it is difficult to predict that he will continue his upward mobility. Last season, Bojan was worth $12.3, which would still fall just short of the annual salary of his new contract. I estimate that Bogdanovic should cost the Jazz at least $5 million per year more than he is worth.

GRADE: C-

Malcom Brogdon signs with Indiana Pacers for 4 years/$85 million

          Brogdon has improved across his three seasons, and has become an elite shooter. He has been responsible for 3.2 wins per season, equivalent value to a $5.6 million annual salary. The Pacers made an offer too rich for Milwaukee to match, but it is an open question whether or not they will get their money’s worth on the deal. Last season, Brogdon reached .109 wins per 48 minutes at a decent usage level, so he has a chance to develop into a player worth over $21 million a year.  At Brogdon’s size, however, it is difficult to forecast him producing enough defensive value to reach that level. With Indiana, Brogdon is likely to achieve his greatest offensive performance yet (especially while Victor Oladipo is injured), but he will need to more than double his offensive value in order to live up to his contract.

GRADE: C+

Thomas Bryant signs with Washington Wizards for 3 years/$25 million

          Emerging as an NBA rotation player in the wake of Dwight Howard’s injury last season, Thomas Bryant put up 3.5 wins at 66% efficiency. His performance last year would have been worth $6.2 million, so it is a safe bet that he will need to get more minutes or play better in order to earn $8 million/year.

GRADE: B-

Kristaps Porzingis signs with Dallas Mavericks for 5 years/$158 million

          KP’s last three healthy seasons have seen him accumulate 18.5 wins, which would be worth an $14.9 million annual salary. Since those figures include the ’17-’18 campaign in which Porzingis was injured at midseason, it is probably fair to say that Porzingis is actually worth $18.1 million in a full season. Now returning from an injury, the Unicorn will have to be worth $31.6 million per year. Based on his previous performance, it seems that Dallas overpaid by about $13 million per year. There is, however, quite a bit of variability in this contract. Porzingis is only 24 and might improve, especially playing with a brilliant offensive creator in Luka Doncic. Then again, he might struggle to return to form after suffering a major injury. Time will tell, but for now it looks like the price of moving up for the Mavs was quite high.

GRADE: C

Rodney Hood signs with Portland Trailblazers for 2 years/$16 million

          Hood has been worth 3.4 wins per season over the last four years, though his performance has fluctuated wildly from year to year (as any observer can affirm). On average, Rodney Hood is worth $6.0 million a year, but the average is an unreliable predictive tool for Hood. Portland doesn’t really know if they’ll get the productive Rodney Hood from Utah, the dumpster fire who disappeared from Cleveland’s playoff rotation, or the surprise bench scorer who surfaced in Portland at the end of last year. The deal is a risk.

GRADE: C+

Ricky Rubio signs with Phoenix Suns for 3 years/$51 million

          Rubio has been worth 5.4 wins per season during the last four years, but his efficiency has dropped in the last two seasons with Utah. When Rubio is required to carry a heavier offensive burden, his efficiency on that end suffers. At first glance, it looks like Phoenix is a bad fit for him – a roster light on 3-point shooters cannot relieve the pressure on him. Given how weak Phoenix’s defense has been, though, it is encouraging to see them adding a quality defender like Rubio. At an average annual value of $17 million, Rubio’s contract looks to be a slight overpay for the Suns.

GRADE: C+

Tobias Harris signs with Philadelphia 76ers for 5 years/$180 million

          Tobi has consistently produced between five and five-and-a-half wins a year for the last four years. We would expect him to earn about $11.1 million per year based on that history. By having his best scoring season in a contract year, however, Harris was able to goose his value. Combined with Jimmy Butler’s exit from Philadelphia, Harris was able to get a 5-year max deal from the Sixers. The decision to offer such a massive contract to a player of Harris’ level is understandable on some level: Philadelphia gave up significant assets to acquire Harris, and even if you consider them sunk costs, it remains clear that Harris fits well with Philadelphia’s existing core. What’s more, it is far from certain that Philly would have been able to acquire a superior player with the money they spent on Harris. This was a poor signing, but it was at least an all-in play by a legitimate contender. I can respect it, even if I may not like it.

GRADE: D+

Julius Randle signs with New York Knicks for 3 years/$63 million

          Randle’s performance has improved considerably during the last two seasons in both production rate and efficiency. Over the last four years, Randle has been worth $10.6 million per year, but in the past two seasons he has been valued at $15.4 million annually. Even at his current performance level, however, it is doubtful that Randle can live up to his new salary of $21 mil/yr.

GRADE: C

Taj Gibson signs with New York Knicks for 2 years/$20 million

          Gibson has contributed 18 wins in past four seasons, though his performance has declined during that time. Despite being worth an average of $8.6 million per year, Gibson’s performance last season was valued at only $5.8 million. Given that Gibson’s age will continue to work against him, it is unlikely that the Knicks will get their money’s worth.

GRADE: C-

Miami Heat trade PHI for Jimmy Butler

          Butler has racked up 8 wins per season since ’15-’16, which I calculate to be worth $26.7 million per season. With his new contract paying slightly over $35 million a year, the price is steep at first glance. In his best season (2016-17), though, Butler was worth $59.9 million. His disjointed and dysfunctional campaign last year severely undersells Butler’s value. As such, I would consider his contract to be a much better deal than might appear at first glance.

GRADE: B+

Philadelphia 76ers trade MIA for Josh Richardson

          Josh Richardson has improved dynamically year-over-year during his career. After putting up 1.6 wins as a rookie, he stepped up to 3.0 wins as a sophomore, then 4.8 wins in ’17-’18, then 6.6 wins last year. His average annual value for his career is $7.3 million. However, given what we have observed from Richardson thus far, it is reasonable to anticipate that he will contribute at least 6 or 7 wins a year during his prime. Last season would have earned Richardson $16.9 million on the open market, so Philadelphia is likely to get loads of excess value from Richardson in at the least next few seasons for the price of $10 million a year.

GRADE: A-

Al Horford signs with Philadelphia 76ers for 4 years/$109 million

          Since 2015-16, Al Horford has averaged 6.7 wins per season (which should cost $17.5 million per year). Horford has seen a slight decline during that time, from 7.4 wins in ’15-’16 to 6.0 wins last year. Though the overpay is not too tough to swallow right now as the price to put the Sixers over the hump, he is likely to be worth less than $15 million/year by the end of the contract. Even more concerning, however, is the adjustment in role on both ends of the floor that Horford will undergo in joining the Sixers. After spending his career as a top-notch rim protector, Horford will have to play alongside a rim defender this year and function as the defensive 4. With Horford’s skill set, physical profile, and age, it is unlikely that he will be able to generate as much defensive value as a 4 as he has in years past as a defensive 5. If he is able to balance this likely diminution with an uptick on the offensive end, then Philly may still end up happy about this deal. In the end, I see Horford’s contract being a tough pill to swallow down the line, though more palatable in the short term.

GRADE: C

Thaddeus Young signs with Chicago Bulls for 3 years/$44 million

          Thad Young has averaged 5.7 wins a season over the last four seasons, and looks to be a mediocre value for the Bulls at only $14.5 million per year. I expect Young to slightly underform his contract, but to be a solid presence for the young Bulls playing alongside of Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and Otto Porter Jr. as a versatile defender to match with any two of those three in the frontcourt rotation.

GRADE: B

Ed Davis signs with Utah Jazz for 2 years/$10 million

          Davis has been worth an average of 3.7 wins per season since ’15-’16, and has proven himself to be a reliable backup big man. The Jazz should double their money on this deal, as I project them to get $13.2 million in value out of Davis over the next two seasons. Davis should be a perfectly adequate replacement for Derrick Favors.

GRADE: B

Mike Muscala signs with Oklahoma City Thunder for 2 years/4 million

          Muscala’s annual value has ranged from $2.9 million to $4.1 million, although he has never reached average efficiency during that time. Even though Muscala will get OKC what they paid for and a bit more, we are really evaluating the Thunder signing him period. A low-usage backup big who is below average efficiency is just not a useful player to have on your roster, even if he is mathematically worth more than a minimum contract.

GRADE: D

New Orleans Pelicans trade UTA for Derrick Favors

          Favors has reliably ground out 6 wins a year, which should cost slightly less than he is currently making ($14.0 million value / $16.9 million salary). New Orleans also acquired Favors’ Bird rights in the trade, so the real value is probably in the next contract they will sign him to. I am hoping to see Favors play a key role for the Pelicans this year, and I think he could be a nice fit beside Zion Williamson. Particularly on the defensive end of the floor, playing the two together would allow Favors to operate as the rim protector and Zion to guard a slower player and oftentimes a weaker shooter, thus allowing Zion to get into passing lanes and cause havoc with his athleticism.

GRADE: B

Mario Hezonja signs with Portland Trailblazers for 2 years/$3.6 million

          While the salary is negligible in the NBA landscape, Hezonja was only a legitimate rotation-quality player in one or maybe two of the past four seasons (2017-18, maybe 2015-16), so it’s really more a question of whether he is worth signing at all than it is a question of how much he should be paid.

GRADE: C

Anthony Tolliver signs with Portland Trailblazers for 1 year/$2.6 million

          Tolliver has generally not been a quality backup, averaging 2.2 wins per season and never meeting league average production rate in the past four seasons. He only met league average efficiency in one of the four seasons. Like Hezonja, I evaluate Tolliver as strictly a bench player, not a player who should have a large role for a potential playoff team.

GRADE: C

Golden State Warriors trade BRK for D’Angelo Russell

          Russell’s freshly inked 4 year, $117 million dollar contract looks to be a substantial amount richer than his actual value. Though Russell took a major leap forward last year, racking up 6.9 of his 16.1 career wins, he is still a long way off from being worth $29 million a year. At his current level of production, Russell would be $18.7 million per year. There are, however, very real concerns with the proposition of Russell increasing his value: 1) his Total Efficiency was only 44% last year when he took on the weight of being “The Man” on the Nets. 2) Russell will now play for the Warriors, a setting that will not allow for him to do as much as he has with the Nets. If he doesn’t have the ball in his hands as much as he has, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Russell is likely to be slightly less valuable, even if his efficiency does improve.

GRADE: C

Memphis Grizzlies trade GSW for Andre Iguodala

          This is an incomplete transaction; Golden State had to get rid of Iguodala’s $17.2 million salary, but he is unlikely to actually suit up for the Grizzlies. Word around the league still suggests that he is likely to be bought out or moved somewhere else, at which point his value relative to cost will become more clear.

GRADE: Incomplete

Jamal Murray signs with Denver Nuggets for 5 years/$170 million

          Gulp. Murray is a high-quality young player, a rising star entering his age-22 season. He has improved from 3.1 wins (=$5.5 million) as a rookie to 6.2 wins ($14.9 mil) as a soph to 7.2 wins (20.6 mil) last year. My instinct is to say that the Nuggets did well to lock him in long-term. Though Murray is not yet worth $34 million, he certainly looks like he is becoming the type of player who is worth that much. Since this contract will take Murray from his age-22 season through his age-26 season, it is difficult to fault the Nuggets for paying above his current value. The majority of NBA players improve between the ages of 22 and 26, and Murray has improved significantly in each season thus far. Your opinion on this contract depends mostly on your appetite for risk. If you’re a cautious, conservative decision maker, this looks like devoting a ton of money to a player who may never be worth it. If you can stand some risk, this looks a reasonable bet on a young star to continue to improve.

GRADE: B

Patrick Beverley signs with Los Angeles Clippers for 3 years/$40 million

          In his last three full seasons, Beverley has contributed an average of 4.3 wins, an annual value of $8.0 million. Beverley was not as productive or efficient this year in his return from injury as he was during the 2016 and 2017 campaigns, but I think it likely that he returns to his previous form and provides the Clippers with about as much value as they paid for. Also helping the Clippers’ grade in this case is that Beverley reportedly turned down a more lucrative contract offer from the Sacramento Kings to accept LA’s offer.

GRADE: B

Tomas Satoransky signs with Chicago Bulls for 3 years/$30 million

          Sato has averaged 2.75 wins in the last two seasons, which is worth $4.9 million. With Satoransky now earning more, this looks like an overpay by a Bulls team desperate for a reliable point guard. Satoransky’s skill set does not lend itself to the conclusion that he is likely to improve, so I will mark this one down as a loss.

GRADE: D

Wayne Ellington signs with New York Knicks for 2 years/$16 million

          Wayne Ellington has been worth an average of 2.9 wins and $5.1 million per year in the last four seasons. Ellington is a useful role player, though a little overpaid at $8 million/year. It is possible that Ellington could produce more value if he gets more playing time in New York, but the Knicks’ rotation for the upcoming season is difficult to predict.

GRADE: C

Michael Carter-Williams signs with Orlando Magic for 1 year/$2 million

          Obviously, MCW will have no trouble being worth a mere $2 million salary, but I consider it unlikely that he moves the needle significantly for the Magic. Suffice it to say that my method is as high on MCW’s defense as most other defensive metrics, but his broken jumper puts a severe drag on his value.

GRADE: B-

Seth Curry signs with Dallas Mavericks for 4 years/$32 million

          In the last two seasons, Curry has generated 6.4 total wins. Over a full season, then, Curry is worth $5.6 million. Despite his having been highly efficient in limited roles, I anticipate this contract to be a negative value for Dallas.

GRADE: C

Portland Trailblazers trade MIA for Hassan Whiteside

          Whiteside is on the final season of his contract, which will pay him $27 million. With Portland needing a big man to fill in while Jusuf Nurkic is injured, Portland pulled the trigger to acquire him. “Wiltside” has averaged 7.7 wins per season since 2015-16, an annual value of $24.2 million. At his peak, however, Whiteside has produced at a value close to $37 million. This is a solid one-year rental.

GRADE: B+

Miami Heat trade POR for Meyers Leonard

          Miami had to take in Meyers Leonard in the massive final form of the Jimmy Butler trade. This season will be the final one on his contract, but he will probably fall $7.7 million worth short of living up to his contract. Miami definitely needed a backup big after shipping out Hassan Whiteside, but Leonard is an extremely poor value for the dollar.

GRADE: D

Los Angeles Clippers trade POR for Maurice Harkless

          Harkless has been worth an average of 3.3 wins and $5.8 million in the last four seasons, and is on the final season of his contract. He will make $11.5 million this year, but is unlikely to provide quite that much value. In terms of fit, Harkless will essentially fill the role that was intended for Luc Mbah a Moute with the Clippers last year before his injury. He will have the opportunity to earn playing time as a small-ball four if he can shoot a little and rebound enough.

GRADE: C-  

Austin Rivers signs with Houston Rockets for 2 years/$5 million

          Rivers’ new contract comes with a very manageable salary, and he has provided an average annual value of $5.0 million over the last four seasons. Unfortunately, Rivers’ efficiency has been well below average during that span and has generally failed to live up to his defensive reputation by posting Defensive Efficiency marks between 43% and 48%. With his offensive struggles compounding the fact last year, Rivers had his lowest Total Efficiency mark yet. If you set aside his name, Rivers is just a guy.

GRADE: C

Klay Thompson signs with Golden State Warriors for 5 years/$190 million

          One of the feel-good stories of the offseason was Klay Thompson resigning with the Warriors on a five-year max deal. Klay has been worth 9.2 wins per year since 2015-16, which would earn him $39.3 million annually in 2019 dollars. Since Klay’s deal will pay him $38 million per season, and he is in the midst of returning from a major injury, it looks as though the Warriors paid a steep price to keep him. However, Klay Thompson has appeared on my All-NBA teams in two of the past four seasons and has made my All-Offense teams in three of the four seasons. To get an all-league talent, teams usually have to pay a premium. From this vantage point, Thompson’s contract is about the price you would expect. If Klay returns to form after his injury (which is a pretty good-sized “if,” I’ll grant you), this looks like a good move by the Warriors.

GRADE: B

Maxi Kleber signs with Dallas Mavericks for 4 years/$33 million

          Kleber, 27, was worth $3.0 million as a rookie and $5.6 million last year. Dallas rewarded him by giving him a four-year contract appropriate for a rotation player. Kleber is unlikely to live up to his contract, and his Total Efficiency has been slightly below average in both NBA seasons thus far. While it is less crucial for Kleber to become a legitimate rim protector now that the Mavericks’ roster includes Kristaps Porzingis, it is fair to ask whether this type of expenditure was really the best use of money for a team that has KP and Dwight Powell under contract for the next four years.

GRADE: C-

Troy Daniels signs with the Lose Angeles Lakers for 1 year/$2 million

          Daniels has generated 1.5 wins a year since 2015-16, an annual value of $3.3 million. Daniels’ production and efficiency have fluctuated substantially year-to-year, so we can’t be certain how much value he will provide to the Lakers. He is a good 3-point shooter, and role players who can shoot threes have fared well playing alongside of LeBron over the years, so the evidence is in his favor.

GRADE: C+

Enes Kanter signs with Boston Celtics for 2 years/$10 million

          In his last four seasons, Kanter has generated 5.3 wins per year (=$11.1 million annual salary). His new deal with the Celtics looks to be a bargain for the Celtics, and a good opportunity for Kanter. Kanter has spent his career going from team to team without becoming entrenched as a starter. On a Celtics team low on size, Kanter’s interior scoring and offensive rebounding will be sorely needed.

GRADE: B+

Elfrid Payton signs with New York Knicks for 2 years/$16 million

          Payton was worth $7.8 million a year in his first two seasons, then worth a little less than half that much in the past two seasons. If he’s going to get significant playing time, I can buy Elfrid Payton as a “par for the course” backup guard. If he doesn’t get much run, Payton will be hard-pressed to put up $8 million of value.

GRADE: B-

Edmond Sumner signs with Indiana Pacers for 3 years/$6.5 million

          Sumner’s contract is a pittance in terms of counting against the salary cap, but we haven’t seen him get enough time in NBA games to know whether or not he is worth a guaranteed deal. He did score 22 ppg in the G-League last year with a 56.9% TS% and an assist percentage of 20.5%, so he clearly has potential as a scoring guard off the bench.

GRADE: C

Wesley Matthews signs with Milwaukee Bucks for 2 years/5 million

          Wes Matthews has averaged 3.6 wins per season since ’15-’16, which is obviously nowhere near enough to justify his contract with the Mavericks. If he continues to be worth anything close to his current value of $6.4 million per year, however, he will far surpass the value the Bucks are paying him for. My sense is that he will not have the opportunity to produce nearly as much in Milwaukee as he did in Dallas, given that Kris Middleton and George Hill are returning, the Bucks have added Kyle Korver, and Sterling Brown has earned more and more playing time. Still, the Bucks can anticipate getting plenty of surplus value out of this signing.

GRADE: B-

Frank Kaminsky signs with Phoenix Suns for 2 years/$10 million

          I’m not sure I get this signing at all. Frank the Tank has generated an average of 2.9 wins (worth $5.1 million) per season with the Hornets, but has done so with some dreadful Defensive Efficiency marks. He is borderline unplayable on defense because he cannot protect the rim and he cannot defend on the perimeter. How does bringing in this guy mesh with the Suns’ plans to build their frontcourt around DeAndre Ayton? In financial terms, Kaminsky may give the Suns more than they pay for, but I do not see him improving his efficiency.

GRADE: C

Alec Burks signs with Golden State Warriors for 1 year/$2.3 million

          I like this signing, actually; Burks is a fairly reliable role player, averaging 1.8 wins per season on teams with depth on the perimeter for most of the last four years. With the Warriors in such need of bench help, I see Burks as a great value at the veteran’s minimum.

GRADE: B

Kevon Looney signs with Golden State Warriors for 3 years/$15 million

          Looney’s resigning is a terrific value deal for Golden State. His production has increased substantially year-over-year in each of the past three seasons, and last season saw him put up 4.5 wins (valued at $8.6 million) despite sharing minutes with DeMarcus Cousins. Golden State will easily double their money on this deal, and deserves a lot of credit for preventing their Western Conference rivals from swooping in and nabbing Looney.

GRADE: B+

Jordan Bell signs with Minnesota Timberwolves for 1 year/$2 million

          Y’all, send help next offseason if you haven’t heard from me. I think I’m the only person still holding out atop Jordan Bell Mountain, and it’s getting bleak up here. There are things my man does well, and I want to believe that he can turn his explosive dynamism into a career as a plus defender. He has put up 5 wins in his first two seasons, which should be a $4.5 million annual value. But… if he’s gonna earn legitimate playing time, he’s got to improve at staying engaged and attached to his man off the ball. His jump shot is still a work in progress, but man – his tools are top notch.

GRADE: B-

Isaiah Thomas signs with Washington Wizards for 1 year/$2 million

          Whew, who knows? IT has played so little in the last two seasons that it’s tough to really make an informed guess as to what his level will be next season. It sounds as if he will be healthier than he was in either his aborted team-up with LeBron in Cleveland or his presumptive rehab contract last year with Denver. Given his stature and the nature of his injuries, it is difficult to see Thomas returning to his Celtics form, but there is nothing that more characterizes IT than overcoming and overachieving, so … who knows? With Wall on the shelf and Satoransky moving on in free agency, giving Thomas a shot on a minimum contract was probably about the best the Wizards could have done.

GRADE: B-

Ryan Arcidiacono signs with Chicago Bulls for 2 years/$6 million

          Arcidiacono contributed 1.7 wins for the lowly Bulls last season on good efficiency but at a very poor rate of production (.043 wins per 48 minutes). It is probably fair for the Bulls to reward him with a reasonable contract, as his performance last season was worth $3.5 million, though he may not develop into a significant player in the league.

GRADE: C+

Ben Simmons signs with Philadelphia 76ers for 5 years/$170 million

          Simmons has produced an average value of $19.9 million over his first two seasons in the league. He has been on my All-Defensive teams in both seasons, and was deserving of his first All Star nod last season. This offseason it has become popular to dump on Simmons for not having a jump shot, and thus not being able to fully orchestrate a playoff-caliber offense at age 22. As you can likely tell from my tone, I find most of the smoke to be overblown. The fact is, we don’t know that Ben Simmons will never be able to shoot jumpers. We do know that Simmons is an excellent passer, rebounder, ballhandler, and defender, and possesses elite athleticism and coordination at 6’10”.

GRADE: B+

Dorian Finney-Smith signs with Dallas Mavericks for 3 years/$12 million

          Finney-Smith has 1.9 wins per season in his first three seasons, but with dreadful Offensive Efficiency and below average Defensive Efficiency. Earning $4 million a year will require Finney-Smith to improve upon his current value of $3.7 million/year.

GRADE: C-

Daniel Theis sign with Boston Celtics for 2 years/$10 million

          A good value signing for the Celtics, especially given the void created by the departures of Al Horford and Aron Baynes. Theis has accumulated just under six total wins in two years. I expect Boston to get about $10.4 million in value off of the $10 million salary, with the possibility to gain even more excess value if Theis gets more playing time this year.

GRADE: B

Brad Wanamaker signs with Celtics for 1 year/$1.4 million

          Wanamaker did not play much last year on the Celtics, but does have a good track record overseas. There is not much data to go on, but having him for the league minimum is fine.

GRADE: C

Shaquille Harrison signs with Chicago Bulls for 1 year/$0.9 million

          Harrison emerged last season with the Bulls, generating 2.1 wins mostly by virtue of quality defense. While it is not certain that he will be able to contribute a sustainable level of offense, he is a low-cost project for the rebuilding Bulls and will be a restricted free agent next summer.

GRADE: B-

Luke Kornet signs with Chicago Bulls for 2 years/$4.5 million

          Kornet has accounted for 1.6 wins total in two seasons, though he became a fashionably popular role player last season after the Knicks benched Enes Kanter. Kornet is generally conceived of as a stretch big, though he does not contribute the defensive value of a big man.

GRADE: C

Detroit Pistons claim Christian Wood off waivers from MIL

          Wood has put up an above average production rate over limited minutes in his three seasons. He will make $1.6 million before entering free agency next summer, and is likely to be a sufficient backup when called upon.

GRADE: C+

Willie Cauley-Stein signs with Golden State Warriors for 2 years/$4 million

          WCS has amassed just under four wins per season in his career, which would earn him $7.2 million per season in a balanced market. At his current pay rate, Cauley-Stein should be a bargain as a high-efficiency rim runner. Playing with Steph Curry, I see Cauley-Stein having a good season in 2019-20.

GRADE: B+

Jeff Green signs with Washington Wizards for 1 year/$2.6 million

          Green has contributed a little over three wins a year since the 2016 season, though his 2017-18 campaign with Cleveland was the only season which saw him approach league-average production rate. Green is certainly a reliable role player, though he has been a bit overutilized during the latter phase of his career. For the veterans’ minimum, he is a good buy.

GRADE: B-

Jared Dudley signs with Los Angeles Lakers for 1 year/$2.6 million

          Over the past four seasons, Dudley has averaged 1.8 wins. His production would be equivalent to $3.6 million in salary. Since he has operated at a decent efficiency, there are relatively few concerns with Dudley switching teams. Though I don’t see him affecting their postseason destiny, Jared Dudley will help the Lakers integrate newcomers and survive the regular season.

GRADE: B-

Emmanual Mudiay signs with Utah Jazz for 1 year/$2 million

          In the last three seasons since his rookie campaign, Mudiay has put up between 1.6 and 1.9 wins each year. Though his efficiency has improved somewhat, his Total Efficiency has still not surpassed 45%. The cost will be low, however, so Utah fans shouldn’t mind the signing too much. In a significantly reduced role, and in a motion-based offensive scheme, the Jazz front office is presumably betting that Mudiay may be able to use his athleticism to attack the defense on the move rather than relying on his handle and decision-making with the ball, which have been well below standard thus far in his career.

GRADE: C

Rodney McGruder signs with Los Angeles Clippers for 3 years/$15 million

          McGruder has contributed 4.5 wins in his three NBA seasons, which works out to 1.5 wins and $3.3 million in salary per year. Since McGruder is now guaranteed $5 million per year and since his Offensive Efficiency has been dismal in two of three seasons (his Defensive Efficiency has been 43% in every season), there doesn’t seem to be any room for him to become more productive while actually helping the Clippers win. This looks like a three-year commitment to an end-of-the-bench player.

GRADE: D

Atlanta Hawks trade MEM for Chandler Parsons

          Parsons has perhaps the most well-known anchor contract in the league. Atlanta is presumably looking to consolidate dead money into one player, and perhaps rehabilitate Parsons, but he looks headed for the buyout market eventually.

GRADE: D

Memphis Grizzlies trade ATL for Solomon Hill and Miles Plumlee

          Solomon Hill has generated a mere $3.1 million in value per year, despite playing on a 4 year/$48 million contract. Next season, Hill will complete the contract with a $13.3 million salary. Miles Plumlee is even worse, providing a $2.9 million value in return for a $12.5 million salary. Neither of these players are going to provide any significant value; the purpose of the trade seems to have been to move Chandler Parsons out of the locker room.

GRADE: D

Boban Marjanovich signs with Dallas Mavericks for 2 years/$7 million

          Boban has put up an average of 2.2 wins per season since 2016, even in limited minutes. His annual value of $4.1 million is in line with his new contract. It will be interesting to see how much Dallas actually plays Boban; with the Mavs’ frontcourt already including long-term commitments to Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell, and Maxi Kleber, there don’t appear to be many minutes for Boban.

GRADE: B

Phoenix Suns trade BOS for Aaron Baynes

          Baynes has developed a reputation as a tough guy and a hustle player, and has generated 12.9 wins in the past four years as a fan favorite. He has been worth about $200,000 more per year than his contract will pay him this year, though his Defensive Efficiency did drop precipitously last year. On a team lacking an inside presence, Phoenix will count on Baynes to turn that around.

GRADE: B-

Atlanta Hawks trade BRK for Allen Crabbe and two first round picks

          Crabbe has accumulated just under 12 wins in the past four seasons, but ultimately became a bridge player. He featured prominently in the Nets’ rebuilding process, but receded from the rotation last year as Brooklyn shifted toward contention and ultimately got shipped out in order to clear cap space for KD and Kyrie. He is still owed $18.5 million for the upcoming season, or about $13.3 million more than he is worth. In this case, the purpose of the trade does not align at all with the purpose of my analysis. Atlanta took on Crabbe’s contract for the sole purpose of acquiring draft compensation. The Hawks know they are overpaying Crabbe, but were not planning to be players in free agency this year anyway.

GRADE: C

Brooklyn Nets trade ATL for Taurean Prince and a second round pick

          Prince has notched 7.8 wins in his career to this point, and should easily exceed his $3.5 million salary this season. As a versatile defender, Prince should fill a need in the Brooklyn frontcourt this season with Kevin Druant injured, Rodions Kurucks developing, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson departing in free agency.

GRADE: B

Markieff Morris signs with Detroit Pistons for 2 years/$7 million

          Markieff Morris has produced an average annual value of $6.6 million in the last four seasons, although last year he was caught a bit betwixt Washington’s dumpster fire and trying to integrate into OKC’s lineup from the buyout market. Morris looks like a good buy for the Pistons, and I would expect him to give Detroit at least what they pay for.

GRADE: B

Tim Frazier signs with Detroit Pistons for 1 year/$1.9 million

          My analysis is much more favorable to Tim Frazier than league front offices. Frazier has averaged just under 2 wins per season, but with production rates and efficiency levels that are quite good for a backup. Last season was his best yet, with Frazier accounting for 2.5 wins at .109 wins per 48 minutes, and managing to produce that much at 59% Total Efficiency. At even his average value of $3.8 mil/yr, or better yet at his most recent value of $4.5 mil/yr, Frazier looks to be a bargain at the minimum salary.

GRADE: B

Memphis Grizzlies trade WAS for Dwight Howard

          Dwight Howard has been worth $17.5 million a year in his last three healthy seasons, and is only scheduled to make $5.6 million next year. It is not really accurate to evaluate this trade as a win for Memphis, since we do not yet know where Howard will play next year.

GRADE: N/A

Washington Wizards trade MEM for C.J. Miles

          Washington took on C.J. Miles for the final year of his contract in order to rid their locker room of Dwight Howard (according to the front office that signed Dwight Howard). If Miles were healthy, the Wizards would have expected approximately a $3.3 million overage. It now appears that Miles will be injured for at least part of the coming campaign, so we can mark this down as surefire loss for the Wizards.

GRADE: C-

T.J. McConnell signs with Indiana Pacers for 2 years/$7 million

          McConnell has racked up nearly 3 wins per season, and should make $5.2 million annually. He has been above average in Total Efficiency in three of those four seasons, so his strengths look like they should transfer well to a new environment. With Darren Collison’s unexpected retirement, Indy needed to fill his role as facilitator. McConnell is already good at that role, so this should be a good move.

GRADE: B+

Memphis Grizzlies trade PHX for Josh Jackson, De’Anthony Melton, and two second round picks

          In his two seasons, Jackson has produced only 4 wins in total with horrible production rates and efficiency marks. As such, we would forecast him to provide only $7.6 million total value over the next two seasons if he does not improve. Since those two seasons will cost almost $16 million, he will have to improve substantially in order for Memphis to get their money’s worth.

          De’Anthony Melton’s rookie campaign was nothing noteworthy, generating $2.7 million in value. Since he was a second round pick, he will only make $1.4 million next year as Memphis takes a look at him. In this trade, Memphis takes a flyer on two young, athletic guys. Jackson costs a little, but Memphis is in a rebuilding mode, so the expenditure needs to be viewed against that backdrop.

GRADE: C

Phoenix Suns trade MEM for Kyle Korver, Jevon Carter

          Phoenix bought out Kyle Korver, so the trade with Memphis was for Jevon Carter. Carter’s value and contract status is similar to De’Anthony Melton’s so there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this deal for Phoenix. The Suns wanted to move on from Josh Jackson, which is fine, but they had to attach two second round picks to get rid of an $8 million/year salary. This seems excessive for a non-contender. Focusing only on the acquisition of Carter, however, this is a mediocre move.

GRADE: C

Jake Layman signs with Minnesota Timberwolves for 3 years/$12 million

          Layman broke through last season with 2.4 wins (a $4.4 million value). If Layman gets enough opportunity in Minnesota (which looks to be the case, given the three-year commitment), he should provide some excess value.

GRADE: B

Kawhi Leonard sign with Los Angeles Clippers for 3 years/$103 million (2+1 Player Option)

          The Klaw’s last three healthy seasons have seen him accumulate 11.1 wins and $73.5 million in value per season. As is the case for all top-shelf talents, the maximum salary undercuts Kawhi’s true value, making this contract highly team-friendly.

GRADE: A+

Danny Green signs with Los Angeles Lakers for 2 years/$30 million

          Green has been worth $8.3 million per year in the last four seasons (4.4 wins/year). According to the model, then, the Lakers paid too much for him. On the other hand, Danny Green made my All-Defensive Third Team in 2016-17 and is very close to being an all-league defender in other seasons despite having a heavy load on defense covering mostly star scorers. With the Lakers trying to surround LeBron with jump shooters, they were badly in need of a perimeter defender.

GRADE: B-

Ivica Zubac signs with Los Angeles Clippers for 4 years/$28 million

          Zubac took on a much larger role last season, increasing from 1.3 wins in ’17-18 to 3.3 wins last year. His performance last season provided the Clippers with a value of $5.8 million. As a result, LA rewarded his progress (and potential, to be honest) with a long-term deal. Zubac only needs to increase his production to 3.9 wins in order to reach the annual value on his contract. With two high-level creators joining the Clippers this offseason (you may have heard something about that …), it looks like a good setting for Zubac to increase his offensive yield. Where he needs to improve, however, is on the defensive end. If Zubac can establish a presence at the rim, this will be a good deal for LA. If not, it should be even money.

GRADE: B

DeMarcus Cousins signs with Los Angeles Lakers for 1 year/$3.5 million

          In his last two seasons since leaving Sacramento, Boogie has notched 12.4 total wins – equivalent to a $14.9 million annual salary. He should be a terrific value for the Lakers. While Cousins’ conditioning and health are concerns, he appeared to bounce from injuries well last season. Playing alongside playmakers as he did last year in Golden State, I see Boogie being able to make a significant contribution.

GRADE: B+

Rajon Rondo signs with Los Angeles Lakers for 2 years/$5 million

          Rondo is clearly in the decline phase of his career, though his average annual value over the past four seasons has been $6.1 million. Last season, however, he was worth only $3.7 million. With the direction his performance is heading, I see Rondo providing about $1 million surplus value per year.

GRADE: B

Golden State Warriors trade with ATL for Omari Spellman

          Spellman had 1.3 wins in his rookie campaign, though he operated at only 45% efficiency. He looks to have the rough outline of a stretch big, and he is on a rookie contract.

GRADE: C+

Atlanta Hawks trade GSW for Damian Jones and a second round pick

          Jones earned a little playing time last year in relief of Kevon Looney, but is now entering the final year of his rookie contract without having proven himself to be an NBA-quality defender. There does not appear to be much upside for Atlanta in acquiring Jones.

GRADE: C-

DeMarre Carroll signs with San Antonio Spurs for 3 years/$21 million

          Carroll has put up an average of just under 3 wins per season, which is an annual value of $5.2 million. Despite being less than his scheduled salary, I see this as a good signing for the Spurs. San Antonio has had good success with similar players in the past – veteran 4’s serving in complementary roles (Boris Diaw, Rudy Gay, etc.). I predict that Carroll will play well in that role.

GRADE: B

Washington Wizards trade SAS for Davis Bertans

          In his three seasons, Bertans has been worth an average of $4.8 million with the Spurs. He will be paid $7.0 million this season in the final year of his contract. With the Wizards initiating a rebuild, Bertans is a low-cost flyer.

GRADE: C+

Jeremy Lamb signs with Indiana Pacers for 3 years/$32 million

          Lamb has gradually improved throughout his career, and has compiled 8.8 wins in the last two seasons. His performance last season was worth $9.2 million, and at age 27 he is unlikely to decline. With the loss of Victor Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Tyreke Evans, Lamb is likely to have sufficient playing time and opportunity as a playmaking wing. While the contract is a bit too rich, it is a reasonable expense for the Pacers as they try to move up in the Eastern Conference standings.

GRADE: C+

Alex Caruso signs with Los Angeles Lakers for 2 years/$6 million

          Caruso has been worth $2.7 million per season in his first two seasons, although he improved his production rate and Total Efficiency by impressive amounts last year. He is likely to yield extra value for the Lakers on this deal.

GRADE: B+

Delon Wright signs with Dallas Mavericks for 3 years/$29 million

          Wright has contributed 7.2 wins in the past two seasons, good for an annual value of $6.4 million. Partially because his arrow is pointing up and partially because his Total Efficiency has been above average the past two seasons, I believe that Wright will live up to his new contract. This is a gamble by the Mavericks, but a gamble on a player who is young enough and has shown enough to merit the risk.

GRADE: B-

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson signs with Toronto Raptors for 1 year/$1.7 million

          Hollis-Jefferson’s four-year averages are 2.6 wins and $4.6 million value per season, making him a good deal for the minimum. His role fluctuated quite a bit during his tenure with the Nets, so I will be interested to see how he develops in Toronto. At the very least, he looks like a good understudy for Pascal Siakam.

GRADE: B

Tyus Jones signs with Memphis Grizzlies for 3 years/$28 million

          Tyus Jones has worked to establish himself as an NBA player, and has played quite a bit more in the past two seasons than he did previously. In those campaigns, he averaged 2.3 wins and $4.2 million in value per year – essentially, a useful backup. His new contract with the Grizzlies, who were looking to replace Jevon Carter after trading him to the Suns, will pay him like a key rotation player. While Jones might get up to that level, he has not been close to being worth $9.3 million per season thus far.

GRADE: C-

Thanasis Antetokounmpo signs with Milwaukee Bucks for 2 years/$3 million

          I’m going to limit my comments to actual basketball moves.

GRADE: Who cares?

Denver Nuggets trade OKC for Jerami Grant

          Honestly, I like this deal for the Nuggets. Grant has averaged 3.9 wins per season since 2015-16, which makes him worth $7.1 mil/yr. He will make $9.3 million next year, then have a player option for the same amount the following season. Grant reached his apex as a low-usage, high-efficiency player in 2015-16, with 4.6 wins on 54% Total Efficiency. In the subsequent campaigns, he has expanded his game. Though the transition was difficult initially, he has progressed from 2.6 wins on 45% efficiency in 2017 to 3.7 wins in 2018 to 4.8 last year (with 51% efficiency in each of the last two years). Grant’s 2019 performance is valued at $9.5 million, and since he is entering his age-25 season, it is pretty easy to forecast him exceeding his contract.

GRADE: B+

Avery Bradley signs with Los Angeles Lakers for 2 years/$10 million

          Avery Bradley is a tough nut to crack, analytically speaking. In his final two seasons in Boston (2016 and 2017), Bradley put up 10.9 wins ($11.7 million annual value). In the past two seasons, Bradley has been limited to 109 total games and has played on three teams. Over that span, he has put up a meager 3.8 total wins ($3.7 million/year value). Thus, his new contract with the Lakers might be a huge steal or a huge waste, depending on which data you find more reliable. Bradley’s Offensive Efficiency in 2017-18 was particularly poor, and was symptomatic of his struggles. In a stable environment and with a clearly defined role, I expect Bradley to produce something more in line with his track record on the Celtics.

GRADE: B

Ish Smith signs with Washington Wizards for 2 years/$12 million

          Smith has notched 11.8 wins across the last four campaigns, and dropped significantly last season. On average, Ish Smith is worth $5.2 million per year, but his 2019 campaign did not inspire confidence as he finished with 2.0 wins and 39% Total Efficiency. This was a poor use of money by the Wizards.

GRADE: C-

Rudy Gay signs with San Antonio Spurs for 2 years/$32 million

          Look, Rudy Gay is a good player and has been above league average in per-minute production and efficiency in each of the last four seasons. At the same time, $16 million per year is a little excessive for his 4.3 wins per annum. The Spurs chose to reward a loyal veteran, which is hard to quibble with, but Gay will cost them more than he is worth.

GRADE: C

Jabari Parker signs with Atlanta Hawks for 2 years/$13 million

          Parker has averaged 3.2 wins per season since 2016, though that did include a significant injury. Including that time lost, Parker’s average annual earnings should be $5.6 million. Given normal health, Parker is likely to earn his keep with Atlanta. What the Hawks are hoping for, though, is a breakthrough by Parker. Given the defensive weaknesses of their two primary scoring options (Trae Young and John Collins), it leaves one wondering just how many points the Hawks are going to give up this year if Parker plays big minutes.

GRADES: C+

Reggie Bullock signs with New York Knicks for 2 years/$21 million

          Bullock has notched 4.5 wins total in the past two seasons, which is worth $4.1 million per year. Because the Knicks needed to spend their cap room and didn’t want to offer a five-year max to Kevin Durant, naturally they signed Bullock to a deal that will pay him about $6.4 million per year more than he’s worth.

GRADE: D

UPDATE: Bullock’s deal was restructured to 2 years/$8 million

          After Bullock was revealed to have an undisclosed medical problem, the Knicks walked away from their original deal and came to terms with Bullock on a deal that much more closely approximates his actual value.

GRADE: C+

Marcus Morris signs with New York Knicks for 1 year/$15 million

          … and not with the San Antonio Spurs for 2 years/$20 million. As I mentioned in the comment on DeMarre Carroll, the Spurs have had great success with players like Marcus Morris. Spurning them for the Knicks feels like a short-sighted move. On the other hand, Morris will make $5 million more next season and re-enter free agency next summer, so it’s tough to argue with him choosing the Knicks from a financial point of view.

          But what about whether or not the deal is good for the team? Morris has put up 4.3 wins per year since ’15-’16, which we would expect to bring him an $8.1 million salary. As such, the Knicks paid quite a bit more than he is worth.

GRADE: C-

George Hill signs with Milwaukee Bucks for 3 years/$29 million

          George Hill’s performance has bounced around a bit as he has bounced around between teams over the last few years. His average performance has been worth $6.1 million, but he has been worth as much as $8.3 million in 2016-17. Even at his best, Hill is not quite as valuable as his new contract would suggest. With Milwaukee declining to match Indiana’s offer to Malcolm Brogdon, the Bucks made a calculated buy to ensure they would have enough ballhandling and shooting. Given the Bucks’ need and George Hill’s proven capacity to operate at high efficiency when he plays enough minutes with a small role, I like the signing fairly well.

GRADE: B-

Khem Birch signs with Orlando Magic for 2 years/$6 million

          Birch earned his place this year, and Orlando rewarded him with a job. His 2019 performance was worth $3.7 million, and Birch is young enough to see him potentially improving. Even at his current performance level, though, Birch is a fair deal for the Magic.

GRADE: B-

Los Angeles Clippers trade OKC for Paul George

          During the past four seasons, PG13 has averaged 10.5 wins per season. His performance should be worth $59.9 million per year in an unrestricted marketplace. As with other top-flight superstars, George’s value is far in excess of the maximum contract allowable under the CBA.

GRADE: A+

Oklahoma City Thunder trade LAC for Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, five first round picks, and two first round pick swaps

          Gallo will make $22.6 million this year in the final year of his contract, despite having an average annual value of only $6.7 million since 2016. Even at his best last season, Gallinari was only worth half of his contract. Given OKC’s current situation, they may look to move Gallinari between now and the trade deadline, which would mitigate the negative impact of his price tag. As an expiring contract with on-court value, Gallo could be an attractive target for contenders.

          Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had an All-Rookie level performance last year, contributing 3.9 wins and $7.1 million in value. SGA will earn $13.6 million total over the last three years of his rookie contract. At only his productivity level from his rookie season, Gilgeous-Alexander would provide $8 million in value above his salary. However, since he just finished his age-20 season with a 55.4% TS% and looks to have plenty of room to improve, it is an easy bet that he is likely to provide the Thunder with two to three times as much value as he costs.

          The draft picks, while as yet undetermined, are likely to provide good value due to the cost-controlled nature of rookie contracts.

GRADE: A-

Kelly Oubre Jr. signs with Phoenix Suns for 2 years/$30 million

          Oubre Jr. has 2.6 wins per season over his career, though he reached a high of 4.4 wins in 2017-18. His average annual value of $4.6 million is far below the terms of his new contract; however, he has improved during his career after coming out of Kansas as a very raw prospect. I wouldn’t have much as much of a problem with a deal like this in isolation, but the Suns traded a useful rotation player (T.J. Warren) for nothing in order to accommodate Oubre’s cap hit.

GRADE: C-

Richaun Holmes signs with Sacramento Kings for 2 years/$9.8 million

          I am not as high on Richaun Holmes as some other analysts are. When I analyze his performance, I see a solidly efficient backup big man. His defensive efficiency has hovered right around league average, which indicates that he is not a highly valuable rim defender. Holmes is a good hustle guy, and I would have no qualms with signing him for the minimum, but $4.9 million per year is over a million dollars per year more than he is worth.

GRADE: C

Trey Lyles signs with San Antonio Spurs for 2 years/$11 million

          At an average annual production of 2.9 wins (=$5.2 million), Lyles has operated at a good production rate for a backup. Unfortunately, only one of the past four seasons has seen Lyles record a passable Total Efficiency marker. In both 2018 and 2019, Lyles’ Offensive Efficiency was at least 10% below position-adjusted average. In the most recent campaign Lyles’ Total Efficiency fell to 42%, an untenable level for a veteran. Lyles was not a good fit in Denver, though I am a bit more optimistic of his prospects as a reclamation project with the Spurs. Since his contract is reasonable, I expect Lyles to be a good value in San Antonio.

GRADE: B

Houston Rockets trade OKC for Russell Westbrook

          Brodie has racked up 48.1 wins in the last four seasons, which works out to an average annual value of $98.2 million. Even Westbrook’s titanic contract, then, would still hypothetically be a great value. There are, however, questions of fit on both ends. Westbrook has been efficient as an off-ball defender in recent seasons, allowing him to use his athleticism to range while conserving energy on the defensive end while Paul George (and before him, Andre Roberson) do the heavy lifting. Playing in the same backcourt with James Harden would seem to eliminate that scheme as a possibility, which means that Westbrook or Harden (or likely both) will have to improve on defense.

          On the offensive end, Westbrook is obviously one of the most ball-dominant players in the league. The common rejoinder that “Westbrook is leading the league in assists” or “Westbrook is in the top ___ in the league in assists” is not a legitimate response to this question. Russ creates a high volume of assists as the lead offense creator with the ball in his hands. He will have to be effective at things other than attacking the paint and kicking out to a teammate in order for Houston’s offense to be elite.

GRADE: B+

Oklahoma City Thunder trade HOU for Chris Paul, two first round picks, and two pick swaps

          CP3 has racked up 29 wins in the past four seasons, equating to $20.9 million per year. Unfortunately for the Thunder, last season was the first campaign in which there was a dip in Chris Paul’s per-minute productivity. Though he missed time due to injury in previous seasons, he registered between .178 and .186 wins per 48 minutes in the ’16, ’17, and ’18 seasons. Since he is still owed just over $120 million across the remaining three seasons of his deal, Paul looks to be far too costly at this stage of his career.

GRADE: C

Tyson Chandler signs with Houston Rockets for 1 year/$2.6 million

          Chandler has put up 1.4 wins on average over the last three seasons, with low production rates somewhat moderated by high efficiency marks. Last season was easily his lowest Defensive Efficiency, indicating that Chandler may be nearing the end of the road. With what he had left in the tank last year, however, he was able to make an impact with the Lakers. The minimum is about right for what Chandler is likely to provide.

GRADE: B-

Tyler Lydon signs with Sacramento Kings for 2 years/$3.4 million

          We do not have enough NBA data on Tyler Lydon to be certain of whether or not he is worth a roster spot, though he has shot the three and rebounded well in the G-League. He significantly improved his rebounding rate in 23 G-League games compared with his college career.

GRADE: C

Cheick Diallo signs with Phoenix Suns for 2 years/$3.5 million

          Diallo has had the outline of a backup big man while struggling to carve out playing time in New Orleans. He will certainly have the opportunity to earn minutes in camp this year with the Suns, and his performance last year was worth $3.7 million.

GRADE: B-

Justin Holiday signs with Indiana Pacers for 1 year/$5 million

          Justin Holiday has averaged 2.7 wins in the last four seasons, which would project to almost even money for his contract with Indiana ($4.8 million value for $5.0 million). During the time under consideration, however, Holiday has established himself as a valuable role player. He has increased his production in each of the past four seasons, and reached 3.6 wins last season. In order to match his production from last season, however, Holiday will have to earn minutes against his brother Aaron and T.J. McConnell.

GRADE: B-

Kyle Korver signs with Milwaukee Bucks for 1 year/$2.6 million

          Korver has notched 13.7 wins in total since 2015-16, an average yearly value of $6.1 million. Though his defensive performance is in sharp decline, he remains a highly efficient bench shooter, and is likely to prove a good fit beside Giannis’ rampaging drives.

GRADE: B+

Los Angeles Lakers claim Kostas Antetokounmpo off waivers from DAL

          Kostas Antetokounmpo was a below average performer in the G-League last year and appeared in only two games in the Association. He is unlikely to factor in the Lakers success in any way that is actually related to winning basketball games in the 2019-20 season.

GRADE: Irrelevant

Furkan Korkmaz signs with Philadelphia 76ers for 2 years/$3.4 million

          Korkmaz posted a respectable production rate last season given his inexperience (.092 wins per 48 minutes), though his Position-Adjusted Offensive Efficiency was only 42%. His production last season would be valued at $3 million. I consider him a legitimate end of the bench project for the minimum salary.

GRADE: C+

Pau Gasol signs with Portland Trailblazers for 1 year/$2.6 million

          Gasol has declined from 9.6 wins in 2015-16 to 0.9 wins last season. Given his track record and lack of minutes last season, coupled with the Blazers’ need for a dependable center to back up Hassan Whiteside in the absence of Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter, Gasol should easily be able to exceed the value of a typical minimum contract veteran.

GRADE: B

Dragan Bender signs with Milwaukee Bucks for 2 years/$3.5 million

          Bender has accounted for only 2.7 wins in his three-year career, with truly dreadful efficiency marks. At 21, he is young enough to improve, but his performance to date does not merit a roster spot.

GRADE: D

Cameron Payne signs with Toronto Raptors for 2 years/$3.7 million

          Payne had a respectable rookie year in 2015-16, but has not approached the same performance level in any of his subsequent campaigns. He is unlikely to play major minutes for Toronto, and is likely to end up occupying a roster spot that would be better expended on a qualified veteran to help the Raptors complete what may be their final year of playoff contention in the current cycle before the majority of their current salary comes off the books next summer.

GRADE: C

Trey Burke signs with Philadelphia 76ers for 1 year/$2 million

          Burke has bounced out of the league and back in, but has reestablished himself as a fringe NBA player with 3.2 wins across the last two seasons. His performance would be expected to earn him $3.4 million per year, so he looks like a decent buy at the minimum for Philadelphia.

GRADE: C+

C.J. McCollum signs extension with Portland Trailblazers for 3 years/$100 million

McCollum has notched 28.6 wins since 2015-16, equating to an average annual salary of $20.2 million. His performance thus far falls well short of being worth $33 million per year, and McCollum’s Total Efficiency has been below 50% in each of the seasons under consideration. To Portland’s credit, they rewarded C.J. for a monstrous postseason performance. There is no harm in locking him up to an extension before he hits the open market, but this contract does set the ceiling for this Blazers team. They are not going to have meaningful cap space with so much of their money tied to Lillard and McCollum, and they are not likely to be able to trade for a star because they don’t have many attractive trade assets (Aminu and Harkless are out the door, and nobody is hunting for Rodney Hood on the trade market). They cannot get equal value in a trade involving Jusuf Nurkic, so the Blazers are who they are.

Patrick Patterson will reportedly sign with Los Angeles Clippers

Patterson has not officially signed yet, but I wanted to throw a little bonus on the end. He will presumably sign for the minimum, but Patterson has not been the same player during the last two seasons that he was previously. He is not likely to contribute.

GRADE: C-

Draymond Green signs extension with Golden State Warriors for 4 year/$100 million

Draymond has contributed an average of 8.6 wins per season since 2015-16, recording a personal best of 11.2 wins in that ’15-’16 campaign. On average, he is worth $32.3 million per year, meaning that his extension is a fantastic value. Green returning to his maximum level will be key for Golden State’s immediate and long-term future, and the Warriors did well to come to terms with him ahead of his free agency next summer.

GRADE: A

 

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