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HomeBasketballNBA2023 NBA Free Agency: The Good

2023 NBA Free Agency: The Good

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Jerami Grant hasn’t played in a playoff game since 2020. The Portland Trailblazers forward has never been the No. 1 guy on even a decent team.

Grant, a solid scorer who shot better than 40 percent last season on 3s, could be a good third option on a championship contender.

Yet Grant thus far has been the bigger winner of NBA Free Agency. 

Grant as soon as the signing window opened inked a five-year, $160 million deal to stay in Portland, and presumably stay in the lottery. Grant in signing the deal is the offseason’s biggest individual winner. That makes the Blazers the biggest loser, though, because what is paying Grant going to get the team in the long run?

There have been a number of puzzling deals over the last five days. There’s been some really good, really smart signings too.

Over the next couple of days, we’ll take a look at some of the best, and the worst.

Today we start with the best.

Keeping the core together for one more year

With his new four-year, $100 million deal, Draymond Green next season will be the fourth-highest paid player on the Golden State Warriors. That puts him behind Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins. When Green opted out of a one-year deal worth more than $27 million, I thought he’d push for a four-year deal around $120 million or $130 million. Green essentially did what some thought he wouldn’t do and took a hometown discount. Green’s Salary next season will be about $5 million less than the deal he opted out of. That’s not insignificant for the Warriors, as that difference will save the team about $43 million in tax money next season.

Green is the heart and soul of the Warriors. He’s the team’s emotional leader. He’s the vocal leader on the court. He’s the antagonist that every championship team needs. Now’s Golden State has him locked up for three more years, as the fourth year in Green’s new deal is a player option for $27.6 million. The move signals the Warriors are going down with the group that has elevated the franchise the last decade. Good or bad, it’s the way it should go.

Golden State will be right back in the same spot next summer, though, as Klay Thompson is entering the last year of his deal. That move will be a major talking point of the new season, as Thompson’s play has eroded on both ends of the floor. Golden State essentially paid Klay to rehab major injuries for two seasons, so Thompson may be expected to take a pay cut to stay in the Bay.

Reaves stays in LA

I’m amazed that no team with cap space (looking right at you San Antonio) presented Lakers guard Austin Reaves with an offer sheet that would have forced LA to overpay to keep Reaves. Instead, the Lakers keep Reaves at a discount. Reaves accepted a four-year, $56.2 million deal to stay in LA. That figure represents the largest sum the team could offer the wing as a repeat luxury tax offender. A team like the Spurs, though, could have offered Reaves a backloaded deal, with the last two seasons at a max total of $23 million and $25 million, respectively. I’m shocked that didn’t happen. It’s presumed the Lakers would have matched any offer made to Reaves, but nobody wanted to make LA sweat?

In keeping Reaves, the Lakers have a building block going forward. Reaves toward the end of the regular season and through the playoffs showed he could be a late-game option and a secondary playmaker. Reaves in 16 playoff games put up 16.9 points per game on .464/.443/.895 splits. He scored in double figures in 15 of the 16 Lakers playoff games and topped 20 points seven times, including four of the team’s last five playoff games. Reaves has cemented his place in the Lakers starting five. His development going forward will play a major role in the Lakers fortunes, as LeBron James and Anthony Davis both have player options after next season.

New champ gets paid

Bruce Brown last year with the Denver Nuggets made $6.47 million, making him the 195th highest-paid player in the NBA. Brown in five years in the League has made a shade more than $15 million. Next season with the Indiana Pacers, Brown’s new contract will see him make $21.9 million. Brown last week agreed to a two-year, $45 million deal with the Pacers. It’s a win-win for both parties. The underrated Brown gets his first big payday, and the Pacers have a $23 million team option in the second year of the contract.

Brown over the last three seasons have proven to be a, to steal a baseball term, a utility player. In Brooklyn, Brown played 1-5 and did whatever was asked of him. With Denver last season, it was more of the same but on a bigger stage. Brown in the 2022-23 season put up career highs in points, steals, and minutes. He’s not going to be a superstar, but Brown would have a big role on any good team. Brown once the ink is dry on that deal will be the highest-paid player on the Pacers. Indiana is a team that if healthy could challenge for a play-in spot, particularly if newly-minted max player Tyrese Haliburton can stay on the court. Brown should slide into the starting two guard spot alongside Haliburton. Indiana, with the Halburton/Brown backcourt, Myles Turner, Buddy Hield and Bennedict Mathurin, should be the third-best team in the Central Division behind Milwaukee and Cleveland. The Pacers have more talent than the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons. Indiana should be fun to watch next season.

Coming tomorrow: “The Bad”

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