The first week of NBA free agency has been a dud. Teams are reluctant to make any moves because everyone is waiting on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. While we sit and hold our breath waiting on them to make a decision that could shift the balance of the entire league, a few teams have made some smaller moves.
Here are the winners and losers from the first week of free agency:
Loser: Washington Wizards
The Wizards’ goal heading in to free agency was to keep Marcin Gortat on their roster. They were able to do that. However, they signed him to a five-year deal worth $60 million.
With all due respect to Gortat, he is not worth that kind of money. Since when does 13 points and nine rebounds per game yield that type of contract? He is a skilled player who can help his team, but if a guy makes that kind of money, he should be dominating in at least one area. He is an average shot blocker. He is a decent rebounder. He is a respectable offensive threat.
The Wizards were forced into this deal due to the contracts of players like Kendrick Perkins, who is not close to what Gortat brings to the table and makes $10 million a year. Chris Kaman just signed a contract paying him $9.8 million over two seasons. He only averaged 18 minutes a game last season. While the market may have suggested Gortat’s value, the Wizards would have been wise to steer clear. His contract will haunt the team in the long run.
Winner: Golden State Warriors
The Warriors signed Shaun Livingston to a three-year deal worth $16 million. That is not a horrible deal for a backup point guard. Also, signing Livingston will give new coach Steve Kerr’s lineups versatility. He could play Livingston and Stephen Curry in the backcourt at the same time, similar to how former coach Mark Jackson used Curry and Jarrett Jack.
He competes on defense a little better than Curry. He is not a lock-down defender, but he will give solid effort. Allowing Curry to not have to chase around the likes of Russell Westbrook or Tony Parker will only enhance his effort on the offensive end.
Winner: Indiana Pacers
The Pacers signed swingman C.J. Miles to a four-year deal but that is not why they are on the list. The Pacers are winners because they have not jumped to overpay Lance Stephenson. Stephenson is talented, but he is also a head case. The Pacers offered him a five-year deal worth $44 million, but Stephenson would like a bigger deal.
Last season, the Pacers melted down as the season closed. They got themselves together long enough to make the conference finals but came up short against the Miami Heat. The Pacers have to decide whether Stephenson can help them get to where they want to go.
When the season closed, Paul George wasn’t sure. According to NBCSports.com, George said, “I mean, I don’t know. That’s for (Indiana president) Larry (Bird), (GM) Kevin (Pritchard) to decide.” George would continue and mention that he thinks it would be great if Stephenson came back, however, that is only after he realized how damning his initial statement was.
If Stephenson doesn’t have the support of the best player in the locker room, it is probably best he finds a new team.
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