The free agency frenzy is basically over and what a ride it was. The exploding cap set the stage for a dazzling fireworks display that left the collective NBA world stunned beyond belief.
Kevin Durant's betrayal will take the headlines, and rightly so, but there have been countless other moves that deserve to get a mention. In order to cover as many of those moves and as many teams as possible in one article, I've decided to create a fun awards ceremony. Here, I will hand out the most prestigious awards known to man, for things done during the 2016 NBA free agency period.
So I don't bore you too much, I'll keep the bigger signings out of this as much as possible, because otherwise Kevin Durant and his Warriors will win every prize up for grabs. But anyhow, it's time to get into the first award...
Winner: Brooklyn Nets
Thanks for having a crack, Sean Marks, now try again.
The Nets had the right idea entering 2016 NBA Free Agency, they wanted to extend a whole bunch of offers to both mid-tier veterans and risky, high upside youngsters that if they pan out, could be apart of their core going forward. With a blank slate due to their previous organizational malfunctions, this was the right idea. Get veterans in to establish a culture and a good locker room presence, while acquiring young players since the Nets don't really have any (and won't due to their draft picks being shipped to Boston) to develop for the future.
Although the Nets were able to secure both Trevor Booker and Jeremy Lin on affordable contracts, they struck out on both Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, who had their offer sheets matched by their respective teams. Adding Crabbe and Johnson would've been risky moves for the contracts offered to them, but the Nets have barely any young talent to build around.
Now, the Nets still have a bunch of roster spots to fill out, a lot of money to spend on the bottom of the barrel free agents and still no one to build around long-term on that team.
But hey, at least they tried to solve their problems.
The 'WTF Are You Doing?' Award
Winner: Chicago Bulls
If you want to check out what I thought about the Bulls' offseason in full detail, click here for a massive breakdown.
Most Surprising Move
Winner: Bismack Biyombo signing with the Orlando Magic
Durant's signing was shocking because of the team that he chose and Mozgov's deal bewildered the NBA world because of its sheer size, but if you want the best of both worlds of surprising, look no further than Bismack Biyombo signing with the Orlando Magic.
The Magic signing Biyombo to a 4 year, $70 million contract makes no sense. For starters, it tackles the Mozgov side of surprising, with it being an albatross of a contract. Biyombo's contract is one that is suitable for a mid-tier starting center in this market. But is he on this level? Biyombo's best attributes are his energy, hustle and rebounding. He's only 6'9'', so he'll never be an elite defensive center and doesn't offer anything offensively outside of being a putback machine. Is this a guy you want playing 30 minutes per night? Probably not, he's a guy that you want coming off the bench, firing up the crowd and making energy plays to swing the results of games. He's not a player that you should count on every night, yet the Magic are paying him like one.
This signing is unfathomable from a team fit perspective too. After the Serge Ibaka trade, the Magic were already stacked in the frontcourt.
Least Surprising Move
Winner: Austin Rivers reuniting with Doc
Hey man, Doc needs his retirement money, so why would he ever let Austin out of his sights? This way, Doc can make sure his son gets paid a good amount every year, keeping him safe from the harsh environment of NBA business. He can also make sure that Austin's career never fizzles out, while the younger Rivers can be guaranteed a roster spot and playing time every year. What's even more amazing is that Doc the GM handles his son's contract negotiations. If he really wanted a massive wad of money as he grows old, he should just give Austin the 5 year max and just hope Ballmer doesn't notice.
I can't believe there haven't been more father-son duos in NBA history, this is brilliant.
BTW: Close second was Sasha Vujacic re-signing with Phil Jackson. They've pretty much got the father-son thing going on anyway.
Keep Gettin' Dem Checks MVP
Winner: Timofey Mozgov
If you're unfamiliar with Jalen Rose terminology, you are missing out. But if you are, this award is essentially the most overpaid player.
This award had to go to Timofey Mozgov. Even if he didn't have the worst season of his career, giving him an average of $16 million annually is a joke. Even if he was given this contract after the 2014-15 finals, this would be an overpay, let alone, him coming off a playoff campaign in which he struggled to get off the bench for the Cavs. The Lakers are giving a guy that doesn't fit very well at all with their existing core $16 million a year, when nobody was bidding against them too. Sure, this market is inflated, but was there even another team that was offering Mozgov half of what the Lakers gave him?
Not to mention, Mozgov is turning 30 in a few days. By the time Mozgov's contract ends, he will be in his mid 30s. He might be over the hill and past his prime now, so just imagine what he'll be like when he's getting paid $16 million at age 33.
In any case, keep gettin' dem checks Timofey!
The Mark Cuban Award
Winner: Mark Cuban
This award is given to the person or team with the highest hopes entering free agency, but come away with nothing. It of course is named after the one and only Mark Cuban who manages to do this every summer.
It should be no surprise then that the 2016 winner of this award, goes to Mark Cuban.
Cuban's Mavericks entered the free agency period with massive ambitions and high hopes as always, with the idea of signing both Hassan Whiteside and Mike Conley to max contracts to give them some star power to aid Dirk Nowitzki's last couple of years of NBA contention. Instead, Whiteside and Conley stuck with their respective teams and the Mavericks once again struck out in free agency.
With basically no players signed to contracts, the Mavericks had the perfect opportunity to bottom out and rebuild. Something they probably should've done 3 years ago. But like always, just in true Cuban fashion, Dallas managed to find away to fill out the rest of the roster with decent players like Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut, to keep themselves planted in the playoffs for now, riding the treadmill of mediocrity.
I wonder who the Mavs are going to strike out on next season?
Most Creative Idea
Winner: The Hawks' brainwave to re-sign Horford, get Dwight and rid themselves of Millsap
This was a puzzling plan at first, but then I researched it more and I began to realize how much of a genius Mike Budenholzer is for thinking this one up. The plan was pretty complicated and if it did come off, they would've looked like masterminds. Instead, they look like fools for even trying to attempt the risky strategy.
After Budenholzer signed Dwight Howard, his plan was to re-sign Al Horford to make a new frontcourt combination. To achieve this though, he needed to create cap space. Now, he could've done this through just trading Tiago Splitter and/or Kyle Korver, but instead, GM Bud chose to shop their best player, Paul Millsap.
This is what confused a lot of people. Millsap is their best player and is probably a better fit with Dwight than Horford is. But by dealing Millsap, the Hawks not only rid themselves of someone that is going to be a free agent next year and someone that will be demanding a max contract far higher than what Horford was asking for (due to the cap jump expected), but would also reap the benefits of trading a star player. For a player of Millsap's caliber, they would've gotten one hell of a package from any team with assets to burn. Perhaps even, the 3-and-D wing that they have needed since DeMarre Carroll bolted.
Budenholzer's plan would've netted them a frontcourt that could be argued would be better than the Millsap-Horford combo, the rest of their strong existing core and the boatload of assets they could've obtained from a potential Millsap trade. But alas, they now have Howard in place of Horford and an unhappy Millsap who could leave for nothing next summer.
The 'I Really Need To Fire My Agent' Award
Winner: Evan Fournier
This award goes to the player that was underpaid the most and really should consider firing their agent. Evan Fournier fits this description perfectly, because compared what he could've gotten, what he did get is propostorous.
After trading away both Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo within the last 6 months, the Magic were and still are desperate for wing guys. Before free agency, outside of Fournier, the only wing on the Magic roster was the unproven Mario Hezonja. With this knowledge, the Magic knew that they were probably going to, in Isaiah Thomas's imortal words: "Bring out the Brinks truck," for Fournier's services. A 5 year max was on the table. Similar to what Bradley Beal got in D.C.. Even if the Magic didn't want to and even if Fournier isn't worth it, the Magic were basically backed into a corner.
Knowing this, Fournier and his representatives should've demanded the max straight off the bat from the Magic. If the Magic were unwilling, he should've signed an offer sheet with another team for something close to the four year max. Considering the importance of the wing position and the lack of quality throughout the NBA, someone surely would've given it to him. At the very least, Brooklyn or Philly would've came in with a massive offer sheet.
But no, Fournier opted to sign a cheapo deal with the Magic early on in free agency before he could even test the waters. His deal ended up being a 5 year, $85 million deal, a full $45 million less than what Beal will be earning with the Wizards. That is insane. It's great business from Rob Hennigan's point of view, but for Fournier and his crew, it is one that they have to be scratching their heads about. The collective amount of Fournier's deal is less than what he would've gotten had he signed the 4 year max of around $94 million and remember, that's with one less year than the Magic gunner's deal.
'Winner': Anyone who has anything to do with the Oklahoma City Thunder
- They lost their franchise icon who has carried them over the past 9 years in return for absolutely nothing, to the 73 win Goliath that trumped them in the playoffs.
- They now sit in the NBA's no man's land, as they are too good to tank, but not good enough to contend. The only place area of the NBA you don't want to be in.
- Russell Westbrook very well could leave in the same fashion that his former running mate did.
That makes for pretty depressing reading.
Winner: Golden State Warriors
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